Category Archives: Sweet

Walnut Raisin Bread

Wow, this bread is seriously good! When I showed it to my friend LazyEaterSF, she was like, “It looks like real bread.” It does, doesn’t it?

I found the recipe on Bakies blog and I believe the original is from British Larder. It’s a great recipe, though  I encountered some difficulties with the amounts, probably due to conversion to cups. Maybe my Recipe Converter app is off. Anyway, this always seems to happen when trying to convert measurements. The dry to liquid ingredients wasn’t right, so I ended up adding about 1 cup more water than was specified. Also, my dough took a lot more time to proof than was stated in the original. This is probably because I don’t have instant yeast and only have active dry at home. In any case, I let the dough proof overnight and then divided it into two and let it rise another 2 or so hours until doubled in size.

I did make a few ingredient changes: used all white flour instead of half wheat, but only because I didn’t have any wheat on hand. I also replaced half the original amount of walnuts with raisins.

*All changes – converted amounts and added ingredients are reflected in the recipe below.

One thing, no, two things I love about this recipe are 1) the poolish or starter or whatever you call it was fast acting  (not overnight) and 2) I could dump all the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid, including nuts and raisin, and leave everything to mix on its own. Super easy.

Apart from measurement conversion issues, the bread is everything I hoped it would be and more! So gorgeously golden and crisp on the outside and light, soft and airy on the inside. I love the additions of the raisins. They give such a nice sweetness to the bread.

Oh, yes, I am definitely making this again.

Enjoy!

Walnut Raisin Bread (converted and adapted from a recipe found on Bakies)

Makes 2 round loaves

INGREDIENTS

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp table salt

3/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 Tbsp honey

2 1/2 cups warm water, divided

1/2 cup walnut halves

1/2 cup raisins

 

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water

3/4 cup cold water

METHOD

  1. Place yeast, 1/2 cup flour and honey in a small mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of the warm water, mix well, cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes in a warm spot or until the mixture starts to bubble. (Mine took about an hour.)
  2. In the bowl of a mixer add the remaining flour, bubbling yeast mixture, walnuts, raisins, salt and the remaining warm water together. Attach the dough hook and mix the bread dough on slow speed for 10 minutes.
  3. Grease a large mixing bowl. Once the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the bread dough into a smooth ball. Place the smooth bread dough into the greased mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to proof until the dough has risen to double in size. (I left it overnight.)
  4. Dust two baking sheets or pie pans with flour, set aside.
  5. Gently turn the bread dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two even halves.
  6. Roll each half into an evenly shaped smooth ball, place each ball onto your already floured trays or pie pans, cover gently with plastic wrap and leave to proof for the second time until nearly double in size.
  7. In the oven, move one of the racks to the very bottom and place an empty baking sheet on top. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  8. Once the dough has risen, brush the risen bread carefully with the egg wash and use a knife to make small cuts at the top of the risen bread. (I just cut a simple “x”.)
  9. Place the baking sheets or pie pans in the preheated oven and pour 3/4 cup of cold water directly into the pan at the bottom of the oven and shut the door quickly. The water will give a burst of steam that will help the loaves to puff and form a golden crust.
  10. After about 10-12 minutes, place a sheet of foil over the bread.
  11. Continue baking the loaves for 35-40 minutes, give the bread a tap at the bottom and if it sounds hollow it means the bread is done. Place the bread onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
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Hefeschnecken (Sweet Rolls with Hazelnut-Raisin Filling)

Alright, one recipe for you. (Blogging after being away for such a long time is hard!) Sugary, sticky, pull apart rolls filled with ground hazelnut, grated apple and raisins! In German they’re called “Hefeschnecken” which literally means “yeast snails”. Ick, I prefer my English title. 😀

By the way, the recipe I used is from my favorite Swiss cookbook, Tiptopf. I think it’s the one all the kids use when they learn to cook at school. It’s the best!

Enjoy!

