You know, here at Mama’s Gotta Bake we’re not only about the sweet and sugary. Yes, I do dream about large chocolate cakes dripping in buttercream icing, but sometimes I like to cross over to the dark side and bake something using more savory ingredients.
I had a large bag of shallots and some fresh thyme left over from a meal I made a few days ago. I happen to love the combination of these two ingredients and remembered a dinner roll recipe I found in a very British cookbook I have. I’m obsessed with baking tins and pans of all sorts, so being the wild-and-crazy girl that I am, I decided instead of making these rolls in a standard muffin tin, that I would use the dariole molds I had just gotten a week before. Dariole molds are also called baba molds or timbales. You can find them at most cooking stores or restaurant supply stores.
Shallot & Thyme Dinner Rolls
From “The Perfect Afternoon Tea”
- 8 ounces shallots, peeled
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking shallots
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for cooking shallots
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme minced, plus additional sprigs for garnish
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 4 ounces soft herb and garlic cheese ( I used this)
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the center position. Using a pastry brush and melted butter, grease 10 dariole molds (baba molds). I used these molds because I thought they would make an interesting looking roll, but you could however, just make them in a standard size muffin tin or even in mini muffin tins.
- Drop the shallots into a medium sized saucepan of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes and then drain. When cooled, slice the shallots into quarters.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are caramelized on all sides. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cool and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
- In another bowl, with the mixer on medium-low, beat together the soft cheese, milk, eggs and melted butter. Pour into a well in the center of the dry ingredients and blend until incorporated. Do not over mix.
- Scrape the shallots and the liquid into the batter (reserving some to top each roll) and stir lightly.
- Divide the batter between the molds and fill 3/4 full. Place a shallot and some thyme sprigs on top.
- If using the dariole mold, bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch and lightly browned. If using a mini muffin tin, adjust the time accordingly. These are best served warm. To re-warm them, I just popped them in the microwave for about 20 seconds and they were great.
Makes 10 tall muffins
Like most batters, do not over mix the ingredients. Mix just until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Today’s post is about a tea cake with tons of fresh citrus, sweet butter and eggs. But wait…there’s more! Act now, and you get the toasted walnuts and shiny orange glaze too. So, do I have your attention, sound good, huh?
Recently for reasons unknown to me, I decided that a 4pm each day, I was going to stop what I was doing and sit down and have a cup of tea. A quiet time to reflect on what I had accomplished in my day so far, and to contemplate what tasks were still on my agenda. It seemed so civilized to me. Certainly one couldn’t have tea without it being accompanied by a proper tea cake. One of my all-time favorites is this Orange Walnut Bread. It’s not overly sweet, and the bits of orange rind give it that fresh citrus-y flavor which compliments the earthy crunch of the toasted walnuts.
I really think that this new ritual of mine will help me to be more productive, or maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe it’s just another reason I’ve drummed up to eat more cake .
Orange Walnut Bread
Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- grated rind of 1 large orange or 2 small oranges
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
- Orange Syrup
- Orange Glaze
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. What I find that works best is to melt a little butter and using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter inside the pan in all the nooks and crannys. Then dust it with flour, shaking out all the excess.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the 3/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until light. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and the grated orange rind.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the batter alternately with 1/2 cup orange juice, beginning and ending with the flour. Gently mix in the walnuts. Transfer this mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Wash out your mixer bowl and dry completely. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them carefully into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, set on the middle rack and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until lightly golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean.
- While cake is baking make the syrup mixture. When cake is done, using a wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cake and spoon the hot syrup over the bread. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 granulated sugar
Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a light syrup forms.
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 3-4 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
Place these ingredients in a small bowl and whisk or stir with a fork until you achieve the desired consistency for the glaze. If you like a thicker glaze add more sugar, if you prefer a thinner glaze, add more orange juice.
*Toasting Nuts: I always like to toast nuts when I’m adding them to baked goods. Why, you ask? Toasting nuts releases their natural oils and gives them a deeper flavor. Toasting will make the nuts crispier too, giving your baked goods more texture. I place the nuts in a small frying pan over a medium heat. I constantly stir them with a wooden spoon because you don’t want them to burn. It takes about 6-8 minutes to toast them, you’ll start to notice a fragrant smell coming from them as they begin to toast.
