Soft Sandwich Bread & Butterflake Rolls

June 11, 2020

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Aaaand……I’m back to bread today – Peter Reinhart’s Soft Sandwich Bread to be exact. This Classic Sandwich Bread is wonderful! It comes together very easily and bakes up very tall with a lovely soft crumb.

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And bonus! This recipe can also be used to make these gorgeous little Butterflake Rolls, or a combination of one loaf of bread along with some rolls, such as I did.

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This dough does require an overnight rest, but otherwise everything about this recipe is quick and easy. And the bread…oh so amazing! There are few things that beat the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from the kitchen.

IMG_0255This bread is lovely and soft, but sturdy enough to hold up to any sandwich. Wonderful for grilled cheese and delightful when simply toasted and slathered with butter.IMG_0272And speaking of butter – these Butterflake Rolls are the bomb! To make them you roll the dough out, brush melted butter all over the surface, cut it into strips, stack them and then bake them in muffin tins. Just look at all those lovely flaky buttery layers just waiting to be pulled apart!IMG_0298

Truth be told, I originally baked this loaf of sandwich bread to use in another recipe that I have been working on. I don’t want to give too much away, because I hope to post that one soon, but lets just say it is a sandwich like none other! How’s that for a teaser?!! And this bread was nothing short of perfection!

 

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Take my word for it! You will LOVE this Soft Sandwich Bread!

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Soft Sandwich Bread & Butterflake Rolls

  • Servings: 2 loaves or 1 loaf & 10 -12 rolls or a whole bunch of rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon (.33 oz/9 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (15 oz./425 grams) lukewarm (35°C/95°F) milk
  • 6 1/4 cups (28 oz./794 grams) unbleached bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons (.5 oz./14 grams) salt, or 1 Tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 5 1/2 Tablespoons (2.75 oz. /78 grams) sugar, or 1/4 cup honey
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz./85 grams) vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved. Set aside for 1 to 5 minutes.

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, oil and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer, then pour in the milk mixture. Using the paddle attachment mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface for 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is soft, supply and tacky but not sticky.

Knead the dough by hand for 1 minute, then form it into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days.

On baking day, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 1/2 hours before you plan to bake.

If you would like to bake two 8″X4 1/2″ loaves, divide dough in half. Each piece should weigh about 25 ounces (709 grams). For a 5″X9″ loaf, like I baked, you will need 794 to 907 grams (28 – 32 ounces). I then used the remaining dough to make the Butterflake Rolls.*see below for shaping method.

Shape the dough into sandwich loaves and place in greased loaf pans to rise. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hour, until it domes about 1″ above the rim of the pans.

About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F. (177°C)

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for another 20 -30 minutes. The bread is done when the top is golden brown, the sides are firm and brown, the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom and the internal temperature is at least 185°F (85°C) in the center.

Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

For the Butterflake Rolls:

Roll the dough to a 1/4″ thick rectangle. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into four even strips, then stack the strips neatly on top of one another. Use a pastry scraper to cut the stacked strips into 1″ wide     pieces. Place the small stacks on their sides in an oiled muffin tin. Proof and bake following the recipe. It should take 15 -20 baking time total for rolls.

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Soft Sandwich Bread & Butterflake Rolls:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Wilton 9″X 5″ Loaf pan

Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday Cookbook

 


Buttery Potato Burger Buns

May 15, 2020

IMG_9980So let me get this right…last weekend we had a freeze/frost warning which had all the gardeners out there scrambling and me cooking up a pot of chili. Today, just six short days later, it is forecasted to be 86° F (that is 30°C)!?! That is insanity from the weather. Kind of goes along with the surealness of this Covid-19 crisis. I am definitely not pleased about either one. However, I know that a lot of folks out there will be happy to see this what I will call “hot” weather. They will be firing up their grills. And I’ve got a great Burger Bun recipe for you just in time: Buttery Potato Burger Buns!

IMG_9974Apparently pandemics bring out the bread baking in everyone out there. Folks have bought up all the flour, all the yeast. Hopefully you’ve managed to score some. Besides regular all purpose flour, this recipe does also call for potato flour, which I know is an ingredient that you might not have on hand. Don’t despair, you can just sub in some instant potato flakes and you’re good. Also, don’t worry if you don’t have a hamburger bun pan, you can make due with a parchment lined baking sheet.IMG_9972These buns are so amazing! I could not have been anymore pleased with them. If you’ve ever had a Martin’s Potato Roll – they are like that ‘cept better! I didn’t have any fresh hamburger meat in the house when the whole lockdown thing started, but we had some burger patties in the freezer. Believe me, these buns stole the show! I can’t wait until the day, you know a year or so from now (just kidding! I hope…) when I can actually get some ingredients that will be worthy to put between these fantastic, tender, buttery buns. In the meantime, I’m thrilled that these Buttery Potato Burger Buns are the thing that truly make us look forward to our quaran-burger dinners.IMG_9968

Buttery Potato Burger Buns

servings = “6 Burger Buns” difficulty = “easy”]

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (361grams) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup (43grams) Potato flour or 1/2 cup (43grams) dried potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup (35grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 2 Tablespoons (25grams) sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 Tablespoons (57grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (227grams) lukewarm water (95° F)

Directions:

Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it’s almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface, gently deflate it, and divide it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

Place the balls into the greased cups of a hamburger bun pan, flattening gently. Or place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2″ to 3″ between them; flatten gently.

Cover and let rise until the buns have doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re light golden brown.

Remove them from the oven, and brush them with melted butter, if desired.

Transfer the buns to a rack to cool. Store buns, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Enjoy!

Buttery Potato Burger Buns brought to you by: RuncibleEats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Buttery Potato Burger Buns:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hamburger Bun Pan

 


No-Knead Crusty White Bread

April 17, 2020

IMG_9748Here is a fantastically easy yeast bread recipe for everyone out there practicing social distancing: No-Knead Crusty White Bread. This recipe bakes up a crusty artisan loaf that anyone would be proud of.

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And here is some more awesomeness about it – once you mix the dough up it just sits in your fridge, developing more and more flavor, until you are ready to bake it! Yup, just pinch off a bit of the dough – as much as you want for your evening meal – and leave the rest in the fridge.  You heard me – multiple loaves of fresh bread in a week with minimal effort! Oh – bestill my heart!!!

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I know some folks are a little nervous about baking anything with yeast. I was that way in the past. But seriously, you’ve got to just get over it and take the plunge. Well, I guess you need to make sure you have the ingredients. There was a run on flour and yeast when all of the lockdowns started happening. I had yeast, but found myself running low on flour. I had mentioned to you in a couple of posts back that I was eagerly awaiting a delivery from Giant’s Peapod grocery delivery service. I had to wait about three weeks to get a delivery time slot and had no idea what I would be getting from my list as the service had stipulated that certain items might be removed depending on availability. So, it would be a surprise – kind of like Christmas morning. It turned out it was more like Christmas morning than I had intended as the time slot I got was 6:30 am – 8:30 am and don’t you know it, that driver was at my door at 6:30 am sharp. Yeah, we are definitely not early birds around here but it was a pretty big day for us, so while not bright eyed and bushy tailed, we were awake and ready. While I am grateful to get anything without having to venture to the store, I must say Peapod did not win me over. I ended up not getting about 1/2 of the items on my list. The biggest disappointments of the missing items for me were no flour and no sugar. And some of the produce that was sent to me were not items I would have picked – ie. the apples had big brown spots and were going bad. The other delivery services I was aware of, like Instacart,  had absolutely no availability. So I decided to take a look at Harris Teeter ExpressLane. They offered an express service whereby you could order and pay online, then one of their personal shoppers would pick out your items and finally all you would have to do is just drive up to the store and someone would come out and put the items in your trunk. Nice & contactless! The problem there was getting a time slot. When I looked, everything was booked out for six days. So I readied the items in my cart and just sat there refreshing the page. Kind of like trying to score tickets to a hot concert. And voila – a time slot suddenly came available just two days away, so I grabbed it immediately! I must say, it was a much better experience. Not only did I not have to wait nearly a month, but I was also able to purchase two bags of King Arthur Flour and two bags of sugar! Score! And I know you will find this hard to believe, but they even were able to grant my toilet paper wish! SUPER AMAZING score!!!

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Oh yeah, but back to this wonderful Crusty White Bread I was telling you about. This is such an easy-peasy recipe!

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I will say that if you are an experienced bread baker, this dough is much stickier than what you will be used to. You will end up using a good amount of flour while shaping it! But don’t fret, it will actually bake up very nicely. I experimented with baking one of the batches I made in a dutch oven and was very pleased with the result. The bread did rise up higher and the crust was absolutely phenomenal – crisp and chewy, glossy and golden – as if it came out of a professional bakery!

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Apparently the steam that is created and sealed in when you slip the dough into the preheated Dutch oven is the thing that transforms the crust. I have included some info on how this is done below and here is a helpful article from King Arthur Flour on Bread Baking in a Dutch Oven. Just for comparison, I also baked a couple of loaves simply on a bread stone, following the recipe below, and they came out quite lovely as well. The crust was not as crackly or crisp but still had a deliciously chewy texture.

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If it is your first time baking yeast bread, I urge you to give this recipe a try.You will be amazed at the masterpiece that will come out of your oven. No doubt you’ll be a bread baking convert!

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No-Knead Crusty White Bread

  • Servings: 3 or 4 loaves - depending on size
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy!
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 7 1/2 cups (907g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 cups (680g) lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (14g) instant yeast or active dry yeast

Directions:

The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe, so measure carefully. Your best bet is to weigh the flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, “lukewarm” means about 95° – 105°F, but don’t stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; “OUCH, that’s hot!” is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.

Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk until everything is combined.

Next, you’re going to let the dough rise. If you’ve made the dough in a plastic bucket, you’re all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you’ve made the dough in a bowl that’s not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it’s going to rise a lot. There’s no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it’s time to bake bread.

Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you’re pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it’ll rise, then fall. That’s OK; that’s what it’s supposed to do.

When you’re ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, (Seriously. Grease. Your. Hands. This dough is really sticky!) and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It’ll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.

Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface (let me repeat that – FLOURED. Work Surface. Again – this dough is Sticky!), and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don’t fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can. If you would like to try your hand at baking in a Dutch Oven – see notes below*

Place the loaf on a piece of floured parchment (if you’re going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the bread moist as it rests before baking.

Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven to 450°F while the loaf rests. If you’re using a baking stone, position it on a middle rack while the oven preheats. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2″ deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that’s OK, it’ll pick right up in the hot oven.

Place the bread in the oven — onto the baking stone, if you’re using one, or simply onto a middle rack, if it’s on a pan — and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It’ll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Enjoy!

* Notes on Baking in a Dutch Oven:

When you are ready to bake, measure out a two pound ball of dough. Shape the dough as best you can, on a piece of floured parchment. Leave the dough ball seam side up. Again this dough is ridiculously sticky. Be very liberal with the flour.

Preheat your dutch oven 30 minutes prior to your loaf being ready to bake. I used a 3.5 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven. A 4.5 quart oven should work as well.

When ready to bake, remove the hot Dutch Oven and spray the interior with a burst of vegetable oil non-stick spray and sprinkle cornmeal in the bottom of the pan to prevent the bread from sticking.

Slide your hand under the parchment paper and plop the dough into the hot pan. Don’t fret if the dough sticks to the parchment a bit. Mine did and it caused the dough to deflate a bit, but again all was well.

Make a few slashes in the top of the loaf. A bread lamé would work great here. I did not have one and had difficulty fitting my knife into the hot pan without hitting my wrist on the edge – OUCH!

Bake 25 – 30 minutes and then remove the lid and bake for another 5 – 10.

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for No-Knead Crusty White Bread:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Dough Scraper

Emile Henry Pizza/Bread Baking Stone

Le Creuset Signature 4.5 Quart Dutch Oven

Upkoch Bread Lame


Polish Babka

April 10, 2020

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Happy Good Friday everyone! Wait…can you say that? You hear a lot of “Happy Easter” but not really “Happy Good Friday”. Hmmm…well I’ll ask you to indulge me today because I am very happy today! My Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns that I make every year ( you have to bake them on Good Friday or they don’t have all of the special powers) are well under way!

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make them this year what with all of the quarantining shortages in the stores, but luckily I was able to score some flour and sugar. Hoooray! And not only am I making the traditional Hot Cross Buns today, but I am also going to share a great Easter bread recipe with you: Polish Babka!

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When you hear “Babka” you might think of the Jewish version of the bread, which is often a twisted bread filled with chocolate or cinnamon and topped with a streusel. That is definitely tasty, but not the treat I’m talking about today. Today we look to Poland.

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Polish Babka is a rich, buttery bread which is shot through with rum soaked fruit, brushed with a rum syrup and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

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Traditionally served on Easter in Poland, there are many different versions of this recipe, with each family claiming the bread made by their “Babka” which means grandmother in Polish, is the best!

IMG_9760Folks in many countries around the world have a special bread that they bake for the Easter holidays. I have shared quite a few of these recipes with you over the years. Last year was Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.IMG_8091

 

And prior to that was Italian Easter Bread:

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Then there was this Tsoureki from Greece:

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Don’t forget that Slovak Paska:

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And the impressive Russian Kulich:

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That’s a lot of Easter breads huh?!! But let me get back to talking about this Polish Babka. This Babka is a cross between a bread and a cake in a way. You do start with a sponge, which boosts the rise that you get from the yeast, but you don’t have to knead it all, so it is a bit like a batter bread.

IMG_9792A loaf of Babka is often included in the swiecone basket that Polish families take to church with them on Easter Saturday to be blessed. The basket contains food such as meat, eggs, cake and breads, which will be eaten at the Easter meal after Mass. Each of the food items in the basket are symbolic. For example eggs represent new life and the yeast bread represents the risen Lord.IMG_9798

 

If you hadn’t guessed, I love bread. I love baking it and I love eating it. Guess that’s why I could not stick with the South Beach diet! This bread was pretty easy to make and will be a fantastic Easter treat.

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Now you can make a rum icing to drizzle over the Babka if you wish. I have included it in the recipe. Since the Husband really isn’t a fan of super sweet desserts, I chose to just dust our Babka lightly with confectioner’s sugar. But you should do whatever you prefer.

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With its tender crumb and rich rum soaked fruit I’m also looking forward to the French Toast I will be making soon as well.

IMG_9802Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

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Polish Babka

  • Servings: 1 cake with 12 -16 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour (I have incorporated a lot of the advice from the reviews of this recipe from bakers on the KAF site.)

Ingredients:

For the Starter Sponge:

  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) All-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) lukewarm (95°F) milk

For the Babka:

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 57 grams (4 tablespoons, 1/4 cup) softened butter
  • 181 grams All-Purpose Flour (if you do not wish to do the sponge – it is 241 grams (2 cups flour)
  • 43 grams (1/4 cup ) currants or raisins (golden raisins preferred)
  • 43 grams (1/4 cup) candied mixed fruit or candied mixed peel, or mixed dried fruit, chopped

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 99 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) water*
  • 14 grams to 28 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) rum*

*If you prefer not to use Rum you could substitute apple juice for the water and rum mixture.

For the Icing (Optional – you can just go with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar):

  • 113 grams (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 28 grams (2 tablespoons) milk, or a combination of milk and rum or apple juice

Directions:

Begin by making a starter sponge:  In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 60 grams of the flour and two teaspoons instant yeast with 113 grams of the lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rise for 1 hour.

Place the raisins and candied mixed fruit in a small bowl and cover with rum. Allow to soak while the sponge is rising.

After on hour, add the rest of the remaining ingredients, except the fruit, to the mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until cohesive. Increase your mixer’s speed to high, and beat for 2 minutes.

Add the rum soaked fruit, beating gently just to combine.

Cover the bowl, and let the dough/thick batter rest/rise for 60 minutes; it won’t appear to do too much.

Scoop the batter into a greased 10-cup Bundt Pan. (If you don’t have a Bundt pan you can also bake the bread in an 8 1/2″ X 4 1/2″ loaf pan). Cover the pan, and let the dough rest/rise for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the babka for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 190°F.

While the babka is baking, prepare the rum syrup. Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil, swirling the liquid in the pan, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.

Remove the babka from the oven. Poke it all over gently with a toothpick or fork, and slowly pour the syrup over the babka’s surface.

When the syrup is fully absorbed (about 20 minutes or so), carefully loosen the Babka’s edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

If you choose to use the icing: Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over completely cool Babka.

Enjoy!

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Polish Babka:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

SAF Instant Yeast

Baker’s Fruit Blend

Nordic Ware Bundt Pan


Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread

April 19, 2019

IMG_8091Happy Good Friday everyone! Wait…can you say that? You hear a lot of “Happy Easter” but not really “Happy Good Friday”. Hmmm…well I’ll ask you to indulge me today because I am very happy today! My Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns that I make every year ( you have to bake them on Good Friday or they don’t have all of the special powers) are well under way!

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And not only does the house smell completely irresistible, what with all the baking buns, but I am also ready to share a new recipe with you for Cozonac – Romanian Easter Bread.

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This tender, sweet and citrus-y yeast bread is shot through with swirls of a chocolatey nut filling. It looks so festive and tastes Ahh-mazing! And here is the truly amazing thing, I have somehow managed to get this blog out BEFORE the actual holiday. Last year I didn’t get the recipe for my Italian Easter Bread published until Easter had come and gone. So this year is definitely an improvement in that regard.

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I tried to play my tardiness off last year by saying “Oh, you’ll be way ahead of the game for Easter 2019”. But now I guess now you’ll have to pick between the Italian Easter Bread and this Cozonac or be ahead of the game with a recipe waiting in the wings for Easter 2020!

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I love trying out Easter breads from around the world. I’ve already told you about my Italian Easter Bread last year. The year before I made Tsoureki from Greece.

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There was also the Slovak Paska:

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As well as the impressive Russian Kulich:

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But let me get back to the bread at hand today.

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Cozonac has Romanian origins. It is traditionally baked during both Easter and Christmas. Soft and tender, this bread is slightly sweet and flavored with orange & lemon zests as well as rum. Ha! Now you’re talking huh? The delicious filling has also got a bit of rum in it, so take care that you don’t get too festive over this holiday. Walnuts are typically used in the filling, though the filling ingredients do vary from region to region. I used ground almonds. I think pecans would also be quite tasty.

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Cozonac was pretty easy to make, though keep in mind it does require two rising times and a bit of finesse as you have to roll out four different sections of dough, spread the sticky filling evenly and then roll them up and twist the rolls together. That’s how you get those beautiful spirals in your finished loaves.

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And for all of your effort, you are most definitely rewarded with not one but TWO loaves of this scrumptious bread.

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It is a decadent indulgence just as it is, and I bet it will make some phenomenal French toast. I’ll have to let you know about that. So what are you waiting for? I’ve actually given you a bit of time to get this baked for Easter this year. I promise, you won’t be sorry! Happy Easter!

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Cozonac - Romanian Easter Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

recipe from: She Loves Biscotti

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 720 grams (approx. 6 cups) bread flour
  • 8 grams (2¼ teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 200 grams walnuts, almonds or pecans finely ground, about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Directions:

Make the dough:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and sugar.

Add the butter and stir until butter is almost melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the butter/milk mixture is cooling, add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast to the mixing bowl of a stand mixture, fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined.

Once the milk/butter mixture has cooled to luke warm (98°F/36°C) add it to the flour/yeast and combine on low speed for 2-3 minutes.

Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes.

In the meanwhile, grate the orange and lemon zest and set aside.

With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the are just combined.  Scrape down bowl and mix for about 1-2 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract, rum and salt.

Switch to dough hook attachment.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, mixing until combined. Once all the flour has been added, continue to knead for a few minutes.

Add the citrus zests and continue to knead for about 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. NOTE: If you find that the dough is still sticky, add a few more tablespoons of flour.

Place the dough in a lightly buttered dough rising bucket or bowl. Make sure to turn the dough over in order to completely coat the dough with the butter.

Cover with plastic wrap.

Allow to rise for about 2 hours or until double in size.

In the meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling:

Over medium heat, in a small sauce pan, whisk together the milk and sugar.

Add the ground nuts and stir until a paste-like consistency is reached. This should take about 15 minutes. Stir often. (I used Almond Flour because it was easy – being ground and ready to go.)

Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to stir until a paste like consistency is achieved.

Set aside to cool.

To Assemble the Cozonac:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place oven rack at bottom third of oven. Butter two (9 x 5 inch) loaf pans.

Punch down the risen dough and divide into four equal parts. I use a kitchen scale just to make sure I’ve the pieces are equal.

On a rolling mat or lightly floured wooden board, roll out each section into a large rectangle (about 11 x 14). Spread out the 1/4 of the nut mixture (approx. 1/2 cup) to within 1/2″ from the edge for each rectangle.

Starting from the long end, roll the dough to form a log. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Pinch the ends and the seams together.

Twist two pieces of the dough log together and place in prepared loaf pan. Do the same with the last two pieces of dough logs.

Brush the top of the dough with a beaten egg. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap. Allow them to double in size. This can take 45 – 60 minutes.

Sprinkle a little Demerara sugar over the top and bake for about 45 minutes. Feel free to place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the tops to prevent over browning.

Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

Cozonac brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cozonac:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hand Held Zester

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

Silicone Pastry Dough Rolling Mat

King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder


Nutella Star Bread

February 5, 2019

 

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So I gotta ask….are there any Nutella fans out there? Cause let me tell you I love me some Nutella! I did actually didn’t even know it existed until I was living in Ireland and my friend Theresa had a jar. I watched with amazement as she spread it over her toast. I was like “What! You can eat chocolate on toast!” I had no idea it was a thing. Yup, love at first bite. And I love bread as well. So making this Nutella Star Bread was a no brainer for me!

