Slashing your dough properly creates a beautiful loaf of bread, but can also help it rise in the oven. If your slashes are not deep enough, the dough may tear open on the top or bottom of the loaf. Leaving you with bread that tastes delicious, but doesn’t live up to its artistic potential. The loaf can also end up being a touch dense if you don’t slash deep enough, because it won’t open up and make way for a dramatic oven spring. So, for the most beautiful crust and best interior crumb, you’ll want to follow these few tricks for slashing. (more…)
Even as an adult, peanut butter and jelly is still a favorite combination. A few times a year I’ll still make a ‘pb & j’ with the kids for lunch, enjoying some junior high nostalgia along with a glass of milk and a handful of potato chips. I decided maybe it was time to class peanut butter up a bit, by turning it into an almost-brioche loaf that is perfect for toasting, or a sandwich bread with extra peanut butter power. Peanut butter swirl buns are also a good idea, and I think French toast might have to be next on my to-do list. (more…)
Last weekend I lived the ultimate bread bakers’ dream. Thanks to my friends at Red Star Yeast I travelled to the heart of wheat country in Kansas and had the great honor of judging the National Festival of Breads baking contest. The contestants submitted their recipes and were chosen from hundreds of bread bakers from across the country. Eight women came to Manhattan, KS and baked in a theatre-style kitchen in front of about 1500 bread lovers. They deserve a prize for that alone. The breads were all amazing, but one by Lisa Keys of Good Grief Cooks was the one that stood out to all the judges. Her Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread had a combination of flavors, texture and beauty made this the clear winner. You can read all about the contest (you should consider entering for the next one), the contestants and their winning recipes at the National Festival of Breads.
Another absolutely gorgeous loaf that was baked for us was a chocolate swirl bread. I’ve recreated that idea with our Whole Wheat Brioche dough and a swirl of Nutella. It is healthy and decadent all at the same time and it’s baked in a crock pot. I turned to my crock pot when I turned on the AC for the first time yesterday and I really didn’t want to heat up the kitchen by cranking up the oven. The crock pot is ideal for a bread like this, since it fits the shape and we want a soft crust. The result was perfect.
Today is National Doughnut Day! Well, actually it appears there are several ‘National Doughnut Days’ in our country. But, it’s completely understandable that many people want to celebrate doughnuts as often as they can. I’ve decided to go all out today, and bring you an amazingly delicious yet slightly ridiculous doughnut: a s’mores doughnut. This beauty is made from brioche dough, glazed in chocolate, coated in graham cracker crumbs, and then smothered in toasted meringue. Each bite will leave you with a marshmallow mustache and sticky hands, but I promise it’s worth it.
As I am testing recipes, I can find myself with several buckets going at once. I have a family of four and we just can’t always use up all that dough in a timely fashion. I just opened a bucket of dough that had been untouched for several days, well more than several and it was gray, leathery and had some liquid on it (pictures below). It had a strong “sourdough” smell to it, since it had been fermenting for a very long time. For those of us who like that kind of character in our bread, it was very exciting. BUT, there wasn’t that much dough left and if I were to peel back the leathery bits to get to the creamy dough beneath, I wouldn’t even have enough dough for a full loaf. The best thing to do with this older dough is to incorporate it into a new batch. It jump starts the flavor in your new dough, without having to wait days for the fermentation. It is like having a sourdough starter, that you never had to feed. Although in the dough I will show you, I am using the full amount of Red Star Platinum yeast.
My mom informed me today that I was in charge of planning Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. Now that I have two children of my own, I thought that this duty could be passed along to someone else, perhaps someone planning my Mother’s Day. Apparently it doesn’t work like that. She vaguely mentioned something about being Queen Mother and I’ll just have to wait my turn, so Mother’s Day breakfast is on. Good thing I like her a lot, and also like baking bread.
I’ve found brunch to be ideal for that Sunday morning celebration, but eating out is usually a busy affair in these parts. Baked French toast is now my answer to the “what are we going to serve?” question. It is put together in the evening, where the milk and eggs soak into the layers of challah overnight. The next morning it is baked, served warm, and gone within minutes. It also makes me look like I worked much harder than I did.
We are insanely flattered. Epicurious.com, which is the food website of Conde Nast, publisher of Bon Appetit and the late, lamented Gourmet, has named The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as one of the 53 greatest cookbooks of all time. That’s our book in their picture, right in the middle of some very exhalted company. Bakers like Dorie Greenspan, Julia Child, Peter Reinhart. We’re hyperventilating. Thanks for the shout-out, Epicurious:
“We were surpised that more baking books weren’t nominated… all the baking frontrunners are bread books. The panel’s favorites were Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart.”
For more, click on Epicurious.com, in “The Hunt for the Greatest Cookbooks of All Time”
Yes, we took on the Pinterest Easter bunnies. Have you seen them, pinned on everyone’s holiday boards? Turns out that picture is actually of a bunny cookie, and these sad rolls are more an accurate visual of how things would turn out. But, I’m happy to tell you that after making dozens upon dozens of rolls, we have some tips to help you make some cute little bunnies.
However, I won’t lie to you (it is Easter, after all) that they are a little tricky. And you may have some rolls that end up a little wonky. But, as my children oohed and ahhed over even the misshapen ones, I could see we had a winner idea.
Making these bunnies is way too much fun, lots more photos are here…