Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Maria Carreiro's Massa Cevada (Portuguese Sweet Bread)

This is my modified recipe. I have left the ingredients as intact as possible but have modified the technique slightly.  The bottom image is my three year old daughter, Madeline, enjoying her first taste of her great-great-grandmother's bread.

Maria Carreiro's Massa Cevada (Portuguese Sweet Bread)
makes 6 very small (grapefruit sized) or 4 small loaves

6 1/2c unbleached white flour
1 1/2c sugar
6 eggs beaten
1 tbl yeast
1/4lb + 2tbl unsalted butter (original recipe had tbl lard instead of butter)
1 c warm milk
1/4 c warm water
1 tsp sea or kosher salt
Additional milk for brushing top of loaf

In a very large mixing bowl (at least 5.5 qts), mix flour, salt & yeast.

In a small saucepan, gently warm milk and water to about room temperature. IMPORTANT! While cold liquids can slow the rising process, HOT liquids can kill off your yeast. Err on the side of caution and be sure your liquids are warm, not hot. Add sugar & beaten eggs to saucepan. Wisk until blended.

Pour milk mixture to flour mixture and take a  moment to put the butter into that same small sauce pan and set it over lowest heat. It will melt within a few minutes without getting to hot (remember ... HOT = BAD).

Mix milk & flour mixtures together (just until uniformly blended - you are NOT kneading it)  while butter melts. While you can use a stand mixer to blend the milk mix dough, I find using a wooden spoon and then my hands gives me a more thorough blending without toughening the dough.

Add butter to dough and gently incorperate it. This works best with your hands, if you can stand the feel of the butter. It takes a while to incorporate all that butter but be patient and work the dough gently.

Allow to rest in a draft-free location for at least 2.5 hrs. Don't worry about doubling, etc - just time it.

Cover lightly (do NOT make an airtight seal) and refridgerate until chilled. This dough is best worked after chilling.

Butter pan or pans well. You can easily bake a few loaves at ones or cut off a chunk of dough, returning the rest to be refridgerated for up to five days. The traditional shape for this bread is round but I baked these by rounding the dough and setting it in an oval baking ceramic dish. Glass or non-stick would work fine, as would a square or rectangle. I don't recommend a baking stone, but hey, whatever float's your boat...

Sprinkle surface of dough in rising container liberally with flour.

Using a serrated knife, kitchen shears (my preference) or a dough scraper to cut out the chunk(s) of dough you will be baking today. Sprinkle chunk of dough with more flour and gentle pull edges out and tuck under, creating a ball. This should take UNDER a minute. That's it.

Set in baking pan, pat top of dough to gently flatten it slightly and allow to rest in a draft free area for at least 1hr 40m or until dough is not cool to the touch.

Preheat oven to 350 for at least five minutes.

Liberally brush dough with milk or cream and place on center rack in oven (can bake multiple loaves at once, just don't crowd the oven).

Baste at least 3x with more milk or cream while baking to create a sweet rich upper crust.

Bake 35-45 minutes for very small loaves, 40-50min for medium or larger loaves. Please know that this time is just a guideline ... this part takes practice. It is challenging to know when bread is truly done - I use time as a guideline and base done-ness more on color of crust (should be uniformly very deep golden brown).  With wet dough, under-baking will create a gummy center. If this occurs, bake longer next time.

Additional notes on the recipe amd from my cousin Michele...
~ Grammy doubled this recipe and made 12 small loaves
~ Option: after forming ball of dough but before resting period, wash an egg in cold water, press into dough on top of each loaf; put one or two strips of dough across the egg. Continue with rest of recipe.

The original recipe called for kneading the dough, letting it rise until doubled, rolling in flour and then baking as noted above. You can experiement with this method if you prefer, but I find the rest/chill/rest method allows for a really nice texture and is more forgiving.

If you've read this far, go you :) You may want to read the story behind my baking this bread...

The story behind my sweet bread adventure...

Forgive me if this is not the most smooth account, but I wanted to record this before I forget it all!

I never met my great grandmother, Maria Carreiro. Many people don't but for me there is special meaning in that. You see, my mother's and father's parents had known each other socially for years. My mother spent many years hearing about Teddy and my father heard all about my mother. It was at my fatehr's grandmother's funeral in 1969, however, that they finally met at adults.  My father recalls seeing a stunning woman with a black mantilla covering her long, thick black hair. He decided he needed to persue her ... and did so that very night, stopping by her home to thank her parents for their condolences. They were married in 1970 :)

Maria Assumpcao Borges Carreiro (1894-1969) was married to Camillo Carreiro. I believe they were both from Sao Miguel in the Azore islands of Portugal. They went on to have three children, my grandmother Mary Carme, her sister Tillie and their brother Joseph.

My father and my cousins fondly remember Grammy Carreiro's Massa Cevada - it was a special treat only made a few times a year. Traditionally Massa Cevada is made at Easter with a whole egg in the shell baked in it. My mother grew up enjoying Grammy Carreiro's bread as well ... as friends of the family, they were treated to her wonderful baking. It really resonates for me that my family has been making this bread for (most likely) at least a hundred years!

