Friday, December 16, 2022

Yeasted 'Corn' Bread #BBB


Once again, we have a yeasted corn bread up for baking!  Last time was 12 years ago, a Portuguese Broa loaf, and this time, we have a corn flavored bread that yields a crusty loaf with a chewy crumb and open structure.  It really makes a great English muffin style toast, actually better than some "English muffin" bread recipes I have tried!  We still try to avoid corn as much as possible even though our sensitivity is not too severe.  But it's also fun to come up with alternatives.  Babe Elizabeth thoughtfully informed us that "corn" as a descriptor covers "grain" in its UK definition and that gives me leeway to experiment.  I already know that millet has a great corn-like flavor and I heard that sorghum could be similar and add texture as well.  Sorghum is actually used to make tortillas in Central America, so...  For this bake I milled up some millet flour, and cooked sorghum and millet to replace the corn kernels.  Brilliant toast, and bonus, you can use sourdough discard!  It's a very sticky dough, not quite a batter bread, but with my changes and using all purpose, it was fairly loose.  I gave it a lot of kneading time to develop the gluten and it had great structure.  (I used a mixer instead of kneading by hand.)

Do go check out the beautiful, fully corn version at Karen's Kitchen Stories!  We would love to have you try out this chewy bread with us this month and share how it turned out!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Yeasted Corn Bread
makes 1 loaf

425g (1¾ cups plus 1 tsp) 80 to 90 degree water (or water + kernel juice + cob broth)
100g (½ cup) sourdough starter/levain (fed or unfed)
400g (2¾ cups plus 2 tsp) bread flour (I used about 450+g of all purpose)
175g (1½ cups plus 1 tsp) corn flour (I used fresh ground millet flour)
175g (1 cup) corn kernels (optional) (I used a mixture of whole cooked sorghum and millet)
14g (2¾ tsp) fine sea salt
2g (½ tsp) instant yeast
30g corn flakes (optional)

Break up the starter/levain by mixing into the water in a large bowl or stand mixer.

Add the flours and corn kernels if using (plus ground husks if using).  Mix lightly by hand until incorporated.

Sprinkle salt and yeast over the dough, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Mix with a wet hand and then stretch and fold around the edges.  Work in the salt and yeast with fingertips, followed by another stretch and fold.  Let rest a couple of minutes and then repeat the stretch and fold again a few times.

Over the next hour, repeat a stretch and fold every 30 minutes.  Cover the dough and let rise until it is 2½ to 3 times its original size but still domed and not flattened.  The dough will fill a tub to the 2- qt mark if using a marked measure.

Prepare a loaf pan by greasing with butter or spray oil.

When the dough is ready, gently turn out onto your work surface.

Roll or stretch the dough into an oblong shape and fold the ends in to the center like a package the width of the baking pan.  Roll the dough up jelly roll style to fit in the pan and place in the pan seam side up.  (I put it seam side down, because seam side down!)

Brush the loaf with water and sprinkle with cornflakes, if using.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour, until risen slightly over the top of the pan (if using a 10 x 5 inch loaf pan). 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Bake for about 50 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking.

Turn it out onto a wire rack and let cool at least an hour.  This loaf is even better with a longer rest time.

Toasted and buttered with some amazing Cranberry Sriracha Jelly which
brings out some great savory notes and complements the bread beautifully!


 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Scottish Black Buns #BreadBakers


Fruitcake usually seems to be a love it or leave it type baked good.  I have made many different kinds over the years because my family and my hubby's folks love it.  Honestly, I am not a huge fan of dark fruitcake.  But I saw this intriguing recipe in an issue of Sift and bookmarked it for a potential bake.  Scottish Black Buns are a centuries old tradition even if they tend to be a regular fruitcake wrapped in pastry nowadays.  But there are still bakeries that make the traditional yeast version described by Robert Louis Stevenson in his book Picturesque Notes on Edinburgh (1879) 

‘Currant-loaf is now popular eating in all households. For weeks before the great morning, confectioners display stacks of Scotch bun — a dense, black substance, inimical to life — and full moons of shortbread adorned with mottoes of peel or sugar-plum, in honour of the season and the family affections. ' Frae Auld Reekie,' ' A guid New Year to ye a',' ' For the Auld Folk at Hame,' are among the most favoured of these devices.’

