Bread and wine were made for each other. That much is evident, whether in religious symbolism or as part of the food culture in countries of the Mediterranean and some of Eastern Europe. The Bread Baking Babes’ bread that Tanna chose for us to bake this month also pairs bread and wine but in a slightly different manner. Her choice of Beaujolais Bread is one where the wine (Beaujolais in particular) goes into the bread!
The recipe for Beaujolais Bread is from A Passion for Bread by Lionel Vatinet, According to the author, this bread is a homage of sorts to memories of the first grape harvest from his childhood in the Rhone region of France where he spent time at his grandparent’s home surrounded by a vineyard.
The wine in this recipe would slow down the fermentation/ rising process so the bread dough goes through a rather lengthy rising periods and had 3 of them! Shaping this bread into a cluster of grapes makes for a beautiful centre piece, and if served as an appetizer, guests can pull off a ”grape” to enjoy with their wine.
All of which is just fine except for two things. We don’t drink alcohol nor do we eat meat. So I made a fake version of the Beaujolais bread. Fake because it doesn’t really deserve to be called a Beaujolais bread as two main ingredients are missing in action here – there’s no wine or salami in it!
Instead I planned to substitute the wine with a mix of 2 parts of something called Tropicana Cranberry Delight (packaged beverage which is a mix of cranberry, apple and grape juice) and one part of orange juice.
I found the use of only the Cranberry Delight lent the bread a very strong fruity taste and aroma which we didn’t really like, though that was probably closer to a wine-like taste.
I also used dried cranberries instead of salami. I wanted to use walnuts too, but I thought it would make shaping the dough into a bunch of grapes a bit difficult. And I didn’t think grapes would look particularly pretty with walnut bits sticking out of them! However, I went ahead with Tanna’s suggestion of using ground walnuts and all was well.
I don’t know whether it was because I used juice instead of wine but for 3 cups of flour and 1 1/4 cups of juice, I got a slightly sticky and very manageable dough. I didn’t need to go lumber jacking with “logs” or even do all the interesting (weird?) kind of kneading either. My food processor made short work of the dough. Please see the original recipe to see the suggested kneading method for the Beaujolais Bread.
The end result was a nice looking bread that browned well with a slight crust, and a soft and slightly chewy texture. I shaped the “grapes” out of smaller balls of dough, so one “grape” needed just two bites to disappear. I had hoped to shape my “grape cluster” so much better but I found my creativity had taken a hike when I tried to fashion some “leaves” out of the dough. I decided to use a leaf shaped cookie cutter so my grapes ended looking a little larger than the leaves. Oh well ……
You can also shape the dough into 16 balls to make regular style rolls which taste just as good.
I’m not sure I would say this is one of the better breads I’ve baked in terms of taste, though I’m sure there’s room for improvement if only I can find the right combination/ proportion of fruit juice that would appeal to our tastes. I baked this twice, and the first time it was too “fruity” for our liking, but the second one was a vast improvement over the first one. Our Cocker Spaniel Fudge however saw no cause for complaint as he loves all bread with equal passion (I’m sure he must have been a bread baker in a previous life!)
A Fake Beaujolais Bread (Non-Alcoholic Version)
(Adapted from A Passion for Bread by Lionel Vatinet)
A Fake Beaujolais Bread (Non-Alcoholic Version)!
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsps yeast instant
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt A little over
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups cranberries chopped dried
- 1/2 cup walnuts broken , chopped fine
- 1 1/4 cranberry juice (sweetened)*
- *I initially used Tropicanau2019s Cranberry Delight which is readymade sweetened beverage that is a mix of apple, grape and cranberry juice. It is a bit sweet with a somewhat pronounced sharpness and tang and also has a lighter red colour, all of which to my mind made it a good candidate to be my u201cfake Beaujolaisu201d. However, I found a combination of 2 parts of Cranberry Delight and one part orange juice made a bread which we liked better as it had a less u201cfruityu201d taste and aroma than my first choice.
- Put 3 cups of flour, yeast, honey, salt and chopped cranberries in the processor bowl and run a couple of times to mix well. Warm the juice slightly and then pour into the dry ingredients. Knead until you have a soft elastic and smooth dough thatu2019s just short of sticky. Add just enough extra flour or juice, if necessary, to get this consistency of dough.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, and cover loosely. Le t it rise until almost double in volume. This will take about 2 to 3 hours. Lightly deflate the dough by pressing it out into a square. Pull up the 4 corners and tuck the edges together to shape it into a ball making sure to tuck and pinch all the seams.
- Put hits back in the bowl and cover loosely, and let it rise till almost double in volume. Lightly flour your working surface and press out the dough into a rectangle about 10u201d by 4 to 5 inches wide. Make sure the dough isnu2019t sticking to the surface. Cut it into 16 equal pieces (or more if you want smaller u201cgrapesu201d) with the bench scraper. I cut mine into twenty and used 16 for the grapes and the rest for the vine and leaves.
- Lightly grease your baking sheet or line it with parchment. Roll out 14 pieces into smooth balls which will form the grapes and the other two pieces can be used to make the grape vine and leaves.
- Create a triangle by setting four balls together in a line followed by a line of three balls then two balls and finally one ball. Angle the remaining four balls to one side of the triangle so that the entire piece resembles a large cluster of grapes with the smaller one to the side, or create your own bunch of grapes as you prefer.
- With the remaining pieces of dough, roll out one into a rope about 10 inches long and shape it into a curved grape vine shape that you attach to the top of the grape cluster. Shape the others into leaves and arrange on the cluster.
- Place the shaped dough in a draft-free place and let it rise for about an hour or so. If it over proofs the dough will be unusable. Determine the dough is ready to be baked by uncovering and making a small indentation in the centre of the role with your fingertip. The dough is ready to be baked if the indentation slowly and evenly disappears.
- Just before your shaped dough is ready for the oven, pre-heat the oven to 230C (450F) with a flat baking tray turned upside down in it or a baking stone if you have one. Slide your baking tray wth the dough on it onto the heated baking sheet. An effective and cheap way to achieve a crisp crust is to cover the bread with a stainless steel bowl or a rectangular pan when it is first placed in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes then remove the bowl or pan. Continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the bread is golden brown has a thick crust. Let the bread cool before serving.