Hefeschnecken (recipe from Tiptopf)

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Dough

300 g flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

60 g (2 tbsp) butter, at room temp.

20 g fresh (2 1/4 tsp active dry) yeast

100 ml milk

1 egg

Filling

3 tbsp apricot jam (I used plum)

150 g ground hazelnuts

3 tbsp sugar

1 apple, grated (with peel is fine)

1/2 cup raisins

zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

4-6 tbsp milk or cream, at room temp.

Glaze

5 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp – 1 tbsp water

METHOD

For the dough:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter, mixing lightly with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
  2. Stir together yeast and milk. Allow to sit and “activate” for ca. 5 minutes. Then, whisk in the egg.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the wet ingredients and mix, gradually bringing the dry into the wet. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Then cover, put in a warm place and allow it to rest until doubled in size.
For the nut filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ground nuts, sugar, raisins, grated apple, lemon zest and juice and milk or cream. Note: the filling should be moist, but not runny.
For assembly:
  1. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, 3 mm thick.
  2. Spread the apricot jam over the surface of the dough, followed by the nut filling. Then distribute the raisins evenly over the top.
  3. From one end of the dough, start rolling. Once rolled, hold the outermost dough layer in place and slice into 5 cm thick disks.
  4. Lay the disks cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the bottom half of a cold oven. Turn on the heat to 220 C and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and quickly prepare the glaze.
For the Glaze
  1. When the rolls are about ready to come out of the oven, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and water until combined.
  2. With a pastry brush, spread evenly over the hot rolls.


A Request for Bread Pudding

I got a special request for bread pudding the other day. Though I could have mixed in fun things like coconut, apple, rum or pumpkin and made an extra caramel, bourbon or hot custard sauce to serve, I decided to keep things simple. It’s interesting—whenever people ask me to make something, I think about who s/he is as a person in life and then try to translate this into the dish. In the case of this bread pudding, nostalgia was key. So as I listened to reminiscences about the version a beloved grandmother used to make, I knew that classic, warm and with raisins was the way to go.

The recipe is from Allrecipes. There are exactly eight ingredients, all of which you probably already have in your kitchen. You mix it all together, bake and what you get is soft eggy-bread in a sweet, heartwarming custard. It may be simple, but sometimes simple really is best.

Enjoy.

Bread Pudding (slightly adapted from Allrecipes)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

6 slices day-old bread (I used half a day-old batard)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus extra for sprinkling

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar over the top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.


Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

Oh, man—what a day of distraction! And not because today just happens to be Halloween .I started the day so well, too: drove my sister to work at 7:30 AM (on a Sunday), went for a little jog around the university, showered and was ready to be productive by 9:30. But, somehow, in between writing cover letters and revising resumes, I decided my iTunes playlist needed updating and that my photos needed editing. Fast forward to 2 PM, and I was still futzing around with iTunes. Some people waste countless hours on Facebook; as for me, no longer a part of the FB Community (OMG, drama), all I am left to waste the hours away with are email and iTunes.

At least I baked. That should count for something.

Rolls again. But wait, these are actually pretty good! I did (instead of working) as I usually do when searching for a recipe: I went to Tastespotting and did a quick “bread” search. After a few minutes browsing and ogling all the gorgeous photos, I came across a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Bread from A Chow Life. I stuck to the recipe, except, because I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, I let my bread machine do all the kneading. The directions described below, however, use the original hand-method. Another thing I changed is that I used almonds instead of walnuts and replaced 1 tbsp of butter with olive oil. (I didn’t want to cut into a second stick of butter.) Finally, as evidenced in the pictures, I made rolls, not a loaf.

