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Daring Bakers:Flourless Chocolate Cake and Adzuki Ice Cream

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
February is shortest month of the year, and this year, it was the busiest month for me. But that's a good thing! Dharm and Wendy chose a relatively simple decadent cake to put together. Unfortunately my Valentine wasn't home this month , so the cake wasn't truly enjoyed and indulged in by both of us. But when he comes home I would love to make this again. I used semi sweet chocolate and halved the recipe. The cakes were baked in mini loaf pans. The most amusing part of this challenge was my choice of Ice cream. I had leftover Adzuki(red bean paste) and decided to make the Asian inspired Adzuki ice cream. Most people say Red Bean Ice Cream? Yuck.! Don't knock it until you try it. I felt the flavors perfectly complimented the rich chocolate flavor of the cake. Wonderful combination. Be sure to visit all the other amazing Daring Bakers this month.
Coco's Adzuki Ice Cream
2/3 cup red bean paste* can be purchased in Asian Supermarkets
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Bring milk and cream to a boil. In a separate medium bowl whisk vanilla, sugar, and yolks together. Gradually temper the egg mixture ( taking a little bit of egg mix to hot milk, and then then taking the milk mixture back to the egg mixture)as not to curdle the eggs. Once both mixtures are incorporated, whisk in the red bean paste. Transfer all to the same saucepan the milk was boiled in and on a low heat simmer until mixture is thickened. Do not overcook as the eggs will curdle. Place in bowl and allow to cool until room temp. Transfer , covered to the refrigerator. Follow Ice Cream maker instructions.

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan

What we Want You to Do:
-Use the following recipe
-Serve with - The original recipe calls for the cake to be served with whipping cream. BUT we decided to make this more of a challenge and ask you to make your own Ice Cream – a first for the DBrs. You can choose any flavour you want and any recipe although we provided two vanilla ice cream recipes. But we are giving you a little freedom here and will allow whipped cream as a topping as well or of course non-dairy whip. Be as creative as you want with your topping. Any fruit puree or sauce would be lovely with this cake.
- Use your favorite chocolate – the finished cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. Be creative with your chocolate, if you like a sweeter cake use milk chocolate or a combination of the semisweet and milk chocolate. If you like bittersweet chocolate use that and add sweetness by mixing the semi sweet with bittersweet. If you are daring, try white chocolate. (Dharm used all bittersweet and Wendy used a half bitter/half semi sweet chocolate).
- A higher cacao percentage increases the bitterness of the chocolate.
-Equipment - it is optional to use a heart shaped pan. For a real Valentino, bake it in a heart shaped pan or cut it out into a heart shape. You may use any shape pan that gives you an area of 50” - 6x8 or 7x7. An 8” spring form pan works with great results as do smaller pans or ramekins.
-An instant read thermometer highly recommended.

Note on recipe - the recipe consists of 3 simple ingredients and how you interpret them is part of the challenge. The simplicity of this recipe gives credit to the ingredients much in the same way of French baguette.
-This recipe comes together very quickly with a hand mixer.
-This is a very decadent cake that will sink a little as it cools but will still hold its shape.
-Very dense and fudgy cake that tastes divine.
-The top forms a light crust kind of like a brownie

Posting Date: February 28, 2009

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)
{you can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted - cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream) or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

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We Bake Gourmet:Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs

This week has been exhilarating to say the least. I have a lot on plate and my mind is racing with thoughts and ideas. Thanks for all the support regarding the television appearance. This is last of my bread posts for the We Bake Gourmet series. I have to say it was fun to participate with my fellow bakers. I wish a lot the recipes weren't rolls, but now that I'm finished with this I cant wait to tackle a bread book I purchased a while back. Reading my other bakers reviews of this recipe didn't turn me off. I knew it was going to be a pretty bread in hue, but rather bland in flavor. To rectify that I made some minor changes. When I think of flavor combos of orange and pumpkin, my mind says why not add some cinnamon or nutmeg. And better yet, why not serve it with a nice honey butter.

These little changes brought out a wonderful flavor in these cloverleaf rolls. I used about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon freshly ground in my spice grinder. You can find the recipe for these rolls here.

Visit my other baking friends for the Gourmet Bread Challenge.Judy -

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Recipes From CBS 2 Chicago Segment for Black History Month

I just want to thank all you for watching the segment on CBS 2 Chicago. If you havent seen it yet, click on the link.It was a a pleasure to revisit food that I grew up on ,having a Ibo Nigerian father. As I get more into food I love to study the origins and evolutions of dish. What was particularly fascinating while researching this was to see see how the slaves of West Africa carried their traditions to the the Americas and how our favorite foods can trace the influence of the slaves. When you think of Creole ,Caribbean , and Southern Cooking you can see it right there. If you search the Internet you will find various ways and opinion on how to cook proper Jollof Rice. Remember it varies by regions and tastes, so put your own mark on it.

Sorrel/ Roselle Punch sweetened with Agave Nectar
Roselle (Hibiscus) can be purchased in Latino markets under the name Flor de Jamaica.
1 cup dried hibiscus
6 cups hot water
slices of fresh peeled ginger
Agave Nectar to sweeten to your tastes
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Boil your water.Rinse your dried hibiscus with cold water to remove sediment. Infuse your dried hibiscus in the water and allow to steep for 10 minutes until its a rich ruby red color. Strain the infusion into a container and add Agave Nectar to sweeten to taste. Add ginger slices while warm. Allow to cool. Then refrigerate. Serve over ice with lemon or lime( optional).
Note: Hibiscus has anti hypertensive properties . African Americans suffer high incidents of Hypertension , heart disease, and diabetes. By changing this traditional recipe laden with sugar to sweeten with Agave Nectar( low glycemic index) makes this healthier.

Non Alcoholic Ginger 'Beer'

3-4 Ginger Roots
2 cups of sugar
6 cups of water
2 limes or 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
Peel and slice ginger into small pieces. ( A spoon or vegetable peeler works well).Boil water. In a blender place ginger and add some hot water to liquefy. In a large oven proof bowl or pot, add the ginger liquid and rest of water. Cover with lid and allow to sit in a warm oven or warm place for 1 hour. Strain Ginger brew through a cheesecloth lined strainer into a gallon container. Add sugar, cloves, and cinnamon stick, citrus juice and more water to make a gallon. Place back in ovenproof bowl and cover. Allow to sit for another hour. Strain again through cheesecloth and strainer. A funnel will be helpful. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve over ice.
Note: This is more an infusion than the traditional fermented Ginger Beer.I used the Congo Cookbook as a recipe source.Ginger aides Digestion and has many healthful properties to ward off illness.

Fried Plantains
Vegetable Oil
Take ripened almost black plantains and slice on diagonal or in round circles. Heat some vegetable oil until sizzling and add slice. Cook on each side until golden brow,. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve. For entertaining pierce the cooked plantains pieces on wooden skewers for individual plantain brochettes.

Coco's Jollof Rice

Note: Feel free to add other vegetables or meat of your liking. For example Okra, peas, shrimp, beef, etc.Peanut oil is traditionally used and can withstand high temps. If you have allergies check the label for trace amounts of the peanut protein. However the allergen is passed through the protein and not the oil. If you have shell fish allergies omit the shrimp powder. Shrimp powder can be found ground at Latino markets. Asian Markets also carry dried shrimp. If purchased whole, pulverize in spice grinder. Everyone has an opinion on this dish and has their own way to make it unique. Enjoy!

