Category Archives: Savory

Swiss Zuepfe

I’ve already posted about this incredible Swiss non-bread here. (I still think it’s bread, but in Switzerland, it’s just “Zuepfe”. Okay.) I’m just so proud…because it’s so preeeety! And seriously the only bread that works for me every single time. But here’s the recipe again, including U.S. measurements this time.

This was the perfect Thanksgiving bread.

Enjoy!

Swiss Zuepfe (recipe from TipTopf and also posted here)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

3 cups or 500 g all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp.

2 tsp active dry

1 1/3 cups or 300 ml lukewarm milk

1 egg lightly whisked, plus 1/2 an egg yolk

METHOD

  1. Warm the milk for 20 seconds in the microwave. Stir in the yeast and let stand for 15 minutes or until slightly frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut in the butter. Use your fingertips to work the butter and flour in together, creating a uniform mixture.
  4. Whisk together egg and egg yolk. Add half to your yeast and milk mixture; stir to combine.
  5. Make a well in the flour mixture. Pour in the liquids. Knead for 10 minutes (by hand or in your stand mixer) until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size.
  7. Once dough has risen, place it onto a clean surface and cut in half. Roll the dough back and forth with your hands until you end up with two  equal-lengthed 18-inch strands. The middle of the strands should be thicker and the ends, thinner.
  8. Braid the dough. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate and let rise for 15 minutes. (This last proof is optional.)
  9. Then with remaining egg, brush two layers of egg onto the dough.
  10. Place braid in cold oven, set oven to 425 F / 220 C and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
  11. Remove the bread, knocking on the bottom for doneness. It should sound hollow. Allow to cool, then slice and serve!

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And Then I Baked Bread…

At Liam’s request, I baked bread for Christmas dinner.

I’m actually quite hesitant about bread-making at my parent’s house; something always goes wrong—the yeast doesn’t foam, I’m missing ingredients and tools, I get distracted by the noise. This time, however—no problems to report. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the recipe. All the recipes I’ve used from Baking Bites have turned out well (her recipe for Blueberry Drop Scones, which I talked about in a previous post, is a good example of this).

This bread is nutty, sweet and moist but not too dense. It reminds me of the kind of everyday bread they sell in the bakeries in Germany—a good solid loaf that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It would be really good for sandwiches, I think. The crust wasn’t as crunchy as I would have liked, but perhaps next time, I’ll brush a little water on the top for the last 10 minutes of baking.

I was totally distracted when I made this (and am totally distracted trying to do my write-up now) but was still able to produce a great loaf of bread that the entire family loved!

Honey and Flaxseed Bread (taken from this recipe on Baking Bites)

Makes 1 loaf.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup honey

3 tbsp ground flaxseeds

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup water, warm, divided

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 – 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading (I used 1 1/2 and just a little for initial dusting)

1 1/2 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, stir together yeast with 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in honey, flaxseeds, vegetable oil, remaining water and 1 cup white whole wheat flour, mixing until smooth.
  3. Add in 1 cup of the all purpose flour, along with the salt, and stir until a dough starts to come together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add additional flour gradually until dough is no longer sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes, adding additional flour as needed.
  4. Shape into a round, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  5. When dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape it into a slightly oblong loaf. Bake at 400 F for about 35 minutes, until the bread is a very dark brown, and an internal read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 200F.
  6. Cool bread on a wire rack before slicing.

Carrots Again?!?! A Recipe for Multi-Seed Carrot Buns

Every time I open the fridge, that big, ugly bag of carrots is there—staring at me. Threatening to stay in there forever, or until I give in, cry at the waste and throw them out.

I’m determined to not let that happen. So I’ve been brainstorming all week about things I can make that require LARGE amounts of carrots. Soup, of course. (Diet starts Monday—need to be beach-ready by Jan. when I go to Peru!!) Better yet—BREAD!