I like this. The flavor is warm and spicy from all the butter and cinnamon. The color is also amazing—hello, gorgeous cinnamon speckles. And, the wonderful aroma of sugar and spice and everything nice that takes over the kitchen during baking is seriously in itself almost reason enough to make this.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Raisin Rolls (slightly adapted from A Chow Life)

INGREDIENTS

1 pkg (or 2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 tsp, plus 3 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (I used almonds)

5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temp. (I used 4 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil)

1/2 cup water

1 cup raisins

METHOD

  1. Stir the yeast, warm water, and 1/4 tsp sugar together in a small bowl. Let the mixture stand in a warm location until the yeast starts foaming, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Combine the flours, remaining sugar, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir well. Stir the yeast mixture, butter, and 1/3 cup water into the flour mixture. Then stir in the raisins or work them in by hand. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until it is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl and turn the dough in it to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen town and let the dough rise in a warm location until it is doubled in bulk, 45 -60 minutes.
  5. Oil a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down and shape it into a loaf. Press the loaf into the prepared pan and, again, cover it loosely with a kitchen towel. Let it rise in a warm place until it nearly fills the pan, 45-60 minutes. (Or, if making rolls, I cut and rolled the dough into 13 pieces, placed them on a floured baking sheet, covered and let proof also for about 1 hour.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread until the top is browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your finger, 35-40 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack. (In my case, before baking, I brushed the roll tops with water. Then, I baked for about 28 minutes.)

Look at those speckles! So pretty!

Whole Wheat Breakfast Rolls

Just a quick post for these rolls I made for the students yesterday 😛 The recipe is from CookingBread.com. I like it: the bread, which I made into individual rolls, is tender, tears nicely and has a pleasantly warm flavoring due to the addition of milk, butter and olive oil to the dough. (They also keep longer this way, I think.) I took the liberty of adding a few diced prunes to the mix to cut through and compliment the richness of the dough. I made 16 average-sized rolls, but you can make more or less by changing the size.

Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Breakfast Rolls (adapted from CookingBread.com)

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cup lukewarm milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup runny honey

1 large egg, beaten

4 tsp instant yeast

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1/2 cup prunes, diced (optional)

METHOD

  1. Heat milk to lukewarm. Pour into a bowl add melted butter, olive oil, honey and beaten egg; mix all together until well blended. If using a bread machine, pour in now.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast; mix together and knead until smooth and elastic. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let proof for about 1 1/2 hours or till doubled in bulk. If using bread machine, add in dry ingredients and run dough cycle.
  3. Once proofed, pour out dough onto a flat surface and knead for a minute or two. If adding diced prunes, knead them in now.
  4. Cut dough in half and shape into loaves. Place into two greased 4.5×8.5 loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size. Or, you can do what I did, which is to form the dough into small rolls and place them side by side on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated 350 F oven for 30-35 minutes if baking loaves or 25-28 minutes if baking rolls, or until golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. (I baked my rolls at 360 F for 26 minutes because my parents’ oven tends to under-heat.)

Trail Mix Bread

I’m housesitting for my parents right now. Part of my official housesitter duties includes taking care of the three exchange students my parents have living with them. It could have been a lot of work, but luckily, these kids (almost adults) are superstar students who need very little care from me. All I do is prepare two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. I actually kind of like doing it. I get up every morning to make breakfast, chat with them about school and their plans, and then during the day, I do my own thing. In the evening, I prepare whatever I feel like making, and so far, they’ve seemed pretty satisfied!

Today, I felt like baking bread. Outside is gray and quiet, which is not very motivating for getting things done. Baking—and baking for others—I’ve found is the best way to spend still days like these. The kids will appreciate it too, i.e. breakfast rolls!

I threw together this whole wheat bread with a delightful little mix of raisins, almonds, white chocolate chips and coconut flakes. Perfect for breakfast, and now that I think of it, ideal for taking along on a hike. It’s trail mix in bread form!  The recipe is one I found a while back on zestycook.com and is already a favorite because of the short ingredients list and simple method. I didn’t feel like futzing around with scales or complicated dough starters, so this recipe is exactly what I needed. The original used 2/3 cup each of raisins and walnuts; I skipped the walnuts and added white chocolate chips, coconut flakes and almonds in their place; I was also a little more generous in the amounts of each. (Why? Because those little “bits” you find in your morning bread are the best part!!)

