Archive for the ‘bread’ category

Raisin Swirl Bread

March 9, 2011

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon and I am sitting on my couch watching the food network and eating hot from the oven cinnamon raisin bread slathered in butter….life is good!  I’m currently on Spring Break and the extra time to read recipes and leisurely cook is so nice.  This bread did not disappoint at all, it was fabulous!  It takes several steps but start the dough the day before and refrigerate it overnight and it’s pretty easy to do.  Make sure you’re not too hungry in the baking process because the smell will engulf your house (which is great while you’re curled up on the couch on a rainy day) and although it may be slightly impossible, try not to cut into the loaf too soon or you might lose some filling.  I managed to wait about 10 minutes and then proceeded to eat about half the loaf-just remember you were warned that this might happen!

Raisin Swirl Bread

adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the bread:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the swirl:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup moist, plump raisins (moisten them in apple juice for about 15 minutes)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to a spreadable consistency

To make the bread:
Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir – the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix for a minute or two. Add the salt, egg and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if you’re using them, and mix for a minute. In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly (it will look even worse when you add the yeast). Add the yeast mixture and beat on low-medium speed for 1 minute more.

Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids – you’ll have a sticky mix. If you’ve got a dough hook, switch to it now. Add another 1 cup of flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes. If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand.

Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into a bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm enough to be rolled easily. (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient).



To make the swirl and shape the loaf:
Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa, if you’re using it. Check that the raisins are nice and moist; if they’re not, steam them for a minute, then dry them well.

Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.

Gently smear 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the dough – this is most easily done with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins. Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly. Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.

Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edges of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Getting ready to bake:
When the dough has almost fully risen, centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.


Leek Bread Pudding

December 4, 2010
So after eating Thomas Keller’s mussel recipe, I had to try another one.  What a genius in the kitchen!  I made brioche over the weekend and it didn’t rise quite like I had wanted however the taste did not disappoint.  Therefore my less than perfect day old brioche was perfect for bread pudding.  I love bread pudding, especially savory bread pudding.  It’s a dish you can really be creative with if you want based on the flavors that you like.  Although Thomas Keller’s recipe I’m sure was spot on just as is, I did however change things in a couple of small ways.  It was delicious and great as leftovers….you know it’s good when you eat it for three consecutive days later!
Leek Bread Pudding
adapted from Thomas Keller
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)   *I only had about 2 cups worth of leeks so I added about half of a sliced onion which I really enjoyed
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche (I left the crust on and enjoyed the extra texture)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler  **definitely add a little extra parmesan on top, you won’t be disappointed

*** I ate this dish as a main course and thus a felt a little less guilty by dicing four pieces of     bacon into the dish and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  The flavors of the two additions really enhanced the dish.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid (cover with parchment with a whole in the center for the heat to escape slightly), and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.

Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.

Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

*Thomas Keller suggested that when serving this dish as a main course, a good accompaniment would be oven roasted tomatoes which I thought was great.  If you feel so inclined, drop plum tomatoes in boiling water for only about a minute and then transfer to an ice bath so you can peel the skin off easily.  Cut the tomatoes in half and put them on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper and bake at 200 for about 5-6hrs.

Chive and Fontina Challah Bread

October 21, 2010

Oh it’s been so long since I have posted a blog entry!  Ricky left the battery to his nice camera on a guy’s golf weekend and we just received it back this week.  Needless to say, I’ve been cooking up a storm since I’ve recently had a small break from culinary classes but: a) my dinky camera seems to take horrible pictures after using a “professional” camera and b) I’m enjoying not being gone from 5 something in the morning til 9 something at night so I’m being lazy!  But I decided I need to stop being selfish and share the passion I have for cooking with everyone else.  After my first semester in culinary school  in which I took Baking, I have become a big fan of challah bread!  I would eat a full dinner of freshly made challah bread with butter fresh out of the oven and could not be happier.  So when I found this recipe for fontina and chive challah I thought I had died and gone to heaven (did I mention I love fontina cheese!).  I hope you enjoy this and hopefully you will receive many more recipes to come!

Chive and Cheese Challah

adapted from

  • 1  cup  warm 2% reduced-fat milk (100° to 110°)
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  salt
  • 5  large egg yolks
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded aged fontina cheese
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped fresh chives
  • 10.7  ounces  bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 13.5  ounces  all-purpose flour, divided (about 3 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  large egg
  • 2  tablespoons  water
  • 2  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Stir in butter, salt, 5 egg yolks, and 3 eggs. Stir in fontina and chives. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 10.7 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups) and 12.4 ounces (about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down dough; cover and let rise 50 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a rope about 15 inches long. Place 3 ropes parallel to one another; braid ropes. Pinch ends together, and tuck under loaf. Repeat procedure with remaining 3 ropes. Place loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, stirring well with a whisk. Brush loaves gently with egg mixture. Sprinkle loaves evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack.

