Hye Thyme Cafe: Apricot-Coconut Bread (Three strikes, but I'm not giving up!)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Apricot-Coconut Bread (Three strikes, but I'm not giving up!)




This is an example of what food bloggers sometimes go through. You try a recipe, but it doesn't work out quite right, so you don't want to post it for others to try until it's "perfected." As delicious as this bread is, I've made it three times now, and it's still not "right." That's what people are referring to when they talk about "recipe development." It's not just about making something - it's about making sure it will work right and can be repeated by others. This comes into play more with baking than cooking. You have to do it and then do it again to ensure you get the same result. The problem here is in the rise ... or lack thereof. I'm not getting that nice airy texture I'm looking for.

The first time I made it, when I saw that the dough hadn't risen, I thought maybe it didn't like that I had soaked my apricots in a little Amaretto, or this particular dough should have been prepared in a different order - sometimes I'll dump everything together, sometimes I'll bloom the yeast, add the other wet ingredients, then the dry, etc.

For the second attempt, I omitted the Amaretto, bloomed the yeast first, swapped out the milk and butter for water and oil, and mixed everything until it pulled into a ball before adding the coconut and apricots. Same result! What the heck is going on? Then it occurred to me that it must have been my yeast. I usually buy bricks of yeast and store it in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. I figured it had been around for too long, so before my third attempt, I picked up a strip of fresh yeast packets at the grocery store.

Third attempt - went back to the milk and butter but again skipped the Amaretto. I whisked the dry ingredients together, sprinkled the yeast into the well that formed in the center, added the wet ingredients and mixed until it pulled into a ball, then added the coconut and apricots. This time, I got a bit of a rise out of it, but still not what it should have been.

The old saying is "Three strikes and you're out," but I'm not giving up yet! I have baked breads with all kinds of things in them before with no problem, but I do recall seeing some recipes that call for letting the dough rise before adding the mix-ins. That has left me with one more idea ... maybe the shred on my coconut is so fine that when I mix it into the dough before letting it rise, it's messing with the bubbles the yeast should be forming.

If anyone else has a different idea about what might be going on, I'd love to hear from you!
 The first loaf was a 5-strand braid.











The second loaf was a 6-strand braid.











The third loaf was another 6-strand braid.
This one rose during baking, making the braid spread open.











One reason I haven't minded trying this again and again is that it makes the apartment smell so good!  :)

The last two loaves are currently residing in the freezer. I plan to turn them into an overnight French Toast Casserole.

Stay tuned ... I'll get it right eventually!


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