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…)

Craftsy Class Giveaway!

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It is coming up on baking season and we want to get you all ready and in the mood. As you may have heard, we did a Craftsy video series that shows all the tips and techniques for creating our favorite breads. The class is based on our Master recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but the course is helpful for baking any breads and pizzas from all of our books.

As a big THANK YOU to our Breadin5 community, we’re giving away our Craftsy Artisan Bread in Minutes class to a random winner. All you have to do is click on the link below to enter. Good luck and enjoy the class. (more…)

How to Slash Dough – Video

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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…)

Fresh Bread made with Older Dough

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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.

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Super Peel Giveaway CONTEST CLOSED, WINNER HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED

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This is a Super Peel. It is one of those products, like the Danish Dough Whisk, that changes the game for baking with our dough. I was skeptical that this cloth-covered peel would do the trick of transferring our wet dough onto the hot stone in the oven without sticking. I’ve come to use parchment to guarantee the dough won’t stick to the peel, but that’s not at all necessary with the Super Peel. Even after an 1 1/2 hour resting time the dough slid right off the cloth, no sticking, no prying it off with a dough scraper. Voila! The most exciting part is that it scoops the loaf off the hot stone with as much ease. No more chasing the loaf to the back of the oven while trying to get it back on the peel.

Now that we are heading into grilling season, and there is nothing better than pizza on the grill, you have to watch this video about using the Super Peel for transferring pizzas. Gary Casper invented the Super Peel and generously shared the Peel with me to try out. I loved it so much I asked him to do a giveaway so we could share one with you. *Leave a note in the comments below and you will be eligible to win a Super Peel. The winner is: Sandy! We’ll be in touch, Sandy. (more…)

Our Artisan Bread Baking Class on Craftsy!

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We are super excited to announce our new Craftsy bread baking video class. We’ve made a video of our most popular breads with lots of tips and techniques for getting a professional loaf every time you bake with very little time or effort! It is the perfect companion to all of our books. In the video we’ll use a single dough to create all the breads, but the techniques are useful for all the doughs from any of our books.

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Here’s some pictures from our video shoot in Denver. Our readers get 50% off the video by clicking the link below. This offer only lasts for two weeks, so join us soon!

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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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Master Recipe from Gluten-Free ABin5

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In 2007, when our first book hit the stores, I had never heard of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. In the past 7 years I’ve had quite an education on the subject. It all started here on the website. People were writing in to say they loved our method, but couldn’t eat wheat. There were many, many requests, so Jeff and I set off to develop recipes that fit our fast and easy method but used flours that were gluten-free. We’ve put gluten-free breads in all of our books since then, but they were just small chapters among a bunch of wheat filled recipes. It seemed unfair to the folks who couldn’t eat wheat to buy a book filled with recipes that didn’t suit their needs, so we decided to write a book for them. Last week Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day came out and we are thrilled to share the Master Recipe with you here.

We’ve had great feedback from our original gluten-free recipes, but we wanted to simplify the method even more. That meant developing two flour mixes that all our recipes are based on, so you just have to mix the flour once for many loaves. You just mix up a big batch of our Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix and/or our Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour mix and you’ll be able to quickly mix and bake all 90 recipes in our book. (We’ve tried commercial flour mixes, but haven’t found one that is as tasty, nor do they produce as nice a texture. If you have a brand of GF flour that you like to use, give it a try, but you may need to make some adjustments, so we recommend making a small batch to make sure you like the results.)

We also wanted to provide recipes that are mostly vegan (no eggs) and dairy free. Because eggs are a leavening ingredient, we do like the Master Recipe made with eggs for a lighter loaf. In fact, we find that the dough made with egg whites is the lightest of all the options. You can also use an egg substitute if you choose not to use eggs. And as always with our method, you save time by mixing a large batch and storing it in the refrigerator, pulling off dough to use as you need it.

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The following recipe is our Master Recipe from GFABin5 made with egg whites, but you can make the same recipe with whole eggs, egg substitutes or without any eggs at all. (more…)

Onion Poppy Seed Twist Bread

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Onions and poppy seeds have to be the most aromatic and delicious combination of flavors. They have been featured on Jewish breads from Bialys, Pletzels and Bagels for centuries. Here’s a new twist (sorry couldn’t resist the bad pun) on the classics. I started with whole wheat bread, spread the savory filling on the dough, rolled it up and then cut the log in two before twisting them together, so you can see the filling peek out. The result is beautiful, but the best part of this loaf if the aroma as it bakes.  (more…)