At Thanksgiving my grandmother mused that I might be able to manage this recipe so I decided to attempt it for a Christmas Eve surpise. I contacted my cousin Michele and she kindly sent me what she had.

My great grandmother, like most, never used a recipe or measure out ingredients. Her method of teaching my grandmother and her daughter in-law (Michele's mother, Dot) was to bake with them watching, throwing in a bit of this and that ... and she also didn't speak english well. This recipe was written down on two very old index cards and I give Michele toooons of credit for copying it all over for me :)

My mom, grandmother and Aunt Dot all referred to this recipe as hard to make because it was a particularly sticky dough. Ironically I've spent the last three months learning how to bake with wet, sticky doughs. When I compared her recipe to the ones I have been using, I realized I could apply the same techniques to make this do-able.  For someone unfamiliar with wet-dough baking, I can see how challenging this would be.

My biggest question regarding the accuracy of this recipe is the yeast measurements. They are the ONLY edits I have made to the ingredient list, as most bakers no longer use yeast cakes. One important thing to know is that my method of baking is very forgiving regarding yeast discrepancies, so precision isn't vital.

Here are some cool links I stumbled upon while researching the history of yeast ...
A Short History of Yeast
Food History Resources - this is a wild page, check it out!

Monday, December 14, 2009

To die for Cinnamon Bread - seriously

I baked this on  whim late last night and it smelled so amazing that I stayed up past midnight to have a slice. Its a variation of the Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day.

For the dough I used the Master Boule Recipe from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day substituting 1 cup of beer for water - totally not a vital part of this recipe, I did it for fun. I had made the dough a few days before but it can easily be made the same day. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled. You could also make this with a wheat blend dough, brioche, buttermilk or gluten free dough. Please note that while the master recipe makes 4lbs of duogh, some of the recipes in these books make slightly different amts.

Initial Dough Prep time - 10 minutes
Initial Dough Rest time - 2 hrs

Master Boule Recipe Dough
1/3 c raw sugar (can sub white or brown sugar as well)
1.5 tsp cinnamon (give or take)
1 egg lightly whisked with 1 tsp of water
More sugar & cinnamon for sprinkling

Butter your loaf pan (8 or 9inch)

Follow step 5 on the master recipe.
I used about 1 lb of dough (size of a grapefruit, 1/4 of a full batch of master dough) but it would be better with 1.5 lbs (size of a cantaloupe, 1/3 of a batch of master dough).

Roll out your ball of dough on a floured surface to about 1/4inch thick, 8"x12". It does not have to be perfect.
Brush dough with egg wash - right to the edges. Put rest of egg wash in the fridge for later. Cover dough liberally with sugar & cinnamon, leaving a 1" empty space on one of the short edges. Dot on little bits of butter about every 2-3" (optional). Begin rolling up dough starting with edge that does not have the empty space. Pinch ends (fold over if you want a very tight seal) and pinch along seam.

Set in loaf pan. Allow to rest in a warm location for 40m if using just-made dough,  1hr 40m if using refridgerated.
About 10m before baking:
Preheat oven to 375F. I did not use a baking stone in the oven or a pan with water for steam.
Brush top of dough with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon to taste.

Bake for 35-45min - this is a wet dough and you really can't dry it out but you CAN under bake it.
Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Texture is best if cooled completely before cutting. Good luck with that :D

Variations (I haven't tested these but they sound nummy)...
Before rolling it up, sprinkle on top of the sugar & cinnamon;
Chopped rehydrated dried cherries
diced fresh apple (I think a tart one like macintosh would be lovely)
chopped pecans
wild blueberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain well first)

I made it last night, it was ready at midnight and its already gone :O

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter CSA Week 1: Fast & Easy Potatoes and Kale

I've done a number of CSA's in the past and I shamefully admit that I am HORRIBLE at using it all up. My family and I are not big on veggies, so I finally stopped doing summer CSAs. Winter ones still suck me in though ... mmmm, potatoes, onions, rootie goodness :)

(Wondering what a CSA is?)

Today's challenge: Find a kale recipe (other than my portuguese kale soup) that makes me WANT to cook

I halved the amounts below and came up with four side-dish sized servings and served it with fresh-out-of-the-oven artisan white bread. I absolutely loved it, as did my husbnd and three year old. Five year old may never forgive my insistance that she try a tiny bite. Three out of four ain't bad though! See below recipe for notes.

Braised Kale & Red Potatoes from Cooking Light 11/05

6 cups coarsely chopped kale (about 1 pound)
3 cups cubed red potato (about 1 pound)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Combine first 4 ingredients in a skillet; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 10 minutes. Uncover; cook over high heat until water evaporates. Spoon kale mixture into a bowl; set aside, and keep warm.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add pepper and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Spoon over vegetables; toss.
Notes: If you use fresh garlic, slice extremely fine and cook until well softened but not brown - if its thicker or raw in the middle it has an unpleasant bite with this dish. I used sea salt and added more after cooking. I also barely used any red pepper as my three year old doesn't like it.

I am so happy I found a kale recipe that was super easy AND absolutely yummy!