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Category Archives: baking

Focaccia from Genoa

Focaccia with Olive Oil

This focaccia combines olive oil, wine and water to make a haunting flavor, light porous texture and crispy crust. Carol Field published the cookbook Focaccia in 1994 which includes this recipe and it’s a classic!

Ingredients

SPONGE

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 2/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

DOUGH

  • 1/2 cup water, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or sherry
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sponge, above
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons unbleached all- purpose flour, plus 1-2 tablespoons as needed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

TOPPING

  • About 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon sea salt or flaked salt
  • 1 cup ice and water for a separate pan in the oven

Instructions

  1. Sponge: In a large heavy duty mixer bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, whisk it in and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and beat until smooth. Cover and let rise until puffy and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
  2. Dough: Place sponge bowl and mixer paddle in place in the mixer. Add the water, wine and olive oil to the sponge. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead for 3 minutes at medium speed, stopping to press the dough into a ball. Use the 1-2 tablespoons extra flour to finish kneading by hand briefly on a smooth surface.
  3. FIRST RISE: Place the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. SHAPING AND SECOND RISE: The dough will be soft, full of air bubbles and stretch easily. Press into a lightly oiled 10 1/2 x 15 1/2 inch pan. Dimple it well with your fingertips or knuckles, cover with a towel, and let rise until puffy and doubled, about 45 minutes.
  5. BAKING: Preheat oven to 425 F. On the bottom rack place a large shallow baking pan. Also place a baking stone if you have one on the middle rack. When all are hot, again dimple the dough. Drizzle olive oil so it pools in the indentations and sprinkle with sea or flaked salt. Place the focaccia on the stone. Pour 1 cup cold water and ice into the bottom rack pan. Quickly shut the oven door and turn temperature down to 400 F. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove from the pan and cool on a rack. Cut into large squares or rectangles. Serve warm or room temperature.
Finish kneading by hand briefly on a smooth work surface
Place dough in a large oiled bowl
Cover and let rise
Dough rises to double in size
Spread dough into pan with your fingers and dimple too!
Cover with a towel and let rise until puffy and doubled
Dimple again and drizzle with olive oil
Hot out of the oven!
So delicious!

Voila!

Thank you Carol Field, author of Focaccia Simple Breads from the Italian Oven!

Blueberry Coconut Granola Bars

Wholefoodbellies.com shared this recipe and we love it! It’s quick to put together and does not require complicated baking skills. I changed it up a bit by adding blueberry preserves in between 2 layers of batter. Also I substituted cashew butter for the applesauce. It would also be tasty to add some shredded coconut to the mix!

Ingredients

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup cashew butter or applesauce ( I used cashew butter…yum)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup blueberry preserves (homemade or Bonne Maman brand)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8×8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray or coconut oil.
    In a large bowl combine oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
    In another bowl whisk together yogurt, milk, cashew butter, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and eggs
    Add the wet mix to the dry until just blended. Fold in dried blueberries
    Pour half of the batter into the baking pan. Smooth out evenly
    Spread the preserves over the batter evenly
    Pour remaining batter over preserves in spoonfuls. Spread out evenly
    Bake about 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool another 30 minutes or so
    Store in the frig or freezer for a later time or cut into squares after cooling
    28 rectangular bars are a nice size. They cut especially well if very cold or frozen

Voila! Enjoy this easy healthy snack or breakfast bar!

Sweet Yeast Bread

My grandmother was from Belarus, part of the former Soviet Union. This is her recipe for sweet yeast bread.

My Russian and Ukrainian friends are familiar with this style bread. There is a special tall, cylindrical baking pan they use for Easter, but we use empty vegetable cans for small loaves or larger coffee cans. The shape looks like a mushroom or a dome of the Russian Orthodox Churche. But my Grandma for everyday baking used traditional glass bread pans and she made this year round, not only at Easter.


1 cup milk

1/4 pound butter

4 and 1/2 cups flour, sifted

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup warm water

1/2 cup raisins, optional

  • In a saucepan heat milk. Add butter and melt. Keep warm.
  • In a large bowl beat eggs with a whisk till lemon color. Add sugar slowly and continue beating until thick and light
  • In a very large bowl combine flour and salt.
  • Add warm milk mix to eggs.
  • Add egg mix to flour and beat with the back of a wooden spoon against the front side of the bowl. Turn the bowl 180 degrees frequently.Or beat with the paddle of a mixer.

  • Combine 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/3 cup water. Dissolve and mix in yeast. Cover with a towel and allow to rise to double in volume.
  • Add yeast to dough and continue beating until smooth and glossy.
  • Pour dough into a buttered large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, a rubber band and a towel. Rise until doubled.


  • After risen once, cut through the dough with a spatula.
  • Add raisins.
  • Pour into 3 buttered and floured cans. Fill to only 1/2 full.

  • Rise till dough reaches the top of the can.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.
  • You can drizzle with a thin icing if you like.

Rugelach/Aunt Marie’s Cheese Horns

 

Rugelach / Cheese Horns

Rugelach / Cheese Horns

Aunt Marie (Korzin Winiarski) was my mom’s older sister. Mom had 5 brothers and 5 sisters. She was also the middle child. I won’t analyze that. My grandmother did not make many desserts, but her daughters learned to.

Aunt Marie was a wonderful baker. At our large family gatherings she was known for these cookies we called Cheese Horns. The dough is not sweet and is made with cottage cheese. It wasn’t till recent years that I learned these were a form of Rugelach, a rolled cookie made with cream cheese or cottage cheese and filled with a variety of sugar, nuts and dried fruits or poppy seed paste, jam or chocolate. It is a Jewish Eastern European cookie which means little twist or little corners. I’ve seen much more complex recipes than this one. Mine is easy and pretty and not exceptionally sweet.

Rugelach, ready to go!

Rugelach, ready to go!

Here are the ingredients for 1 batch. I usually make 2 batches

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • In a mixer combine in this order:

1 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cottage cheese

2 cups flour

 

Rugelach Dough

Rugelach Dough

  • Divide into 3-4 rounds, depending on how small you want to make the cookies. More rounds for smaller cookies.

Rugelach Dough Round

Rugelach Dough Round

  • Place a round of dough on a floured surface. I use a Foley brand pastry cloth and frame and a rolling pin covered with a knit cover and flour.

Foley pastry cloth, covered rolling pin, covered with sifted flour

Foley pastry cloth, covered rolling pin, covered with sifted flour

  • Roll into a thin round about 10 inches across.

rugelach2

  • Brush entire surface with melted butter
  • Sprinkle with dark brown sugar
  • Sprinkle with chopped pecans
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon

Melted butter,  brown sugar & chopped pecans

Melted butter, brown sugar & chopped pecans


Cut into pie shaped segments

Cut into pie shaped segments

  • Using a small knife, cut across the dough in half. Cut into 12-16 segments.

Roll Rugelach into horn shapes

Roll Rugelach into horn shapes

  • Roll up each cookie, starting at the wider end.
  • Place small end down on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  • Brush entire surface with a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water.

Brush Rugelach with egg yolk wash

Brush Rugelach with egg yolk wash

  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Cool on wire racks.

Apple-Cranberry Pie

A fabulous Thanksgiving pie from CooksIllustrated.com. It has a similiar sweet sour flavor to a sour cherry pie! I doubled the recipe to make 2 pies. To further accentuate the delicious fruit flavor, I roll my pie dough very thin. I also use fresh cranberries!

