Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone

For me, recipes are not necessarily my own unique creations.

I read something, I saw a picture, I ate something at a restaurant or at someone's home. Someone mentioned something they had. Or, I wanted something and used what I had on hand because I was too lazy to go to the store.

The ideas comes from somewhere and I spin them.

The Chocolate Bread is a case in point. In one of my daily emails from La Cucina Italiana - in Italian - was a recipe for Pagnotta al cioccolato - Chocolate Loaf. I liked the concept, but it wasn't quite there, for me. I've had chocolate breads before and have found them to often be a bit bitter or flat. Chocolate bread should be dessert-like, not sandwich-like, in my not so humble opinion... Time to play!

And play, I did. My first loaf came out pretty good, but I thought it still could be a bit better. It was for Easter Brunch at my niece's house and I did want it to be at least as good as what everyone else was bringing... I come from a long line of great cooks and the next generation definitely ain't no slouches - and may even have a leg up on creativity! They're cooking, I'm in line with my plate! Need to up the ante...

I also think a good Chocolate Bread needs reasonably good chocolate. so I used a 78% Lindt Dark Chocolate Bar and a Cadbury Milk Chocolate Bar - and Hershey's Cocoa Powder, because I like Hershey's Cocoa. I've bought ridiculously-priced cocoa powders over the years and have found that they're generally just not worth the money. (I like Guittard Chocolate, as well - especially their Dutch Process Cocoa Powder.) I didn't want to go higher than 78% - but feel free to if you like a more bitter chocolate flavor.

Here's the first loaf before the tweaks... Right out of the oven...



This picture is what's left after three days...



Still tender with lots of nice, chocolate chunks.

Chocolate Bread

  • 450 g AP flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 25 gr sugar
  • 100 g milk
  • 220 g brewed coffee
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 100 g milk chocolate shaved into fine pieces
  • 12 g salt
  • 12 g instant yeast
  • 1 egg white mixed with a bit of water
  • coarse sugar

Knead the flour, cocoa, salt, sugar, and yeast with the milk, vanilla, and the coffee for at least 10 minutes.

Add the two chocolates and mix well. The milk chocolate will kinda melt into the dough while the dark chocolate remains in chunks.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours - or overnight.

Form into a round loaf and place it on a floured parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature and then for 2 hours back in the 'fridge.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Remove loaf from 'fridge and let rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Make a slash down the center and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400°F for another 20 or so minutes.


Look-wise, they were pretty much similar - except for the flour on the first - I over-did it, a bit. But the second was a bit richer by swapping out water for coffee. It's that old coffee make chocolate chocolatier phenomenon.

If you do a lot of bread baking, you'll find the dough to be a bit different. A different feel. Just go with it - it's what it's like.



Water or coffee - they'll both work - but you definitely want chunks of good chocolate to bite into now and again.

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone

  • 1 8oz container Mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jam (I used seedless)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix and enjoy!

And don't do as I did...  I forget to bring the Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone!

It was really good. Sorry, guys...


Pumpkin Rolls

I've been making these rolls for probably 30 years or more. I don't really recall the origin of the recipe - just that it came about one Thanksgiving, lo these many years ago - and has been a holiday staple ever since.

My best guess is that they came from a magazine like Bon Appetit or Gourmet, but I haven't been able to find a similar recipe doing a web search... They're extremely easy and really good.  I use the food processor to blend the butter and 2 cups of flour together and then add it to the rest of the flour.

For this batch, I switched things up a bit... I went from 3/4 cup butter to 1 cup, and 1 egg to 2. I also used 3 cups bread flour and 4 cups all-purpose. And I cut the nutmeg to 1/2 teaspoon and added a half-teaspoon of mace.


Pumpkin Rolls

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water

In a mixing bowl proof the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the milk for 5 minutes.  Combine 6 cups of the flour, nutmeg, salt, and the remaining sugar and blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs, the pumpkin puree, and the yeast mixture and mix until it is combined well.

Using a dough hook, knead -- adding as much of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary -- for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a well-buttered large bowl, and turn it to coat it with the butter. Let the dough rise, covered in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled.

Turn the dough out onto your counter, divide it into 24 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Place the balls onto a buttered sheet pan and let rise, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until they are almost double in size.

Brush the rolls with the egg wash and bake them in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until they are golden brown.

I think this will be the new go-to version, although I think I'll go all bread flour, next time just to see how they come out.

In any event, they're easy to make - and make great sandwich rolls!

I may have to make these a bit more often...


Fresh-Baked Bread and a Bowl of Soup - Italian Style

Ah, Lucca... one of the famed walled cities of Italy.

We spent an afternoon in the old city - not nearly enough time - but it gave us a glimpse of it... The food, the drink, the sites... all of it memorable.

