Breads



A few weeks back I had a friend over for dinner. I always love the smell of freshly baked bread when having company…so homey.  I had seen  a recipe on The Knead for Bread that I thought was pretty cool. It was a basic white bread, but rolled out like a jelly role, spread with pesto, rolled then sliced, finally twisted to ensure the pesto is spread throughout.  The technique is something I will bring to other “swirl breads”, it was beautiful!

I had an abundance of garlic scapes in the fridge that desperately needed to be used. No pine nuts and a guest who didn’t like Parmesan cheese.  So I worked with what I had. The result was a very tasty sun-dried tomato pesto.  I followed the bread recipe exactly.  It was a little dense, not as light of a crumb as I would have liked, but dunked in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it was still very tasty.  And for a few days to keep it fresh and as a great snack, I found throwing it in the toaster for a light toast was perfect.

I won’t re-write the recipe for the bread on my site, as you could follow the very clear steps laid out on the original recipe’s site. However, I was happy with the “pesto” that was infused throughout, so instead, that is what you will find here.

Ingredients:

4 garlic scapes roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
6 sun-dried tomatoes softened (either soaked in hot water, or packed in olive oil)
1/4 cup black olives
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Shred mozza and set aside
  2. Combine garlic scapes, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives  in food processor, puree.
  3. Add olive oil until everything comes together and makes a thick paste, probably about 1/3 of a cup
  4. Mix pureed mixture with mozzarella, season with salt and pepper.

A note that the garlic scapes will be very powering raw, but as they bake in the bread they totally mellow out.


peach cinnamon bun

Do you ever get something on the brain and just can’t let it go?  For me, it has been cinnamon buns.  I don’t know why.  I don’t particularly get cravings for them.  Once in a while when someone brings them into the office from one of the great coffee shops around the University, they are certainly a treat, but I don’t usually pick one up on my own accord.  I didn’t want to just make cinnamon buns, I wanted to incorporate some of the delicious fresh fruit that is now on the stands…peaches, blackberries, apricots and blueberries.  I figured the cinnamon sugar could only compliment the fruit.

I think one of the reasons I haven’t loved making cinnamon rolls is because I haven’t quite nailed the dough…these are pretty close, especially considering the whole wheat.  I imagine using white bread flour would have been almost ideal!  The dough of past buns were always too dense, too crusty.  They missed the light, almost flakiness of the commercially made buns.  I found this recipe by randomly searching on Google.  I made a few changes because what we had in the house in terms of the dough (baked with Whole Wheat Bread Flour rather than White and didn’t have the Wheat Gluten), and then created my own filling and used the cream cheese  icing recipe from the lime mojito cupcakes – the zing from it is such a refreshing compliment to the sugary sweetness of the cinnamon buns.

I am going to submit these to Yeast Spotting, and send them into work with Taster Boy – he hasn’t brought in goodies for a while, hopefully these are enjoyed by his colleagues!

Fresh from the oven
Ingredients:

1 cup milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup plump golden raisins
3 large peaches finely chopped or diced

1/2 recipe Lime Cream Cheese Icing

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer with a hook attachment, combine all dough ingredients.
  2. Allow to come together and form a ball.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly greased counter (use vegetable spray)
  4. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Turn into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic and let rest.
  6. Roll out rested dough to 20″ x 12″, cut in half length wise.
  7. Spread soft butter out on two pieces of dough, leave a 1 cm perimeter on the long sides.
  8. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
  9. Spread out cut fruit and raisins on top of sugar.
  10. Roll two separate rolls and pinch dough together.
  11. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into about 1 1/2 inch long rolls.
  12. Assemble in a pan, rolls should not be touching. Pat down gently.
  13. Let dough sit out and rise for one hour at least – should double in size and dough should be touching.
  14. Preheat oven to 350 F, bake for 20 minutes.  If using whole wheat flour be sure not to over cook as this could easily dry out the dough.
  15. Spread icing over buns… and enjoy!

Adapted from What’s Cooking America


Monday was a good friend’s birthday.  Since it is also a holiday here she opted to have a brunch in their beautiful backyard.  I insisted on bringing something…I don’t know why I am on a bit of a scone kick these days.  Perhaps because they are easy and they make the house smell sooooo good!  This recipe is apparently from the Empress Hotel’s legendary Afternoon Tea. They are simple and sweet.  Served with some lemon curd or crème fresh and warmed strawberry jam and perfect cup of tea and they make a great breakfast or snack.