The dense and rich fruit cake is often used for the ritual of first-footing at Hogmanay (New Year). 

“First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!

It is likely for this reason that black buns go as well with a glass of whisky as they do with a cup of tea or coffee!  Today, black buns can still be found in the windows of the more traditional bakers. Alex Dalgetty & Sons, which are renowned for their Selkirk Bannock, make around 6000 black buns in the days preceding the festive period.  

So when the theme of Christmas breads popped up for BreadBakers, I knew this was the one to make.  Yeast makes a unique and in my opinion, better version of a dark fruitcake!  These little loaves, made in a jumbo muffin tin, are the perfect size for gifting.  And as befits a traditional fruitcake, their size belies their weight!  These are hefty little hunks of fruitiness, weighing in at just over 300g each!  (That's basically twice as heavy as the giant Costco muffins that weigh ~155g.)

This was a relatively easy recipe to make, though it did cost me some coins in the swear jar when I realized I had formed all my rolls and forgotten to add any of the spices into my fruit mixture!  So I had to carefully and painstakingly unwrap the bundles, turn/scrape out the filling and mix in the spices, then even more carefully wrap them back up.  Definitely a whole lot messier the second time around.  But they still baked up fine, thank goodness.  

The buns are just delightful in thin slices with whipped cream.  Particularly good just slightly warmed, I am dying to try a slice with some hard sauce but will content myself with semi melted vanilla ice cream in the mean time.  I am certain they would be wonderful toasted and buttered as well.  Despite the spices, these are not a strongly spice flavored bun, just a deeply fruity and dense yeast cake.  Very unique.

Black Buns
makes 6 buns
from King Arthur


    2 tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast
    1½ cups (340g) milk
    2 tbsp (25g) granulated sugar
    5 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
    1½ teaspoons (9g) salt
    8 tbsp (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature


    2 tbsp (43g) molasses
    1 large egg yolk, (save the white for the egg wash)
    1 cup (113g) dried cranberries
    1 cup (170g) raisins, packed
    1 cup (113g) prunes, diced
    ½ cup (74g) diced dried figs or chopped dates
    ¼ cup (85g) orange marmalade
    ½ cup (57g) almonds, sliced
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp cloves (I used ½ tsp because mine were fresh ground and potent)
    1 tsp ginger
    ½ tsp cardamom or mace
    ½ tsp black pepper
    2 tbsp (28g) whiskey

Glaze (optional)

    1 cup (113g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
    1 tbsp (14g) whiskey
    1 tbsp (14g) heavy cream
    ½ tsp vanilla extract

For the dough: Weigh the flour; or measure by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess with a butter knife or offset spatula. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer, and mix and knead until a soft dough forms.  Cover and let rise until doubled, 1½ to 2 hours.

Divide the dough in half. Put one half into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Put the remaining half back in the mixing bowl, and mix in all of the filling ingredients. The mix will be quite sloppy at first, but a sticky dough will come together as you continue mixing.

Once the filling is mixed into the dough so that no streaks remain, divide it into six equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball as best you can; it will be sticky; wetting your hands first will help with this.  (I simply plopped piles down onto parchment, removing by weight for the 6 divisions.  Then the filling could be easily scraped back up with the back of a butter knife when moving to the wrapper.)

To assemble: Remove the plain dough from the refrigerator and divide into six equal pieces.  Form each into a ball, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease the wells of an oversized muffin pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment.

Roll each portion of dough into a 6" round, about ½" thick; make the edges thinner if you can (a tapered pastry pin is best for this). Place one of the balls of filling in the center, and bring the edges up and around to meet on the top, overlapping to enclose the filling as needed. Pinch the dough together and place, pleated side down, in the wells of the prepared pan or on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Cover the buns with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes. Halfway through the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Just before I realized I forgot all the spice.

At the end of the rise time (the buns will not have changed much), brush the tops with an egg wash of the reserved egg white beaten with a tablespoon of water. Score or poke the tops of the buns in a decorative pattern.

Not too bad for having been dismantled and rewrapped!

Bake the buns for 50 to 55 minutes, until the tops are golden brown (check after 35 minutes and tent with foil if needed).  The center should measure 195°F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove from the oven, tilt them out of the pan, and cool on a rack.

To make the glaze: Whisk together all of the ingredients to make a smooth glaze; drizzle over the tops of the cooled buns.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Christmas treats:

  #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 


Saturday, December 10, 2022

Small Batch Italian Anisette Cookies

These cookies make the rounds of pinterest and social media every so often, especially around holiday times.  Anise is one of those flavors that many people have strong feelings about.  They either pick out all the black jelly beans to throw out, or to hoard for themselves.  I love black licorice and anise has a licorice flavor.  Now I understand this cookie can be made with lemon or almond extract instead of anise, but I wonder why one would bother making an anise cookie if one wasn't going to use anise.  I do love almond and lemon flavor though, so whatever floats your boat.  This is an old Italian cookie and I wish I could have found the significance, if any, of the 'S' or twist shape but they are just as often made as round drop cookies.  I liked the twist best and went with that version.  The texture is very soft and tender, kind of like those frosted Lofthouse sugar cookies, only more so.  Hubby loved them.  I thought they were very nice and would love them with tea or coffee.  A beautiful, subtle licorice flavor, even with adding some extract to the icing.  My extract is decades old, I wonder if it fades...  Also, this is a much smaller batch because most recipes that I saw made about 5 dozen cookies and we don't need that many!  If you like soft, cakey cookies and licorice flavor, this is definitely a cookie to try out.

Italian Anisette Cookies
makes 1½ dozen

½ cup (113g) butter, softened
¼ cup + 1 tbsp (82.5g) sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (38g) milk, room temp
2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
2 full tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground aniseed (optional)
⅛ tsp salt
⅔ tsp anise extract (I used ¾ tsp)


½ tbsp butter
1 cup (113.5g) confectioners' sugar
2-3 tbsp (28-42.5g) milk
⅛ tsp anise extract (optional)

Colored sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.  In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Stir in the anise extract. Add the flour and milk, starting and ending with flour, in alternating portions of each until fully combined.  Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Using a medium cookie dough scoop or spoon and floured hands, take a 1½ tbsp portion of dough and roll into a long rope, about 7-8 inches long.  Shape into ‘S’ or twist shape on a parchment lined or ungreased cookie sheet: Coil into an oval and lightly pinch the ends together.  Twist/flip one loop up over itself to cover the seam.  Leave a couple inches between cookies as they will puff up as they bake.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove to cool completely on a rack.  When cookies are cool, frost and add sprinkles of choice.

Frosting: In a medium bowl, melt ½ tbsp butter. Add in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar.  Stir in extract is using, and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency for frosting the cookies.  Brush, drizzle, or pipe on cookies, apply sprinkles right away and return to rack to set.  Let cool completely and store in airtight containers.


If you want to make a full batch of 5 dozen:

Full batch:

    1½ sticks of unsalted butter
    1¼ cups granulated sugar
    6 large eggs, room temp
    ½ cup milk, room temp
    5-6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    6 generous teaspoons baking powder
    1½ tsp ground aniseed (optional)
    ½ teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons anise extract


    1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
    ½ pound of confectioners’ sugar
    4-6 tablespoons milk

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Panettone with Wild Yeast #BBB


At last, an excuse to make something that has been on my to-make list for quite some time!  This month our Bread Baking Babes have made Panettone.  This Italian sweet bread is a production to make authentically, taking several days to build and proof.  I have never tried the purchased versions I have seen in the shops in cardboard boxes and now having made one, I am curious if I would be disappointed by the commercial version.  Probably.  This bread (let's be honest, this is a cake, just a yeasted one), is totally amazing.  Looking at pictures, I figured it would probably be dry, but after choosing to go the longer route of making a "sweet" stiff starter, this bread turned out anything but dry!  You can see from the picture that I didn't let it cool completely and so it slumped just a little, but oh my wow.  Seriously, it tasted like a fruited sponge cake.  Totally moist and quite decadent.  (Actually, turning any stale leftovers into french toast is like making instant bread pudding in a fry pan.  Amazing.)


Let it cool completely so the structure doesn't collapse!

Completely cooled before slicing.
Nice and tall.

I did go for a different recipe than the shorter King Arthur based version that our host kitchen presented.  My only problem was not measuring my molds and finding out only at the end of proofing that I had divided the dough for the smaller molds I ordered and not the larger ones they actually sent me.  I caught the mistake in time to prevent overproofing, but ended up with shorter loaves instead of the crowning dome and mushroom top of the traditional loaf that would have presented had I made only two instead of three.  Oh darn.  Guess I will have to make more...  Might try the KA version, but I did so love how Alumni Babe Susan's turned out that I don't know if I could ever make a different one.  Be warned, there is no skipping steps or speeding things up with the method I chose.  It is chock full of butter, sugar, and liquid.  But with the correct application of extensive mixing and gluten development, I was blown away at how a batter-like, super enriched dough could still hold structure.  Here are Susan's notes on the matter:


  • Panettone requires a very disciplined mixing technique. If you’re not willing to be patient with the mixing, don’t bother.
  • Butter and sugar require strong gluten to support them. However, those thankless little ingredients also do everything they can to impede the development of that gluten, as does water. Therefore, these three things are mixed into the dough in a specific and controlled way.
  • Initially, the dough is mixed using only a fraction of the water, and none of the sugar and butter. Then the sugar is added slowly, in several increments, and the dough is further mixed until the gluten is fully developed. Only then is the butter incorporated, and only after that is the remaining water added.
  • This takes at least 30 minutes and on occasion has approached an hour.
  • When the dough is properly mixed and the gluten fully developed, you should be able to stretch it into a very thin, very smooth, translucent “windowpane.”
  • I am not kidding. Really. Seriously. Trying to hurry it along will only backfire and you’ll be mixing for three or four times as long. Don’t ask me how I know this.


You can see that the dough is sticky, but also the long strings of gluten.  If you didn't mix it per the directions given, it would be soup.

Then of course after the bulk proof, it looks rather unappetizing in its loose pile of dough and fruit.  But then it perks up nicely with some judicious tucking/folding.

That formless blob of dough shapes up beautifully and can be quickly transferred to the waiting mold.  Just make sure to measure your mold so you use the correct quantity of dough!  I used 500 instead of 750 because I ordered 5¼" molds and was sent 6" molds.  Makes a big difference volumetrically.

One other difference in the recipes is the use of a "glaze" in the Wild Yeast version.  It's amazing, crispy crunchy, even though I got Belgian instead of Swedish pearl sugar and had to break it up with my mortar and pestle.  I might use just a pinch of cocoa powder as my glaze seemed darker than Susan's, and I recommend a ½-1 tsp addition of water to make it easier to brush on the tops of the loaves.  But I would also try the quarter snip on the top of a loaf with a pat of butter tucked in next time as an alternate option.  I personally would forgo the blanched almonds on top as they are just hard to find.  I did add a few slivered almonds to one loaf instead.

Any way you slice it, Panettone is delicious.  I did make my own candied peel, being very disappointed in any purchased versions I have tried.  It's pretty easy and quite delicious, not to mention that you end up with a lovely citrus infused simple syrup!

