BBB AKA Big Beautiful Bread

Reader note:  I liked this bread so much that I decided to try it again and experiment a bit further with the ingredients.  The results were fantastic, and I’ll append the post below with the details.  This bread should be added to your baking to-do list.  There is a saying they have in Singapore — “die die must try”.  This is that bread.

If you’ve followed along on the blog, you might recall a recent post about my go-to bread — Sheryl’s Harvest Grains Loaf.  I find this to be a reliable recipe for when time is short and I want a healthful whole grain bread.  You can find the recipe here.  Last week I thought I would take a look at the King Arthur website for additional recipes that I could try which use the harvest grains blend.

I happened across this recipe for A Simple, Rustic Loaf (it’s a winner with a five-star rating) and thought I’d give it a try.  This recipe baked up as a huge crispy crusted loaf with a delicate interior — this bread is very different from my go-to loaf in a few very important ways.

  • First, this loaf needs much more time as it uses the sponge method.  I prepared the sponge and let it sit at room temperature overnight which enabled fantastic flavor development.  The small amount of rye flour also contributes to the flavor.  In addition to the fermentation time, this bread needs extra time for a second rise.
  • Second, this bread uses a smaller amount of the harvest grains mixture relative to the flour, and there is no whole wheat flour so the texture is much lighter.
  • Finally, this bread has no sweetener or oil added.

I followed the recipe as written with three changes.  First, I add vital wheat gluten whenever my recipe uses whole grains or a seed mixture like the harvest grains blend.  For this recipe, I added 2 tablespoons.  Second, I did not have pumpernickel flour and used rye flour instead.  img_0142Finally, I baked the recipe using my La Cloche baker which you can read more about here.  The La Cloche ensures a fantastic crisp crust.  To use this recipe with the La Cloche, you will want to pre-heat the oven with the dome inside at 450° for an hour before baking.  If your oven is like mine, you will want to remove the upper rack before you begin the pre-heating and create more space to accommodate the La Cloche.  I also pre-heated my baking stone on the rack where I will place the baker.  When you’re ready, pop the bread in the oven (the bottom of the baker goes on top of the hot stone) and carefully put the very hot dome on top.  Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400° for 15 minutes.  Finally, remove the dome and bake for 5 more minutes for a total baking time of 35 minutes.  By the way, there is no need with the La Cloche to spray the bread with water or use a pan of ice cubes to create steam.  As you can see below, I had great oven spring and ended up with a loaf that was so big, I couldn’t fit it into my bread keeper without cutting it in half.


This was a really happy experiment, and I’m sure this big beautiful bread will become a regular in my repertoire.  Don’t fret if you don’t have the Harvest Grains blend.  As much as I love it, I know how it is when you are out of an ingredient and need to substitute.  There are plenty of ideas for how to improvise if you look through the reviews on the recipe page.  Let me know if you try this one, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Experimentation Update

As mentioned above, I made this bread a second time.  This time I decided to make a change to the amount of all-purpose flour used in the dough.  Instead of 9-1/2 ounces, I used 7 and then added 2-1/2 ounces of King Arthur’s Ancient Grains blend.  This whole grain flour is a blend that includes 30% each amaranth, millet, and sorghum flours and 10% quinoa flour.  I honestly had not gotten a lot of use out of this flour and needed to try and use it up which led to this experiment.  The resulting bread had a slightly earthy but complex flavor that was indescribably delicious.  Be sure to add the vital wheat gluten as I describe above.  This dough rose really quickly creating another BBB — the first rise only took 50 minutes.

Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers April 2017

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…”

M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Our Bread Bible Bakers project for the month of March was originally Walnut Fougasse.  I honestly did bake the recipe in March but must admit that I was really very disappointed in the outcome and delayed writing the post for a full month.  I was really lacking in enthusiasm about this one, and waited another month to edit the post — definitely not like me.  I had never had a fougasse before, so as a result of my profound disappointment in this recipe I sought out another fougasse recipe which I baked for comparison.  I had intended to try this one again but just never got up enough enthusiasm to try it again until tonight.

So what was wrong with this bread recipe the first time around?  I found the dough to be very tough or dense and very difficult to work with.  In fact, the dough was so tough that the whole process of kneading in the walnuts by hand was a challenge, and kneading in additional oil after the dough had risen was a mess.  This was so bad that I found myself checking Rose’s website for possible errata to explain this.  The only unusual ingredient was the scalded milk which should not have caused a problem.  I just don’t know what happened here, the flavor of the bread was OK, but the texture and appearance really weren’t very good.

