Craftsy

Another pumpernickel as cool weather baking yields to Spring

pumpernickel-braid-for-web2

As the cool-weather baking season starts to wind down (in Minnesota, I should add the word “mercifully”), I thought I’d reprise one of my favorite hearty cool-weather breads– pumpernickel.

The “black and white” pumpernickel/rye braid is a New York specialty that brings back fond memories for me. Mark Luinenburg’s photo above is downright savory; you can almost hear the caraway seeds crunching in your mouth.  Pumpernickel is a kind of rye, and we included a whole grain version in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a rustic Bavarian-Style pumpernickel based on the same dough.  Let’s throw together the recipe for this healthy and hearty dough… Continue reading

Cinnamon Rolls

I think my children love me just a little bit more now that I have baked these. The buns are made with brioche dough and layered with cinnamon sugar and just a touch of zest, whats not to love? You can add more to the mix, like nuts, raisins, a dash of cardamom, or just leave them simple. The cream cheese icing is the crowning glory and makes these breakfast treats completely addictive. I ended up making two batches this weekend, because of the demand and how easy they are to throw together. Continue reading

A Sneak Peek at the Red Star Yeast Test Kitchen!

This is Roberto, one of the luckiest people I have ever met. He and Mark, who run the test kitchen at Red Star Yeast, have what I consider a dream job. They work in this amazing kitchen to come up with all kinds of yeasty treats. The equipment is top notch, the ingredients limitless and the space is massive. I have kitchen envy in a big way. No wonder they are such fantastically nice guys. They were kind enough to invite Jeff and me into their kitchen to play with them. We baked all kinds of breads from our books and did presentations to the rest of the Red Star team. Continue reading

Baking Flatbreads on a Frozen Minnesota Lake… or, shaping flatbreads is easier with whole grain dough

Well, I had the best of intentions–  really did mean to do a skillet-baked bread on a frozen lake right here in Minneapolis.  It works perfectly, er, in the summer.  On dry land.

As you can see, I ran into technical difficulties with my Coleman stove.  Something about the temperature.  Welcome to my winter.

So, back into the kitchen we went, where I decided to bake the flatbreads.  In an oven.  We’d toted along whole grain dough from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and as you can see in the video, one real advantage of whole grain dough is that it yields to flattening very, very easily.  If you’re going to try your hand at a pita or pizza without using a rolling pin, this is the dough to try it with (or even our 100% whole wheat dough).  Whole grain doughs are lower in gluten than white-flour doughs, and in addition, the tiny jagged flakes of bran serve to cut the gluten strands as they form.  As much as gluten is necessary, it can really slow you down when you’re trying to form a flatbread or pizza.

The more pizza you bake, the faster spring will come.  Or something like that?

“King Cake” for Mardi Gras!

Don’t adjust the color balance on your monitor, this “cake” really is purple, green and gold. King Cake, named for the three kings who came to bring gifts to Jesus, is traditionally served during Mardi Gras in New Orleans and throughout the South. Not only is it decorated with the colors of the festival, but it also has a hidden trinket in the dough. I’ve used an almond, but in New Orleans bakers often use a ceramic or plastic doll to represent the baby Jesus. The person who gets the slice with the trinket is responsible for making the King Cake the following year.

There are many versions of this sweet bread, depending on the traditions of different families. Our version is made with Brioche dough which has nutmeg, lemon zest and citron added into it.  The dough can be Braided and/or formed into a Couronne (crown shape) as I have done here. Some bakers even use a cream cheese and praline filling, but we went with a more traditional filling. Continue reading

We’re on the cover of Cooking Club Magazine, with a full four pounds of dough

I love the Twin Cities.  No one thinks of Mpls-St. Paul as a big media center, but wonderful local networks make all the difference for locally grown books like ours.  Zoe and I were introduced to Cooking Club Magazine though a colleague at Cooks of Crocus Hill, where we teach all the time.  She works at Cooking Club, made an introduction, and it turns out that the magazine is produced right here in the Twin Cities metro.  Locally produced, but with a national circulation of loyal readers numbering over 550,000– it’s a fantastic magazine.  Voila– they asked us to write a story, which they used on their February/March cover.

