This is going to make great French toast!
I first stumbled across this recipe in Gourmet a year and a half ago, when my bread-making skills were at a rather different level. I was intrigued, I think partly because the photography was so… shiny. I hadn’t learned that an egg wash can give any loaf an added bit of luster.
Since then, orange-and-mint-loaves has always been a whisper in the back of my baking mind. I wanted them. And I wanted them to be beautiful.
When I moved to Craftsbury, somebody (Anna, I know it’s you) had a copy of Richard Bertinet’s Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads, which is where the recipe originated. Leafing through it, the beautiful photography made me want to make the bread even more. Once again, it was so shiny! Today I finally got around to it, and the experience leads me to think I might be making more of Bertinet’s recipes in the future.
There’s nothing complicated here, really. It’s just a sweet dough, with mint-infused rather than regular milk, and some orange zest thrown in. As is my habit, I made the dough from sourdough starter rather then with dry yeast. I think it changes the flavor of sweet doughs quite a bit, but not in a bad way.
I began last night by feeding the starter and infusing the milk. Actually, it wasn’t milk. I was trying to use up cream I had gotten for Anna’s birthday tart, which I didn’t quite accomplish, but anyway, I used heavy cream instead. A bit thicker, and a bit fattier, but otherwise, what’s the difference? Not anything that would wreck a recipe, I imagined. I took a large sprig of mint from our herb patch, stuck it in my cup of cream, and microwaved it until it was boiling. Then I left it in the refrigerator overnight. The cream definitely smelled and tasted minty, so I hoped that would do the trick.
My one other change was necessitated by the amazing situation in which there was enough white flour to make bread with when I went to bed, and then it was all gone when I woke up. Apparently one of my teammates made muffins and another made banana bread, all after I had gone upstairs for the night. Not that I am complaining about these delicious baked goods. But it meant that I had to use a fair bit of whole wheat flour in my sweet bread.
The verdict: this is an orangey loaf, for sure. I can’t really taste the mint (when this happens I am always afraid that it means my palate is unrefined – the horror), but Gourmet indicated that the flavor deepens and becomes more complex as the loaf ages (just like cheese?) so perhaps tomorrow it will seem more minty-fresh. It’s a pretty loaf, speckled with the orange zest, and it will be delicious as toast, or especially as French toast. I might try to figure out how to make it mintier next time.
Sending this to YeastSpotting.
Orange and Mint Loaf
1 cup fed sourdough starter
1 cup mint-infused cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs (one for bread, one for wash)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
zest of 1 orange
To make the mint-infused cream: boil a stalk or more of mint in a cup of cream, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Let the cream sit until cool (an hour to overnight), then pour through a sieve to remove the mint. Reheat until lukewarm before using in the bread.
To make the bread dough: stir the cream into the sourdough starter, and then the sugar, salt, butter, 1 beaten egg, and the orange zest. Add the whole wheat flour and mix thoroughly. Add a cup and a half of the white flour, and see what the consistency of your dough is; at this point, I turned it out onto a floured surface, and kneaded the remaining half cup of flour in. Use common sense to get your dough to the right consistency. Let it rest while you clean out the bowl and smear it with a teaspoon of olive oil, then place the dough in the bowl to rise, covered in plastic wrap.
After three or so hours, turn the dough out of the bowl and knead gently. Shape into an oval and let rise again, trying if possible to make it retain its height. I do this by placing the loaf good-side-down on a floured cloth, with one side against the wall and the other hemmed in by a casserole dish. A pyrex dish is heavy enough to stay put and force the bread to rise upwards, not out.
After a second rise of an hour to an hour and a half, get ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 410°. Carefully turn your loaf out onto a baking sheet prepared with cornmeal, brush the top with a wash made of one beaten egg (you won’t use the whole egg), and snip the top several times with scissors held at a 45° angle. When the oven is ready, place the bread on a middle rack and immediately turn the oven down to 400°. I threw in a few ice cubes to harden up the crust, too. Bake 30-40 minutes.