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BBB ~ Fouace Nantaise

How can baking bread continue to fascinate, intrigue and surprise?  How can there be so few and so simple ingredients and continue to be new?  How can I continue to fool my self starting a recipe with “I can’t imagine I’ll like this?  I really don’t want to make much effort to find orange blossom water.” and end with “This is brilliant.  I do like orange.”  I tried the grocery stores for orange blossom water, even a little heath food store in town.  It’s a small place.  Rose water but no orange blossom water.  Only because Gorn makes such an effort to see that I have ingredients did we make the trek into San Luis Obispo to … Whole Foods!  Wow and I found all kinds of sprouted flours!

I have avoided using orange with chocolate forever and I think that may never change.  But this bread … gorgeous.

I had trouble with this rising.  Seemed to give several of us trouble.  Some of the issues I believe I understand and can easily change.  Karen used SAF yeast and she’s right it works better with these heavily enriched doughs.  I just didn’t have any here.  I would use a full teaspoon next time.  And I would use the sugar which I forgot in this bake.  I think I will search out some orange blossom honey for baking this again.

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I tend to have a heavy hand with flavor and didn’t actually measure the orange blossom water.  I thought about Elizabeth saying the orange was not pronounced when she baked this.  Now I realize it doesn’t make sense, me saying I don’t like baking with orange and then telling you I doubled the orange blossom water … but for whatever reason that is what I did and that was why I also did not omit the orange zest.  I think I must have gotten the idea from Elizabeth, this bread was suppose to be about orange.

Orange.  Orange juice.  Orange sunshine.  Brilliant Orange January Sunshine.  I think that is as it should be.

Jamie ~ Life’s a Feast ~ will paint you a brilliant word picture of Nantes and this bread.  This recipe will not appear in her book coming out this fall but I’m sure it is representative of her glorious writing and attention to creative recipe development.

Elizabeth ~ Blog from OUR Kitchen ~ our brilliant Kitchen of the Month.  Always creates a wild cacophony when we gather round her kitchen table … heck, there’s always glorious chaos when she’s in the kitchen.  And always something wonderful comes to the table from that chaos.  Wonderful like Fouace Nantaise.  Elizabeth talks about this being a flower, I think it’s more like January sunshine.

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BBB ~ Fouace Nantaise

Elizabeth ~ Kitchen of the Month

50 grams (3+1/2 Tbsp) unsalted butter
60 grams (60ml) milk
3 grams (3/4 tsp) active dry yeast
7 grams (~1+1/2tsp) orange blossom water
45 grams Rum
2 eggs, body temperature, lightly beaten
250 grams flours divided
» 50g (6 Tbsp) sprouted spelt
» 185g (1+1/2 c) unbleached all-purpose
15 grams wheat germ
zest of one orange, optional
25 g (2 Tbsp) sugar
4 g (~1/2 tsp fine) sea salt
milk or cream, for wash on shaped loaf

1. MIXING: Melt butter.

2. Whisk milk, eggs, orange blossom water, rum and orange zest with melted butter.

Why did I opt for rum?  The only thing I’ve ever made/cooked/baked that Gorn said he did not like was a Grand Marnier Souffle.

3. Elizabeth’s directions:  Pour milk into a largish mixing bowl. Add the melted butter to the milk to raise the temperature to body temperature (check with a thermometer OR by placing a drop on the inside of your wrist – if the milk feels cool, it’s too cold; if it feels hot, it’s too hot; if it feels like nothing, it’s ju-u-u-st right). Add yeast and whisk in until it has dissolved.
Adding them one at a time, whisk in eggs, then pour in orange liqueur and orange blossom water. Place flours, sugar, salt, and orange zest (if using) on top. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the flour has been absorbed. (Traditionally, the bread is made with rum rather than orange liqueur. The first time I made this, I did use rum, but I really wished that the flavour was more orangey so decided to use orange liqueur instead.)

4. Whisk together the yeast, salt and flours.
Pour liquid ingredients into dry and mix.

5. KNEADING: Using one hand to turn the bowl and the other to dig down to the bottom to lift the dough up to the top, turn, fold, turn, fold, etc. the dough until it is smooth and elastic. As you knead, resist the temptation to add more flour or water.

6. Once the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with a plate and allow the dough to rise, until almost completely doubled, on the counter in a non-drafty area.

7. SHAPEING: When the dough has doubled, it’s time to shape. (To check to see if it’s ready, poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn’t risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.) Turn the risen dough out onto a very lightly floured board (just the smallest dusting will be enough). Divide the dough evenly into 7 pieces.
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8. Shape each piece into a ball. Place one ball in the center of a parchment-lined cookie tray. Arrange the other six balls of dough loosely around the center ball – to form a flower. Cover with a damp (clean) tea towel followed by plastic grocery bags and leave to rise until almost doubled. (To test, using a floured finger, gently press against the side of the shaped bread. If the indentation immediately jumps back, it’s not ready; if it stays indented, it has over-risen; if it gradually fills in, it’s ready to go.

9. I pulled off a large ball and made that the center.  Divided the remaining dough into 8 balls for the flower petals.

10. BAKING: Preheat the oven to 350F. Gently brush the top of the risen bread with milk (or cream). Put the tray onto the top shelf of the oven (to prevent the bread from burning on the bottom) and bake for about 30 minutes until the bread is a “deep golden brown”. Jamie also writes that the outer “petals” of the flower “will have just started to pull away from the center ball”.

Are you in need of January Sunshine?  Here it is.  Bake this loaf!  It’s brilliant and you can be too.  Elizabeth will have all the details of how to be a Bread Baking Buddy before the end of the day.
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We all need sunshine in January.  Bake.  Make sunshine.

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