Cutting carbs in the new year? This hearty, rich bread will provide a satisfying excuse for setting your resolutions aside for a few days. (Yes, that makes me an enabler.) But really, this is a good option if you’re craving bread. Pears, dates, and walnuts are all healthy foods. It’s sweetened with honey, and part of the flour is whole wheat. The trick is just going to be exercising moderation – something I’ve failed miserably at in this case.
I’d like to tell you that I just nibbled on my test pieces, but I’d be lying. Toast this stuff and put a light scraping of butter on it, and I will keep testing and testing and testing.
My favorite version (which is the recipe given below) has a cup of chopped dates and a cup of ground walnuts. If you want to lighten the calorie load, you can reduce both of those ingredients by half.
Give yourself a little extra time when making this bread; the rich dough takes a little longer to rise. It will be worth the wait!
Preparing your ingredients before beginning the bread is a good idea. Chop those dates! Grind those walnuts! But hold up on cutting the pear until your dough is mixing so the pieces won’t go brown on you.
I added ground walnuts to the recipe to add flavor and structure. A few seconds in a food processor or blender should do it – it doesn’t need to be ground into a paste. The goal is to make the pieces tiny enough to ensure easy slicing of the finished loaves.
NOTE: Unless you have a big family or are making this for a large gathering, I’d recommend freezing one loaf and storing the other in the refrigerator. Since the bread includes fresh fruit, it won’t last as long on the counter as regular bread.
1 cup coarsely ground walnuts (use a food processor for best results, or chop very fine)
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups bread flour divided
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Let it sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).
In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine honey, butter, eggs, and yeast mixture.
Stir in dates and ground walnuts.
Using a dough hook, add wheat flour, 3½ cups of the bread flour. salt, and cinnamon (if using). Beat well for 4 minutes. (If kneading by hand, add the remaining flour now and knead for 6 minutes before kneading in the pears.)
Add chopped pears and stir until combined. Slowly add remaining flour until mixture comes away from the side of the bowl. Add a little extra flour if necessary. Dough will be soft and sticky.
Place dough into greased bowl. Cover and allow it to rise until double, 1 to 1½ hours.
Punch down dough and divide in half. On floured surface either roll dough into two balls and place on baking sheet, or form into two loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
Allow dough to rise in pans until almost doubled.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Bake approximately 35 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped. Brush the tops with butter if desired. Cool on racks before cutting.
Grind the walnuts if possible. If not, chop them as finely as you can. They’ll add lots of flavor.
Combine honey, egg, butter, and yeast mixture.
Mix in the dates and walnuts
Add most of the dry ingredients and mix (knead) for 4 minutes by machine. Add pears. Slowly add remaining flour until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.
After the dough rises, form into two balls on a baking sheet, or . . .
. . . form loaves and place in greased pans. Bake.
Oh, my word, this is good toasted. Tomorrow I’m going to use it for French Toast; I’ll bet it’ll be amazing. We’re expecting snow, and I can’t think of a better treat to go with sausage patties and a cup of steaming coffee.
Nothing beats an English muffin broiled to a crispy, golden brown and slathered with butter. Well, except for a maple-flavored English muffin! Raisins add a pop of flavor, and the fragrance of maple and cinnamon will make your mouth water long before the muffin hits your plate.
It took me a few tries before I got this right, but it was worth the effort. And now I have a huge bag of perfectly acceptable test muffins in the freezer, which will come in handy this winter.
I tried different types of flour (which made very little difference), muffin rings (meh – not necessary), and different rise times (this really mattered). I also tried many methods of shaping and cooking these babies, and here’s what I learned:
You know those lovely little holes inside where the butter pools up? You get those by using a very soft dough and a long rise. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear me tell you to let the dough rise until it blows up and caves in. If you don’t want to let the dough rise overnight, at least give it 4 hours. This will add flavor, too.
All maple flavoring is not the same. And in my opinion, none that I have tried is potent enough. I used a tablespoon of Mapleine in this recipe and it still was just barely maple flavored. (That’s why I added flavor to the cornmeal/farina too.) I’ve just ordered a couple of interesting brands of maple flavor that are supposed to be really strong. I’ll do a taste test and let you know. Until then, be generous!
If you want to skip the rolling/patting/cutting step, you can use an ice cream scoop and drop the dough right on the cooking surface and pat it into shape. BUT there is a general lack of uniformity. If you can live with that, go the easy route! I just can’t. I like it when everything is the same size and shape. OCD much?
