Posts tagged bread
Reading the description of chocolate yogurt loaf in Debbie Koenig’s Parents Need to Eat Too cookbook I was struck by two ideas: the recipe was inspired by New York City delis (as a former New Yorker I was intrigued) and it’s chocolatey goodness is hypnotic while still being dietlicious.
I’m all for chocolate treats that taste decadent but don’t pack too many calories or fat (think: brownie craving satisfier right here). But I wondered if I could boost the nutrition just a bit. That way I wouldn’t feel too bad adding in some chocolate chips too (hey, we all need more anti-oxidants in our diet and dark chocolate happens to have them, which is why I try to get a little dark chocolate in each day–it’s tough, but I somehow manage).
I figured this recipe with a hefty dose of yogurt would be perfect paired with whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour. I also added a tablespoon of ground flax, 1/4 cup chopped almonds, orange zest, and mini Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
Kid reactions: Well, it’s chocolate, of course they loved it! My teen who has quite the discerning taste buds didn’t like the added orange zest. In her words, “the orange zest brings out the flavor of the whole wheat instead of the chocolate so I’d skip it next time.” If your kids are begging for brownies but you want to try something that might be just a little healthier than your standard recipe, you might consider making this loaf.
Prep time: 15 minutes + baking
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt (I used Greek)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a loaf pan. (I thought two mini pans would work nicely here too).
- In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips.
- Beat the butter and sugar together on high speed. Then add in the egg and vanilla.
- Add half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture; blend.
- Add half of the yogurt into the batter; blend.
- Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and yogurt. (The batter will be stiff.)
- Mix in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts, if using.
- Spread the batter into the pan and cook for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through.
Bananas are a wonder food. They’re packed with potassium, fiber. They help build stronger bones. They’re better than Tums for achy stomaches… I could go on, but you get the idea. I really like bananas, which is why banana bread is an infrequent treat at our house. I eat them before they ever get ripe.
But occasionally I do buy a large bunch so that I’ll have a few leftover for bread. Now I’m a bit picky with my banana bread—I don’t like it overly moist, which makes the crust gooey by day two. I like hearty slices that can stand up to a little slathering of butter. This recipe is a tweak from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It uses yogurt to give the bread just the right smooth consistency. And it’s moist enough that I can substitute half of the regular flour for whole wheat without it becoming too dry. I also toss in some ground flax for an added nutrition boost (and then usually some chocolate chips because you can’t go wrong with bananas and chocolate…I mean, because you want added anti-oxidants).
And instead of a large loaf pan, I bake mine in two smaller pans. My favorite part of the bread is the crust anyway and smaller loaves equal more crusts–and more heels for everyone to argue over.
Ready to break out some bananas?
Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 mini loaves
2 cups flour (I use 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose)
¾ sugar (I use ¼ cup brown, ½ cup white)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
¼ plain yogurt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Coat each pan with baking spray.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl mash the bananas with a spoon and then use the blender to puree them. Add the melted butter, eggs and yogurt and blend again.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Add in the walnuts.
- Gently mix until just moistened.
- Add the batter into the two pans.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
Have you tried focaccia before? The chewy Italian bread is almost across between a thick pizza crust and a crusty French bread. And it’s dimpled all over the top with indents that act as little pools for olive oil. Mmmmmm.
I’ll admit—good focaccia takes time to craft. You’ll need to create a starter dough, or biga, the night before you plan on making the dough. And the bread will need a couple rounds of rising. But none of the steps are difficult–you just need a little patience. Sure, there’s plenty of recipes with shortcuts, some even call for using pizza dough in place of the spongy focaccia bread, but I promise the effort is worth it.
You’ll want to serve the focaccia hot from the oven. I try to only use half of the bread the first night. And with the leftovers, I make Italian sandwiches the next night using slices of ham, salami, pepperoncini (also called banana peppers), tomato, lettuce and mayo mixed with a little pesto (you could also use Italian salad dressing). See, so at least if you go to all the effort of making focaccia you should have enough for a couple meals—that’s if you family doesn’t dig in and eat it all the first night!
*From an old, well-worn copy of Cuisine at Home magazine
Servings: 1 loaf Prep time: 45 minutes + rising (x2) + 20 minutes baking
(Make this the night before)
1 1/2 cups water at room temperature
1 packet instant yeast
1 cup bread flour
For the dough:
2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary needles (opt.)
4-5 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Whisk the water and yeast together for the biga in a glass or metal bowl.
- Add 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight (but no more than 16 hours).