The magazine ran a scaled-up version of our basic recipe— one that produces a generous four pounds of dough (the version in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day makes 4 loaves that are slightly lighter than a pound, more like 0.9 pounds).

For more on our basic white-flour recipe, check out our Back to Basics link and fire any questions you have our way.

Valentine’s Day Bread!

Valentine’s day is near and we have a fun way to celebrate. No, that is not dough tinted with red food coloring, but our Red Beet dough from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day! It’s bright color  is perfect to be baked on the holiday all about red hearts. Those who are beet lovers will consider this the best gift ever. If your valentine is not a big fan of this jewel toned root vegetable, you can certainly make the heart-shaped loaf with any of our doughs, especially the chocolate dough.

Thank you all for entering so many wonderful ideas in our pizza contest, we were blown away by your creativity. The winning combination will apear in our upcoming book Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day. We have also picked 5 random winners who will receive a signed copy of HBin5. Those winners are listed below. Continue reading

Larger loaves: What adjustments are needed?

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In our books, our standard size for a loaf-bread is 1 pound (450 grams), or a piece of dough about the size of a grapefruit.  Why did we opt for these relatively small loaves?  Because for beginners, they reliably brown without burning, and are easy to bake through to a nice result in the center of the loaf.

Larger loaves need more baking to avoid a gummy result in the center, and that means longer baking times at the listed temperature.  Two pound loaves need about 45-50 minutes, and three pound loaves need about an hour.  Let the crust get nice and dark.  When baking large loaves, temperature is critical, so you must check your oven temp with an oven thermometer (click to see one on Amazon). 

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books.

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The Best Granola I’ve Ever Had!

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Thank you for all the wonderful pizza recipes, it is going to be very difficult to pick the winning combination to appear in Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. Jeff, myself and the editors at St. Martin’s Press will pick one and announce it next week. We will also announce the winners of the 5 signed copies of HBin5.

While we make our selection here is a post that originally appeared in 2008 about our granola from ABin5. Perfect Winter comfort food! Continue reading

Your Pizza Idea in our Next Book (CONTEST NOW CLOSED, WINNING PIZZA CHOSEN)

photo by Mark Luinenburg

We can’t stop thinking of pizza even though we made deadline for our upcoming pizza and flatbread book (Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, Macmillan/Th Dunne Bks Oct 2011).  Even though we’re technically done, there’s still time to put a new recipe or two into the book, and you can see that there are a world of ingredients that could end up on pizza other than mozzarella and tomato (though we love that too).

We’d love some help with new recipes.  All we’d need is your concept, as in “how about yak sausage, lemon rind, and Slim Jim on a pizza?”  We’re not looking for full recipes here, but something imaginative, like Zoe’s pizza with a fresh cracked egg and an assortment of Tuscan goodies:


The winning concept entry will be selected by a jury (Zoe, me, and our editor at Thomas Dunne Books), will win a copy of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and have their concept published in our pizza book this October (see “Betsy’s Seeded Oat Bread” in Healthy Bread -first names only in the book).  See rules for our contests, the most important being US entries only.  In addition, for this contest, the Authors reserve the right to decline to publish any recipe in the upcoming book if none meets with the jury’s approval.  Also, the winning entrant agrees to grant all copyright for the winning entry to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  Five random entrants will also receive a free copy of Healthy Bread in Five. Contest CLOSED!

Be imaginative– it doesn’t have to be a main course, so even desserts are fair game.  And remember that many of the ingredients and ideas you might think of are already in our almost-finished manuscript, so being creative increases your chance of selection.  Entries are due anytime before January 19, 2011. Contest CLOSED!