The next day I did a bit of research on fougasse and found a number of recipes.  None of them used as much oil, and none had you knead it in during the rising process.  None of them used milk as the liquid either.  I ended up with a very delightful bread based on this Fougasse recipe with olives and herbs from Saveur magazine.  I was a bit jaded from my experience with the Walnut Fougasse so I cut the recipe by 2/3 to make a single loaf just in case it didn’t turn out well, but as I said it was delightful.

Fougasse with kalamata olives and herbs

Fast forward to today, as I finally sat down to write this post.  I decided to give this one another try as I wanted to just double check the measurements.  Once I measured the flour I decided to go ahead and bake this one again.  I typically use my kitchen scale for measuring ingredients like flour, and the first time around I measured 1 imperial pound as the recipe called for.  This time I measured using the dip and sweep method, as well as using both imperial and metric measurements with my scale to check accuracy.  I got the same result with all three methods which as Martha Stewart would say is a good thing.

Next, I scalded some milk since it needed time to cool.  I even went to the trouble of looking for advice on scalding milk which I found here on  Nothing earth shattering here, although they specifically advised to let the milk cool to 110°.  I dutifully did so using my instant read thermometer (it was actually down to 95° by the time I was ready to mix).  I did not check the temperature the last time so don’t know if this was a factor or not.

This second batch of dough was still dense, but after letting it rest for 15 minutes I did manage to knead in the walnuts by hand.  Although my walnuts were pre-chopped I did chop them even more based on my experience last time.  I do think having them chopped pretty small is key to kneading them in successfully.  Kneading in the first tablespoon of oil was OK, but I found myself having the same fundamental concerns about this recipe as I did the first time.  It is really hard to get a nice smooth dough with this recipe and approach.  Although the finished texture the second time seemed to be a little better, this recipe is still a no go in my book.  It is such a no go, that I was pretty unmotivated on photos for this post as well as the writing.  This is the first and only failure I’ve experienced with The Bread Bible.  After baking this one twice, I’d say to this recipe “hey, it’s not me, it’s you.”

I’d love to hear from others who have made this recipe with success or who have tips that might help.

Sheryl’s Harvest Grains Loaf

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I do love to bake bread (I like to eat it too!).  As much as I love freshly baked bread some recipes take more time and effort than others.  Since I don’t have unlimited time for baking, I’ve had to search for a bread recipe which meets the following criteria:

  • Quick to make with only one rise
  • Improved nutritional value from whole grains without being dense or bitter
  • Additional taste, texture, and nutrition from seeds and grains
  • Freezes well so I can have some on hand without having to bake


This loaf makes great grilled ham and cheese sandwiches

The recipe that I am sharing in this post meets all of these requirements and has become my go-to quick and easy loaf.  This one is great for sandwiches (grilled ham and cheese anyone?) or toast.  In addition to baking it for my personal consumption, I often like to take along a baked offering when visiting friends or family.  One of my uncles raves about this bread, so I try to make it whenever I know I’ll see him.

I originally found the recipe for Michelle’s Harvest Grains Loaf a couple of years ago.  The recipe was originally written for a bread machine, so I have adapted the technique for my KitchenAid stand mixer and made a couple of tweaks based on my learnings from baking with Rose’s Bread Bible over the years.  I’ve also made a few modifications to the ingredients.  The most significant one is the addition of vital wheat gluten which enables me to achieve the light texture I wanted even though the recipe uses whole grains and seeds.  I use the Bob’s Red Mill product because it does the job and is readily available at my local supermarket or at Whole Foods.

The hero ingredient in this recipe is the harvest grains blend.  I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else.  It is super tasty and filled with goodies like poppy seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and oats.  I was absolutely heartbroken last year when I accidentally ended up with almost a whole two-pound bag worth of the mix on my kitchen floor.  Apparently, the lid on the canister wasn’t on securely, I didn’t have a firm grip, and the rest is history.  I had to turn around and immediately reorder, but fortunately, there was a reduced price shipping deal at the time.  The grain blend is really important to the success of this recipe so I recommend ordering it just for this recipe, although there are several other recipes on the King Arthur site you can try in order to get more use out of the product.  One other recipe I’ve used it in with good success is for Harvest Grain Buns (dinner rolls) which were a hit on our Thanksgiving table.