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It is not by chance that I’m blogging a recipe which features Nutella today. Today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

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A couple of years ago, the founders have transferred Nutella Day to Ferrero the company who owns that most beloved spread. Take a peek at their Facebook page and see how folks are celebrating the day! I love Nutella so I usually try to participate with a Nutella laden recipe every year. One of my favorite Nutella creations was this Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart which was quite stunning if I do say so myself.

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And there was the amazing Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka:

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And for quite a few years I was on a cookie streak. I made some Nutella Sea Salt Stuffies:

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And there were these irresistible Salted Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwich Cookies – sweet salty bliss I tell you!

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I was still loving the salty / sweet thing when I blogged about  Salted & Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies feature silky, decadent Nutella, creamy caramel, nostalgic malted goodness and rich chocolate chips, all rolled up together in a crunchy chewy salted cookie.

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But let me get back to talking about the recipe I’m sharing today: Nutella Star Bread. I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour blog. The folks at King Arthur made it with a Cinnamon Sugar filling, which is delicious as well. That Christmas-y version is a staple around here come December.  So being very familiar with the recipe, I thought it would be quite easy to swap out the cinnamon sugar for Nutella, what with it being World Nutella Day and all. Worked like a charm!

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Visually stunning, everyone is always super impressed and thinks it must be soooo difficult to make. Truth be told it is pretty easy. It just involves making up an easy yeast dough, dividing it into 4 parts and rolling them out to 10″ circles and then a little layers, cutting and twisting of the dough.

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And I must say this treat isn’t all looks, this decadent, Nutella stuffed bread practically melts in your mouth!

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So what are you waiting for?! Grab you a jar of Nutella and dive right in! Great as a dessert, for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee, you just can’t beat this time-tested comfort food treat. So get your Star Bread baking and have a Happy Nutella Day!

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Nutella Star Bread

  • Servings: one star loaf - about 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 241 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 46 grams (1/4 cup) potato flour or instant mashed potato flakes
  • 35 grams ( 1/4 cup) nonfat dry milk
  • 198 grams to 227 grams (3/4 cup + 2- 4 Tablespoons) lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 25 grams (2 Tablespoons) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

Nutella Hazelnut Spread ( I used about 1/2 of 13 oz. jar)

Directions:

First, measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Or better yet, measure the weight of the ingredients using a handy-dandy kitchen scale. It is much more accurate than the using cups measurement systmen. Next, sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer; this is an important step to prevent lumps in the dough. (If you’re using instant mashed potatoes rather than potato flour you can skip this sifting step.)

To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces – again a kitchen scale really comes in handy here. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.

On a lightly greased or floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10″ circle. Place the circle on a piece of parchment and carefully spread the Nutella over it, leaving approximately 1/4″ – 1/2″ bare dough around the perimeter.

Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process — Nutella spread, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare.

Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.

Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.

Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter.

Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes.

While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.

Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Enjoy!

Nutella Star Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Nutella Star Bread:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur

 

 

 


English Muffin Toasting Bread

February 1, 2019

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Here it is…February already. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if instead Spring is on the way. So far this Winter we’ve had a couple of pretty snows, but really it has been pretty mild overall…you know aside from that crazy Polar Vortex that hit us Wednesday night. The Husband and I were prepared for it though. We’ve got a little holiday coming up soon where we are headed somewhere much colder than our usual Iceland visits. Stay tuned for that! Needless to say, we love winter, so I’ve gotta admit, I’m hoping that the little Punxsutawney critter sees his shadow!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only ones celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 8th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Eight years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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Last year I was negligent and didn’t post anything at all on February 1st. I do have a wee bit of an excuse though. I was off on an incredible holiday in Scotland. I just posted about the first leg of our trip in Glasgow and am working on writing up the second leg now. But a couple of years prior, I did share one of my favorite recipes with you: Model Bakery’s English Muffins:

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And let me take this opportunity to remind you of some of the other “anniversary edition” recipes I have shared. There was the one for those completely decadent  Banana Rum Muffins:

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That jaw-dropping, over the top Crack Pie:

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And who can forget that magical “caviar of the South” –  Pasture’s Pimento Cheese:

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But let me get back to today’s recipe: English Muffin Toasting Bread! I don’t know about you, but I love English Muffins. As I mentioned, one of my all time favorite recipes is the Model Bakery’s English Muffins.

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Those muffins bake up wonderfully fluffy and light as a cloud, yet are substantial enough to hold up to any breakfast sandwich you might send their way. The reason I don’t have a constant supply of those Muffins here in this house is that although the recipe isn’t particularly difficult to make, it does involve several steps and dough rising times. In fact, you have to be organized to make a biga the day prior to baking. I’d love to say that I am that organized and have everything all scheduled out, but I’m afraid it isn’t so. That was why I was so delighted to find King Arthur Flour’s recipe for English Muffin Toasting Bread.