Cheddar Jalapeño Bread

August 21, 2010

Life has seemed to get in the way of all the things I really want to do!  As if summer was not busy enough, I have now started back to culinary school for a new semester. Of course what would I do to commemorate the starting back of 15 hour days, but cook a gigantic feast!  I borrowed a meat grinder from work and ground up a huge chunk of venison to make homemade meatballs for my mom’s fabulous spaghetti and meatball recipe.  And you definitely can’t have meatballs without a bread to soak up every little bit of sauce, so I also made Jalapeno Cheddar Bread.  This bread was delicious!  I think I ate it everyday until it was gone, which was not very many days!  It would be fabulous for sandwiches but I ate it so fast that I didn’t have time to buy sandwich meat before it had disappeared.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and I promise to try to do better with my posting!

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

adapted from

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (less than a 1/4-ounce package)
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115°F)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeño, or seranos (I used serrano chiles which are hotter than jalapenos but I removed the seeds and ribs and thought the heat was perfect)
  • 5 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Stir together yeast and 1 tablespoon warm water in a small bowl; let mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Mix together flour, salt, oil, yeast mixture, and remaining 1x cups warm water in bowl of mixer at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more. Add jalapeño, 1 1/2 cups Cheddar, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix until combined.

Scrape dough down side of bowl (all around) into center, then sprinkle lightly with flour. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel to keep a crust from forming and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Alternatively,let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and gently form into a roughly 11- by 8-inch rectangle with floured hands.

Fold dough in thirds (like a letter) with floured hands (dough will be sticky), pressing along seam of each fold to seal.

Put dough, seam side down, in an oiled 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover pan with same clean kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough completely fills pan and rises above it slightly, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Brush loaf with egg, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Cheddar and remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano down center of loaf.

Bake until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen loaf, then remove from pan to test for doneness.

Return bread (not in pan) to oven and turn on its side, then bake 10 minutes more to crisp crust. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

*I found that you didn’t really need to do this last step unless you think your bread might need a little more time

Pita Bread

June 2, 2010

So as promised, homemade pita bread! I love all kinds of bread but I just can’t get enough of pita bread.  It’s surprisingly easy to make so don’t be intimated..there is nothing better than eating it the day it comes out of the oven!  I first made this recipe in class this past semester and we dipped it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar right when it came out of the oven and I was sold.  This recipe actually uses plain yogurt (substitute sour cream if you don’t have yogurt) which a lot of recipes will leave out, but I find it a great addition.

Pita Bread

  • Water 14 oz.
  • Yeast-fresh 1 oz or instant 3.5 oz
  • Bread Flour 1 lb. 4 oz.
  • Whole Wheat Flour 4 oz
  • Salt 1 tbs.
  • Sugar 0.67 oz
  • Plain Yogurt 3 oz
  • Olive Oil 1 oz.

Combine all ingredients and mix with a dough hook until combined and well kneaded, about 7 minutes.  Put dough in an oiled bowl and turn dough over to coat in oil.  Place in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in bulk (about 2 hours).  Separate dough into about 3oz balls of dough and let the dough rest (or sit after you have rounded each 3 ounces into a ball)

Preheat oven to 500F.  After the dough has rested for about 20-30 minutes roll each roll each ball out with a rolling-pin into 4-5 inch discs.  Bake on a sheet pan or hearth stone (I used a pizza stone) for about 5 minutes.  Pitas should puff up in the oven which makes the pocket in the center.


**Sorry for the measurements, our baking instructors always use scales to measure ingredients versus measuring cups to ensure measurements are precise (which is very important in baking versus cooking).  I now use my kitchen scale all the time but you should be able to use the internet to make the conversions fairly easily.

For the love of Pumpkin

March 15, 2010

Oh how I love all things pumpkin!  Normally this would be more of a post for Fall weather but I say screw putting pumpkin in this seasonal category that makes me think I can’t enjoy it year round!  I’ve always made pumpkin bread recipes as more of a quick dough recipe, or in other words a sweeter, non-yeast type loaf, however when I saw a recipe for a pumpkin yeast bread I thought what could be better!  I made mine into rolls to go with dinner which is the beauty of a pumpkin yeast bread.  Making it into a lean yeast dough breaks it out of the dessert/breakfast category and makes it a great bread to make into a loaf for sandwiches (actually I take back the breakfast/dessert comment because it would make a great bread with butter in the morning or with egg, milk and chocolate for a bread pudding dessert!).  I served mine with a Scallop and Shrimp casserole which complimented it perfectly and ended up being a meal I would definitely put on one of my top ten (hopefully a post will follow soon with that recipe because it’s just too darn good not to share)!

