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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Grilled Breakfast Pizza Two Ways

We’ve had some incredibly warm days here in Minneapolis (scorchers, as we like to call them, as in ‘what a scorcher!’) so our grill has been in constant use. Grilling during extremely hot weather isn’t always the best idea, because, well, that grill is hot, but it does keep the house much cooler. I decided on one of these raging hot mornings that I would start grilling early – friends were coming over for a late breakfast, and maybe we could just do pizzas? With breakfast toppings? Everyone was amused by the idea of pizza for breakfast, and it now my kids are requesting it daily. We made two different kinds: eggs, bacon, and Swiss chard with a roasted garlic sauce, and peach-sausage-basil with mozzarella. Both were considered hits by all.

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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…)

Chicken and Doughnuts

I’ve recently become obsessed with Gary Cooper – not the Gary Cooper, but a decadent doughnut breakfast that a local Minneapolis diner serves, named after Mr. G.C. The diner is the Hi-Lo Diner, a new establishment that serves a fancy item called a Hi-Top, which is essentially a doughnut piled high with either sweet or savory ingredients. The Gary Cooper is my favorite hi-top on the menu, it’s covered with buttermilk fried chicken, maple-bourbon syrup, country gravy, and micro arugula. I decided to try and recreate this number in my own kitchen, using our no-knead brioche dough for the doughnut base, and then building the rest with maple syrup, mashed potatoes, gravy, and crispy chicken. It was incredibly delicious, and although this dinner will be a special occasion treat in at my house, it was worth all the effort.

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Mother’s Day Recipe Round Up

‘The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.’ -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Over the years, we’ve done quite a few posts that are Mother’s Day/Brunch related. Here’s a round up of some of our favorite recipes, and also some from around the web. If you bake anything this weekend from our site or from our books, take a photo and then tag it with #breadin5 so we can see what you’re making!

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How to shape wet dough

The secret to our method is having a nice wet dough. This allows us to store the dough and make a beautiful loaf. One of the most often questions is how to successfully shape the wet dough into a nice neat ball. If your loaf is not shaped well, it may spread out and be too flat or it will bake in a shape you just didn’t intend. Even if your dough is super wet, even wetter than we intended, within reason, it can still be successfully shaped and bake into a gorgeous loaf. We’ll show you how in this video. The trick is using more flour than you may think is okay, but as you’ll see we aren’t working the flour into the dough, we’re just using it to keep the dough from sticking to our hands. As we gently handle the dough we add more flour. This allows us to shape, without overworking the dough. I didn’t use a Bench Scraper in this video, but it is a great tool for keeping the dough from sticking to your hands.

The dough in this video is the Master recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but this method can be used for any of our doughs.

Tsoureki: Easter Bread from Greece

Easter is right around the corner, and while it is celebrated in different ways by many, one common thread is to involve colorful eggs, either in hunts or baskets or bread.

Tsoureki is the traditional bread of Easter in Greece and many other Christian countries. The dough is enriched and then twisted around brightly dyed eggs. The bread is often braided with three strands to represent the holy trinity, formed into a circle as a reference to life and the eggs are dyed red as a symbol of Christ’s blood. The bread is sweet, flavored with orange zest and a traditional Middle Eastern spice called Mahlepi, which is made from ground cherry pits (the spice can be found in Middle Eastern or Greek markets). If you don’t have Mahlepi, you can make the dough with ground Anise seed or even Cardamom. We’ve made them individual-sized here, with light pink eggs, but you could make them any color you would like (for a large loaf, we have a recipe here).

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Cheesy, Spinach and Egg Boat

Once in a while I make a decision that seems like a fantastic idea, then it terrifies me and then proves to change my life. Agreeing to write Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day with Jeff in 2005 was one such moment. Recently, I gave my dad a gift that falls into the same category. He has been going into the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) on the Minnesota/Canada border for decades. He’s gone alone, he’s taken my brothers, he’s taken my sons, but I have never gone. To say I am not a camper is an understatement. I like memory foam and a thread count on my sheets that you can’t buy at REI. So, when I asked him to take me camping in the BWCA, he was thrilled and booked the date before I could change my mind, which I have considered many times. I am so excited, slightly terrified and I’ve heard many people say this is a trip of a lifetime. I have no doubt I will come back a changed woman.

My dad came over to start planning our big canoeing adventure, so I figured a cheesy, spinach and egg boat was a fitting lunch. This savory flatbread is featured in our The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book, made with our whole wheat master recipe. Today I made it with brioche dough and it was fantastic. It’s a really fun flatbread, that is easier than you think to make and will jazz up a breakfast, lunch or brunch. It may or may not change your life, but it will add joy! (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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