These need to be cooked low and slow. Otherwise, the outside of the muffin will be dark before the inside is cooked, and no one likes a gooey center. I used an electric skillet set between 250 and 275 F. Since the muffins wouldn’t all fit on my skillet, I also used a cast iron skillet at medium-low heat. Both worked very well. You will have to adjust the temperature as you go because electric skillets aren’t very accurate. Shoot for 7 minutes on each side to get the color you want, and then turn the heat down and let them go another 3 minutes or so on each side. It’s not that hard – but it may take a little practice. Then you, too, will have a stash of muffins in your freezer.
If it looks like the outside is done but the sides still feel squishy, you can cover the muffins with foil or a lid and cook a little longer at low heat; this will act like an oven. And, if all else fails, pop them in the oven at 350 F for a few minutes. I haven’t had to do this, but it’s perfectly acceptable. The Traditional English Muffin Police will not be visiting to chastise you. Honest.
As hard as it may be, wait for the muffins to cool completely before separating them. And don’t use a knife. This thingamajig that I bought to help me slice onions without cutting off my fingertips? It works really well.
This works really well, but then – so does a fork. (Put that knife DOWN!)
So does a fork. Or you can just tear the muffin open with your fingers and go with the rustic look.
Makes twelve 3½-inch muffins For best results, make the dough at night and let it rise on the counter. Shape and bake in the morning!
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup pure maple syrup (use Grade B if you can find it; it's more flavorful)
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup raisins
½ cup very warm water
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon maple flavor (This will be mild. Double the amount for a rich maple flavor)
4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal (Or try farina. I use Malt-O-Meal)
¼ teaspoon maple flavor (optional) to mix with cornmeal
a small amount of butter
In a small pan over medium heat, cook the milk, syrup, salt, and cinnamon until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Don't boil!
Remove from heat. Add butter and raisins, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and the temperature is comfortably warm.
In a small bowl or cup, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is recommended) fit with a dough hook, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and maple flavor.
Add flour and beat for 3 minutes
Scoop dough into a large greased bowl. Use a rubber spatula to turn the dough over so that all sides are greased. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough sit on the counter overnight.
Combine cornmeal (or farina) and maple flavor, if using. Sprinkle on a lightly buttered electric griddle(or cast iron skillets).
Generously flour a piece of parchment and drop the dough in the middle. Sprinkle with flour and pat with your hand until it is approximately ⅓ to1/2-inch thick.
Using 3½-inch round cutter, cut as many circles as you can. Lift each one with a spatula and place on prepared skillet. Press each round firmly with the palm of your hand. Gather the dough scraps and press to cut remaining circles.
Cover lightly with a clean towel and let the muffins sit on the unheated griddle for 30 minutes.
Remove cover and turn the heat on. An electric skillet should be turned between 250 and 275 F. A cast iron skillet on the stove should be turned to medium-low. Adjust as needed; it's better to cook too slowly than too fast. If heat is too high the outsides will be dark but the center will be doughy. At 7 minutes, the muffin should be golden brown and ready to turn.
When the bottom is brown, use a thin spatula to flip the muffins over. Cook on that side until brown.
Turn the heat down and flip the muffins over one more time, for about 3 minutes on each side.
Allow the muffins to cool completely before using a fork to split. Toast under a broiler for best results.
Dinner doughnuts! That’s what my husband dubbed these after one blissful bite. This simple fried bread has a garlic butter and parmesan center that is flavorful but not overwhelming. It soaks into the bread a bit as it fries so you aren’t faced with butter dripping down your chin. (Never a good thing.)
I’m all about texture, preferring my bread crispy and crackly, but the chewy crust on these puffy rolls was delightful, contrasting nicely with the soft, buttery bread inside. I considered adding chopped pepperoni to the filling, but . . . well . . . I didn’t have any. Garlic, however, is something I have lots and lots of, so I made the most of it. Next time I may try the pepperoni, or maybe some sun-dried tomatoes.
I’m not going to lie to you here; these are probably not on anyone’s diet. That’s all I’m going to say about that!
I use a potsticker press because it seals the dough nicely and makes it easy to work with. Keep it lightly floured for best results. (You can buy these online for just a few dollars, and they come in hand for all kinds of recipes.) If you don’t have one, just fold the circle over on the filling and press the edge firmly with a fork. Looks really don’t matter, because they’re just going to puff up into potato-like shapes. Who cares, when they taste the way they do?
Once fried you can leave them as they are, or you can brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with coarse salt and a little cheese. I waited too long to do this and my cheese wasn’t very cooperative, defiantly refusing to melt. A few seconds under the broiler took care of that. Hah!
In my usual “go big or go home” approach, this recipe makes a whopping 24 rolls. The recipe can easily be cut in half, or you can freeze some for another time. (I vote for just eating them hand over fist.) Besides, if you’re going to go to the trouble to deep fry, you might as well go for the gusto.
They’re also good the next day, especially if you warm them up a little.
½ cup salted butter, softened (if using unsalted, add an additional ¼ t.salt)
1 generous tablespoon (3-4 cloves) garlic, minced
¼ cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (more to taste)
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2½ cups very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
5 cups bread flour (more for dusting work surface)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
oil for frying (I use peanut oil, but canola or safflower are also good options.)
melted butter and grated cheese if desired to top hot rolls
In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook is best) combine water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over it and let it sit for 5 minutes. (It won't foam a lot, but as long as your yeast is fresh, it will do its job.)
Add flour and beat until well-combined.
Add olive oil. Continue to knead by machine for 5 minutes, or drop dough onto floured surface and knead by hand for 7-8 minutes. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Cover and allow the bread to rise for 1 hour.
Working with half the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured board ¼-inch thick. Cut with a large round cutter - about 3½ inches across. Place 1 generous teaspoon of garlic mixture on each round of dough and press in half, using a lightly floured potsticker press (or fold the dough over the mixture and press firmly around the edge with a fork).
Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 375 F. Fry a few at a time, turning once, until rich golden brown - just a few minutes. Place between sheets of paper towel to absorb extra oil.
Brush hot rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt and shredded cheese if desired.
If you’re feeding a crowd and want an easy way to serve burgers, here’s a great recipe for you! Two huge burgers, sliced like a pie, will yield twelve portions. The buns can be made a day or two ahead (or you can get them done really early and freeze them) so all you’ll need to do is cook those mammoth burgers and slice some veggies. Sweet, huh? You could even cook the burgers ahead and freeze them too; they’d be easy to warm up in the oven.
The Man thought this one up, of course. He’s the burger fan around here. Of course, he thought that each should be sliced into four pieces, not six, but he lost that battle. You know what’s really neat about this idea? The pieces are much easier to eat than a regular burger.
My apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot for messing with his lyrics. Since we went to the same high school (he was a few years behind me) I know he’d be okay with this. (Okay, okay. Eight years. He’s eight years younger. Are you happy now? Sheesh.) Go, Roughriders!
I used a 10-inch cast iron round griddle for one of the buns and an 11-inch tart pan for the other. Cake pans would work fine too, but I wanted something with low sides so the buns would brown all the way down. Both worked like a charm. In a pinch, just lay your round dough on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
¼ cup oil (I used peanut oil, but any mild-flavored cooking oil will work)
2 eggs, divided
Lightly grease two 10-11 inch round pans. Sprinkle with cornmeal if desired. (You may also use parchment instead of the grease.)
Put 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. (A sturdy stand mixer with a paddle attachment is best.)
In a small pot, heat the water, milk, sugar, and oil until very warm - 120-130 degrees. Pour into the bowl with the flour mixture, add one egg and one yolk (reserve the egg white for later) and beat until smooth.
Switch to a dough hook and add remaining flour until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7 minutes.
Place dough on floured surface, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
Divide dough into two equal parts. Working with one at a time, flatten with your hand, then roll out into a 9-inch circle. Place in prepared pan and pat firmly to make sure it's evenly thick. Press around the outside edge to make it slope down to the pan (creating more of a dome shape).
Cover with a towel and let the buns rise for 45 minutes. They won't double in size but will be puffy.
Heat oven to 400 F.
Add 1 teaspoon water to the egg white and whisk until foamy. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake buns for 15 minutes, or until the tops are rich, golden brown. Remove from oven and place pans on cooling racks for 5-10 minutes. Lift buns onto racks to continue cooling.
Slice in half horizontally and fill as desired. (Note: if using the same size pans to cook burgers, use extra-lean meat to avoid shrinkage.)
“Put de lime in de coconut” and treat yourself to a slice of this sweet (yet tangy), dense (yet moist) quick bread. An easy-to-make poured fondant icing crowns the bread with a fudge-like lime topping, a pleasure to bite into. Coconut cream and shredded coconut add unique flavor and texture to this bread.
Don’t expect cake, my friends. The line between cake and quick bread can be a little fuzzy, I know, but this is definitely bread. I had to keep talking myself out of adding beaten egg whites, cake flour, more leavening. If I want lime cake, I’ll make a lime cake! What I was looking for was a bread that would slice nicely for a spring tea luncheon my Homemakers’ Club is having next month, and this is definitely it.
You know by now that I rarely create easy recipes, preferring to fuss with my food. But this is sooooo easy. The hardest thing you will have to do is juice and zest the limes. I finally broke down and bought a little hand juicer (up ’til now I’ve heroically squeezed citrus by hand, wedge by wedge) which made it go much faster, so you may see more lemon and lime recipes from me in the near future.
Do not overmix. It’s okay to see small streaks of flour in the batter when it’s being spread in the pan. Too much stirring makes a heavier loaf and can create tunnels.
If you can’t find coconut cream, substitute coconut milk or regular milk. (Use 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons.)
Be patient! Don’t cut that loaf until it’s completely cooled. In fact, it slices beautifully if you wrap the cool, iced bread in foil and refrigerate it overnight. Besides, the texture and flavor are always better on the second day.
I haven’t tried this (yet) but I’ll bet this bread would be killer with chopped macadamia nuts.
I use a grater for lime zest because I like to see the flecks in the bread. A microplane will work well, too, but it won’t be quite as pretty.
1 can (5.2 ounces) coconut cream (or use ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
green food coloring (optional)
⅔ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons water
2 oz white chocolate (about 22 Wilton candy melts . . . or ⅓ cup)
Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare one 9x5" loaf pan by lining with a piece of parchment (let paper come over the sides so you can lift the bread out easily) and spraying with non-stick spray.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice. Set aside.
With a fine grater, zest the limes, being careful to just grate off the dark green skin, not the white underneath. Juice the limes. You will need ¼ cup of juice for the bread and 1 tablespoon for the icing. If you don't have quite enough juice, add a little water.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well, scraping the side of the bowl often.
Add the coconut cream, vanilla, and just a tiny amount of green food coloring (if using). Mix until combined.
Add the coconut and dry ingredients. Stir gently just until most of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix!
Spoon into prepared loaf pan and gently smooth the top. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift loaf out and let it cool completely.
ICING: (This can be poured on warm bread.)
In a small pan heat the powdered sugar, corn syrup, lime juice, and water until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate. Once melted, stir until it cools and thickens a little, then pour over the bread, allowing icing to drip down the sides of the loaf.
Let icing harden and serve or store. (This bread is even better the next day.)
Hearty and rustic, yet surprisingly light (thanks to the addition of a full bottle of Guinness Draught Stout), this bread will be the ideal accompaniment for your St. Patrick’s Day feast. Oats and whole wheat flour give the loaves a wonderful texture, molasses adds a slightly sweet back note, and the beer adds a rich, yeasty, complex flavor. I added chopped raisins to one loaf and loved the results, especially when the bread was toasted.
You can use any dark beer you want, of course. I just picked this because it screamed “St. Patrick’s Day” to me, and I was won over by the packaging that promised a hint of chocolate and coffee flavor. Sold!
I had to make a second batch to double-check my measurements. I always lose count when it comes to cups of flour and then I try to convince myself that I’m (pretty) sure it was three cups when it actually might have been four. But that would haunt me, so . . . I give in and make it again.
I hate to burst your bubble if you see me as some meticulous baker, but here is my actual plan of action for this recipe. Seriously, this is the way I work!
Obviously, I need someone to follow around after me, taking notes!
Anyhow, I’m glad I had to make another batch because I was inspired to make the dough balls into shamrocks, and . . . aren’t they nice? I also ran out of wheat flour (only had a cup) so used 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour, which made the dough a little darker and—according to my husband—even tastier. If you have some, you might want to try that!
1 bottle (11.2 fl oz) dark beer (I used Guinness Draught Stout)
4 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup molasses
½ cup very warm water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 package active-rise yeast
1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick)
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2½ - 3 cups white bread flour
½ cup chopped raisins - optional
cornmeal - optional
In a small pan, combine the beer, butter, and molasses. Cook over low heat until the mixture is lukewarm and the butter is mostly melted.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow it to get bubbly - about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended) combine the beer mixture, yeast mixture, oats, wheat flour, and salt.
Slowly add 2 cups of bread flour and mix well. Add as much remaining flour is needed until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Continue to knead by machine for 6 minutes (or drop onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 8 minutes), then place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
Move dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces. Form into balls and place on a large baking sheet. If you are adding chopped raisins, knead into the dough before forming the balls. (Optional: sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal for a crunchy bottom crust.)
Cover and allow to rise until double - about 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Cut a large "X" in the top of each loaf and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the bread is a rich brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Move to a rack to cool. You can brush the top of each loaf with butter if you want them to have a sheen, and to soften the crust slightly.