  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Harvest Grains Blend
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or White Whole Wheat (I normally use the white whole wheat, but the regular works fine too)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast — I use the SAF Red Instant from King Arthur
  • 2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten


  1. In the workbowl of your electric stand mixer, i.e. a KitchenAid combine all of the dry ingredients, except the salt by hand to distribute the ingredients.  With the machine on low speed, pour in the water, oil, and sweetener until a rough dough forms.
  2. Cover the workbowl with a towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. After the dough has rested, add the salt and knead the dough by machine on medium-high for 7 minutes.  You should now have a smooth supple dough like the image below.
  4. Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan.
  5. Shape the dough into a log and place it in the pan.
  6. Allow the loaf to rise, covered, until it’s crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan.  In my experience, with the yeast specified above, I  typically am ready to bake within 45 minutes.  I forgot to set my timer, so the results shown here were after a 60-minute rise.
  7. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the bread’s interior temperature registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven, remove it from the pan, and cool it on a wire rack.
  10. Store, well-wrapped, for 5 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffins

Whew, the days leading up to Christmas have been quite hectic, but now it is over and a good time was had by all.  This holiday season was particularly crazed, and I’m hoping to sit down and write more about it soon.  I’ve learned some things in the process that I probably should share, but for now, let me share one of the recipes from my Christmas day family brunch buffet.

I typically host a Christmas brunch for my local family members which usually includes somewhere between 12 to 18 guests.  Last year was the first in more than 20 years that I didn’t host brunch as I was in the hospital recovering from emergency brain surgery.  Hosting my regular brunch this year was one of my goals while in rehab, and although everything didn’t go as planned, it went.  I found it difficult to prepare the menu, the house, and all of the assorted details — and take photos for the blog on top of it all so forgive me for having a limited number of photos.


Sweet potatoes provide extra texture and flavor while minimizing amount of sugar needed



As I planned the menu, I decided upon two breads for our Christmas table.  One was a typical yeast dinner roll from a recipe in the classic Fanny Farmer cookbook.  My second was based on a recipe for a sweet potato cornbread loaf in an award-winning cookbook that I haven’t used enough titled In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley.  The sweet potatoes are a unique ingredient which provides additional texture and natural flavor.  As a result, very little sugar is needed.

I modified the recipe to make muffins instead of a loaf.  As shown here, you’ll end up with 12 to 14 muffins.  Pre-heat the oven to 375º.  The ingredients are as follows:

  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill from my local Whole Foods)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup full fat sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed and peeled sweet potato.  I cooked mine in the microwave on the potato setting and then let it sit for a while to cool which made it soft and spoonable.  I cut the potato in half and scooped it out of the skin.  I used about 3/4 of one large sweet potato.
  1. Line your muffin pan with paper muffin cups
  2. Combine the cornmeal and sugar in a large bowl, then sift in the remaining dry ingredients.  Stir lightly to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the sour cream, vanilla, and melted butter.
  4. Stir in the mashed sweet potato, then add the cornmeal mixture stirring just enough to moisten the dry ingredients.
  5. Fill the muffin cups, and put them in the oven to bake.  Test with a toothpick after 15 minutes, but they should be done in 15-20 minutes.

You can serve these warm with plain or honey flavored butter.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Oat, and Date Muffins

fall-pumpkins-chs-2Now that fall has really arrived in Southern California, I thought it was time to do some fall baking. I think of pumpkins as really being the ultimate symbol of the season. I had some canned pumpkin on hand and thought a muffin recipe would be a good choice for seasonal baking. I started with a base recipe from King Arthur Flour to develop this variation. These came out with perfect texture and just the right amount of sweetness. To boost the nutritional value and fiber content I used some of King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat  and whole rolled oats. I had considered using my Vitamix to make oat flour, but that extra step really was not necessary.

Note that the base recipe (Pumpkin Leaf Muffins) I jumped off from called for 100% all purpose flour, which always 3311_12_16_2013__15_00_26_700makes me feel guilty so I substituted 1/3 white whole wheat for the all-purpose. I like the milder taste that you get from white whole wheat – it isn’t as obvious in terms of the taste or texture. According to the King Arthur website,

“All the goodness of grains in a lighter, milder-tasting flour. 

Our unbleached white whole wheat flour is milled from hard white winter wheat – a lighter-colored grain than traditional red wheat – which yields milder-tasting baked goods. Substituting this flour for up to a third of the white flour in your favorite recipes gives you all of the nutrition and fiber of whole grains without compromising flavor.”

