Chef Bazile specifically chose these three small and mighty breads, for the simplicity of demonstration for class. She makes these weekly, for farmers’ markets and for Her own household. While She also bakes crusty boules, baguettes, and sandwich loaves, small breads freeze well and are also easier to take on the go. For variety, She selected breads from three different continents other than North America: Europe, Asia, and South America. Although gluten is for most bakers what makes bread equal bread, She's chosen one gluten-free recipe, and one that can be made with heritage grains and sourdough starter for people with mild gluten sensitivity, (not wheat allergies or celiac disease).
Our three recipes for this class include: Bialys- Pita pocket bread - Pao de Queijo
Breads of the World
Hello, I’m Bazile, co-owner of Soups! I Did it Again, a startup food business located in Spring Green, WI. My husband and I prepare frozen soups in quarts and bake fresh rolls and pastry, as well as side dishes and condiments, all from scratch, using local ingredients whenever possible. You can find our wares at the Spring Green Farmers’ Market, regional independent boutiques, and select supermarkets. We also cater events for special friends or occasions, such as the International Crane Foundation.
I began baking bread about ten years ago, when Kamm’s, my all-around favorite Madison area bakery stopped production. This bakery was run by three sisters into their 80’s and 90’s, and offered baguettes, sandwich loaves, and a variety of other specialty breads. They built a kitchen space adjacent to their homestead, and produced reliably delicious and wholesome loaves.
In my life and travels, I’ve tasted more extraordinary “artisanal” breads than Kamm’s, but like any peak experience, we are more sustained by what happens on a daily basis. Kamm’s loaves fed me through graduate school and my first few years in the field of social work (aka my day job), and I can still bring back to mind the flavor and texture of their breads. Since I’ve begun baking more professionally, I’ve changed my opinion about what a loaf of bread ought to cost, which is a good thing, given the inflation of food prices in recent years.
So, as we begin our evening together, I invite you to consider the question of what qualities about bread make it good in your opinion? Is there a difference for you between daily bread and specialty breads? There are no right or wrong answers to this. See if you can remember your first favorite breads and why you loved them. Have your tastes changed over the years? Your family might have baked their own loaves, or maybe they brought home those soft, sliced breads from the supermarket, or crescent rolls in a tube, or tortillas, or bagels. Somewhere inside us all is a hunger for the best bread, and we know it when we eat it!
I specifically chose these three small and mighty breads, for the simplicity of demonstration this evening. I make these weekly, for farmers’ markets and for my own household. While I also bake crusty boules, baguettes, and sandwich loaves, small breads freeze well and are also easier to take on the go. For variety, I’ve selected breads from three different continents other than North America: Europe, Asia, and South America. Although gluten is for most bakers what makes bread equal bread, I’ve chosen one gluten-free recipe, and one that can be made with heritage grains and sourdough starter for people with mild gluten sensitivity, (not wheat allergies or celiac disease).
Our three recipes for this class include: Bialys -Pita pocket bread- Pao de Queijo
Just what exactly is a bialy? Bialys hail from the historic Polish city of Bialystok. These breads resemble the ever-popular bagel, yet are rarely available outside of New York City. Their matte texture (vs shiny) and traditional flavoring, smack dab in the center (onion/poppyseed) make them look more like mini-pizzas. On a pilgrimage to the famous Kossar’s Bakery, I watched wide-eyed as every few minutes, as dozens of steaming bialys toppled off the conveyor belt into receiving baskets. You don’t buy them by the piece at Kossar’s, but by the bakers’ dozen. The aroma of these chewy, oniony delights will make you want to slather them in butter and munch away. Don’t burn your mouth! Wait ten minutes! Speaking from experience here.
Bialy dough is a “straight dough,” meaning it is basically flour, water, yeast and salt, all combined at the same time for the first and second rises. The filling is traditionally a mix of onion, poppyseed, and a dash of salt and pepper. Sometimes I add sesame seeds, for an “everything” mix. My sister and I experimented once with a cinnamon-sugar filling, which I liked, but I’m really hooked on the savory ones. I’ve also substituted garlic chives for the onions. Lots of room for experimenting here.
Here is my go-to recipe for bialys, adapted from Bread Alone (Leader & Blahnik)
For 8 bialys
12.5 oz of flour (appx 2.5 cup) sifted all-purpose flour (can use bread flour too)
7 fluid oz of dechlorinated or spring water (appx ¾ cup)
1 tsp fine salt (preferably non-iodized)
1.25 tsp yeast (active dry)
1 tsp sugar
1 medium red onion
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp black Pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil (I use organic sunflower)
Measure 7 fluid ounces of water and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and yeast, and whisk until combined. Once you see bubbles begin to form, add flour, one half-cup at a time, until whisk is difficult to move. At this point, you may knead in the bowl or on a clean, flat surface (counter or table). Continue for 10-15 minutes, until you can see gluten strands begin to form, and the dough feels soft and springy.
Let dough rest at room temperature in a bowl covered by a damp towel, plastic wrap or covering, or in a tupperware or glass bowl with a fitting lid. Give it at least an hour at WARM room temp, or up to 2 hours if your kitchen is below 70 degrees, like mine is this time of year. You’re looking for the dough volume to double.