- Before preparing the dough, bring the biga to room temperature, setting it on the counter for at least one hour. It will be thick and foamy.
- Combine the biga and 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt and sugar for the dough in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 1 minute until incorporated.
- Transfer dough to a bowl coated with cooking spray. Pull the dough up and over itself until its top is smooth, then coat with spray.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 11/2 to 2 hours.
- Drizzle 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a 9×13 inch baking pan, then use your fingertips to stretch the dough to the corners of the pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it’s about 1 inch thick, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Top dough with rosemary. Coat your fingers with cooking spray. Make indentions in the dough with your fingertips.
- Drizzle dough with 4 to 5 more tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. (I usually only use 2.)
- Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer dough to a cooling rack.
It snowed here last week. And this week. Next week? Yup, snow in the forecast. My kids love to play outside, but with chillier temperatures, they’re not begging to go out anymore like they did when the first snowflakes came.
That’s okay. I find that wintery temperatures make the perfect excuse to start baking. Lately, I’ve been trying to involve my kids more with what I’m cooking up. That’s led to some fun discoveries–and my our current fascination with making things in miniature.
As a child, my favorite bread my mom would make was challah. I still remember watching her carefully braid three thick pieces of the eggy dough into a large loaf. My job? Topper. I would decide whether we would sprinkle the dough with poppy seeds or sesame seeds after my mom brushed the bread with an egg wash, just before she popped it into the oven.
The loaf always came out massive.
On a whim, I thought I’d refashion mom’s challah bread using my favorite roll recipe, letting my kids do the braiding. With only one egg in the batter, my roll recipe doesn’t carry quite the heft of a regular challah recipe, but I think it probably makes creating miniature versions a little easier with the more elastic dough.
I’m including my roll recipe, along with the tweaks below:
Prep time: 45 minutes + 1.5 hours rising/baking
Yield: 16 rolls
½ cup milk
1 stick butter or margarine
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 package yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons)
½ cup warm water
31/2-4 cups flour
- Place the warm water in a measuring cup and whisk in the yeast. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes and check that some bubbles appear on the surface (meaning the yeast is active).
- Over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. As soon as bubbles appear, move the pan off of the heat and add the butter, salt, and sugar. Whisk until smooth and melted in. Cool to room temperature.
- Add the yeast mixture to the buttered milk in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer to combine the ingredients, add the flour in 1 cup increments. The dough should start holding together after 3 cups. Stir in ½ to 1 cup more until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl.
- Sprinkle flour on a cutting board and place the dough ball onto the board. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball.
- Clean out the mixing bowl using warm water, then coat with cooking spray. Place the dough into the bowl and cover loosely with a lightly dampened cloth.
- Place in a warm place for 1 hour to rise. The dough won’t rise significantly.
- Divide the dough in two.
- On a floured work surface, knead one dough ball until smooth. Roll out to an 8-inch rectangle.
- Using a pizza cutter, slash into 4 equal pieces, working lengthwise.
- Cut each of the 4 pieces into 3 long pieces (again, lengthwise).
- Press the three pieces together at the top end, loosely braid the dough pieces. tuck the end pieces into the bottom part of the loaf.
- Place the formed dough onto a baking pan lightly coated with spray. Cover the roll with the slightly moist kitchen cloth.
- Repeat the process with the remaining dough slices and then with the other dough ball. You should have 8 mini-loaves in all.
- Let the formed dough rise again for 30 minutes. DO NOT allow the dough to go over that time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until loaves are just browned. You can also whisk an egg, add 1 teaspoon water, and then coat each roll with the glaze before baking to give each roll a shiny appearance.
Looking for more ideas about what to do with your family when the blahs set in after too many days stuck inside? Check out these boredom busters on Motherboard. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates.
What about your crew? Have you found creative ways to avoid cabin fever?
Raise of hands—who thinks they can’t make bread? Don’t worry, no one’s watching. Admit it, the thought of using yeast in baked goods scares you almost as much as the upcoming SpongeBob marathon on Nickelodeon.
I once thought I couldn’t make bread either—turns out, it is all about the recipe. My good friend Melissa made this bread for me when she invited my family over for dinner one night. “I wish I could make bread like this,” I told her. “You should try this recipe. It’s really easy,” she said. Sure it is, I thought sarcastically. I didn’t believe her at all. Still, I dutifully copied down the recipe fully intending to throw it away once I got home but instead decided to give it a try. I’ve been making loaves at least once a week ever since.
