Tag Archive | Baking

Be a star breadwinner.

When my home is filled with the scent of bread baking in the oven it always brings back nostalgic memories of my childhood.

On Friday’s when I’d come home from school, and before even reaching the front door, the aroma of fresh baked bread filled the air as Friday’s was my mom’s baking day—breads, buns, pies and cookies—she made enough for the week ahead to feed a family of seven.

A slice of delicious love with creamy butter, and homemade jam awaited me for an after school snack.

When I had a day off from school, I would help, and it is at our kitchen table that I learned how to put love into baking and cooking. I made a lot of mistakes when trying it on my own, but my mother taught me that making mistakes is how one learns to make great meals.

As I watched her knead the dough for the breads, I saw how much love she put into each loaf, and how happy it made her when they came out of the oven, all risen and deliciously golden.

She would always make the sign of the cross, and say a silent prayer after she finished kneading the dough.

I followed this routine, as I knew she was giving thanks for the flour, yeast and all the food she was able to prepare.

I told her once that it was such a nice tradition to give thanks while baking.

She told me that it was one of the reasons she prayed while baking, the other reason was that she prayed the dough would rise. 🙂

ITALIAN BREAD RECIPE

Following is my recipe for making bread and buns. I did learn to knead the dough by hand, but thanks to modern technology, a stand mixer does a great job as well, and saves time.

I’m also sharing a tip on how to make your crust golden and crisp and the inside of the bread soft and chewy for a scrumptious slice of carb heaven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ¼ c warm water (between 100F & 110F)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 cups flour (You can use any of these flours: 00 or bread flour or all purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • spray bottle with water
  • A tray of ice cubes or a oven-proof bowl of water

    Directions:
  • In a small bowl, add: yeast, sugar & water, and stir lighty. Cover with a cloth and let it sit for 10 minutes, or until yeast doubles.
  • Add the yeast into your stand mixer bowl (if not using a stand mixer, add into a large bowl), then slowly add 3 cups of flour and the salt.
  • Using a dough hook on the mixer, mix everything at low speed. Use a spatula to scrape the sides.
  • When all ingredients are incorporated well, mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. (If not using a stand mixer, mix with a large wooden spoon for 8 to 10 minutes).
  • Cover bowl with a dish towel and allow dough to rest for 1/2 hour.
  • After 1/2 hour, turn mixer to low, and add 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing on low until all the flour is incorporated. (If not using a mixer, use your hand to mix the dough well).
  • If the dough is wet and shaggy, add a bit more flour (about 1/4 cup or less) until you get a smooth consistency and it does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
  • Set mixer at medium speed, and mix for 8 minutes. (If you are not using a mixer, then knead the dough by hand for 25 minutes).
  • Once you’ve finished the kneading process, add some olive oil to a bowl, then put the ball of dough into the bowl and ensure dough is all coated with oil.
  • Cover bowl with a tea towel (or you can use plastic wrap) and let the dough rise in a warm (draft-free) area for one hour (should be doubled in size)
  • Preheat your oven to 400F (doing this at this point will ensure your oven is hot enough to bake the bread)
  • Put an oven proof bowl of water at the back of your oven
  • You can either use loaf pans or a baking sheet to bake the bread, whichever you use, line with parchment paper, and after the dough has risen, sprinkle flour on a surface and use this surface with floured hands to shape your bread into an oblong loaf.
  • Put your dough either on the baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
  • Using your spray bottle with water, spritz the dough, cover and let it rise for 40 minutes.
  • After 40 minutes, score the loaf with a sharp knife, with criss cross slashes or diagonal slashes
  • Put the dough in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • While bread is baking, spritz the loaf fully with your spray bottle every 10 minutes
  • To check if bread is done after 30 minutes of baking, you can use an instant read thermometer (190F means it’s done), or tap the bottom and it should sound hollow.
  • Once baked, allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

HOME MADE FRESH BUNS

You can use the same recipe and technique to bake buns.

Bake buns for 15 minutes.

The bread or buns would be great with a steaming bowl of Italian Barley Soup. Click here for recipe.

This blog post is dedicated to my mamma. A beautiful, witty, loving, strong woman who lives in my heart and memories every day of my life.