We would love to have you try out this specialty bread with us this month and share how it turned out!  Will you try the easier overnight version or foray into building up a stiff starter and go for the Wild Yeast version?  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Below is the easier King Arthur version that I think most of our bakers used, the version I made can be found here.

makes 1 loaf
(Bake in 2 quart sauce pan)

    ¾ cup (90g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1/16 teaspoon (just a pinch) instant yeast
    1⁄3 cup (74g) cool water


    all of the starter (above)
    2¼ cups (270g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    ¼ cup (57g) lukewarm water
    2 large eggs
    4 tbsp (57g) butter, softened
    ½ tsp Fiori di Sicilia flavoring OR 1 tsp vanilla + 1⁄8 tsp orange oil
    2¼ tsp SAF Gold instant yeast or 1 tbsp instant yeast
    1¼ tsp (8g) salt
    1⁄3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
    ½ cup (85g) golden raisins
    ½ cup (64g) slivered dried apricots
    ½ cup (85g) dried cranberries
    ½ cup (71g) chopped dried pineapple
    2 tbsp (28g) orange zest (grated rind) or lemon zest (grated rind)


1.  To make the starter: Combine starter ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover and allow to rest overnight (8-12 hours).

2.  To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit and zest.  Mix and knead them together by hand, mixer or bread machine until you've achieved a soft, smooth dough.

3.  Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the dough is puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

4.  Gently deflate the dough and knead in the fruits and zest. (Soak fruits in hot/boiling water to soften. Drain before adding them)

5.  Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone pan or other straight-sided, tall 1½-2-Qt pan. Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it's just crested over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.  (It is helpful to line the pan with parchment paper.)

6.  Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Panettone should be a deep brown when done, should sound hollow when tapped, and will read 190°F at the center using a digital thermometer.

7.  Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Honeyed Spelt and Oat Levain #BreadBakers

We are heading toward year's end with a Harvest themed bake!  There are usually some things in season all the time, and it just depends on where you are what that particular commodity happens to be.  Cold crops can go through winter depending on your setup.  We are right at the end of apple harvest here in Puget Sound.  Incidentally, I did not choose apples this month, but if you want a fantastic apple yeast bread, go check this one out!  I went with honey and grains, which technically finished up a month or so ago, but that means supplies are very readily accessible and fresh right now.  We have a number of fairly local graineries and lots of very local honey options.  My folks have finally decided they are getting too old to deal with cumbersome and heavy hives anymore, so no more gallons of amazing free honey for me, boo hoo!  We will ration out what remains of the last harvests.  Honey lasts for centuries.

I've made this loaf before and we love it.  Crispy crust and lovely, chewy and moist crumb.  It has a semi-sticky dough with the fresh ground spelt, lightly sifted. It's a leisurely dough built and formed over a couple days.  I actually bumped up the salt a few grams because of the sweetness of the honey.  This is not a salty loaf.  The flavor of the grains will come out especially when baked until the crust is nicely caramelized.  It is delightful fresh and then wonderful toasted.  My kids particularly love it on the first day with the crispy crust and soft, chewy crumb.

This recipe is flexible on timing and can be done in a day, but the flavor is always better with the overnight rest in the fridge.  I have made this with both spelt and emmer and really love the rich, nutty flavor of the spelt.  Emmer is a somewhat coarser whole grain and the gluten is more likely to be cut by the bran while kneading, resulting in a tighter crumb.  Still tasty though!


Honeyed Spelt and Oat Levain
makes 2 loaves or one large boule

Leaven (starter):
30g 100% hydration starter
40g water
40g whole spelt flour

140g rolled oats
275g boiling water

Final Dough:
110g leaven
245g water
all the soaker
45g honey
105g whole spelt flour
445g bread flour
14g salt

Build the starter leaven 8 to 10 hours before making the dough.  Stir together the starter and water in a bowl until it is broken up. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Cover and let proof at room temperature. While that is set aside, make the soaker by measuring out the oats and adding the boiling water. Cover and let sit until ready to make the final dough.

Once the starter leaven is active and puffy, add the water for the dough, soaker, and honey, and stir to combine. Add the flours and mixed by hand until all the flour has been hydrated and there are no lumps remaining. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and then thoroughly mix in with your hands. Cover and let proof for 3 to 4 hours, turning and folding every 30 to 45 minutes.