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This bread is ridiculously easy to make. You literally just mix it all up, slap it in the pan for about a 1 hour rise and then pop it in the oven. You heard me right…a yeast bread that requires no endless kneading and not one bit of fiddly shaping. The resulting bread makes the perfect toast and has a rough craggy texture very reminiscent of English Muffins. Indeed, it’s just the perfect vehicle for lashings of salty butter and sweet fruity jam.

img_7235Not to mention it can stand up to any egg sandwich you want to throw its way.  Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that if I could wave a magic wand and have either the English Muffin Toasting Bread or one of the Model Bakery’s English Muffins appear with a poof in front of me, I would probably go for the actual English Muffin. But I must have slept through the Breakfast Bread conjuring class at Hogwarts and I can’t seem to pull that spell off no matter how hard I try. So the Model Bakery’s Muffins will likely remain my “flashy special occasion kind of thing”. Whereas the English Muffin Toasting Bread is my “roll out of bed and whip something really yummy together in a flash” kind of thing. Believe me, you’ll be amazed how easy this bread is to make. It’s a good thing too because as quickly as folks will devour a loaf, you’ll be making another before you know it. Get to baking!

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English Muffin Toasting Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf bread
  • Difficulty: super easy!
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 361 grams (3 cups) All-purpose Flour
  • 14 grams (1 Tablespoon) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 227 grams (1 cup) milk
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) water
  • 25 grams (2 Tablespoons) vegetable oil or olive oil
  • cornmeal to sprinkle in pan

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. Be sure to stir the liquid well before measuring its temperature; you want an accurate reading. If you don’t have a thermometer, the liquid will feel quite hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable as bath water.

Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Using an electric beater, or stand mixer with beater attachment, beat at high-speed for 1 minute; the dough will be smooth and very soft. If you don’t have an electric mixer, beat by hand for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and starting to become elastic.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn’t be more than, say, 1/4″ over the rim. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn’t very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 22 to 27 minutes, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!

English Muffin Toasting Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for English Muffin Toasting Bread:

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer by Thermoworks


Italian Easter Bread

April 3, 2018

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Happy Easter! Yes, I do realize that Easter was back on Sunday, but I really wanted to share this recipe for this beautiful Italian Easter Bread with you, even though I’m doing so a bit late. Truth be told, I had every intention to have this posted on Saturday morning, before Easter, but then life got in the way and it just didn’t happen. But hey, as it turns out, folks celebrate Easter every single year, so with this recipe already in hand you’ll be way ahead of the game for Easter 2019.

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This light and airy Italian Easter bread is similar to brioche. Rich and only slightly sweet, it looks amazing on your Easter brunch table. If you have a real sweet tooth, you can amp up the sugar factor by adding a sweet glaze once it comes out of the oven.  These lovely loaves are also a great way to display your brightly colored Easter Eggs.

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I love trying out Easter breads from around the world. Last year I baked Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) . Tsoureki also has an egg or eggs baked into it.

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I’ve also made Slovak Paska

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And even tried my hand with the impressive Russian Kulich (Easter bread)

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And of course every year I bake Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday.

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But let me get back to talking about this year’s offering – Italian Easter Bread. It was really very easy to make, rose like a champ and looked so festive on the brunch table. My only disappointment was the egg. The recipe said that you should use RAW eggs that have been dyed, not hard-boiled ones. The claim was that the eggs would cook perfectly as the bread baked. I was skeptical. I thought a baked egg would have a weird rubbery texture, but I was hopeful, so I did use raw eggs. Although it looks like Sprinkle Bakes (the blog on which I found this recipe) eggs came out great, mine did not. They were just not done, very runny. And I could not have left the bread in the oven for any longer than I did as it was perfectly golden. Turns out it wasn’t a disaster, we just ate around the offending egg. In the future I think I will just use a raw egg which has not been dyed, as a place holder in the oven. Once the bread is done baking, I will carefully remove that egg and swap it out for a perfectly hardboiled dyed egg. Another advantage of doing it that was is that you won’t have to worry about any of the eggs coloring bleeding onto the loaves. And don’t forget to rub your finished eggs with a little bit of oil to really make them shine!

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So, once again I hope you will forgive my tardiness with this Easter post. Please keep this Italian Easter Bread at the ready for next year. Happy be-lated Easter!

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Italian Easter Bread

  • Servings: 6 braided loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Sprinkle Bakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (301 ml.) milk or half and half
  • 1/3 cup (76 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 3 to 4 cups (408 to 544 grams) bread flour (approximate)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Rainbow nonpareils
  • 6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors *please see my above note on use of raw eggs

Directions:

Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Warm just until the butter is completely melted and remove from the heat. Let cool until just warm.
Combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Knead with the dough hook until combined. Add more flour gradually until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. You may not have to use all of the flour (but I did!). Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or until completely smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over once to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough with a fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch thick rope about 14 inches in length. Take two lengths and twist them together; loop the twist into a circle and pinch the ends together. Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small condiment cup. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle on the nonpareils and gently place a dyed egg in the middle of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant. Let cool on wire racks..

Notes:

  • For a simple milk glaze, mix 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk together until smooth. A little vanilla extract couldn’t hurt, either.
  • After the dough is raised and turned out onto a work surface, 1/2 cup mixed candied fruit and 1/4 cup blanched almonds can be mixed in.  2 tablespoons of citrus zest may be added to the dough also.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats www.leaandjay.com

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Bread:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Hand Held Zester

Oxo Good Grips small silicone pastry brush

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

 


Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

April 15, 2017

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Happy Easter or since I’m going to go with Greek traditions this year, I should say Kali Anastasi (Happy Resurrection)! This year I’ve got quite a delicious treat to share with you: Tsoureki or Greek Easter Bread. Traditionally served at Easter, its three stranded braid represents the holy trinity and the red egg symbolizes Christ’s blood. This lovely enriched yeast bread is very similar to brioche or challah, but is spiced with Mahlep which is derived from cherry pits. This is what gives it a very distinct cherry/almond flavor. Yup…soft, moist & fluffy with an unforgettable sweet nutty flavor… now that is an Easter brunch winner if ever I’ve heard of one! But truth be told, what really sold the Husband on this recipe was the promise that it would make a superb french toast!

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I’ve done some really tasty Easter recipes over the years. Like this amazing Italian Easter Pie from last year:

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And I don’t want to forget this lovely Slovak Paska from a couple of years ago:

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Keeping up the International Easter theme, remember way back in 2012 I made this Russian Kulich (Easter Bread):

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And then there is that Easter classic Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns:

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There are just so many delicious Easter recipes to choose from. You just can’t go wrong! And this year’s offering is no exception. Now I will say, you do need to plan a bit ahead to make Tsoureki. You need to get ahold of some Mahleb. I have provided you with an amazon link below and I hear that Penzey’s Spices might also carry it. Luckily there is an amazing Greek Deli that we love, located right around the corner from our place in Richmond Virginia: Nick’s International Foods. They had an abundance of Mahleb available as well as some great greek easter egg dye which enabled me to get the loveliest red eggs out there! Nick’s authentic Mediterranean Market has been proudly serving Richmond since the late 1950’s and from its current location at Broad & Monroe since 1980. Not only do the carry your average small grocery store items but they also boast a huge selection of imported cheeses and specialty European ingredients not easily found elsewhere. And don’t even get me going about their deli! Delicious sandwiches and fantastic soups. Not to mention all the folks who work there are so friendly and helpful. You just feel right at home. So if you are in the area, make sure you check it out!

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But let me get back to this Tsoureki. This bread is pretty easy to make, especially since you break it up over the course of two days. On the first day you mix up the starter, make the dough and then you pop it into your fridge overnight so that it can have a long, slow rise. On the second day all you have to do is shape your dough, let it rise once again and then pop it in the oven to bake. Traditionally this bread is decorated with hard-boiled eggs which have been dyed red, symbolizing the blood of Christ. After the hard boiled eggs bake in the oven along with the bread, they are pretty much inedible, so although some folks decorate their Tsoureki with multiple evenly spaced eggs, I chose to only use one egg at the end of the braid. The way the Husband loves eggs, he would have cried if I had sacrificed any more eggs than necessary!

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Also, if you use a dyed egg when you bake the loaf, a bit of that red color will bleed onto the surrounding bread. If you are worried with the appearance, you can simply use an egg which has not been dyed as a sort of place holder. Then once the bread is out of the oven and cooled, simply swap it out for that vibrant red egg. And don’t skip rubbing the eggs with a bit of oil once they’ve been dyed. It really makes them look amazing!

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Once your dough is ready to be shaped, there are several ways to proceed. You can make one long braid as I did in the recipe shown below. Though I will say this makes a huge loaf of bread. I think the next time I make it I will divide it in half and make a couple smaller loaves. You can also shape the braid into a circle and put it into a 9″ cake tin to bake. Or you could make several smaller personal sized circular braids, which would be fun for a smaller Easter brunch. But definitely give this terrific bread a try. I can tell you right now that it is simply heavenly just slathered with butter. I’m sure the french toast we have tomorrow will be nothing short of divine! Happy Easter!

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Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

  • Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 -3 smaller ones
  • Difficulty: easy - but you need to plan ahead!
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

Starter:

  • 1 1/2 cups (177 grams) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (227 grams) lukewarm (95°F) water
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups (298 grams – 418 grams) Unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) Baker’s Special Dried Milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mahlep, or the same amount of vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs — 2 for the dough, 1 to brush over the loaf before baking

Optional Decoration:

  • 1 -6 hard-boiled eggs, dyed red
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, for brushing the hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup halved almond (optional)
  • cinnamon/sugar (for dusting – optional)
  • honey (for glazing – optional)

Directions:

To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. The mixture will initially be the consistency of thick pancake batter; after an hour it should be very bubbly, airy, and doubled in size.

While the starter rests, ready the dough. Melt the butter over low heat and set it aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, dry milk, salt, mahlep and zest from one orange.

Mix 2 of the eggs into the risen starter. Stir in the cooled melted butter.

If you’re substituting vanilla extract for mahlep, stir it in. Add the flour/sugar mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour 1 cup at a time, as needed to make dough that’s stiff enough to form a ball but is also soft and slightly sticky.

Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until it springs back when pressed gently with a floured finger. If kneading by hand, try to use only the lightest dusting of flour on the counter and on your hands. The more gently you knead, the less sticky the dough will seem. When done, place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.

The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and knead it gently a few times, to deflate it.

Decide whether you want to make one braided loaf, two loaves, or a round braid. If you want to make the round braid, liberally butter a 9″ round cake pan. For the braided loaves, line a baking sheet with parchment.

Divide the dough into three pieces for the 9″ round or the single braided loaf. Divide dough into 6 pieces for the two loaves. Set them aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap.

If you’re using the dyed eggs, rub each one with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and set them aside. 

Make three 16″ strands with the dough; pinch the ends together at one end. Braid for 4″ to 5″; tuck an egg into the braid. Continue to braid, placing another egg into the braid at 2″ intervals. 

Cover the shaped loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours; if you’re using the round pan, the top of the loaf should be just barely level with the top rim of the pan. During the last 45 minutes of the rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.

To bake the bread: Lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush it over the loaf. (Alternatively, omit the egg wash if you’d prefer to brush the loaf with honey when it comes out of the oven.) Or brush the loaf with egg wash, sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the bread and top with halved almond. If you’re baking a round loaf, press the last hard-boiled egg firmly into the center of the risen loaf. 

Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Open the oven door, reach in, and carefully press each egg farther down into the bread.

Continue to bake the bread for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F. Tent the bread with aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning. 

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. If desired, heat 1/4 cup honey with 1 tablespoon water until warm, and brush over the loaf. Let the bread cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

Tsoureki brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Tsoureki:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Mahlab Spice

Hand Held Zester

Greek Red Easter Egg Dye

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur


Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka

February 5, 2017

img_5446So I gotta ask….are there any Nutella fans out there? Cause let me tell you I love me some Nutella! I did actually didn’t even know it existed until I was living in Ireland and my friend Theresa had a jar. I watched with amazement as she spread it over her toast. I was like “What! You can eat chocolate on toast!” I had no idea it was a thing. Yup, love at first bite. And I love bread as well, so this Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka recipe was a no brainer for me.

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Now it is not by chance that I’m blogging a recipe which features Nutella today. Today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

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Last year, the founders have transferred Nutella Day to Ferrero the company who owns that most beloved spread. Take a peek at their Facebook page and see how folks are celebrating the day! I love Nutella so I usually try to participate with a Nutella laden recipe every year. Last year I celebrated with Nutella Sea Salt Stuffies:

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The year before I made cookies as well,  irresistible Salted Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwich Cookies – sweet salty bliss I tell you!

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I was still all about the cookies and the salty / sweet thing three years ago when I blogged about  Salted & Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies feature silky, decadent Nutella, creamy caramel, nostalgic malted goodness and rich chocolate chips, all rolled up together in a crunchy chewy salted cookie

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And then there was my  Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart which was quite stunning if I do say so myself.

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But let me get back to the stunning Nutella treat we have on hand today: Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka. Oh Lawdie…this bread is delicious! Babka, which has a Russian/Polish culinary pedigree (the name is derived from “baba” which is Russian for grandmother)  is made with a rich yeasted dough. You end up with something that is somewhere between cake and bread. Every brioche like morsel is so tender it simply melts in your mouth. And can we just talk about the fillings? Well there are as many variations in the fillings as there are grandmothers! You can have a fruit filled Babka, a chocolate Babka, a cinnamon Babka, a chocolate cinnamon Babka, or a Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka as we have here today. Babkas can be topped with a streusel, soaked in Rum or drizzled with a glaze. They can be shaped many ways as well, baked in a bread tin, free-standing or as I have done here, shaped into the dramatic Israeli version which is known as “kranz cake”. The possibilities are endless!

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Now all that being said, making this luscious filled rolled and twisted bliss is no simple undertaking! You’ve gotta want it…and believe me you will. It is so worth it. The good thing is you can break it up into steps and take up to 3 days to bake the bread if you wish. Or if you’re hardcore, get up early in the morning and blast through the whole thing in one day. Midnight Babka sounds great to me too!

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Laden with butter and lashings of Nutella and chocolate chips this bread not only has mouthwatering good looks but can back it up with to die for taste. Great as a dessert, for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee, you just can’t beat this time-tested comfort food treat. So Happy Nutella Day…I’ve gotta go tear into some Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka!

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Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka

  • Servings: 1 large loaf of bread
  • Difficulty: moderate - with a lot of rise time
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 Tablespoons (.66 oz / 19 grams) instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz / 170 grams) lukewarm milk (95°F or 35°C)
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz / 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted or at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons ( 3 oz /85 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (.25 oz / 7 grams) vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks (3 oz. / 85 grams)
  • 3 1/3 cups (15 oz / 425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (.25 oz/ 7 grams) salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 1 jar (13 oz.) Nutella
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved and set aside for 5 minutes.

Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment for a stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla to the eggs yoke and whisk together. Then add the yolks to the sugar mixture in four portions, mixing thoroughly until each is incorporated before adding the next. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 2 more minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during the process.

Stop mixing and add the flour and salt, then pour in the milk mixture. Resume mixing at low speed until a soft, supple, tacky dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes adding flour as necessary to make the dough pliable. Form dough into a ball.

Place dough in a clean, highly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 1/2 hours. It will rise, but won’t double. If you are taking my advice and making this Babka over several days, after the rise, place the dough in the refrigerator overnight to be rolled out the next day.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Line a 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper and mist it with spray oil. Spread the Nutella evenly over the parchment paper. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place into the refrigerator to firm up. Once you have rolled the dough out, you can easily transfer this Nutella chocolate chip square directly on top of the babka dough. Easy peasy!

Once the dough has risen, or on day two, roll it into a 15″ by 11″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface. It should e between 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Lay the refrigerated Nutella Chocolate sheet on top of the Babka dough and peel the parchment away.

Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and place it seam side down on the work surface. With firm but gentle pressure, rock the log back and forth. Using a metal pastry blade, cut the log down the middle lengthwise. Rotate the dough so that the cut edges are facing up. Place one piece over the other and continue to criss-cross the pieces to form a braid. Pinch the ends of the braided pieces together to seal.

Cover the braided loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 2 -3 hours. At this point, you can proceed directly to baking or refrigerate the loaf overnight. If holding it overnight, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake it.

Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Bake loaf for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan. Bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until the sides of the loaf are a rich golden brown. The internal temperature will reach about 185° F (85° C). I the tope begins to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil

Allow the Babka to cool for at least 90 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


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