Author George Greenstein has a gift for teaching home bakers to think, work and bake like the pros with his evocative and tactile descriptions of baking. In A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets (Ten Speed Press, 2015), he crafts master dough recipes for Jewish holiday baking and European classics, creating a comprehensive set of building blocks for both beginners and baking enthusiasts. The book also offers an in-depth guide to ingredients and equipment, including both professional and home ovens, as well as 40 basic recipes for fillings, icings, and glazes. With Greenstein's steady guidance and familiar voice, home bakers and professionals alike will be encouraged to turn out flawless pastry creations for any occasion.
In the bakery, both buns and Danish were big sellers. Customers were often confused when they pointed to a tray of cheese buns and said, “Three cheese Danish, please,” and the sales clerk would go to another tray. Danish are made from Danish dough, a dough that is richer in butter and more labor-intensive to make. Danish are also larger and filled with more cheese, so they were the pricier choice. I had many choices of both pastries in the bakery.
Many years back, I worked with Rudi, a German baker, a fellow with a sense of humor who could keep you chuckling all night long. With appropriate hand gestures and facial expressions and, of course, his German accent, Rudi once recounted a tale about his first job in America, working for his uncle.
There was a huge bowl of bundt dough churning away on the mixing machine and the uncle walked over to check on the nephew. He looked, stopped the machine, and pushed the dough with his fingers to test the consistency and elasticity. Like kicking the tires on a new car, it was an act he put on. Uncle really could tell whether he had a dough to his liking with little more than a passing glance and by listening to the pitch of the motor straining while driving the beater that kneaded the dough. Without speaking, he held his hand up, palm out, signaling his nephew to stop the machine and walked away momentarily. Upon returning, he leaned over and dropped a handful of egg shells into the dough and signaled to Rudi to resume running the machine. Rudi looked at the uncle with astonishment and crooked an eyebrow questioningly. Not a word had been spoken to this point. Uncle, nonchalantly, with a slight shrug of the shoulders answered the unspoken query. Rudi mimicked the uncle’s heavy accent, “We want to make sure that the customer knows we use plenty fresh eggs in the buns.”
The recipe that follows has “plenty fresh eggs.” But please omit the eggshells.
Bundt Dough Recipe
• 1⁄2 cup (4 fluid ounces/115 milliliters) warm water (95 to 115 degrees F/35 to 46 degrees C)
• 3 scant tablespoons (3 packets/21 grams) active dry yeast
• 1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 milliliters) milk, at room temperature
• 3⁄4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
• 3⁄4 cup (6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter, diced, or half butter, half solid vegetable shortening
• 3 eggs
• 6 cups (29 ounces/822 grams) bread flour (preferred) or unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1⁄4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) nonfat dry milk
• 2-1⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground (optional)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over warm water to soften.
2. Add the milk, sugar, butter, eggs, flour, nonfat dry milk, salt, vanilla, and cardamom.
3. Pulse with the on/off switch until blended, making sure the flour does not fly out of the bowl. You can cover the mixer with a kitchen towel for the first few pulses to keep the flour contained. Then mix at slow speed until the dough comes together.
4. Change to a dough hook, if available. If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
5. Knead with a dough hook in the stand mixer or turn out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes, or more if necessary, until the dough has become elastic and has a silky sheen.
6. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, turning to coat.
7. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes (the time will vary with temperature and humidity) or allow to rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator.
8. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
9. Punch down, fold the ends in toward the center, and roll up into a tight rectangle. Allow to rest for at least 10 and up to 15 minutes.
At this point, the dough can be refrigerated overnight. (All or part of the dough can be frozen at this stage for a week or more, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.) I recommend dividing the dough into 8-ounce portions and shaping into balls. Wrap and freeze individually.
More recipes from A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets:
Reprinted with permission from A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets by George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein and Issac Bleicher and published by Ten Speed Press, 2015.