Archive for the ‘bread’ Category

December Bread

I apologize for not keeping up on my Year of Bread posts lately. I will post an update of all the ones I’ve made that I forgot to talk about.

As for December, Jenny and I decided on Babka. Jenny’s time in NYC gave her the chance to sample some great babka so she was at a bit of an advantage on this challenge since I’ve never had any before. I had no idea if what I was going to make would be good.

I realized after choosing my recipe that I had picked one from the part of the Cooks Illustrated recipe archive that requires an annual membership so I won’t be able to post it here. However it is also published in their Best International Recipe cookbook so if you have access to that I highly recommend it. What intrigued me was that it called for sour cream in the dough.

The recipe was enough to make 2 9″ loaves so I filled one with the cinnamon butter and pecans (recipe called for walnuts). While the other loaf I filled with chocolate chips.

The bread is similar to a brioche, rich with butter and eggs. There was a slight tang from the sour cream that I actually liked a lot. It kept the bread from being overly sweet.

Each loaf was made by dividing the dough into quarters, rolled out into rectangles, filling was spread evenly and then rolled up into logs. Two logs were then loosely twisted together and placed in the loaf pan to rise.

I love how the twisted shape creates swirls of filling throughout the bread.

While the chocolate was tasty the cinnamon and pecan filling was by far my favorite. Once the breads started to go stale I tried them out as french toast (rich and definitely doesn’t need any syrup) and the rest was cubed and toasted for bread pudding at a later date.


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August Bread

Oops. Somehow September came and went and I never mentioned the August bread I made.

For August Jenny and I decided on crumpets, she had just made english muffins but had never tried crumpets. I think I tried them about 8 years ago and since the memory of that is foggy at best I’m going to assume it was a horrible failure.

This time I armed myself with 2 recipes. I found one on deliaonline.com that seems to be the modern go-to website for British cooking while I dug up another version from the Helen Watson on the britannia.org website. One of these days I might even look up who this Helen Watson is since she seems to be an excellent source for British cooking. I remember back in the mid 90’s she used to host her recipes on her own website.

First up was Helen’s recipe. It was a vigorous bubbling batter, much thicker than the other and had a little baking soda in it. Over email Jenny and I both decided that the texture of crumpet batter can best be described as pancake snot. It looks thick and creamy but it’s oddly sticky, gummy and viscous. If your recipe yields pancake snot you are on the right track.

The first few crumpets were thick and dense. I couldn’t get the bubbles to pop before the top of the crumpet formed a skin from the heat. A little water thinned down the batter and I was back in business.

The deliaonline recipe was much simpler and less thick. It also was much slower to rise, I made both at the same time and by the time I was done cooking the HW batch the delia batch was ready. The appearance of those crumpets looked wonderful. I had lots of well formed holes popping up all over the place, the bottoms browned nicely and everything looked good. Plus the batch size was much more manageable. Don’t know about you but I really don’t need 24 crumpets at a time, not only do I have just 4 rings but 24 crumpets are a lot to eat before they go stale.

When it came to taste though….the deliaonline recipe was oddly dense and wet compared to HW’s. Neither was exactly what I was looking for but the HW offers the most promise. There will be tweaking in my future.

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July Bread

A year ago I got my first taste of Pao de Queijo when my Mom brought back 6 little rolls from her monthlong visit to my Aunt in NYC. The cheesy little rolls were light, slightly chewy and delicious. Since that day I’ve been wanting to make some of my own and when Jenny and I mulled over the bread for July we realized we both wanted to make the same thing. We got to combine her desire to try a gluten free bread with my wish to make some great cheese bread.

We opted for 2 different recipes (Jenny adapted the version from King Arthur Flour) while I adapted an Ecuadorian version from a coworker with more cheese. What can I say? The option to add more cheese wasn’t one I couldn’t pass up.

According to the KA website they had varying results with different brands of tapoica flour, I chose to use a bag from the local Asian market since it is not only cheaper but also more readily available for me.

With a few minor adjustments to my original recipe I had rolls in the oven and soon my kitchen was filled with the heavenly smell of cheese bread.

By looking at the inside of the rolls you wouldn’t expect them to be gluten free. The high amount of cheese seemed to create an almost gluten like texture that was held together with the tapoica. I ended up splitting the batch in two, half I baked immediately and half I left overnight and baked the next day. I couldn’t tell a difference in texture of the finished rolls although the dough was a little harder to roll after being chilled.


Pao de Queijo

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June Bread


This month Jenny and I decided to embrace our Chinese heritage and try our hands at bao. I rifled through my Mom’s recipes and dug up a baked and steamed version to try out.

I’ll admit to having assisted my Mom when she has made bao but it isn’t something we make often. For one thing who really needs  a couple dozen buns in the house at once, all those tasty bao just sit there and tempt you. Plus heading to the bakery or restaurant to pick up a couple to satisfy the cravings when you have them.

I pulled out my handy recipe for Char Shiu (Chinese BBQ Pork) to start off the bao right. I always avoid those lean bright red pork slices you find in deli’s and grocery stores across the country. Real Chinese BBQ pork is neither bright red nor dry. Call me a snob if you want but that stuff is crap and should be avoided at all costs. Making your own Char Siu is simple and uses ingredients found in most grocery stores.

Time was short this month so rather than making far more bao than I needed I decided to go with the baked version. Not only is it less fussy but it is easily made in just a few hours. The steamed recipe requires an overnight rest for the starter.

I made a dozen good sized buns, each filled with a couple of heaping tablespoons of pork filling. I added a little too much gravy to my filling mixture so only one bao managed to not leak. It might also have had something to do with my tendency to put in as much pork in each bao as possible.

While I only tackled the baked bao this month I’ve included the steamed version as well as my recipe for the bbq pork below. For all cooking posts I plan on including downloadable pdf’s of the recipes I made whenever possible.


Char Shiu

Baked Char Shiu Bao

Steamed Char Shiu Bao

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