Egg Whites: When beating egg whites, make sure there is no yolk in the whites or they will not become stiff. Also make sure your mixer bowl and utensils are completely clean and free of grease, butter or oil, as this will cause your egg whites not to become stiff also.
Southern Californians are a funny lot. No matter how cold it gets, and for the past two weeks it has been very cold, Southern Californians will wear shorts and flip-flops no matter what. I noticed this strange phenomenon yesterday as I was shopping at an outdoor mall. Me, bundled in a winter coat and scarf, and everyone else lollygagging about in their Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts and sundresses. I really admire their spirit, and for some folks it really is an endless summer. And why not. Maybe it’s the thin, east-coast blood that runs through my veins, but I was headed home to have a big bowl of chili and these homemade corn muffins. I was embracing the brisk winter weather with some down-home comfort food.
Anyway, son #1 had given me the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for a gift and I was anxious to try out some of the recipes. What I like most about the book is that it’s recipes are written in both cups and grams. As a gal whose obsession is baking, naturally I prefer gram measurements. Why, because baking is a science and grams are a precise measurement. When you weigh your ingredients your chances of a successful end product are almost guaranteed. Even if you’re just an occasional baker, I highly recommend you get yourself a digital food scale. You know I would never steer you wrong.
Thomas Keller explains in the book that the reason for allowing your batter to sit overnight is for the purpose of hydrating the flour. When the mixture absorbs the liquid ingredients, the result is a very moist corn muffin.
From Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery
- 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons (201 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (51 grams) cornmeal
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (135 grams) sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2/3 cup (168 grams) whole milk
- 2 large eggs (90 grams)
- 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (90 grams) canola oil
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) frozen corn kernels
* If you do not have a scale to weigh out the eggs, take your 2 large eggs and lightly beat them in a bowl and then remove about 1 teaspoon and that will be about 90 grams.
- Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift in the cornmeal and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until combined. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 30 seconds to combine.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients that may be stuck to the bottom. Fold in the corn. For best results, transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners. Lightly spray the liners with nonstick spray. Spoon the batter into the cups about 3/4 full.
- Place the pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, place the pan on a cooling rack and cool muffins completely.
Makes 12 standard size muffins
I come from a long line of bread eaters. We’re a hearty group and we can make a meal out of bread. Meat, fish and vegetables are nice, but really we’re quite satisfied with just bread. Maybe it’s my Eastern European ancestry that makes me appreciate what one can do with a little bit of yeast and some flour. You see, we’re simple folk. I love a loaf fresh out of the oven, slathered in butter or with a dollop of marmalade. Pita, naan, ciabatta or tortillas, call it what you will, it’s all good to me. I think it’s funny, all these people nowadays cutting bread out of their diet, well that’s just plain crazy to me.
I know some people are intimidated when they see yeast in a recipe. One of my favorite books, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” has taken the trauma out of bread making. If you have the slightest interest in making your own bread, and trust me you should, then I highly recommend this book to you.
One of the best recipes in the book is their chocolate brioche. It’s a rich, eggy bread, golden on the outside with bittersweet chocolate ganache swirled on the inside. It was today’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing wrong with that, right?
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for greasing the pan
- 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Egg wash, (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
- You can make this dough using a spoon, a large food processor or an electric mixer. I made it in the bowl of my electric mixer.
- Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in the bowl.
- Using the dough hook, mix in the flour until it’s all incorporated.
- When all the flour has been incorporated, cover the bowl, (not airtight) and allow it to rest at room temperature for 2 hours. After the initial rise, chill the dough as it will be easier to work with. This amount of dough will make four -1 pound loaves, so keep the dough refrigerated in a lidded container and use over the next five days.
- 1/4 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave in 15 second increments until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until incorporated.
- In another little bowl, stir the cocoa powder and the corn syrup together and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate mixture.
- Lightly butter a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and with a serrated knife, cut off a one-pound piece. I use my digital scale to weigh it. Dust that piece with more flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the ball into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.
- Spread 1/2 cup of the ganache over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough and seal the bare edges.
- Tuck the loose ends underneath, elongate the dough into an oval and place it into your loaf pan.
- Let the dough rest for 1 1/2 hours in a draft-free spot.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
- Bake the brioche for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sugar is caramelized.
- Remove from the pan and cool slightly. Reheat the remaining ganache, then drizzle it over the top of the loaf.
For me there is nothing more comforting or homier than fresh-baked bread. I love the way it makes the house smell as it’s baking, but more than that, I can’t wait to slather butter on hot, crispy bread right out of the oven.
This rustic rye bread is one of my all-time favorites. A couple thick slices of this bread with hot corned beef, cole slaw and spicy mustard, and it’s better than any deli I’ve been to.
I don’t know why more folks don’t bake their own bread. It’s really very easy, and not all that time consuming. Once you start making your own bread and you taste the difference between homemade and commercial bread, I guarantee you won’t buy store bought bread again. Really.
Rustic Rye Bread
From Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
- 3 cups water (105-110 degrees F)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 cup rye flour
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- cornmeal for sprinkling
- cornstarch for cornstarch wash
- Mix the yeast, salt and caraway seeds with the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients just until everything is incorporated. Scrape the bowl down and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest in a draft-free spot for 2 hours. After the dough has risen, you can use it immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Dust your hands with flour and cut off 1/4 portion of the dough (about 1 lb.) Dust the piece with flour and shape it into a ball, or you can elongate the ball into an oval shape if you choose. Allow it to rest and rise on a cornmeal covered surface such as a pizza peel if you will be using a pizza stone. I highly recommend using the pizza stone as it gives the bread a lovely, crispy crust. Or you can let it rest on a cornmeal covered baking sheet for 40 minutes.
- After the dough has rested for 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with the stone in the oven and an empty broiler try on the rack underneath the one you are baking on.
- Using a serrated knife, slash 3 diagonal cuts across the top of the loaf. Make the cornstarch wash by combining 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch with a small amount of water in a small microwaveable bowl to form a paste. Add 1/2 cup of water and whisk. Place in the microwave for about 60 seconds. Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the loaf lightly with the cornstarch wash and then sprinkle on some caraway seeds.
- You can bake the loaf on the cornmeal covered baking sheet, or you can slide the loaf directly onto the heated pizza stone. After putting the bread in the oven, pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler try below and quickly close the door. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is a deep, golden brown. I use a digital thermometer to check that the inside internal temperature of the bread is at least 195 degrees F. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 4 – 1 pound rye breads
The first thing I did when I got off the plane on my most recent trip to Philadelphia, was high-tail it to the soft pretzel vendor right there in the airport. My husband Neil and I hadn’t eaten on the cross-country flight, and the two of us had been contemplating biting into a soft, chewy Philly pretzel. We were not disappointed.
It’s funny how different cities are known for certain foods. New Orleans is known for muffulettas, Chicago made famous the deep-dish pizza, and New York is credited with inventing the egg cream. And Philadelphia, well Philadelphia is not just known for its cheesesteaks and hoagies, but also for the soft pretzel. (Nothing low-calorie comes out of Philly.) It’s tradition in Philadelphia to eat your pretzel with mustard, so that’s how I do it.
When I returned to Los Angeles, I was still having pretzel cravings. So, I decided to pull out one of my favorite recipes and make the family a batch of homemade pretzels. They were not disappointed.
From Cooking Light , October 2005
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
- 3 cups plus 1/4 cup all purpose flour – divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- cooking spray
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- cornmeal for sprinkling
- 1 large egg
- kosher salt
Let’s face it, when you get to be a certain age you can’t always eat everything and anything you want. In my younger days I could live for a week on nothing but chocolate chip cookies. I really could. Those days are over, and that’s why I can only make this particular cake once every couple of months, because I’ve been known to eat the entire thing. Banana, chocolate and pecans is my all-time favorite flavor combination.
This is a dense, moist cake and it’s full of banana flavor. Just make sure you use overly ripe bananas. Also, I use the mini-chips because the regular sized chocolate chips will overwhelm the banana, and it’s the banana that’s the star of this cake. And then, I love the added crunch the toasted pecans add to the cake. For me, this is the ultimate in comfort food.
Adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet morsels
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 in loaf pan.
2. In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one a time until incorporated.
3. Sift all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt together, stir in whole wheat flour and add to creamed mixture, mixing well.
4. Fold in mashed bananas, vanilla, nuts and chips.
5. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack.
Makes 1 loaf
I am the self-proclaimed “Queen of Sandwiches. Growing up in Philadelphia, which is the home of the “hoagie” and the Philly cheesesteak, I ate sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What made these sandwiches so tasty, was the incredible Italian bread that shops all over the Philadelphia area served. Had the bread not been so amazing, these classic sandwiches may have never become the icons they are today. I know I’ve said this before, but I will say it again…the key to a successful sandwich is good bread. It doesn’t matter how good the ingredients of the sandwich are without top quality bread.
These days, I’m loving pita sandwiches. I like to cut these pocket breads open and spread them with a little aioli, my favorite cheese, tomatoes, avocado, thinly sliced red onion and some sprouts. In the past I had used those pitas you buy at the market in a bag. Sadly they’re extremely dry and tasteless. I have pledged to my family never to buy them again, and why would I when these are so easy to make myself. When they come out of the oven, they’re light and fluffy with a hint of that olive oil flavor.
If you take your sandwiches as seriously as I do, then I encourage you to give this recipe a try.
Recipe from The Fresh Loaf
Special equipment: baking stone
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or one packet of active, dry yeast
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water (100 degrees) by stirring and then stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar and let stand for 10 minutes until bubbly.
2. Then mix the yeast in with the flour, salt and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cups of water and stir together with a wooden spoon, until all ingredients form a ball. (If mixture is too dry, add more water, if too wet add more flour).
3. Using a bowl scraper, take the dough out of the bowl and place on a work surface dusted lightly with flour. You can knead by hand for 10 minutes, or in the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed for 10 minutes using a dough hook. If you do knead the dough in the electric mixer, you will still need to do more hand-kneading once you take it out of the mixer. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and spring back when you poke it with your finger.
4. When you’re done kneading the dough, take a large, clean bowl and lightly rub it with oil, or spray with cooking spray. Form a ball out of the dough and roll it around the bowl to lightly coat it on all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 90 minutes in a warm, draft-free spot. The dough should double in size.
5. When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release the gases and divide it into 10 pieces. (I placed entire piece of dough on a kitchen scale, and divided the total weight by 10 so that all pieces weighed approximately the same.) Roll each piece into a ball and cover the balls with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, and let dough rest for 20 minutes.
6. While the dough is resting, preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with a baking stone in it . If you don’t have a baking stone, you can turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating it.
7. After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, dust your work surface lightly with flour and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the ball of dough and use a rolling pin to stretch and flatten the dough. You should roll it out into a 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick round.
8. Open the oven and place 2 pitas on the hot baking surface. I let them bake for about 4 minutes until they were baked through and puffy. You can let them bake longer if you like them crispier. I removed them with tongs, and let them cool on a baking rack.
Store in a plastic bag for several days.
What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t bake the family challah? Especially a mother who went to pastry school. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and provide a wide array of services to their families. Many mothers are the breadwinners of their families; some moms drive carpool, oversee homework or fix boo-boo’s. Me, well, I make baked goods for my family.
I find the smell of challah baking in the oven permeates the house, and makes it a home. I was sitting with my mother the other day and she was sharing her memories of what the holidays were like growing up in her house. Her most vivid memories were those of the smells and tastes of the dishes her mother prepared, especially her sponge cake. It’s interesting, but when we reflect on warm times with our families, it seems to be food that brings back those cherished thoughts.
To me, this homemade challah is just a big ‘ol loaf-of-love. You have to put your heart and soul into making it. It takes time, and a whole lot of kneading, but the pay-off is the end result. Whenever I see these famous chefs interviewed, they always talk about the food that their mother’s or grandmother’s made that brings back warm memories of their childhood’s. Especially Wolfgang Puck. He always refers to his mother’s cooking, and many of the dishes he serves today were inspired by her recipes. I guess that’s what I’m trying do to with my two sons…create warm memories. I hope I do.
Makes 2 large loaves
From the Silver Palate Cookbook
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 packages of active dry yeast (14 grams)
3 eggs, room temperature, plus 1 egg for egg wash
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
poppy seeds or sesame seeds
1. Bring milk, 6 tablespoons of butter, and the sugar to a boil together in a medium size saucepan. Remove from the heat, and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer and let cool to lukewarm (105 degrees F).
2. Stir yeast into the milk mixture and let stand for 10 minutes.
3. Beat the 3 eggs well in a small bowl, and stir them and the salt into the milk and yeast mixture.
4. Using the paddle attachment on the mixer, stir in 5 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing on speed 2 for about 8 minutes until you achieve a sticky dough. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it.
5. Sprinkle additional flour over the dough and begin kneading, adding more flour as necessary until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
6. Oil the inside of the bowl and add the ball of dough, turning to coat it lightly with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until tripled in bulk about 2 hours.
7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into halves. Cut each half into 3 pieces. Roll the pieces into “snakes” about 18 inches long. Braid the 3 snakes together into a loaf and tuck the ends underneath the loaf.
8. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal, and transfer each loaf onto its own sheet. Cover each loaf with plastic and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
10. Beat an egg and 1 tablespoon of cold water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash evenly over the loaf. Sprinkle immediately with poppy seeds or sesame seeds to taste.
11. Set baking sheet in middle rack of oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until loaves are golden and sound hollow when the bottoms re thumped. Cool completely on a rack.
For the sweet challah, I kneaded some golden raisins and dried cherries into the dough, and then brushed it with a mixture of 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1/3 cup honey (melted together in microwave). When I took the bread out of the oven I brushed it again with the mixture.
Here at Mama’s Gotta Bake I’ve made sweet rolls with Larry, cooked clams with Carol and today, I baked French Baguette‘s with Michele and Marci (a mother and daughter team). This is precisely why I love cooking and baking so much. For me it’s not a solitary endeavor. The cooking and baking process is not solely about nourishing the body, but also about nourishing the soul. I enjoy sharing this process with family and friends and I think this is where my love of food stems from.
I met Marci at pastry school. Like myself, she has a love of all things baked. It’s not often in my travels that I meet someone willing to discuss the pro’s and con’s of fresh yeast versus rapid rise. But Marci will have that discussion with me. Her daughter Michele, a college student, has been sparked by her mother’s affinity for baking and wanted to learn how to make a French baguette. Knowing of my obsession for baking, they asked me if I would come over to their house and give Michele a few tips on the art of bread making. Of course I would!
It turned into a real “dough fest”. Along with making baguettes, we also made brioche and biscotti. I have to say, Michele was an enthusiastic student and did a great job turning out some delicious baked goods. The baguettes were perfect. They came out of the oven with the crispiest crust and a soft interior. We had intended to give them 15 minutes to cool down, but as soon as we took them out of the oven we sliced them up and brought out the butter.
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes four 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, un-bleached, all-purpose flour
Whole Wheat Flour for pizza peel
In a 5-quart bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast and salt with 3 cups lukewarm water. The water should be 100 degrees F. (A digital thermometer is a great tool to have for this purpose.)
Mixing on slow speed, add all the flour at once, until the flour is incorporated. You want the mixture to be uniformly moist with no dry patches. With a bowl scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl and into a 5-quart, lidded container (not airtight) and let it sit, covered for at least 2 hours in a warm spot. No kneading is necessary.
After the dough has risen you can use a portion of it immediately however, if you fully refrigerate the wet dough it’s much easier to work with.
Next, prepare a pizza peel by liberally sprinkling it with whole wheat flour so that the dough does not stick to the peel. Sprinkle the surface of the dough lightly with flour. Pull dough up and cut off a 1 pound piece of dough with a serrated knife. I use a digital scale to weigh the dough. Hold the ball of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so the dough won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Once it’s cohesive, begin to stretch and elongate the dough, dusting with additional flour as necessary. You may want to roll it back and forth with your hands on a floured surface. Form a cylinder 2 inches in diameter. Place the loaf on the prepared pizza peel and let it rest, covered for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Put an empty broiler tray on the bottom of the oven. After the dough has rested, paint water over the surface of the loaf using a pastry brush. The water will prevent the knife from sticking in the wet dough. Slash the loaf with long diagonal cuts using a serrated knife.
Gently, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the hot baking stone. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 25 minutes, until deeply browned and firm to the touch.
Allow to cool on a rack before cutting or eating. And then bring out the butter.