Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Canoodling Cannoli

It doesn't take much to inspire me in the kitchen, especially when I'm bored. It can be an innocuous comment on TV or from a friend, a picture (not even necessarily of food), a shopping trip, seeing a new cultural phenomenon or sometimes something my brain makes up on it's own. It can be dangerous (or at least inconvenient) if I have no real way of making the idea swirling around in my brain a reality - like when I bought a giant bag of chicken bones yesterday during an impromptu stop at an Asian grocer because it was only a dollar, it was my good fortune that I had nothing better to do today than break down those fatty, skin-clad carcasses and make roasted chicken stock. I wouldn't have even just settled for a light stock, either - since I don't get to make it often I was definitely going all out again and roasting those bones in my new Dutch oven before simmering it for hours on end (it's still on the stove!). When it comes to baking, I tend to churn out so many things when I'm sitting idle that not only do I not get to blog them all a la minute, but I wind up overburdening everybody around me and their second cousin with cookies, quickbread, muffins or the occasional cake. While they take it in stride, I still do feel badly for the waistlines of my friends... regardless of the fact that my treats (for the most part) are relatively healthy, as another blogger has quipped: there is healthy and then there's "healthy". Whole grain and eggless most things may be, but even the fact that French fries are vegan doesn't mean they should be counted as a 5-to-10 serving or that you should be eating them by the bowlful every day. So treats they are, and treats they should stay, and therein is the source of my guilt!

I do have the fortune, though, of having a mother that loves home made bread of any persuasion, and has an incredibly open palate and mind to the whims of the kitchen. Very rarely does she ask me what kind of bread I will make her that week, usually preferring to taste it (sometimes even finishing the loaf) before asking what I did. Only then does she render her final verdict, which if it happens to be criticism is always very constructive, and gives me clues as to where to head next on my culinary travels.

It wasn't anything in particular that caused me to come up with the idea to try infusing the flavours of a traditional Italian cannoli into a yeasted bread, other than the sudden donation of ricotta cheese (courtesy of the co-op, of course). I also had dried cherries stocked away in my cupboard for purposes unknown, and a bag of ground almonds hanging out in the freezer left over from either a carrot cake or a pie crust. Since my mom far prefers almonds to the (also traditional, but way more expensive) pistachios, I wanted to play up the nut flavour with as many angles as I could find. Almond milk is pretty much a staple around here, and as I am a baker almond extract is fairly commonplace too. I even had some Amaretto to soak the cherries in! For the chocolate element I envisioned flecks of chocolate shot peppering the dough, made nice and soft from the cheese.

It went almost as planned, too! I took my measurement cues from Daniel Leader’s book Local Breads, which were fine, but I failed to take into account the heat my mixer generated when it came to kneading in the chocolate. So, instead of a salt-and-pepper loaf with bright pops of cherry, I had a tender, cherry studded but cocoa-hued boule without any discernable "chocolate" flavour. My mom didn't complain - in fact she made only one comment on the bread a week after she finished it - "I'm out of bread, that last loaf was good! What did you put into it?"

Don't worry about it, mom. Leave the cannoli... take the bread. I'm taking it over to Susan's event  YeastSpotting this week, and to the third anniversary of Bread Baking Day at 1x umr├╝hren bitte!

Cannoli Bread
Makes 1 large boule, about 30 slices
2 tbsp melted butter
5.5 oz ricotta cheese
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, warmed
1 tbsp instant yeast
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup dried cherries, soaked in Amaretto overnight and drained
1/3 cup chocolate shot (sprinkles)
  1. In a food processor, combine butter, ricotta, vanilla sugar, water and almond milk. Process until well combined, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, flours, almonds and salt.
  3. Add the cheese mixture and mix with the dough hook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add cherries and chocolate shot, knead 2 minutes longer.
  5. Cover bowl and allow to rest 20 minutes.
  6. Knead dough 2 minutes longer, re-cover dough and allow to rest 30 minutes.
  7. Gently deflate the dough and shape into a smooth ball. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and mist with non-stick cooking spray.
  8. Cover and allow to rise 1 1/2 hours.
  9. Preheat oven to 400F with the rack on the bottom rung of the oven. Place a pan of hot water on the floor of the oven for at least 15 minutes before baking.
  10. Bake loaf 25 minutes, until browned and hollow-sounding when tapped.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 97.4
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 4.7 mg
Sodium: 19.7 mg
Total Carbs: 15.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 2.9 g
Bread Baking Day #31 - 3rd anniversary and giveaways (last day of submission July 1st)


  1. I've never had cannoli bread before. What a great recipe and idea!!

  2. Wow, very creative and it sounds delicious, too. :-) Thank you for participating in BBD.

  3. I always love seeing what you come up with!

    If you do this one again, you should knead the chocolate in afterwards by hand so that you get the flecks you desired.


Thanks for the feedback!