Friday, 12 September 2014

Croissant-shaped milk bread

Croissant-shaped milk bread

I know that the picture can be misleading: one could easily think I am going to share the recipe for a soft (and sweet) brioche-bread containing a relatively high amount of butter, a certain number of eggs, a lot of sugar, requiring a long preparation process and, of course, a standing mixer. But no, the recipe is that of a bread, which is soft and brioche-like because prepared with milk instead of simple water and "reinforced" with a minimum quantity of butter and egg. Also every step can be made by hand (no particular equipment required) and, not considering dead times while the dough is rising, the total preparation time is relatively short. My sister is the source of this bread's recipe that I had the chance to taste this summer while staying (in Italy) at my parent's home with her and her two children, who used to have it for merenda (the afternoon snack) filled with ham, prosciutto or chocolate-hazelnut spread.
I liked it immediately because is soft, light, with a good balance of sweetness and saltiness, and therefore can be the perfect side for both sweet and savory dishes / meals. In particular, exactly as the brioche bread that it reminds so much, I find this milk bread perfect for breakfast, a bit warm maybe, served with jam (with or without butter), chocolate spread, light spreadable cheeses, or cold cuts. But actually it is very versatile. Use it for example to make small sandwiches for the morning or afternoon snack: children (and not only them) will love it. And what about using this bread to make sweet and savory bites for a buffet? If there are adults among the guests, the range of possible fillings significantly increases: smoked salmon, any kind of paté, vegetable spreads, and more. It will also be appreciated if placed in the dinner bread basket with other varieties of bread.
I gave these little breads the shape of a croissant but, of course, other different shapes can be used: rolls, buns, small loafs.

Croissant-shaped milk bread

Croissant-shaped milk bread
makes 24 mini buns
320 g strong bread flour
200 g all purpose flour
300 ml full fat milk, lukewarm
1 medium egg
20 g butter, softened
2 tsp sugar
1 heaped tsp salt
7 g instant yeast (or active dry yeast)
flour for the working surface
milk to brush the bread
Add the yeast and 1 tsp sugar to the warm milk, mix to dissolve the yeast and let stand for 4 to 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the flours and salt, make a hollow in the middle and add the remaining 1 tsp sugar, egg, soft butter and, gradually, the milk-yeast mixture. Mix well with a fork, then transfer the dough onto a floured working surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (it will take 5 to 10 minutes). The dough can be alternatively prepared using a standing mixer equipped with the dough hook.
Transfer the dough into a slightly floured large bowl, seal with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size (it will take from 2 to 3 hours depending on the room conditions).
Croissant-shaped milk bread:the dough after rising

When the dough is doubled in size and full of small bubbles, transfer it onto a floured working surface, flatten a little and knead it rapidly, then divide it in half. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the first half of the dough into a 5-6 mm thick disc (while rolling, do not apply to much pressure so as not to crush the bubbles). Using a straight pastry cutter, slice the disc into 12 wedges; shape the "croissants" by rolling up each wedge of dough  starting from the base while gently stretching the tip.
Croissant-shaped milk bread: making croissant

Place them evenly spaced and with the closure side down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll, cut and shape also the second half of dough, in the same way. You may need a couple of baking sheets to place all the pieces. Let stand at room temperature for about one hour to let the dough rise again. Then preheat the oven to 200°C, static function.
Croissant-shaped milk bread: brushing with milk

Brush the "croissants" with a little milk then bake, one sheet at a time, for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Croissant-shaped milk bread

This small breads perfectly pair with both sweet and savory  fillings: on the sweet side they go well with jams and marmalade, chocolate spread, honey, ..., on the savory with spreadable and soft cheeses, ham and other cold cuts. But they are good also on their own.

Notes: This milk small breads can be frozen both before baking and already baked.
·     .If freezing unbaked, place them evenly spaced on serving trays and put them in the freezer. When frozen, they can be transferred into plastic bags. Remember to thaw them before baking.
·     If baked, when completely cooled they can be placed in plastic bags and frozen. Thaw them at room temperature before serving.
Croissant-shaped milk bread

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