New cake book: Zoe Bakes Cakes!

My friend, co-author, and business partner– the multi-talented Zoe Francois, has written the only cake cookbook you will ever need. Zoe Bakes Cakes dropped three days ago, and it’s already hugely successful. Someone asked me if I helped out on this cake book: answer is no, except for sampling the cakes!

Zoe and I met 18 years ago in our kids’ music class, and found we had some common interests–music, art, photography and FOOD. Once we figured out the food part and decided to write about bread together, Zoe broadened the repertoire beyond the country loaves and rye breads that were my obsession. That meant sweeter, richer treats like brioche and yeasted pastries. It temporarily satisfied the sweet tooth, but I knew that sooner or later, Zoe would write a cake book. The book is incredible, with scrumptious cakes, crystal-clear directions, and absolutely gorgeous photography–all shot by Zoe herself (she’s also a photographer–did I mention multi-talented?). Have a look…

and then have a bite…

… because if you can bake bread, you can bake cake too! The cake book is on Amazon and booksellers everywhere. Happy baking…

Holiday Tea Ring with Eggnog Glaze

This tea ring is an ultra fancy cinnamon roll, baked as wreath and topped with an Eggnog Glaze. The cuts and twists of the dough make for a super-festive bread that is actually really easy to make, so don’t leave this one just for the holidays.

If you head to our Breadin5 Instagram page, you can watch our stories and see us make the tea ring! You can also check out other holiday posts: Holiday Star Bread, Panettone Monkey Bread, Chocolate Chestnut Bread, and Stollen Buns.

We hope you have a happy holiday, however you celebrate. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2021.

Dough

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 tablespoon Red Star Platinum Yeast

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup bourbon

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon filling

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Eggnog Glaze

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

2 to 4 tablespoons eggnog

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Bourbon, optional

For the dough

Mix the water, yeast, salt, sugar, eggs, oil, bourbon, and vanilla in a 6-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle/flat beater), a Danish dough whisk, or a wooden spoon. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled (don’t try to use it without chilling).

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises for 2 hours.

The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise, or frozen for later use. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.

On baking day: Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle, about 14 x 18 inches. As you roll out the dough, add flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Spread the butter mixture evenly over the dough.

Starting with the long side of the dough, roll it up into a log. Pinch the seam closed. Stretch the log until it is about 1 1/2 inches thick. Join the 2 ends together. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Stretch the dough to make sure you have a nice, wide opening in the middle of your wreath, but leave plenty of room around the edge.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.

Brush lightly with the egg wash. Make evenly spaced cuts all the way around the wreath about 1 inch apart. The cuts should go just about to the bottom of the ring, but not quite to the bottom.

Gently pull every other piece to the outside of the ring and then twist that piece to face up. Do the same with the remaining pieces, but have them face up on the inside of the ring. The ones on the inside of the ring may not lay flat on the baking sheet, which is fine.

Bake for 25 to 32 minutes, until golden brown and well set.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, 2 tablespoons egg nog, and vanilla until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until the mixture is smooth. Add more eggnog (or bourbon!), 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Pour the glaze over the warm braid, then serve.

Eat and enjoy!

Red Star Yeast provided yeast samples for recipe testing, and sponsors BreadIn5’s website and other promotional activities.

Christmas Stollen… and stay tuned for Swedish Tea Ring with Eggnog Glaze next week

stollen-hbin5-3-of-16

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. We’ll have one more Christmas post in December, from Sarah Kieffer– an inventive Swedish Tea Ring with Eggnog Glaze.

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Baking with Kids: Crock Pot Monkey Bread

The school year is upon us, and many parents and kids alike are finding themselves in a completely new routine. Our children are trying to navigate distance learning, hybrid learning (or something in-between) while parents are juggling jobs and their new teaching career. It’s wild, and often overwhelming, to say the least.

Since our kids are now home more, they are encouraged to take on more responsibility; we all have to pitch in to make our Covid lifestyles work. One area they are taking charge in is the kitchen: chopping vegetables, baking bread, and learning to use the Crock-Pot are all on their to-do lists.

We have several recipes on our site for Crock-Pot breads, and they have been a huge hit. But we’ve found that teaching our kids to use the Crock-Pot is a win-win: it’s easier to use than the oven, and there is less chance of getting burnt transferring items in and out of it. Combine it with the ease of our no-knead bread, and the options are endless.

If you head to our Breadin5 Instagram page, you can watch our stories of River (below) mixing the brioche dough and shaping the monkey bread. We’ve made this bread extra-simple by topping it with store-bought caramel sauce that is poured on after baking, so you don’t have to worry about transferring and flipping hot caramel.

And, if you need more Crock-Pot ideas, you can check out our Crock-Pot Cinnamon Rolls, Crock-Pot Challah, Crock Pot Brioche, Gluten-Free Crock-Pot Bread, and Crock-Pot Dinner Rolls.

Brioche dough, from New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (makes about 4.5 pounds of dough)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 tablespoon Red Star Platinum Yeast

1 tablespoon kosher salt

6 large eggs

1/2 cup [170 g] honey

1 1/2 cups [340 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

7 cups [990 g] unbleached all-purpose flour

Filling

8 tablespoons [1 stick, or 114 g] unsalted butter, melted

1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup store-bought Caramel Sauce

For the dough

Mix Red Star Platinum yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with water in a 6-Quart Round Food-Storage Container with Lid (not airtight) container.

Mix in flour without kneading, using a spoon, a Danish Dough Whisk or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises for approximately 2 hours. Then refrigerate for at least four hours before first use; it is easier to handle when thoroughly chilled. This dough can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge. Beyond that, the dough stores well in the freezer for up to four weeks in an airtight container, in one-pound portions.  When using frozen dough, thaw and use as instructed.

For the filling

Line your Crock-Pot with parchment paper. You will use this paper to remove the monkey bread from the pot, so make sure it is coming up the sides of the Crock Pot (it may have some creases, but this won’t affect the bread baking).

Sprinkle the surface of your dough with flour and take out a 1 1/2 pound piece.

Divide the dough into about 32 pieces, as even in size as possible, but perfection is not needed here.

Roll the dough into small balls. If the dough is sticking to your hands, coat your palms with a small amount of flour.

Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Drop the dough balls into the melted butter, then the bowl of cinnamon sugar and roll them around to coat them evenly.

Place the balls in the lined  Crock-Pot, cover and turn it to high.

Leave the crock pot covered until the dough is cooked through and springs back when touched, anywhere from 1 to 2 hour, depending on your Crock-Pot. Use the parchment paper to remove the Monkey bread from the pot.

Flip the monkey bread onto a serving plate and remove the parchment paper (which is now the top).

Drizzle the Monkey Bread with the caramel sauce and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Eat and enjoy!

Red Star Yeast provided yeast samples for recipe testing, and sponsors BreadIn5’s website and other promotional activities.  

Pan-banging Sugar Cookies from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen!

These sugar cookies are courtesy of our friend and colleague, Sarah Kieffer, who’s been part of our BreadIn5 family since 2012. You can grab the recipe for these on The Vanilla Bean Blog by clicking here, or you can buy the whole book that it comes from, click here! The year our pizza book came out, Sarah photographed an event where Zoe was doing a demo. We saw the shots on her website, and they were terrific. I’d been looking to scale back my own blogging, so I had coffee with Sarah. We hit it off right away, and I decided to turn over my part of the bread-blogging to Sarah, so this post is part of my way of saying THANK YOU for that. Eventually Sarah started doing Zoe’s too.

Here’s what impressed me: I’ve been tinkering with photography since I was 12, in my own darkrooms and then using color labs, but I struggled to create great shots for our website, because this isn’t the easiest craft to master. Well, Sarah mastered it. Juggling hobbies and avocations with the demands of caring for young children (sound familiar?), she bought a good camera and taught herself digital photography and food blogging, with phenomenal results. In addition to blogging on BreadIn5, Sarah shot and styled some of the photos in our later books. Through all this, she was perfecting a very fun and delicious cookie-baking technique. Her pan-banging chocolate chip cookies became an internet sensation, and were covered in the New York Times. She has two books of her own now; this week releasing 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen. It’s available on Amazon and everywhere else.

More beautiful cookies from Sarah’s book (and of course, all photos are by Sarah Kieffer):

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Brownie Cookies

Crock Pot Cinnamon Rolls

Crock Pot Cinnamon Rolls

Well, we’ve made our Master recipe in a crock pot, our brioche in a crock pot, dinner rolls, and even our gluten-free dough in the slow cooker. It seemed a good time to add to the list, and so we took on crock pot cinnamon rolls. I’m happy to report that they work just as well; it’s as easy as rolling out dough, brushing some butter and sprinkling sugar, shaping rolls, and then letting them bake for an hour. My family couldn’t tell they weren’t baked in the oven, and my kids had the best after school snack of the year.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Coffeecake for Mother’s Day

Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Coffeecake

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend (you remembered, right?) and if you are celebrating your Mom or any other women in your life, we have a lovely (and easy!) coffeecake for you to put together. It is made with our 5 minute no-knead brioche and a delicious strawberry-rhubarb filling, but in a pinch you can use your favorite store-bought jam to substitute. We also have a coffeecake in Blueberry if that is more your jam (pun intended).

Other Bread in 5 news: Zoe did a Instagram live with our no-knead brioche, and made cinnamon rolls! You can watch her here shape the buns and cook them (and some other treats) in the slow cooker. We also have a recipe for Crock Pot Cinnamon Rolls if you’d rather take that route for Mother’s Day.

We have updated our Sourdough Starter post, with more helpful tips and troubleshooting suggestions. We also have a FAQ page we are constantly updating if you are having issues with your bread baking.

Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Coffeecake

Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Coffeecake

Streusel Topping

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup almond flour or oats

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling

1 cup rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 ounces strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar (if your rhubarb is really tart, you can add up to 1/2 cup sugar total, however the streusel and icing will add a lot of sweetness, so it’s better to keep the jam slightly on the tart side)
Pinch salt

1 pound (grapefruit-size portion) Brioche dough, from New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Icing
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Prepare the streusel topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the all-purpose flour, sugars, almond flour, salt, and cinnamon on low. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together but still is quite crumbly.

Prepare the fruit filling: Place the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and salt into a medium pan and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until the rhubarb and strawberries have broken down and the jam has thickened. The jam will cling to a wooden spoon when it is done. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the jam until ready to use. (Taste your jam – if it is a little flat, you can add a squeeze or two of lemon juice – about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until it brightens the flavor.)

Grease an 8-inch springform cake pan with butter and dust with flour. Set aside. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. Divide the piece in two, dust with more flour, and quickly shape each piece into a rough ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Roll the balls out into two 1/4-inch thick rounds, about 9 inches across. As you roll out the dough, add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place one of the dough rounds in the bottom of the prepared pan.

Top with half of the fruit filling and and sprinkle half the streusel topping over it. Repeat with the remaining dough round, fruit filling, and streusel.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the icing: In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, milk, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and mix again until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

Move the cake pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour the icing over the cake, and then let it continue cooling for 20 minutes.

Remove the cake from the springform pan while it is still warm.

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.

Kulich for Easter, Two Ways Plus a Book & Red Star Yeast and Book Giveaway! (CONTEST IS CLOSED, winners to be announced)

Full parent confession (because Easter season is the perfect time for coming clean): Weeks before our state issued a Stay-At-Home order, I had already done my Easter basket shopping. I was feeling terribly proud of myself: I had purchased a small gift for each of my two children, plus a guilt-free amount of candy (made up of mostly Reese’s peanut butter eggs, because then I can steal one, two). However, three days into our stay-at-home, I had already handed out the presents to keep my children entertained (distance learning hadn’t started yet! I’m trying to finish a manuscript!) and yesterday I realized I had eaten the last of the Reese’s peanut butter cups without sharing any with my kids. My conscious smote me (even though the candy was supposed to be free from guilt). I wondered what I would do in place of baskets, as we are trying to keep our grocery shopping to a minimum. I remembered this beautiful Easter bread recipe we have in our Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five book, and hoped it’s brilliant white icing and colorful sprinkles would make up for a lack of candy Sunday morning. (It won’t. But we’ll eat it together and focus on grace, because that’s what this holidays is about, right?)

Kulich (cool-ich) is an Easter bread that is scented and colored with saffron threads and topped with a sweet layer of icing. It is often made with St. Lucia Bun dough, but we took our favorite no-knead brioche dough from our New Artisan Bread in Five book and added a little saffron to it to make this version. We also include a recipe for ‘Cinnamon Roll Kulich’ – which is this same dough made with a cinnamon swirl center and baked in a popover pan to help keep its tall shape. Icing and sprinkles are also included, of course.

And, because we know that yeast is sadly becoming impossible to find on the grocery store shelves, we have partnered with Red Star Yeast and are giving away some of their yeast along with copies of our books!

GIVEAWAY! We’ll give away a copy of our book & Red Star Yeast to TEN lucky winners! You can choose from these titles if you are one of the randomly selected winners– CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED, WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED:

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day

–or Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day

–or Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

… to enter, leave a comment below or increase your chances by entering on our @breadin5 Instagram post! (U.S. addresses only, see our FAQ for details).

Kulich

2 pounds Brioche dough (page 300 of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or the recipe here on the website), with 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads mixed into the wet ingredients

All-purpose flour, for dusting

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), for brushing the dough

Icing

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons cream (or more as needed for a thick but pourable consistency

To bake: Generously grease a panettone mold with butter (the mold I use in the photos is currently unavailable but it is a 6 x 6 inch panettone pan with a removable bottom. Many people also bake them in large, empty, parchment lined coffee cans to achieve the high domed loaf.) Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Place the ball in the greased panettone mold, seam-side down.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven. Brush the dough with egg wash. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack.

