Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

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You are on the right site, we are just taking a short break from baking bread to bring you one of our absolute favorite recipes from Sarah’s new book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. You all know Sarah’s gorgeous work here on Breadin5, but you may not be as familiar with her baking website. Sarah has been working with us on the Breadin5 website and has been instrumental in our cookbook photoshoots as a food stylist. During our last marathon photo session she brought us cakes, cookies, scones and even pie she was testing for her own cookbook. When she brought in these chocolate chip cookies we took a moment out of the shoot to declare them the best cookies any of us had ever had. I do not say that lightly, considering I had a cookie company in college, have baked no fewer than 500 chocolate chip cookie recipes and have consumed even more. These are the best and now you have the recipe.

We are thrilled for Sarah and are so proud of her and this brilliant book! She and her publisher have graciously offered a copy of her book to a lucky winner of our GIVEAWAY. Just leave a note in our comments and we will select someone at random. It will make a great addition to your cookbooks or a lovely gift for someone on your list. All our normal contest rules apply. This contest is over.

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Herb Crock-Pot Dinner Rolls – Easy Thanksgiving Baking

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This week is Thanksgiving and we have to make the most of our oven space. Scheduling what will go in and out of the oven is just shy of a NASA level endeavor. By the time the pies come out, the Turkey must go in and then what to do about the rolls? There is an easy answer. What was originally a lark, bread in the slow-cooker has become my go-to holiday baking method. As you orchestrate the yams and dressing in the oven, your rolls can be baking on the counter. I made a savory herb dough for our Thanksgiving meal, but really you can bake just about any of our breads in this method.

Master Recipe from “New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” using Vital Wheat Gluten!

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(The pictures in this post are by Stephen Scott Gross, who did the photography For New Healthy Bread in Five).

When we first wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day in 2007 we were immediately asked how to convert the recipes to whole grains. We knew then that we’d be writing another book to satisfy the appetite for healthier breads. We also discovered gluten-free flours and developed our first breads made with them. The book answered a lot of questions and concerns about eating whole grains, but since 2009, when it first came out, we’ve learned even more. Our readers have become curious about ancient grains, baking with sourdough starter and they wanted even more 100% whole wheat. Well, we got the opportunity to create a new edition of the book and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Revised and Updated with New Recipes. (more…)

Soft Pretzels – (How-to Video on Shaping the Dough)

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When I was growing up in Connecticut I’d spend a fair amount of time in New York City. Every time I’d get off the train I’d get a pretzel from a cart outside the station. That and a trip to the Papaya King were enough to get me through the day. It was a cheap, tasty and filling snack for a teenager.

Part of the characteristics of that perfect New York pretzel is the way they look. Philadelphia has a pretzel culture too, but you’d never confuse it with it’s northern cousin, due to the shape. Philly has figure-8 knots and New York has…pretzel shape. It is admittadly nostalgia that makes me partial to the New York version. And you really should serve them with mustard to complete the experience. I like a grainy mustard and that is just not at all traditional, oh well.

How-to Shape a New York Pretzel Video. (more…)

Valentine’s Day Swirled Bread

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I’ve just returned from an incredible week in Denver. I was there working with Craftsy to create another class, this time on show stopping cheesecakes (it will be out in a few weeks). I love working the with the Craftsy team. They work hard and laugh harder. We spent months developing the class concept, all the materials/recipes and then got together for 4 days of non-stop baking and filming. I like to think I’m a hard worker, but then I see the folks at Craftsy and I realize how much more a human can do in a single day when they work as a team. I loved it. Not only the work, but also the people. Writing books and blogging are two pretty solitary jobs, so having 5 days in the kitchen with their crew was a blast. It’s fun to watch other people create beautiful food. It is also fun to see my recipes come to life.

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As we were prepping all the cheesecakes for my class, Victoria, the kitchen assistant extraordinaire, told me about a bread she bakes for her young daughter. Victoria helped me on my Craftsy bread class* and played with the recipe to create a rainbow of colors with it. Brilliant. I immediately thought of a Valentine’s Day Bread with swirls of pink and red.

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*If you haven’t checked out our Artisan Bread in Minutes class on Craftsy, I am always so happy to have new bakers join the class. If you’re interested be sure to use this link to sign up, you’ll get $20 off. It makes a lovely Valentine’s Day Gift for the baker in your life.