Divide and pre-shape the dough once it is puffy and almost doubled in size after turning out onto a well-floured surface. Cover and let it rest for 10 to 30 minutes.  Form the loaves into the final desired shape and place on a well floured couche or banneton.  Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. While the loaves are warming, preheat the oven and baking stone to 500°F.  Once the oven has preheated and stabilized, gently turn the loaves out onto a parchment lined baking peel. Score the loaves as desired and place about 75 to 80 g of hot water into an oven safe dish.  Place the water dish on the rack below the baking stone. Spray the walls of the oven with water, taking care to avoid the light bulb, and slide the loaves onto the hot baking stone. Immediately shut the door and bake for 2 to 3 minutes. Open the door and very quickly spray the walls again with water. Shut and bake for 5 to 7 minutes before turning the heat down to 450° F.  Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the crust is a deep, dark brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. It should be between 200 to 205° F inside when fully baked.  Allow to cool fully on a rack before slicing.

Made with emmer.

Made with spelt.

Brilliant nutty flavor from the spelt.

Be sure to check out the rest of our bakes:


 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 


Monday, October 24, 2022

Orange Scented Sugared Pecans


Community cookbooks can be hit or miss, but I've had a few recipes bookmarked to try from a little fundraising booklet from the local middle school.  This one looked interesting.  I have always loved sugared nuts anyway and I adore citrus.  This is very subtle on the orange, would definitely be good with lemon.  Oh yeah.  Lemon rules.  These are a great sweet treat and would be excellent chopped as a topping for ice cream, or added to a cheese board.  These are cooked slightly more than pralines, taking them to a little firmer level so they can be broken and separated instead of making candy puddles.  These are ready immediately after cooling instead of having to set up like pralines.  I would keep them as a holiday treat as the kids won't get into them, not their cup of tea, and hubby sugars out fast so I need to make half batches and not keep them around much because I will definitely get into them.  (Yes, the recipe halves nicely.)  I cooked mine to about 243ºF by the time I grabbed my butter.  The sugar part is firm but with a softer bite, not like a brittle.  Be sure to use a large enough pot as the mixture will bubble up at first and then settle down after a number of minutes.  A 2 Qt pot is just large enough for a half batch.

Sugared Pecans (with orange)
makes ~ 5 cups

Grated rind and juice of 2 oranges (I recommend thicker zested strips of peel and not microplaned for this application)
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter
4 cups pecans (I toasted mine in an air fryer for 5-7 minutes at 350ºF and recommend the toasting)

Zest or cut orange rind into thin slivers, avoiding the white pith.  Combine with the sugar, salt, flour, milk and orange juice in a 6 qt pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook over medium heat to 240ºF on a candy thermometer, soft-ball stage; remove from heat.  Stir in butter.  Add pecans; beat until creamy.  Quickly spoon onto waxed paper; separate pecans.  Store in airtight container with waxed paper between layers.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Fig and Walnut Flatbread #BBB


For our October bake, the Bread Baking Babes made a soft and semi-savory flatbread.  The dough is really wonderful with the fresh rosemary in it.  I adapted mine slightly, still including the dried figs and nuts and orange peel, but used fresh pear instead of fresh figs, both because fresh figs are not often seen here and because I did not like them when I tried them.  And though I adore caramelized onions, I switched them out for shallots and only used one large one.  I'm a weirdo, I really like some things sweet and savory, but when it comes to fruit, I have never been a fan of mixing it up.  I loved the maple miso ice cream and the basil ice cream at a local scoop shop... you would think this topping would be delicious to me.  It's okay.  And it was okay for the family too.  Really, it's not bad, it's just not our thing.  I don't like chutney either.  But I like pepper jelly.  It's just a puzzlement.

Look at that flatbread, it's beautiful!  Don't worry, I still loved the dough and turned the leftovers into a lovely French toast casserole.  It is delicious and I still get a perplexed moment of hmmm when I get a larger shot of the shallot coming through.  I still can't tell how I feel about that other than I love bread pudding and pan French toast, LOL.

I would try this again either mostly savory or totally sweet.  I would use the rosemary regardless though because I know the herbs work wonderfully in a sweet option, having done that with our spring focaccias one year.  The rosemary infused olive oil was just wonderful, I would keep that around for many uses!  I love the walnuts, might put them on half way through on another bake, though it might have been because of the smaller toaster oven, mine were getting a bit dark.  They were so delicious in the breakfast iteration though.

We would love to have you try out this flat bread with us this month and share if you change it up and how it turned out! New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

 Fig and Walnut Flatbread
from Joanne Weir's More Cooking in the Wine Country cookbook
makes 1 flatbread, serves 6

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2¼ tsp (1 package) dry yeast
½ cup plus 2 cups unbleached bread flour, divided (mine took an extra 50g of flour, almost ½ cup)
½ cup lukewarm potato water or plain water (110 degrees F)
1 tsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup potato water (additional)
1 tsp salt

6 to 8 dried figs, sliced
1 cup Marsala wine
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick vertical slices
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon greated orange zest
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup walnut halves


In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil and rosemary. Remove from the heat and let cool for I hour. Discard the rosemary sprigs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, ½ cup flour, and ½ cup warm potato water. Let stand 1 hour, until it bubbles up and rises. 


Then add the remaining 2 cups flour, the rosemary olive oil, chopped rosemary, additional potato water, and salt. Mix the dough thoroughly. Knead the dough on a floured board until it is soft but still moist, 7-8 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning it once to cover it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place (about 75 degrees F). Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in volume.

In the meantime, prepare the topping. Place the figs and Marsala in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the Marsala bubbles around the edges, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour.

Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, 15-20 minutes. Add the orange zest, season with salt and pepper, stir thoroughly, and set aside to cool.

Place a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven, and preheat the oven to 500ºF for 30 minutes.

Form the dough into a round ball. Let it rest for 5 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to form a 9x12-inch oval, 1/2-inch thick. Place it on a well-floured pizza peel.

Drain the figs and distribute the figs, onions, and walnuts evenly over the dough. Lightly press them into the dough. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Then transfer the flatbread to the pizza stone and bake until golden brown and crispy, 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Standard milk and egg batter and soaked all day before baking.
Added in a sprinkle of dried cranberries to the mix, yum.

Been enjoying it heated up with maple syrup!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Black Dahlia Pistachio Loaf #BreadBakers

 For our BreadBakers October bake, we have a theme of Halloween breads!  You would think coming up with ideas for a Halloween themed bread would be easier but it was actually quite a challenge for me this time.  I've done tons of pumpkin breads and although I considered decorated rolls and skulls, they weren't really thrilling me.  There was a front runner of a concha-esque bread for a day, then a recent impulse purchase at Costco came to the rescue.  I had been looking at swirled and colored breads in my Halloween rabbit hole and finally had a flash of inspiration.  I just crossed my fingers that it would work!  Baking pistachio filling smells amazing, by the way.

The winning choice was to take a favorite special occasion loaf and turn it into this more specifically thematic version!  What we ended up with was a black brioche, colored with activated charcoal, and a filling of green pistachio spread courtesy of my impulse buy.  Top it off with a pistachio cream cheese frosting, and we have our loaf!  Which can, of course, be decorated in a less Halloween-y way if so desired.  

If you are worried about grit from the activated charcoal, simply give it a little pass through a mortar and pestle, or whiz it in a spice grinder along with some of the flour.  The capsules I have on hand are a very fine powder already and you could probably get away with 3-4g and see how it looks.  But activated charcoal is good for you as a toxin binder and it was always my go to remedy to stop severe nausea or food poisoning in its tracks.

Either way, it's a very unique looking dough!  One little hack for thin nut butters, if you can't find a prepared filling or spread: take a nice, creamy nut butter and mix in a little honey.  It will increase the viscosity and make it much more firm.  This should work with any nut butter based on the interaction between the hygroscopic and oil based nut butter and the water based invert sugar solution that is honey.  Keep in mind that this is essentially causing the nut butter to seize, so start with just a small amount initially.  I personally love adding a touch of honey to my peanut butter on toast because not only does it taste good, it keeps the warmed PB from dripping off the edges!

