This is the season of soup. It’s cold outside here in MN and nothing is better than a cup of hot soup. Oh, and there is all that leftover Turkey to deal with and the beautiful butternut squash proliferation at the grocery store. To go with all that soup you’ll be making, there is nothing better than homemade bread. This fougasse is a traditional French flatbread. It is both crispy, due to all that crusty surface and tender on the inside. It’s like a fancy breadstick. Because it is a flatbread, it is faster to make, since you have such a short resting time. My husband made a big batch of butternut squash soup from Amanda Paa’s new book Smitten with Squash. To go with the aromatic soup, I added lots of chopped garlic to the bread dough and the result is fantastic. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Tomorrow I will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, with family and friends. It is traditional to eat lots of honey and apples during this high holy day to usher in the new year with sweetness. The challah dough from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is made with honey, then I fold chopped apples into the dough and braid it into a circle. You can do any shape you like, but the circle is meant to symbolize the full cycle of the coming year. This bread may be ubiquitous at the high holy days, but it is wonderful anytime, especially during apple picking season here in the Midwest.
How is it that I’d never tried Dutch Crunch bread, never even heard of it? It’s a loaf that seems to be ubiquitous in the San Francisco area, and it would seem that they have been keeping it all for themselves. Now that I’ve had it I can’t blame them. Dutch Crunch gets its name from a similar bread found in the Netherlands, which is called Tiger Bread (tijgerbrood or tijgerbol). It’s easy to see how it got that name. The tiger spots are created by covering the dough with a slurry of rice flour, sugar, yeast and toasted sesame oil. The fragrance of the sesame is fantastic and the slightly sweet crispy bits on the loaf are hard to resist picking off and snacking on before you ever cut into the bread. Continue reading
The MN State Fair is open, so the annual food-on-a-stick showdown has begun. This is an update of an old post–a few years ago, Jeff and I presented our bread methods and introduced our latest and greatest achievement; Bread-on-a-Stick at booth run by St. Agnes Baking Company, in the Creative Arts Building.
I was thrilled when doughnuts took over as the “hot dessert trend” from the fanciful cupcake. I do like cupcakes, but they don’t excite me like a freshly made doughnut. These days you can find gourmet doughnut shops popping up all over the USA. They offer the classic flavors along with some very exotic, even esoteric combinations. I’ve seen everything from bacon to rose petals on a doughnut. I’ve tried every combination I can find and for me it all comes down to the dough. I like soft, airy yeast dough and it should be slightly sweet, but not overly so. The gourmet shops use great ingredients and treat their dough with TLC, so they often cost a small fortune. Truth is, homemade doughnuts are super easy and quick to make, especially with our five minute dough. You can make them as fancy or simple as you like and they only cost about 20 cents each, add a few cents for the bacon and rose petals! Continue reading
Braiding doesn’t just have to be for sweets. I found myself with some 2 week old – (truth be told it was closer to 3 weeks) dough and it was a little wet to shape a nice tall boule. We always recommend using older dough for flatbreads or baking it in a loaf pan, since it can lose some of its rising power in the later stages of storing. Well, it turns out this older dough makes a wonderful braided loaf, with lots of flavor and a really open crumb. Because the braid isn’t as domed as a boule, the older dough has all the rising power it needs.
My dough was made with Gold Medal Organic All-purpose flour, a bit of rye, whole wheat and Platinum yeast by Red Star. Like I said, it was almost 3 weeks old, but this technique can also be done with fresh dough and really any of our doughs, not just the Peasant dough recipe will work great.
When we wrote our first book we were testing dozens of loaves a week, and despite our healthy appetites, we just couldn’t consume all that we baked. Our neighbors were happy to take some of the bread, but there was more than a city block could consume, so we started making all kinds of recipes using up the leftovers. There are beautiful salads and puddings that are perfect for leftover (even stale) bread. In the New ABin5 we added this Savory Bread Pudding, which can be made with just about any loaf you bake. Well, I may have found the exception…I tried this recipe with some leftover Panettone and my very opinionated and vocal family requested that I not use that particular bread again for this. My husband described it as Thanksgiving stuffing, but richer. I liked it, but I was alone. The panettone does make exquisite sweet bread pudding however. They all agreed that peasant bread and/or challah is the way to go. The peasant and challah breads alllow the flavors of the caramalized onions, spinach, spices and cheese to shine through. It is perfect for breakfast (a little bacon in the mix would be fabulous) or as a side dish with dinner.
This week I got a chance to bake with Elizabeth Ries and Chris Egert on KSTP-TV’s show Twin Cities Live. They are great sports and we had fun tossing pizzas together, one of them is a bit more skilled at the toss, but I won’t mention names. Here’s the clip:
There is 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Minneapolis and the temperature has dipped WAY below zero. This is why we Minnesotans are such bakers, it warms up the house and makes everyone happy. Christmas Stollen is a great tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with fruit, spiced with cardamom and a little treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven we dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. If there is any left the next day it makes amazing French toast.
Before we even start with this, you should know that this reprised Thanksgiving post is one of many– click here for all our Thanksgiving posts over the years.
Some people shy away from yeast breads and rolls at busy holidays because they think the proofing step (the rest after the loaves or rolls are shaped) is too time-consuming, even with our stored dough. Here’s a great way to get around that–form rolls or loaves the night before, refrigerate overnight and they’re ready for the oven in the morning. Continue reading