MARCH breACK! 2013: Tea with Ahma the Spirit Bear: Little Bear Brioches, Strawberry Soup, and Honey Cinnamon Hot Cocoa
Today the girls are “hibernating” while the boys are out at work or play.
We’ll be reading lots of books about Spirit Bears and having a “High Tea” with the following treats, taken from yesterday’s reading of Ahma, The Spirit Bear, when Ahma brings tea over to Harriet’s den to apologize for influencing Harriet to like Mr. W’Nax: Little Kermode Bear Brioches, Strawberry Soup, and Honey Cinnamon Hot Cocoa.The breads aren’t terribly difficult to make, albeit they are a little tedious. But the sweet soup and the cocoa make up for lost time, clocking in at about 10-15 minutes total work.
Little Bear Brioches
“bearly” adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery [Rizzoli 2010]
3.5 tsp active dry yeast
.3 c warm milk
2 tbs super-fine sugar
1 tbs cold milk
8 egg yolks
2.25 c unbleached all-purpose flour + more for dusting
.25 tsp salt
8 tbs unsalted butter, divided and softened + more for buttering bowls and tins
1 beaten egg for an eggwash
Edible Ink Pen [Black or Dark Brown] or Small Tube of Decorator Icing
12-slot muffin tin
2 glasses hot water
Large plastic garbage bag
Into a small bowl filled with .3 c warm milk (my instant-read thermometer read 105 degrees), sprinkle the yeast without stirring.
Let sit for 5 minutes.
Stir yeast to dissolve.
Place yeast into the bowl of a mixer with the cold milk, sugar and egg yolks.
Whisk gently to combine.
Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, mix on low, adding all but .5 the cup of the flour and the salt.
The dough that forms will stick to the sides of the bowl.
Beat in the butter by the tablespoon.
If necessary, reroute the dough into the centre of the bowl with a spatula.
Switching to the dough hook of the mixer, knead on medium high until it balls up. About 2 minutes max.
Knead in the remaining .5 c flour on medium low speed until the dough is smooth but pliable.
It will stick to the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Butter a large glass bowl.
Turn the dough onto a floured cutting board and shape into a ball.
Place the smoothest side of the dough into the bowl.
Then, flip the dough over so that the buttered side is up.
Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let stand and double in a warm place for about 2 hours.
Butter a twelve-slot muffin tin.
Turn the dough back out onto your floured board without punching it down.
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
Quickly, but very gently, shape each piece into a ball.
Flour your hands just a wee bit and form the dough into a rolling pin shape with the top bulge about 1/6 the size of the bottom bulge.
This smaller bulge should still be attached to the larger ball by a small bit of dough.
Next ivide that small ball into two small balls, attached to one another and the the large ball by small bits of dough.
Each ball of dough will likely look like a small dough whale!
Place each ball of dough, ears in one hand, larger body in the other, into the muffin tins.
Keep the balls attached to one another as you ease the larger part of the dough into the buttered tin, with the small balls/ears only very slightly tilted to one side.
Use your pointer and middle fingers to make a pair of rather deep holes or indentations a little off center of the large ball of dough.
Rest the smaller balls into these holes.
Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each brioche bear with some of the egg wash.
Refrigerate the remainder of the egg wash for about 50 minutes, pulling it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before the brioche has risen for a second time.
Place a garbage bag on the flat surface where your breads will proof.
Slide a large glass of warm water in towards the bottom/sealed part of the bag.
Slide in an empty flat cookie sheet.
Slide the tin of brioche bears on the cookie sheet in the garbage bag without letting the bag touch the tops of the breads and without upsetting the glass of water.
Place another glass of hot water towards the opening of the plastic bag.
Flap the bag up and down a bit to let some air in.
Twist the bag shut and set with a twist tie or tuck the edges under the pan (without spilling the water!).
Let the dough sit until it rises for about 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Remove the egg wash from the refrigerator 10 minutes before your hours is up.
Carefully remove the brioches from the bag.
Brush the brioches with the room temperature egg wash once again.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Tent the top with aluminum foil towards the end of baking if the bread is getting too brown.
Place the tin on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.
Remove the brioches from tins.
Draw in eyes, a nose and mouth/snout on your bread bear with edible pens or decorator icing. Note that the pastry is flaky, and the pens tend to pierce or flake off the pastry, so be careful!
Serve on the side of your favourite dish, perhaps with a drop of honey, and well, why not warm, with extra butter, too!?!
I first had “Strawberry Soup” as an appetizer at a dude ranch in Arizona when I was twelve years old. Each spring or summer, I usually make a batch and eat it before the kids even get home from school or play. This time, they’ll get to enjoy it, too. I usually make this recipe “flying by the seat of our pants” in the middle of the summer. If you can find fresh Strawberries at this time of year, great! If no, feel free to use frozen. You really just pulverize the ingredients to your taste.
Strawberry Soup, a Flexible Recipe
Makes about 3 cups
1 lb [1 454 g package] fresh cold Strawberries [or the same amount of frozen]
1+ c plain cold greek 0% fat yogurt
.5 c cold milk [or cream, if you're decadent]
honey by the tablespoon to taste [we used 3 tbs]
Lime, Lemon or Orange zest
If you’re using fresh Strawberries, clean and hull them.
Pulverize the strawberries in a food processor, blender or with a hand mixer.
Add the yogurt by the .25 c until the mixture turns the colour of pink of your preference.
Add milk by the tablespoon until the soup reaches the consistency of your liking.
Taste the mixture.
Add sugar or honey by the teaspoon or tablespoon until the soup is as sweet as you desire.
Top with citrus zest if desired.
4 tbs Cocoa Powder
4 tbs Honey
.5 tsp Cinnamon
2.5 c milk
Place the honey in a saucepan over warm heat.
Whisk in the cocoa powder until it begins to simmer
Whisk in the cinnamon and continue to stir for about 15 seconds.
Whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture heats up and thickens.
Serve right away!
What are we having for breakfast? Spirit Bear Claws. We’re busy, so we’re opting for the easy way, using store-bought frozen pastry as our base. If you would like an absolutely Fantastic Danish Pastry Dough Recipe and for a tutorial for How to Laminate the Dough have a look at the Fabulous Joe Pastry website. Joe even has a visual tutorial for how to make the perfect Almond-Filled Bear Claw. My kids don’t like almonds, and, as I say, we have little time to devote to proper pastry-making today, so here’s an easy-peasy cheater’s version with chocolate filling. If you wanted to go crazy, I suppose you could use some sort of chopped up candy bar of your own choosing as opposed to plain chocolate. Sky’s the limit. This is mean tot be a flexible, quick recipe. You can use as much or as little of the dough you like, which means we can make just enough for your crew of Spirit Bear Campers!
Quick & Easy Chocolate-Filled Spirit Bear Claws
1 Sheet of Frozen Pastry
A good chocolate bar, cut into smaller cubes or squares
1 tbs of milk or water
[Optional: Sliced nuts such as pecans, almonds or peanut halves]
Unroll your sheet of defrosted pastry and cut it into squares.
Fill the Paw: Towards the top third of each square, lay out a thin (but not stingy!) horizontal line of chocolate chunks.
Fatten the Paw: Moisten the small area of dough just above that horizontal line of chocolate with water.
Seal the Paw: Bring that moistened dough down over the top of the horizontal line of chocolate and stick it to the pastry below the line of chocolate.
There should now be a nice horizontal rolled pastry shape (full of chocolate) above a similarly sized flat bit of pastry.
Separate the Toes: make four evenly placed vertical slices in the empty/bottom part of the pastry.
Make the Paw into a Crescent Shape: Bend the Pastry in a slight U-shape by bringing the top (fat) corners of the pastry towards one another slightly.
Whisk the egg and the milk or water.
Use a pastry brush to apply a small bit of egg wash to the top of the bear claw.
[Optional] Press nuts slices or halves into the “toes” to represent the claws. We didn’t depict this step, but it livens up the chocolate-free half of the pastry quite a bit!
Bake according to package directions.
We baked ours at 375 for 10 minutes.