Buns filled with finely grated carrot, ground flax seed, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, crushed hazelnut and slivered almonds. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Oh, they really are! Chewy inside, crisp outside. Infused with nut and seed goodness throughout. I can’t say I taste all too much carrot but it does make the bread a soft, pretty autumn-orange color. One batch came out to 18 buns—too many for us three girls (and three boyfriends) to eat all at once. So I baked six and then par-baked and froze the rest.

Multi-Seed Carrot Buns (Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Green Kitchen Stories)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 package active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

3 dl plain yogurt

1/2 tbsp sea salt

1/2 tbsp sugar

2 large carrots, finely grated

3 tbsp sunflower seeds

3  tbsp rolled oats

3 tbsp crushed hazelnuts

100 g corn flour

750 g unbleached all-purpose or bread flour (I used 650 g bread; 100 g all-purpose)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Solve yeast in water.
  2. Combine all ingredients except flour, stirring well.
  3. Gradually add in the flour until completely combined.
  4. Knead the dough by hand for 5-10 minutes. It is a wet dough, so don’t worry if it’s still sticky. Place the dough in clean bowl, cover and allow to proof for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Once rise, gently punch down the dough and form into 15-18 buns on a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to proof again until doubled in size.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 420 F. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes. (Mine needed the entire 20 minutes.)

The people at Green Stories suggest using these for tuna or egg salad sandwiches. Yum! Lunch tomorrow!!

Herby Sun-Dried Tomato Bread for Thanksgiving

Another post that has taken a week and a half to complete.

I made this Herby Sun-Dried Tomato Bread for Thanksgiving dinner, using an Herbed Bread recipe I found on Dishing Up Delights.

When I read “combine all ingredients”, I freaked out (just a little).  Yeast still scares me. I don’t trust it—or rather, I don’t trust me around it. So the idea of just dumping the yeast in with everything else—without “bringing it to life” first with water—worried me.

Well, I did it anyway. And it worked.

What with the oven being used all day for turkey-roasting, pie-baking and casserole-making, I was glad to find a recipe that was so simple to prep and also so forgiving to crazy holiday changes and mishaps.

You can pretty much put whatever you like in here—I added sun-dried tomatoes and garlic salt and went with fresh parsley because that’s what my mom had. I also doubled the recipe and replaced the extra 4 oz. of butter with olive oil. Actually, I think the next time I make this, I’ll replace the butter completely with olive oil; the dough was a little too butter-heavy for me.

Herby Sun-Dried Tomato Bread (adapted from this recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks via Dishing Up Delights

INGREDIENTS

20 oz. all-purpose flour

8 oz. water

4 oz. melted butter

1 handful chopped herbs (parsley, rosemary, time, etc.)

4-6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp instant yeast

2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling (I used a little garlic salt for extra flavor.)

optional: 1 handful crumbled feta or goat cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix and knead the dough for 10-20 minutes or until the dough passes the “windowpane” test.
  2. Place the dough in a large, flour-dusted bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof for 1-4 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  3. Once doubled, punch the dough down and knead for 1-2 minutes, allowing the yeast to re-distribute.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (204 C). Brush the dough with olive oil or water and sprinkle the top with a little kosher salt. Cut a little “X” into the top of the dough (I forgot to do this.).
  5. Bake in a covered cast-iron pan* for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until browned.

*I don’t have one of these, so I improvised this step by placing the dough over a cake-pan filled with hot water (to help with steaming) and baking for 65 minutes (until the bottom of the bread sounded hollow when tapped).

Tomato-Basil Focaccia for Fleet Week

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Admittedly, focaccia was perhaps a bit much for a rooftop Fleet Week party. Especially since it turned to be much more kegger than garden party. I don’t really care, though. If I’m honest, the majority of my baking and cooking endeavors stem not from an abundantly generous nature but rather from a secretly egotistical one.

It’s all for the pictures and for the blog!

Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy baking and cooking for others. Like for my mom, it’s a way for me to express my love, a not all-too-easy feat for someone as shy as me! (^_^) Also, if I weren’t actually a chubby girl trapped in this little body (I’m serious—she wants out), I’d probably be able to enjoy a lot more of what I make.

