Monday, March 30, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

A tasty, slightly grainy bread that is good for both toast and sandwiches makes my day. Today's winner? The oatmeal bread recipe from King Arthur Flour:
The sweet dark flavor of molasses and the heartiness of oatmeal tie the bread together. To start, you steep your oatmeal in water with molasses and a bit of butter, brown sugar and salt - note the steam rising from the bowl:

Then the recipe gets simpler: add flour and yeast:

This recipe notes that you add up to "about" 5 cups of flour. This is how my dough looked with the full five cups - a little tough to work it all in, maybe, but I needed it once I was kneading:
Here is the bread ready to rise. I spent about 10 minutes kneading by hand to get it smooth enough, but a stand mixer would get the job done a bit more quickly:

After the first rise:

And shaped into loaves:
After I shaped my bread, instead of proceeding with the recipe, I tightly covered the dough and put it in the fridge overnight. This will leave you with partially risen dough in the morning that takes a little longer for a final rise, but it allows you to have freshly baked bread a little earlier in the day than if you had started the dough before you showered. Here is the bread after a long, cold night:

And a few hours later, ready to bake!

Chewy Jumbo "Candy" Cookies

Need a quick treat? Something to bring to a friend? I tend to look no further than a good, basic cookie recipe. I like to go back again and again to the basics that everyone loves, like chocolate chip cookies - but sometimes I'll add candy instead for color and fun:

The recipe is from the Land o Lakes butter website, and this is everything you need to make the cookies - I just substituted candy for the chocolate chips. Butter, Sugar and Brown sugar in one bowl, two eggs, vanilla, a mix of flour and leavening, and yes, candy:

Here is what the mixture looks like once you've creamed together the butter and sugar, added your eggs and vanilla and then slowly mixed in your flour.

Once you add the candy or chocolate, you just scoop out chunks of dough - I used a 1/4 cup measuring scoop - flatten them a little, and bake. The top row of cookies has been flattened here:

And the result? Toddler approved!
Many thanks to Suzi for allowing me to post the above picture.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread

An easy way to make a basic loaf of bread impressive is to add a surprise inside - a swirl of cinnamon, here, in cinnamon raisin bread:

This is the same recipe as in my previous post on Cinnamon-Raisin Bread, From "The Breadbaker's Apprentice." The recipe does include complete instructions for a cinnamon swirl, and something like this could easily be added to, say, plain white bread in the form of cheese, or maybe a grainy bread, in the form of nuts and extra grains. 

This bread has two extra components to it - the swirl, and the raisins. The raisins themselves take a lot of extra kneading, and this is kneading that shouldn't be done by machine (I should add, though, that I knead all of my bread by hand). Here is the dough when I started to add the raisins, bit by bit. You can see that there are a large number of raisins still to be added:

And here is the dough once the raisins are incorporated, ready for the first rise:

After that rise, the amount of raisins in the dough doesn't seem nearly so daunting, and if you work them in well enough, they remain well-distributed while the dough is bulking up around them:

The last step before a final rise and baking is to shape the dough. This batch is split in two, rolled out, and then heavily sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar mixture:

Then, taking advantage of how a regular loaf of bread is formed, the dough is rolled into a log:

Placed in the pans for a final rise:

And after they crest above the tops of the pans, baked!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Butter Batter Brown Bread

I was visiting Mom and Pops this weekend and Mom mentioned a bread recipe she used quite a bit when I was little, so we decided to bake up a few loaves:
The recipe is from a box of Land 'o' Lakes butter. To start, you heat 1/3 cup butter, 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup honey, 1 Tablespoon salt and 2 1/2 cups buttermilk until warm (about 105 degrees):

While that is heating, mix together 3 cups whole wheat flour and 2 packages of active dry yeast.

When the butter mixture is warm, pour it into a big mixing bowl and add your wheat flour/yeast mixture, 1 1/2 cups rolled oats and 2 eggs:

Mix with an electric mixer until just moistened, and then mix for 3 minutes at high speed.

Then stir in enough all purpose flour (about 3 cups) to make a stiff dough:

Turn the dough into  lightly oiled bowl to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours:

Once the dough has risen, split it into two pieces and shape them into balls. put each ball of dough into a greased round casserole dish and let rise until each loaf is doubled again, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes, or until done. The loaves will sound hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom (if you've taken the loaf out of the pan to check for doneness and it needs to go back in the oven, there is no need to put it back into the casserole - it can go straight onto the oven rack).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pain de Campagne

I chose to make this bread - another recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" - because of the many possibilities for shaping. There are instructions to form many traditional shapes in the book, but here I have attempted the Tabatière, or "pouch:"
They don't look exactly like the photographs in my cookbook, but they tasted pretty good, so I'll take it.

This bread began with a fermented sponge. This is just flour, water and yeast mixed together that rises a bit, then is chilled overnight. It brings out the flavor of the wheat:

In the morning, the fermented starter is chopped into pieces and brought to room temperature before you add more flour (rye and bread flours), yeast, salt and water:

After the dough has been kneaded and risen, the real fun begins. To shape a pouch, you form your dough into a boule, then flatten half of it with a rolling pin:

You then brush or spray a little bit of oil of the non-flattened part of your boule and fold over the flap. It is then placed on your baking sheet to rise and from there is headed straight into a five hundred degree oven!

The Red Cat Cookies 'n' Cream Cake

This cake, from the Red Cat Bakery, has been a big hit every time I've made it. The recipe was posted over at Chow in 2006:
The cake layers themselves are pretty straightforward: creamed butter, sugar and eggs, a mix of flour and leavening, and a mixture of coffee, cocoa and water:

Once the layers are made, both the mascarpone cream filling and the chocolate buttercream come together in short order.

Don't worry too much about the construction. The recipe has enough buttercream to cover a lot of sins made by, say, uneven spreading of the filling, or a few crumbs from evening the layers. me.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I like to be able to bake something up quickly that everyone will like. Brownies are one of my best bets:
This recipe appeared in The New York Times in April of 2007. It uses just one bowl (more if you pre-measure your ingredients, of course) and less than an hour of your time. Here are the assembled ingredients - sugar and a bit of salt, flour, eggs, and a bowl of melted chocolate and butter- and the prepared pan:

You add the salt and sugar, then the eggs, vanilla and flour to your chocolate. Then pour it in the pan and bake...and prepare to be asked to make them again for the next occaision.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Black-and-White Banana Loaf

Don't let the title fool you - this is really a pound cake:

I like bananas, but only before they turn brown. Because of this, I'm always looking for new uses for old bananas. My mom bought me a fantastic cookbook by Dorie Greenspan - "Baking: From My Home To Yours" that contains more really amazing banana recipes in one place than I have ever seen. Here are some of my assembled ingredients: vanilla, eggs, milk, bananas mashed with lemon juice and rum, a mix of flour, salt and baking powder, softened butter, and brown and white sugars. I find that a recipe proceeds more smoothly if most of the ingredients are measured before you start, even if it means doing a few more dishes.

Here is the first addition to flour to most of the wet ingredients. the flour was added alternately with the milk. After that, the banana mixture was added in:

Here are the two batters - on the left, melted chocolate and butter mixed into  little less than half of the basic banana batter:

And here is the dough, marbled in the pan before baking!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Multigrain Bread

I'm a big fan of bread made with different grains. The recipe from the Breadbaker's Apprentice for "Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire" uses wheat bran, oatmeal, brown rice, and your choice of a few other grains. For this loaf, I used some coarse cornmeal:

The bread did not look nearly so appetizing when I started mixing. In the bowl below there is flour, brown sugar, honey, milk, water, yeast, salt, rice and a mixture of grains and water that had been soaking overnight:

That mess was quickly mixed and kneaded into a nice, cohesive dough. The dough is in a bowl coated with spray oil to keep it from sticking as it rises:
And after a second rise and coating with sunflower seeds, the dough, ready to go into the oven!