Makes one 9-inch pie

Use sweet, crisp apples, such as Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji, or Braeburn. The two fillings can be made ahead, cooled, and stored separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

 

Ingredients

  • 2cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4cup orange juice
  • 1cup granulated sugar (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon for top of pie
  • 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4cup water
  • 1tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 1/2pounds sweet apples (6 to 7 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see note above)
  • 1recipe pie dough (see related recipe)
  • 1 egg white , beaten lightly

Instructions

  1. 1. Bring cranberries, juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing berries against side of pot, until berries have completely broken down and juices have thickened to jamlike consistency (wooden spoon scraped across bottom should leave clear trail that doesn’t fill in), 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in water, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in large microwave-safe bowl; add apples and toss to combine. Microwave on high power, stirring with rubber spatula every 3 minutes, until apples are just starting to turn translucent around edges and liquid is thick and glossy, 10 to 14 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  3. 3. While fillings cool, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. 4. Transfer cooled cranberry mixture to dough-lined pie plate and spread into even layer. Place apple mixture on top of cranberries, mounding slightly in center; push down any sharp apple edges.
  5. 5. Roll second disk of dough on generously floured work surface (up to 1/4 cup) to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side.
  6. 6. Using kitchen shears, cut evenly through both layers of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that edge of fold is flush with outer rim of pie plate. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges of pie with egg white and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Using sharp paring knife, cut four 1 1/2-inch slits in top of dough in cross pattern.
  7. 7. Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake until top is light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, rotate baking sheet, and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool at least 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

French Bread

This recipe for French bread is one I’ve been making for decades. My friend Margee Smith, a master bread maker shared it with me. We are so very grateful for her expertise!

It’s an easy recipe. Don’t let French bread intimidate you. The French are very particular about their bread, but they don’t make it at home. They purchase it at grocery stores and boulangeries. Even the fancy boulangeries often buy their baguettes from institutional style bakeries.

French bread is a very wet dough. The high water content is part of the reason you get the desired large holes inside the bread.

The most difficult step for me is dividing the dough in 2 or 3 equal size pieces. As you can see my loaves are not equal in size. You can experiment with this.

If you would like to see a Paris boulangier in action, go to this link. We had a marvelous tour there a couple years ago while we were staying in Montmartre.

Paris Bakery Tour

The first step is combining the ingredients in a Kitchen Aid like stand mixer with a dough hook. Combine the ingredients until it forms a ball, then let it rest 5 minutes, and finally beat it at medium speed 2 minutes.

Pour the dough into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Let it rise until doubled in size.

Add ice and water to hot baking pan beneath bread dough just before baking

Recipe

In a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a dough hook combine:

  • 4 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (if you use table salt make it 1/3 to 1/2 tablespoon) I prefer less salt and always use 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp yeast (1 Tbsp if you are in a hurry) The flavor develops more the longer the rising time.
  • 15 oz. cold water

Further Instructions

1. Combine the ingredients at medium speed and beat until it forms a ball.
2. Let rest 5 minutes

3. Resume medium speed and beat dough for 2 minutes
4. Scrape dough into a bowl three times the size of the dough
5. Cover with a plate or plastic and let rise 6 hours, overnight or till double. If you use 1 tablespoon of yeast, it will take only 2-3 hours to double in size.  Do not allow to get larger than double in size.

6. Sprinkle about ½ cup flour onto a smooth counter.
7. Scrape dough onto flour and sprinkle more flour to cover entire surface of dough
8. With a bread knife divide into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the type of Teflon like coated baguette baking pan you have.
9. Shape into 3  baguettes using hands and the side of bread knife.
10. Gently place into perforated Teflon coated bread forms and if desired score loaves with a sharp knife. Scoring the baguettes is not necessary.
11. Let rise 1 hour or more or until doubled in size.

12. At least 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 F and place one rack in the top 1/3 of the oven and another rack on the very bottom level. At this time also place a shallow old baking pan on the bottom rack.

13. When ready to bake, place bread in top third or center of the oven.  Immediately take 1 cup of ice & ½ cup water and pour it into bottom rack’s baking pan. Close the door right away to keep the steam in the oven & bake 20 minutes. The steam is what makes the crust crisp.

14. Add more ice and water and bake another 10 minutes.

15. You can experiment with the amount of cold water in the recipe. I use 15 oz for a wetter dough which makes a bread with more holes and 14 oz for a denser bread interior.

16. After 1 day, store bread in plastic bag. To crisp up the crust, place bread in a very hot oven for a few minutes with the same ice and water technique.

Bon Apetit! Merci Margee!

NSF 1/09