Christmas Stollen

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.

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Baking in a Cloche

Emile Henry Cloche 09

There are many ways to get a crusty loaf of bread, but one of our favorites is to use the tried and true method of baking in a clay cloche, here, the Emile Henry brand cloche. It is very similar to using a Dutch Oven, but the cloche was designed to bake bread, so it is an even more intuitive method. In other words, you aren’t lowering the bread into the piping hot vessel, you just lift the lid and slide the loaf onto what is essentially a baking stone. The cloche traps the steam from the dough to create a perfectly crisp and beautifully shiny crust, without having to add steam to the oven.

This loaf was made with our Master Recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, using Gold Medal All-purpose flour, Platinum Yeast from Red Star, water and salt, that’s it! If you’ve never made our bread, or just want a refresher, please watch our new video that we put together in the Gold Medal baking studio. In no time at all you’ll have a gorgeous, homemade, crusty loaf of bread.

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Cinnamon Buns – Child’s Play (plus Brioche made with Red Star Platinum Yeast)

cinnamon rolls 14

Here is the perfect treat for back-to-school (or for that brunch your hosting this weekend, or just a midnight snack). This time of year is always bittersweet for us parents. Our little cherubs are headed back to school; we miss them, but also rejoice the quiet, in equal measures. Baking something sweet and tasty seems like a great way to celebrate. The best thing about this recipe is that it is easy enough for the kids to bake themselves (a bit of help with the oven for the little ones.) My 12-year-old son started a “bakery” this summer (read about his entrepreneurial endeavor here) and he made these cinnamon rolls. I handed him the galley copy of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking; he mixed the brioche dough (using a Scale and a Danish Dough Whisk), rolled it out, made the filling, baked them, whipped up some frosting, and then ate one (quality control) before his customers arrived at 7:30am. I did nothing but photograph his adventure in the kitchen and watched the oven.

Platinum 01

As you may know, Jeff and I have been using Red Star yeast since the very beginning of this bread baking venture. We love the results we get, we can get it in bulk and it is less expensive than the other brands, what’s not to love? They have recently come out with a new product, so of course we were eager to give it a try. Truth be told, I’ve been using it for about a year, since they gave me a sample when they first developed it. It has all the great aspects of their regular instant yeast, but they’ve added dough enhancers. These “enhancers” are what professional bakeries use in their recipes to improve the rise and to strengthen the dough. Anything that makes a dough rise better and bake up taller seems like a good idea. The enhancers are all natural, but not gluten-free, so Platinum yeast should not be used in our gluten-free doughs. The other Red Star products are all gluten-free. Continue reading

Loaf pan breads work beautifully with our method– giveaway of baking equipment from Red Star Yeast (GIVEAWAY CLOSED, see winners on 10/12 post)

cinnamon toast

People think of artisan-style loaves as being free-form, but our method also works beautifully in loaf pans, as you can see above (read on for instructions on how to make the cinnamon-raisin bread in Zoe’s picture).  We love crusty free-form artisan loaves, but nothing says “comfort food” and kicks off the fall baking season like a luscious traditional loaf like this one.

Our friends at Red Star Yeast have offered to provide some great prize packages for a giveaway– perfect for creating loaf-pan breads.  Red Star also shot a video of Zoe and me demonstrating the basic method from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes  a Day

We first met the Red Star people in Milwaukee, while on book tour for Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day– that’s where the company has its headquarters.  Red Star had found out through the bread grapevine (!) that we use their product.  Both of us have used it for years– it gives consistent, excellent results, and it’s the best value in the grocery store.  This fall, you’ll find bottles of Red Star yeast in the supermarket, with our pictures tied to them, in addition to a 75 cents-off coupon, and recipe links:


OK, here’s what’s in our Red-Star giveaway package, which will be awarded to six lucky entrants picked by random drawing next week.  You must enter by commenting HERE, on this post (one comment only), US entries only.  Don’t try to enter on the contest rules page, we won’t see that for the drawing (click here to view contest rules): Continue reading