TO MAKE SHAMROCKS: Once the balls of dough are shaped, cut four 1½ - 2" slices at (picturing a clock) approximately 10:00, 2:00, 4:00, and 8:00. Make sure to leave the center intact. This creates three petals and a stem. Pull firmly down on the stem to stretch it out into the desired shape. Use your fingers to shape the petals and cut a shallow slice down the center of each to add shape. Bake as directed above.
Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
Divide dough into two pieces. Add chopped raisins if desired. (Totally optional.)
Place on a baking sheet. I like to dust mine with cornmeal for a crunchy bottom crust. (One is plain, one with raisins.) Let ’em rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
After loaves have doubled, cut a large ‘X’ on each and bake.
Baked. Brush the hot loaves with butter if you want them shiny, or prefer a softer crust.
IF YOU WANT TO CREATE SHAMROCKS:
Form the dough into two balls.
Cut 4 slits. (My cuts were a little wonky. Aim for 4:00 and 8:00 on the bottom and then stretch out the stem.)
Mold and shape the petals. Make a cut down the center of each to add shape.
Place on baking sheet and allow to rise until almost doubled, then bake!
Q: Does the house smell amazing while the bread bakes?
A: The house smells like a brewery! A fragrant brewery, but . . . pretty heady.
Q: I don’t like beer. Can I use wine instead?
A: Are you crazy? No! Go home.
Q: Can you give me a gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free version of this recipe?
A: Um. You haven’t been hanging out here very long, have you? I’m a Paula Deen type of baker. This is actually a healthy recipe for me; molasses instead of white sugar, less than a pound of butter, and some oats and wheat flour thrown in to impress you. You’re welcome!
Anyone else? No? Good.
I have a very elaborate recipe in the works. This was easy; the next one will be a lot more challenging. Bwa ha ha. Check back in a few days!
What’s rich and brown, shiny and sleek, and smells like Vermont at sugaring time? The answer is Maple Challah, aka “the end of dieting as we know it”. Once this heady fragrance wafts out of your oven, all good intentions will be put aside and you’ll be a gonner!
I used maple syrup to sweeten the dough, but it doesn’t give enough maple “kick”, so I turned to my trusty Mapleine. Maple flavoring, maple extract, it’s all good! And, in case you’re wondering, I found kosher maple flavoring and refined coconut oil on the internet.
Whether you make a simple three-strand braid or go all out for the six-strand braid, this bread won’t fail to impress; it’s gorgeous even if you try desperately to follow instructions and still come up with a wonky braid!
I tried a six-strand braid. Several times. I had no trouble with four strands (see my Pumpkin Challah ) but apparently, that was pushing the limit of my braiding skills. I hate videos, but this is one time I probably should have watched a tutorial. In the end, I did the best I could, tucked the less than attractive ends under, and hoped that a good, puffy rise and a lot of egg yolk would cover my worst messes. It wouldn’t pass the test of experienced challah bakers, but it worked for me.
Because I can never get enough maple flavor, I sprinkled the top of one of the loaves with maple sugar which gave a slightly burnt-sugar flavor and made the crust a tiny bit crunchy. I loved it, though it takes away the pretty shine. It’s totally optional, of course, but mmmmmm. Here’s what the sugar-topped loaf looks like next to one with a traditional egg yolk wash:
Left loaf was brushed with yolk wash and sprinkled with maple sugar
Remember that challah dough is rich and will take a little longer to rise than a basic sandwich bread. Make it when you’ll be home all day so you don’t try to rush it. Ninety-minute rise times are to be expected. You don’t have to sit and watch it – just set a timer and go about your business, and before you know it you’ll be tearing off a tender piece of maple goodness.
Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves. Simple braids are very attractive. For more complicated braids, look for online tutorials.
½ cup hot water
½ cup raisins
½ cup pure maple syrup
¾ cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 eggs plus 1 yolk, divided (extra yolk is for glazing bread)
⅓ cup refined coconut oil, melted (or you can use a mild-flavored cooking oil)
1 tablespoon maple flavoring - or to taste
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
Combine hot water and raisins in a small bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes to plump raisins. Stir in maple syrup.
In a small bowl or cup combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow it to sit until yeast is foamy.
In a large bowl, (a stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended) combine eggs, oil, maple flavor, the raisin mixture, and the yeast mixture.
Add flour and salt. Mix well. Allow mixer to knead dough for 5-6 minutes. (If mixing by hand, drop dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 minutes.The Dough should be soft and slightly tacky. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour.
