For spring break my family visited Puerto Rico. It took me less than 24 hours to find myself an amazing local bakery with all kinds of tasty pastries and breads to try. My favorites, which I managed to sample several times during our stay, were the Quesitos and Mallorca buns. The buns are a sweet enriched dough that is wound up into a snail shell shape and dusted with a thick coating of powdered sugar. We ate them plain with coffee or split open, stuffed with eggs and bacon, as a breakfast sandwich. When I got back home, I used our brioche dough to recreate the sweet buns and they are delicious and easy to make. (more…)
This beautiful loaf is the traditional bread of Easter in Greece and many other Christian countries. It is an enriched dough that is 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 dough is lightly 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 the spice, you can make the dough with ground Anise seed or even Cardamom. (more…)
I must admit that I use my Pullman pan quite frequently – there is something about those neat, square pieces that seem to make my sandwich more special. However, I wanted to change things up a bit, and decided to get a little creative. Normally I prefer sweet swirled breads, but sometimes something savory is needed. I found that this French olive spread (tapenade) is just the thing.
Nothing expresses your love as much as a tasty homemade gift. All you need is a bucket of brioche, a heart shaped cookie cutter and red decorating sugar to make this gorgeous heart shaped loaf. It’s an easy and fast project to do with little kids on Valentine’s Day.
In 2009 I was in Pittsburgh just before SuperBowl (go Steelers!) and mixed up a batch of Master Recipe dough with host Jon Burnett on KDKA-TV Channel 2 (the CBS affiliate). Pittsburgh was awash in Steelers mania, and I couldn’t resist cutting a loaf of Pain d’Epi (wheat stalk bread) but calling it Pain du Football (page 41 in our book). I’m bringing this bread to a Super Bowl party because each individual roll is shaped like a football– well, something like a football. Perfect for dipping into chili in front of the game. Jon was disappointed that my baked bread was a bit stale (I’d had to bake it in Minneapolis and it was two days stale!) so he insisted on eating the RAW bread dough instead (he made me eat it too). Click here or on the video screen above to view the TV segment, this was great fun.
Have a look at Zoe’s post on Pain d’Epi (wheat stalk bread) for some nice shots of the cutting technique. Remember to cut at a very shallow angle with long-bladed shears, almost all the way through the baguette you form.
Here is a fun, easy way to pack lunch right into your loaf of bread. No, I don’t mean the typical sandwich our kids are sick to death of, I mean ham and cheese (or whatever you are in the mood for) is folded into the dough and baked as a loaf. Each slice is a sandwich. In order to get the layers to keep their shape, I made the dough with Gold Medal Bread Flour, which boosts the amount of gluten and gives the loaf a little more structure. To make it a touch healthier (I’m constantly sneaking whole grains where kids will never see them) I also used whole wheat flour. This technique would work equally well with many other doughs from our books.
As the name suggests you can just pull sections of the loaf apart, but I sliced into this one to show you how the ham and cheese ends up woven through the bread.
When I just checked Amazon, they were selling the Kindle Edition of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for $6.99. Not sure how long that will last, but if you’ve ever considered trying the E-reader version, this would be a great time to dive in.
Sweet Brioche is the latest in my series of crock pot breads*. It may have taken me a while to give the old slow cooker a try, but now I am unstoppable. Some of you may know that I am in the very last stages of a kitchen remodel, which has me displaced and baking under less-than-ideal conditions. So, the crock pot is the perfect way to get the job done. It can travel from room to room and it takes up no space at all. This time of year we may not be concerned with heating up our house with the oven, in fact, I rather look forward to it. That is precisely why we northerners refer to winter as the “baking season,” because we do as much of it as possible to keep ourselves warm. But, this time of year can be a battle to find enough oven space. Thanksgiving and Christmas can pose a Rubik’s Cube style challenge of getting everything baked and on the table at the same time. Why not eleviate some of the pressure by throwing a ball of dough in your crock? Next I have to see if I can make bread pudding in my slow cooker. I do look forward to having my kitchen back, but until then I will not be without fresh baked bread.
Happy Holidays! (more…)
Thanksgiving has come and gone too quickly yet again. We have finished eating our Thanksgiving Leftovers Torta, but we’ll continue to hold on to our reasons to stop and give thanks, especially as the holiday madness begins in earnest. We’ve come up with a great way to celebrate the season with you–and they don’t involve turkey or long lines of shoppers–a decadent chocolate bread, laced with coffee, cardamom, and more chocolate!
Last week I did a post about baking a loaf of bread in a slow cooker. The resulting bread was fast, easy and delicious, not to mention it didn’t require a hot oven on a warm summer day. Several people asked if the same technique could be used with our gluten-free doughs. I am happy to announce that YES, it also works with gluten-free. I used the “Not Rye (But So Very Close)” recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Check with your crock-pot’s manufacturer before trying this, since some model’s instructions specify that the pot has to be at least partially filled with liquid to avoid safety or durability problems. And never bake in a crock-pot unattended. (more…)
When I moved to the midwest I was introduced to Crock Pot cooking. I had never even seen a slow cooker before and had no idea the range of foods that could be created in a plug-in cooking pot. Since then I have had everything from No-Peek-Chicken, Swedish Meatballs and Peach cobbler, done in one of these magic devices. When my husband was an art director Aveda they had “crock pot parties,” which meant everyone plugged in their slow cookers at their desks and made a dish to share. Brilliant! Maybe kids should bring crock pots to school and have healthy food cooking at their desks.
But, bread in a crock pot? Over the years we have gotten requests from readers to develop a method of baking our dough in a crock pot. I had my doubts, lots of them. I didn’t think the slow cooker could get hot enough, I thought it would take too long, I didn’t think it would bake through or have a nice crust and I resisted trying it. I was so convinced it would be a fail. Oh, how wrong I was. The crock pot does indeed get hot enough, and it takes less time than using your oven, because the rising time is included in the baking. The only thing I got right was the crust, it is very soft and quite pale when it comes out of the slow cooker, but just a few minutes under a broiler and I got a gorgeous loaf. I am a convert and it is just perfect for summer baking when you don’t want to heat up your oven. You could even amaze your friends at work by baking a loaf under your desk! *