Archive for the ‘Baking’ category

Jerry’s bread

January 18, 2013

This is a long loaf of Italian bread that is stuffed with salami, cheese, and other goodies.  The name comes from Jerry’s Italian market in Englewood, NJ, where they sell a similar bread – absolutely delicious! Unfortunately I live in North Carolina, so I can’t visit Jerry’s as often as I would like. Here’s my take on this treat.

2 lbs pizza dough (use store-bought or make the recipe below)

8 oz sopressata or other Italian style salami, thinly sliced.
8 oz thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/2 c black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 c roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
1 egg beaten with 1 TB water
sesame seeds
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a rectangle about 10 x 12 inches. Position the dough with the long edge facing you and arrange the fillings over the surface, dividing equally between the two loaves, being sure to leave a 1 inch border at the sides and top. Brush the borders of the dough with water and roll into a cylinder, starting at the edge nearest you. Pinch the seam and ends to seal, then place, seam down, in a baguette pan or on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt. Bake for about 40 minutes. If the top is browning too much, cover loosely with foil. Let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Pizza dough:

4 c all purpose unbleached flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 envelope (2 tsp) instant yeast
2 TB olive oil
1-1/2 c warm water (barely warm to the touch)

Place the first 3 ingredients in your food processor and zap to combine. Let the machine run and add the oil and almost all of the water through the feed tube. Process for 40 seconds and check the dough. It should have formed into a slightly shaggy ball that’s a bit sticky. If it’s too wet, add a couple of TB flour; if too dry, add the rest of the water. Process for another 30 sec, then turn out onto a floured counter. Use your hands to form the dough into a smooth ball, then place in an oiled bowl to rise.  When it has doubled in size, perhaps 90 minutes, continue with the recipe above.


Oatmeal bread in the bread machine

July 13, 2012

Quick and simple with good flavor and chew, this bread makes great toast. This recipe is for a 1.5 lb loaf.

1.5 c water
1.5 TB cooking oil
6 TB honey
1.5 tsp salt
3/4 c rolled oats
4 c all purpose unbleached flour
1.5 tsp instant yeast

Put all ingredients in the machine per the manufacturer’s instructions and start the “normal” cycle. Once the kneading has been running for a few minutes, check the dough and add a couple of TB flour if it seems too moist. Allow the cycle to complete then remove the loaf from the pan to cool on a rack.

Oatmeal pan bread

February 10, 2012

Adapted from a Jacques Pepin recipe, this easy and quick-to-make bread has a host of uses, with soup, cheese, salad, etc. Best served warm, I think.

1 c quick oatmeal (not “instant”)
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c finely chopped onions
1 large egg
1/2 c chopped parsley leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c whole milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine and mix all ingredients. Heat 2 TB of vegetable oil in a 7 inch (size not critical) skillet, cast iron is best, until just starting to smoke. Add batter and smooth out to make an even layer. Drizzle another TB of oil on the top. Put in oven for 15-20 min, until the bottom is nicely browned. Flip over and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Remove to plate and let cool for a few minutes before slicing into wedges.

Auntie Terrie’s Bran Muffins

April 30, 2011

This delicious recipe comes from my wife’s Auntie Terrie. Do not substitute other brands of bran cereal for the All Bran – I have found the Kellogg’s works the best. The recipe can be doubled. This is the original recipe, which I find a bit sweet, so I cut the sugar down to 6 TB and make sure to use a tart apple such as Granny Smith.

1 c Kellogg’s All Bran cereal
1 c milk
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c white sugar
1 egg
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 TB baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c raisins
1 apple, peeled and grated

Soak All Bran in milk until soft, about 30 minutes. In a separate bowl mix together oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil/sugar mixture, dry ingredients, raisins, and grated apple to the All Bran/milk and mix by hand using a wooden spoon. Fill muffin cups at least 3/4 full, as this recipe does not rise a great deal. Bake at 350f for 30 minutes. If using a convection oven bake at 325 for 23 minutes.

Easy yet great French bread

April 30, 2011

There’s nothing like a baguette or batard fresh from the oven. While there are many recipes for “authentic” French bread, and many of them produce good results, the following is by far the easiest and most reliable I have found. It is adapted from a recipe in The Best Bread Ever by Charles van Over. Note – you must start the bread the day before.

I have tried French bread recipes from many sources, ranging from Julia Child to Cooks Illustrated. These recipes all seem to have one thing in common: complexity. In particular, the rising usually involves a cloche, a special cloth that is used to hold the dough during certain parts of the rising. Also, the loaf-forming procedures often seem like advanced origami. This is all well and good and can give terrific results, but I think of this bread as an everyday food that should be easy to make. While the total time is 2 days, the time you have to put in is 15-20 minutes in all.


The flour you use will make a difference. My preferences are King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose white flour or their French-style flour. You do not need “bread” flour—all purpose works just fine (although you can use bread flour with excellent results). The recipe uses a food processor, which not only saves time and effort but allows you to use a rather wet dough that results in a superior bread but is next to impossible to knead by hand. It also uses a baguette pan, eliminating the hassle of creating nicely formed loaves. You’ll also need a water sprayer. This recipe make 2 batards or 3 of the thinner baguettes.

