Posts tagged ‘Bread’

December 9, 2012


I am not Jewish but I was inspired to make challah today. Maybe it was the start of Chanukah? Maybe it was our party coming up on Saturday? I first made challah when I was probably 16 and made it for a family event. One thing about challah is that is one of the easiest breads you will ever make and it looks the most impressive. I hadn’t made it in 30 years until today , and poof! It came out perfect! I am thinking of putting it in a basket with rolls next to our smoked pork and beef for next weekend’s graduation party. Stay tuned!


From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Canada, UK), by Peter Reinhart.


4 cups (18 ounces) unbleached bread flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (.25 ounce) salt
1-1/3 teaspoons (.15 ounce) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) vegetable oil
2 large (3.3 ounces) eggs, slightly beaten
2 large (1.25 ounces) egg yolks, slightly beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp to 1-1/8 cups (7 to 9 ounces) water, at room temperature
2 egg whites, whisked until frothy, for egg wash
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish


Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and yolks, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Mix with a spoon (or on low speed with the paddle attachment) until all the ingredients gather and form a ball. Add the remaining water, if needed.

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and knead for about 10 minutes (or mix at medium-low speed for 6 minutes with the dough hook), sprinkling in more flour if needed to make a soft, supple, but not sticky dough. The dough should register approximately 80°F (27°C).

Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a boule and transfer into the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ferment for 1 hour at room temperature.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 2 minutes to degas. Re-form it into a ball, return the ball to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and ferment for an additional hour. It should be at least 1-1/2 times its original size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 3 equal pieces for 1 large loaf, or 6 pieces for 2 loaves. (Or, for a celebration challah, divide it into 3 equal pieces and combine 2 of those pieces and form them into 1 large dough. Take this larger piece and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Take the smaller dough and divide it into 3 pieces as well; in the end, you will have 3 large pieces and 3 small pieces.) Regardless of the size of the loaves you decide to make, form each of the pieces into a boule, cover them with a towel, and let them rest on the counter for 10 minutes.

Roll out the pieces into strands, each the same length, thicker in the middle and slightly tapered toward the ends. Braid them using the 3-braid method shown. (If making the celebration challah, lay the smaller braid on top of the larger braid, gently pressing the smaller braid onto the larger to adhere.) Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and transfer the loaf or loaves to the pan. Brush the loaves with the egg wash. Mist the loaves with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or place the pan in a food-grade plastic bag.


Proof at room temperature for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the dough has grown to 1-1/2 times its original size.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) (325°F (160°C) for the celebration challah) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Brush again with egg wash.

Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. The bread should be a rich golden brown and register 190°F (88°C) in the center.

When done, transfer the bread to a rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

Yield: Makes 1 large braided loaf, 2 smaller loaves, or 1 large double-braided celebration loaf

January 2, 2012

Bowl Game Food: Soft Pretzels

This holiday season was so confusing. All the holidays on the weekends, and the Rose Bowl game on the 2nd. What to make? Well, it felt like we should’ve made chili, but that didn’t happen.

Luckily, there’s almost always white flour in the house. Sorry, Atkins, South Beach, Dukan and Boulder, in general. Can’t seem to make it without gluten.

Been searching for a good Soft Pretzel recipe. I’ve tried several but don’t like butter in the dough. Started with King Arthur but thought it should be boiled like bagels. Anyway, here’s what we came up with. I was pretty happy with it.



Soft Pretzels

Inspired by King Arthur Flour’s Hot Buttered Pretzels

2 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons regular instant yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water*
8 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

*Use more water in the winter (or in a dry climate like Colorado), the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Place all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat till well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, till it’s soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 500°F. Prepare two baking sheets by spraying them with vegetable oil spray, or lining them with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each).

Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28 to 30 inches long), and twist each rope into a pretzel.

Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, bring 8 cups of water plus the baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved; if it isn’t, it’ll make your pretzels splotchy. Gently place 1-2 pretzels at a time in the boiling water for about 1 minute per side to set the dough.

Carefully remove from the pot. A chopstick works well to turn the pretzels, but a spatula works best to remove from the water.

Brush the pretzels with the melted butter. Sprinkle them lightly with pretzel salt (you can use kosher, but the pretzel salt really does make a BIG difference.) Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that’s what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Bake the pretzels for 8 to 12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown, reversing the baking sheets halfway through.

Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave. Yield: 8 pretzels.

October 12, 2011

Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions

So you made your lovely French bread…today I want to share something that we make with that wonderful bread! These sandwiches are incredibly simple and flavorful This is something you can prep ahead of time and make even on a weekday. We used a spicy sausage (habanero pork sausage from our local Whole Foods) which was a nice complement to the sweet peppers. An addition of some tomato adds some depth; they basically disintegrate and create a wonderful sauce. It’s a really great dish for fall; hearty without being heavy. Yum! What do you think??


Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions

3 Bell Peppers (Assorted Colors)

1 Large Onion

1 Tomato

1 Pound pork sausage

1 T Worcestershire Sauce

½ C Red Wine

1 T Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1 baguette

Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Slice the peppers and onions lengthwise, keeping the onions separate.

Slice the sausages on the diagonal using a good knife (putting the sausages in the freezer for a half an hour before you slice them will help.)

Preheat the oven to 350° and place the bread in the oven whole. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.

Move the sausage to the outside of the pan, then add the onions to the center of the pan.

Allow the onions to soften, about 2 minutes, then add the peppers and toss the ingredients together.

Allow to cook about 1-2 minutes before adding the tomatoes and the liquid ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook to reduce the sauce by half.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise and cut into sandwich sized pieces. Serve the sausage and pepper mixture on the open bread making sure to spoon some sauce on top. Garnish with some grated parmesan cheese.


PS. Don’t worry if there are leftovers, we will show you a way to use them coming up!!

October 6, 2011

Baking Bread Part 2: French Bread

Bread is one of those things that I remember my mom making at young age. I think dough is so cool; it’s alive and always changing. Most people talk about how baking is an exact science but we disagree, dough is really forgiving. As long as you know the steps, you can make adjustments if need be. In fact, we have found that our bread is different based on the humidity, heat, etc. so you need to be ready to make a few changes. Eventually, you will start to know the feel of different kinds of dough. This one is a great all purpose bread that we make a lot. It is great with soups, salads, and especially for sopping up great sauces like: Chicken Piccata or Chicken Cacciatore Stew! You might notice that these photos are different from the last time we featured this bread, like I said, it is ALWAYS different. Just play with it and have fun! Yesterday we shared with you the Pâte Fermentée. That is where this recipe begins. It seems like a lot of steps, but there is a lot of down time and I promise it is worth it! I have to stress again, that if you are serious about baking bread, please please please, pick up Peter Reinhart’s books. We have several and all are excellent. Enjoy!!


French Bread

Courtesy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes 3 baguettes

3 cups (16 ounces) pâte fermentée

1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached bread flour

1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (6-7 ounces) water, at room temperature

Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

Remove the pâte fermentée from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.

Stir together the flours, salt, yeast and pâte fermentée pieces
in the bowl of the electric mixer. Add ¾ cup of the water, with the paddle attachment until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball, about 1 minute. Adjust the flour or water according to need so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. (He says it’s better to err on the sticky side since it is harder to add water once the dough firms up.)

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter to knead by hand for about 10 minutes or knead in a mixer with the dough hook for about 6 minutes or till the dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky and all the pâte fermentée is evenly distributed. The internal temp should be 77-81 degrees F.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 2 hours or until it doubles in size its original size. If it doubles before 2 hours have elapsed, knead it lightly to degas and let it rise again, covered until it doubles from the original size.

Gently remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly floured counter.

For baguettes, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Again, take care to degas the dough as little as possible. Form the pieces into baguettes. (Check this video out for the technique.)

Proof at room temperature for 45-75 minutes, or until the loaves have grown to about 1 ½ times their original size.

They should be slightly springy when poked with a finger.

Prepare the oven for hearth baking as in this video. You will need a baking stone (unless using the pan), a steaming pan preheated with the oven, and a spray bottle.

Generously dust a peel, the back of a sheet pan, or a baguette pan (as shown) with semolina flour or cornmeal (or baking parchment as we do) and gently transfer the baguettes to the pan or peel. Score the baguettes using a serrated knife.

Transfer the baguettes to the baking stone or bake directly on the pan. Pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan and close the oven door.

After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals.

After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees, if necessary, for even baking.

Continue baking until the loaves are golden brown and register at least 205°F in their center, anywhere from 10-20 additional minutes, depending on your oven and how thin your baguettes are.

If they seem to be getting too dark but are not hot enough internally, lower the oven setting to 350°F (or turn it off) and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 40 minutes before slicing or serving.

Tags: , ,
October 5, 2011

Baking Bread Part 1: Pâte Fermentée

I started baking bread when I was 14, when I became a vegetarian. I’ve gone on and off with baking over the last 40 years. Sometimes I thought there wasn’t time. But there CAN be time if you break it up. I never got a bread machine == that’s not because I am a purist; whatever helps you get *fresh* bread on the table is great. My Kitchenaid works fine for me. The main reason I don’t usually do it by hand is because it seems like less to clean up, but I’m not really sure if it’s true.

One day this week, we made bread on a work day. Here’s how it was possible. I made up this starter one day and kept it in the fridge. Another day at lunch I mixed up the dough. Luckily, Kelly came home and shaped it up to rise and we baked it that night. If you do things in steps, it feels much easier. I promise you too can do it!

Another way (maybe less crazy) might be to make the pre-ferment on one weekend and make the bread the next weekend. You can freeze it.

The main thing is– people make a lot about how hard it is, how long it takes and how exact you have to be. I find bread to be super forgiving and resilient. So go ahead and give it a try and get some hot *fresh* bread on the table—with real butter, of course.


For the Pre-Ferment (Pâte Fermentée):

This recipe is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Peter Reinhardt is my dough guru. Except I only used the directions for the Kitchenaid. That’s what I do.

1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached bread flour

1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (6-7 ounces) water, at room temperature

  1. Use a kitchen scale (a measuring cup works too, but the scale is more accurate) to measure your dry ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer.

  1. Stir together the flours, salt and yeast
    in the bowl of the electric mixer. Add ¾ cup of the water, with the paddle attachment until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball. Adjust the flour or water according to need so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. (He says it’s better to err on the sticky side).

  1. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter, knead for 4-6 minutes. Or knead in mixer with the dough hook for about 4 minutes or till the dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky. The internal temp should be 77-81 degrees F.

  1. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour or until it swells to 1 ½ times its original size.

  1. Remove the dough from the bowl, Knead lightly to de-gas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. You can keep this in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

This is what you are going for…you will use this as starter for your fabulous bread!

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: