Bread Archive

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

apple and honey challah

apple honey challah, sliced

This month has came and has now almost gone and I’ve missed it entirely. It’s a shame, because September is my second favorite but less of a shame than it would be if I am still saying the same about October, which is my actual favorite. Nevertheless, I put my foot down and decided I absolutely, unequivocally would not let this month go without at least making you an apple honey challah. Due to my innate gift for impeccable timing (ha), I got the idea for this about two days after the High Holidays ended last year. So, for the better part of 12 months, I’ve plotted this spin on traditional challah and am still about six hours late on it. Typical.

baking with macs

Honey challahs are surprisingly easy — you simply swap sugar for honey, and you can increase it for a stronger honey flavor. Apple challahs, however, are challenging, mostly because larger chunks of baked apple are far more satisfying to bite into you than pea-sized ones, but they’re also tricky to work into a soft dough, and then shape that dough with a traditional braid. Many recipes I saw for apple challah forewent the braid, and baked the bread in a tin instead but it felt too much like cake to me. Plus, I like playing with Play-Doh bread dough far too much to do that. So, I came to two agreements with my dough. One, that I would not put so much apple in that it was more cake than bread, and also nearly impossible to shape and two, that if apple chunks fell out — and of course, they will — I’d just poke them back in. I’m pretty sure you’re picturing me right now negotiating with a large blob of dough on a speckled counter and your premonition would be correct. At least I’m not talking to myself, right?

spread 2/3 of apple chunks, fold over spread remaining chunks, fold again
tuck into ball, ready for rise 2 flatten, divide into four

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

flatbreads with honey, thyme and sea salt

flatbreads with thyme, honey and sea salt

Crisp flatbread. Fruity olive oil. Nutty cheese. Warm honey. Faintly crunchy sea salt. Fresh thyme. I can probably skip the rest of the post, as what else is there to know? You might like all of these things separately but together: welcome to my latest addiction.

sea salt, olive oil, honey, cheese, thyme

This is straight off a restaurant menu, though I’m always a bit embarrassed to mention than lest someone from the kitchen of this impeccable restaurant be reading along at home and feel insulted by this bastardization of their worthy efforts. Maybe I got it all wrong. Maybe my memory failed me. Maybe they spent 24 hours kneading the dough to this work of flatbread art and I have the audacity to suggest that you can get equivalent greatness from something that comes together in 5 minutes. My aim to extol, not insult so let’s just call this an approximation of it.

spanish cheese

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

sally lunn bread + honeyed brown butter spread

beaming loaf

Four and a half years ago, I shared a recipe for white batter bread which I like to joke was the original no-knead bread for its lazy approach to assembly. I learned about this particular batter bread when I took a multi-weekend bread baking class (cue sigh over pre-baby levels of free time) and even though it was the least hearty, stretchy, hollow-sounding, craggy-crusted or rustic of the breads we made, it was unforgettable because it reminded me of a cross between a cake and a bread. [Also, it was unbearably delicious when sliced warm and slathered with salted butter. Don’t trust me on this, go find out for yourself.]

all mise-d up
adding yeast

Well, it was mostly unforgettable. In the 4 1/2 years since, there have been new jobs, new apartments, new people (hello!), new projects, less sleep, more work and well, even unforgettable things can go and get forgotten until one of my favorite commenters (oh yes, I pick favorites; bad blogger!) piped up on the batter bread post the other day and told me that it reminded her of a Sally Lunn bread, which I had never heard of and immediately had to drop everything to research.

adding butter and milk

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

pizza with bacon, onions and cream

alsatian pizza

I am busted. Someone figured out that I made this over a week ago and have been holding out on you and called me out on it. Guilty as charged. I know nobody will believe me, but I swear, sometimes I just come up blank. I keep trying to figure out how I can convince you that you should make this now, right now, but I’m having a hard time. It’s January, after all, the month of absolving (oneself of having eaten a lot bacon) and resolving (to stop eating so much bacon), and I suspect that the last thing people want to be taunted with is a homemade pizza, creamy tangy base, lightly caramelized onions and thick crunchy salty smoky-sweet — that’s right — bacon lardons. Plus, we think this goes best with a generous glass of crisp white wine.

thick cut bacon
lardon-ed

All of which isn’t very “January” of me, and truthfully, I’d intended to squeeze this recipe in right before New Years, as tiny flatbreads for a cocktail party, for people like me who always forget to eat dinner before we go to a party but feel kind of terrible when we eat nothing but tortilla chips, salsa, various cheeses on crackers and cocktails for dinner. Mini-dinner food is the answer. But New Years was a blur and a few days into January I realized I had slab bacon and crème fraîche on the decine in my fridge. One should never let either go to waste.

onions, to caramelize a bit

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

grape focaccia with rosemary

grape and rosemary focaccia

It was a 87 perfect degrees in New York City today and I spied an actual pumpkin at the farmers market. I love this time of year, when you expect it to feel like fall but it decidedly does not; it’s like Bonus Summer: cool enough to bust out cardigans at night but warm enough it feels too soon to audition any of the heavier dishes to come this winter. I’ve been gushing over what Sam Sifton called “valedictory meals” in The New York Times Sunday Magazine — “fall dinners pretending to be summer ones” — and I imagine that wedges of focaccia baked with a grape you can only find this time of year, a roasted tomato salad, many formats of cheese and a lush glass of pink wine would nicely fit the bill.

concord grapes

Still, it feels blasphemous saying this, given that this is a Claudia Fleming recipe and I adore her baking so, but it really drove me crazy. The dough was too soft, there was more oil/butter in there than even possible to apply (and I’m not one who willingly cuts back on butter in recipes) and have you ever tried to seed a Concord grape? Take a seat, it will be a while. An almost paper-like exterior gives way to a gelatinous center that has no interest or inclination to give up its one to four (4!) seeds.

so so sticky dough

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