I think I may have attempted a simple rosemary focaccia in the past, but it totally paled in comparison to this version from Jamie Oliver (Oliver again?!?! Majorly crushing on the Naked Chef! <3)

Again, easy-to-follow instructions, short list of colorful, bright ingredients from Jamie. And as there was kneading and proving involved, I was a happy girl!

All you really need to concern yourself with is getting the dough right. Once you have that, you’re free to get as topping-happy as you like. For my first try, I added the red onions and Asiago for more color and flavor. Corn, maybe another cheese variety like Gorgonzola and arugula instead of basil would be pretty stellar too.

I heart Jamie.

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Tomato-Basil Focaccia (recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Kitchen. Original available here.)

Makes 1 large focaccia or 2 smaller loaves

INGREDIENTS

Basic Bread Recipe

3 x 7g sachets dried yeast

30 g / 1 oz honey or sugar

625 ml / just over 1 pint tepid water

1 kg strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting

30 g / 1 oz salt

Toppings

600 g cherry tomatoes (I bought the multi-colored ones from Trader Joes, which pretty sweet.)

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

10 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (guesstimated here)

flour for dusting

1 huge handful fresh basil, leaves picked

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

asiago cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the dough: Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.
  2. On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture. With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the center moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the center and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. (Certain flours may need a little more water, so don’t be afraid to adjust quantities.)
  3. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes—this develops the gluten and the structure of the dough. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, just rub them together with a little flour.
  4. Flour both your hands well and lightly flour the top of the dough. Make it into a roundish shape and place it on a baking tray or in a large mixing bowl. Score it deeply with a knife, allowing it to relax and prove with ease until it’s doubled in size. Ideally, you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove, for example near a warm cooker or in the airing cupboard (I always put mine in the microwave), and you could cover it with clingfilm if you want to speed things up. (I always do.) This proving process improves the flavor and texture of the dough and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.
  5. While the dough is proving, prick your tomatoes with a knife and drop them into boiling water for around 30 seconds. Drain, cool them under cold water, and remove the skins, keeping them whole if possible—as they’re nice and small.
  6. Take your proved dough and bash the air out, then put it on a floured surface and roll it out about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured baking tray and push the dough to fill the tray completely. Distribute the tomatoes, basil leaves and sliced red onion evenly over the top. Pour the olive oil over everything.
  8. Push your fingers to the bottom of the tray across the whole dough, using them like a poker, pushing them through the dough and then flattening them out when you hit the tin. (Feels sooo good :P) This gives the bread its classic shape and makes indentations so you get little pools of oil when it’s cooking. Leave to prove until it has doubled in size again.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 425 deg. F (220 deg. C).
  10. Once doubled, sprinkle the salt, pepper and crumbled asiago over the top. Place the tray in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes (Mine needed ca. 25 min), until the bread is crisp and golden on top and soft in the middle.
  11. Remove bread from the oven. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil (I didn’t do this).

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Bread-Snob Country Seed Loaf

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I’m kind of a bread snob.

In my opinion, bread isn’t good unless it:

  • crackles when I press the crust
  • sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom
  • is light and airy, yet chewy on the inside
  • can be eaten and enjoyed completely on it’s own—with nothing on it or maybe just butter

(To be clear, I am referring to yeasted breads, i.e. ciabatta, baguettes and sandwich loaves.)

(Also, what’s with me and all the lists lately?? They make me feel like I know what I’m talking about)  (^_^)

The French seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to bread-baking, as do the Swiss and the Italians. In any of these countries, you can go into almost any supermarket or bakery and find a decent loaf; here in the US, however, this is surprisingly not the case. And even if you do make a trip to one of those “artisan” bakeries, you’re still not guaranteed a proper loaf.

You’re only option then is to do it yourself. And that takes practice. Measurements need to be exact and methods properly followed. In addition, recipes have to be adjusted according to baking environment and ingredients—obviously baking in Southeast Asia is different from baking in Switzerland. No matter what kind of bread, it always takes me a few tries (and failures) to get everything right.

I recently tried this whole-wheat country seed bread from CookingBread.com for the first time. The only changes I made were to seed types and amounts. The original recipe called for flax- and poppyseed; I wanted a nuttier flavor and texture, so I added pumpkin and sunflower instead. Also, for amounts, I just guesstimated and pretty much put in as much as I wanted.

This bread is really everything good bread should be—crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. I adore breads with tons of seeds in them.

And doesn’t it just look lovely! I’m so proud of how it turned out!

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Bread-Snob Country Seed Loaf (adapted from this recipe at CookingBread.com)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seed

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

2 teaspoons (instant) dry yeast

1 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons liquid honey

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose and whole wheat flours, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and yeast.
  2. In small bowl, whisk water, honey, oil and salt; stir into flour mixture to make a sticky dough.
  3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for about 8 minutes or until still slightly sticky and dough springs back when pressed in center, adding up to ¼ cup more all-purpose flour as necessary.
  4. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for about 1 ¼ hours or until doubled in bulk.
  5. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Gently pull into 11- x 8-inch (28x20cm) rectangle. Starting at narrow end , roll up into cylinder; press seam to seal. Place, seam side down. in greased 8- x 4 inch loaf pan. Cover with towel; let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk and about ¾ inch (2 cm) above rim of pan.
  6. Brush top with water. With serrated knife, make 1-inch (.5 cm) deep cut lengthwise’ along top of loaf. Bake in center of 400°F (200°C) oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C); bake for 30 to 35 minutes (30 was enough for me) or until browned and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.
  7. Remove from pan: let cool on rack before slicing.

Better-than-Bread Bernese Sunday Loaf (Berner Zuepfe)

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In Switzerland, there’s bread and then there’s Zuepfe. I lived in the country for 4 years; I was in a relationship with a Swiss man for 10 (too long) years—and yet, I still don’t understand the distinction. It’s a really dense, milky butter yeast bread that is great eaten slathered with buttered and layered on with ripe Gruyere or is tasty just on its own, still slightly warm from the oven. Thinking about it, I suppose it really is more than just bread. It’s hearty, it’s rich, and is a staple for every Sunday breakfast or brunch.

Confusion aside, Bernese Zuepfe is the ultimate in yeast breads. Not being Swiss myself, Zuepfe making and baking did not come naturally. It took quite a few tries (i.e. failures) and taste tests to get it just right. I knew I had finally arrived when I served it for Swiss guests and got to watch them devour the entire loaf >(^o^)<

The key to this bread is proofing—well-risen dough will produce a light and airy loaf. Adding a little egg yolk to the dough supposedly makes it even lighter; however, this also makes the loaf go stale faster. I’m also convinced that using really good butter and fresh yeast yields a better product.

Bernese Sunday Loaf (Berner Zuepfe) (Recipe from TipTopf)

INGREDIENTS

500 g plain flour (I use bread flour)

1 1/2 coffee-spoonfuls salt

1 coffee-spoonful sugar

60 g unsalted butter, at room temp.

15 g fresh yeast or 2 tsp active dry

300 ml lukewarm milk

1 egg lightly whisked, plus 1/2 an egg yolk

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Warm the milk for 20 seconds in the microwave. Stir in the yeast and let stand for 15 minutes or until slightly frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix flour salt and sugar.
  3. Cut in the butter. Use your fingertips to work the butter and flour in together, creating a uniform mixture.
  4. Add a little egg into your yeast and milk mixture. Mix.
  5. Make a well in the flour mixture. Pour in the liquids. Knead for 10 minutes (by hand or in stand mixer) until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size.
  7. Once dough has risen, place it onto a clean surface and cut in half. Roll the dough back and forth with your hands until you end up with two  equal-lengthed 18 inch snake-like strands. The middle of the strands should be thicker and the ends, thinner.
  8. Braid the dough. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate and let rise for 15 minutes. (This last proof is optional.)
  9. Then with remaining egg, brush two layers of egg onto the dough.
  10. Place braid in cold oven, set oven to 220 C and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
  11. Remove the bread, knocking on the bottom for doneness. It should sound hollow. Allow to cool and then slice and serve!

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