Posts Tagged ‘bread’

Homemade Crescent Rolls (dairy free)

January 6, 2015


I recently served these crescent rolls at a special birthday party. Each person had on their salad plate a crescent roll and a salad inside an edible salad bowl.

Crescent rolls are, all at once, elegant and cozily homey. They look difficult to make, but are actually pretty easy to do. If you want to make them ahead of time, they freeze beautifully.

Crescent rolls are usually made with butter, but I keep my rolls dairy-free by using oil. You can use a neutral tasting oil (like safflower oil) or an extra-virgin olive oil.


Cheater’s Tartine’s Country Bread

May 14, 2014


The New York Times recently featured a simplified recipe for Chad Robertson’s sourdough bread (Tartine’s Country Bread) as well as a speedier version of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread. Combining the two recipes, I came up with a yeast-based version of the Tartine bread that comes together in a few hours. The flavor is not the same, obviously, but it is very good, with a subtle sourdough flavor, a crackling crust and an open crumb.

The basic idea is that you substitute the sourdough starter with extra flour, water and a little yeast. The dough is given a stretch and fold every half hour for three hours as in the original recipe. The dough can then be shaped and given a 1 to 1 1/2 hour rise before baking (or you can refrigerate the dough overnight before or after shaping).



Prune Danish Braid (use up your leftover lekvar)

March 26, 2014


I had leftover lekvar and I mulled over all these creative options for using it up in a dessert. When I presented these options to my husband, along with the option of a simple prune danish, my husband voted for the danish.

The filling for this danish can be straight-up lekvar spooned out from the jar, but I decided to make it a little more interesting. Walnuts, mini mocha chips and an orange-vanilla glaze add extra texture and flavor.

As far as the dough is concerned, I use a few tricks to make and bake the dough extra quickly: (1) putting the dough in a warm oven to push it to rise faster; (2) folding the dough at intervals to strengthen it instead of kneading; and (3) putting the shaped dough in the oven after a very short (15 minute) rising period. With these tricks, the recipe will take about 1 3/4 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the danish out of the oven. If you take things a little slower or allow for a slightly longer rising time, it will take closer to 2 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the finished danish from the oven.

If you double the dough, you can make two small challahs plus the danish.



Wordless Wednesday: Sweet Potato Sourdough Bread

August 28, 2013




This sourdough bread, made with roasted sweet potato and pumpkin seeds is from Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery. I like how the breads sort of look like split sweet potatoes.

If you would like to see a detailed photo tutorial with a recipe, take a look at this Hoppy Okapi blog post (and also take a look at Farine’s post).

The only change to the recipe that I would make is to eliminate the ground cumin. The spice does complement the sweet potato flavor, but is, I think, a bit too definite. Every bite I took, I thought: This is cumin flavored bread and I’m not sure how I feel about eating cumin flavored bread.  The bread flavor would have been subtler and more versatile without the cumin.

Speculoos Spiced Apple Butter and Apple Butter Swirl Challah

August 19, 2013


In Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking Across America, there is a recipe from Macrina Bakery for apple cinnamon monkey bread that is really a loaf of sweet dough rolled up with apple butter and cinnamon sugar (another version of this recipe appears in the Macrina Bakery cookbook, and you can also see For The Love of Bread’s version).

I thought this would be a great idea for challah, with the cinnamon sugar left out to make it more bread and less dessert (although cinnamon sugar could only make it taste better . . . ). (Update: I made this recipe again, adding raisins and cinnamon sugar–excellent!)

Then I had the idea to spice the apple butter like those oh-so-popular speculoos cookies (also known as Biscoff).


I’m keeping a sourdough starter going, so I looked around for a sourdough challah recipe. After trying one sourdough challah recipe and not being completely satisfied, I decided to try a sweet dough recipe that uses sourdough starter and a little yeast.

Of course, you can use whatever challah dough you like. If you use a dough sweetened with honey, you will have apple honey challah, which is perfect for the upcoming holidays. I didn’t add raisins this time, but I will add them next time I make this recipe.

My daughter, who has been resisting sourdough bread, said this was the best challah I ever made. The challah tastes like babka (it would really be like babka if I added cinnamon sugar and raisins). The veins of apple butter give intense apple taste without making the challah soggy as sometimes happens with apple challah when the  apple exude moisture. I served extra apple butter on the side as a spread for the challah.

By the way, if you think apple butter sounds dull, imagine this: an apple farm in September, the crisp Autumn breeze wafting the enticing scent of ripe apples, freshly made apple cider and warm doughnuts. You end up going home with way more apples than you can eat. Then, to make use of that insane amount of apples, you make this apple butter recipe and your home is filled with the aroma of spice and apples. It is the fragrance of Fall in a jelly jar.


Sourdough Success

July 31, 2013


Sourdough bread has always been my nemesis. I never could quite get it right. But, it pays to persevere. I finally succeeded in making a strong sourdough starter and have used it so far to make whole wheat bread and the above potato rosemary bread.

The impetus for my sourdough experiment was Michael Pollan’s Cooked. In this book, Pollan discusses the dietary importance of fermented foods (and you can read some of his thoughts on this in this NPR interview). Pollan makes some very compelling arguments for eating sourdough bread, and conveniently includes a recipe for sourdough starter and whole wheat sourdough bread at the back of the book.

Basically, to make the sourdough starter, you mix equal weights of flour and water (50 g. white flour, 50 g. whole wheat flour and 100 g. water) and then set the resulting batter aside to ferment. If all goes well, the batter will get foamy as wild yeast take over. You can help this process along by giving the batter a good stir a few times a day.

It can take as much as a week for the wild yeast to take over, but my batter starting foaming nicely after 24 hours. At this point, you need to replenish the food supply of the starter and build its strength. You discard 80 percent of the sourdough starter and add 100 g. flour and 100 g. water to the remaining amount (about 40 g. starter). Give the mixture a good stir a few times a day. Repeat the process of discarding 80 percent and adding in 100 g. flour and 100 g. water after 12-24 hours. The recipe stated to wait 24 hours between feedings, but my stater was foaming up so quickly, that I felt it would be better to have twice daily feedings. After about a week of this procedure, I had a very lively sourdough starter with a nice, but not overpowering sourness.

I used the sourdough starter to make the whole wheat sourdough in Pollan’s book and also to make a recipe which I found in a book by Dan Lepard for potato rosemary bread. The bread recipe in Lepard’s book originally came from Erez Komarovsky, who has a bakery chain in Israel. Instead of calling for a regular sourdough, Komarovsky’s recipe calls for Biga Acida, a three (or four) day preferment which uses orange juice and a bit of honey along with the flour and water.

A bit background on the people behind the bread recipe. Dan Lepard’s book, Baking with Passion, was about the recipes from the iconic Baker & Spice in London. Founded by Gail Stephens in 1995, it was the prototype for Ottolenghi in its modern Israeli food sensibility.  Stephens (also known now as Yael Mejia), was born in London, but raised in Israel. After returning to London and spending years in the food distribution business, Stephens decided to open a bakery. She hired Dan Lepard as baker/consultant and Sammi Tamini as chef. Yotam Ottolenghi eventually became head pastry chef at Baker& Spice. Later, of course, Ottolenghi and Tamimi partnered in creating Ottolenghi.

Now Ottolenghi and Lepard are famous with published books to their name and regular newspaper columns in the Guardian (Ottolenghi’s column; Dan’s). Gail or rather Yael Mejia now is the force behind a Baker & Spice in Dubai.

Erez Komarovsky, the baker behind the original bread recipe, is credited with revolutionizing the bakery business in Israel in the nineties with his chain of artisan bread bakeries. It is unclear how Stephens got the recipe from him, but he was very influential in the Israeli baking scene at the time Baker & Spice was created, and the Israeli baking scene is the inspiration behind both Baker & Spice and Ottolenghi (see this interesting article on the topic of Israel comes to London).

Now, you may be wondering: all very interesting, but how did the bread taste? The bread was fantastic, with a crisp/chewy crust and a just-sour enough flavor to the interior. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the crumb, but it quite nice looking: light texture, with some large holes. The potato and garlic flavor didn’t come through very strongly, although you could smell the potato and garlic when the bread came out of the oven. Definitely worth repeating.


Cranberry Golden Raisin Wheat Bread

October 24, 2011

I have made this no-knead bread three times now. With a thick, chewy crust and a crumb dense with golden raisins and dried cranberries, this bread is spectacular toasted with cream cheese.


Need to Knead?

May 25, 2011

I came across the following quote that challah bakers should find interesting.

Maggie Glezer, author of an excellent book about baking challah, revealed in an interview with Kosher Eye that she no longer kneads bread: “I mix all my ingredients together, make sure the dough is the correct consistency (add more flour or water, whatever the case might be) and put the dough in a container to ferment (rise). I don’t use the food processor or the stand mixer anymore.  I have honestly not noticed any difference in my bread when I stopped kneading the dough.  However, that is because the kneading machines available to home bakers are so awful.  When I have used professional equipment, I notice a big difference. So if our kneading machines don’t really make a difference in the quality of the bread, why bother? There is really nothing to this method; you are just skipping a step.  Any and all recipes can omit this step.  Try it!”

So, wait . . . we don’t have to knead challah . . . . we can just mix it?

Why would that be? (more…)

How to Turn Leftover Challah into a Danish

May 17, 2011

Do you know what Bostock is? It is brioche topped with almond cream and sliced almonds, toasted until golden. Challah also works like a charm here, giving you an opportunity to repurpose your leftover bread as a decadent Sunday morning French pastry treat. (more…)

Schlissel Challah

April 28, 2011

It is a custom to bake a schlissel challah (key challah) for the first Shabbos after Passover. There are different traditions, with some baking their house key (wrapped in foil) into the challah, and some baking an image of a key into the top of the challah.