Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pain Au Fromage et Pain Aux Olives

Okay. I officially just changed my blog’s title. How lame is that? Before, the title was ‘MaMiko. Eat, Read, Love.’ because I wanted to review the books I’ve read and the word ‘love’ just followed like an obedient canine. Of course I never will admit putting that four letter word there just because I am a loving person, indeed I am, but not in a million years I would self-proclaim myself as one. And the book review thing is like an abandoned project. One I seem to purposely set aside, mostly because I am busy with reading and cooking. But the truth as we all know it is that some of us actually enjoy delaying things. As if somehow delaying things makes us feel like we are the master of our own time. Are we?

The fact that I’ve rekindled my passion for bread has left me breathlessly overjoyed. That is why I feel it is more suitable to have ‘MaMiko: Bread, Spice, And Everything Nice.’ as my blog’s title. Beside, most of the recipes I posted were about bread and I can assure you there are MORE to come. I can’t seem to recall a day went by without thinking of anything bread-related. From day dreaming of having my own boulangerie to hassling my friends who still opt for store bought bread when they have time to watch E! or any trashy entertainment (read:gossip) programs on the telly.  They could have dipped their hands in flour and start kneading instead of lazying about watching who marries who, who got dumped, or which country shall give up their kid to be adopted by Brangelina. Are they.. still adding family members? Anyhow, even if my mission to convert people to homemade bread seems to be rather daunting, as a devout evangelist I shall not give up.

My passion for reading and learning seems to be in accordance with my jolly journey in baking bread. It seems that my somewhat overwhelming collection of fantasy and classic literature books, the permanent denizens in my shabby racks, can give some space to some bread baking books. Some that I love are books from Nick Malgieri and Peter Reinhart. Their books are not just recipe books like Martha Stewart’s books, though I have to say I adore her cookbooks so much for the luscious photography and saliva generating dishes. Those authors are telling stories; they are mad scientists romancing the bread and wickedly saying that there are secrets that are yet to be revealed in breads. You have to be crazy to not be pulled in the world of grains and levain after reading their books.

I found these lovely bread recipes, Pain Au Fromage and pain Aux olives, when I was looking for some french cooking books. Mind you, I have a degree in French Literature but since I rarely speak French ever since I graduated, now my spoken French is as rusty as an unoiled old iron hinge in a 400 years old haunted mansion. I still have pride in my reading though; therefore once in a while I like to challenge myself reading anything French. And what could be better than reading recipes?

Pain means bread --now don't go throwing intended pun about making bread  IS pain-- and fromage means cheese so Pain Au Fromage means cheese bread. Olives are obviously olives. But in this context, Pain Au Fromage is translated as cheese hearth bread. This cheese-enriched, crusty bread from southern France was traditionally baked in a hearth on the dying embers of a fire. Well of course living on a tropical country I don’t have a hearth at home let alone dying ember. But there is no reason to not have this delectable bread at home using an oven that looks like it has seen better days. It is as close image as a hearth with dying ember in it, only that it is expected that the oven would survive at least three hundred dozen hot baguettes more.

The original recipe calls for plain flour, but I am not me if I take something just as it is. So here is my version of Pain Au Fromage and pain Aux Olives.

-2 ½ tsp instant yeast
-1 ¼ cups water
-2 cups strong bread flour
-1 cup whole wheat flour/kraftkorn flour
-1 tbs olive oil
-2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, plus extra for topping
-1 tbs of flax seeds
-1 tbs millet seeds
-1 tbs of chopped pumpkin seeds
-1 tbs of chopped sunflower seeds
-1 cup of green olives, roughly chopped and more for topping

Step 1: Mix the yeast, salt, grains, and flour together. Pour the water little by little while incorporating the flour together. Pour the olive oil then stir to make a moist, firm dough

Step 2: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. If you’re making Pain Au Fromage, knead in the grated cheese. If you’re making Pain Aux Olives, knead in the chopped olives.

Step 3: Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with dish towel and let it rise until doubled in size. The time of rising depends on how ‘heavy’ your dough is.

Step 4: Divide the dough into four equal pieces by flattening it into a round and cutting it into triangular quarters. Let them rest for around 10 minutes

Step 5: Roll out each piece of dough into a flat, oval shape about ¼ inch thick. If the dough resists rolling out, let it rest for a minute or two then roll it again.

Step 6: Transfer the dough onto greased baking sheet. Make 5 slashes through each piece of dough. Open up the slash by gently pulling the edges apart slightly. 

Step  7: Cover with a dish towel and let it rest for about 45 minutes then before you bake them, sprinkle with cheese or olives. Bake them in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. The temperature is 200C and should be no less.

The ones I made were Pain Au Fromage but I still topped them with olives. Usually this bread is made with green olives but little Amiko prefers black olives so I let her do her own topping. Had we some sundried tomato as well, we definitely would have put them in too. Please do not be discouraged looking at the list of grains and seeds that I use. In fact you can use them, substitute them with the ones available chez vous, or omit them completely. It is just a matter of personal preference. But I do admit adding grains and seeds in the baked products do enhance the texture and render deeper flavors for they release their oil when baked. As for cheese, you can try to use some lovely goat cheese or Roquefort, crumbled not grated, as an alternative to Gruyere. Or if you only have cheddar at home, by all means just use it!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some sun dried tomatoes. Bisous!

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