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Caramel Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding

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Sometimes the best discoveries come from happy accidents. I made a pan of caramel cinnamon buns and I was the only one home to eat them. That in itself is no great tragedy, I took great pleasure in sitting down with a cup of coffee and a warm sticky bun in the perfection of solitude. But, the day went by and the kids were busy with sports, finals and all that kids are busy with, so I found myself with a pan of lovely, albeit slightly stale rolls. My boys would have happily devoured them as a midnight snack, but for my taste they were a bit stiff, after 12 hours on the counter. We talk about using stale bread for pudding in our books, that’s not news, but this recipe elevates a rather humble dessert to a special occasion by using sticky buns. I just put the sticky buns right back in the cake pan, with the caramel and all, then covered it with custard. I baked them and a new classic was born in my house. I served the pudding as dessert, but they are also perfect for breakfast or brunch.  (more…)

Braided Savory Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nut Dinner Pastry

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This started out as a dessert post, but then I looked out the window, and it’s October in Minnesota, and fresh berries from the U-pick farm are long over with.  My family needs something warming tonight, so I dropped my almond cream and raspberry idea, and jogged to the store for spinach and feta to go with the pine nuts I already had in the house.  Not only is this thing delicious, but I stashed gobs of spinach into it and it was super kid-friendly anyway.  (more…)

Weighing The Ingredients: Whole Grain Baguette Buns With Extra Sourdough Kick. And, a winner in our Super Peel contest…

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Before I launch into these fantastic buns, our winner of the SuperPeel was… Sandy! Congrats, we’ll be in touch. That contest is now closed.

In this post, I’ll go through the method for using a kitchen scale to measure in flour and other ingredients, which some readers, especially outside the U.S., have said they prefer. In this recipe, I used these weight equivalents for scoop-and-swept cup measures:

1 cup white all-purpose flour:  5 ounces (140 grams)

1 cup whole wheat flour:  4.5 ounces (130 grams)

1 cup water:  8 ounces (225 grams)

Most home scales aren’t accurate enough to weigh small quantities of yeast and salt for single recipes.

These buns are from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, being cut from a baguette-shaped cylinder, which gives the buns crusty little edges that will impress your guests.  They’re incredibly easy to make from any of the lean stored doughs that you already have in your fridge, mixed up from our book… (more…)

SkinnyTaste Hot Soup and Fresh Bread on a Cold Night!

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It wasn’t that long ago I spent a magic filled weekend with Todd and Diane (White on Rice Couple) in their California studio. It was one of those experiences I will never forget. Not only is their sun soaked space a dream come true for anyone with a camera, but they have a prop room the size of most homes. They invited a group of food bloggers to play in their kitchen and challenged all of us to push our photography in new directions. The talent of the group was mind bending, but it was really the generosity of the group, who freely shared their wisdom, that was so inspiring.

One of the lovely people I met that weekend was Gina Homolka from SkinnyTaste. Her blog and her book are both beautiful and a pure reflection of the woman behind them. She served a salad at the studio party that was simply incredible, so I bought her book. Now that I am home in the polar vortex that is Minnesota, and pretty much snowed in until March, I am all about hot soups. I wanted something that felt hearty enough to conquer the cold, but didn’t make me feel like I needed to nap after. I flipped through Gina’s book and found “Un”stuffed Cabbage Soup. I love stuffed cabbage. It reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen, but I’ve never had the patience to make them. This soup has all of those wonderful flavors, but none of the work. Perfect for a cold night with a loaf of fresh bread. I went with an ultra crusty Epi, but to keep it skinny, I made mini ones.

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Whole Grain Loaves without Vital Wheat Gluten, and Highlights from the Mill City Bread Festival

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When we wrote Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day in 2009, we made a strategic choice. We knew that most of our readers liked their bread light and fluffy, and our refrigerator storage technique could be unforgiving when you used a lot of whole grains. For some of our tasters, whole-grain bread made from wet dough stored in the fridge could be a little too dense for their taste. So we lightened things up a bit, by boosting the gluten in our whole grain doughs that appear in that book, using vital wheat gluten (VWG). Well, I’ve been experimenting on whole-grain doughs stored without VWG, and I’ve been pleased with the results. Here’s a simple alternative recipe for whole grain loaves without the added gluten. Plus, highlights from our appearance at the Mill City Bread Festival. (more…)