I’m sure she’s baking a lot of goodness in Heaven.

I love you, my Angel.

Bake Someone Happy

 

 

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There’s something about rainy, and windy, cool days where you can hear the leaves rustling that brings out the baker in me.

It’s a way of embracing the change of season after the summer months by filling my home with the glorious scent of baked goods, and satisfying my sweet tooth, and my family’s hankering for home-made goodies are added bonuses.

 

Here’s a recipe that ticks all the boxes for everyone’s
sweet, tangy, and fruity taste buds.

 

Sweet Bread filled with Lemon Custard and Blueberries

 

bread-1

 

Lemon Custard Filling:

INGREDIENTS:

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 lemons
1/8 tsp. salt
6 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into cubes and let it get to room temperature so it’s soft

DIRECTIONS:

Note: If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make your own, with a pot and steel bowl on top, or another pot that fits the bottom pot.

Fill the bottom of a double boiler with 2 inches of water, and allow it to boil on high.
Once boiled, reduce to low heat and keep it at a simmer.

To the top of the double boiler, add: sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and egg yolks.

Whisk this mixture until it’s completely blended, and continue to whisk until the custard cooks. Constant whisking will prevent the egg yolks from curdling, and it will give you a nice, smooth custard.

Once the mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes), remove from heat, If curd isn’t thickening, turn up the heat and constantly whisk.

Note: If you find it’s not thick enough, turn up the heat a little, not too high and keep whisking for a few more minutes.

Once thickened, remove the pot from heat and stir in the butter pieces. Allow the butter to melt inside the mixture.

Pour mixture into a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap so it is touching the top of the custard as this will prevent a skin from forming on top, and set aside to let it cool.


Blueberry Topping:

INGREDIENTS:

6 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP cold water

DIRECTIONS:

2 cups fresh blueberries (or your favorite berry)
½ TBSP butter, unsalted
½ TBSP, freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a saucepan, add sugar, cornstarch, salt and water and heat over medium heat, stirring until smooth.

Add the blueberries and bring to a boil.

Cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Remove from the heat, then add butter and lemon juice, stir until butter is melted.

Set aside and let cool.

 

Egg Wash:

Beat together:
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. water

Sweet Bread:

INGREDIENTS:

3 TBSP white sugar
3/4 cup milk, whole milk works better
2 TBSP butter, unsalted
2 tsp olive oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 TBSP yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

Add: sugar, milk, butter and oil in a sauce and heat on medium low, stirring.

After all ingredients are warmed through, remove from heat and briskly whisk in the beaten eggs.

Add the yeast to this mixture and mix.

Pour mixture into a bowl and cover the bowl, let it sit for five to 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

Sift the flour and salt together, then add to the mixture, and mix gently, until all the flour is incorporated.

Cover and set aside at room temperature, and let it rise for one hour.

Sift the flour and salt together, then add to the mixture, and mix gently, until all the flour is incorporated.

Cover and set aside at room temperature, and let it rise for one hour.

Sprinkle some flour on your working surface, then gently roll out the risen dough into a rectangle. You can add a bit more flour one your rolling pin, so it doesn’t stick.

Once your dough is rolled out to approximately 16 x 12 in size, spoon the lemon custard in rows.

At this point you can do one of two things; you can braid the bread, gently criss-crossing, and using a spoon pressing the filling in so it doesn’t spill out while baking.

ANOTHER OPTION: Or, you can roll up the dough in the shape of a log, placing the seam underneath, then pinch edges of the log so the filling doesn’t pour out.

If you breaded the bread, add a dollop of the blueberry mixture, dotting the blueberry mixture on the opening, or you can also choose to add a few dollops of blueberry mixture inside the bread. You can use your imagination with the berries.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and transfer your dough to this baking sheet.

Let bread to rise for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F

Make your egg wash by whisking egg and water well, then brush the egg wash over the bread, and put the bread in the oven.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden.

Once you remove it from the oven, and it cools to warm, you can dust your bread with icing sugar.

Enjoy with your favourite hot beverage.

 

 

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A threesome guaranteed to please.

When life hands you lemons, simply add rosemary and olive oil—best threesome you’ll experience for the taste buds. For an extra kick and spice things up in the kitchen even more, chili peppers joins the threesome.

 

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Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Loaf

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup un-bleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, beaten
2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup boiling water
1 lemon, (grate it to get the rinds, and squeeze for the lemon juice)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 to 2 tsp. cayenne or chili peppers (this is optional, if you like some spice with the sweet)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or if you don’t want to use parchment paper, lightly grease the pan

Pour the boiling water in a bowl then add the lemon rind, and let sit until the water is cool.

When the water is cool, add the beaten egg, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon extract and olive oil, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, add: flour, baking soda, salt (and if you’re using any chili peppers this is where you would add them in), and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center.

This loaf is delicious with or without a glaze. If you want to kick up the sweetness a notch, then while your loaf is baking, mix together 2 cups of icing (confectioners’) sugar and 1/3 cup of lemon juice, until smooth.

When loaf is baked, let sit for five minutes, then drizzle with the lemon glaze.

 

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Have a date with a sweet loaf.

date

 

This exotic fruit is not only deliciously sweet, it is also packed with a plethora of health benefits, from lowering cholesterol, adding protein to your diet, rich in vitamins and fiber, to promoting digesting.

You can enjoy a few a day instead of candy (seriously, they do taste like candy) or you can bake with them.

 

Nutty Date Loaf Bread

 

IMG_1908

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup chopped dried dates
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans—any nut you enjoy, your choice)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350F

Lightly grease a loaf pan.

In a bowl, mix together; dates, coconut oil and boiling water, then set aside and let it cool. Once cooled (make sure it is cooled as you don’t want to cook the egg), mix in the beaten egg and white and brown sugars, and mix until mixture is smooth and creamy.

In a separate bowl, mix together; flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt, mix well.

Add dry ingredients to the wet bowl, and blend.

Add nuts and vanilla, and blend well.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes (toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center).

Bake someone happy.

It’s that time of the year when baking for others is not only about gifting something sweet, but it has major therapeutic benefits for the baker.

 

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No matter what level of cook or baker one is, a simple recipe for cookies is an excellent way to express your creativity, and  a great way to relieve stress.

 

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Here’s a delicious, moreish recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, guaranteed to fill your home with a warm, comforting aroma.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies-2

Ingredients:

cup un-salted butter, softened
cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chunks -or- chocolate chips; semi-sweet -or- milk chocolate (your choice)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a non-stick baking sheet).
  3. You’ll need two bowls; large one for dry and and smaller one for wet ingredients.
  4. In the large bowl, sift together; flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  5. In the smaller bowl, cream together the butter, brown and white sugars, and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir in the vanilla, and slowly add the beaten eggs and blend well together.
  6. Stir the dry ingredients in the creamy mixture until just blended (do not over mix).
  7. Mix in the quick oats and chocolate chips.
  8. Stir enough (not too much stirring) to get everything evenly distributed.
  9. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.
  11. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer onto a cookie wire rack to cool completely….but, it’s always nice to pinch a warm cookie before they are completely cooled.

These cookies make a great contribution for a cookie exchange.

cookies

 

* * *

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Available on AMAZON

 

final-bundle-cover

 

 

Celebrating Blueberry Season with Chocolate

I love fruit ending in “erries”; blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

What better way to celebrate blueberry picking season than with the other super food—chocolate.

Here’s a recipe for a decadently delicious, brownie-like-chocolate-pie, with a few different suggestions on serving it (my favorite way to eat it, is topped with any berry in season).

This recipe is quick and easy, and you probably have all the ingredients in your home to make it right now.

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
3 TBSP. cocoa powder (use a good quality one, it really does make a difference)
1 tsp. salt

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 F

In a bowl, add butter and mix until smooth, then add sugar and mix together until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, add: flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and mix well.

Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix well.

Line a pie plate with parchment paper (or you can also grease it and add a bit of flour so it doesn’t stick.

Bake for 30 minutes (or until center is done).

Top it off with a dollop of whipped cream, and favorite berries, and you have a dessert filled with super-antioxidants.

cake

 

Sprinkle icing (confectioners) sugar on top.

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Enjoy with a scoop of ice-cream.

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