One thing we didn't have, was Buccellato di Lucca - a raisin and aniseed sweet bread. Not to be confused with Sicilian Buccellato - a Christmas bread usually made with figs and nuts. The Italians can be very territorial with their recipes.

Victor came across the recipe, and - since we just happened to have all of the ingredients - he decided to make a loaf! Traditionally, this is considered a breakfast or dessert bread but we decided it was going to be a dinner bread - and a soup was the perfect accompaniment! Fortunately, the weather gods cooperated and gave us an overcast day in the low-70s.

We have some extremely fresh aniseed from San Francisco Herb Company and 10 minutes after going into the oven, the whole house smelled of anise and baking bread. Total gastronomic heaven! I was drooling before I saw it come out of the oven!

Buccellato di Lucca

adapted from Juls Kitchen

  • 550 g of all purpose flour
  • 150 g of sugar
  • 3 1/2 g active dry yeast
  • 220 ml of warm water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50 g of butter, at room temperature
  • 50 g of raisins
  • 20 g of aniseed
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

The Glaze

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar

Soak raisins in warm water.

Pour the flour and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Dissolve the yeast in a cup with half the water, then pour it in the bowl and knead on low speed with the dough hook, adding gradually the remaining water.

When the dough has completely absorbed the water, add the egg yolk and the butter cut into small pieces. Knead on low speed until the dough becomes smooth, but still slightly sticky.

Add the aniseed, the squeezed raisins and salt and knead just enough to get them incorporated in the dough.

Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it proof for about three hours in a warm place.

After it has risen, place on board and roll into a long rope.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, form the dough into a circle and pinch the ends to form a donut.

Cut the dough all the way around, so that it will rise better, and let rest for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the sugar into the hot water to make a syrup, then pour it over the egg white and beat with a fork until frothy.

Brush the syrup and bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown.

Let it cool completely before slicing.

It should be noted that it takes a couple of really long rises, so, plan accordingly.

And then there was soup...

This is based on something I saw a while back - a 3-imgredient soup that looked rather boring - but had potential.

Cannellini and Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 head cauliflower - cut into florets
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 oz thick-sliced prosciutto
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 habanero chili - or chili pepper of choice
  • thyme - fresh if you have it
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Lightly brown leek and prosciutto in pot with olive oil. Add crushed garlic and give a quick stir. Add minced habanero.

Add cauliflower and broth. Add thyme. Cook until cauliflower is completely cooked through and falling apart-tender.

Puree cauliflower with immersion blender or regular blender. Return to pot.

Add beans and cubed zucchini and cook until zucchini is tender.

Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as desired.

It's quite a simple recipe and can be pulled together in no time. The chicken broth can be switched out and prosciutto omitted to make it vegan, and the hot pepper can be omitted, completely - although we both really like our spice and the added flavor of the broth and prosciutto.

It was great for dinner and even better for lunch, today!

My stomach is smiling...



I have finally made a panettone that looks and tastes like a panettone!

Panettone has eluded me for years. It is the ultimate sweet dough - light, feathery, and full of flavor. Most of my attempts were more like bricks than feathers, but after several attempts with several different recipes, I finally took the best of several and made my own.

One of the biggest changes was lowering the amount of fruit. Most recipes call for 2 or more cups of fruit for 3-4 cups of flour. It weighed the dough down too much. The other is doing an overnight rise in the refrigerator. Pull the dough out of the 'fridge and let it set on the counter for a couple of hours before adding the fruit and forming the loaf. And definitely make sure it rises above the rim of the form before baking.



  • 300gr mixed dried fruits (currants, raisins, cranberries, candied lemon and orange peel, dried cherries, or any combination)
  • 6 tablespoons brandy


  • 1 1/2 tbsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 5 ounces 98°F milk
  • 50gr (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Fiori Di Sicilia extract
  • 500gr (4 cups) bread flour
  • 5gr salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 255gr unsalted butter, at room temperature

Place dried fruits in bowl, add liquor, cover and keep at room temp overnight.

Mix sugar with barely warm milk. Add yeast and set aside.

Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add yeast mixture and mix to combine.

Add the eggs. Mix on medium speed until the dough begins to smooth out.

Cut the softened butter into 1 tbsp chunks and add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing it in fully before adding more. Total mixing time will be about 10 minutes - maybe a bit more. It should be glossy and satiny. It will be sticky.

Butter a large bowl and scrape dough into it. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning, strain the soaking fruit.

Place dough on a lightly floured counter and spread out into a rectangular shape.

Place half of the fruit onto half of the spread-out dough. Fold the dough over the fruit and fold over, again. Pat out, again, add the remaining fruit, fold several times and then form into a ball.

