Up-side Down Plum Brioche Cake

August is slowly slipping away from us, and here in Minnesota it’s brought endless days of cool weather and rain. Baking has been an essential part of my day, as I process changes: new routines about to begin, weather moving from hot to cold, and daily current events that fill my computer screen.

Stone fruits are still front and center at my grocery store; they’ve replaced the piles of berries that filled my fridge all through July. While we’ve mostly been eating them perfectly ripe and sliced, I did sneak in an up-side down brioche this week that was incredibly delicious. Made with plums, some butter and sugar, and a splash of vanilla, it’s a perfect way to celebrated the end of summer.

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Raspberry Brioche Braid

When my boys were little I took them berry picking. The concept was a good one and in my head it would be like a scene from Kinfolk. The boys sitting quietly by the raspberry bushes, adorably tossing berries into a gingham lined basket. The reality was more Lord of the Flies meets Blueberries for Sal (which is my all-time favorite children’s books). The boys would never sit still in a setting as inviting as this for running and wielding sticks, in-which to sword fight. Nor were they likely to toss a single berry into the basket, when they could just as easily eat them. So, I picked berries, while keeping an eye out to make sure my children were not impaling each other and were accounted for. I got enough berries to bake with, but they were not-so-ceremoniously consumed in the back seat of the car, by the before mentioned sword fighters, on the way home. It was an absolutely charmed day in its way, but not if your goal was to bake something tasty. We stopped at the store and bought Driscoll’s perfect raspberries, I baked a lovely raspberry brioche braid, that ended up in ABin5 and I have not gone berry picking (with the intention of bringing home berries) since…true story!

This raspberry braid is ideal for breakfast, brunch, after school snack or makes a sweet gift for your neighbor who just had an adorable baby (as mine recently did). When you have a bucket of brioche in the refrigerator this can be put together in a no time. First, I used the Driscoll’s berries to make a quick jam, which is so simple and delicious and I recommend making extra to just have around. The red of these berries makes for a ruby colored jam and the flavor is just pure raspberry, no additives or binders. These berries are all natural (organic options are available), never genetically modified and Driscoll’s follows the sun, so they are available and perfect all year round. The jam is spread over a layer of rich cream cheese filling and then the dough is folded over the fillings in a pattern that looks fancy, but is incredibly easy  to do. The finishing touches are a fresh raspberry glaze and sweet whole berries. It will impress everyone and they’ll assume you spent so much time preparing it. They never need to know how easy it is, until you share this recipe with them.

Driscoll’s is hosting a Minnesota-exclusive Giveaway (because we are the most raspberry loving people in the land (fun fact…according to the data reported by The Nielson Company the Twin Cities consumes 132% more fresh raspberries than the nation as a whole. This could be why Garrison Keillor, on the Prairie Home Companion, describes Minnesotans as “…all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average!”). When Driscoll’s asked me to create a recipe and share in their #BerryTogether Sweepstakes, it felt like a natural fit. One lucky, top prize winning, Minnesotan will get a 4-night getaway to Madden’s on Gull Lake. Four 1st-prize winners will receive Driscoll’s berries for a YEAR! All raspberry loving Minnesotans should visit www.berrytogether.com to enter. If you don’t have the good fortune to live in this great state, you can still bake this fantastic raspberry brioche treat.

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Blueberry Yeasted Coffee Cake

I’ve been on a jam making kick this week. I read about a really easy recipe in Jennifer Farley’s book, The Gourmet Kitchen and had to give it a go. I am now on my third batch, in as many days. Skillet jam is a super simple way to make fruit jam without the pectin and there’s no need to figure out the whole canning process, since this jam will disappear in a snap. Honestly, I just eat it out of the jar with a spoon. Today I made just enough blueberry jam to fill this brioche based coffee cake. Depending on the season and where you live, you can use fresh or frozen berries for the jam. I used frozen wild blueberries and they have a lovely tartness. This layered coffee cake is a perfect treat to serve at Brunch or pack for a 4th of July picnic. (more…)

Cinnamon Twists

We’ve been on a breadstick kick. My children are obsessed with them, and love them even more than pizza. They’ve started begging for breadsticks at every meal, and while I don’t always heed their cries, I do find I am making them more than usual. Why? Well, they are so easy to put together, and work with almost any kind of meal. Pizza and breadsticks. Spaghetti and breadsticks. Chicken and breadsticks. Lasagna and breadsticks. (Don’t worry, there are plenty of vegetables served alongside, too). One weekend morning, when breadsticks were brought up for breakfast, I decided to surprise them with cinnamon twists instead. They were an instant hit, and while these are not a weekly affair, they are a fun, simple way to sweeten up a breakfast, brunch, or even dinner table.

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Chocolate and Orange Confit Brioche

chocolate orange bread

With less than a week away from the most wonderful time of the year (sing that to yourself in a Bing Crosby voice), I find myself frantically baking for this Saturday and Sunday. I love passing out goodies to the neighbors each year, and while we have stacks of cookies and bars, somehow a loaf of bread is most ideal. This loaf is extra special – with both a tender crumb and studded with chocolate and orange pieces, it is breakfast and dessert, a sweet indulgence to bring tidings of comfort and joy. This recipe makes two loaves, so you can make one for snacking and one for giving. Happy Holidays!

chocolate orange bread

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Whole Grain Christmas Stollen

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Christmas Stollen is a wonderful German baking tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with dried fruit, spiced with cardamom and a special treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven it is traditional to slather the warm loaf in butter then roll it in sugar, but we skip the extra butter and dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. This loaf actually holds up very well for a couple of days and that makes it a great gift for the holidays.
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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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Apple-Peach Braided Brioche Cake

apple-peach brioche cake

‘At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.’ – Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve got peaches and apples in my kitchen. Summer is gently fading, and autumn is slipping in with an occasional cool breeze, a golden leaf here and there. I don’t know how August is already over, but here is September with its crisp ciders and juicy pears. I’m ready for bread-making again, and am starting the cooler months off with this brioche cake.The juicy peaches and the apple-cinnamon flavor are a good combination; a perfect intermingling of the seasons.

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Fresh-picked Strawberry Danish

Strawberry Danish

The secret of great fruit tarts and danishes?  Great fruit, of course.  If you have great stuff, it’s not all that complicated.  Take out some stored dough, and just a little more effort gets you a great dessert.  My family and some friends had visited Sam Kedem Nursery Garden, near Hastings, Minnesota, where we’d heard they had perfect strawberries ready for picking (they’re on to raspberries now).  So we were well stocked with great strawberries.

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Nutella Swirl Bread

Nutella Swirl Bread| Breadin5 (3 of 9)

This is a babka cheat, but no one will complain that it just took a few minutes to put it together. I just used a piece of whole wheat brioche dough, slathered it with Nutella, rolled it up, tucked it into a loaf pan, let it rest and baked it. That’s it. Super Easy. Super Tasty. Super Fast. And Beautiful.

Check out the Swirly Crock Pot version as well. It is perfect for hot summer days or when your oven is occupied with other goodies.

Nutella Swirl Bread| Breadin5 (1 of 9)

I went pretty light on the Nutella, so the bread would have a bit of chocolatey sweetness, but wouldn’t be over-the-top. You can use more and go with our brioche dough from New ABin5, for a more decadent treat. (more…)