TWD BWJ Rewind: Challah

December 31, 2013 at 11:06 am | Posted in groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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challah bread

Happy New Year!  Have you made any resolutions for 2014?  Normally I wouldn’t, but I have a couple of “situations” that I should get under control STAT.  Resolving to use up my current kitchen cupboard and my bathroom beauty products before buying more is something that has to happen.  I do not need four eye creams or six bottles of hot sauce open at once.  I don’t have the storage space for that, and the clutter on my counters is driving me bananas!

What does Lauren Groveman’s Challah have to do with this?  It’s going to help jam population control (five jars open in the fridge, with four more in the cupboard…sheesh).  The group made this bread in early December, but I didn’t have my act together that week.  I’m glad I got it together, though, because it’s delish.  I just made one loaf, which was a half-recipe, and it’s a huge beauty!  A three-strand braid is so simple to do and it really looks great, but maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try my hand at five or six.  Maybe.  Even though I’m notoriously stingy with egg wash (I never want to use  up a whole egg for it, and unless I have a bit of extra egg left over from something else, I usually pilfer a tiny bit from the eggs in the recipe),  it still came out with a gorgeous crust.   And the insides are perfectly soft and slightly sweet.  I’m looking forward to challah French toast in a couple of days…topped with jam sauce, of course.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Note that this challah recipe uses melted butter, if that’s a concern for you (although I suspect it could be replaced with oil).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from challah week at the beginning of December!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Pumpernickel Loaves

November 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 11 Comments
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pumpernickel loaf

I really thought about skipping Lauren Groveman’s Pumpernickel Loaves.  I was annoyed at the thought of having to make prune butter first.  I didn’t have any caraways seeds.  And then there was some crazy stuff about S-hooks and slings.  I sucked it up and went to the store, made the prune butter (using the lekvar recipe that’s in the book) and thought about a way to form the bread that didn’t involve a sling.

I made half a recipe for one big loaf.  Since I had a smaller batch, I mixed it in my KitchenAid.  I found that I didn’t need quite the full amount of flour to get a nice dough.  This pumpernickel gets its color (and a lot of flavor) from dark things like chocolate, espresso powder, molasses and, of course, that prune butter.  Who knew that stuff was in there?  After giving the dough two rests in a bowl, I shaped it and put it in a 9.5″x4.5″ loaf pan for its final rise (I sprayed and dusted the pan with cornmeal first).

I actually was expecting it to look darker than it turned out to be…I’ve had store-bought pumps that were almost black.  The flavor from the caraway seeds is lovely and the crust is great.

There’s an accompanying recipe for Reuben sandwiches in the book, and I made those for dinner the other night.  Yesterday I just had a plain turkey and cheese for lunch.  Both were totes yum, and my husband was extremely excited about having homemade pumpernickel.  I have this problem with slicing whole sandwich loaves, though.  I can never get a straight slice, so my sandwiches are always lopsided  (I tried to disguise that in this picture)!

pumpernickel loaf

For the bread recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s also here, and there’s even a video of Lauren and Julia making pumpernickel together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Danish Braid (& Pinwheel)

October 15, 2013 at 9:32 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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danish braid

I’ve just started working out with a trainer to get my sorry self in shape.  Let’s celebrate that with a big slice of Beatrice Ojakangas’s Danish!  This may not go so well…

I made a Danish braid here once before.  That recipe used what I think is a more traditional method for making Danish dough…there was a separate butter block and lots of chilling between folds (like when we made our croissants).  This one uses a “quick” method, employing the food processor to break down the butter into chunks in the flour.  The rough dough does need to rest in the fridge overnight, but after that, all of the lamination work is done at once, without any waiting in between the turns and folds.  Pretty easy.  I was surprised at how good the results were– crisp and flaky.  If you are wondering how the dough becomes a braid, this video explains all very clearly.

I don’t like to ask too much of myself on a weekend morning, so I cheated a little on the fillings.  Rather than fiddle with homemade pastry cream and fruit spreads, I just whizzed up a quickie sweetened cream cheese filling and combined it with some store-bought apricot jam.  I was pretty jazzed to have a use for the pearl sugar I found at an IKEA ages ago.

When we do a recipe that has several variations, I’m never quite sure if we’ll revisit it later to try out those variations, so I took this opportunity to make my favorite Danish shape with some extra dough–the pinwheel!  This one had the same cream cheese filling as the braid, but with blueberry jam instead of apricot.

danish pinwheel

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s also here, and there’s even a video of Beatrice and Julia making Danish together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas (& Pitas)

August 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 9 Comments
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eastern mediteranean pizza

Lord knows I’m not above making a pita pizza from time to time, but usually it’s out of sheer convenience (and sometimes out of desperation).  Before Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas, I certainly wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of making my own pita dough for one.  Not that it was a hard dough to make or anything, but like any yeast bread, it does take time.

The topping for these pizzas is lamb (although I used ground turkey) sautéed with onions and garlic, tomatoes and pine nuts.  Mine wound up a little on the dry side, probably because I used cherry tomatoes, which didn’t give off much juice.  I tried to jazz up my finished pizza with some feta and chopped scallions, but if I make it again, I’ll make sure the topping has just a touch of sauciness to coat the meat.

The bread dough has a fair amount of whole wheat flour in it, which gives it a slightly nutty taste.  The recipe calls for baking individual pizzas, but I made a double-sized one instead and baked it on my pizza stone.

Since I had to make pita dough before I could make the base of my pizza, I went ahead and made some actual pita breads with it as well.  And then we had warm pita and hummus snack.  I was quite pleased that my pitas puffed enough to get a pocket– my husband initially didn’t believe that I made these, as I always get my pitas at the great Damascus Bakery here in Brooklyn.  The next morning, I took my last homemade pita, opened its pocket, and made a fried egg sandwich out of it.  Tasty!

pitas

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s also a video of Jeffery and Naomi making the dough and pizzas with Julia.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Savory Brioche Pockets

May 21, 2013 at 9:31 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 11 Comments
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savory brioche pockets

When work gets super busy, it’s nice to have a dinner you can essentially pull out of the freezer, like Nancy Silverton’s Savory Brioche Pockets stuffed with asparagus, potatoes and cheese (or whatever you fancy, really).  The last time I made her base brioche dough, I assembled a bunch of these little gourmet hot pockets and froze them, unbaked.  Waiting for me until I need them, like everything should, right?  Asparagus is in full swing at the farmers’ markets here, and this makes a great light springtime dinner with a salad and glass of wine.  I can also see these being a good vehicle for those random leftover veggie bits and pieces that are usually kicking around my fridge.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Carie’s Loaves and Stitches. There’s also a video of Nancy and Julia making the pockets together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Rustic Potato Loaves

April 2, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 17 Comments
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rustic potato loaf

I don’t make bread super-often. Only sometimes I’m usually proud of myself just for having made the effort to stir together yeast and water.  But when I opened the oven yesterday and pulled out Leslie Mackie’s Rustic Potato Loaf, I felt like a pretty legit bread baker.  Look at that crust…it is awesome. I was in love with this bread before I even cut it open.

You can’t see any trace of them, but the bread has mashed boiled potatoes in it.  I guess they help make the bread really soft inside and give it a slightly earthy flavor.  I wasn’t sure if I should peel the potatoes or not…in the end I did peel them, but also tossed the peel scraps into the cooking pot just to infuse some extra flavor into the water (which is also used in the dough).  The dough looked like a big blob of uncooked gnocchi but it was a quick riser, with two proofs of just 20-30 minutes.  So, for a “rustic” bread, it was pretty quick from start to finish.

rustic potato loaf

I’m making cream of celery soup tonight and toasting off a couple of slices of this bread, and I just can’t wait!  For the bread recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Dawn’s Simply Sweet.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Focaccia

February 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 12 Comments
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focaccia

A warm pan of this stuff– this olive oil-soaked bread– is dangerous.  Craig Kominiak’s Focaccia is the type of thing I could polish off myself in one sitting. 

There was some talk about KitchenAid burnout from the full batch of dough, which made three breads.  In the interests of both self-restraint and my red KA, I did just a third of it.  No problems with the mixing, and only one pan of focaccia to tempt me.

Don’t make this dough in the morning and expect to have focaccia by dinner.  It needs a solid 24 hours to rest in the fridge (after two room temp rises) for flavor and air bubbles.  I was daydreaming about that pizza from a couple of weeks ago, and in the course of that downtime made a pan of caramelized onions to top my bread.

I think with focaccia, as with most things savory, the more olive oil the better.  Rather than sprinkle my baking sheet with cornmeal, I lubed it up with extra oil before stretching the dough into it.  Then I brushed garlic and thyme infused olive oil all over the top.  At the half-way point in baking, I scattered on my caramelized onions (so they wouldn’t burn), popped the focaccia out of the pan and slipped it directly onto my pizza stone to finish baking.  I had delicious oily, salty bread with an almost fried bottom crust.  If I had a criticism, it would be that slashing the dough, as the recipe calls, just before baking seemed to really deflate the air bubbles and inhibit its rise.  Next time, I’ll dimple the dough with my fingers instead and hopefully it will be puffy and tall.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Sharmini’s blog Wandering Through (a modified version is also here and there’s a video here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Pizza with Onion Confit

January 8, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 19 Comments
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pizza with onion confit

My husband is going out for a business dinner tonight, and I have plans of my own.  Sometimes when he’s not around for dinner I’ll meet up with friends for wine and gossip. But tonight, it’s a little alone time…just me, Steve Sullivan’s Pizza with Onion Confit and the first episode of the new season of Downton Abbey.  Perfect

Here in Brooklyn I don’t have to look too hard to find good pizza, but I make it a lot at home anyway.  I fiddle around with different recipes, too, so I didn’t mind trying a new one here.  This dough uses a sponge starter to add flavor, but the process can be done in a day, unlike some doughs that require a day or two of fridge fermentation (like this excellent one).  I cook my pizzas on a stone in a ripping-hot oven.  And I (obviously) don’t care too much if they are perfectly round or not.

pizza with onion confitpizza with onion confit

All the tears you shed slicing onions will be worth it when you wind up with a pan full of soft, sweet onion confit to top your pizza.  I didn’t have the red wine the recipe calls to simmer the onions in, but I did have an open bottle of white, so I used that instead.  I’m sure the red wine would have made the confit a beautiful shade of rich purple, but mine wound up more like traditional caramelized onions.  Leftover onion confit is like gold in the fridge, and I can’t wait to use it on a turkey burger or a sandwich. 

onion confit

I also put a handful of spinach on top of my pizza, you know, for vegetables.  And at the halfway point I crumbled on a little Point Reyes blue cheese.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Paul’s The Boy Can Bake.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Finnish Pulla

December 18, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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Finnish pulla

Oh my gosh–isn’t this loaf the cutest?!?  I’m not in the know with most Scandinavian baked goods, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Beatrice Ojakangas’s Finnish Pulla bread.  Never heard of it, but I was pretty pleased to discover this baby when it came out of the oven.  It’s a little bit buttery, a little bit sweet, a little bit eggy and scented with cardamom, one of my favorite spices.  Pulla is often shaped into a glorious braided wreath, but I made half a recipe, so I did a loaf instead.

The recipe didn’t suggest making the dough ahead of time, but I wanted to take care of it on Saturday night so I could have fresh-baked bread with jam for breakfast on Sunday morning.  I made the dough all the way through the shaping stage (it was a dream to work with in the cooler temps), then put my braided loaf on a parchment lined sheet tray, loosely covered it in plastic and stuck it in the fridge before I went to bed.  Early Sunday morning, I took it out and left it on the counter to come to room temperature for a little over an hour before I baked it.  Seemed like a good strategy.

Finnish pulla

Pulla reminds me of challah, but with cardamom and pearl sugar (which I bought at an IKEA in Jersey about a year ago and until Sunday had still never used).  I’m glad to have this recipe on my radar now, and I bet leftovers will make good French toast (or will that be Finnish toast??).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read  Erin’s The Daily Morsel.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Bagels

October 16, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 12 Comments
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bagels

I eat my fair share of bagels.  Frankly it’s hard not to when you live in New York City and there are bagel shops all over the place (Bergen Bagels being my favorite close-to-home joint).  I’m not just a bagel-eater, I’ve actually made a lot of bagels, too, at my first restaurant job where we’d get slammed with weekend brunch crowds who all seemed to want the smoked trout with quail egg and a mini bagel….so Lauren Groveman’s recipe wasn’t totally Greek (or should I say Yiddish?) to me.

There were a couple of things I did differently than the recipe, just out of old habits.  After boiling the bagels for about a minute on each side, I removed them from the water and placed them on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.  I baked them on the rack as well, because it allows the oven heat to circulate underneath the bagels. I didn’t bother brushing them with the egg white glaze before baking.  They may not have been laquer-shiny, but they still browned very nicely and the toppings held in place.  Also, in the bagel dough, I used half sugar and half barley malt syrup for the sweetener, which Groveman did on the TV show, but did a little differently in the book (which calls for only sugar).

I wasn’t super-prepared in the toppings department, so I just went with poppy seeds on some and grey salt on others.  The salt ones were my favorite. I stirred some dill and chives into cream cheese to jazz up my schmear a bit.  These were chewy and had a nice crust….with a cup of coffee, these bagels made for a perfect New York breakfast.

bagels

If you’ve never had a super-fresh, warm bagel before, you can really make great ones at home, so give it a go!  You can make the dough the night before and it’s ready to shape and cook off the next morning.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Heather’s Bytes (it’s also here).  And there’s even a video of Julia and Lauren making bagels together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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