Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bread with a Heart - for Valentine's Day

How cool would it be to cut into a loaf of bread on Valentine's Day and find a pretty pink heart?

Yup, I thought it would be cool, and I wanted to do it without any food coloring.

The heart idea was new, but I've been working on this general concept for quite some time.

I've seen cakes with designs inside- hearts, squares, circles ... and I thought it would be pretty cool to do the same thing with bread.

Of course you can put two different types of dough together. But it's awfully hard to get the dough to keep the shape you're looking for.

It's hard enough to get it to behave when you're trying to make a bread sculpture like my bunny bread.


But when you're trying to keep a shape or pattern inside the loaf, it's even harder.

Here's one from a long time ago, where I was trying to make a smiley face.


As you can see, it's didn't work very well. I've tried a few other things, but none of them looked good enough to blog about. I mean, think about it. You make a simple swirl bread and it never comes out as a perfect spiral. Stuff inside moves around a lot as the bread rises. And it's worse when you're using two different types of bread, like rye and white. They don't rise at the same rate. It's really hard to control what they're going to do inside the bread..

But then I thought, "why not put a baked shaped bread inside some dough?" that's how the cake makers do it. They embed cooked shapes in the batter, and they bake it. Sounds easy enough, right? It should work for bread, rights?

Here was my first try. It's supposed to be a heart.


It's not dead-center in the bread, but that doesn't bother me. That adds to its personality.

The problem that you don't see is that the two different breads didn't join up very well. The heart falls out. Don't you just hate it when your heart falls out?

I also wasn't thrilled with the shape of the bread insert. Unless you look really closely, you can't tell that it's supposed to be a heart. And then I also decided that I didn't like the color of that heart. I wanted more contrast.

My second loaf looked wonderful coming out of the oven, but as soon as I cut into it, I could see that there was a huuuuge problem.


Oops. I knew what I did wrong. But, see the heart shape? It looks a bit better here. That was an easy fix. I just cut the notch a little deeper so it looks more like a heart.

This is what the shape looked like coming out of the mold I baked the bread in. See, it's a heart, but it could be a little more defined.
It was a lot pinker before I baked it the second time inside the bread. The color faded. Bummer. But I had ideas for fixing that, too.

Finally, after a number of tries (you don't want to know how many), I found a formula that worked.

Valentine's Bread

Pink Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour
1 tablespoon beet powder*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

White Dough (for one loaf):
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

For assembly:
1 egg white, beaten with a tablespoon of water

For the pink dough:
Combine the yeast, sugar, water, flour, beet powder, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Knead with the dough hook until the dough becomes elastic. Add the butter (it's fine if you add it straight from the refrigerator - the machine can handle it) and continue kneading until the butter is completely incorporated and the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and divide it in half. Form each half into a log that will fit into one of your canape bread molds.** Or, if you're only making one loaf, you can use the second half of the dough for buns or a small loaf of bread.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Coat the dough with baking spray or a light coating of oil before you place it in the canape mold. Place the dough in the mold, cover the ends, and let the dough sit until the dough has risen enough so it nearly fills the mold to the top. It's fine to open the mold to peek. It should take about 30 minutes.

Place the filled mold(s) on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degree for 35 minutes, until the bread is baked though. It's normal for some of the dough to ooze out of the ends of the mold - don't worry about that.

Remove the bread from the oven, take the ends off the mold, and cut off the excess that overflowed the mold. Slip the bread out of the mold and let it cool on a rack. If your bread mold is similar to mine, cut a v-shape in the notch of the heart to enhance the shape. Or, if you like it the way it is, leave it as-is.

Slip the bread back into the mold and place it in the freezer for at least an hour. It's fine to continue the next day (or a few days later) if you prefer. Freezing accomplishes a few things, but one important thing is that it makes the bread hard enough so you can wrap the white dough around it firmly without squishing the design.

For the white dough:
Combine the yeast, sugar, water, flour, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Knead with the dough hook until the dough becomes elastic. Add the butter (it's fine if you add it straight from the refrigerator - the machine can handle it) and continue kneading until the butter is completely incorporated and the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl. If you're using a heart mold cut off one piece of dough that you can roll into a rope and fit into the notch in the heart.

If you're making another shape (like the flower shape in the photo on the right) ), cut off enough pieces to fill any notches or valleys in the shape you're using.

Knead the remaining large piece of dough briefly, then flatten it into a rectangle that will be large enough to wrap around the bread baked in the canape mold. The edges on the long side should be kept thicker to compensate for the point of the heart. For other shapes, the rectangle can be an even thickness.

Remove the dough from the freezer and brush it all over with the egg white. Place the rope you rolled into the notch in the heart, then place the heart point-side up on the dough rectangle.

Wrap the dough around the bread and seal the seam, making sure there's enough dough around the point. Flip the dough so the pointed end of the heart is at the bottom. Shape the dough into an even log-shape.

Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with baking spray and place the dough in the pan, seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until the dough rises about an inch over the top of the pan. Since you've cooled the dough with that chilly bread in the center, this will take longer than normal - 90 minutes or more. The dough should feel puffy and if pressed with a fingertip, it shouldn't spring back.

About 30 minutes before the dough is fully risen, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

When the dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap, slash the top of the loaf, and bake until the loaf is nicely browned, about 45 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan. If the sides an bottom are still paler than you like,  place the loaf directly on the oven rack and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Let the loaf cool completely on a rack before slicing.

*The beet powder I used came from Whole Foods. You can probably find it online or at a store that sells bulk spices. If you like, you could use food coloring, instead.

**These are the canape molds I have. If you don't have molds, you could bake a regular loaf and carve it into your preferred shape.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.
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