Thursday, July 7, 2011
It's like starting with spaghetti sauce and ending up with chili. There's still meat, but it's a completely different dish. That's what happened here. After enough changes, not only are the flavors completely different from the original, but the form and texture of the final product are different, too.
I wasn't sure exactly what to call this bread. The shape is like a scone. The texture is muffin-like, but with a little more structure and wonderful crispy edges and tender insides. Whatever it is, it's quick - mix, form, and bake. The assembly will probably be done before the oven is fully preheated.
Rather than shaping it on a baking sheet, you could try baking these as muffins. I haven't - but I see no reason why it wouldn't work. Rather than folding the dough on the counter, skip that step - just mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened, then scoop into muffin tins and bake.
The dough doesn't cut cleanly, like biscuits - it's a little too wet for that sort of behavior. But when you cut through the bread, it creates divisions where the bread will break apart after it has baked. I divided mine into 8 roughly equal wedges, which were generous servings. For smaller appetites, I'd suggest dividing the dough in half, making two smaller rounds, and cutting each one into 6 or 8 pieces.
This dough expands and rises quite a bit in the oven, so it you're making two, leave plenty of room between them for expansion.
The vanilla bean paste is a thick substance that's filled with vanilla seeds. If you don't have that, don't fret - you can use vanilla extract instead. Or, if you want to add another flavor, use a teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extract.
Walnut Breakfast Quick Bread
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons chilled butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup sugar for topping (optional)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine.
Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the dry ingredients. Cut it in with a pastry blender or two knives, or rub it in with your fingertips until the butter disappears into the flour and it resembles coarse sand.
Add the walnuts and stir to combine.
In a separate small bowl, combine the milk, egg, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Add the wet ingredient to the dry, reserving about a tablespoon or so of the liquid behind. Stir the mixture until all the dry ingredients are moistened.
Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Flour your hands and pat the dough flat, about 1 inch high. Fold the dough in half. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface, and use a bench scraper to help you lift and fold the dough - it will be easier than using your hands.
Pat the dough down again and fold again. Do this two more times, then move the dough to the center of the parchment paper and form the dough into a flat disk about 8 inches in diameter.
Cut it into 8 wedges. It probably won't cut cleanly, but after baking it will break into wedges where you cut through it. Brush the top of the dough with the reserved egg-milk-vanilla mixture. Top with the granulated sugar, if desired.
Bake at 375 degrees until nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool.