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.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bread Baking Day #76: Flatbreads

July's Bread Baking Day was hosted by its creator, Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte aka kochtopf.  Her theme for these hot summer months was flatbreads.  

Not wanting to make the traditional forms, pizza or foccacia, I searched for other possibilities, finding two candidates worth trying.

The first recipe was for a Sourdough Whole Wheat Flatbread.  Sourdough starter and whole wheat flour are combined and allowed to rest for about an hour.  Then the dough is divided into eight portions, rolled out, then cooked in a hot skillet.  To be honest, while delicious, these were more like flour tortillas.  

So, I happened upon another type of flatbread, also cooked in a skillet, but in the oven rather than on top of the stove.  This recipe is from Mark Bittman, and is definitely not a tortilla.  For the basic technique, you mix whole wheat flour and water and let it sit for at least an hour.  Then, you heat a skillet in a hot oven, adding olive oil, sliced onions, and chopped fresh rosemary.  When the skillet is hot, you pour in the flour mixture, and baked for 30-40 minutes.  This produces a very tasty flatbread with roasted onions.  

 Of the two recipes, the second was my favorite, and I will make it again, fine-tuning the baking time and temperature, and experimenting with other herbs.

Keep an eye on Zorra's website for the flatbread roundup, coming soon.

Sourdough Flatbread

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Add the starter, flour, salt, baking soda, and olive oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix using the paddle attachment until ingredients are combined. Switch to the dough hook and on low speed, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough ball forms. Knead for about 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area to rise/rest for one hour.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll out as thinly as possible on a floured surface with a rolling pin.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook flatbreads, one at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side, until cooked with brown spots.
Makes 8 flatbreads


Easy Whole Grain Flatbread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

  1. Put the flour into a bowl; add salt; then slowly add 1 1/2 cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Cover with a towel, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of thin pancake batter.
  2. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 425°F. Put the oil in a 12-inch rimmed pizza pan or skillet (along with the onion and rosemary if you’re using them) and put in the heated oven. Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot, but not smoking; the oil is ready when you just start to smell it. Carefully remove the pan (give the onions a stir); then pour in the batter, and return the skillet to the oven. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flatbread is well browned, firm, and crisp around the edges. (It will release easily from the pan when it’s done.) Let it rest for a couple minutes before cutting it into wedges or squares.