I’ve been using this flour for several years now with good success. If I happen to be out when I’m placing an order with King Arthur then I will order it directly from them. Otherwise, I am usually able to find it at local specialty grocers and will pick up a bag as I need it. If you haven’t tried it, and if you aren’t a fan of regular whole wheat flour, do give it a try.

Here are the ingredients that you need which will yield 12 generously sized muffins.  By my calculations, each muffin comes in at roughly 221 calories with 2.45 grams of fiber and 4.82 grams of protein.  The fat content as written was 33%, but you can substitute reduced fat (2%) milk without any negative effect on the taste or texture.

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (about 1/2 of a 15 ounce can)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil – I used grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (add 1-2teaspoons of flour if you are using a food processor to minimize sticking)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

*If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 12-well muffin pan with papers.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, oil, molasses, salt, spices, and milk.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together.
  • In a third bowl assemble the oats, nuts, and dates
  • Add the flour mixture all at once to the wet ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  • Stir in the oats, nuts, and dates.
  • Distribute the batter evenly into the wells of the prepared muffin pan.
  • Bake until firm to the touch, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Store baked muffins well-wrapped, for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to a month.

Eat and enjoy!


Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers September 2016

This month I discovered a superstar ingredient that has really taken my hearth bread baking up to a whole new level. You might wonder how that could be when using such simple ingredients – flour, yeast, honey, water, and a touch of salt. Read on to learn more about this important discovery.

Our September recipe was Rose’s Basic Hearth Bread. Although this was the first hearth bread during our bake-along, I have baked this recipe and several others many times over the years. This type of bread is a staple for me, and many years ago I invested in a La Cloche clay bread baker. My baker is similar to this version from King Arthur Flour, the only difference is that mine is unglazed.

My well used La Cloche baker
When baked in the La Cloche, your bread develops an absolutely awesome crunchy crust. I typically preheat my oven an hour before baking, with the La Cloche cover in the oven as it preheats so that by the time I’m ready to put my bread in the oven the cover is good and hot. The accumulated heat in the lid creates steam when you put the bread in the oven which leads to the fabulous crust. I’d highly recommend a La Cloche type baker if you plan to bake this sort of bread on a regular basis. A less expensive tool that I’d also recommend is an inexpensive lame to artfuly slash the top of your bread. The plastic version I use from Sur La Table retails for $9.95, while a more impressive version with a black walnut handle from King Arthur retails for $34.95. I baked this bread according to the recipe directions with minor modifications to account for the La Cloche. For example, it is not necessary to add ice cubes to the oven to create steam, and after 30 minutes of baking, I removed the cover and baked the bread for an additional five minutes.

In addition to a crispy crust, one of the things I love about a bread like this is the flavor. Rose’s use of a starter which you can allow to ferment for up to 24 hours before mixing the dough creates a wonderfully developed flavor in the finished bread. For this go around, I allowed my starter and flour mixture to ferment for 1 hour at room temperature, and then refrigerated it for about 10 hours. I had great results with 10 hours of fermentation, but I do wonder what would have been with 24 hours. The point is to start your starter or sponge as early as you possibly can for awesome flavor development. As you may recall, last month I forgot to add the salt as I rushed off for a mani-pedi, but I made sure to include it this time.

Now let me tell you what I think really took this bread to a whole new level for a white bread. Rose includes ¼ cup of whole wheat flour in addition to the bread flour which she says acts to enhance the flavor. I’ve done this in the past, and the results have been good – this time I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat, but the real superstar ingredient was a new one for me. img_0140I had decided to try King Arthur’s Artisan Bread Flour, and I’ll admit I had my doubts as it is a good bit more expensive than their regular bread flour. The price on the website for the regular bread flour translates to $.99 per pound versus $2.65 per pound for the Artisan version without tax or shipping. According to the blurb on the front of the bag,

 “This medium-protein flour balances strength and flexibility -– perfect for baguettes and pizza dough. Use it to bake European-style hearth breads with crisp crusts and airy, flavorful interiors.”

While the sentence about balancing strength and flexibility makes me think about what a good workout regimen should do, this flour absolutely delivers the baking results advertised. By the way, this flour has a five star rating on the King Arthur web site with over 170 reviews. Indeed, it is so delicious that I will need to step up my exercise routine to compensate.

