Tag Archives: bread

Multigrain Bread + Coffee Crème Brûlée

IMG_1618_edited-1

I don’t make bread very often. It always feels like it will be too hard and labor-intensive. But really, all you need is time (mostly inactive) and practice. This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe gave me the chance to flex my bread-making muscles and it was fun!

Multigrain Bread is a delicious, crusty loaf of bread. It uses mostly bread flour, with a touch of whole wheat pastry flour, plus pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, flaxseeds, and poppy seeds for interest. I was happy for the bulk section at Whole Foods this week!

IMG_1629_edited-1

This was great bread recipe. Everything worked for me as written, except I had to add a bit more water to my dough (not unexpected as I often add water to bread recipes due to my dry climate). I really like the technique of baking the dough in a Dutch oven; it give the bread a nice crust.

My bread turned out great! One of the best loaves of bread I have ever made. It is delicious toasted and was also nice for sandwiches. I will definitely be making this one again.

IMG_1637_edited-1

I also caught up on a recipe I missed a few weeks ago: Coffee Crème Brûlée. I love Crème Brûlée but don’t make it very often. I think the last time I made it was for French Fridays with Dorie back in 2011.

What makes this Crème Brûlée special is the addition of coffee and Kahlúa to the custard. It tasted like a cafe au lait! Add that caramelized sugar topping and I was in heaven.

IMG_1610_edited-1

This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an on-line cooking group currently making our way through David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

6 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

When I was in grade school I was a Girl Scout. My mom was one of the co-leaders of my troop. We occasionally did special cooking nights, often centered around a cultural theme. For example, we had a Mexican theme where we made tacos.

What does this have to do about Irish Soda Bread? Well, one year our theme was Irish cooking, and we made Corned Beef & Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

I was in the group that made the soda bread. I had been looking forward to it because we were using my mom’s recipe and it was a favorite of mine. I’m sure I even exclaimed to the group how good it was! We carefully measured our ingredients, mixed them together, and waited for the bread to bake.

When we finally sat down to eat our Irish feast, I eagerly tried the soda bread. It was awful! We concluded someone accidentally put in a TABLESPOON of salt instead of a TEASPOON. Yuck! Needless to day, it was inedible.

Fresh From the Oven

I still make my mom’s Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day most years, and every time I measure the salt I think about the awful bread we had that year. This year I tweaked the recipe slightly and I am happy with the results. I hope you like it too!

Irish Soda Bread

Printable Recipe

  • 3/4 cup currants
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch cake pan.  Rinse and drain the currants.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the shortening and butter.  Stir in the currants.

Beat the egg lightly and combine with the buttermilk.  Add to the dry mixture and stir quickly, blending only until the flour is moistened.

Turn the dough into the cake pan.  Bake until a tester comes out clean, 20 – 25 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm with plenty of butter.

Serves 8

3 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Dutch Crunch Demi-Baguettes

IMG_4858_edited-1

I am a day late with this post – sorry!  Yesterday just evaporated.  I don’t know where the time went.  I even forgot to go out and get the mail, which for me is surprising.

There are so many wonderful looking breads in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook.  It was really hard to decide which one to make!  I chose the Dutch Crunch Demi-Baguettes for several reasons.  Many of the bread recipes call for a levain, or sourdough starter.  Taking care of a levain is not a commitment I want to make right now.  For the breads that are best with a nice crusty exterior, the authors have developed a set-up where the home cook can create a hot steamy oven using river stones and a metal chain.  While it would be fun to give this method a try and learn to create wonderful, crusty breads, I am again not ready to commit to buying the tools and spending the time making the breads (maybe my challenge for 2014?).  Anyway, I had to choose from the recipes that do not use a levain and don’t require the steam set-up.  The Dutch Crunch Demi-Baquettes looked delicious and like something I had never made before.

IMG_4862_edited-1

The Process

The chapter on Breads includes very detailed instructions for everything from mixing the dough to shaping and baking.   I found the instructions for the Dutch Crunch bread easy to follow, though I probably should have read some of the introductory information a little more closely first!

Pre-shaped dough

Pre-shaped dough

The instructions for pre-shaping and shaping are especially helpful.  There are step-by-step instructions (including photos) for all the different loaf shapes.  The dough for my demi-baguettes was easy to work with and shape.

Fully shaped and ready to proof

Fully shaped and ready to proof

I had a little trouble getting my loaves to rise.  This is where reading the introductory information would have been helpful – I didn’t place my loaves in a warm enough location.  Moving them to a warmer spot did the trick.

The “crunch” part of the Dutch Crunch loaves comes from a topping made with rice flour, canola oil, yeast, and a touch of sugar and salt.  The topping is piped onto the loaves just before they are put into the oven.  I had always wondered how Dutch Crunch bread was made!

Topping piped on...ready to bake!

Topping piped on…ready to bake!

Results

Overall, my bread turned out very nicely!  I though the bottom crust was a little tough, but the crunch topping was very good and the bread had a nice flavor and texture.

IMG_4870_edited-1

The intro to the recipe suggests this bread is great for roast beef sandwiches, so that’s what I used it for.  These were very tasty sandwiches!

Roast beef sandwiches

Roast beef sandwich

My husband really liked this bread.  He said it would be “good for a picnic”, so I see some roast beef on Dutch Crunch sandwiches on a picnic in our future.  After our meal he said the bread “definitely gets high marks”.  He is generally not very effusive about food unless he really, really likes it, so I take this compliment seriously!

Recipe Notes

The instructions have you proof the bread under a plastic bin or cardboard box as a makeshift proofing box.  I used a cardboard box but next time I will try a plastic bin.  In our dry climate my loaves developed a dry crust as they were proofing, which hampered their rising.  Hopefully the plastic bin will prevent that.

Altitude Adjustments

The only adjustment I made was to add an extra tablespoon of water to the dough.  My bread was slightly dry and the dough not as sticky as I expected, so next time I will try adding a second extra tablespoon.

Crunchy topping

Crunchy topping

Next Month

I realized recently that I should probably tackle some of the more time-consuming recipes while my daughter is still in school, and save some “quicker” ones for summer when I won’t have as much time.  To that end, in March I will be making Traditional Croissants and Pains au Chocolat (page 242).  I may even try the Almond Croissants (page 249) with some of the leftovers.  I will share my results with you on March 26!

4 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Bread Challenge: An Update and a Recipe

Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

I’ve been dead silent about my Bread Challenge for a while, but I did do quite a bit of bread baking this spring (not so much during the summer…).  I had one failure (I fault the recipe because my Mom had similar issues as me), some mediocre results, and a really good sandwich bread.

I have learned quite a few things during this challenge:

  • While I still need practice, and I am definitely learning how to tell when my bread has been kneaded enough.
  • I know how to make adjustments for my climate and altitude:  add an extra tablespoon of water, and do an extra rise before shaping the dough.
  • After a number of attempts making a 100% whole wheat loaf, I have decided that I prefer recipes that use a bit of all-purpose or bread flour.  The white flour adds a little more gluteny stretch, which I prefer.
  • It no longer seems like a “big deal” to make bread.  It just takes a little planning to get started early enough in the day.

I am now feeling pretty confident with my basic bread-baking skills, so I would like to start spreading my wings a bit more.  Perhaps trying some rolls or maybe even a baguette.  For my next challenge, I am considering this hamburger bun recipe:  Beautiful Burger Buns.

This bread is a failure…it shouldn’t be so flat!

My favorite bread recipe so far is called “Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread”, and it comes from King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking.  I thought I would share it with you!  I give instructions for using a stand mixer, but feel free to substitute whatever method (hand kneading or bread machine) that you prefer.

Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Print Recipe

  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) boiling water
  • 1 cup (3½ ounces) rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup (3 ounces) honey
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (1 ounce) nonfat dry milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

Place the boiling water, oats, butter, salt, and honey into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix well using the flat paddle beater and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Add the remaining ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Mix again, just until the flour and liquid are combined.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 45 minutes.

Uncover the bowl and switch to the dough hook.  Knead the dough on low speed until you have a soft, smooth dough, about 15 minutes.  Stop and scrape down the bowl and dough hook as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Oil your hands, then gently deflate the dough and shape it into a 9 inch log.  Place it in the prepared pan.  Cover it gently with greased plastic wrap.  Allow the bread to rise until it is crowned 1½ inches above the rim of the pan, roughly 1 to 1½ hours.  Preheat the oven to 350°F when the bread is almost fully risen.

Uncover the bread and bake for about 45 minutes, until it is golden brown.  Tent it with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning.  The bread should register 190°F when tested with an instant-read thermometer.

Turn the finished bread out onto a cooling rack.  Cool the bread completely before cutting it.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking

Provençal Olive Fougasse

It’s Friday, and that means it’s once again time for French Fridays with Dorie!  This week’s recipe is Provençal Olive Fougasse.  A fougasse is a rustic flatbread hailing from the Provence region of France, with roots similar to the Italian focaccia.  Fougasse are generally shaped to look like a leaf or stalk of wheat, but Dorie gives us permission to shape it however we’d like.  This particular fougasse is flavored with chopped rosemary and lemon zest, and studded with olives.