And the best part about making this bread is it’s a stress reliever. Seriously, follow me on this: Once the dough is mixed, you have to (or rather, get to) punch it down every 10 minutes. My middle child calls it “beater” bread. Now I’m no food science expert, so I’ve no idea why the punching makes this bread so good (probably has something to do with the two tablespoons of yeast in it), but I can tell you it does do wonders for the bread and your psyche. Give it a try—even my brother-in-law made perfect loaves the first time with this recipe.
- Fill a measuring cup with the warm water and then add the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for three to five minutes (bubbles should form, letting you know that the yeast is active).
- There are a couple different ways to mix up the dough. Sometimes, I beat half the flour with the wet ingredients with my handheld mixer. The dough will get a little unruly after you add the full 6 cups and you’ll spend more time kneading, but the end result is still perfect. Lately, I’ve been using my food processor to mix up the dough. If you have a large upright mixer, that will work well too.
- In a large bowl, or the food processor bowl, add six cups of flour and the salt. Mix. Add the oil to the wet ingredients and then gradually pour in the yeasted liquid to the flour (again, if you’re using a handheld mixer you should only use half the flour at first, then add in the rest until the mixer won’t mix any longer).
- Pull the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and briefly knead until smooth.
- Place the dough into a large, oiled mixing bowl (I spray mine with cooking spray) and cover with a slightly moist kitchen towel.
- Now, for the fun part! For the next 50 minutes, you’re going to punch down the dough every 10 minutes (so, four punching rounds). Set a timer at each ten minutes then punch away–you may need to dust your fist with flour.
- After the last punching session, let the dough rise for 10 minutes. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and separate it into two balls (or three, or four, depending on the size of loaf you want).
- Let the dough rest for about five minutes before kneading it and rolling it out to a thick rectangle (about one-inch), then roll up the loaf tightly as you would a jelly roll. Place the loaf onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Cover with the kitchen towel and let it rise for 30 to 60 minutes (I once forgot about the bread rising and it went for nearly 90 minutes without any problems).
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this recipe to turn out, but as I was flipping through bakery goddess, Zoe Francois’s book Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day, I kept coming back to the recipe for Chocolate Expresso Whole Wheat Bread (p. 301). I couldn’t resist. Dark chocolate and whole wheat. Good for you dessertesque bread, I had to try it.
A foodie blogger buddy of mine, Stephanie Stiavetti, first introduced me to Zoe Francois (and I should mention her co-author Jeff Hertzberg) through a post on gluten-free brioche. The idea of good-for-you, easy-to-make breads got my hands itching for some flour.
Making the bread was even easier than I expected. Your food processor will do most of the work. I opted for some rich, dark Ghirardelli hot chocolate instead of Expresso, but I also added in a bit of Black Onyx Powder, a super-concentrated bit of chocolate magic I get at Savory Spice Shop. You literally pour the dough from the food processor into a bowl for it to rise. I let my dough marinate in the fridge for awhile–per Zoe’s suggestion. On day two (I couldn’t wait any longer!) I baked up the loaf. The dense, flavorful bread was an immediate favorite with my kids. My oldest topped hers with raspberry jam. I kept it simple with a little butter. Next time, I’d try adding dried tart cherries and or walnuts into the dough too (I think Zoe would approve). I also skimped on the raw sugar on top for some reason. I’d definitely be more generous with the sugar when I make the bread again (soon). If you’re looking to combine some serious chocolate with whole wheat thrown in (so you can technically call it a healthy snack), I’d recommend this recipe. As far as I can tell, the recipe isn’t available at Zoe’s blog, but I found an excerpt at TalkFood.
So I’m trying to master whole wheat bread–the good, soft kind with a hint of honey, not the grainy variety that can be mistaken for a paperweight. I found a recipe that looked promising, plenty of honey, quick rising time a little gluten thrown in for a better rise, and–here’s the good part–it was no knead. Yup, skip the sticky fingers and just sorta pour the dough right from the food processor into the loaf pan. It seemed too good to be true. And it was.
I had my doubts when the dough went into the pan with a consistency like muffin batter. I poured just half of the batter in and decided to knead the rest (after adding more flour). I’m glad I did! The first loaf barely rose, fell flat when baked and I had to remove it from the well-greased pan with a butter knife. Not pretty. Loaf #2 rose perfectly, fluffed over the sides of the pan just so. I’m still tweaking the recipe and trying to put my own spin on it. But for now, I’ve learned at least one lesson–I don’t believe in no-knead bread. My kids agree–just check out these pics!