Butter a 7" panettone mold or paper.

Add the dough ball, lightly cover, and allow to rise for about 3 hours - or until the dough is rising above the rim.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 300° F and bake for an additional 45 to 55 minutes.

Cool completely before slicing.

The Fiore Di Sicilia is a great flavor addition. If you can't locate it locally, you can buy it from Fante's in Philadelphia. I think it's worth it. Your millage may vary.

Walnut Raisin Bread

I received a King Arthur Flour magazine in the mail the other day... I generally like King Arthur recipes and the first one I saw in the magazine - which is actually more buy this than recipes - was for a No-Knead Harvest Bread.

I was a big fan of the no-knead bread craze several years back but haven't made any in several years. Glancing through the recipe, it seemed like an easy way to get back into the swing of things...

The recipe was designed around their No-Knead Harvest Bread Bundle - a whole bunch of stuff I already have or don't need. For $106.70, you get:

  • Bread Baking Bowl (2¾" x 8"; 10¼" with handles)
  • King Arthur Bowl Scraper
  • Standard Dough-Rising Bucket (2 qt.)
  • King Arthur Straight Walnut Lame
  • Baker's Fruit Blend (16 oz.)
  • SAF Red Instant Yeast (16 oz.)
  • Printed Recipe

That's a lot of money for not a lot of stuff. But I digress...

The recipe called for 160gr of their Baker's Fruit Blend - raisins, apricots, peaches, pears, nectarines, and cranberries - assorted dried fruit. I didn't have all of their variety, but I did have two types of raisins. 'Nuff said. Time to get to work.

No-Knead Harvest Bread

adapted from King Arthur Flour magazine

  • 3 1/4 cups (390g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 cup (113g) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups (397g) cool water
  • 1 1/4 cups (160g) Baker's Fruit Blend
  • 1 cup (113g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the flours, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Stir, then use your hands to bring the sticky dough together, making sure to incorporate all of the flour.

Work in the fruits and nuts.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 8 hours; it'll become bubbly and rise quite a bit, so use a large bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form it into a round loaf to fit your bread bowl.

Place the dough in the lightly greased pan, smooth side up.

Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it's become puffy. It should rise noticeably, but won't quite double in size. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. When you're ready to bake, place a pan with 1/2" of hot water on the bottom or lowest rack of the oven and close the door.

Using a sharp knife or lame, slash the bread in a crosshatch pattern. Put the bread in the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for another 35 to 40 minutes, until the bread is deep brown in color, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers about 205°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out onto a rack, and cool completely before slicing.

It had a great crusty crust and excellent flavor. My biggest complaint was the bread stuck to my cooking bowl. It was probably more user error because I probably had too many raisins on the bottom. I thought I had mixed it well, but looking at the photo, I definitely could have done better. And... I used a deeper bowl than the one they were selling. I didn't see measurements of the bowl and went with what I have used in the past - albeit slightly differently. Still, it tasted great - and made excellent toast, this morning!

I went to the King Arthur website and found a recipe for the same bread - well almost the same bread - using raisins and cranberries - not the Bakers Fruit Blend - and a totally different baking process.

No-Knead Harvest Bread

adapted from King Arthur Flour website

  • 3 1/4 cups (390g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • 1 cup (113g) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups (397g) cool water
  • 3/4 cup (85g) dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (85g) golden raisins
  • 1 cup (113g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the flours, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Stir, then use your hands to bring the sticky dough together, making sure to incorporate all of the flour.

Work in the fruits and nuts.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 8 hours; it'll become bubbly and rise quite a bit, so use a large bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form it into a log or round loaf to fit your 14" to 15" long lidded stoneware baker; 9" x 12" oval deep casserole dish with cover; or 9" to 10" round lidded baking crock.

Place the dough in the lightly greased pan, smooth side up.

Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it's become puffy. It should rise noticeably, but it's not a real high-riser.

Using a sharp knife or lame, slash the bread in a crosshatch pattern. Place the lid on the pan, and put the bread in the cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 450°F, and put the bread into the oven.

Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes (start the timer when you place the bread into the cold oven). Remove the lid and continue to bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, until it's deep brown in color, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center registers about 205°F.

Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out onto a rack, and cool completely before slicing.

Store the bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

I like this recipe much more. It's actually easier and closer to the no-knead breads I've made in the past.

I'll definitely make this one, again - it's very reminiscent of a walnut raisin bread baked by LeBus Bakery in Philadelphia. And I'll follow the second recipe - not the first.

The impetus for baking bread was Victor making a clean out the 'fridge pasta dinner.

A really simple dish of pancetta, grape tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, and cheese.

Perfection on a plate.


Cheesy Babka Muffins

Sometimes ya just see a recipe and know you have to make it.

