Monday, March 8, 2010

Fine Bread

I have to apologize a little to my readers. I've been a bit distracted this year -- preparing for an medieval arts competition. I didn't win, but I didn't expect to. I mostly wanted to get some feedback on some ideas I've had and I wanted to have fun. I succeeded!

For this competition, I've been playing again with a late-16th/early-17th century recipe called "Fine Bread." This recipe isn't a bread as we would describe it; it's more like a biscotti that is flavored with anise.

Before you say "I don't like anise/licorice," you should try this recipe.

Fine Bread
8 oz. unbleached all-purpose white flour
8 oz. sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz. anise
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).

Put the anise seeds in a mortar and pestle and bruise (grind gently) until the anise becomes aromatic.

Beat the eggs well until they are a fairly uniform yellow; you don't want globs of white and yolks.

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the eggs. The eggs will absorb all the dry ingredients; have faith. You will know you are almost done stirring when the batter forms a dough. There will still be some dry ingredients to be incorporated, so keep stirring. A few strokes more and the mixture will become a batter.

Melt the butter and pour into baking dish. Swirl the pan around to coat the bottom.

Pour batter into pan and bake until done -- 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the baking dish. Poke the center with a toothpick; the bread is done when the toothpick comes out clean.

Cook for five minutes or so, until the fine bread pulls away from the edges of the baking dish. Turn out onto a baking rack and let cook. Sprinkle powdered sugar lightly over the top.

I know; I blogged this a while ago. This time, though, I baked it in a cast iron skillet. I really liked how this turned out; the crust was more crispy than before and it really stayed moist.

Remember how, above, I asked you to wait until you tried this before you said you don't like anise? I've had multiple people who really, really don't like licorice/anise tell me how much they enjoyed this. One person actually wanted to know what other flavors I used in the recipe to offset the anise flavor and was surprised to find there weren't any.

No comments: