Caesar Salad Bread in “A Passion for Baking”

(I thought this needed to be dusted off and brought out again. Its a wonderful bread to go with a salad, a nice dinner, or soup for lunch. I call this my ‘Italian Cheese Swirl Bread.)

This has to be one of my favorite over-the-top baking books.

And this particular bread is one of the best recipes in this book.

And that’s saying something, because her book is pretty full of wonderful recipes. I have even tried the popcorn bread, yep.

But before I get started, I have to snap out of this funk. Its a ‘I-took-seasick-pills-last-night-because-we-were-supposed-to-go-sailing” funk. The kind that, when I woke up this morning, my eyeballs kept rolling back in my head. And since its a holiday, I didn’t really have to get up for anything. So I didn’t. When I finally rolled out of bed like a sloth, my brain felt like it was wrapped in cotton batting. Not to say this is a particularly bad feeling. No, not at all, just not very productive. I put on my robe and slippers, schlupped into the kitchen and actually made a big ol’ breakfast. Hubby was putting on the pressure ’cause collage son is home for weekend. We need to fill him up to last a while. Okay, so my kitchen is still a mess, with dregs from last nights festivities that didn’t get cleaned yet and now breakfast madness. I just won’t acknowledge its there. Maybe the dish fairy will come and it will all go away. Continue reading “Caesar Salad Bread in “A Passion for Baking””

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Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs.

Oui!

You may not remember, but I wrote up how to make crepes here once long ago. A kind, enthusiastic woman I met from Paris taught me and it was so easy! At least as easy as pancakes. How had I been missing this? And we have had Saturday morning crepes ever since.

Then in Alabama once, visiting my Aunt at the Mistletoe Bough, we had a cream puff emergency! (Just because you’ve never had one, don’t scoff-its a real thing!)

A group of discerning ladies having a luncheon at the Inn, expecting cream puffs for dessert and none where to be found at the stores or bakeries. Cream Puff emergency! Continue reading “Cream Puffs”

Homemade English Muffins

Can you make your own english muffins? Why yes, you can!

Of course, why would you want to? It’s so easy to buy them, so why go through the effort?

Maybe because they, like so many other baked goods, taste fresher, more flavorful, dare I say-ethereal- when made at home. It also gives you a sense of “whoo-hoo!” to be able to make them from scratch. So while I have not tried my hand at making bagels, (still the fear factor there), I have conquered the English muffin! And it’s not so hard. This recipe is just the epitome of “slow food”.

Why “English” muffins? After all, they are not really muffins as we know them. Continue reading “Homemade English Muffins”

Holiday Bread: Stollen

Ah-ha! I knew I would need this recipe again some day. It is so yummy! I can’t wait.

la petite kitchen

This bread is a very old German Christmas bread that I have never heard of until this Christmas. My son came home from work raving about this wonderful fruity bread filled with dried fruit and topped with a blizzard of powdered sugar that he had tried that day. I was intrigued.

I was challenged!

It sounded somewhat familiar too.

So I started digging, like Indiana Jones going through ancient parchments, through my myriads of baking books. Sure enough I started finding recipes. Then I went on-line. Yep, Stollen…stollen…stollen. Seems like there are as many Stollen recipes as there are bakers. Some are dryer, aged bread while others are a little bread holding together loads of fruit. They all pretty much hold true to a unique shaping created about 500 years ago that is somehow supposed to represent the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Sure. I’ll eat that.

So while…

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Japanese Milk Bread or a new way to make squishy soft white bread!

IMG_4170 (1024x765) (2)Okay bread lovers out there…Is this not the most beautiful looking bread? The shine…the find crackles in the crust, the coloration…wow! I am very happy with the way these turned out.

I learned 2 new things! One is how to use the “tangzhong’ method of making dough. The other is in the shaping. I love how this takes pieces of the dough, rolls each one into a mini loaf and puts them together in the pan. It makes pulling it apart fun and groovy. Continue reading “Japanese Milk Bread or a new way to make squishy soft white bread!”

Sour Cream Biscuits

Warm home-made biscuits are one of life’s simple pleasures. Slathered with melting butter, drizzled with honey, spread with jam or with ham and cheese layered into the middle, it’s all goodness and love.

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I have a standard biscuit recipe I have used for years and years. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

But I didn’t have any buttermilk, so in a way, it was broke. I needed something new.  I had lots of sour cream and a son going off to fight the Yankees in Huntington Beach this morning at the Civil War reenactment. Nothing better than a well wrapped biscuit after a battle with ol’ Matilda. Plus they are good to trade for other foods. (He usually brings fruit, a slab of cheese, canned beans of course, some corned beef hash, pickles, boiled eggs, etc.. If there is going to be a fire, some salt pork. But not this time.) Continue reading “Sour Cream Biscuits”

Dinner Rolls, soft & sweet

As I am in the process or making dough for about 6 dozen dinner rolls, I wondered to myself if I had ever posted a recipe for this.