Place dough in a greased bowl. Turn to coat the dough, cover with a dish towel, and allow it to rise until doubled - about 90 minutes.
For one large 3-strand braid, divide dough into 3 equal parts. (For 2 small braids, divide into 6 equal parts.) Braid loosely and tuck ends under. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Allow bread to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 F.
Whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Brush generously over entire challah. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until bread is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
Combine eggs, oil, maple flavor, raisin mixture . . .
. . . and the foamy yeast
Put dough in greased bowl and let it rise. It will go from THIS . . .
. . . to THIS. Now comes the fun part – braiding!
Braiding a round challah. I’m not EVEN going to try to explain this. The Internet is your friend, with lots of tutorials.
Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with maple sugar if desired. The more sugar you add, the crunchier the crust will be.
Bake. Cool on a rack if you have superhuman self-control. Otherwise, rip and tear!
I haven’t tried it (yet), but I’ll bet this recipe would be great for rolls, too. I think I’ll add them to my Thanksgiving plan. And I may try mixing maple syrup with that egg yolk before brushing it on the bread. If you beat me to it, let me know how that works!
What a satisfying nod to “Pumpkin Everything” season this glossy challah bread is! Pumpkin puree enhances the slightly sweet, subtly spiced dough, assuring it a place of honor at any table. Seriously, it will steal the show!
And I have to tell you, Pumpkin Challah makes the ultimate French toast. Drizzle it with maple syrup and dig in.
You know I love to play with my food, right? I thought a 4-rope braid would be difficult to do, but it really wasn’t. There are lots of videos on the Internet, but you probably won’t need one. Here’s a nice tutorial from Baking Bites.
Basically, if you think of your ropes as always being numbered (starting from the left) 1,2,3, and 4, it will go like this:
1 over 3
2 over 3
4 over 2
Repeat until you run out of dough. Just remember: no matter what, #1 is always the rope on the left and #4 is always the rope on the right.
. . . and back to 1 over 3. Keep going until you run out of dough.
Pinch the ends and tuck under. Let rise under a damp cloth until doubled.
I’m going to get all wild and go for the 5 rope version next time. No guts, no glory!
Challah is a fairly rich dough, so it can take a little longer to rise than most recipes. Count on 90 minutes instead of the standard hour for each rise. Be patient; the wait is worth it.
Note: I kept this as simple as possible, but you might want to add raisins to the dough just before you put it in the bowl to rise. And, of course, poppy seeds or sesame seeds on the top before baking is traditional. I just wanted to see it in its shining glory, unadorned.
I cut back on the sugar a little for this recipe because my first try seemed sweet—like those lovely Hawaiian rolls. If that’s what you’re looking for, add an additional 1 tablespoon of sugar. I won’t tell!
Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves. Add raisins if you wish, or sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds before baking.
¾ cup warm water
a pinch of sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
2 eggs plus 1 yolk, divided (extra yolk is for glazing bread)
¼ cup refined (no flavor) coconut oil, melted (or you can use a mild cooking oil)
5 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and sugar. Add yeast and let sit until frothy - about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended) combine pumpkin, 2 eggs, and melted coconut oil.
Add yeast mixture, flour, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Knead by machine for 5-6 minutes, or by hand on a floured surface for 7-8 minutes.The dough should be soft and slightly tacky. It may leave streaks on the side of the bowl, which is okay. If it's really sticky, add a little more flour.
Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. It should feel pillowy soft. Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled, 60-90 minutes.
Punch dough down lightly, divide into 4 equal parts, and roll each into a 24-inch rope. (If making 2 smaller loaves, divide into 8 equal parts and roll each into a 14-inch rope.)
Pinch the 4 ropes together at one end, separating each rope slightly. When you're braiding, remember that whichever rope is on the left is always #1, and whichever is on the right is always #4. Braid! (But not too tightly.)
Put #1 over #3
Put #2 over #3
Put #4 over #2
Repeat until finished. Pinch the ends together and tuck under.
Place on parchment covered baking sheet, cover with damp cloth and allow bread to rise until doubled - about 90 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 F.
Whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Brush generously over entire challah.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until bread is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
Mix in the dry ingredients and knead by machine for 5 -6 minutes (or by hand 7-8 minutes)
You’re going for a soft dough, so it’s okay if it doesn’t come cleanly away from the side of the bowl.
Put dough into greased bowl, turn to coat. Form into soft, pillowy ball and let rise until doubled.
Divide dough into 4 pieces (8 if you’re making 2 small loaves). Yes, I’m OCD. Yes, I’m weighing mine. You don’t have to!