Measure the flour by weight if you can. You will soon get a feel for the best consistency, and the exact water-to-flour ratio will not always be the same.

1 lb (appx 3-1/2 c) flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1-1/4 c water (about)

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in the food processor and pulse to blend. With the machine running, slowly pour about 90% of the water into the mixture and process for 20 seconds. The dough should come together in a single mass and be shaggy and sticky. If it is dry and crumbly add 2 TB water. If it is too “soupy” add 2 TB flour. Process for an additional 35 seconds or a bit more. This dough will be a bit wetter than a typical bread dough. It’ll look like this, more or less.


Scrape the dough onto a clean, unfloured counter. The reason for not flouring the counter is that you don’t want to add more flour to the dough so it stays moist. Without extra flour it will stick, so use your dough scraper to pull it up and then slam it back onto the counter about a dozen times. Don’t be shy! This is a good time to take out your aggressions! It will start out looking like this:


And finish looking like this:


Put the dough in an ungreased bowl:


Cover with plastic wrap – just the bowl, don’t press the wrap down onto the dough. Put in the fridge until the next day. The long, slow rise in the fridge really makes a difference in flavor and texture. The next day, it might look like this:


When you get up the next morning, take the bowl out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 5-6 hours. It will rise a good bit more and may develop some bubbles at the surface.

Turn the risen dough onto a floured counter and use your dough scraper to divide into 2 more-or-less equal pieces:


Use your hands to roll and stretch each piece into a loaf. Don’t fuss. They need not be exactly equal in size. Put them in the baking pan:


Cover with a clean towel, not terrycloth, and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours. While the loaves are rising, place the oven rack slightly below the middle position. Then, 1/2 hour before baking preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Here’s the bread after rising:


Just before baking, uncover the loaves and slash the tops diagonally in 2 or 3 places using a razor blade about 1/2 inch deep (see note below):


Put the baguette pan in the oven and quickly spritz the inside of the oven 5-6 times with water, using a plant mister. Don’t spray directly on the loaves, although if a bit of water gets on the loaves it will be fine. Reduce the oven setting to 450. After 2 minutes open the oven and repeat the spritzing. Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes until the crust is brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer will read 205-210 degrees in the center of a loaf. Cool on racks. Eat.

Note on slashing loaves: The slashing is important, not only for appearance but to allow the loaves to expand more while baking. I use a standard double-edged razor blade with the back edge taped over for safety. I make the slash about 1/2 inch deep. The only “trick” I have learned is not to rush it, but to cut slowly. For example, the slashes in the loaves pictured above each took about 4 seconds for me to slowly draw the razor across the bread. For storage, I enclose the razor blade in a small cardboard folder fastened with a paper clip.

Note 2: This bread freezes surprisingly well. Not as good as fresh, but most welcome when you do not have time to bake. Cut into 1 inch slices and put in a zipper bag, then freeze. Heat in the toaster oven for a few minutes before serving.

Best buttermilk biscuits

April 25, 2011

My wife developed this recipe over the years. Outstanding biscuits! Don’t expect this or any biscuit recipe to be perfect the first time you make it. It takes a little experience to get to know the right feel of the dough.

2 c flour (low gluten such as White Lily)
1 TB baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
3/4 c buttermilk
1 TB butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450° (conventional) or 415° (convection). Convection gives the most even cooking.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Cut in the 6 TB of butter until mixture resembles corn meal. Add buttermilk, stirring until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead well at least 30 seconds. Roll to 1/2″ thickness. Cut into 2 to 3 inch rounds. Place on non-stick baking sheet or greased regular baking sheet so that each biscuit is almost touching its neighbors. Knead remaining scraps together into a ball, roll out, and cut more biscuits. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush with melted butter. Let sit 5-10 minutes on baking sheet before baking. Bake 12-15 minutes in regular oven or 7-1/2 to 8 minutes in convection oven. They will double or triple in height and become lightly browned on top.


1) White Lily brand all purpose flour works the best. Do NOT use White Lily Self Rising Flour.
2) The dough is very sticky and soft when you first start kneading. Keep kneading on a well-floured surface until you can roll it out.
3) Kneading the biscuit dough for at least
1/2 minute improves the texture of the biscuits.

Orange-poppy seed cake

April 25, 2011

One of our favorites. Using oil instead of butter gives it a lighter flavor that lets the orange and poppy seed taste come through. I think it goes well with plain yogurt, but I would not turn my nose up at vanilla ice cream.

3 c all purpose flour
2 c sugar
1/4 c poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c cooking oil (I use canola)
3 eggs
3/4 c milk
2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 c orange juice

Spray a 10 inch bundt/tube pan with non-stick spray. Preheat over to 350f with rack at lower-middle position.

Put the dry ingredients in a mixer bowl and mix to blend. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low to blend then on medium-low for about a minute, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Scrape batter into pan and even out the top. Bake for 45-50 min until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10-15 min and then invert into a plate.

Optional glaze: mix 1 c sifted powdered sugar with 3-4 TB orange juice until you have a smooth, thick paste. Drizzle over cake once it is almost completely cooled.

%d bloggers like this: