Category Archives: Bread

No, We’re Not Dieting Here

Although it may not look like it, we have been eating here in this household. Mostly there have been things like sausage sandwiches, homemade pizza, and other quick but good meals. One such meal was our specifically designated MWV meal, which included the Corn Bread from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Cookbook. The BBA Challenge was begun by Nicole of Pinch My Salt and has been a source of great joy and rejoicing, as well as increasing waistlines, in this household. I’ll leave you with a photo of the bread and this short note.

This is the first recipe we’ve been disappointed with in this stellar cookbook. First let me admit I left out the corn and bacon, the corn because we were already having a corn dish with the meal. Other than leaving out these optional ingredients, the recipe was followed. We found it to be more cakey than cornbread and quite sweet, perhaps better suited to a breakfast corn muffin.

The other half of the meal isn’t quite ready for recipe publishing yet. I’m still tweeking the amounts of a few things. Still, it is excellent, lightly cheesy and flavorful. Corn Florentine:

To come over the next few posts: an amazing Carrot Cake, Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce, and hopefully the recipe to go with the above photo!

And if you’d like some bread to go with any of your meals this coming week, you might try checking out the BYOB Roundups at the blog At the Baker’s Bench. Sandy gathers up all the bread (often including quick breads and other baked goods) of those participating and lists them all in one handy place. Yum!

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I Love it When the Gnomes Bring Me Breakfast

Ok, we don’t really have gnomes who bring me breakfast. However one of my very favorite things is when breakfast is already prepared and waiting for me. I wouldn’t complain if someone else got up early and made it either, of course. But I love making it myself and having it already ready already. So it was with great joy I began the recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread. Notice that the walnuts have magically disappeared from the recipe, too. How great! I’m not a huge fan of those nuts, finding them bitter most of the time.

Thanks to Nicole of Pinch My Salt, I’m heavily embroiled in this challenge of making each bread from Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Each recipe is good enough that I’m mightily restraining myself from buying his newest book, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, quite yet.

The dough itself mixed up beautifully.

To make this bread I actually had to go out and buy some raisins, because while we do keep several types of dried fruits in the house, raisins are not one of them.

It rose alongside a loaf of multigrain sandwich bread.

After its second rise, the loaf of Cinnamon Raisin Bread was done.

Just like that, there was breakfast brought by the gnomes. Well, by me, but it was ready and waiting when I woke the next morning. And isn’t that magic?

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Reinhart v. Mom (Battle Cinnamon Roll, part II)

When I started the BBA Cinnamon Roll Recipe, I realized it was a fairly traditional one. I have a similar recipe from my mom, actually. When I say traditional and similar, I mean that the BBA recipe uses two similar rise times and takes a good chunk of the afternoon. That recipe, and I do say this with a straight face, is Mom’s ‘short’ recipe. That is not the recipe I chose to use.

I used my mom’s ‘long’ recipe. I have to say that I love that she had these labeled short and long. Because the long recipe actually takes less time. Sort of.

Here’s how it works. (Oh, and I didn’t get photos of this dough either until about the same point in the process. I must have a problem when it comes to cinnamon rolls.)

First I halved Mom’s recipe, then mixed the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Next, I added some eggs, margarine and water. I ended up with a dough very similar to the BBA dough, though with just a tad bit less fat.

Speaking of fat, both doughs received the same type of fat. Just to be fair and all. However, the BBA dough used buttermilk and Mom’s recipe, water.

After being kneaded, the dough goes right into the fridge. Overnight. No rising. Got it?

The next morning, the dough is taken out of the fridge, turned out on the counter and let sit for about 20 minutes so that it can warm up.

The dough is rolled, not quite to the BBA specs but slightly thinner than that, about 5/8 of an inch. Don’t go too thin though. Reinhart’s, of course, right on target! Too thin and the rolls end up tough and chewy.

After the dough is rolled out, Mom’s recipe calls for the remainder of the fat in the form of room temperature butter spread over the rectangle of dough.

Next comes the cinnamon and sugar. First, the cinnamon. I put it on this thick. But only do that if you’re using real cinnamon. If using cassia cinnamon, put a bit less on that that.

I can just see a bit of the dough through the cinnamon. Next is the sugar. First we want brown sugar. This is a good amount.

Then the granulated sugar.

That should do it. Next the standard log shape and cutting.

Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls go into a greased 9×13 pan to rise for about 30-45 minutes.

Then into the oven.

The rolls come out looking great. Smells great, too! Because of the difference in filling the bottom looks like this, rather than being dry.

And here’s Mom’s closeup. Sorry; there’s that lighting issue again. November 1st is clock change time. My camera can’t wait.

The verdict:

  1. The BBA rolls had a nice buttermilk tang. Mom’s didn’t. This might be easily remedied by using buttermilk in place of some of the water in Mom’s recipe.
  2. But by day three most of the buttermilk tang was gone, and the two doughs tasted nearly identical.
  3. On day two, both rolls were still soft. Mom’s were softer.
  4. By day three, both were still fairly soft. Mom’s were still softer. I’m no expert, so the only reason I can figure my mom’s are softer is that the fat (butter) spread over the rolled dough before adding the cinnamon and sugar adds moistness in a different way than if it’s all put directly into the dough.
  5. By day three most of the buttermilk tang was gone, and the two doughs tasted nearly identical.
  6. We prefer a bit more filling in our Cinnamon Rolls and the caramel-like flavor of using a mixture of sugars.
  7. We were all in agreement that the BBA rolls were really, really good. No complaints about them at all. They were good enough that if the other rolls hadn’t been around, the BBA rolls would have been gone in a jiffy. That said, the BBA ones were the last to go.

Although the BBA Cinnamon Buns were good, I’ll be sticking with Mom’s recipe for a while longer. You can find her recipe below.

As always, a huge thanks to Nicole of Pinch My salt for instigating the BBA Challenge. I’ve enjoyed every recipe so far, and most of them I’ll be turning to again in the near future!

Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls (long) (printer-friendly recipe)

makes 18-20 rolls
7 cups of flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 package instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons of butter, margarine, or shortening, at room temperature
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 – 2 cups lukewarm water, more as needed
butter, at room temperature
brown sugar
granulated sugar
In a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, mix flour, sugar and yeast. Add salt and stir.
Using a spoon, or paddle if using a mixer, mix in eggs and butter. If using mixer, switch to dough hook and add 1 1/2 cups of water. Continue to add water as necessary until dough cleans the sides of bowl and just barely cleans the bottom. Dough should be tacky, but not sticky. Knead for about 8-10 minutes with the mixer, 10-12 minutes by hand or until the dough passes the windowpane test.
Choose a bowl which can hold the bulk of dough when doubled, spray with oil, and place the dough inside. Mist the top of the dough with oil, cover with plastic wrap or lid and place in refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, remove dough from refrigerator and bowl to counter. Divide in two, cover and allow to sit for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll half of dough into rectangle (about 12″ x 16″) and spread with a thin layer of room-temperature butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar, then granulated sugar to taste.
Roll up starting from one of the long ends. Cut log into slices about 1 3/4 inches thick. Repeat with second half of dough.
Place rolls, cut side down, in greased 9″x13″ pans. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

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Reinhart v. Mom (Battle Cinnamon Roll, part I)

When it came time to make the Cinnamon Rolls from Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I was pretty excited. I mean, who wouldn’t be? After all, thanks in part to Nicole of Pinch My Salt, who organized this little bake-a-long shindig, I was making one of my favorite breakfasts desserts in the whole world! I love cinnamon rolls. And I’d actually just baked my usual recipe only about 2 weeks ago.

Having just had my mom’s Cinnamon Rolls, and seeing how other bloggers were really happy with the BBA recipe, I naturally had to do something special. Like what? Well, I had to make 2 recipes, of course! The one from the BBA Challenge and the one from mom. Actually to be clear, I have two cinnamon recipes from my mom, but the one I chose to make is my favorite. The reason why will become clear in a little while, I’m sure. And no, you can never have too many cinnamon rolls in the house. Really! What a question!

First, the BBA Cinnamon Buns. Oops, I’d better be frank here. I got so focused on the cinnamon, sweet dough and yummy end product, that I totally forgot to take any photos of the process of making the dough.

So, let’s pretend I’m mixing all the flour, yeast, water, etc., which I obviously must have done, because here’s the photo of the gorgeous dough which resulted.

I feel the need to be honest about something.

I didn’t use any lemon in the dough.

I realize some people like all their sweet dough with lemon or orange flavor, but I just can’t get into it. It always reminds me of boxed pastry, like Entenmenn’s or something. Me? In some doughs yes, but not in every sweet roll dough. Definitely not in Cinnamon Rolls. Yeah, I’m opinionated like that.

But, I did use buttermilk. More on that tomorrow.

Next, the dough is sprinkled with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Then rolled into the traditional log and cut.

Aren’t those pretty rolls?

See this is how distracted I was while baking. You get no more shots after this until the cinnamon rolls are finished. Well, except for this one, when they’d already been in the oven for a few minutes. Whoops!

Here they are fresh out of the oven. Beautiful color and heavenly aroma. They’d risen nicely and smelled just perfect.

How about a closeup?

The verdict? These are good. Really, really good. Like ‘from the corner bakery’ good. The roll was soft, nicely textured and they stayed soft for a few days. Yum!

Tomorrow? Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls.

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Beranbaum’s Best Buns for World Bread Day 2009

Just for World Bread Day 2009, and because we need some hamburger buns around these parts, I bring you this post.

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17)

I’ve seen several burger recipes lately, all of which look wonderful and all of which are brioche-style buns. And to be honest, after making brioche I can certainly see how a brioche burger bun would be delicious. However, we really don’t eat that way around here on a regular basis. Really, butter is great, but I’d like to see my daughter grow up and I’d like to spend the next 60 years or so married to my darling husband. So those staggering amounts of butter and eggs are just not included in our regular diet.

But who said food that’s good for you can’t taste good? Too many people think that something that’s healthy doesn’t taste as good as something that’s fat and calorie-laden. This recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Pie and Pastry Bible and The Bread Bible, proves that a soft, tasty bun does not have to go straight to your buns. Here’s my adaptation of Beranbaum’s Best Buns.

All the ingredients in one place.

Although the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour, I know I can increase that a bit and still come out with a nice light dough. The wheat flour is King Arthur White Whole Wheat. If you’re not a huge fan of whole wheat flavor, this is a good type to try. It’s less strong than regular (red) whole wheat, and it still has the benefit of using the whole grain.

I also use an unbleached white flour made by a small mill, Swany White Flour Mills, located in Freeport, MN. In addition to being unbleached (and organic), the flour has the added nutrition of the germ being added back into it. For those who don’t have access to a comparable flour, just add a bit of germ, maybe 2 teaspoons or so, to the flour.

The dough comes together nicely, although it’s raining here again today so I had to add a bit more flour than I expected.

The dough is ready to be shaped.

Each bun is 148 grams!

Shaped and ready for their second rise. Have I mentioned I love sesame seeds? I brushed the tops of the buns with milk before placing the seeds on top. Oh, and nope, no seeds in the dough.

Looks like the buns are ready to go in the oven. After a little wait, here they are. Ready for their burgers.

But tonight is Friday night, which in our house is homemade pizza night, so those burgers will have to wait until tomorrow. Boy, those buns look good though. I’ll post the burger photos in a few days. Yum!

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After It’s All Finished, Can I Get a Do-Over?

I wonder if anyone else is needing a do-over on one or two of these BBA breads? Up until now, I haven’t had any trouble with the recipes. Heck, I didn’t really have any trouble with this one either. But the Ciabatta al Funghi I turned out didn’t quite have the texture that it should have.

I should start at the beginning though. Here’s the flour. Where else would I begin?

Oh, oops! Probably with the biga. Which I forgot to photograph until the next morning. While it was resting on the counter in pieces trying to warm up from its night in the fridge.

Once the biga was mixed with the above flour and remaining ingredients, it made a really nice, very wet dough. But you’ve seen lots of dough, and how interesting is that? What you really want to see are the funghi. The dry ones:

These mushrooms are from our local farmer’s market. Every once in a blue moon, a trip to the market brings the delightful sight of a special booth. Local mushroom farmers, who usually sell to restaurants, appear and treat us to such beauties as these golden oyster mushrooms. They actually bring several varieties, both fresh and dried, but these were our favorites, so I stocked up on a bag of the dried.

And the fresh mushrooms for the Ciabatta. Yum!

After the requisite folding and couche-ing (is that a word?), the Ciabatta al Funghi made its trip into the oven. I don’t think I let it rise quite long enough, but what emerged was still very tasty!

I do think I’ll be making this again. Partly because I need that do-over, but mostly because this bread is delicious!

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Let Me Tell You My Secret

This isn’t the first time I’ve made Peter Reinhart’s Challah from his book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Before I started the BBA Challenge —Thanks Nicole of Pinch My Salt!— I made just a few of the breads in the book. But you won’t tell on me, will you? As penance (ok not really) I’m remaking each one. Can you see how I suffer so?

Most of the Challah I’ve had in my life has been store or bakery-purchased. So, if I just don’t know my head from a hole in the ground, please correct me when I tell you that this Challah is amazing! Let me show you.

First I rounded up all my ingredients.

See my pretty red bowl there in the middle? I picked up a set of those little guys at World Market for $4! And they’re silicone!

Yes, I realized after I took this photo that I was short two eggs. All the eggs did make it into the bread though. See?

Please excuse the poor lighting, too. Fall and Winter are all about the waning of natural light in late afternoon.

Next the eggs and a few other things were whisked together.

Pretend there’s a lovely photo here of the dough, please. Because I really did add the flour and yeast and stuff, too. I’m not sure where my brain was while I was making this. Probably on the 6-strand braid I was planning to make!

It came out beautifully, and that braid is actually really easy! I found a video that made it so. Boy, was that bread good, too!

Tomorrow we’ll talk Ciabatta, ok?

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