Make the icing: Mix the confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream together until smooth and thick enough to cling to the cake. You don’t want it to drip off the sides (like the very first photo shows) but if it does (like the one directly above) it will still taste good. Drizzle the icing over the cake and cover with colorful sprinkles.

Cinnamon Roll Kulich

1 1/2 pounds Brioche dough (page 300 of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or the recipe here on the website), with 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads mixed into the wet ingredients

All-purpose flour for dusting

Filling

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Pinch salt

Icing

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons cream (or more as needed for a pourable consistency)

Grease a 12 cup (or two 6 cup) large popover pans. (If you don’t have popover pans, you can use a greased 9×13 inch baking pan.)

Roll the dough into 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Brush the entire surface with the melted butter. In a small bowl mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Spread the mixture over the butter topped dough. Use your hands to make sure you have an even coat of the sugar. Then roll the dough up, starting at the long end.

Use a Bread Knife, Kitchen Scissors or floss to cut the log into 12 equal pieces.

Loosely cover the buns and let them rest between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The long rest will insure that you have a fluffy bun. (You can set these up the night before and let them rest overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning take them out and let them sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour.) You may get away with slightly shorter rise, but the buns will not be quite as soft.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, just until the centers are set when poked with your finger (they should be caramel colored). Turn the buns out of the pan (if using the popover pans). Let them cool on a wire rack.

Make the icing: Mix the confectioners’ sugar and heavy cream together until smooth and thick enough to cling to the cinnamon rolls. Drizzle the icing over each roll and cover with colorful sprinkles.

Red Star Yeast provided yeast samples for recipe testing, and sponsors BreadIn5’s website and other promotional activities.

Truck Stop Cinnamon Rolls!

Fresh baked truck stop cinnamon rolls

Making cinnamon rolls is hands down one of the most popular ways that folks use our brioche dough. Not only is this an easy dough to prepare, but since it can be used for up to five days after being made, there is the potential to eat cinnamon rolls every day of the week. Of course, we stand by the phrase “all things in moderation,” but it’s still nice to know that there’s a way to make every Monday morning more enjoyable.

Truck stop cinnamon rolls are not much different than our regular buns, they are just significantly bigger (each one can serve two. Or more?). They are perfect for brunch or company; a special indulgence.

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Panettone Monkey Bread

We are big fans of sweet dough (especially around the most wonderful time of the year), and while we often choose gigantic cinnamon rolls, we will never say no to monkey bread. Over the years we’ve made Classic Monkey Bread, Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread, and even Crock Pot Monkey Bread, and now we are adding Panettone Monkey Bread to the list. The Panettone dough comes from our Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five book (a fabulous Holiday gift, wink wink), and works well in this adaption; it’s studded with orange, lemon, and dried fruit, coated in sugar and butter and then more sugar and butter. It’s the perfect way to start out Christmas break (or even just Monday morning).

Panettone Monkey Bread

(For step-by-step instructions, check out our Instagram highlights!)

Panettone Dough (from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five)

1 1/2 cups (340g) lukewarm water (100F or below)
1 tablespoon (10g) Red Star Platinum Yeast
1 tablespoon (17g) kosher salt
1/2 cup (170g) honey
8 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks | 225g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
2 cups (340g) mixed dried and/or candied fruit (I used a mixture of dried cranberries and candied orange peel, but golden raisins, dried pineapple, dried apricots, and dried cherries are all good options.)
7 1/2 cups (1065g) all-purpose flour

Filling

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 tablespoons Triple Sec (optional)

Generously butter a 9 x 4 x 4-inch Pullman Pan or 10-cup Bundt pan.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound (cantaloupe-size) piece. Divide the dough into about 30 equal pieces. Roll the dough into small balls. If the dough is sticking to your hands, coat your palms with a small amount of soft butter. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a bowl. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a second bowl. Drop the dough balls into the butter and then coat them with the cinnamon sugar.

Place the balls in the prepared pan.

Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed int he center of the oven.

Just before putting the pan in the oven, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, and then add any remaining cinnamon sugar, the brown sugar, and the salt. Add the triple sec and stir to combine.

Set the pan on a baking sheet, just in case the caramel bubbles over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until caramelized and set.

Allow the bread to cool for 5 minutes.

Invert the loaf onto a serving tray.

Lesaffre Yeast Corporation (Red Star) provided yeast samples for recipe testing, and sponsors BreadIn5’s website and other promotional activities.