Once you mix everything together and finish proofing (which I did in the bread machine), you can form the dough into the traditional loaf or you can do as I did and use your muffin tin. I was nervous about the bread sticking (the dough, at least mine, is pretty wet), but because I floured the tin before filling, sticking was very minimal. I thought this was a pretty genius idea on my part—scoop the dough into the tins and allow to finish proofing and bypass the messy, sticky part of shaping and moving the dough. Nice!

Golden, crunchy crust and sweet middle with lots of bits!! I WILL be making this again. Probably this week!

P.S. No pictures for now. I had a little theft incident in Lima (too scary to write about), which left me camera-less and also a little traumatized. This last week I ordered a new camera, which is supposed to arrive this week…

It’s here—my camera—and it’s pink!! Took a few pics of the last of the bread, and actually, it sttill tastes pretty good 🙂

Trail Mix Bread

recipe adapted from zestycook.com

INGREDIENTS

2 cups lukewarm water

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one 1/4-oz. packet)

2 tbsp runny honey (I used clover)

2 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 to 2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 1/2, which is why my dough was wetter, but which turned out fine.)

2/ tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup almonds, slivered, roughly chopped or whatever

METHOD

  1. In your bread machine, add water, yeast and honey, followed by flours and salt. Run dough cycle. (If you’re doing this by hand, in a large bowl, mix together honey and 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water; then add the yeast, stirring to combine. Let sit until foaming, ca. 5 min. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Then, in another large bowl, combine flours and salt and mix. Pour into bowl with liquid ingredients, stirring until well combined. On a floured surface, knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add flour if necessary, but be careful not to make the dough too dry. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof for 1 1/2 hours.)
  2. Punch dough down, add remaining ingredients and run the dough cycle until you see that all bits are well combined, ca. 5 min. (Hand method: Punch dough down and turn out onto floured surface. Knead in remaining ingredients.)
  3. With a scoop or spatula, distribute dough evenly among muffin tins. (Hand method: Shape into 1 large loaf onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet.) Cover with a damp cloth and in a warm place, allow dough to proof until nearly doubled in size, ca. 30 min.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 425 F. Bake bread for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 375 F and rotate bread 180 deg. Brush or spray the crust with water and, if making rolls, bake for another 15-20 minutes, or if making a loaf, bake for 30.
  5. Remove from the oven and place bread/rolls on a rack and allow to cool.

Cornbread

I am obviously still home and—even more obviously—have a lot of free time on my hands.

My routine at my parents’ place is always the same. I get up, I make coffee and I do my daily crossword. This can go on for hours. So yesterday, sitting at the table trying to recall the five-letter name of the person who wrote “Ode to a Grecian Urn” (Keats), I’m pulled out of my zone by the plop of a bag of cornmeal next to me.

Mom: “I have a sooo much of these corns. Can you use?”

Me: “Cornbread?”

Mom: “OK.”

And that was that.

Cornbread is good stuff—with chili or fresh out of the oven or skillet and drizzled with honey, but I don’t know much about it. (My only exposure has been from potlucks.) So I took a few minutes to do a little research on the subject and came across thousands of posts, definitions, recipes and photos of cornbread and all its variations: cakey cornbread, northern style (johnny cake), southern style, cornbread with honey, with sage, with cheese, with creamed corn, with fresh corn, and, and, and…Good cornbread it seems is a matter of preference. I like it sweeter, denser and moist, like cake, which is why I went for a recipe (via Use Real Butter) that had a high liquid to dry ingredient ratio. Yogurt as well as milk are also called for, which seemed to me a guarantee for a softer bread.

I’d say it came out pretty well, especially considering that the entire batch was gone by dinner that same day!! I doubled the original amount of sugar (to 1/2 cup), and I’m glad I did. It was just the right amount of sweetness. For next time, though, I’m cutting out 1/2 the butter and replacing it with oil.

