One of the many things that prompted the evolution of The Black Ladle were the numerous food blog events and challenges. But having started this saga, I found Fresh from the Oven FFTO) and promptly joined them.... And have even managed to do this month's challenge. You can look up FFTO's public blog here.
This month's challenge the Khrushchev Dough was proposed by Silvia and Ivan of mushitza. Wikipedia has an entry for our challenge which simply states that the dough was a result of introducing flour rationing and also that the dough may have been long lasting - in terms of shelf-life, I guess. Non-wikipedia sources claim it to have been a favourite of the Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev.
History lessons apart, the challenge this time was not the process but in shifting your mindset. To quote Silvia and Ivan:
"There are two key factors about achieving a good dough that do NOT apply here:
- Never mix yeast directly with the salt. Exactly the opposite is what you have to do here. Since the salt kills the yeast when in direct contact we are using double amount of the yeast than we would usually use for this amount of flour.
- Leave the dough to temper for an hour or two after taking out of the fridge. Not here. Work with the dough directly when out of the fridge. It's essential for the dough to be cold, otherwise the butter will start to melt and absorb more flour which isn't desired."
See what I mean? I remember reading these two points many times before it actually sunk in. But the results were worth the effort :)
Yeast - 40 gms fresh yeast (or 10 gms dry yeast in 30 gms/ml of water)
Salt - 10 gms
Milk - 250 ml; cold
Butter - 150 gms; unsalted (cut into cubes)
Sugar - 1 tbsp
All purpose flour - 500gms
Silvia and Ivan's instructions :If using fresh yeast: Using an ordinary tablespoon rub the salt through the yeast block till it becomes liquid.
If using dry yeast: Mix salt and dry yeast, then add the water.
Mix the yeast and salt, add in milk butter, sugar and sift flour on top. Mix using an electric mixer with dough hook or a wooden spoon. Transfer to airtight container and keep in refrigerator overnight. The dough hardens in the fridge (butter) but does rise a bit. Next morning, dust counter, place dough, work it minimally and shape it as you please.
Ivan and Silvia showed us what all the dough could be metamorphosed into....look here for inspiration. The dough can be used to make almost anything - bread, donuts, rolls, sweet, savoury....whatever :)
What happened to my dough?
Well after memorizing the two cardinal rules for this dough, my immediate stumbling block was the yeast and salt (surprise! surprise!). I tried but couldn't locate instant yeast. So had to resort to active dry yeast. Then came to phase two of the problem: weighing out 10 gms of yeast and 10 gms of salt. The only place with a fine balance for this was the jewelery store somewhere in the vicinity and I'm not sure my earnest request would have been obliged. I had to resort to some vagueness in the measuring of these two ingredients.
The active dry yeast comes in 25 gm packet. It measured about 5 tablespoons with some left. Simple math - used 2 tablespoons and the leftover as well. I googled for weight to volume conversion with respect to salt and 1 tablespoon table salt = 18.25 gms. I ignored the 0.25 gms and used one and half teaspoons of salt. There end of yeast and salt ordeal.
I proceeded as instructed and tucked the bread away in the fridge. The next evening, I opened the container and wasn't sure if the dough had risen, but it sure smelled yeasty :) I didn't have the time to get too fancy (and it may not have been fancy even if I'd tried) and used the dough as it was. I made spirals and buns and used the kitchen scissors to snip them here and there - my attempt at decoration. Oh! I preheated oven to 180C.
Put the dough and started peeking into the oven every 10 minutes. My spirals and buns were small and so were nicely browned and ready in less than 15 minutes. Left them to cool on the wire rack and totally forgot about photographing them and managed to salvage only a few.
The bread was delicious, especially when warm. Soft, buttery and absolute heaven when had with honey or jam!