As I was deciding how to serve Provençal Olive Fougasse, I keyed in on Dorie’s statement that her favorite way to eat it is on a picnic.  While an actual picnic wasn’t in the cards for us, I created a “table top picnic” with cheese (Midnight Moon), salami, and roasted peppers.  Extra olive oil for dipping was a must!  The only thing missing from this spread was a glass of wine, which, for a variety of reasons, was not an option this week.

My bread challenge came in handy with this recipe.  It is really helping me gain confidence in my bread-making skills and I am finally getting a feel for when the dough has been kneaded enough.  For those of you who have been following my bread challenge, the only adjustment I made to this recipe was to add an extra tablespoon of water.  I did not make any changes to rising times since this bread dough rests overnight in the refrigerator after the initial rise.

We loved this bread!  I liked the soft, yet chewy texture and the blend of flavors.  My husband specifically commented on the salty topping, and he is always happy to dip his bread in olive oil.  I also love the technique of letting the dough rest overnight – it makes fresh-baked bread seem like a not-so-time-consuming process – and I appreciate that Dorie gives instructions on saving half the dough for baking later.

If you would like to make Provençal Olive Fougasse, buy Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table.  To see how other FFWD participants fared, check it out here:  LYL: provencal olive fougasse.

13 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Bread Challenge: “No-Knead” For Success

When I announced my Bread Challenge, I mentioned that I have had success with no-knead artisan breads using the method and recipes in Jim Lahey’s book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method.

My mom and sister have been doing the bread challenge with me, and when they wanted to give one of Lahey’s breads a try I was game.  We made the Stecca, which is a thin baguette Lahey developed to use for sandwiches.

The secret to no-knead breads is the very long, slow rise.  The dough is mixed quickly and thoroughly, and then allowed to sit for 12 – 18 hours.  The long fermentation allows the gluten and complex flavors to develop.  These are truly the best breads I have ever made!

Mmmm

For the Stecca, after the dough has it’s overnight rest, and then another rise, it is cut into quarters and stretched out on a lightly oiled pan.  I still need practice getting the dough to stretch evenly, but I guess it adds to the rustic look.  Lahey suggests either simply brushing the loaves with olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt, or embellishing them with tomatoes, garlic, or olives.  I left two plain to use for sandwiches and added garlic and olives to the other two loaves.

Ready to bake!

The night I made these I assembled sandwiches for dinner.  I used a sandwich recipe from the same book, though I must admit I did not use all home-made ingredients as the recipe recommends.  I did try making the home-made aioli but it was a major FAIL.  Still, even with “store-bought” mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes, and roast beef, the sandwiches were fabulous.

Roast beef sandwiches with sun-dried tomatoes and arugula

We ate the embellished loaves for dinner the next night with some soup.

If you haven’t tried a no-knead bread recipe yet, I highly recommend it!  I am not going to include a recipe here because they are readily found elsewhere.  Here are a couple of places to start:

Mark Bittman started the no-knead craze by writing about Jim Lahey and his method in the NY Times.  A link to the basic recipe and a video showing the technique is there too.

Steamy Kitchen has a great post about the Stecca, with detailed pictures and the recipe.

4 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Bread Challenge: Altitude Matters

I’ve talked before about my challenges baking cakes at my apparently high altitude (~4400 feet).  But somehow I thought I was immune to altitude problems when it came to making yeast breads.  My dough rose nicely after all.

After making my last loaf of bread, I started thinking about what I could do differently to improve the texture.  It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps my altitude was affecting my breads.  I did some research and learned a lot!

Second Try at the 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

According to my book High Altitude Baking, yeast bread dough rises more rapidly above 3500 feet.  And since the development in flavor depends in part on rising time, bread at made at higher altitudes may not be as flavorful.  Most sources I looked at suggest punching down the dough and letting it rise a second time before shaping and doing a third rise.  This extra rising time allows the flavors to develop and allows for “the changes in the gluten that make bread tender, light and of good flavor”.  This might also explain why I have had success with the no-knead artisan breads:  they take advantage of a long, slow rise.

