I made: Buchteln (sort of)

Ok first of all, a caveat: what I made did not end up being AT ALL like traditional Buchteln, which are a kind of Austrian sweet yeast roll.  I started with a recipe for Buchteln, but after several frustrating issues, I gave up on the rolls and just made a giant loaf instead.  So, consider this a semi-Buchtel.  A Grosse-Buchtel, if you will.

The actual dough recipe itself is fairly straightforward and not entirely dissimilar from other sweet breads I’ve made recently, such as challah and brioche.  The major differences are that this recipe calls for milk instead of water, it uses melted butter, and it calls for the baker to shape several small rolls, each filled with apricot jam.

Problem 1:

  • I could not get the yeast to properly proof in warm milk.  I tried twice, with two different sources of yeast (one from a packet and once from a freshly opened jar).  I’m not sure if the problem was the temperature, or if it was specific to the milk itself.  It was highly frustrating and eventually I gave up and proofed the yeast in water, then added milk later.

My solution may have in part contributed to problem #2:

  • This was the most unreasonably liquidy dough recipe I have ever worked with.  I know I may have used excessive liquid in the first step discussed above, but I didn’t use THAT much excess.  I’m honestly mystified, because I double checked each measurement aside from the water/milk, and I know I included the correct amounts.
  • During the kneading phase, I ended up adding at least a cup of flour, even though the recipe says not to.  I was still worried because at the stage at which the dough was supposed to rise, it literally wasn’t even dough at all.  It was straight-up batter.
  • At that point, I left it alone for an hour and hoped that perhaps it would even itself out during that time.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work out… when I turned it out to punch down & shape after the rise, it was literally still batter.  I had to add probably another full cup of flour just to get it to hold somewhat of a shape… and it was STILL too liquidy/sticky to actually form rolls.  Every time I tried to make a roll shape, it just stuck to my fingers too much and started sliding around.  It was literally impossible to “fill” with apricot jam because it wasn’t even a dough at all.
  • At that point I finally just said “screw it” and I threw the entire mass of dough into the pan, hoping that it might at least be an edible bread.

Well, so the good news is, it actually was!  I baked it at 375 for 30 minutes, at which point it had risen to about double the height of the pan, and turned a lovely golden color.  I think it could have taken a longer bake at a lower temperature, because it collapsed somewhat and the innermost dough didn’t really fully cook.  However, it did turn out to be a very tasty sweet bread that I’ve enjoyed a lot.

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I would never, ever use this specific recipe again, unless it were to play a prank on someone.  I am still interested in the concept of the Buchteln so perhaps I will search for a better recipe and try again sometime.

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I remade: Brioche

The last of my May bakes.  I made this last weekend after the previous weekend’s success.  It was easier to make by hand rather than using the mixer.  It also became more clear to me that this is just a sticky recipe, and that’s okay.  I made all rolls this time (no loaf), and it was great!  A+ would make brioche again.

I made: Cinnamon swirl cream cheese banana bread

Still catching up on my May bakes.  I found this recipe online because I wanted to make banana bread but I didn’t want it to be boring.  This was a tasty bread that I would definitely make again.  However, I would modify the topping somewhat.  The recipe calls for a simple cinnamon/sugar mix as a topping, which is fine, but boring.  I would add butter so that it gets crunchier and more rich, and also incorporate other spices and nuts as well.  Aside from that, it was great!

I made: Brioche

So far this is one of my favorite things I’ve baked this year!  I have always loved brioche and after my reasonable success with challah, it seemed like a good next step in the realm of yeast baking.  I found this recipe simply by googling, and followed the instructions fairly closely; I mixed with the stand mixer instead of by hand, however.  I split the dough in half and made 8 rolls with one half, and a loaf with the other half.

Results:

  • The rolls were EXCELLENT in terms of taste and texture.  We ate them all the first night.
  • Some of the rolls came out shaped a little funny.  It’s a work in progress.

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  • I did half the rolls as simple balls, and the other half I attempted to make a fancier shape by putting one smaller ball on top of a larger ball of dough.  These worked okay for the most part, but for sandwich purposes, the simple balls worked better.

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  • The loaf was okay.  It didn’t make an especially tall loaf, although it’s such a rich bread, I’m not sure if you’d really want a much larger slice at a time.
  • The loaf has lasted a bit longer.  After a few days, it has become sort of unpleasantly… crumbly?  It still tastes fine, but makes a giant mess.

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Next time:

  • I have a very tiny collection of attachments for my stand mixer, which made the mixing process more difficult than it really needs to be.  I don’t actually have a proper “dough hook” at all.  I think I would try it by hand next time.
  • Actually I think I need to watch some videos because I’m not 100% sure my dough was right.  It was so crumbly and barely dough at all before I started adding butter, I just don’t know if I ever fully developed the gluten in it.
  • I’d rather just make 16 rolls than bother with the loaf (at least with this recipe).

I re-made: Challah bread

It’s almost getting to the point where I feel that I’m cheating to keep including the challah bread as a bake, but as long as I continue fiddling with it and learning different things, I’m thinking it still counts as a separate bake.

This time I had a few more observations:

  • Instead of measuring out yeast, I just used 2 packets of active dry yeast, which by eyeball, seemed about right.  This was fine.
  • I let both the first and second rise go for longer than recommended.  I believe this helped ensure a complete rise and there was less rising in the oven as a result.
  • I used a heavier hand to brush the top with egg, which resulted in a browner top.
  • I tried a different method for braiding one of the loaves.  This method, which I read about online, suggested that you divide the bread into 6 equal pieces and then roll each piece out into snakes, which you then connect and braid together.  I found this to be tedious and way more fussy than my usual method, which is simply to shape a big rectangle and use kitchen scissors to cut six roughly equivalent strands.  The snake method resulted in a less pretty bread as well.  Not gonna use that method again probably.
  • I included a slight bit more sugar than usual (less than a tablespoon extra probably) and it seemed like a good idea, still not too sweet, but a touch sweeter and tastier than previous versions.
  • Finally: I’m still having issues with stickiness.  I’m not sure if I’m just not using enough flour?  I always end up turning out huge amounts of flour onto the kneading surface.  I think next time I’m going to try just starting out with more flour in the recipe to begin with, which will hopefully avoid some of the mess and sticky dough issues.

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I remade: Challah bread

Just working on my challah skills basically.  I used the same recipe as the previous times, again doubling it so I get two cute loaves instead of just one.  I’m still working on the braiding so that’s why I tried two different styles.

This time the rise seemed a little slower – not sure if it’s because I switched yeast brands, possibly.  It continued rising in the oven, which is ok.

There was also a slightly weird flavor.  I’m fairly sure it was from the countertop I kneaded it on, which may have had some trace soap on it.  Oops!  Anyway it was still good enough to eat, yay challah.

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I remade: Mini challah bread!

When I first wrote up my challah bread efforts, I mentioned that I was planning to make French toast but accidentally ate all of the bread instead of French toasting it oops.  So I had to try again.  This time I also doubled the recipe in order to help prevent accidentally eating it all.  I braided the second loaf in six strands which I was worried was going to be a big mess, but actually ended up looking really cute & fancy!

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French toast should be happening later today.  Other notes about this recipe:

  • I made sure to proof the yeast in advance and I didn’t have any issues with rising that I had had last time.  Pretty sure the problem was that I made the water too hot.
  • I used slightly less flour than I had the first time, which meant the dough was a little stickier?  I was worried about it at first, but it seemed to bake up nicely anyway.

YAY BREAD!