Archive for the 'yeast bread' Category

Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks

I don’t make a habit of going to the Olive Garden.  I’ve been there twice in the last 7 years, both times before some sort of endurance event when we were in an unfamiliar city and just wanted a known (however mediocre) quantity.  And there are probably about 5 different kinds of food I’d choose before Italian.

BUT their breadsticks are pretty darn amazing, especially when paired with this minestrone.

While we’re on the topic of Italian food, here’s the pizza I made on Friday (basically a ripoff of one I had at Pizzeria Delfina, but without the fancy cheese).

Broccolini, roasted until tender, sun-dried black olives, marinara, and mozzarella. I put a TON of red pepper flakes over the marinara before I added the rest of the toppings so it was nice and spicy. Yum.

Even though it’s completely unrelated, I can’t end without talking about Mr. Red Sweatshirt on my run today. He passed me about half a mile in, but I was determined to stay on my own pace (that’s rare, and I’m kind of amazed I didn’t let my competitiveness take over. I’ve turned WAY too many training runs into races and it’s incredibly stupid and immature, but I usually can’t resist).

He got about 15 strides ahead of me and slowed down. Then, for the next THREE WHOLE MILES, every time I caught up to him, he sprinted ahead. This probably happened 15 times. I found it quite amusing for some reason (so amusing I felt the need to take a picture).  Hope you enjoyed your fartlek, buddy!

Anyway, let’s make some breadsticks! And don’t be shy with the melted butter after they come out of the oven; it’s what makes them so good.


Naan with Nigella Seeds

Here we are in day 2 of real life.

For ten days, Mike and I were both off work, which meant running whenever I felt like it, drinking my favorite beer of the moment and browsing cookbooks until late at night…

going out for ice cream with friends…

and spending the entire day with my favorite baby girl (who, by the way, is as thrilled as I am about the outcome of the Rose Bowl)

We finally made the trek to Humphry Slocombe on New Years, and I am so sorry, Bi-Rite, but I think I like it better.

Chocolte with smoked sea salt was every bit as amazing as you’d imagine it would be. Just salty and smoky enough to balance out the chocolate without overpowering it. I also had tastes of peanut butter curry and butter beer, and loved them too.

But now we’re both back at work, Ellie’s going to daycare (her first day was yesterday and she was happy when I picked her up, plus she slept pretty well last night…I’m so relieved), and I’m somehow trying to maintain a blog, teach crazy 13 year olds all day, cook delicious dinners at night, and not get hopelessly out of shape. We’ll see how this goes.

The beautiful thing about this bread is that you can prep it the day before, then keep the dough in the fridge for a day or two, until you’re ready to bake it. That’s definitely extremely helpful when you’re not home until 5:30 and baking bread from scratch just isn’t going to happen.

Nigella seeds are also known as black caraway, and can be found at Indian grocery stores (where they’re called kalonji) or online.


Hamburger Buns

For those keeping track, my due date was two days ago. Still no baby in sight, but we did manage to have a really productive weekend (even if it wasn’t exactly productive in the way I was hoping it would be!)

Obviously the best weekends involve pancakes. I made my usual Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes) but added about 2 tbsp each of coconut, sunflower seeds, flax sees, and chia seeds (all Mike’s idea). They were amazing with molasses, and SO FILLING!

Being the masterful procrastinators that we are, we finally got the decal up on the nursery wall. Nothing like waiting til the very last minute (or apparently, not quite the last minute, since that crib is still empty.)

The diaper area is all ready to go now too. That’s not even a week’s worth of diapers. Scary.

Just like I did all summer, I’ve been trying to keep myself distracted by staying busy in the kitchen, which is even more essential now that I’m past my due date. I don’t know why I never bothered to make my own hamburger buns before, but they really are a billion times better than store-bought. They are much sturdier and just a tiny bit sweet. They were perfect with barbecue tempeh sandwiches and black bean burgers. Totally worth a little effort in the kitchen!

(from The Gourmet Cookbook)

makes 10 buns

1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp hot water (about 100 F)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar (plus a pinch)
2 tbsp softened butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp salt
3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it’s between 100 and 110 F.

Combine the hot water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until the yeast is dissolved and creamy. Add about half the milk, and let stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy. (If it doesn’t get foamy, you’ll need to start over with new yeast).

Add the rest of the milk, sugar, butter, and eggs and mix on low with the paddle attachment to combine.

Add the salt and about a cup and a half of flour, mixing until the flour is incorporated. Switch to the dough hook, add another cup of flour, and beat on medium until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Add additional flour about a tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth and not too sticky, then mix with the dough hook on medium for about five minutes.

Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2.5 hours.

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out with a floured rolling pin into a large round about 1/2″ thick. Cut out 3″ circles using a cookie or biscuit cutter, and place the circles a few inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Combine the scraps and roll them out, cutting into circles until you’ve used all the dough.

Cover the buns loosely with a towel and rise in a draft-free place for about an hour and a half. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Weekends seem like they’re the perfect time for baking bread, but for me they actually aren’t. I started this bread on Saturday afternoon. Instead of letting it rise for an hour and a half like I was supposed to, I put it in the fridge so we could go and get coffee and browse at a bookstore (it took MUCH longer than an hour and a half…really glad I didn’t keep it on the counter!)

Sunday morning I had to run 15 miles, so I took it out of the fridge pre-run, figuring it would definitely rise a lot while I was gone.

Side note… my knee didn’t hurt AT ALL on the run. And it was BEAUTIFUL…there was snow in the Marin Headlands! That doesn’t happen very often. I know it’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but those hills right under the clouds had snow on top!

After the run I was all set to continue with the bread (even though the dough barely rose), but we both had an urgent need for some Thai noodles. So the dough went back in the fridge while we headed up to the Inner Richmond to satisfy our craving.

King of Thai Noodle House No. 2 (346 Clement St, San Francisco) is one of the only Thai places I’ve found that has all the noodle soups we loved in Thailand. I got the Guay Tiaw Jae and it was absolutely delicious. A huge bowl of flavorful broth, thin rice noodles, and plenty of vegetables. I was in heaven.

After we came home I was FINALLY ready to actually bake the bread. I let it sit out for awhile, then mixed together the ingredients for the filling. Brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon. YUM.

I was recently sent some vanilla and cinnamon from Singing Dog Vanilla. They’re based in Eugene, Oregon, where I lived for a couple of months during college. Their products are fair trade and organic, and I have been really impressed with the quality. Plus I gotta support businesses from my beloved home state! The Red Ape Cinnamon was perfect in this recipe.

I rolled out the dough, which finally seemed to have risen a little bit, and spread the filling over it.

After 40 minutes in the oven (which probably should have been 45 – it was a little doughy inside), I had a beautiful loaf of cinnamon raisin swirl bread, which by the way, is a perfect vehicle for cream cheese. And today, while typing up the recipe, I realized why the dough barely rose. As you’ll see, it calls for 2 TABLEspoons of yeast. I used 2 tsp. Brilliant. And they trust me to teach the youth of America.

(adapted from Steph Chows)

2 tablespoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar + 1/4 cup
3/4 cup warm milk (not hot)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups bread flour, plus additional for rolling
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2/3 cup raisins

Combine the warm milk, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt, butter, vanilla, agave, and egg and mix well. Add the flours gradually, then mix with the dough hook on medium speed for 10 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour and a half.

Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 10″ by 20.”

Combine 1 tsp cinnamon, the brown sugar, and the raisins in a small bowl. Spread evenly over the dough then roll up and pinch the ends closed. Put in a greased loaf pan, cover, and let rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown on top. Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Cinnamon-Raisin Bagels

I’d been meaning to make bagels for years, and then last weekend, spontaneously, it just happened Saturday afternoon. I don’t know why I was so intimidated, because honestly it’s not that hard, it’s just kind of time consuming. Not really active, hands-on time, but wait-around-while-they-sit-in-the-fridge-overnight time, which can be just as challenging to deal with if you’re impatient like me.

Saturday afternoon I mixed up the sponge, using some whole wheat flour because I like the flavor it adds. A few hours later I mixed up the dough (again with some whole wheat flour, plus gluten to help the texture), and because our new apartment is the size of a postage stamp, shaped it in the living room (which conveniently doubles as bike storage, an office, and a dining room).

The next morning, after running a half marathon, I came home and had fresh-from-the-oven homemade bagels, and now I’m definitely hooked. I can’t say how these compare to New York Deli bagels because I’ve never had one, but they are light, chewy, and perfect with a thick layer of cream cheese.

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed with warm water and drained

for boiling
1 tbsp baking soda

To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the warm water until it dissolves. Let stand for a few minutes. Put the flours and gluten in a large bowl. Add the water-yeast mixture and stir until you have a smooth paste.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in water, let stand a few minutes, then stir into the sponge. Add the wheat flour, gluten, cinnamon, sugar, salt and brown sugar. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, then slowly working add the bread flour about 1/2 cup at a time. Finally, add the raisins. Knead for at least 10 minutes (or use the dough hook attachment and put the mixer at medium speed for about 7 minutes), so you end up with a stiff, smooth dough with no traces of flour.

Divide the dough in 16 pieces and form into rolls. Let them rest, covered with a damp towel, for about 20 minutes. Line 3 baking sheets with silpats or parchment. Pick up one roll of dough, poke your thumbs through it, and gently stretch the hole out so it’s about 2″ in diameter. Try to keep the bagel an even thickness all the way around the hole. After shaping all the bagels, cover the pans with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Then fill a small bowl with cool water, place one bagel in it, and see if it floats within 10 seconds. If it does, the pans can go into the fridge (dry the tester bagel first), but if it doesn’t they need to sit out at room temperature a little longer.
Once your bagel floats, transfer the covered pans to the refrigerator to rest overnight (or for at least 6 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer ready. Gently drop the bagels (as many as you can fit in the pan in a single layer) into the water and boil for one minute, then flip and boil an additional minute. Remove from the water and place back on the baking sheets. Bake for about 5 minutes, then rotate the pans and switch shelves and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and transfer the bagels to cooling racks. Give them about 20 minutes to cool before eating.

Sweet Potato Rolls

It has been so great being able to bake while on vacation, especially since I have such willing taste-testers (thanks Mom and Dad!). Since sweet potatoes are absolutely everywhere here, it seemed like the perfect time and place to try incorporating them into dinner rolls, which I’ve been meaning to do for years.

These are soft and slightly sweet, with a pretty golden color that makes them seem a lot more buttery than they actually are. They’re really simple since they hardly need any kneading and they don’t rise for very long. I think I’ll definitely want to make this recipe again when Thanksgiving rolls around!

(adapted from Allrecipes)

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 small sweet potato, peeled, roasted, and mashed (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup warm water (about 100 F)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Measure half a cup of the mashed sweet potatoes for this recipe. Set aside.

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let stand 5 minutes.

Cream the butter and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the sweet potato, eggs, and salt, then stir in the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour about 1 cup at a time, stopping when the dough is soft but no longer sticky. Gently shape into a ball.

Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise for about an hour and a half, or until nearly doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 16 pieces. Roll each into a ball, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1″ apart. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for about 15 minutes. While they’re resting, preheat the oven to 375.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Manaqish (Bread with Zaatar)

OK we’re taking steps in the right direction here…away from desserts and back towards (moderately) healthier things. These aren’t perfect, but with half whole wheat flour, they’re much better than Wonder Bread, and I really can’t resist anything with zaatar. If you normally serve pita with Middle Eastern food, this is a nice change and it makes a great appetizer!

I love that these only rise an hour, and bake in 15 minutes. I served mine with labne (which is SO easy to make – just dump a quart of whole milk yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and let drain for 8 hours or overnight), cucumber, and tomatoes and it was a perfect light lunch. If you have trouble finding zaatar you can make your own or order it online.

(adapted from Alice’s Kitchen)

makes 8 6″ breads

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup zaatar
1/4 cup olive oil

Put the water in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir in the yeast. Add the sugar and let stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast has foamed up. Stir in the flour, one cup at a time, then the salt. Mix with the dough hook for about 5 minutes, gradually working up from low to medium speed. The dough should be smooth, elastic and just slightly sticky – you may need to add a little water or flour to get the right consistency, but it should not stick to the bowl and all the flour should be absorbed.

Divide the dough evenly into 8 pieces. Roll them each into a ball and let rise on a floured counter, under a towel, for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (put a baking stone in the oven if you have one). Mix the olive oil and zaatar together.

Pat each ball of dough into a 6″ circle and top with a spoonful of the zaatar mixture. Spread it to within 1/2″ of the edges. Bake on the stone (or a baking sheet lined with parchment) for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve.

Buckwheat Molasses Bread

Buckwheat and molasses: two things I love together (in the form of molasses on buckwheat pancakes) but never considered baking with until Mike this recipe for it and tried it out. Yep, I’m not the only baker in the house these days! We’ve made several loaves of this since he discovered the recipe, because it’s great to have around for snacking on.

