Friday, October 21, 2011

Boule, challah, NUTELLA BREAD PUDDING….one hand conquers them all



I will warn this is a long post. My previous post is dated August 30. Well, the next day I had a lovely accident tripping over this stupid concrete tire stop next to my car and broke my right arm. You can see from the photo above that it was in an odd place. I was getting something from the passenger side and tripped backward when I stepped back to close the door. Since that time I've had one useful hand. 

Somewhere I read that October was Unprocessed Foods month, or some weird derivative of that title. That sounded appealing yet impossible to me at the time. Appealing because I know that my version of whatever processed crap food always tastes better. Impossible because in September I had surgery on my right broken wrist/arm. Just imagine...I had a plate and screws in there like some kind of bionic woman, but I was far from that.  Consequently, in September, we ate a lot of ready-made and take-out food. There wasn’t much choice: I was either on Rx pain meds, in pain,or limited to my left hand (not a leftie), and mouth for appendages. And after a while, my mouth decided it didn’t want to help out much cause I was making it go places it heavily objected to. OK, that sounds rude, but I mean places like a child’s shoe laces when helping to tie them. 
High moisture dough

It was thankfully not all bad for you stuff. With the help of several friends and neighbors, we had a lot of delivered meals too. One even ame grocery shopping with me and spent the day in my kitchen cooking me yummies for the upcoming week. Thank you Heather! (She makes this amazing corn soup.) She is the one who turned me onto Artisan Breads in 5 minute a day. The concept of the book is making a big batch of high moisture dough (that you don’t knead), then refrigerating it and taking a piece of it to bake as you need it.  I wasn’t convinced. Artisan quality from something that simple, from no kneading? R-i-i-ght. 
Two days later I was convinced. Heather made this pizza crust from the book and it was good. I got my copy, and skipped to the first recipe – the so-called Master Recipe. (And who doesn’t skip most of intro section of a cookbook anyway?) It was similar to a French boule. I mixed it after dinner, let it rise for 2 hours as directed, and stuck it in the fridge. The next evening I grabbed my “grapefruit sized” piece and baked it. It turned out ok. Nice texture, BUT it was way too salty. I baked the rest of it into a gigantic loaf figuring I’d use it forseasoned breadcrumbs, but the kids and hubby ate it so it was a promising starting point. I did a little research and figured it would be okay to experiment with the salt level a little. The only reason I was willing to try this again, willing to squash the little inner skeptic was because I could mix the dough with my one hand. Even the shaping was simple using one hand – and lots of flour.  My second go round, I cu tthe salt back by ½ tablespoon. Again, it was simple to mix and shape. Although the recipe says it makes four 1-pound loaves, I made three slightly larger ones. I left them on my corn-mealed pizza peel to come to room temperature about 40 minutes. (I do have to say that the 5 minute claim is a little misleading because it does not include waiting time). I stuck all three in the oven at one time. Nowhere did it say I couldn’t do this, but looking back I would probably stick with one at a time. It was tough trying to slide three loaves onto the baking stone. About an hour later, I couldn’t resist. I had to cut into the warm bread even though it says not to. Whatever; that's why I made three loaves. One could be sacrificed to satisfy my longing to see if the saltiness level was right. Four slices and four tasters later, the consensus was that it was very tasty bread. And not over-saltyThis small success led me to look at what else I could do. It went off the radar for a bit as I got into physical therapy and catching up on missed work. 

Then we were invited to a pumpkin carving potluck. I decided to make Nutella bread pudding in my crockpot. I made the recipe out of Slow Cooker Revolution, one of my favorite cookbooks - the main ingredient is challah bread. Artisan in 5 had a recipe for challah, and I had all the ingredients. Awesome, I could brag that I made almost everything from scratch. Now I will forewarn – the recipe does notfollow the traditional challah. It has butter in it, and it uses the whole egg, not just the yolk (I’m not sure of exact tradition, but I have read some recipes that claim only yolks should be used). It turned out great. I had to stop myself at one nibble. The recipe for the challah is here.

The thought of the following recipe is what gave me willpower. It is a delicious and VERY INDULGENT dessert. 

NUTELLA BREAD PUDDING (from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolutioncookbook)
Serves 8 to10                                   CookingTime: about 4 hours on Low

INGREDIENTS
• Vegetable oil spray
•1 (14-ounce) loaf challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (12 cups) (If you cannot find challah, firm,high-quality sandwich bread may be substituted.)
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardhelli 60% cacao)
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 cups whole milk
•9 large egg yolks
•1 cup Nutella
•3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulatedsugar
•4 teaspoons vanilla extract
•3/4 teaspoon salt
•2 tablespoons light brown sugar

DIRECTIONS
1. Line slow cooker with aluminum foil collar, then line with foil sling and coat with vegetable oil spray. (I don’t always do this, but it does mean that the back portion of my pudding gets a little dry because it has a hot spot. The foil collar is supposed to help even out any hot spots). 
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Spread bread over rimmed baking sheet and bake, shaking pan occasionally, until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes. Let bread cool slightly, then transfer to very large bowl.

3. Mix chocolate chips into dried bread; transfer to prepared slow cooker. 
4.Whisk cream, milk, egg yolks, Nutella, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in bowl, then pour mixture evenly over bread. Press gently on bread to submerge.

5. Mix remaining tablespoon granulated sugar with brown sugar then sprinkle over top of casserole. Cover and cook until center is set, about 4 hours on low. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

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