Thursday, December 27, 2012

Castle Bread

This is a loaf of bread, not a cake.

It was made in a Nordic Ware Bundt pan, but it's not quite as easy as dumping bread dough into the pan and hoping it molds itself to the shape of the pan. And then there's that issue of baking a bread with a flat top (which becomes the bottom when you're baking in a Bundt pan). It's not really difficult, though.

The first bread I tried didn't come out of the pan at all. Oops. I fixed that by using some baking spray.

The second bread didn't fill the trees very well, and the chimney looked like it was melting.

There were a few other things that didn't look quite right. But at least I got it out of the pan without ripping it to shreds.

Bread number three (the first photo) finally looked right. The trees were filled in, and the bottom was nice and flat. If I was going to make this for company, I think I might mess around with the colors a bit. Add some green herbs to the trees, perhaps. Or maybe add some tomato powder to the chimney area.

But that gets a little tricky since dough can rise unpredictably, and the green herby dough could become part of the building, or the building could merge with the trees. So for now, I'll leave it brown.

The Technique:

  • A bread recipe using 3 cups of flour was just right for this particular pan. Just right.
  • I sprayed the pan with baking spray to keep the dough from sticking.
  • Instead of dumping the dough into the pan in a ring-shape, I cut off pieces of dough and formed them into a cone-shape to fit all the way down into each of the trees. A second piece of dough was formed into a thin rope and mashed down around into the chimney shape. The rest of the dough was formed into a rope and laid into the pan, making sure I mashed it down into the roof areas. Then I sprayed the center of a baking pan with baking spray and put that on top of the cake pan, sprayed side down.
  • I let the dough rise and meanwhile preheated the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • After the dough was about an inch from the top of the cake pan, I put the cake pan in the oven, along with the baking pan on top of it. Then I put a cast iron frying pan on top of the baking pan to weight it down and keep the rising bread from lifting that baking pan. That's how I got a flat bottom on the bread.
  • After 1/2 hour of baking, I removed the cast iron pan and the baking pan and let the bread continue baking. At this point, the shape was set and the bread just needed to finish baking. It took another 30 minutes.
  • As soon as the bread was done, I flipped the pan over onto a baking rack. The bread slid out easily. I let it cool completely.
And that's it - castle bread. There's no reason you couldn't do this with any other shaped pan - the key is making sure your dough gets down into all the spaces. I had assumed the dough would expand to fill those trees, but it didn't do so without help.

As for decorating, I have a few ideas I'm working. But feel free to experiment!