Once braid has doubled, brush with egg yolk glaze and bake.
You can also opt for making 2 smaller loaves.
I have another version in mind, so you’ll probably see another challah recipe soon. If you’ve been following my blog, I’ll bet you can guess what flavor it will be. C’mon . . . let’s see those guesses!
It’s the first day of October, and (ahem) I’d like to point out that this is the first new pumpkin recipe I’ve posted for the season. You would really admire my restraint if you saw the long list of possible pumpkin creations I’ve accumulated, taunting me daily. These flaky, tender (yet slightly crunchy) biscuits were on the top of that list, and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
The pumpkin flavor and blend of spices add a depth of flavor to the biscuits but aren’t overwhelming. And they are so versatile! Add a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar before baking for a sweet touch or cover biscuits with sausage gravy for a savory flair. They are seriously good either way.
Homemade biscuits are really easy, as long as you remember two things:
Keep everything cold
Handle the dough as little as possible
By now you probably know that I have a love/hate relationship with shortening. I know it’s not a healthy choice, and try to use alternatives as much as possible, but I’ll say it again: biscuits, pie crust, and peanut butter cookies just aren’t as good without it. I’m willing to make an exception for these goodies. If you aren’t, then, by all means, substitute very cold butter. (But they probably won’t be as light and fluffy.)
I used fresh ginger in this recipe. If you don’t have any and must make these right now, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger.
These easy biscuits are subtly flavored with pumpkin and spices, perfect as a meal accompaniment or snack. Flaky and tender, they are soft inside but slightly crunchy outside. Irresistible! Makes 10 jumbo biscuits.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or you may substitute ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1¼ cups COLD buttermilk
½ cup pumpkin (solid pack puree)
½ cup COLD shortening
2 tablespoons COLD butter
Optional: cinnamon sugar
Heat oven to 450 F. Cover baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, grated ginger, and spices.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, pumpkin, and egg. Set aside.
Add cold shortening and butter to dry ingredients and, using a pastry blender, blend until there are no lumps larger than a pea.
Add buttermilk mixture all at once and stir just until most of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix. It's okay if there are some streaks of flour.
Turn dough out onto generously floured surface. Turn once to coat with flour, then gently pat with your hand until the dough is almost 1-inch thick.
Using a floured biscuit cutter, press straight down and lift straight back up. Lift each biscuit with a thin spatula and move to prepared baking sheet. Gently gather scraps and press together to cut.They won't be as pretty, but will still taste great. (For a sweet biscuit, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.)
Bake for approximately 13-14 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Cool on rack.
Here’s the photo I entered in the CuttingBoard.com photo contest.
I have spent the last three days arranging and rearranging a variety of meats, cheeses, and accompaniments on a bamboo cutting board. I stepped out of my happy little baking world to dabble in the art of charcuterie when I was inspired by the Cutting Board and John Boos Photography Contest to try my hand at something other than taking photos of cookies and cakes.
What began as a fun project for a contest may have turned into a new obsession. Trust me, when you look at the cutting boards on Cutting Board’s website you’ll understand my sudden fascination with cold cuts and the many ways of displaying them.
Don’t worry, it’s not all about salami and cheese. I also created a super yummy bread to use in my photo—one that has swirls of garlic, olives, and cheese. The bread dough is made with pumpkin ale, and is chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. Killer!
You’ll find the recipe at the end of this post.
For my first effort, I used a light box and photographed a lovely collection of goodies. It was very attractive and (I think) appealing. But instructions for the contest said that they appreciated “originality and humor”, which my photo didn’t exactly express.
Haha, do you like the way I used camo duct tape to hold up the tablecloth in the background? Claaaaaaassy.
Well, shoot. I’d have to try again.
I pulled out the paper mache bears I made for a fair display this year and put them to work. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how many photos I had to take to get one I liked. It took me two days and three separate setups and photo sessions. The lighting was off, the light outlet under the window showed, the bear’s ear was wonky, the salami was blurry. I like to use the natural light in my dining room when I can, or my lightbox when I can’t, but these bears had to be looking through the window.
The window with the screen removed, of course. And in case you should try this at home, here’s a tip: if the photographer gets involved with reviewing her photos and forgets to close that window, a whole lot of moths will see it as an invitation to visit. Gah!
This was a real learning experience. I’m used to taking photos of baked goods, and can usually get something I like in one session. But this? Wow. I am going to dig out that Canon Rebel T3 for Dummies book and figure out my camera if it kills me.
Throughout this ordeal, I was sending photos to my daughter, asking her which ones she liked. Begging for suggestions. After hearing me complain about overexposed cheese, blurry salami, and depth issues, she finally asked me if I used my F-stop.
It seems there are other options on my little Canon Rebel T3 than Auto Focus. Who knew? Well, actually, I knew. I’d read that Dummies book, and some of it actually made sense at the time, but at my age (don’t ask) retention is sometimes problematic. So I usually use Auto Focus or sometimes play with manual and A-Dep (for when I want everything in focus). This time I played around with the AV option too, to try to get the bear heads a little out of focus so the board of food would stand out.
To be completely honest, I don’t even know which photos were the result of which methods. There were literally hundreds of photos to go through when I was done.
I was through with the second session, thinking I had a couple of good shots when The Man mentioned that I should have put smoked salmon on the board, as a bear attractant. Why didn’t I think of that? We live up in the mountains, and a trip to the store usually just has to wait for my regular weekly jaunt to town, but under the circumstances, I made an exception and raced for smoked salmon and some Prosecco. (I felt that sparkling wine would be a good addition.)
So much for that. I waited until the sun went down so the light coming through the window wasn’t glaring. I set up the lights and camera. Again. Loaded up my cutting board with goodies. Again. Added the salmon and the wine. Took a ton of photos, put away the meat and cheese. Again. And then realized that:
I’d piled too many things on the board. It looked cluttered. Note to self: less is more.
I should have flaked a piece of the fish so it would look like fish. It looked like ham! (Trust me, it cost more than ham!)
By the time I stopped fussing, it was almost dark, which turned everything muddy.
I briefly considered one more try the next morning, but just didn’t have it in me. The photo without the salmon and wine would have to do.
Behind the scenes
We’ll be eating a lot of salami, nibbling on a lot of cheese, and noshing on olives for the next week or so. Or maybe I should open a deli? But it was worth it; I learned a lot, and (with the exception of a few frustrating moments) enjoyed the experience thoroughly.
And hey, in case you were wondering, sparkling wine doesn’t last. Someone had to drink it immediately, right? But I shared it with my friend.
Here’s that recipe for you. I used pumpkin ale, but any beer will do.
This soft bread with a chewy crust and delightful swirl of garlic, olives, and cheese will be the talk of your charcuterie board! Makes two small baguette-type loaves.
¼ cup warm water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 package active-dry yeast
1 bottle (12 oz.) beer. I used Pumpkin Ale
1 tablespoon olive oil
3½ - 4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup grated cheese - cheddar is great, or add in some strong cheese too (Asiago, Parmesan, Romano).
1 cup chopped olives (A mixture of green, black, Kalamata)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
In a small bowl, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow yeast to soften 5 minutes, or until bubbly.
In a small pan, gently warm beer on low heat just until lukewarm.
In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, beer, and olive oil.
Add 3½ cups bread flour and salt. Mix with dough hook for 3 minutes. If the dough is still very sticky, gradually add additional flour until just slightly tacky to the touch. Continue to knead by machine for another 3 minutes. (If kneading by hand, after stirring in the 3½ cups flour, drop dough onto well-floured surface and knead 8 minutes.)
Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover and allow to rise until double, approximately 1 hour.
Punch dough down and roll into a 9x18 rectangle. Brush lightly with melted butter. (You won't use it all. Save some for the top of the baked bread, for a softer crust.)
Sprinkle the cheese, olives, and garlic on the dough and roll up from the long side. Pinch the seam and ends to seal. Cut the roll in the middle, creating two long loaves.
Pinch the cut ends closed, and roll each loaf gently to achieve an even size.
Place both loaves on prepared sheet and let rise for about 90 minutes, or until they feel puffy. (They won't double but should come close.) Slash the tops several times with a very sharp knife or razor blade.
Place pan of water on lower rack of the oven. Heat oven to 450 F.
BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN YOU OPEN THE OVEN. THE STEAM IS HOT!
Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until bread is rich golden brown. Brush with butter for a softer crust. Cool on rack.
Place dough in greased bowl. Turn to coat and let it rise.
Combine chopped olives, garlic, and cheese.
Dough is ready to go!
Roll dough into a rectangle, add filling, and roll it up
Cut roll in half and pinch the ends shut
Place loaves on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal
Slash and bake
Yes, I’ll be experimenting with more real food in the future. Possibly more healthy food, though I will never be able to stop baking. Nevah! Maybe I’ll have to change the blog to “The Rowdy Baker Reconsiders”, or maybe “The Reformed Rowdy Baker”. Once the Prosecco wears off I may laugh this idea off. We’ll see.