Punch the dough down in the center and gather into a ball, flip and cover again for about 45 min-1 hr.
Once the dough has doubled again, turn it out onto your kneading surface and work it gently for about a minute, flattening and then coaxing it into a ball, placing it seam side down. Take a dough cutter and divide it into eight sections of approximate equal size. Each of these pieces gets curled into a tight little ball. Place these onto a tray or plate and cover for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Flatten each ball on a floured surface out into a mini-pizza shape. Again, lay these onto a tray or cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel or clean plastic. Allow these to double in size, 30-45 min. While they’re rising, mince and saute the onion in the veggie oil until translucent and fragrant. When cool, combine onion with poppy seed, black pepper, salt and optional sesame seed.
Push into the center of each of your “mini pizzas” to make a generous dent, and load a teaspoon of the onion mixture into each. Let them proof for another 30 minutes.
Bake bialys directly on baking stone, or on a prepared baking sheet (sprayed with pan release or laid with parchment/ silicone sheet) for about 12 min, until lightly brown. Do not overbake!
Allow to cool and enjoy immediately. Bialys do freeze well, as does the filling if you want to make several onions’ worth ahead of time and thaw before baking time.
Now, we’ll travel from Europe/ NYC, across the Mediterranean, into Northern Africa and over to the Middle East for:
Pita Pocket Bread
Adapted from Breadtopia, one of my favorite websites
Makes 8 pitas
500g (about 4.25 cups) whole grain flour (white, whole wheat, rye, or spelt)
360g (about 1.5 cups) water
12g (1 Tbsp) olive oil
10g (1.5 tsp) sea salt
5g (1 tsp) active yeast
70g (.25 cup) sourdough discard (optional)
This recipe is another straight dough method (in which everything gets mixed together for the first and second rises). However, we’re introducing a new concept: sourdough, as an optional ingredient for flavor, leavening, and fermenting the dough to maximize nutrition and digestibility.
Pita dough is slightly enriched, meaning that oil (fat) is added, to improve the hydration and extensibility of the dough.
When I make this recipe, I simply combine everything in a big bowl, wet ingredients first. I stir, then knead, cover for an hour, knead again, let rise another hour on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight, and shape.
To shape the pita, simply roll the dough into a ball or a log and cut into eight pieces. Take each piece and work into a ball, pinching the bottom seam to close. Let these pre-shaped balls sit for about 15 minutes on the kneading surface, then roll them flat with a rolling pin, taking care there are no cracks in the dough. Now, using a floured pizza paddle, transfer them to a preheated baking stone in a 500 degree oven to cook 1-2 minutes on each side. Alternatively, you can cook pita on a barbecue grill, or in a cast iron skillet. The important thing is that steam builds up in the center of the dough, puffing out the sides and cooking the inside to form a pocket.
Regarding sourdough–if you have a starter and feed it regularly, you know exactly what discard is– it’s the extra starter that results from the feedings. I’ll supply a separate sheet with information about sourdough.
Pao de Queijo
This yummy snack is literally called “cheese bread” in Portuguese. It originates from an inland region of Brazil, famous for mining. The traditional flour used in making pao is a starch from mandioca root, or as we call it, tapioca. Tapioca flour is naturally gluten-free, and is often one of the main ingredients in store-bought gluten-free baking mixes. It’s very fine, like cornstarch or confectioner’s sugar, and the textures that it forms when mixed with liquids take some getting used to. If you buy Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour, there’s a recipe right on the back of the label that teaches you to make the batter in a blender and pour it into muffin tins. That’s a fine way to go, and it’s how I started, but today I’ll be showing you the stand mixer method so you can see the development of the dough through different stages.
Pao is wonderfully gluten-free, but it is NOT dairy-free! It is rich with milk, cheese, and olive oil.
Let’s begin. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To make about 18 pao, you’ll need:
10 ounces (by weight) of tapioca flour
1 cup of milk
½ cup of good-tasting olive oil (I like extra-virgin)
1 tsp salt
2 cups shredded soft cheese (mozzarella or similar)
1 cup grated hard cheese (sharp, like parmesan)
Pan release spray (i.e. “Pam”)
Weigh out the tapioca and place into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. On the stovetop, combine milk, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Keep your eyes peeled so the milk mixture doesn’t boil over! Once you see bubbles forming, remove from heat and drizzle steadily into the tapioca, with the mixer on the lowest setting. Watch as the texture changes from lumpy, to gooey, to fluffy like frosting or fondant. It should be white and smooth.
Pause in the mixing and allow the batter to cool. Once you can touch the bottom of the mixing bowl (from the outside, like you would with a mug of tea or coffee), it is safe to add the eggs. Add them one at a time, and as they combine with the starch/milk/oil mixture, raise the speed another notch or two on the mixer. When you have a uniform looking batter, add the grated hard cheese, and then the shredded soft cheese and mix for another 30-60 seconds.
Spray a couple of muffin tins with pan spray, and fill about ¾ of the way with the batter. It is very gooey and thus, whatever method works best for you is the way to go. I like to use a smaller measuring cup, like a ¼ or ⅓ to scoop out the batter and plop it into the muffin cups. It WILL stick to everything, so a spatula and a clean or gloved finger is AOK for this step.
Bake for 25-30 min until nicely browned. Cool and enjoy!