Freshly baked bread elevates the humble tuna sandwich
Case in point, I decided to elevate the humble tuna salad I prepared for lunch with this bread. It was so good, I had to eat a slice of the bread by itself afterwards. By the way, as a bonus, I’ll share below how to make a flavorful, but low fat tuna salad to accompany the bread.

This bread recipe is a great one to use to build your expertise with making hearth breads, and the Artisan Bread Flour provides the opportunity to achieve super delicious professional level results. Honestly, I had dinner last night in a well-regarded local Italian restaurant and decided to eat one slice of their hearth type bread to compare. Theirs was good, but honestly mine was even better.

P.S. – if you’d like to follow my blog via Bloglovin’ it is a new option for you so you don’t have to miss a thing. Just click here. You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

P.P.S. – just learned that this recipe was previously published on at this link.

Bonus Skipjack Tuna Salad Recipe

The tuna salad shown here uses:

  • 2 5-ounce cans of Wild Planet Skipjack Tuna with the juices
  • Approximately ¼ to 1/3 cup chopped onion to taste, I use brown, red, or green onions based on what I have on hand
  • 8-10 pitted Greek olives, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill or parsley to taste
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Lemon pepper seasoning to taste, I use one by Scott’s Food Products

Note that you do not drain the tuna, instead you use the juices and just a tiny bit of mayo which keeps the fat down. Stir the ingredients up and enjoy with veggies, crackers or on a sandwich.


Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers August 2016

So here is a confession for you….wait for it….the only cinnamon raisin swirl bread I’ve had until now is the mass market stuff you buy at the local grocery store. Here in Southern California the brand is Oroweat. It’s okay, but nothing I would spend one bit of energy thinking or writing about. This past week I made our August recipe for Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers – the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf. julie-e-julia-sonypictures-com-brDespite a couple of minor hiccups that I’ll explain later, it was fantastic. By the way, this is the second month in a row where we’ve made a bread that I haven’t made before so I’m expanding my baking horizons. This is one of the beautiful things about the Bread Bible. With 150 recipes to choose from, many of which offer multiple variations, it will take a bit of time (maybe years unless you do one every day) to get through them all. As I write this, I am thinking of the 2009 movie Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I may have to watch that again soon on Amazon Prime as I haven’t seen it in ages.

Made entirely with white flour, there were three important similarities with the Caramel Sticky Buns we made last month. The two obvious similarities were the use of cinnamon and raisins, as well as the spiral rolling technique. One other note, for both of these recipes, I tried the Vietnamese Cinnamon from King Arthur Flour.  It provides a really nice, vibrant cinnamon flavor, and a large 3 ounce jar is only $5.95.  Be sure to add it to your shopping list next time you order — you won’t regret it.  The third similarity was the use of butter in the dough which created a silky rich dough with great texture and taste. I started work on this recipe on a IMG_0067Saturday morning by preparing the dough starter. I should note that the recipe is enough for two loaves baked in 8.5 x 4.5” loaf pans. I only have one loaf pan, so I decided that since I had such success with the Oxo cake pan I purchased last month that I would pop by Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up a second loaf pan. When I got it home I realized that my old pan was actually 10.5 x 5.5” and I’m not sure how I ended up with a non-standard pan size. Anyway the new pan was $16.99 less the $5 off coupon I remembered to take with me, and I love the square straight sides. Both pans performed well, however the loaf baked in the larger pan was not as tall. I suppose I didn’t split the dough into two pieces of quite the right size, but it wasn’t really a problem.

IMG_0055Now here is where my urgent need for a mani-pedi set me up for one of two minor hiccups. If you use Rose’s recipes and have read Chapter One in “The Bible” about the need to wait and add the salt after the yeast so that the two ingredients don’t come into direct contact then you don’t add the salt with your other dry ingredients. What I normally do is sit the salt container next to the mixer as a reminder to add it when I mix the dough. When I initially prepared the sponge and dry ingredients 4 hours earlier, I forgot to put the salt out and failed to add it as I was rushing to get that mani-pedi.  I realized the salt was missing of course as soon as I tasted the finished bread, although nobody else seemed to notice or care.

Fast forward to post mani-pedi and rolling out the dough. The dough was very smooth and easy to work with after refrigerating it. I brushed the dough with the lightly beaten egg before sprinkling on the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but I forgot about dimpling the dough to prevent gaps from forming. You’ll see that the smaller of the two loaves does have one gap towards the top of the loaf, while the other is gap free. By the way, I do believe that the smaller loaf had risen fully so I don’t believe I had excessive oven spring. That top layer just wasn’t rolled tightly enough.

