Showing posts with label Bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bread. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Caramelized Banana Bread

Caramelized banana bread, oh my.  This one has been in the making for awhile now.  Maybe you know, but one of my favorite baking books in the universe is flour by Joanne Chang.  And by "favorite", I mean I am absolutely obsessed with it.  It is always the first book I go to when I am looking for a new recipe.  So far, every last thing I have made out of flour is crazy divine.

So, why did I go and one-up my favorite banana bread recipe?  Because I had the idea of "caramelized bananas" and I just had to try it.  I mean, come on.  Just the thought of it had me salivating, and so it was do or drool time. Right?

So, I took my favorite five-star banana recipe from flour and altered it, and altered it, and altered it. (Did I mention I also added brown butter?  My favorite secret weapon.). And the end result, I feel, is a banana bread that would make Ms. Chang proud.  This banana bread is super moist, slightly dense, but still light on the tongue.  Make yourself happy and give it a try.  You just might cry at your happy results.  Enjoy!

(See, even this little Muppet couldn't keep her hands off it long enough for me to take photos!)

Caramelized Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf or 18 muffins

4 medium bananas, sliced
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup (175 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 325F.  Butter a 9-inch loaf pan, or line 18 muffin tins with paper liners, and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Cook, swirling the pan often, until the butter turns golden brown.  Add the sliced bananas and stir to coat with butter.  Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Continue cooking over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the bananas are easily mashable with the back of a spoon. Mash the bananas slightly, then remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and granulated sugar on medium for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Reduce the mixer to low speed and very slowly add the oil to the egg and sugar mixture.  Add the bananas, Greek yogurt and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined, 30-45 seconds.

In a medium bowl add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk gently until thoroughly combined (alternately, you can use a sifter and sift the ingredients together).  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Do not overmix, but be sure that no white flour streaks remain in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan or fill muffin liners 3/4 full.  Bake loaf for 55-60 minutes and muffins 20-23 minutes or until bread springs back when lightly pressed.  Allow to cool in the pan for at least half an hour and then pop it out of the pan.  Then, you should definitely...


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Burger Buns

I am flabbergasted that it has taken me this long to post this recipe.  I make these buns at least once a week and they are the most requested bread item from Mace and the rest of my family.  I think they are so ingrained in my brain and my daily life that they never hit my blog radar.  Utterly flabbergasted.

These buns are easy to make, requires ingredients you already have on hand (granted you are a frequent bread maker and have yeast), and so soft, supple and delicious you will not be able to eat just one. I make them often to go with turkey burgers and hamburgers, but the leftovers are great toasted the next day for sandwiches or breakfast with a bit of PB&J.

If you are anything like me and are obsessed with your kitchen scale, then you may take the extra step and weigh out each bun so they are exactly the same size.  Although, this isn't necessary (unless, as I said, you are scale obsessed and then this is absolutely necessary).  The only true advantage to weighing the rolls is that you won't have to worry about snatching the biggest roll for yourself because they are all the same size!

There have been studies done on the affect that fresh baked bread has on people's emotions.  I am not a scientist and don't really remember the actual results of this study, but I know that it makes people happy.  I know this to be true because we are always happy when we have fresh baked rolls in the house.  I never regret having homemade bread in the oven or in my mouth.  You won't regret it either...promise.

French Bread Rolls
Makes 12 rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water (approx 110 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast 
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water and yeast and allow to sit for approximately 5 minutes.  Once the yeast proofs (this is when it rises to the top and is slightly foamy) add the sugar, olive oil, salt and 3 cups of flour.

Mix on low speed until the dough comes to together.  Add the remaining one cup of flour a little at a time until the dough comes together completely and a ball forms (you may not need the entire cup).  Once the ball forms, continue to mix on low for another 4-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Put the dough in a well oiled bowl and then turn the dough over once so the oiled side is up.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for approximately one hour or until the dough is doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and divide into twelve equal pieces.  If you are weighing the dough they will be approximately 85 grams each.  Shape each piece into a ball (fine cooking has a great tutorial here) and then flatten each piece with the palm of your hand.  Flattening them will give them less height and more girth.

Put the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat approximately 1" apart. Sprinkle flour generously on top of the rolls and then cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile...preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the rolls have doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap, and then using a sharp knife cut two parallel lines in the top if each roll.  This is purely decorative, so if you want to make crisscrosses or nothing at all, it is perfectly fine.  Brush the top of each roll with olive oil and then bake for 12-14 minutes or until the rolls are light golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, or they are also delicious warm so you can also just go ahead and...


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homemade Pizza are a cook's canvas.  A space for me to get creative.  A place to try out unusual flavor combinations on unsuspecting guests, and get away with it. are a medium for experimentation and a place for all my favorite flavors to converge. are the perfect food in every way.  I love you.

Not even kidding.  I will write a love letter to pizza any day.  I think pizza gets a bad rap for being junk food, but I will step in here and bash that idea on the head.  Pizza does not have to be a junk food.  Yup, it's bad if you load it up with a triple cheese, five meat, stuffed crust, quadruple bi-pass disaster.  But, if you pick your toppings wisely, you will end up with something that's OMG tasty and whole lot healthier.  Pizza does NOT have to be smothered in cheese and fatty meats in order to be good.  Don't believe me?  Read on my friends...

I love experimenting with new pizza flavors.  Where else can you have goat cheese, arugula, walnuts, honey and bread all wrapped into one little bite?  Or,  mozzarella, pesto, olives, roasted red peppers and spinach?  The possibilities really are endless, and you have all the power to make it as healthy (or unhealthy) as you choose.  I have discovered that I prefer pizzas that aren't smothered in gobs of greasy cheese.  Cheese is a lovely accent and definitely doesn't need to be a show stealer.  Sprinkling goat cheese, feta or fontina on the end gives pizza a boost without inundating the tastebuds and allowing all the other toppings to shine.  Keep the cheese to a minimum, experiment with new flavor combinations, and you are going to dig into a pizza that is not only healthier, but more delicious than you could have ever imagined.

Toppings are an absolutely critical piece of the pizza puzzle.  But, the crust...oh the crust.  This can make or break a pizza.  I have a crust recipe for you.  It is adapted from Cooks Illustrated and it is heaven sent...or at least Christopher Kimball sent, but you get the drift.  Its good.  It's better than any pizzeria crust I've had, with the exception of a genuine brick fire oven crust.  This recipe mimics a brick fire oven in your own oven, and the results are as close as you'll ever get to this at home (unless of course you have a brick fire oven pizza at home.  Duh).

Homemade pizza is the perfect meal for entertaining.  Whip the dough out before your guests arrive and have everyone join in the fun of decorating the pizzas.  Or give everyone a dough ball to create their own mini-pizza.

And, of course, no pizza party is complete without a cold local brew.  This is a particular favorite of mine from a local German brewery, Bayern.  It is a Doppelweizen, combination Heffeweizen and Doppelbock.  It is 7.5% alcohol...hence the name Face Plant (that and our little town's skiing problem obsession).

I'll share some of our favorite pizza toppings, but get creative!  Have a favorite flavor combo?  Add it to your pizza, you won't be disappointed.

-Pesto sauce, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, chicken and a smattering of fresh mozzarella on top.  After the pizza cooks, add fresh spinach to the top and let sit for five minutes before cutting.  The spinach will wilt ever so slightly and your pizza will not be watery, which cooking spinach on pizza tends to do.

-Olive oil & garlic sauce, thinly sliced pears, chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of goat cheese.  After the pizza is cooked, add fresh arugula to the top and let sit for five minutes.  Drizzle with honey and then cut and serve.


**A note about this dough: it needs to sit in the fridge for a full 24 hours before using, so you'll need to think ahead and make this the day before.  Its worth the wait.**

"Brick Fire" Oven Pizza Dough

Makes 2 12-inch pizza crusts

3 cups bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspon rapid rise yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water (ice water must be used to prevent overheating in the food processor)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, add flour, sugar and yeast and process to combine; about 3 pulses.  With the processor on, slowly add water through the feed tube and process until just combined and there is no dry flour remaining.  Let dough sit in processor for 10 minutes.

After dough has sat 10 minutes, add oil and salt.  Process until the dough forms a ball that is satiny, sticky, and clears the sides of the processor bowl.  Remove the dough from the work bowl and knead on an oiled counter for one minute.  Form dough into a small ball and place in an oiled bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours and up to three days.

One hour before baking, remove the dough from the fridge and cut in half.  Form each half into a ball and place on a floured counter.  Cover with plastic wrap covered in cooking spray or a damp towel.

One hour before baking, place oven rack at second highest position, about 5" from the top heating element.  Put pizza stone (you can also use a regular baking sheet, but a pizza stone will give you better results) on the rack and preheat oven to 500F. 

After one hour, take one dough ball and lay on a floured surface.  Begin rolling out using a rolling pin to shape the pizza and then continue by stretching the pizza with your fingers until it is approximately 12".  Transfer to a well floured pizza peel or overturned baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Re-shape and stretch dough approximately one more inch.

Add your sauce and then your toppings to the dough just before baking.

Now, the tricky part...transferring the pizza to the stone.  I have found that removing the stone from the oven and then sliding the pizza on works best.  If you are using a heavily floured pizza peel, just slide the pizza from peel to stone.  If you are using an overturned baking sheet lined with parchment paper, slide the paper and pizza directly onto the stone.  Baking the pizza with the parchment paper will not alter the baking process.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting and then...


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Deep Dish Corn Bread

Corn bread has always been a very ho-hum kind of side to me.  Usually I'll skip it to save the calories for a more delectable treat, like say, cookies or chips or anything else.  More often than not it is dry and crumbly and lacking in the flavor department.  Bo-ring!

We had some friends over for chili a few weeks ago and I decided it was time to find a winner corn bread recipe.  You know, so they didn't stare at me with that blank look in their eyes when I said "there's no corn bread."  I've gotten this look before, and I don't like it.  Regardless of how I feel about corn bread, it appears that most people think that having corn bread is non-negotiable when it comes to chili.  Fine, I'll play that game.  Bring it.

Mace bought me the Tassajara Bread Book for Christmas this year and if you've never checked this one out, I highly recommend it.  The recipes are easy to follow and unbelievably good.  The cornbread recipe I found in this book was moist, it wasn't overly sweet and it was all gone by the end of the night.  An entire 9" spring form pan worth, between 4 people.  I'd say this one's a winner.

Deep Dish Cornbread
Adapted from Tassajara Bread Book

8 servings (or 4 very large servings)
1 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
3 cups low-fat buttermilk
Honey, for serving

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9" springform pan and set aside.

Combine cornmeal, flours, wheat germ, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs, honey, butter and buttermilk.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  The batter will be very liquidy.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Remove the ring from the pan and cut into wedges.  Serve with butter and a drizzle of honey and then...

Eat it!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Potato Soup in a Bread Bowl

Let's have a conversation about comfort food.  You know, the food you go to when its cold and blustery and the winter blues have settled themselves firmly on your mood for a good long visit. Oh, those blues have set in here, and with it, a whopping two feet of snow.  And a hankering for some good old comfort food.

I have lots of comfort foods, but I think I can easily say that cheese, bread and potatoes are always at the center of my cravings.  I'll be honest, potatoes are at the heart of every craving I have.  But, if you add bread and cheese to the mix I will whoop and holler and whatever drove me to needing that comfort food in the first place will be fast forgotten.

So, when the snow set in that closed schools in Montana for two days, I turned to the kitchen. Where else would I turn when its a billion degrees below zero and driving anywhere would be certain death?  Okay okay, maybe I am being dramatic.  The snow was cozy, but it was also the perfect excuse to get my comfort food groove on.   That brings me to this: cheesy rosemary potato soup. In bread bowls.  Mmm hmm....

**Even though I swore this wouldn't happen, I almost always mix and knead my bread dough in my KitchenAid mixer (unless I'm angry and need to knead out some anger).  Any of my bread recipes can just as easily be kneaded by hand without a stand mixer**


Bread Bowls
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
7 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast & sugar in warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow to sit 10 minutes or until bubbly.  Add salt, oil and 4 cups of flour.  Knead on medium speed, adding the 3 remaining cups of flour as necessary, until a smooth elastic dough has formed.

Put the dough in a well-oiled bowl and lightly coat the top of the dough with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Punch down dough.  Cut dough into 8 equal portions and shape into balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until browned on the top.  Move to a wire cooking rack and allow to cool completely.

To make bowls, just before serving, using a serrated knife cut inward at an angle around the top of the bread.  Pull the top off and then scoop the middle of the bread out (go ahead and eat this bread, you don't need it for the bowls).  Ladle soup into bowls and...Eat it!!

Rosemary Potato Soup
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds russet potatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until onion is tender.  Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove 2 cups of the potatoes from the pot (using a slotted spoon or small mesh strainer) and set aside.  Puree the remaining potato mixture with an immersion blender or food processor. 

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat and then add flour.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned.  Add milk to flour mixture, whisking constantly, and heat until thick and just boiling. 

Slowly add the milk to the potato mixture and bring to a boil.  Add reserved potatoes and then remove from heat.  Stir in feta, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bread bowls, top with feta and rosemary and...

Eat it!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

This bread is a staple in our household for just about any meal. 

What should we have for dinner tonight?  Chicken, broccoli and, oh, how about that focaccia bread?  ,

What should we have for breakfast?  Mmm...maybe we should make fried egg sandwiches on that focaccia bread!

Do we have anything to snack on?  Ooo, that focaccia bread would be good toasted with a bit of cheese and avocado on top!

This bread is very versatile, but my absolute favorite is the garlic and rosemary with a sprinkling of sea salt on top.  I have made this focaccia with kalamata olives and parmesan cheese, roasted garlic and sage and I have even turned this into a simple pizza topped with pesto, tomatoes and and mozzarella. 

I'm posting this at request from my hubby who is literally sick to his poor little tummy from the very sub-par cafeteria food he's been eating for the past two months.  He is going crazy for a taste of good food and home and has found someone on the Army base that has a functioning oven.  Its still in hot debate whether he or I make this bread the best.  The copious amount of olive oil he slathers onto the top of this probably negate any of the health benefits of the garlic (or the health benefits of a reasonable amount of olive oil), but ohhhhhhh is it amazing.  Therefore, Mace, I am declaring you master of this bread!  Go bake it for your classmates and show off your mad bread-making skills!

A side note: Most of the bread recipes I post I use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  But, any bread recipes can be done by kneading the dough by hand unless otherwise noted.  If you knead your bread by hand you will want to approximately double the kneading time.

Photo courtesy of my sister Kellie
**This recipe was updated 12/27/11 after some very successful adaptations and also adding weight measurements.  Trust me, it might be unbelievable, but its so much more delightful now!**

Garlic Rosemary Focaccia


1 Tbsp dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water (about 105 degrees)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
3 T. Olive Oil
4 cups (560 grams) all-purpose flour
6 cloves finely chopped garlic (alter to your taste, we love garlic, but this amount might be overkill for some)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (again, alter to your taste), plus more for sprinkling
Olive oil, for brushing
Sea salt, for sprinkling


Combine water, yeast  and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Once the yeast has dissolved and looks foamy add salt, 3 tbsp olive oil, 3 cups (420 grams) flour, garlic and rosemary.  Mix on low speed until combined and then increase to medium speed, adding up to 1 cup (140 grams) of flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes.

Transfer dough to a well oiled bowl, oil the top of the dough and then cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise approximately one hour, or until doubled in size, and the dough does not spring back when indented with your finger.

Remove dough from bowl and punch down to remove the air bubbles.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough into a rectangle on the sheet.  Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425.  Brush dough with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary.  Prick the dough with the tines of a fork all over, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned.  Brush with more olive oil when it comes out of the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. 

This is best eaten warm on the same day it is baked, but will last a couple days if you don't eat it all in one sitting.  My preference for day old bread is to toast it. 

Eat it!