Tag Archives: yeasted

Cranberry Apricot Almond Sweet Bread Twist

Kuchen with Cranberries and Apricots

I hope this finds you well in spite of recent sobering events we are all trying to make sense of — if that is even possible.   I’m working to find inspiration in the most unlikely places and grasp tightly, acknowledging feelings of guilt for those I love who are safe.  It makes no sense.

No sense at all.

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Walnut Bread

I’d like to say this wonderful boule of walnut bread has just come from my oven and that hints of its aroma are still wafting through my house, but it’s been quite a while since I baked it.  I’ll blame my current efforts to change my eating habits on finally deciding to write about it because I’ve had little bread of any kind in nearly two months, and have decided writing about it, remembering its crusty, nutty appeal will be good enough for me today.

I have just begun to think about where my love for a good piece of bread fits into my plans for a healthier me.  It’s been very easy to give up bread from the grocery store — even the extra fiber, packed with multiple grains and oats type loaf I’d often choose for morning toast, or lunch sandwiches.  Ultimately, it’s all over-processed and lacking in any kind of appeal that good, fresh bread can have.

Passing up a crusty artisan loaf is more the challenge for me, especially if it’s something I’ve made.  That first piece still warm from the oven, most likely sporting an already melting swipe of butter is tough to resist.  So is the sandwich I can’t wait to sample at lunch loaded with my favorite ingredients, or tomorrow morning’s toast with jam.

I love bread, so completely avoiding it will never be a viable option for me.  Instead, I’ll have to find more recipes like this Seedy Oaty Spelt Bread to try packed with wholesome goodness.  And of course, the ideal — simply eating one slice once in a while.  In the meantime, I am remembering the fabulous flavor and texture of this walnut bread — my first attempt at a mixed-starter bread.  It took a while from start to finish, but was well worth the effort.

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Crusty Spinach Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Bread Rolls

Spinach Feta Sun-dried Tomato Rolls

Sometimes I’d love to skip dinner.

It’s beautiful in the evening just before the sun has set and I want to be on the patio enjoying the cool, dry air, watching the light against the the trees and houses change as the sun disappears into the Pacific.  I don’t want to waste one second of daylight at this time of year when the days are longest and sometimes, the temperature barely fluctuates between day and night.

Like right now.  It’s nearly seven and the sun isn’t quite ready to set.  Dinner is ready to prepare and won’t take all that long, but I’d rather be sitting in one of the chairs outside doing not much of anything.

All I’d need to complete the picture is some soft cheese — like burrata, perhaps some proscuitto, a handful of the sweet little sungold tomatoes my plant loves to produce, a nice crisp white wine, and good crusty rolls with a bit of something else added — like spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes.

If you’ve tried any of the recipes in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, then you know they’ll be good.  But do you know the secret to make them even more crusty?

I do.  And it works every single time.

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Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake with Apricots and Pistachios

It’s been a year since I’ve posted a Daring Baker challenge, and I’m hanging my head over it.  Actually, I’ve just crawled out from under the rock where I’ve been hiding.   Last March, the delicious Citrus Tian Dessert made with blood oranges and California Cuties marked the start of an extended absence from the once a month fun I’d enjoyed with the Daring Bakers for several years.  Five months went by before I tackled another challenge —  the Baked Alaska last August for one of my son’s birthdays — but that less than counts since I never posted it.  I kept saying I would, but didn’t.  Pathetic.

But I’m back.  At least I think I am, and wanting to make sure I don’t miss out on any more.  In fact, I just might join in on the Daring Kitchen challenges since I find myself with no excuse not to join in on that fun as well.  I know I’ve missed out on some good recipes, but it’s more the sense of community generated by each of the monthly events I crave.  I miss the easy, relaxing camaraderie.  I miss it a lot.

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.  Maybe that’s why it was go easy to get back in the saddle this month.  Coffee cake is something everyone seems to enjoy.  When I co-hosted the Daring Bakers in July of 2008, I chose a Danish Braid which is made with yeasted, laminated dough.  If shape counts, this Pastry Ring with Chocolate and Cardamom is made of a yeasted dough, also in layers, and is remarkably similar in appearance to this month’s challenge.

But this coffee cake dough feels like bread dough to me.  It looks like bread dough, smells like bread dough when it is baking, and looks like bread after it’s sliced.  I’m thinking it’s somewhat like a cinnamon bread dough, only filled with meringue.  Ah, that would be what intrigued me about this challenge most.  The meringue.

I had fun deciding exactly what I’d put in the filling — give it a shot since it doesn’t involve all the turning and rolling involved in the Danish Braid and Pastry Ring,  and you will too.

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Casatiello: Italian Brioche

<img alt="ingredients casatiello italian brioche"/>
I’ve been trying to guilt myself into finishing what needs to be finished lately and in the process have confirmed what I suspected:  I am a closet un-finisher — someone who can run a great race then come to a dead stop inches from the finish line.  Perhaps a quarter of a lap is more accurate, but you get the idea, I hope.  With respect to my on-going obsession with food, this translates to a few projects I’ve become involved in then haven’t completed.  In particular, tops on the list is the project Nicole of Pinch My Salt gave birth to, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge .  Then there was my own quest to work through Bittman’s “101 Simple Salads for the Season” to help keep me healthy in the time leading up to the holidays. That would be the holiday season of 2009. It seemed completely reasonable to make five salads in a seven day period at the time.  Most sadly, the Daring Bakers challenges have passed by, one after the other, and the months along with them.  The first two projects have been long neglected in my writing, but I think of them from time to time because of the photos I’ve taken of the recipes completed.  It’s torturous being reminded of one’s shortcomings in such vivid color and clarity. With respect to the Daring Baker challenges, I’ve got much more to make up than available time on my food calendar.

I’ve just sighed.  You know that feeling, right?  The one that lets you know you’re not all you’re chalked up to be.  Yes, that one.

It’s humbling.

Nevertheless, I’ve decided that some attempt to breathe life into what I once considered worthy goals is important.  I’ll blame this bit of retrospection on having to rebuild my photo libraries due to a new Mac and software.  Viewing all of those photos provided me the opportunity to revisit quite a few recipes I made and enjoyed but never wrote about.   It’s not quite like finding the perfect little black dress purchased on sale, then hung in the closet and forgotten until needed for a special occasion, but close.  It’s all about promise.

Bread is like that — about promise.  It generally promises that after all the steps — kneading, waiting, punching, shaping, and then waiting some more — you’ll actually get to taste it and share it with someone you know will like it. With respect to brioche, a bread containing a high percentage of butter, there is quite a bit of waiting.  Most brioche dough has to rest overnight in the refrigerator, so it does take some thinking ahead if you are like I am — someone who doesn’t make bread as often as she’d like.  I have made brioche before with good results, thanks to Sherry Yard’s Lean Brioche recipe.  I’ve also made Reinhart’s Poor Man’s Brioche, but I’ll save that one for another time because his recipe for Casatiello is more interesting.

Casatiello is a savory Easter celebration bread from the Campania region of Italy.  It is traditionally made with lard and baked in paper molds. The incorporation of salami and cheese are related to ancient associations with rites of spring and fertility.  Today, lard is often omitted or in some cases, shortening used in its place.  Additionally, many bakers use different types of cheese and meat.

I’ve added fresh sage to my adaptation of Reinhart’s recipe.

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