3 cups of Basmati Rice ( rinsed)
1 pound chicken thighs boneless and skinless
1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
2 onions chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
Optional use of hot peppers like scotch bonnet, chilies( depends on your heat tolerance)
1 small can of tomato paste
2 cubes chicken bouillon ( Can be substituted with broth as well).
water( approx 4-6 cups) possibly more
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Thyme
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon dried shrimp powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup chopped green beans
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
Cayenne Pepper
Cilantro for garnish
In a dutch oven or large skillet with cover( cast iron) Heat oil and add chicken which you can lightly season with salt, paprika, pepper, etc. Cook in oil until until done. Remove chicken and set aside. In the same pan with caramelized bits and oil, saute the onions, bay leaf, and chopped green peppers on a slightly lower med heat. Don't over cook , but cook until soft and golden, Add the rest of your dry seasonings, ginger, and bouillon , tomato paste. Mix and get the tomato paste to start to slightly caramelize in the pan with the spices, etc. Add the rice and vegetables. Cover with liquid( start with 4 cups). Reduce heat , stir, and cover. Occasionally lift lid and stir to make sure rice doesn't stick. You may have to do this periodically. Add more liquid as needed until rice is thoroughly cooked. May take up to 30 min.
Take chicken and slice on the diagonal. Arrange rice on platter. Surround with chicken and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Some other sources and links for Jollof Rice
Congo Cookbook
Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz

And for more interesting tidbits visit my fellow blogger and food historian Louise at Month of Edible Celebrations,

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Coco Cooks TV Debut on CBS 2 Chicago

Stay tuned for the recipes I spoke about today. In the meantime take a look at my debut. Here is the video.

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We Bake Gourmet: Cracked- Wheat Topknots

This is my third installment in the We Bake Gourmet series. My fellow bakers have had great luck with this recipe. And I have too, but I had to make some changes due to lack of ingredients and laziness. Nevertheless I am very pleased with the results. The recipe calls for milk, and both whole wheat and all purpose flour. I ran out of milk due to Certain Someone drinking git all before he left, and had to use Nonfat dry powdered milk. I also didn't realize until mid way that I ran out of all purpose flour! So the recipe has way more wheat flour and about 1 cup of all purpose. Surprisingly the dough turned out well in taste and texture. My flaky sea salt was actually smoked salt which was wonderful.
I have been nibbling on these hearty knots all week.

I'm pressed for time as I have a lot going on this week. You can find the printable version of the recipe here on Gourmets site.
Here are my modifications:
1/2 cup Non Fat dry milk dissolved in 1 1/2 cups of water. Dry Milk is a wonderful tool in baking and helps with the rise. Its also very economical.
3 1/2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour and 1 cup of all purpose.

Don't forget to watch me on CBS 2 Weekend Morning News on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 10am. This is local, but I will link to the blog afterwards.

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Watch Me On CBS WBBM Next Sunday

It's funny how opportunities come your way. While going about your daily business you meet the right people at the right time. My Mommy always used to say whats for you sweetie, you will get. Well this Sunday I have an amazing opportunity I never would have though would be possible. I will be cooking this Sunday on the local CBS in honor of Black History Month. The dish I am making is one the the slaves of West Africa brought over and morphed into many dishes we can recognize today.
Watch me on CBS 2 Weekend Morning News on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 10am.
Thank all of you who believed in me and supported me.

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We Bake Gourmet: Crusty Cornstalk Rolls

My apologies for posting this weeks bread challenge late. I'm sure you will understand that Certain Someone came home for an all to short week, and I was doing what I love best, spoiling him. I actually baked this bread for Sunday dinner to go along with the Veal roast. What appealed to me about this recipe was the gorgeous rustic appeal. Unfortunately my artistic skills didn't take hold and craft better looking stalks, but I was satisfied with taste. I must admit the addition of corn meal at first out me off this recipe, but one taste of this while warm with butter is just pure country goodness.Steam creates a crust similar to a baguette. All in all this was pretty simple to put together. I can see this in a heart shape for Valentines if anyone is eating in.

