December 15, 2009

Whole Grain Cranberry Challah - Sweet or Savory

For our second Healthy Bread in 5 bread braid, Dr. Jeff provided the Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest.  I wanted a dough as versatile as its no-knead method, so I made a couple of changes to the recipe. I used 50/50 whole wheat white and unbleached AP flours, omitted the orange zest and wheat germ, reduce the honey to 1/4 cup, and increased the butter to 1/2 cup. 

The dough came together quickly and soon enough, I had a blank canvas. So I made three variations: one sweet, one savory, and one neutral.

#1 - Chocolate Studded Cranberry Challah Loaf

I used 1/2 the dough and rolled it out into a rectangle about 8 by 15.  I then spread 1 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips, rolled it up starting from a short side, and placed it seam side down in a 9 x 5 loaf pan to rise.  Once risen, I brushed it with egg wash, sprinkled with coarse sugar and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes.

#2 - Pesto Cranberry Crescents

For this savory variation, I used 1/4 of the dough and rolled it out into approximately a 10 inch circle, spread store bought pesto, cut into 12 8 wedges with a pizza cutter, then rolled each one into a crescent.  I placed the rolls on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat, but you can use parchment if you'd like. Once risen, sprinke with grated parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

#3 - Cranberry Crown Loaf (Pictured Above)

For this neutral variation, I made a round loaf fit for a King!  You can make a couple of these in no time for your Holy Day dinner whichever one you celebrate.  For one 8 inch round, I used 1/4 of the dough and divided it into 6 equal pieces.  I formed each one into a roll, placed them in the greased pan, and let them rise.

Once ready, I brushed with egg wash and baked at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm.

And that's it for our second bread braid for HBin5!  This was a fun recipe to work with and I can't wait to see what our other group members concocted.  You can find them all at Big Black Dog's post.

November 14, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Brioche with a Twist

In my first post, I told you about the new book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  Soon after the release of the book, I found out about and joined an online book club to bake through that new book together.  We're called HBin5 (an obvious abbreviation of the book's name), and this week is our first "bread braid" or in other words, the first challenge in our bake-along.  Our breads don't have to be braided as the name may suggest, just that we are braided together as we bake through the wonderful recipes of this book. 

Pumpkin Pie Brioche is our first recipe, and it's been kindly provided by Zoe to Michelle our group coordinator over at Big Black Dog where you'll find all the dough details.  I made the dough as directed by Zoe, except I doubled the spices and used real maple syrup instead of the honey called for.  This recipe is 40% whole wheat, so it's packed with fiber.  Much fiber is also provided by the pumpkin which is a great source of beta-carotene, iron, and potassium.  A little fact I discovered a while back is that, by weight, both pumpkin and sesame seeds have more iron than liver does, so I decided to sneak the seeds in my recipe, therefore in my family's diet.

So I whipped up a batch of dough in about 15 minutes, and I'm not kidding.  It took me longer to pull the ingredients out of my pantry than it did to mix it, which I did with a wooden spoon and clean hands.  I refrigerated the dough overnight.  Then I used half of it to make a Pumpkin Twist, which is my version of a Pumpkin Roll.  This is a dessert you can feel good about serving this Thanksgiving or any time of the year.

I pulled a 2-pound dough ball from my bucket - about half the batch.  I divided it in two portions, and rolled one out to about a 12-in. x 7-in. rectangle.
I made a Cream Cheese Filling by beating the following ingredients until smooth:
4      ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4   cup sugar
1/4   cup flour
1/4   teaspoon ground nutmeg

I spread half the filling over the dough to about 1-in. of the edges.  I rolled the dough up jelly roll style, starting with a long side, then I pinched the seams to seal.  I repeated with the remaining dough then placed both logs seam side down on a parchment covered baking sheet.  To form the twists, I used a sharp knife to cut the roll in half lengthwise, leaving one end intact.  Carefully, I turned cut sides up and loosely twisted strips around each other, keeping cut side up.  I pinched ends to seal and covered loosely with plastic wrap to let them rise for about 90 minutes.  Once ready, I sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and pumpkin seeds, then baked at 350 for about 30-35 minutes. 

Oh!, I almost forgot to tell you that I also drizzled the cool twists with icing made of 1 cup of confectioners' sugar combined with enough milk to be of drizzling consistency!  A delicious treat I guarantee you'll enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.  I know I did.

As for the remainder of the batch, I split that in two portions and made Mini Pumpkin Brioche Bundt Cakes with one half

and Mini Brioche Loaves with the other. I hope you'll find the photos self explanatory.

Who's Bread Over Heels?

An enthusiastic amateur mom, baker, photographer, and writer. 

I grew up in a home where everything was made from scratch and eating out was a rarity.  So I've tried to carry on that tradition in my home with my husband and children.  This blog was born out of a need to share baking experiences with likeminded people.  My loved ones are more interested in taste tests than in how the yeast made the dough that made the bread that made the sandwich they ate.  I bake in my kitchen in Northeast Ohio, which is where I also photograph the resulting "eats". 

If you have a question or comment, you can contact me at

November 05, 2009


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October 31, 2009

Born and bread

So I'm fascinated with baking. I feel completely absorbed in the experience, then pure satisfaction when my creations emerge from the oven. It's all her fault... My Mom loves to bake, so she taught me pretty early in life. I made my first braided brioche when I was eleven. I kneaded the dough by hand since we didn't own a dough mixer, then I formed, glazed and baked my creations. I remember the praise I got from my family that day, and the joy I felt in serving them my bakery.

Although I still knead dough the old fashioned way sometimes, I do own a mixer. But when I make some of my breads, I don’t even knead at all. Let me explain…. Last year I started looking for a no-knead yeast dough method to save my wrists and my mixer. I found a book and blog called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Their no-knead method has become my favorite. They also just released their new book, which is a healthier version of the first called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day!

Well, I am the proud owner of both  books as well as many other “bakebooks”. I’ve already made the first whole grain master recipe from the new book as the authors kindly posted it on their site. My little one no-kneaded the batch for me, and it literally took me a minute to form my first loaf. I sprinkled it with sesame seeds and baked away. My children still turn their nose up at the best store bought wheat bread, but they can never resist a home baked whole grain loaf. The aroma filled every nook in my house that I could close my eyes and picture myself in a European bakery. Then the waiting game starts, but of course I always win and it wasn’t long before I broke the loaf. Served with my homemade yogurt cheese (labneh); it was delicious. Well, one loaf in my house doesn’t last long with four hungry children and a husband, but I have 3 more to bake from the batch I made. The great thing about this method, is that the dough is refrigerated and ready when I am.

I hope this to be the beginning of a beautiful digital friendship. Please don’t be shy, I’d love to hear (read) your thoughts.

Until next time…

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