Sunday, February 12, 2012

La Boulange, Curry-Raisin Couronnes

In the summer of 2010, two girlfriends and I went on a trip to San Francisco. Let’s suffice it to say that I fell in love with the city and never ever wanted to leave. There were so many restaurants I wanted to try, breads I wanted to eat, and hilly streets I wanted to walk up on. That was the summer of killer shin splints attacking me. But I didn’t care, who cares about shin splints when you are in San Francisco?

Every morning I would wake up early and walk around the area of our hotel. On the second day of our stay, I discovered La Boulange Bakery. Walking up the hill on Fillmore Street, the aroma of delicious croissants wafted in the air. Following the scent, I turned on Pine Street and there it was, the quaint blue bakery, beckoning me. As I walked in, there were rustic looking breads on display everywhere, croissants, pastries, tarts, sandwiches, you name it. The little, sample pieces of chocolate croissants begged for me to try them. Despite the urge to buy everything, I settled for a chocolate croissant. No regrets, it was heaven! After that fateful day, I kept going back to La Boulange every morning, tasted the various samples, and bought something different each time, a fruit pastry, an almond croissant, a slice of tart. And on the last day, something to remember the bakery by, the cookbook: The American Boulangerie, French Pastries and Breads for the Home Kitchen by Pascal Rigo and the Bakers of Bay Bread. Now, I can say a proper goodbye to San Francisco… until then beautiful city.

Since then, I have baked tarts and cakes out of this book and everything was always lovely. This week, I finally tried one of the bread recipes. Please excuse my bread’s odd shape, it was meant to be formed into a crown, but that’s not quite what happened. Very interesting flavors though… spicy with sweet raisin surprises and a slight sourness that will remind you of sourdough, but not really, because the bread is so soft. Enjoy this bread with a touch of butter.

Caveat: Because I was unable to form this bread into a beautiful crown, I will just give directions on how to make it into a baguette in my adapted version of the recipe. So, instead of Curry-Raisin Couronnes, this recipe will be...

Curry-Raisin Baguettes (Makes 2 baguettes)
(adapted from The American Boulangerie, Pascal Rigo)

1 ¼ cups water, lukewarm
1 tbsp + 1 tsp yeast (active dry yeast)
½ tsp sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp curry powder
1/3 cup raisins (or more)

In a small bowl, stir together water, yeast, and sugar. Let rest until foam forms on top, about 8 minutes, or until you have done the next step.

In a big bowl, whisk the flours, salt, and curry powder together well. Add the raisins and whisk well.

Pour in the yeast and mix until well combined. Tip the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead using your fingers and palms until smooth for about 6 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and using your hands, coat with a few drops of olive oil. Move it back to the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise until the size doubles, about one hour and a half.

Tear the dough in half and form each into about 12-inch logs. Move to a baking pan greased with butter and lightly dusted with flour. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.

Roll each log one last time into the exact shape you want them to be. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until the size doubles, about 35 minutes. Make diagonal slashes across the top right before putting these in the oven.

Place a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the oven is heated, pour in a cup of water into the pan. Then quickly, but carefully, move the baking sheet with the baguettes in the oven. Make sure to do this as quickly as safely possible to trap the steam and to not allow too much heat to escape.

Bake until the baguettes are a nice shade of golden brown, 24-28 minutes. Move to a wire rack when done.

I wanted this bread to look like a crown, not a ginger root.
So, I gave you the directions to keep it as a baguette.
It’s safer that way.


  1. La Boulangerie Bakery looks adorable! If I ever get to visit San Francisco, I'm definitely coming here. And your loaf is gorgeous; I can see the crown-thing going on.

    1. Yes... Please visit this bakery... It is just lovely. I tried so hard to make the crown work, but it just didn't turn out... Glad to know someone noticed that I tried. :)


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