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)