By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer
Let me first say in the interest of full disclosure that I have known Nick Malgieri for many years. Neither of us will admit to how many! His first Dallas classes were at my cooking school. Since then he has written numerous books and teaches and consults all over the world.
There is a saying that “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” That stated, there are the rare individuals who can do both and more – and Nick falls in that category. Named in 1996 to Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, his resume includes Director of Baking for the Institute of Culinary Education in NY, national spokesman for to the Switzerland Tourism and Gastronomy Program, and he has won numerous awards including “Best Chocolate Book in the World” in 1998 from the Salon International du Livre Gourmand! For more on Nick visit his website.
This week, Nick’s latest book, “bread” was released. I was allowed a sneak peek and am here to tell you this is the book for those of you who suffer from Fear of Yeast (FOY)!
Many bakers are perfectly happy making cakes and cookies, but when it comes to working with yeast – they are afraid of its capriciousness. Water too hot – the yeast dies. Water too cold – the yeast lays there looking like it has died.
This is also a book for those of you who are expert but would like to extend your repertoire and knowledge.
Unlike many cookbooks that add to the reader’s frustration by simply showing a perfect picture of the finished product – (can you say photo-shop?) – Nick shows you all the stages of preparation.
The book also adds suggestions for alternatives and, unlike any other book I have read, it offers recipes for using the bread leftovers.
Here are two samples from the book – his Easy Bread and his delicious Lemon Meringue Bread Pudding.
The books are now available for purchase through Amazon and if you would like to support a
local bookstore – you can also swing by A REAL BOOKSTORE at Fairview and buy one there!
Easiest Home-Baked Bread
If you’ve never baked bread before or you want a bread that’s easy and relatively quick to prepare, look no further. This dough may be mixed by machine or by hand, plus it’s easy to shape into a loaf. Once you’ve baked this one, you’ll want to try some of the others in this chapter. All the other recipes in this chapter are mixed the same way and, with one exception, all are formed the same way too.
Makes one 9-to10-inch round loaf.
1 1⁄4 cups/275 grams room-temperature tap water, about 75°F
2 1⁄4 teaspoons/7 grams fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
3 cups/400 grams bread flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons/9 grams fine sea salt
Olive or vegetable oil for the bowl
One heavy cookie sheet or pizza pan dusted with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper, plus a spray bottle filled with warm water
1. Pour the water into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in the yeast. Wait 30 seconds and whisk again.
2. Use a large rubber spatula to stir the flour into the yeast and water mixture a little at a time. Make sure all the flour is mixed into the liquid and there isn’t any clinging to the side of the bowl.
3. Place the bowl on the mixer and attach the dough hook. Mix on the lowest speed until the dough comes together around the dough hook, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and pull the dough away from the hook; let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
4. Increase the mixer speed to low/medium, sprinkle in the salt, and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
5. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it over so that the top is oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment until it starts to puff, about 30 minutes.
6. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface, flour your hands, and pull the dough into a rough rectangle. Gently flatten the dough to a disk. Fold the two sides in to overlap at the middle, then roll the top toward you all the way to the end, jelly-roll style. Invert, flatten, and repeat. Place the dough back in the bowl seam side down and cover. Let the dough ferment until fully doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
7. To form the dough into a boule-shaped loaf, use a flexible plastic scraper to slide it from the bowl, right side up, to a floured work surface; try not to deflate the dough. Round the loaf by pushing against the bottom of the dough all around with the sides of your hands held palms upward. The dough will quickly form an even sphere.
8. Place the dough on the prepared pan and cover it with a flat-weave towel or piece of sprayed or oiled plastic wrap and let the dough rest until it starts to puff again, about 30 minutes. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450 ̊F.
9. Once the dough is proofed about 50% larger, flour the palms of your hands and gently press to flatten it to about 11⁄2 inches thick. Use an X-Acto knife or single-edge razor blade to cut a 1/8-inch-deep slash across the diameter of the loaf, then generously spray it with water using the spray bottle. Place the pan in the oven.
10. Wait 5 minutes, then open the oven and spray the loaf again and reduce the oven temperature to 425 ̊F. Bake the loaf until it is well risen and deep golden and the internal temperature reads 200 ̊F on an instant read thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes.
11. Cool the loaf on a rack. Keep the bread loosely covered at room temperature on the day it’s baked. Wrap and freeze for longer storage. Reheat at 350 ̊F for 5 minutes and cool before serving.
Lemon Meringue Bread Pudding
Makes about 6 servings
2 cups whole milk
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue) 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons strained lemon juice
3 large egg whites (from above) Pinch of fine sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup sugar
One 6- to 8-cup gratin dish, buttered
This was a specialty of Marie Smith Leonard, my friend Sandy’s mother. She had adapted it from an early Joy of Cooking (Bobbs Merrill, 1943), though it disappeared from later editions. I liked Mrs. Leonard a lot—she had a great sense of humor and always chatted with Sandy’s school- mates as though they were her own friends. This sweet and tangy pudding always makes me remember her and smile.
1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 325 ̊F.
2. Warm the milk to about 120 ̊F, no more, and pour over the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Don’t stir or the mixture might turn gluey. Let the moistened crumbs cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, use a rubber spatula to beat the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until smooth after each.
4. Switch to a whisk and mix in the lemon zest and juice.
5. Make sure the crumb mixture is completely cooled or the milk will curdle when it meets the lemon juice. Use the rubber spatula to gently fold in the crumb mixture.
6. Scrape the pudding mixture into the prepared pan and bake until set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a rack before making the meringue – if you put the meringue on a warm pudding a watery layer of condensation will develop and leak out when you cut into the pudding.
7. When you’re ready to prepare the meringue, set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 300 ̊F.
8. Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Whisk the egg whites with the salt, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Adjust the heat so that the water just simmers actively, place the bowl on the saucepan, and whisk gently until the egg whites are hot (130 ̊F to 140 ̊F) and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk and whip the meringue until it is well risen in volume and firm, but still creamy textured and not dry.
9. Scrape the meringue onto the cooled pudding and use the back of a spoon to spread it, swirling it into short peaks. Make sure the meringue touches the edge of the baking dish all around or it might slide off after it’s baked.
10. Bake the pudding again until the meringue is set and light golden, about 15 minutes. Cool and serve at room temperature or chilled with or without some slightly sweetened whipped cream.
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?