Sunday, March 9, 2014

Italian Sweet Bread

For my first official post I thought I'd start with what I'm making today: Italian Sweet Bread (via Laura and Kris Olson)

Now, this isn't exactly a "first attempt" because I've actually made this bread once before, a couple weeks ago. I'm attempting to make it again for a few reasons:
1. It was really addicting, we finished it in like three days
2. The bread wasn't actually as sweet as I though it would be, so I wanted to try a couple things on it
3. It's Sunday and I'm bored

I am a big experimenter in the kitchen. Meaning, I like to take a bunch of things that I think would taste good together and make something out of them. As my cooking knowledge has increased this has become more fun, as I can broaden my horizons a bit. Also, after watching all 8(?) seasons of Desperate Housewives, I learned that it could take years to perfect a recipe through experimentation. Thank you Bree and Katherine. I also have a HUGE sweet tooth. This is why I've decided to experiment a little on this Italian Sweetbread recipe.
Don't get me wrong, this first attempt was really good. This bread has an awesome texture; it's almost doughy in the middle which makes you keep eating it. It also tastes really good, especially with tons of butter. Not to mention that it's pretty simple to make, the first time I made this was my first time baking bread, ever.

This Original Recipe:

1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
5 t. yeast
1 1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
4 eggs
4-5 c. more flour

You mix the first four ingredients (1 c. flour - yeast). Then you warm the milk and butter in the microwave til the butter melts. Pour the milk and butter over the dry ingredients, mix. Add eggs and mix again. Then you just add 4-5 more cups of flour til it becomes a soft dough. You grease the dough, cover it, and let it rise for around 1 1/2 hours. Then you punch it down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, about 15 to 18 inches long and twist two together and join the ends. So, you end up with two twisted circles. Brush tops with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Cover and let rise about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

So, as I began baking this time around, I already had some changes in mind:
1. I added about a quarter cup of sugar
2. I added two tsp vanilla before adding the additional flour
3. I added some coconut caramel sauce I had previously made
*Warning: As of yet, I'm not super familiar with how different ingredients affect the outcome of baked goods ie: More sugar???
Well, the second attempt went much like the first, except it took a lot longer for the dough to form. I ended up using probably 7 or 8 cups of flour. I also add a little vanilla to the egg whites I brush on top, but you can't really tell the difference. The new sweet bread actually does taste a little sweeter and the texture is the same, so I'm calling this one a WIN! I will probably keep experimenting with it. Cuz it's fun! (One other thing, bake the bread near the bottom of the oven, it doesn't get as dark.)

Picture of First Attempt

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