Enjoy!

Cornbread (adapted from Use Real Butter)

INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled


1 large egg, room temperature


1 cup milk

1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup cornmeal


1 cup flour

1 tbsp baking

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F. Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or cooking spray and dust with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, milk, yogurt (or sour cream), and sugar.
  3. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir together until just blended. Don’t overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the top begins to turn golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Take care not to overbake or else the cornbread will be too dry. Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Coconut and Chocolate Pains au Lait

I’m sorry! It’s been ages since my last post! But I promise I have a good excuse—actually, I have a few: I moved in with my brother temporarily, I partied, I said my goodbye to San Francisco, I partied 😛 … and now I am home again. Back to the bird’s nest for 10 days of recharging my batteries and soaking up as much family love as I can before the big move to Perú. (Did I mention already that I’m moving? I can’t remember. Why? For love (when did my life become a cliché?), and I need to find out if it will finally find peace there. When? In 5 days!!)

Life in Oregon is slow—slow driving, slow moving, slow talking, slow everything. It’s taking some getting used to on my part, but it feels kind of good to have time to think and talk. And bake.

I’m so excited about this recipe. It’s one I found a while back on a beautiful blog called Sweet Temptations, and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. The dough is gorgeous—smooth and glossy—and the buns—soft, buttery and briochy. They’re also pretty tasty the next day, especially if you toast them.

The original recipe called for Nutella, which I probably would have used if I’d had it….but I didn’t. My mom had white and dark chocolate chips, flaked almonds and flaked coconut in her cupboard, so I used them instead. A variety of fillings and toppings would work just as well. Another small adjustment I made was to increase the sugar amount from 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup—wanted something a little sweeter for the family.

Enjoy!

Milk Bread with Coconut and Chocolate (recipe adapted from Sweet Temptations)

INGREDIENTS

320 ml (1 1/3 cups) milk

28 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp.

1/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2/3 tsp salt

540 g (5 cups) all-purpose flour

1 packet (11 g) instant dried yeast (or 4 1/4 tsp active dry)

chocolate chips – dark and white

almond flakes (optional)

brown sugar (optional)

coconut flakes (optional)

METHOD

  1. Beat the eggs, and then whisk in the butter, sugar and milk.
  2. In your stand-mixer, mix together flour, yeast and salt. Make a well in the center. Add 1/3 of the egg mixture and allow to knead (using dough hook attachment) until somewhat combined. Then add the rest of the liquids and knead for another 10 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Put the dough into a large bowl dusted with flour and allow to proof for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Once the dough has proofed, form small balls in your hand and flatten lightly. Add about a tablespoon of chocolate chips and almond flakes in the middle and seal. Continue the process until all the dough has been used. Let the little dough balls rise on a baking sheet for another 45 minutes.
  5. Brush the beaten egg over the pains and then sprinkle some brown sugar and/or coconut flakes over the tops. Put the buns on the middle rack of a pre-heated oven (350 deg. F) and bake for 20 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, you may want to rotate the buns to ensure even baking and browning.

Cranberry Bread with Sunflower Seeds and Rosemary, Take 2

This is a nice, little bread recipe from Jamie Oliver. (I heart Jamie.) He’s all about chunks, gobs and heaping handfuls and tablespoons, which trigger all sorts of baking alarms in my head, but actually, everything always works out. Just as it did here with this bread. A cinch to make, I think it took me all of 20 minutes to put together, including kneading…way easier than my first version of this bread.

It’s a moist and flavorful bread. Definitely doesn’t have the developed crumb or taste you get from breads made with starters, but I still really enjoyed it.

Enjoy!

Cran-Rosemary Bread with Sunflower Seeds (recipe adapted from Jamie’s Kitchen via foodnetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS

Basic Bread Dough

1 oz (30 g) fresh yeast or 1x 37 g sachet of dried yeast

1 oz (30 g) honey or sugar

Just over 1 pint (625 ml) tepid water

Just over 2 pounds (1 kg) strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting (I substituted half of this with wheat bread flour)

1 oz (30 g) salt

Additional

Small handful fresh rosemary leaves

Good handful raisins

METHOD

Stage 1: Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in 1/2 the tepid water.

Stage 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 1 hand (Is this really necessary? Just use a fork), 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 1/2 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 the quantities.)

Stage 3: Add in the rosemary and cranberries or raisins. Then begin kneading. This is the best bit, just rolling, pushing and folding the dough over and over for 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 extra flour.

Stage 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. Score it deeply with a knife allowing it to relax and proof with ease until it’s doubled in size. Ideally you want a warm, moist, draft-free place for the quickest proof, for example near a warm cooker or in the airing cupboard, and you could cover it with cling film if you want to speed things up. This proofing process improves the flavor and texture of the dough and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

Stage 5: When the dough has doubled in size you need to knock the air out of it by bashing it around for a minute. Now you can shape it into whatever shape is required – round, flat, filled, trayed up, tinned up or whatever – and leave it to proof for a second time until it doubles in size again. The important thing is not to lose your confidence now. Don’t feel a need to rush through this, because the second proofing time will give you the lovely, delicate soft texture that we all love in fresh bread.

Stage 6: Now it’s time to cook your loaf. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) oven for about 25 minutes. You want to keep all the air inside it, so gently place it in the preheated oven and don’t knock it or slam the door. (I brushed mine with water before and mid-way through baking, in order to get a crunchier, more golden crust.) You can tell if your bread is cooked by tapping its bottom (if it’s in a tin you’ll have to take it out). If it sounds hollow it’s cooked, if it doesn’t then pop it back in for a little longer. Put it on a rack to cool before tucking in!

For the Love of Carbs Bread Pudding

What a simple yet completely brilliant idea bread pudding is. How often do I bake bread? Weekly. And how often do I end up with stale leftovers which I have to throw away? Um…always. (-_-“) Oh, for the love of carbs…

This is another dessert I had never tried until now. Probably because in my head when I think “bread pudding” I think of a tuna sandwich (my favorite), but in pudding form. Kinda gross to imagine it, actually. Also, when I see it on a menu, there always seems to be something better…like tiramisu (oh…) or cheesecake (oooooh…) to eat. Since trying it, however, I’ve decided I’ve been quite unfair to this homely, little dessert. It’s sweet, carby, warm and comforting—perfect snuggle-on-the-sofa-in-your-snuggy dessert, that’s what it is. (Does this snuggy reference mean I have to get one now? :P)

I can’t say I’d choose bread pudding over a big, fat slice of creamy NY cheesecake. Still, I’m glad to have it on my dessert radar. Oh, and now that I’m no longer afraid of bread pudding, I can’t wait to experiment with both sweet and savory versions…oooooh, like a savory tuna version, i.e. breakfast strata or tuna noodle bread casserole, sounds reallly tasty! (^_^)

Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Bread Pudding (adapted from a recipe from A Homemaker’s Habitat)

Makes one 8-inch springform cake tin

INGREDIENTS

1/2 loaf whole wheat bread (mine had cranberries and sunflower seeds in it), preferably stale

1 cup milk (I used non-fat)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 eggs, beaten lightly (I used 1 jumbo, and I’m sure 2 large would’ve been fine too)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, tear the bread up into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together milk, cream, butter and eggs, followed by the cinnamon, ground nutmeg and brown sugar until combined.
  3. Stir the custard mixture into the bowl with the bread until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F, with the baking rack in the center.
  5. Into a greased 8-inch springform cake tin or small cake pan, pour the bread-custard mixture. Bake 1 hour, or until golden and puffy on top. (According to the original recipe, the pudding should “wiggle slightly” when shaken.)
  6. Allow to cool for 5 or so minutes before slicing/serving. You can also serve it at room temperature or cold with a fruit sauce, custard (yum…), ice cream or whipped cream.