Tag Archives: vegan

Bread: Whole Wheat or Half?

Can you tell the difference? I should’ve taken a closer shot of the first (whole wheat), but that aside, arrggg…night time pics. What a major pain in the blog! I’m still working out how to take good photos without having to set up some sort of makeshift studio. Maybe I’ll eventually be so good that I’ll be discovered by Food Network, and who will pay me just to bake and blog. THEN maybe I’d buy myself a monster DSLR and use artificial lighting.

A girl can dream, right?

And in the meantime, I’ll get back to the point of this post: bread, whole wheat or half-wheat/half-white to be exact. In Switzerland, you can buy “halbweissbrot”, which is I think 20-60% whole wheat flour and the rest, white. And then there’s “vollkornbrot”, which is basically all whole wheat. So I tried the recipe (from 4EveryKitchen), which is for a whole wheat french bread, twice. The first time, I followed the directions EXACTLY, but then ended up with a very dense loaf. The second time, however, I replaced half the whole wheat flour with all purpose and then replaced the bread machine yeast with active dry. And the result? Muuuuuch better. Perhaps my yeast was off the first try. Question: if I use all purpose flour, is extra gluten as called for in the original recipe really necessary? I don’t know—now that I think about it, perhaps not. Oh well, it worked all the same.

Because the halbweissbrot (half-white bread) is the one that turned out, I guess that’s the adapted recipe I’m going to post. Both loaves were tasty and full of hearty whole-wheat goodness, however, the half-white was just lighter and altogether prettier to look at. Again, it was probably a yeast issue, something I’ll have to investigate the next time I make this.

Btw, the directions are for the bread machine, but you can adjust to by hand or stand mixer, of course.


Halbweissbrot / Half-White Bread (adapted from a recipe found on 4EveryKitchen)

printable recipe

Makes 1 loaf


1 1/4 cups, plus 1 tbsp buttermilk (or 1 1/4 cups milk plus 1 tbsp lemon juice)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp gluten (optional?)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp SAF instant yeast or 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp bread machine yeast (I actually used active dry)


  1. Place all the ingredients IN ORDER into the bread machine. Select Dough setting and press start (ca. 1 hr 20 min).
  2. When the bread machine beeps at the end of the dough cycle, press STOP and unplug the machine. Open the lid and use your fingers to deflate the dough. Let the dough rise in the machine for another 30 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. This dough is very sticky, so when it’s ready to come out of the bread machine, just quickly tip it onto your prepared surface. Knead a few times and pat into a 12”x6” rectangle. Roll up from the long edge into a flat loaf and roll back and forth with your palms to make pointed ends. Fold the log of dough in half lengthwise and pinch seams to seal. Roll the dough back and forth again to make the loaf about 14” long. Cover gently with a damp dish towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, ca. 1 hour.
  4. Twenty minutes before baking, place a baking stone on the center rack of a cold oven and preheat to 450 F/230 C, then reduce to 400/200 C. (4EveryKitchen suggests leaving the oven on for 20 minutes before lowering the heat to 400 F/200 C.) Place an EMPTY cake pan or broiler tray out of the way of your stone.
  5. Holding kitchen shears at 45 degree angle, snip the surface 5 or 6 times down the length of the loaf, cutting no more than 1” deep.
  6. Sprinkle a little flour directly on your pizza/baking stone. Using a dough scraper or steel spatula to help you, slide the loaf onto the prepared stone. Just before shutting the door add 1 cup hot tap water to the hot empty baking pan. This will steam the oven and make a very crispy crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the surface is dark brown and sounds hollow when you tap the top.
  7. Remove and let it cool on a rack.


Lazy Isn’t Always Bad Bread

This just might be the bread I’ve been looking for: no bacteria-breeding, no kneading, and best of all, no sticky dough goo-gaa to clean up. Everything is mixed together in a bowl, left to slow-rise in the fridge overnight and then baked the next day. The recipe’s creator, JW (from JW’s blog via The Fresh Loaf), calls it “Lazy Bread”. Hmmm…just because it’s lazy doesn’t mean it’s bad.

“Lazy” in this case is actually pretty good: well-developed flavor, nice crumb and not to mention, very, very pretty! ❤

To be honest, it’s still not exactly how I envision my perfect loaf recipe to be, but it’s prettttty close. Actually, JW made a recent update: instead of letting the dough rest for 30 minutes before refrigerating, it is refrigerated immediately. Then, after slow-rising overnight, the dough sits out and is left to rise for another few hours at room temp. Apparently, this yields even better results. I’ll be trying this new way next time; I’ll also be folding in my fruit and nuts, instead of just sprinkling them on top. (I realize the sugar is going to react with the yeast, but since the dough rises for so long, I don’t think the effect should be too drastic.)


Whole Wheat Spelt Bread (adapted from a post on JW’s blog via The Fresh Loaf)

Makes 1 large loaf


250 g lukewarm water (1/4 liter)

12.5 g fresh compressed yeast (or 5 g instant)

220 g whole wheat bread flour

110 g spelt flour

1 tsp salt

50 g sunflower seeds and raisins

olive oil


  1. Stir together lukewarm water and yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix together whole wheat and spelt flours; stir in the salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast-water. Using a fork, gradually stir the flour into the water, from the outside in. This should take about a minute. Lift up the dough, grease the bowl with a little olive oil, and put the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes before refrigerating for 30 minutes.
  4. After 8-16 hours (or overnight to a few days), take the dough from the refrigerator and gently scrape it onto a floured surface. (I used my Silpat.) Do not knead! Just use your hands to roughly shape the dough into loaf form, tucking under to build tension on the surface. Cover and let rest for another 45 minutes. (The dough will spread a little.)
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 250 C (480 F). Then, score the dough and moisten the surface with water. (I used a pastry brush to brush water over the entire surface.) Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and raisins, or whichever grains, seeds and/or dried fruit you want (I pushed the raisins into the dough to avoid burning during baking). Moisten again with water. (This is perhaps important in order to also avoid burning).
  6. Bake the dough on the center rack at 230 C (450 F) for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 200 C (390 F) and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, turn off the heat completely and leave the bread to sit in the oven for another 3-5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temp. before slicing.

Cranberry Bread with Sunflower Seeds and Rosemary

I made this bread a week ago. It’s delicious; I love the flavor of the rosemary mixed with the sweet cranberries and the nuttiness from the sunflower seeds. However, it was a real pain in the butt to make. Then again, my family was here all last week visiting, which meant a lot of running back and forth between hotel, home and work for me, and which didn’t leave me with much time or energy for my baking.

In any case, I found a fairly straightforward recipe on Wild Yeast, which I was able to adapt quite easily. It requires a little prep beforehand, i.e. developing a poolish, and is actually a big, wet beast of a dough to work with. But it comes together in the end, I promise. I replaced the instant yeast with fresh compressed yeast. (I’ve looked for instant, but haven’t seen it anywhere). I also got rid of the soaker for no other reason than the fact that I don’t have whole flaxseeds.

I’m still on the look-out for a good go-to bread recipe that has that slow-rise flavor that good breads all seem to have, but that does not require me to breed and feed bacteria in my fridge for a week–not yet anyhow. I want something that will work every time, one that I can adapt for both salty and sweet, and one that I will eventually know by heart and hand, eliminating the need for a recipe. Alas, this is not it.

Still—it’s a tasty, little loaf: sweet, crunchy, and light—much like ciabatta but one loaded with good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat, cranberries, sunflower seeds and ground flaxseed.


Sunflower Cranberry Orange Bread (recipe adapted from Wild Yeast)


2.3 g (6 – 8 small loaves). The recipe can easily be halved.


  • Mix and ferment poolish: 12 hours
  • Mix final dough: 10 – 15 minutes
  • First fermentation: 2.5 hours, with folding after 1.5 hours
  • Divide: 5 minutes
  • Proof: 45 – 60 minutes at room temperature, or 1.5 hours in the refrigerator plus 45 minutes at room temp
  • Bake: 40 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F



215 g white flour

215 g water at about 70F

0.2 g instant yeast (or 0.5 g fresh compressed)

Final Dough

729 g white flour

43 g fine whole wheat flour

43 g flaxseed meal

43 g fine whole rye flour

755 g cool water (about 50 F)

All of the poolish

21 g salt

4 g instant yeast (or 10 fresh compressed)

129 g dried orange-flavored cranberries

103 g sunflower seeds (can be toasted for better flavor)

NOTE: If using fresh compressed yeast, dissolve in water first before adding to dry ingredients)


  1. In a large bowl, mix the poolish ingredients until just combined. Cover the bowl and let the poolish ferment at room temperature for about 12 hours. It is ready to use when the surface is creased, and pebbled with bubbles.
  2. Place the final dough flours, flaxseed meal, yeast, salt, poolish, and all but about 20% of the water, into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 or 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency at this point (similar to a basic French or sourdough bread).
  3. Continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This might take about 5 minutes, but will depend on your mixer.
  4. Add the remaining water (and even more, if needed) and continue mixing until it is all incorporated and you have a dough that feels very soft and stretchy, yet strong and springy.
  5. Add the sunflower seeds and cranberries and mix on low speed until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
  6. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled container.
  7. Ferment at room temperature for about 2.5 hours, folding the dough after 1.5 hours. Make sure the container is well oiled before returning the dough to it.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a very well floured counter.
  9. Working from the center towards the edges, very gently stretch the dough into a rectangle about 2 cm in height. Try to deflate the dough as little as possible.
  10. With a dough scraper, cut the dough into diamond-shaped or rectangular pieces. Gently lift these pieces to a floured couche, supporting the entire piece from underneath and keeping the floured side of the dough down. Again, be careful to deflate as little as possible.
  11. Cover the couche with plastic or slip it, on a board or sheet pan, into a large food-grade plastic bag.
  12. Proof for 45 – 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough is very light and full of gas. Or place the loaves in the refrigerator for 1.5 hours, then at room temperature for another 45 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 440 F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  14. Prepare a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking stone, and put it on a board or sheet pan.
  15. Sprinkle the loaves lightly with flour and flip them gently onto the parchment-covered pan, so the heavily floured side is now up. Do not score the loaves.
  16. To bake, slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto the baking stone.
  17. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 27 minutes or so without steam. Crack the oven door open during the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a golden brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for another 5 minutes, still with the door ajar.
  18. Cool on a wire rack. Wait until completely cool to cut and eat.

Almond Prune Rye Bread

Does that combination sound odd to anyone else? Maybe it’s the word “prune”—it brings to mind images of old, wrinkly things (and old, wrinkly people), porridge, digestive problems…

Then again, the little baker in me also thinks of pleasant things like French armagnac tart, elegant frangipane and custardy clafoutis.

Whatever your initial reaction, please, please don’t let it stop you from trying this recipe. It’s, to say the least, intriguing…especially because of the caraway seeds and rye. I don’t even LIKE caraway seeds or rye bread. However, together with the sweet prunes and mild almonds, the flavors work. Really well. The original recipe called for cranberries and pecans; I wonder how they would work with the caraway and rye. Or what if I use rosemary instead of caraway next time? Now that is a combination worth getting excited about. 😛

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m making an effort to bake organic on a budget and which I tried do with this bread. So, I’m not sure it was really worth it as I don’t think I actually saved anything: $2 for the bus, plus around $8 for the flour, the nuts and the prunes (were they watered with liquid gold or what). Oh, I want to be good to my body and to the environment so bad—but it it’s hard! I have to remember to think about the big picture: pay now or pay (exorbitant medical bills) later.

As for the process, I have no issues to report. Though, I did fight it out with the dough for about 30 minutes, having to knead by hand. But in the end, I won. Look at that loaf!! Crispy on the outside and chewy and aromatic on the inside.


Almond Prune Rye Bread (adapted from Bake at 350’s version of a Martha Stewart recipe)


1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or 2 1/2, plus 1/8 if using active dry)

2 cups bread flour

2 cups rye flour

2 tsp salt (the original called for 2 1/2; this seems a bit excessive to me)

2 tbsp organic evaporated cane sugar (original called for 1 tbsp)

1 1/2 tbsp caraway seeds (will add half that amount next time)

3/4 cup prunes, coarsely chopped

1 large egg, plus 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

sea salt for sprinkling (forgot to do this, but jeez, enough salt already!)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, flours, salt, sugar and caraway seeds. Add the water and mix with the paddle attachment on medium low until the dough comes together. (If using active dry yeast, activate the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water—not above 105 F–by letting it sit for about 10 minutes, or until really foamy. Remember to reduce the amount of water you add later to 3/4 cup.)
  2. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed, about 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. On low speed, add the cranberries and pecans. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap (to prevent sticking) and let sit about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. (I used my Silpat; it’s a good reference for gauging size.) Roll out to a 13×10 inch rectangle, with the short side facing you. Fold in 1/2 inch flaps at each corner, i.e. doggy-ear the corners. Starting at the top, roll the dough towards you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. (Again, the Silpat is really helpful for this.) Roll back and forth gently to seal the bottom seam. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment (or temporarily onto a cutting board and back onto your Silpat), cover and let sit for 45 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  5. Beat the egg with 1 tbsp water. Brush the loaf generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until the crust is a deep, golden brown, 35-40 minutes. (I rotated my loaf halfway through to ensure even baking.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Raisin Walnut Bread

I’m addicted to carbs in the worst way. Seriously, I don’t think I could get through the day without having at least one piece of bread. Despite being completely aware of the consequences related to having “too much of a good thing”, however, I just can’t help myself. Why do carbs have to taste. so. gooooood???

It’s really all Switzerland’s fault. I spent too many years there and ate too much good, fresh bread—sometimes slathered with jam and butter, ripe gruyere and butter, or just butter. I even learned to enjoy it just on its own. With maybe a cup of good coffee that I can use for dunking (I even dunk bagels—strange? Perhaps…)

So what’s my point? What I’m trying to say is…why fight it? I chose indulgence, but in moderation, like by integrating more healthy starches and fibers and organic and unbleached carbs into my diet? I think I can do that 😛

This recipe is the first of my new commitment to baking my own bread every week. It’s a raisin walnut bread adapted from a cranberry walnut bread recipe I found on Passionate about Baking. And I’ve been snacking on it all week long. Its sweet, has a hardy, whole wheat texture and flavor, which is lightened up by the dried fruit and orange juice, and it keeps really well. (Made it Sunday and it is now Thursday—last day, though). I switched out the cranberries for raisins and buckwheat flour for barley to no ill-effect. I think a variety of fruit-nut mixtures would work; besides, it’s always nice to be able to make something with just what you have at home.

Now that I’ll be doing a lot of bread-baking—like every week—I’m sure I’ll be making this one again. I want to try fresh fruit…will that work? Only one way to find out 🙂

Btw, if you’re interested in something lighter and sweeter, I’ve also made a Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Loaf. Read about it here.


Raisin Walnut Bread (original recipe adapted from Passionate about Baking)


160 ml lukewarm water

1 1/2 tsp active dried yeast

1 tbsp olive oil

40 ml fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)

200 g all purpose flour

50 g whole wheat flour

65 g barley flour

1 tsp salt

50 g raisins or dried cranberries

50 g walnuts, roughly broken up into pieces

oil, for greasing


  1. In a small mixing bowl, put the yeast into the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice, olive oil and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine the flours. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the prepared liquids. With a fork, gradually bring the flour into the liquid to combine. When a dough starts to form, start kneading. Knead for 8-10 minutes until you’re left with a smooth and silky dough, adding a little more water if required. Knead in the cranberries and walnuts. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (Tip: Use your Silpat—it helps against sticking and makes shaping easier). Trying not to beat too much risen air out, pull the edges so that they all met in the center to form a puffed round cushion shape. Using a long object, divide the dough into 2 equal halves (don’t cut; just make an indentation).Press down a little and fold one half over the other. Crimp the edges with your fingers as you would an empanada or Cornish pastry. Roll the dough-log onto a floured surface to create a torpedo like baguette shape. Lay it gently on a flour-dusted Silpat (I know you don’t have to do this, but I did anyway…just in case), cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
  4. Heat the oven to 220 C (425 F), placing a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack. Roll the bread off the Silpat onto a baking sheet—gently so as not to lose air. Use a sharp serated knife to give it 3 diagonal slashes, 1 cm deep.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. (My loaf needed 35). Leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Twice-Baked Vanilla-Orange Granola with Bananas and Raisins

Granola is great.