I had a little of the batter left over so I left it in the fridge for 2 days and baked the final four scones a today.  I was worried they would be dry.  The texture was certainly different than those that I made directly after mixing.  The first baked batch was more buttery and a little crispy.  The batch made today was more crumbly and yet lighter.  If I was to make these again, I would let the dough sit at least overnight…I liked the result better I think.

Empress Scones

Empress Tea Scones
-20 scones

12 oz AP flour
4.5 oz sugar
1 oz baking powder
4.5 oz butter, cold and cubed
3 oz raisins, soaked
3 eggs
1 cup whipping cream

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter until pea sized crumbs are obtained.
  4. Slowly add the eggs and the cream, stirring lightly.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Gently turn out onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangle that is about 1/2 ” thick.
  7. Use a floured cutter to cut into desired shapes.
  8. Place on a silpad on a cookie sheet.
  9. At this point either place in refrigerator to set overnight.
  10. Or, brush with cream or egg wash.
  11. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes until golden on the top.
  12. Serve with jersey cream and strawberry jam.


Taster Boy loves to sleep in.  I often have the grand intention to do so, especially on Sundays…after all, Monday to Friday I can barely drag my sorry butt out of bed.  However, the weekends are a little different.  I seem to wake up at a decent time, usually between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.  I love my sleepy quiet Sunday mornings.  I usually make myself a tea, grab a book and a blanket and sit on the balcony for a while. An hour later or so, and I start getting the itch to make something for breakfast.  I have been thinking about scones for the last few days, and toyed with the idea of strawberries and Marscapone cheese, a Google search later and I stumbled across Katie at Good Life Eats.

I made a few tweaks to her recipe,  though not too many.  These were wonderful!  So flavourful, a fantastic breakfast or dessert (or snack!) scone.  They came together in less than 10 minuets, were a little messy, but really, what scones aren’t when you are wrist deep in flour and butter.   Katie’s recipe called for what sounded lovely, a honey milk glaze, but I opted not to add that and just sprinkled a little sugar on top.

I will certainly be making these again…in fact, I only baked half the recipe this morning and plan on baking the other half tomorrow morning to bring into the office a Monday morning treat.

IMG_3490
Ingredients:

4 cups flour (I used 2 cups white and 2 cups whole wheat flour)
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lime zest (she called for lemon, but I really like the lime flavouring)
1/2 cup butter, sliced
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 Tbs vanilla
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 c strawberries, diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and honey.
  4. Using two knives, cut the mascarpone cheese and butter into the flour mixture. (I found it easier to do the butter first and then the cheese  – make sure the cheese is fresh out of the fridge as this makes the method of “cutting it into the flour easier)
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the egg mixture and the strawberries. Gently stir until it forms together.
  6. Knead on a floured surface a few times – be gentle so you don’t squish the strawberries.
  7. Divide dough into two equal portions. Flatten into 8 inch rounds. Sprinkle the sugar on top.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F on a parchment paper lined sheet for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Cut each round into eights. Cool on a wired rack.
  10. Serve with some strawberry jam (and maybe a little creme fraiche on the side?!)


A few weeks back I baked Dorrie Greenspan’s Raisin Swirl bread.  One of the notes in the book was that this made a mean french toast…so Sunday morning sounded like a perfect test.


We hadn’t used the whole loaf, had thrown it into the freezer and thus a scrumptious breakfast in no time flat.  Not to knock maple syrup, because don’t get me wrong, I love the o0ey gooey sweetness of real maple syrup, but I think the flavoured butter that you see melting down the French Toast is what made it!  The best thing is that the butter was actually icing left over from the wedding cake the same weekend…double use, one recipe!

french-toast

Ingredients
French Toast
4 slices Raisin Swirl Bread
1 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 oz Fireball whisky – don’t know why I threw this in, maybe the cinnamony taste, but soooo good!
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Lemon Buttercream
3 Tbsp butter – room temp
2 Tbsp sifted icing sugar
juice from half a lemon
zest from lemon

Directions:

  1. Prepare flavoured butter: in a bowl whisk together all ingredients, the more you whisk, the lighter it gets.
  2. A low, large bowl whisk together: eggs, milk, fireball(!), cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet, on med/med-high heat.
  4. Dredge bread in egg mixture.  Because the bread is quite dense, let it sit a little and absorb the mix.
  5. Once butter is fully melted in the pan, add the bread (2 at a time).  Flip when golden crispy on the bottom.
  6. Top with lemon butter – serve with a fruit salad.

Wow!  I loved making this!  So many of my preferences for food are centred around my memories as a kid.  My grandma used to look after my brother and I when we were little – a few days a week after school when mom was at work.  Our standard after school snacks were chocolate chip cookies she made, or raisin bread from the local bakery (slathered in butter – I know, how bad for you!).  I loved, loved, loved the raisin bread.  It was so soft, light and sweet!

Yesterday, I was looking through cookbooks at our local bookstore, and came across a “hurt” version of Baking from My Home to Yours – by Dorrie Greenspan (yes, the Dorrie of the Tuesdays with Dorrie baking group).  I have been waiting to pick this up for a while now, and just felt too guilty dropping $50 on a cookbook when I had so many already – but at over 50% off for a book that had a little hole in the jacket, I couldn’t not pick it up! As I mentioned in my Whole Wheat Bread post, I am trying to learn and appreciate working with yeast.   So the first recipe I tried from Dorrie’s book was Raisin Swirl Bread.

As the dough was rising, the sweet aroma wafted through the house.  As it baked I took the dog for a super quick pee break and came back into the house welcomed by that fresh bread waft…so lovely.  And isn’t it so pretty?!  So this is dedicated to my grandma – whom I don’t see very often, but love a lot.


raisin-swirl-bread

Ingredients

For the bread
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just warm to the touch whole milk
1/2 stick (or 4 Tbsp) unsalted butter – room temp
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (I cheated and used pre-ground)
3 3/4 to 4 cups AP flour

For the swirl
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (this was optional, but we did it)
1 cup moist – plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter – softened

Directions:

  1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup warm milk.  Let rest 3 minutes, then sitr – the yeast may not have dissolved completely, and it may not be bubbling, but it should be soft.From here, Dorrie uses an electric stand mixer- in the world’s smallest kitchen, we don’t have space for that… so out comes the wooden spoon!
  2. Combine the remaining milk, butter and 1/4 cup sugar and mix with a hand held mixer for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, egg, vanilla and nutmeg and mix for one minute – at this point the mixture can look pretty “curdy”
  4. Ass the yeast mixture and beat on medium low for 1 more minute.
  5. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and on low speed mix until it just comes together – this is now when I switched to the wooden spoon. (or you could switch to a dough hook)
  6. Add another 1 cup of flour – beat it with the wooden spoon until it comes together and is almost clean of the sides of the bowl.  (Ass up to 1/4 cup more AP flour, 1 Tbsp at a time)
  7. Dorrie says the dough can’t really be kneaded by hand – it would be too soft… I didn’t find this. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen.
  8. Boil a kettle of water – create a water bath in the oven.
  9. Butter a large bowl – turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Place the dough in the oven (turned off) with the water bath below.  Let dough rise until is about double in size 1 1/2 hours approx.
  10. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes – or long enough to firm up to be rolled easily.  (At this point you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient (I wish I had done this – in all this is a long process, and to eat it fresh in the morning, this would have aided the process!)
  11. Make the swirl: combine sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a small bowl.
  12. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan.Dorrie suggests checking to make sure your raisins are nice and plump/moist – I had never really thought about this before…she suggested that if they are a little hard, to steam them.  I did this in our steamer, and then patted them dry – the result was what tasted like fresh (if you can have fresh) raisins – brilliant!
  13. Place dough on a large, lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle about 12×18.
  14. Gently smear 2 Tbsp of the butter on the rectangle – use your fingers!
  15. Sprinkle sugar over the mixture and scatter the raisins.
  16. Starting at the short side of the dough, roll it up jelly-roll fashion – make sure to roll it snugly.
  17. Fit the dough int the buttered pan, seam side down and with the ends tucked under the loaf.
  18. Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in warm place.  Let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan – about 45 minutes. I placed back in the oven until I was ready to preheat and then I moved it to the microwave – no drafts that way!
  19. When the dough has almost fully risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F – place rack at centre in oven.
  20. Melt remaining butter, brush exterior of loaf with it.
  21. Put the bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a sil-pad.  Bake for 20 minutes, then cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes, or so.  The bread should be a lovely golden colour and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.
  22. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes – then unmold.  Allow to cool to room temperature – and then ENJOY!

Delicious plain and simple, or toasted with a little butter – OR as Dorrie suggests make french toast – how wonderfully decadant!


Yeast scares me. I have the worst luck with it. I admire those who can whip up a fresh loaf. In the past the buns I would try to make were super dense, or loaves too heavy. (Except for the hot cross buns from Easter Weekend!)

Ironically my first job was in a bakery! For two years I would get up at 4 am on weekends, and go into the shop early, help the baker, prep the store for opening and be done just after noon. It was around this time that my brother bought my mom a bread machine. She used to make fresh bread on Sundays. I couldn’t stand the smell of waking up to bread baking. “How can anyone not like the smell of bread baking?” you may ask.  Well, I attribute it to working in the bakery (Kind of how I couldn’t stand movie theatre popcorn after working at a theatre).

Anyways back to the yeast…so because I never really felt the desire to make bread, I never really got the feel for making it. Now for some reason I finally have got the bug.  Maybe it is the world of blogging, reading about everyone’s triumphs, or maybe it is because I am really enjoying making everything that I can from scratch…regardless I want to start testing the waters.

So as my first attempt I chose a recipe from one of my new cookbooks: “Pie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High Altitudes” – and yes, I know that Vancouver is at sea level…but this way I am prepared for any vacations or moves that may be in our future! Of course I can never just follow a recipe. I have tweaked this one a little. I will certainly make it again. A great loaf warm. Served with soup. Toast, or even a plain old sandwich meat bread.

Newly added: Lisa Michele from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives suggested I submit this to YeastSpotting, so why not :).

whole-wheat-bread

Ingredients:
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup homo milk
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp veg oil
2 1/4-1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour

1 egg
coarse sea salt
poppy seeds
sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. In a cup combine the yeast, sugar and warm water, stir and set aside for about 5-10 minutes (until the mixture bubbles).
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk, the 1/2 cup water, oil and salt.  Set over low heat until it feels warm (120F) and bubbles just begin to show around the edges.
  3. Our warm liquid into a large bowl, allow to cool until 110F.
  4. When you are sure it is not too hot, stir in about 2 cups flour and then  the yeast mixture.
  5. Beat hard for several minutes using a sturdy spoon.  You will have a thick, soupy mass with a few lumps.  Gradually mix in about 1/4 cup flour.  Continue to mix, adding 1-2 Tbsp more flour as needed, until the dough begins to come together and looks stretchy.
  6. Flour your hands and the counter lightly, kneed the bread for 5 to 8 minutes.  Re-flour as needed.  Continue to kneed until the dough looks smooth and atiny and no longer feels sticky to the touch.
  7. In a large clean bowl, add 1 tbsp oil, add the dough, and turn it once to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel.
  8. Place bowl in the oven (turned off!) on the centre rack.  Also have a roasting pan of very hot water beneath it on the lowest oven shelf.
  9. Let the dough rise until nearly double in size (60-90 minutes).
  10. Once the dough has risen, punch it down to remove large air bubbles.  Turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead once or twice.
  11. Return it to the oiled bowl for the second rise.
  12. Oil loaf pan .
  13. Once the dough has gone through two rises, shape the loaf: turn the dough onto the counter and knead a few times and then pat and press it into a flattened rectangle about 8″x11″.
  14. Workign from one short end, roll the dough up into a log about 3 1/2 by 8 inches and punch the seam and ends to seal.  Set the dough seam side down in the prepared loaf pan, over lightly with oiled plastic wrap and set to rise in the microwave (or any other warm place).
  15. Preheat oven to 375F
  16. Whisk egg.
  17. Once loaf has almost doubled (45 minutes). Remove plastic wrap, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, poppy and sesame seeds.
  18. Bake for 30 minutes. The top should be a rich golden brown.  top the loaf out of the pan and rap your knuckle on the bottom; it should should sound hollow.  If it needs more time, return the loaf to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer before resting.
  19. Tip the bread out of its pan and cool on a wire rack.
  20. When cool, slice with a serrated knife.

The recipe calls for a water bath in the oven while the bread is baking, I totally forgot to do that, and it still turned out ok :).

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