Pumpkin Yeast Rolls adapted from King Arthur Flour via

4½ cups bread flour ( I used closer to 5 just to get a more elastic and less sticky texture)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
⅓ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1¾ cups pumpkin
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted and cooled

Mix the flour, yeast, spices, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.

In a large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the pumpkin and butter. With the mixer on low-speed, gradually add the liquid ingredients. Continue mixing on dough until soft and not too sticky, about 9 minutes.  Pat the dough into a ball with lightly floured hands and place into a bowl sprayed with Pam.  Rotate the ball of dough in the bowl a couple of times to coat with the oil and cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise (about 2 hours).

Punch your dough down and cut in half to work with one portion at a time.  Cut each half into about 3 oz portions and round each portion (use your hands to make into a smooth ball).  Let your round balls of dough rest briefly so they won’t be as temperamental when you roll each ball into a rope.  Twist each rope into a knot and place each knotted roll onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  (There are several ways to make a knot-I make a circle out of the rope and pull one end through so it peeks out through the center and tuck the other end the opposite way through the middle so you don’t see that end of the rope.)  Let your rolls rise again for another hour and a half or so and then bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Olive Oil Bread

March 10, 2010

As promised, a post about delicious olive oil bread!  I always love restaurants that put bread on the table and then drizzle that stream of golden liquid for dipping (hey it’s the healthy kind of fat you’re soaking your bread in right!).  So when I saw a recipe that combined the two into one recipe, I knew I had to try it!   Make sure to start it early because this recipe uses what’s called a ‘Biga,’ or as what my chef calls it in baking class ‘Old Ass Dough.’  The latter gives you a little more insight into what you’re actually dealing with because that’s all it really is-old dough.  It kind of takes the place of a lot of breads that use starters because you add in dough that has already had a chance to ferment into your recipe.  To be the proud owner of your very own Old Ass Dough just mix some yeast, water, and flour together:

Old Ass Dough:

1¼ cups bread flour
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
½ cup water, at room temperature (you might need a little more or a little less depending on consistency)

Stir together the flour and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add water a little at a time until your dough forms a ball. Adjust the flour or water until dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.

Knead for 4 to 6 minutes until the dough is soft, with just a slight stick to it so you can still work with it.

Put dough in an oiled bowl and roll so that the whole ball of dough gets a slight coat in oil Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it nearly doubles in size.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight for use the next day or up to a couple days later.   You can also freeze for a couple months, just be sure to thaw completely and have a room temperature before using whether you freeze or refrigerate.

Mantovana Olive Oil Bread (adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and inspired to be made due to the yummy images on )

Makes one 1-pound loaf

1 recipe biga or Old Ass Dough
1 cup bread flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast
½ teaspoon barley malt syrup (or since it’s rare to have this on hand, I think Molasses works just as well)
¼ cup water
¼ cup olive oil

Remove your Old Dough from the refrigerator and leave out until at room temperature and then cut into several small pieces.

Stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Add the biga pieces, olive oil, barley malt, and water, and stir together or mix with the paddle attachment in your mixer until a ball forms, adjusting the water or flour if needed so the dough is soft but not too sticky

Knead in the mixer with a dough hook for about 10 minutes or by hand for a little longer until the dough can stretch without breaking apart.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment at room temperature for a couple hours.

Gently pat the dough into a rectangle. Fold the ends of the rectangle into the center and use your hand to seal the seams so it comes to an oblong shape with the two ends tapered.  Seem side down place the baguette on a pan covered with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Let rise again for another hour or a little longer.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and go ahead and make about 3 slashes in the top of your bread to score.

Now I have learned in Baking class very early on that certain breads require a steaming element to cook which will give it that nice crispy crust and moist center.  Since I don’t have those fancy ovens, this is how you can attempt to do it at home.  Put a sheet pan in the top of your oven while it is pre-heating and boil a little bit of water.  Go ahead and transfer your scored bread to a baking stone if you have one or if not a baking sheet will work too.  Pour your boiling water into the hot pan and close the over for about a minute.  Turn the oven down to 450 for another 20 minutes.  Cool completely.