Crusty Cornstalks Rolls adapted by Coco Cooks from Gourmet February 2009

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water

1 tsp of sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour and additional for kneading

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp yellow cornmeal

a spray bottle of water

Stir yeast, 1/4 of the water, and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside and let foam. If the mixture doesn't foam after 5 minutes , start again.

Mix flour, salt, 1/2 cup of the cornmeal and remaining cup of the water. with a wooden spoon or hands until soft dough forms.

Turn out dough on lightly floured surface. Knead until dough is elastic and smooth for 6-8 minutes.

Place ball of dough in oiled bowl. Cover and seal with plastic wrap and kitchen towel.Let rise in a draft free setting until double in size. 1-1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough and without kneading fold like a letter into thirds.Roll the dough now into a 12 inch log.

Flour lightly as you need to preventing sticking.

Sprinkle a baking sheet covered with parchment or baking stone with the remaining 2 Tbsp of cornmeal. Place dough diagonally across. With cooking shears cut 3 inch long diagonal cuts alternating sides. Make sure you have a center stalk. Pull and stretch dough to create separate rolls but connected to stalk.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel( not terry) and let rise , draft free for 1 1/2 hours until double.

Preheat oven to 425F with rack in center.

Spray rolls with water bottle, place in oven and spray 3 more times in the first 5 minutes.. This helps form the crust. Bake until golden for 20 min. Let cool on rack for at least 20 minutes. Serve. The rolls can keep 1 month in freezer wrapped. Best eaten on day made.

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Bone In Veal Breast Roasted In A Salt Bed

With Certain Someone back for a while before he jets off again, I find myself a carnivore for once.I have posted a few times here about Certain Someones mothers pork roast which is prepared in a salt bed. Wanting to expand on that theme and writing about it here, I decided to try another cut of meat. Veal breasts are relatively inexpensive and can be very delicious. One can buy them with the bone in or out. If the bones are out , veal breast work great stuffed.You will find all sorts of recipes for veal breast in Italian, German and other European cuisines. I love bones and roasting with them in imparts a whole another dimension. Veal breasts can be fatty, but yields a lot meat in the brisket like section.
This veal breast was simply prepared with a rub of lemon juice and some Penzeys Bavarian Seasoning blend( crushed brown mustard, rosemary, garlic, thyme,bay leaves, and sage),cracked black pepper, and studding of garlic cloves throughout. Place meat in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Take a container of salt and pour it around the meat. The meat should not lie on top of the salt, the salt should only surround it. Salt aides in retaining the moisture in the meat, while drawing out fats. The cut of meat draws the just enough salt it needs for flavor. Believer it or not, the meat does not come out salty. The ancient Chinese developed this way of cooking with salt . Roast the veal for 2 hours or more at 350F uncovered, depending on size. Remove from oven and allow to sit to settle.Slice and serve.
Notice how juicy the meat is upon carving.
Cooking with salt crusts works great for whole fish, chicken, and beef as well. The fish is usually covered in salt. The Chinese cover the chicken in a flour, salt,and water crust and bake.

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Chocolate Palmiers Equals Love

When I went to art school in Paris I had this friend Shelly that I will always remember for her love of Palmiers, cigarettes, and coffee. It seemed thats how she survived between our studio classes.Palmiers are puff pastry folded into a fan shape, rolled into sugar and baked into caramelized crispy like thin cookies.
You could make some from commercial puff pastry, but I wanted the challenge of making a Pate Feuilletee from scratch, which I haven't done for years.

While surfing through the online Desserts Magazine , I came across a blogger , who I should have been following, but I am always slow on the uptake. Aran, from Cannelle Et Vanille. She adapted Pierre Hermes Chocolate Pate Feuuilletee and her recipes for a Caramelized Chocolate Mille-Feuille with Chocolate Mousse and Fresh Raspberries Napoleon and Chocolate Palmiers.

Aran warns this recipe can take upwards of 2 days.For me It took 3. I didn't do the first two steps on the same night, and had to fudge a little. I should have mixed my butter/cocoa mix the same night as I made the dough, and let both rest overnight, but I read the directions wrong. So the next evening after work I speed the process of chilling the butter in the freezer for a few hours so I could incorporate it into the folds and turns of dough.This dough required 5 turns, and you start to see the cocoa and butter turn the white dough into a marbled chocolate slab. I used half a block of dough for 20 Palmiers, and stored the rest in the freezer.

The Palmiers cooled up buttery and crisp. The perfect shapes didn't hold perfectly and my sugar really caramelized with the butter, thereby not looking all freshly rolled in sugar as Arans were. But nevertheless they tasted superb. Rich, crispy, flaky, full of butter and chocolate, but not to sweet.So the labor, and sore arms and hands from all that rolling and turning are worth it for this special treat. I would love to have a block of this puff pastry on hand in the freezer all time.If life were so perfect...sigh.

Click here for the recipe and check out all the other great articles.

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A Gourmet Bread Challenge:Parmesan Pull Aparts

Last Christmas a group of us got together to bake cookies from Gourmet going back decades in their archives.Despite some hair pulling moments we have decided to get together once more to tackle the February issue of Gourmet magazines bread issue, in a more laid back approach. Once a week for the month of February we will post a bread recipe from the 6 that were published.Sandy, the creator of BYOB extended the invite and I was more than happy to participate.
Parmesan Pull Aparts are described in Gourmet as brioche like but easier to make.These pull apart rolls are made with Parmigiano-Reggiano and are pretty easy to put together. My rise was perfect but I noticed on rolling the balls prior to baking , the texture and surface wasn't as smooth as I was anticipating. Another thing I found unusual for a bread is the use of paddle attachment, not dough hook, and lack of kneading.A nice egg wash contributed to a deep brown glaze.Upon cooling the texture was a cross a between an biscuit and brioche if that is possible. Nevertheless it was hearty roll rich in cheese flavor. I paired it simply with some Speck Ham and strong German mustard. These Parmesan Pull Aparts will be my lunch sandwich bread for the week, as you can keep them up to a month frozen. This bread did not turn out as I imagined it to, but the flavor has a wonderful strong Parmesan flavor that can stand alone or go with your meal. I would like to try this recipe once more to see if the texture changes for a more smooth presentation.Parmesan Pull Aparts adapted by Coco Cooks from Gourmet February 2009
makes 1 dozen rolls
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup of warm milk (105-115F), to be divided
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs ( 2 for recipe and 1 for egg wash)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon water( for egg wash)
*A stand mixer is recommended

Mix together yeast, sugar, and 1/3 of the warm milk in mixer bowl of stand mixer.Let stand until foamy for about 5 minutes. If it doesn't foam start again with new yeast.Whisk flour, salt , and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese . Add this dry mixture to the yeast mixture with the other 1/3 of milk and mix at a low speed with a paddle attachment(not dough hook). Turn up speed to medium and add the 2 eggs, one at a time. Make the sure the egg is beaten well after each addition ans scrape down sides if necessary. Beat for 3 minutes until a soft dough is formed. Beat in butter a little at a time until dough is elastic.2 minutes more. Dough may be sticky. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp of flour over the dough and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.Let rise in a draft free warm place for 1 1/2 -2 hours until doubled.
Punch down dough but do not knead.On a lightly floured surface cut dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball using a cupped hand and pushing it against work surface in a circular motion.Arrange dough ball 1 inch apart in a 9 inch buttered cake pan. Cover again and allow to rise for 1 1/2 -2 hours until doubled.
Preheat oven to 375F with rack placed in the middle.
Whisk remaining egg and water for egg wash. Brush on dough balls.You will need all the wash.Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Loosen from pan using a knife if necessary and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Visit my other baking friends for the Gourmet Bread Challenge.

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