Monday, November 16, 2015

Pesto Parmesan Chrysanthemum for the Babes

So, there was this rat . . . .      

No.  Wait.  This post is about bread, so the rat will have to wait.

Lovely Babe, Lien, was this month's hostess, challenging the rest of the Babes to bake a filled, Russian Chrysanthemum bread.  The filling was up to us.  Because I didn't want to refrigerate the final bread, I opted for a non-meat filling.  I used pesto and grated Parmesan cheese, and it turned out to be delicious.  The dough, itself, is very nice and satiny.

My only miscalculation was with the baking dish, which is why my bread doesn't look like the original photo.  I started out with a 10-inch pie plate (the size specified in the recipe), but the poor, little petals looked lost in that vast baking dish.  So, I went down a size, using a 9-inch pie plate.  Too late, I realized that I had forgotten about the 'rise'.  The bread was nearly exploding out of the container.  Next time around, I will use the larger dish, and hope that, between the final rise and the bake, the flower will fill the pan.  Still tastes good, even so.

So, for the recipe, and the round-up, head over to Lien's website, Notitie Van Lien, and see all the perfect chrysanthemums from the other Babes.  And, of course, feel free to bake along as a Buddy.  Just send your link to Lien by the 29th.

Perhaps I can use the excuse of being distracted by the rat, which showed up in early November, and stayed about 10 days, until it met its demise.  I'm still a bit wary of going around corners, and leaving any kind of food out was discouraged for awhile, so I didn't get the bread baked until yesterday.  Hopefully, the house will continue to be rat-free.

Thanksgiving wishes to all!

The Babes are:

Bake My Day - Karen
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Bread Experience - Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
All Roads Lead to the Kitchen - Heather
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
Life's a Feast - Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Ilva Beretta Photography - Ilva

Friday, October 16, 2015

World Bread Day: Cheddar Cheese Jalapeno Bread (sort of)

World Bread Day 2015

Trying a new recipe for the first time can occasionally be an exciting proposition.  You hope that it will succeed, and most of the time it does.  But, once in awhile, there is an epic fail.  That's what happened with this bread, a Cheddar Cheese Jalapeno loaf. 

Let's see.  How can I count the ways it failed.

Too much dough for the pan?

(Next time, I would divide the dough in two and put them in 8" x 4" pans.)

Too long of a rising time?

(Next time, I would only let the dough rise for 35-45 minutes.)

Oven temp?

(It's a vintage oven.  I set it at 400 degrees, but, was it really?  Time for an oven thermometer.)

(Top too brown, bottom too pale.)

On the positive side, it really turned out to be a delicious bread -- cheesy with pops of spicy pepper.  Next time?  Yes, I think so.  I'd like to see it actually look like a decent loaf of bread to accompany the tastiness.

Besides, it's educational to see that not all bread recipes work, meaning, don't give up, figure out how to improve it, and try again.

For the final insult, my camera decided not to work, even with freshly charged batteries.  Maybe it's time has come.  So, I used my smartphone.

Happy World Bread Day 2016!

Stop by Zorra's website to see all the different celebratory breads.

Unmodified recipe:  Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

 (The recipe is online, and, actually, mine doesn't look too differently from the official photo.  Maybe I'm too picky.)


Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread

Please excuse me if I don't quite remember all the details for this wonderfully delicious bread.  Knowing that I was about to pack up my kitchen for yet another move, I made this bread (twice) in early September.  I have to say, it was difficult to keep quiet about it all this time -- it is one of my most favorite breads and I so wanted to shout about the experience to the world.  It was all I could do not to eat the whole loaf at once.  And, no, I didn't share.

But, now that I'm back in the 'land of appreciative recipients,' I am planning to bake it again and again and share.

Karen, of Karen's Kitchen Stories, was our hostess this month.  While I had heard of this bread before, I had never made it, so many thanks to Karen for her choice.  It's always good to discover something new, especially when it is scrumptious.

I would highly recommend baking along with the Babes this month -- you would be disappointed to miss this wonderful bread.  Send your posts to Karen by the 29th, the stay tuned for the roundup.

Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread

Tangzhong mixture (makes enough for two loaves)

50 g/1/3 C bread flour
1 C water
  1. Mix the flour and water in a saucepan together until there aren't any lumps.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 149 degrees F or 65 degrees C. If you don't have a thermometer (get one!), look for lines in the mixture made by your spoon as your stir. Remove from the heat immediately.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the tangzhong. Let it cool. You can refrigerate it if you want to, or use it immediately once it has cooled. 
  4. Bring it back to room temperature when you are ready to use it. 
This will last a couple of days. If it starts to turn gray, toss it. 

Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread

Makes one loaf, and is easily doubled

110 grams milk
45 grams whisked eggs (about one large egg)
100 grams Tangzhong
40 g sugar
5 g salt
200 g bread flour
150 g whole wheat flour
6 g instant yeast
40 g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

  1. Add all of the ingredients except the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. You can also mix by hand or bread machine. 
  2. Mix the ingredients until they form a dough. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Knead until the dough becomes very elastic. More is better. 
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. I think you could also do a cold ferment overnight, but I haven't tried it.
  4. Now for the shaping: Divide the dough into 3 or four equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. 
  5. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 10 inch long oval. Fold the oval into thirds, widthwise, like an envelope. Turn the envelope so that the short side is facing you, and roll it into a 10 to 12 inch length. Roll that piece like a cinnamon roll, with the folded sides on the inside, and place the piece in an oiled bread pan, seam side down. Repeat with the other pieces, placing them next to each other. To see a diagram of how to shape the pieces, check out this post
  6. Cover and let rise for about 40 minutes, until about 4/5  the height of the bread pan. 
  7. Bake in a 175 degree C/ 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the loaf from the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. 
The Babes are:

Bake My Day - Karen
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Bread Experience - Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
girlichef - Heather
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
Life's a Feast - Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Ilva Beretta Food Photography - Ilva

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Babes Bake South of the Border

Several weeks ago, I happened to run across a documentary on the local public broadcasting station that showcased various bakeries around the country.  One of them was a Mexican bakery, and all of their baked goods looked delicious.  Among the items featured were Conchas, sweet rolls with a sugary topping.  Wouldn't you know -- that was what Heather, of Girlichef, chose for our September challenge in honor of Mexican Independence Day! 

The focus for our challenge was on the topping.  How creative could we be?

I slightly adapted a recipe I found, using part whole wheat flour, and coconut sugar for the sweetener.  I also used coconut sugar in the topping, which, along with the cinnamon, turned the yellow color a sort of mustard shade.  Not overly appetizing, but the taste was sure there.  And, the rolls, themselves, were fabulous.  I'd make the rolls again and forget the topping, which may be against the law, but there you go.  

The only down side was, that after the first day, the topping had a tendency to crumble easily and fall off, leaving a bare roll.  I suffered through and ate them anyway.  


Yield: 12 servings


1 package active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


½ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl stir together yeast and the warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the milk, the 1/3 cup sugar, the melted butter, egg, and salt. Stir in 2 cups of the flour. Gradually stir in another 2 cups flour and the ½ teaspoon cinnamon to make a dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl; turn to coat surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 to 1 ¼ hours).

Meanwhile, for topping, in a medium bowl beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the 2/3 cup sugar, beating until well mixed. Stir in the 1 cup flour, the teaspoons cinnamon, and the vanilla.

Deflate dough. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 12 portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Place balls about 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press down on balls slightly. Divide topping into 12 balls; pat each ball flat. Place one round of topping on each dough ball.
Using a sharp paring knife, cut grooves on a scallop shell. Cover rolls and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 45 minutes). 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake rolls for 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from baking sheets. Cool on wire racks. Serve warm or cool.

Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to bake along and earn your Bread Baking Buddies badge. Make a batch of Conchas in your kitchen, and then email Heather a link to your post by the 29th of the month (

.                       (Unbaked conchas, ready for the oven.)

Note:  my kitchen will be out of order for several weeks while I make another cross-country move.  Back to the land of earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, and wildfires.  Never a dull moment!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Bread Baking Day #77: Buns and Rolls

During hot summer months, it's always a good idea to have a quick bread recipe at hand, one that has a minimal amount of effort.  That was the challenge from Sandra at Snuggs Kitchen for the August edition of Bread Baking Day.  

I knew just the recipe, one I've used for years, a yeasted bun that can be made at the last minute:  Batter Buns.

There's really not much to add.  These buns take relatively little time and are dependable and delicious.

Be sure and visit Sandra's website for the round-up, and Zorra's blog for the next bread baking adventure.

Batter Buns

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast .
1/4 cup soft butter or shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup warm water
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (1 cup flour through yeast).  Add the wet ingredients and mix, either by hand or machine, then add the remaining 2/3 cup flour and mix until smooth.

Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling each one a scant half full.

Let rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes, or until the batter reaches the top of the muffin cups.

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown.  Serve warm.

Makes about 12 buns.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Babes Bake Italian Rye

As I write this, I am munching on a piece of buttered toast, made from fresh Italian rye bread, otherwise known as L'Otto di Merano.   Thanks to Elizabeth of blog from Our kitchen, for selecting such a delicious bread for the August Bread Baking Babe challenge.

The biggest challenge, actually, was finding the malted rye berries.  Take heart!  It was much easier than expected.  Just locate a shop that sells supplies for brewing beer.  They are everywhere now, due to the popularity of home brews and microbreweries.  The nice people will also crush the berries for you.  And, a little goes a long way.  I purchased a quarter pound, and will have plenty of berries for many loaves.

That said, I have made this bread twice.  First time around, I followed the directions (for the most part).  Always a good thing to do because you get a feel for how the recipe is supposed to work while simultaneously thinking about how to prepare it differently the next time.

Which I did.

So, the first time, I did the fermenting, the slapping in the bowl, the requested shaping.  I did this in July, so I'm trying to remember how the process played out.  I believe I used caraway seeds, too.  One thing I do recall is that I didn't much care for the way the bread was kneaded in the bowl.  I kept adding flour, then water, then flour to get a good texture.  The resulting dough was more slack than I prefer, and the baked loaf was on the flat side.

The second time, which was only yesterday, I followed the directions up until the kneading part.  I put all the ingredients in the bowl of my sturdy mixer and treated it like most other breads.  I also used fennel seeds this time.  And, instead of the traditional shaping, I wanted something more useful, so I turned it into a loaf (9x5).  Perfect for sandwiches and toast.

One recommendation I have concerns the overnight fermenting stage.  Be sure and use a large bowl because the mixture really does expand.  For my third time, I intend to do the fermenting part in my mixer's bowl, then add the remaining ingredients.  This will prevent any spill-over and use one less bowl.   I'm all for efficiency.

Basically, this is an easy and delicious bread, full of healthy ingredients.  I know every Babe will have a different experience, so be sure and check out their blogs.  

Find your local brew supply store and then, most definitely, bake away! 

The Bread Baking Babes are:

L'Otto di Merano


300 g water at 100 degrees F
1/8 tsp active dry or instant yeast
25 grams crushed malted rye berries
75 g dark rye flour
100 g unbleached all purpose flour

Final Dough

All of the starter
60 g water, plus more if the dough is too dry
 2 gramsactive dry or instant yeast
27 grams/2 Tbsp olive oil or lard
flour mixture:  300 grams all-purpose flour, 85 grams whole wheat flour, and 15 grams ground flaxseed
10 g Kosher salt
2.5 grams caraway or fennel seeds


  1. The night before baking the bread, in a medium-to-large bowl, combine the dry starter ingredients, then add the water, stirring until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature over night.  You can also place it into the oven over night, leaving the light on for warmth.
  2. The next day, combine the remaining dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the oil and fermented starter.
  3. Using the dough hook, slowly add the water and mix until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes. Add additional water if necessary.  Knead for about 10 more minutes on medium speed until the dough is soft and supple, but not sticky. 
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1.5  hours. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other, and shape each half into a ball. Place the shaped balls snugly next to each other on the parchment paper, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  ( Or, alternatively, shape into a loaf and placed in an oiled 9" x 5" pan.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the covering and spray the dough lightly with water. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack (use a baking stone if you have one).  Immediately, turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake the loaf for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is about 200 degrees F. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Buddies Power Up

Part of the fun of becoming a Bread Baking Babe is jumping head-first into Kitchen of the Month.  That's what I did in July, selecting Peter Reinhart's Power Bread for my challenge.  

There were five Buddies who were brave enough to play along, not letting summer heat or family vacations interfere with baking this powerful bread.  Here they are, in order of submission.

Harini, of Ladles and Whisks, added Power Bread to her push-ups and exercise routine, getting her day off to a healthy start.

Kelly, of A Messy Kitchen, condensed the three-day process down to one day to try and avoid Seattle's heat wave.  Did it work?  Check her blog to find out.

Carola, of Sweet and That's It, one of our faithful Buddies, came back from summer vacation to make some healthy sandwich rolls for her family.  I'm ready to reach out and grab one!

Rita also had to fit her Power Bread around a summer vacation, but she pulled it off just in time.  Stop by Rita's blog to see her lovely bread.

Victoria, of My Bread and Brot, added extra crunch to her Power Bread by leaving the sunflower seeds whole.  She enjoyed it with plain butter as a spread. 

You can enjoy this bread just spread with plain old butter

Thanks to all the Buddies who joined us for the July challenge.  By all accounts, this is one delicious bread, even if it can take several days to prepare.  Please check out all the blogs of the bakers who played along, and, of course, try the bread yourself.

And, finally, keep your eye out for the August challenge.