Especially this one, which is packed with bananas, almonds and raisins and infused with vanilla, orange and cinnamon. I wasn’t planning on baking twice, but am really glad I did. The clusters came out super crunchy and also have a really nice roasted flavor.

This batch is for Liam. Hope he likes it!


Twice-Baked Vanilla-Orange Granola with Bananas and Raisins (adapted from a recipe found on Answer Fitness)


3 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans or almond flakes (I used almonds.)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp orange peel

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

2 ripe bananas, sliced into rounds

3/4 cup raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine orange juice, oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and orange peel in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, flaxseed meal, and chopped nuts. Stir.
  4. Mix in the sliced banana rounds and raisins.
  5. Pour the orange juice mixture over the oat mixture and mix gently until the oats are thoroughly coated.
  6. Spread the oats in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Then, use your fingers to form large clusters with about half (or more) of the mixture.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring the granola once during the baking cycle (at around the 15 minute mark).
  7. Remove from oven and let sit out overnight.
  8. The next day, preheat the oven again to 325 F. Again spread the granola evenly on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once during the baking cycle (at around the 10 minute mark).
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool overnight. The granola will have shrunk a bit and will be a rich, golden brown.
  10. For best results (and a nice crunchy granola) store the cooled granola in an airtight container or freezer bag in the icebox.

The Fruit Salad that Saved Dinner. And a Friendship.

I had this long weekend all planned out. Dinner with friends on Friday, hiking and studying my Spanish on Saturday. And for Valentine’s Day, one of those independent girlie in the city dinners.

But today is Valentine’s Day. And where am I? Sitting alone in a cafe, wondering how I ended up here. And by here I mean not at my V-day dinner and in particular, not with Dennis. (Btw, does anyone else get weirded out by the abbreviation “V-day”? Am I the only one who, instead of thinking of love, thinks of The Vagina Monologues? Maybe it’s just me. But all day I’ve been getting texts from people wishing me a happy V-day…and it weirds me out every time.)

ANYWAY, as it turns out, my “alone in the city” girl Valentine’s dinner was actually YESTERDAY. I was sitting at home last night about to prepare a quick bite before getting ready for some masquerade party over at Pier 39 (total bust, btw). And then comes the text from my friend asking when I’m coming over for dinner…shiiiiiit. Somehow I was able to throw all my stuff together and cab it over to her place in under 30 minutes—mumbling and grumbling the whole way over. (All that stress—I swear I can feel it shortening my life. It’s so unhealthy!)

All my cooking plans were ruined. I was going to make Peruvian-style Arroz con Pollo, Papa a la Huancaina (both Dennis’ mom’s recipes) and an Ecuadorian fruit salad I read about on Laylita’s Recipes. The only thing I managed to put together was the dessert—and thank goodness for that. I already felt like the biggest bonehead ever for nearly missing the dinner I co-planned. So I was glad to be able to contribute at least something. Really, it saved the day. And possibly a friendship.

Now my only problem is all the other groceries I’m now stuck with because of my bonehead mistake.

Anyway, this fruit salad is awesome. Easy to put together, healthy, sweet. I especially love the flavor of all the juices combined. It also looks great served in drinking glasses.


Come y Bebe or Ecuadorian Drinkable Fruit Salad (from Laylita’s Recipes)


4 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (ca. 10 oranges)

1 large papaya, peeled, seeded and diced

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

6 bananas, peeled and sliced

sugar or honey to taste (I used brown.)

honey whipped cream to serve (optional)


  1. Combine the diced papaya, pineapple and banana in a large, non-reactive bowl.
  2. Mix in the freshly squeezed orange juice, add sugar or honey if needed.
  3. Serve immediately or chill for 30 minutes if you prefer it very cold.

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.


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


  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.

Tomato-Basil Focaccia for Fleet Week


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


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


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


  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).



Bread-Snob Country Seed Loaf


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!


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


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


  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.