What’s up, Hungry People!
Game of Thrones week is rolling strong in my kitchen. Tonight, we’re hanging out at that cozy haunt known to all Westeros travelers, the Inn at the Crossroads. Remember Hot Pie? He’s the lad who was taken under the innkeeper’s wing for crafting some of the best bread in all Seven Kingdoms. Well, we’re gonna channel our inner Hot Pie and tackle his iconic direwolf bread!
Hot Pie, the Bread Maestro
When we first met Hot Pie, he handed Arya Stark a lump of bread vaguely resembling a direwolf. And let’s be honest, that first piece was more like an abstract sculpture than an actual direwolf. So don’t stress if your initial attempt is less than perfect.
Keep tweaking, just like Hot Pie did.
By the time we see him again, the guy’s a pro. I mean, who knows? Maybe bards composed ballads about Hot Pie’s legendary bakes.
The Stark Reality of Breadmaking
I’ve been baking bread for years, so I felt pretty confident diving into this project. But hey, even I was ready for my first direwolf to look like Hot Pie’s first go-round. However, it came out much better than expected. Let’s just say if Jon Snow walked in right now, I’d serve this bread without a second thought.
The secret to non-puffy yet super soft bread? A killer mix of wheat flour and cornmeal. These two keep the dough from getting too ambitious and rising like the Lannisters’ ambitions.
Here’s What You Need
- Wheat Flour: Provides structure and body to the bread, making it sturdy yet soft.
- Corn Meal: Adds texture and a slight nutty flavor, also helps prevent the bread from puffing up too much.
- Buttermilk: Introduces acidity and moisture, aiding in leavening and giving the bread a tender crumb.
- Butter: Adds richness and flavor, also helps in creating a crumbly texture.
- Honey: Provides natural sweetness and moisture, enhancing the bread’s overall flavor.
- Baking Powder: Acts as a leavening agent, helping the bread rise and become light.
- Baking Soda: Another leavening agent, works with the acidity of buttermilk for better rise.
- Egg + Water (for egg wash): Gives the bread a shiny and attractive crust.
- Salt: Balances the flavors and enhances the natural sweetness of the bread.
- Sugar (optional): Adds extra sweetness, customize according to your taste preference.
- Pepper Jelly (for serving): Offers a spicy counterpoint, creating a balanced flavor profile when paired with the bread.
Start by blending butter, wheat flour, cornmeal, and honey to create a crumbly base. Add your baking soda and baking powder to the mix. Want to go the sweet route? Add a tablespoon of sugar. If you’re a salt-of-the-Earth type, a teaspoon of salt will do the trick.
Slowly pour in the buttermilk until your dough is thick yet smooth. It should be moist enough to roll into a ball without sticking to your hands, but not dry enough to rival the Dothraki Sea.
Optional: Let the dough chill for about an hour. Makes it easier to roll out, just like a winter in Winterfell.
Roll out the dough till it’s about a quarter to a half-inch thick. You can use a template for the direwolf shape (shoutout to Inn at the Crossroads for the inspiration for the recipe!), but I went freestyle with my artistic skills.
The Final Touch
Whisk together an egg and some water, and give that bread a nice glaze.
Bake, Then Enjoy!
Bake at 350°F for roughly 20 minutes or until the bread turns as golden as a Lannister’s locks.
So, my first direwolf was a tad skinny, thinner than Arya sneaking through the Red Keep. The next time around, I rolled it to about a half-inch, and boom, much better! I even used the extra dough to form the Stark sigil. Because, why not?
As for serving? I went with rosemary-infused butter and some kicky pepper jelly. Because even if “Winter is Coming,” that doesn’t mean we can’t keep things spicy. Trust me, not even the White Walkers would pass this up.
Tips for Direwolf Bread
- Use Fresh Ingredients: Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh for the best rise. If they’re old, your bread may turn out flat.
- Temperature Matters: If you opt to chill the dough, keep an eye on it. Over-chilling can make the dough too hard to roll out. Conversely, if your kitchen is particularly warm, your dough may be too sticky, so refrigerate it briefly.
- Bread Thickness: If you find that your first batch of bread is too thin or too thick, adjust the thickness of your rolled-out dough. Too thin will make it crispy, while too thick might result in a doughy center.
- Stickiness Alert: If your dough is sticking to the rolling pin or surface, sprinkle a little more wheat flour. However, be cautious as too much additional flour can make the bread dry.
- Substitute for Buttermilk: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of regular milk. Let it sit for a few minutes before using.
- Honey and Sugar: If you find the bread not sweet enough for your liking, you can increase the amount of honey or add the optional sugar. Just remember that adding too much can affect the texture.
- Egg Wash Alternatives: If you’re out of eggs, brushing with melted butter can also give a nice finish. It won’t be as shiny, but it will add flavor.
- Freezing Dough: If you’re planning to make this bread in batches, you can freeze the dough. Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling out.
- Test for Doneness: Use a toothpick or skewer to check the bread’s doneness. If it comes out clean, your direwolf bread is ready for serving!
- Pepper Jelly Pairing: The spiciness of the pepper jelly is a great counterbalance to the sweetness of the bread. Feel free to experiment with other condiments like herb-infused butters or fruit preserves.
And there we go, Hungry People! You’re now equipped to create your very own Game of Thrones-inspired direwolf bread right in your kitchen. From ingredient tips to troubleshooting woes, we’ve covered the bases to make sure you’re prepared for any kitchen battles that come your way. Whether you’re feeding a Stark or just a hungry traveler passing through the Inn at the Crossroads, this bread is sure to win you the loyalty of anyone’s stomach. May your ovens stay hot and your direwolves stay fierce. Enjoy!
Direwolf Bread | Game of Thrones Inspired Recipes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl attached to a stand mixer (or using your hands), combine the wheat flour, cornmeal, melted butter, honey, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until a crumbly dough forms.
- Slowly pour in the buttermilk, mixing until a thick dough forms. The dough should come together into a smooth ball that's not sticky to the touch but also doesn't crumble apart.
- Optional: Roll the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour. The colder the dough, the easier it will be to work with when cutting it into shapes.
- On a surface dusted with wheat flour, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about a half-inch thick. Cut the dough into the shape of a direwolf. Use a knife to gently slice into the dough to create eyes, ears, and a crisscross pattern down the body.
- Place the shaped breads on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each bread with the whisked egg and water mixture for a shiny finish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the breads have browned and risen slightly. Avoid overcooking, or the bread will turn crumbly and cracker-like.
- Serve the bread warm, perhaps with some pepper jelly on the side. Keep an eye out for Sansa Stark passing by, and most importantly, enjoy!