I have, more or less.

First though, you need to see the pictures of the baby chicks…

I could only catch 3 in the shot at one time, they kept running off with crumbs of bread.
I could only catch 3 in the shot at one time, they kept running off with crumbs of bread. They would only take the crumbs from mama, not from our hands.

Anyway, here is one recipe for a sweet dough that makes wonderful rolls.

Here is my process.

You mix the dough.

Side note:

I no longer measure the flour. Once you learn to gauge the dough by look and feel, it frees you up to make any amount you want, lessor, more whatever. I follow ingredient lists and measure more or less, the other ingredients. But the amount of flour I can just tell by look and feel now. It’s the liquid to flour ratio. If I want a wet, slack dough for say, pizza dough, ciabatta or whatnot, I leave it wetter. For other regular doughs, I add flour until it is tacky but not too sticky. If I want to make more dough, I maybe add a bit more milk/water, maybe another egg or a little more sugar or honey. Then I add enough flour to compensate.

Back to business. Continue reading “Dinner Rolls, soft & sweet”

The Lenton Loaf, or Fasting Bread

I’m so sorry. Lent is almost over and I am just getting around to posting this recipe. It is a new favorite bread, hearty and wholesome enough to eat, especially if you are fasting and not eating much during Lent. This and water would keep you going quite well.

With a side of yogurt with fruit.

And maybe some sausage, cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs…wait, oh Lent.

Water.

The fun part of this recipe is the symbolism each ingredient has. I did not invent this of course. I found it on a site that got it from a site that got it….

No idea where it started but kudos to whoever thought this up.

This recipe makes 3 beautiful loaves.
This recipe makes 3 beautiful loaves. (I see peanut butter cookies photo bombing the bread shot).

Continue reading “The Lenton Loaf, or Fasting Bread”

Irish Soda Bread, version 1, 2 and 2.5

(Some of the pictures are missing but this is the time of year for the Irish Soda bread recipe. Here is the recipe I used last year…and the year before.. So rather than reinvent the wheel, and because I dont have time to start from scratch, what with brownies in the oven and 8 loaves of bread cooling on the table, here is the re-run:)

“She’s sharp as a marble!”

“He’s tick-as-a-brick”

These are a few of the more polite sayings I picked up from an Irish gal I used to work with before the flood. She was a hoot, and so different, like a space alien to me.  She definitely took me outside my box. I wonder if she even had a box.

But thats as close to the Irish I have ever gotten. I love their breads though. So if you are in the mood to try some Irish Soda bread, give this a go…

There is one thing my family can all agree on and that’s our love for Irish Soda Bread. The plain kind, craggy, warm, creamy on the inside with a hint of sweet.

You can serve this up with a corned beef, potato and cabbage dinner (also called a New England dinner), or a stew or pot roast or shepherds pie. Leftovers are great warmed up in the morning and slathered with butter.

Below is that recipe. I will tell you about the other 2 ways to modify it at the end.

Today is the Thursday before the Sunday of St. Patrick’s day. This means I step into high gear, stocking up on buttermilk, getting the candied orange peel ready and stoking up the stove. I expect to be making 8-10 loaves in the next couple of days. Some for the Friday night soup kitchen night at church, some for friends and at least 1 for us. But this is a quick bread, with no raising involved, no proofing. Just mix and bake.

It calls for whole wheat and white all purpose flours. I also put in some ground oats. I have never seen an Irish soda bread recipe with oats, but first off, I love the flavor and texture some oats contribute and secondly, oats are very Irish, aren’t they? Scottish too.

For the wheat flour I have used regular whole wheat, white whole wheat and even whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat ground from a softer lower protein winter wheat grown in the more moderately warmer southern states. It has lower protein which means less gluten. For cookies, biscuits, scones and so forth, you do not need a high gluten content. So whole wheat pastry flour works. Okay, I just erased a whole paragraph on flours. I realize that I will have to dedicate a post just to flours, or I will go on like this all day.

If you do not have a food processor, you can cut the butter in with a pastry cutter. I lost my favorite one and keep forgetting to buy a new one, so I am using the food processor.

I have a new food processor I am not really used to yet. I did not think there would be very much difference between them, but there is. This one is a Kitchen-aid and it seems to miss the outside edges. So pulsing is not as effective as just high speed for a bit. If I wanted it ground finer, I would get out my mini grinder that was designed for coffee grounds but I use for grains. It turns them virtually into dust! But I wanted some texture to the breads this time.

Continue reading “Irish Soda Bread, version 1, 2 and 2.5”