ETA (06/21/2016) : Sesame Seed Cracker Recipe
When you’re a grown-up, you can’t play with Play-Doh but bread dough is just as much fun. And you get to eat it afterwards. Which is why I made this couronne (crown) or wreath filled with basil pesto. I briefly considered adding sun dried tomatoes to the mixture but then didn’t bother. Maybe next time.
You can make sweet versions too filled with everything from Nutella, chocolate spread or nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) to dried fruit (apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins), with or without a glaze.
The ‘crumb’ or inside of the crown
Hybrid Basil Pesto Brioche Couronne (Crown) – makes 1 loaf
3- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup active sourdough starter
1/2 cup warmed milk
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup basil pesto, home made or purchased
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish with another 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warmed milk. Sprinkle in the dry yeast and stir. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and salt. Stir in sourdough starter, activated yeast mixture, eggs and butter. Beat well with a wooden spoon until you get a thick, smooth batter.
Stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it’s too thick to stir then turn out your dough onto a lightly floured working surface. Knead for another 5-10 minutes until your dough is soft but not sticky. The egg yolks will give a golden colour to your dough.
Lightly oil a large bowl, add your dough ball, cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour.
Turn your risen dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper, flatten and roll out into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving about 1/2 an inch clear on the top and bottom of the long edge. Roll up, pinch the seam tightly and turn the roll over so it’s seam side down. With a pizza cutter, cut the roll in half. Turn the roll halves, cut side up and braid together, making sure you keep the cut side up. Form your braid into a circle, pinching together the 2 edges.
Preheat the oven to 425 deg. Fahrenheit.
Lightly cover the crown with a sheet of food wrap and let rise for 30-45. If you poke the dough gently, it will spring back up when it’s risen sufficiently. Sprinkle another couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the crown.
Bake the crown for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom is browned and set. (Check carefully after 10-12 minutes and if the top is getting too browned, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil.)
I was really pleased with the oven spring I got on the crown.
Serving a wedge of this flavourful bread with a bowl of soup is a perfect pairing. I had a small bundle of fresh asparagus (and some broccoli stems in the freezer) so I made a small pot (3 servings) enriched with half and half. No potatoes and I strained the pureed veggies through a sieve so I ended up with a thin soup. The asparagus tips were blanched and added to my soup for texture.
Asparagus and Broccoli Soup
If you don’t want to make the bread, some home made crackers (sesame seed in this case) are a nice accompaniment to the soup. I’ll post the recipe later.
Sesame Seed Crackers cut into 1 inch squares and baked for 16 minutes.
Crispy Sesame Flatbread/Crackers – makes 12 flatbreads
1 2/3 cup / 200g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp each of black and white sesame seeds
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup / 120ml water
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
In a bowl add in the dry ingredients, mix and then add in the wet ingredients. Mix and knead with your hand until it’s a smooth dough. You may have to add a bit more water or flour to reach a perfect non-sticky dough like in the photo.
On a lightly floured baking sheet roll out the dough as thin as possible. Make sure it’s evenly thin so it bakes evenly.
Cut around the frizzy corners with a pizza cutter and then divide the dough into separate flatbreads. You can make them bigger, longer or whatever you want!
Bake them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (until they get crispy and golden spots).
Serve for example with some homemade hummus or with soups. Enjoy!
Storage: Store them in an air-tight jar or zip-lock bag (after letting them cool off completely) to keep them crispy!