Archive for the ‘Bread’ category

Porridge bread (oat bread)

March 16, 2020

This is the best oat bread I have ever tasted. It makes marvelous toast and great sandwiches. I will warn you, it is not a bread for novices as it requires some judgement based on experience.


2 c porridge (oatmeal) – see note below
5 c all-purpose flour + extra if needed
1 envelope yeast (2-1/4 tsp)
2 tsp salt
3 TB maple syrup or dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c plain mashed potatoes
½ stick butter cut in pieces and softened
1 c warmed milk

Note: Put 1 cup oats and 2-1/4 c water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until almost tender. This will take maybe 12 min for steel-cut oats and less time for rolled oats. I don’t recommend the instant kind. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least 10 min. Let cool before using.

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for a few minutes. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, which it probably will, add more flour until the dough clears the sides but still sticks to the bottom. Make sure the bits of butter are being incorporated.

After 5-6 min, turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead by hand briefly to form a compact ball. Put in a greased bowl and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto the counter again and divide in 2 equal parts. Knead each part and form into a log about 8 inches long. Place each log in a greased loaf pan (I use the standard 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch size) and let rise until the dough is above the lip of the pan by about ½ inch. Bake at 350o for 30-35 min. Take out of oven and brush the top with oil or melted butter. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10-15 min and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.


Pullman bread

August 12, 2013

Pullman bread is a close-grained white bread with a slightly sweet and buttery taste. It makes terrific toast and sandwiches. While “white bread” has gotten a bad rep, largely thanks to Wonder bread and other similar garbage, good white bread can be a real treat – after all, a French baguette is white bread!


What sets Pullman bread apart is its shape, an even loaf with a perfectly square cross-section. This is achieved by baking in a special pan that has a lid which prevents the bread from rising above the rim of the pan. See the photo – which shows the pan but not the lid. History tells us that this bread was used in railroad dining cars during the era of the famous Pullman sleepers because a square loaf took up less storage space than the more common domed loaf. In any case, it’s a very tasty bread. This recipe is for a pan that is 3-1/2 inches square by 12 inches long.

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small dice
2/3 c milk (about)
6 TB butter (3/4 of a stick), melted and cooled
2 TB sugar
2-1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
4-1/2 c all purpose flour

Put the diced potato in a small sauce pan and add just enough water to barely cover. Simmer until very soft. Mash potato and liquid to a fine paste and put in a 2 cup measuring cup. Add milk to make a total of 1-2/3 c.

Preheat oven to 350f.

Put the potato/milk mixture and all other ingredients in your mixer bowl. Using the dough hook, knead for 5-6 minutes, adding a bit more flour or milk if the dough is too wet or dry. Turn the dough out onto your floured counter and form into a ball. Return to the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in volume, a hour or two. Grease the pan (no need to grease the lid). Turn the risen dough out onto the counter and form into a log the same length as the pan. Put in the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until the dough is about an inch below the rim of the pan – an hour, perhaps. Put the lid on the pan and put in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes then remove the lid from the pan. Return to the oven for about 15 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 195f when inserted into the center of the loaf. Turn loaf onto a rack to cool.

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.


Onion and cumin flatbread

September 18, 2012

I adapted this from a recipe for uighur nan in the wonderful cookbook Flatbreads and Flavors. The original recipe has the cumin and scallions on top of the bread, I moved them inside with  bit of butter.

3 c all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 TB salt
1-1/4 c room temperature water

1/2 c thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 TB butter

Zap the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor to combine. With the machine running, pour almost all of the water through the feed tube and process for 15-20 sec. Check the dough and add more water if too dry, water or more flour if too wet. Process for an additional 15-20 sec. Turn out onto a floured counter an form into a ball. Place in an ungreased bowl, cover, and let rise until about doubled in size, a few hours or more depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Alternately, put in the fridge overnight and take out a few hours before the next step, to allow it to come to room temperature and finish rising.

Turn the dough out and knead briefly. Divide into 4 equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. Cover with a towel and let sit for about an hour.

Saute the scallions and cumin in the butter until the scallions wilt and the cumin is fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven with pizza stone or oven tiles, of you have, to 450 f. If using a pizza stone or tiles, let preheat for at least 1 hour to allow the stone to come to temperature. Otherwise, have a large cookie sheet ready.

Roll each dough ball into a flat circle about 8″ in diameter. Divide the scallion mixture in 2 parts and put in the center of 2 of the rounds. Spread out to come within an inch of the edge. Brush the edge with water and lay the other 2 rounds on top, trying not to trap any air inside. Press the edges with your fingers to seal. Poke all over with a fork.  Cover with a towel and let sit for 1/2 to 1 hour.

Slide the bread onto the preheated pizza stone, or put them on the cookie sheet and insert into the oven. Bake 10-12 minutes until ppuffed and nicely browned. Cook on a rack for a while before serving.

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.

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.

Irish soda bread

April 23, 2011

A very tasty quick bread that can be made in not much more than an hour. Makes great toast, too.

1-1/2 c each all purpose and whole wheat flour
1/4 c sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp each baking soda and salt
2 c buttermilk
1 egg

Mix all the dry ingredients together using a whisk, being sure they are well combined. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together and stir into the dry mixture until well but not completely combined. Turn out onto a floured surface. You’ll have a shaggy, wet, sticky mess that is nothing like the dough for a traditional kneaded yeast bread. Using floured hands, form as best you can into an 8 inch round and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using a wet serrated knife, cut a deep cross in the top (very traditional!). Bake at 325f for about an hour, until an instant-read thermometer reads 205-210f in the center of the loaf. Cool on a rack.

No-knead bread

April 23, 2011

Several recipes for no-knead bread have been published, and I experimented with them until I came up with something that works for me. Don’t expect this to save you work – with a mixer or food processor to do the work, the kneading is the least of your worries! But, this recipe does give a lovely, rustic bread that is chewy with great flavor.

3 c bread or all-purpose flour (replace 3/4c with whole wheat if desired)
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1-1/3 c cool water

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl and then stir in the water to get a sticky, shaggy dough. This will be wetter than other bread doughs. Add a little more water if needed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. Or, leave in the fridge overnight, taking it out first thing in the morning. The end result should be dough that has about doubled in size with lots of bubbles on the surface.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Using your dough scraper, pull the edges up and over toward the center to get a roughly round, flattish shape. Invert the dough onto a well-floured linen or cotton towel or a baking cloth. Cover with another towel and let sit until about doubled in size.

Meanwhile, put a covered, heavy 4-5 quart pot (cast iron, le Creuset, etc) in the oven and preheat to 475f for at least 30 minutes (See warning below). Remove the pot from the oven, remove the cover, and invert the dough into it (seam side up). Immediately replace the cover and return the pot to the oven. Reduce heat to 450.

Bake for 30 min. Remove the  cover and bake another 10-20 min until the bread is a nice brown color. Remove from the pot and cool on a rack.

Warning: Most electric ovens turn on the broiling element as well as the baking element during preheating. Oven-proof handles on your pot may not be broiler-proof. If you are worried, preheat the over first and then put the pot in it for at least 30 minutes.

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