I love this bread. It’s got a nice hearty flavor from buckwheat, and a hint of sweetness from molasses. Definitely not your average sandwich bread, it’s AMAZING toasted and spread with cream cheese (or just eaten as plain toast!) It does get a little dry after the first day, but I think the texture and flavor both improve when the bread is toasted, and the dryness really doesn’t affect that.

(adapted from

1/2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp nonfat dry milk
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, mix the molasses and 1/4 cup warm water together and stir in the yeast. Let rest for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.
Add the salt,vegetable oil, dry milk, and remaining water.
Stir in the buckwheat flour and 2 cups bread flour. Mix until you have a sticky dough
Turn the dough out onto floured board. Knead in remaining 1/4 cup bread flour as needed, and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Put dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Fold the dough over on itself, and shape into a loaf. Place in a greased 9×5″ loaf pan, cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Brush the top of the loaf with egg white. Score several times with a sharp knife.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until dark brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Hot Cross Buns

I have probably only had hot cross buns once or twice in my life, and I don’t remember thinking they were all that great. For a large portion of my childhood, no baked good was worth eating unless it had chocolate or frosting, so the idea of a bun with raisins and candied citrus peel didn’t excite me at all.

I think I may have matured slightly, though, because when I saw that my Adopt-A-Blogger match, Wizzy, made some great looking Hot Cross Buns (and some adorable bunny buns as well) and I decided it was time to give them another shot.

I probably don’t even need to mention that I used white whole wheat flour. But I did, and as always I love the result. I also didn’t find candied citrus peel, so I just used a teaspoon of orange zest and it imparted a nice citrus undertone. I also added vanilla, because I think it makes most sweet things taste even sweeter. I also halved the recipe, so the ingredients call for 1/2 an egg. I just lightly beat an egg, eyeball half, and save the other half for something else.

I guess I’m a day late with these, since hot cross buns are usually eaten on Good Friday, but I think they’d be perfect any time!

(adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Punch)

1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
3/8 cup warm milk
1/4 cup milk at room temperature
1/6 cup butter, melted
1/2 an egg, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat or all purpose flour
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/8 tsp allspice
1/3 cup raisins

Flour Paste Crosses:
1/4 cup flour
6 tbsp water water

Sugar Glaze:
1 tbs granulated sugar
1/3 cup warm water

Stir the warm milk, yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar together in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Stir in the room temperature milk, melted butter,egg and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, vital wheat gluten, sugar, salt, nutmeg, allspice, and orange zest. Add the raisins and stir to combine. Add to the milk mixture and stir until dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise about one and a half hours, or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8″ square cake pan. Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Arrange in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Mix the remaining flour and water together in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Place in a small plastic bag and snip off the end. Pipe crosses onto the buns. Combine the sugar and warm water to make a glaze, and brush evenly over the buns.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 F, then turn the oven down to 325°F to bake for another 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through (buns are ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the base).

Soft Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

There are few things I love more with my dinner than a soft roll. (Sticky rice is one of those few things…but that’s for another post). I also really love baking with whole wheat flour, but that and softness don’t usually go together. Normally I don’t mind that healthy bread is a little drier and more firm than white bread, but I figured there had to be a way to make a dinner roll that was both pillowy and made with whole wheat flour.

I started with some white whole wheat flour, and added gluten because I like what it does to the texture of the bread I bake. I know gluten is a hot topic these days, and one that I know far too little about. What I do know is that it doesn’t bother my stomach at all, and it does really nice things to yeast breads. So I use it.

I packed 12 rolls into a 9″ cake pan, as you can see in the first picture. I think only baking 8 or 9 in each pan would make the rolls have a nicer shape, so that’s what I wrote below.

(loosely based on this King Arthur Flour recipe)

3/4 cup warm water (around 110 F)
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup milk, warmed up a little
2 tbsp softened butter
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and stir to combine. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast looks creamy and frothy.

Put the flour, salt, and gluten in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with a fork. Add all the remaining ingredients, including the warm water and yeast. Mix with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, or until you have a smooth, elastic dough (if it’s not coming together, add a little warm water and keep mixing).

If you want to knead on the counter instead of using the dough hook, knead until the dough is nice and stretchy and doesn’t tear. Then shape it into a ball, put it in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Grease two 9″ cake pans. Fold the dough over on itself a few times, then divide it into 16 or 18 little balls, and arrange them evenly in the pans. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.


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