Friday, January 29, 2010

Now when it comes to gettin bread, I got the keys to the Bakery

Ok. It's been a while. I know. But I have a list of excuses. Travelling, two jobs, and really, cooking at home quite a bit have all but depleted my time. Among the many things I've been cooking (which I will save for later entries), one of the more interesting things I've been dabbling in is bread.
The first thing to note, when making yeast rising bread, is that there is a lot of downtime. The dough must proof, often times more than once, which results in about 3 hours total to make a loaf of any kind of bread. So here's what I've made from scratch.

Shabbat Shalom!

1. Challah. Yep, that eggy, fluffy, braided wunderbread that has really become a popular french toast option in many breakfast/brunch spots in town. I made it. And it came out dry and pretty flavorless. I attribute most of my mistakes to my mixing/kneading skills. Being a novice without a stand mixer really leads one to having to hone their dough skills. I'm getting better, but often times bread texture is a result of the kneading and mixing of ingredients. This is the recipe I used. Yup, I did the braiding myself.

2. Focaccia. This recipe leads to the best and easiest of the bunch. The end result kind of tastes like a Pizza Hut regular crust, but much better. The best part about Focaccia is that you can cover it with whatever you like. On the loaf pictured I divided it into three sections of toppings including salt, salt/pepper and Parmesan, and S/P, Parm, and shallots. Another major plus to this recipe is that it only take about one hour, start to finish.
3. French Bread. Earlier in the week, I had bought some quality salami from Pine Street Market (buy their bacon). Plain salami is tasty, but I really wanted a nice crusty loaf of French to round out my experience. Using this recipe, I came out with some very tasty, very crusty, but a little dry bread. Also, it's easy to ascertain in the photos that I used too much flower when rolling it.

4. Biscuits (sorry, I forgot to take photos). These are just too easy and too good not to make again. They were the perfect compliment to the fried chicken I made that evening and the recipe works very well. Probably too much flour in the initial batch if I had to tweak anything. Make sure you use your food processor to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.
5. Cinnamon Rolls. From scratch. Lots of work went into Alton Brown's recipe. I skipped the cream cheese icing, and regret it now. The dough didn't rise enough (my fault) but these were very tasty but ever so tough. Also the cinnamon-sugar really became too gooey on the bottom of the pan and soaked into the bottom of the rolls. I haven't quite figured out how to prevent this in the future.
Really, bread making isn't that hard and the finished product can be particularly enjoyable. Just get your kneading/mixing techniques down and you should be set.


  1. Impressive! Your cinnamon rolls and focaccia bread look delectable. Nanny must be out there kvelling:)

  2. Love bread. A little scared of baking. Had the same issue with biscuits, methinks (too much flour).

    Everything looks great!

    "Gimme the marble rye, you old bag!" -Jerry Seinfeld

  3. Well at least it all looks good. I've been experimenting with all the 'fad' bread recipes [No-knead, artisan bread in 5 minutes a day, etc] and haven't quite hit on my favorite. Bread is just so darn scientific!