Despite these minor issues, the results were great and I would certainly bake this recipe again. Rose does provide an herb variation with parsley and green onions instead of the cinnamon and raisins that I’d love to try in the near future. Another idea would be to try a sun-dried tomato or herb and cheese mixture like the Pane Bianco recipe I tried last month. My only bit of advice is to pay attention as you go along and do not rush off to get a mani-pedi!

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Pane Bianco recipe review

This is just a quick post to review the recipe for Pane Bianco —  featured in the King Arthur Flour bake along this month.  I’m not sure I can commit to a second bake along, but the gorgeous photo on Instagram inspired me to bake this recipe immediately.

IMG_0018I followed the recipe to the letter, the only change was using a sun-dried tomato and basil spread instead of sun-dried tomatoes which would have needed to be chopped.  I used a grated pecorino romano for the cheese.  The dough was absolutely lovely, and the filling smelled wonderful before the bread even went in the oven.  I think the biggest challenges with this recipe were making it look pretty in the shaping process, and keeping it from over browning in the oven.  None of my kitchen work surfaces are quite long enough to make a 22″ long roll, so maybe next time I need to take it to the dining room.  Although I tented the bread during baking, it still was over browned at the end which was troublesome.  The taste of this bread, however was phenomenal so I will absolutely bake it again.  By the way, the loaf you end up with is absolutely huge so I ended up cutting it in half and freezing it for later.  I have plenty of ideas for filling combinations or substitutions.   Pine nuts and olives are two ideas that come to mind, as well as using a basil pesto.

Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers July 2016

Our July recipe was for Caramel Sticky Buns which are based on a wonderful brioche dough. The dough was soft and silky smooth, rich with the addition of eggs and butter. I made the dough roughly 36 hours ahead, and while it took a bit more effort than a standard bread dough it was absolutely worth it. Rose provides directions for a modified sticky bun with a maple topping and using walnuts instead of pecans in the filling so I made this variation. Rose’s very detailed directions are truly a blessing as this was my first time making this type of dough, and my first time with spiral rolled buns. While my finished rolls were not perfect in appearance, they tasted heavenly warm from the oven or gently reheated in the microwave.

On the first day I prepared the starter, and after a couple of hours began to mix the dough. I chilled the dough and manipulated it, rolling and performing the business letter turns and refrigerating again as directed.

On the evening of the second day I prepared the raisins, the walnut filling and the maple topping. Rose recommends Lyle’s Golden Syrup which I tried for the first time instead of maple syrup as the maple syrup I had on hand seemed really thin. I recently received a small sample of Boyajian’s Maple Flavor with an order from King Arthur Flour and decided to give it a try. The directions suggested ¼ teaspoon per cup of liquid so I used 1/8 teaspoon and a few drops extra for good measure. When combined, the syrup, maple flavoring, heavy cream and butter created a topping that was absolutely divine.

Rolling the dough into the required rectangle was quick and easy—there were no issues with it sticking to my lightly floured work surface. After the dough was rolled, I applied the egg wash, sprinkled the dough with the nut mixture and the raisins, then rolled it into the tube shape to be cut. Before cutting, I did freeze the dough for about 10 minutes, but I still found it challenging to slice the dough. The buns rose beautifully and I popped them in the oven after about two hours. My one suggestion would be to not use the baking stone as the topping became perhaps a little more brown than I would like although they tasted great.  I will bake these again as they were a hit with visiting relatives and the head baker here.

One final note – I decided to purchase a new 9 X 13 pan as my old pan was really old and not non-stick which I felt would be important for this recipe. I did a bit of online research and decided to try the Oxo Non-stick Pro cake pan as an alternative to the Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch which cost almost twice as much.

My new pan before baking

The pan performed well in the oven, and cleanup was a breeze. The gooey mess left in the pan worried me, but I filled the pan with hot water and let it sit for a few hours. When I drained the pan, it was almost completely clean — and I hadn’t even used soap. In the interest of full disclosure, I did lightly grease the pan before pouring the topping but nonetheless I was impressed with the ease of cleanup. The retail price at Bed Bath and Beyond was $21.99 and I used a 20% off coupon for a net price of $17.59 versus a retail price of $34.95 for the Williams-Sonoma offering.

My new pan after baking