Black Dahlia Pistachio Star Loaf
makes 1 loaf

For the sponge:
½ cup (63g) all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp instant yeast
½ cup (114g) whole milk, lukewarm (90-100º F)

For the dough:
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
5g activated charcoal powder (about 20-22 capsules or a heaping tbsp food grade)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
6 tbsp butter, melted
1-2 tsp milk, if necessary to form a smooth dough

For the filling and glaze:
pistachio cream spread or filling
1 tbsp milk plus 1 tbsp water for glaze

For the drizzle:
~½ cup  pistachio cream or creamy pistachio butter
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½  cups powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp  milk

To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a large bowl or stand mixer.  Pour in the milk and whisk or mix with the paddle until all of the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 30-45 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and falls when you tap the bowl.

To make the dough, add the eggs to the sponge and whisk (or beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment) until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add to the sponge mixture and stir (or continue mixing with the paddle on low speed for about 2 minutes) until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to let the flour hydrate and begin to develop the gluten. Then mix in the melted butter by hand, using a wooden spoon, Danish dough whisk or with the mixer on medium speed using the dough hook. Add in a couple teaspoons of milk or water if the dough is too dry.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. It shouldn't be too sticky to handle.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a clean bowl. The butter should keep the dough from sticking to the bowl. Let the dough proof in a warm place (70-75º F) for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To shape the flower, turn the dough out onto a surface, punch it down and knead for a minute. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each piece into a ball.

Roll a ball of dough out into a circle measuring about 25 cm (~10-11″) in diameter. The dough should be about 3-4 mm (1/8″) thick. 

Place the dough onto the baking paper and use an offset spatula to spread on a layer of pistachio cream, leaving a small gap at the edge.  Don’t make the layer too thick or it will ooze out, but be sure to evenly cover the dough.

Roll out a second ball of dough, place it on the first layer and spread with pistachio cream spread.  Repeat with the third and fourth balls of dough but do NOT spread filling on the final layer. 

Cut the brioche into 16 segments but leave a small (3 cm/1½”) area in the center of the dough uncut.  Use a small glass or ramekin to mark that area in the center to prevent cutting into it. 

I don't recommend trimming the edges with a filling
this thin.  It makes sealing them more difficult.

Take a pair of adjacent segments. Lift and twist them away from each other 180° so that the top is on the bottom.  Lift and twist through 180° again, then twist 90° to bring the ends together vertically. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process for all pairs of segments. 

Place the flower in a large plastic bag or cover with lightly oiled film. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours to rise.  You may wish to reseal the ends once or twice during this rise period, as they will inevitably try to separate and mar the desired flower petal or star shape.  I give the edges one final, firm pinch before popping in the oven and that has always held up the seams.

Brush with the milk glaze then bake at 160°C/320°F fan oven, 180°C/360°F conventional oven for 20-25 minutes.  I baked mine at 360ºF for 15 minutes, then turned it down to 325º and baked it another 5-10 minutes, tenting with foil to avoid browning the filling too much.  The loaf is done at an internal temperature of ~195ºF.

Place the bread on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, dust lightly with icing sugar, or drizzle with pistachio glaze if desired.  

For the glaze:

In a large bowl, beat the pistachio butter/cream and cream cheese together with a spoon.  Stir in and beat add the powdered sugar until mostly combined.  Add the milk 1 tbsp at a time until the glaze is of a thick pouring consistency.  Mix until there are no lumps.  Pipe or drizzle over cooled loaf in desired pattern before serving.  (My icing was a little thicker for the spider web than the standard drizzle.  For the spider, I simply piled up some of the icing and "painted" it with cocoa powder and a couple of mini chocolate chips for eyes.  I am not great artist, but it generally works.)

Be sure to check out the rest of our bakes:

 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.