I also found out that my dry climate as well as my higher altitude causes flour to be drier and thus absorb more liquid.  Recommendations to remedy this include using less flour or adding more liquid.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

With this new information I made another loaf of 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. I made the following changes:

  1. I used the orange juice recommended by the book to improve flavor, which I left out last time.
  2. I added an extra 2 tablespoons of water.  This was a little too much: the dough was pretty sticky and I had to add a touch more flour to make up for it.  Next time I will try only 1 tablespoon.
  3. I let the dough rise a second time before shaping.  Unfortunately I had to leave the house before the first rise was finished so I had to punch it down early.  I didn’t want to risk it rising too much and collapsing.
  4. I accidentally left out the dough improver.  Oops!

Results:  Much better than the first loaf, but still needs improvement.  The texture was much improved and it toasted better.  I didn’t discern any change in flavor by using the orange juice.  The bread was a little soft and wanted to break apart easily, especially when toasted.

Next time I use this recipe I will make the following changes: Use only 1 tablespoon of extra water.  Let the dough finish the first rise before punching it down.  Remember to use the bread improver.

Toasted

Next Challenge

My mom and sister are participating in the bread challenge with me.  Next bread-related post I will share some of their results as well as my results baking the “White Bread Loaves” from Baking with Julia.

We would love to have you participate too!  If you wish to join in the fun, make a loaf or more of bread, then leave a link to your blog post or photos (if you don’t have a blog) in the comments or send to me though the Contact Me page.  Next week I will to a round-up and will do so at the end of every month.

3 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Bread Challenge 2012

I have decided that this year I am going to challenge myself to improve my bread-making skills. I have always liked the idea of baking bread on a regular basis. My results have been mixed: some winners, some losers, and a whole lot of mediocre.

Quick breads have always worked well for me, and in the last couple of years I have had success with artisan breads using the no-knead method described in Jim Lahey’s My Bread. Where I struggle is with everyday breads used for toast and sandwiches. This is where I will focus my efforts, at least initially. I also intend to focus on whole grain breads since bread is the primary way I get whole grains into our diets.

To help ensure success, I purchased a couple of products designed to improve breads: King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Bread Improver and their Baker’s Special Dry Milk (why yes, I have drunk the KAF Kool Aid).

The top is a little lumpy.

One of my biggest “issues” with homemade bread is the texture.  It just isn’t the same as store-bought bread.  It is hard for me to explain what is different, it just isn’t as smooth and soft, and it doesn’t toast the same.  I don’t know if the texture I get is just the way it is with homemade bread, or if it is something I can strive to improve.

For my first challenge bread, I turned to King Arthur Flour’s book Whole Grain Baking. I made the “100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread”, which they describe as “the Holy Grail of 100 percent whole wheat breads”. This book is great because they give a lot of tips for successful baking, such as letting the dough rest before kneading to allow the whole wheat flour to absorb more of the liquid.

It slices nicely.

So how did it turn out? At first blush, this bread has the best texture of any sandwich bread I have ever made, but it still toasts a bit differently than store-bought bread.  It has a nice amount of moistness and has stayed fairly fresh for several days now.  It tastes good toasted and spread with my orange fig jam.  One minor complaint is that it has a bit too much of a “whole wheat” flavor, for lack of a better way to describe it. A blurb in the book discusses the use of orange juice in their recipes to help temper the “tannic flavor” of the whole wheat. I didn’t have any orange juice, so I left it out.

What’s next? I want to try the “100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread” again with orange juice to see how it changes the flavor. After seeing all the wonderful loaves of white bread made recently by the Tuesdays with Dorie folks, I would like to try that recipe as well. Lola’s Kitchen successfully substituted half of the bread flour with white whole wheat flour, something I definitely want to try!

I will keep you all updated with my bread-making efforts! Anyone want to join me in this challenge?

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Bubble-Top Brioches

Happy French Friday!  I’m hoping to knock out two posts today…both last and this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipes.  We will start with last week’s recipe (which I actually did make last week – I just didn’t get around to writing about it).

If you own Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, you must make Bubble-Top Brioches!  My kitchen smelled like a bakery while they were baking, and they tasted like they came from a bakery too.

Ready for the second rise

Though these delicious rolls take some time to make (most of the time is “hands-off”), they are not difficult.  After chilling the dough overnight, it is quite easy to work with.  The dough is rolled into small balls that are placed into muffin tins (or individual brioche molds if you are lucky enough to have them), giving the rolls their “bubble-top” appearance.

Fresh from the oven!

Dorie gives instructions for making brioche loaves as well.  This time I only made 6 of the bubble-top rolls and froze the rest of the dough for later use.  Perhaps I will try a loaf.

This recipe is one of those “never would have made it if not for French Fridays with Dorie recipes”.  It seemed very intimidating to try making brioche.  But – wow! – I’m so glad I made these because they were wonderful.

8 Comments

Filed under Cooking