This is one of those times.

My friend Katja posted a picture of her rolls and it was immediate love at first sight. Like Katja, I followed the recipe for the dough but switched out the filling to what we had in the house. They came out awesome!

The dough is a rich brioche. The filling can be anything your little heart desires. I used sun-dried tomatoes in oil - and used the oil from the tomatoes as the filling oil, switched out the gruyere for Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggio, used walnuts instead of pine nuts... you get the picture... It's a recipe made to be played with.

Cheesy Garlic Babka Muffins

adapted from The Food Network


  • 1/2 cup lukewarm whole milk
  • One 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for the bowl and muffin tin


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

To Finish:

  • 1 large egg
  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for sprinkling

For the dough: Whisk together the warm milk, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow to sit until it begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to medium and add the salt and eggs. Mix until the eggs are incorporated. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then reduce the speed to low and add the flour in batches, allowing the flour to fully incorporate with the dough between additions. Continue to mix until well combined. Add the butter in small pieces, allowing each addition to become fully incorporated before adding more. Turn the mixer to medium and let the mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the filling: Spray a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Brush the olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with the chile flakes, garlic, Gruyere, pine nuts and oregano. Starting from the longer side, roll the dough up tightly, similar to how you make a cinnamon roll, and pinch the edges to seal, placing it seam-side down. You should have an 18-inch log. Cut into 24 slices, then smush two slices into each muffin cup, cut-side up and overlapping. (This whole process is a little messy and rustic but when they bake and rise they will look beautiful.) Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 30 minutes.

To finish: Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Beat the egg together in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the tops of the muffins with the egg wash and sprinkle with flaky salt, pepper and Parmesan. Bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool slightly, then use a sharp paring knife to run around the edges to release them from the tin.

Here's the original recipe from Food Network. Have some fun with it!

Totally delish!

Light, airy, and tons of flavor!

Homemade Bagels


For all of the baking I have done in my life, one thing I had never made - until today - is bagels.

Bagels... those chewy-tough dough concoctions that, when properly toasted and slathered in cream cheese and assorted toppings, are the nectar of the gods.

Victor had seen a recipe for bagels the other day and decided we should make them. I looked at the recipe, thought of a recipe my friend, Katja, recently made, and went with hers. Not a huge difference in recipes, but... I knew Katja's were successful!

They were actually a lot easier to make than I thought they would be. I need to be more careful in sealing my dough balls before creating the bagel shape, but... I am not displeased in how they look.

The recipe states they are actually better the day after making, so we'll have them for Sunday Breakfast, tomorrow!

New York Style Bagels

adapted from Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking


  • 3 1/2 cups (500g) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons (6g) instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (300ml) warm water
  • 3/4 cup (105g) additional bread flour for kneading in
  • 1 egg mixed with a drop of water for wash
  • 1 cup honey, barley malt, or cane syrup added to boiling water, optional (while not necessary, adding the sweetener gives a chewier texture)


  • caraway seeds
  • minced garlic
  • poppy seeds
  • dried onions
  • sesame seeds.
  • coarse salt

Making the Bagel Dough

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl on medium/low speed.

Slowly add the warm water. Stir in just enough water for your dough to form a ball and clean the bottom of the bowl.

Knead the dough on medium/low speed for roughly 10 minutes. While it is kneading slowly incorporate the extra 3/4 cup of flour until your dough is smooth and elastic, forming a firm but stiff dough.

Lightly oil a large bowl turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl tightly. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Once doubled, punch the dough down and carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (roughly 115g/4 oz each).

Shaping the Bagels

Shape each piece into a smooth, round ball. Take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about 1/2 the diameter of the bagel (around 1 1/2 inches) and place on a lined cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

Once more, repeat the process of shaping the bagels as they might have sprung back into shape.

After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with cling wrap and a towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Cooking the Bagels

Preheat your oven to 425ºF (210ºC) and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Carefully place the bagels one by one into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Let them boil there for 2 minutes, and then flip them over to boil for another 2 minutes.

Boiling BagelsRemove bagels and place them back on your lined cookie sheet. Egg wash one by one and top with your favorite toppings..

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Storing Bagels

For best results, leave them in an airtight container overnight at room temperature.

Homemade Bagels

They look and smell fantastic! A bit more practice and I'll have this one down!


Wheat Bread

A Basic Loaf of Bread

It is great to be back in the kitchen!

Christmas week we had a new gas stove installed. That meant we had to have a gas line installed. Since we needed to install a gas line, we decided to continue the line out to the deck and install a valve for a natural gas grill. Never  - ever - having to deal with a propane tank, again, was well worth the cost! If the gods are willing, the new - fully assembled - gas grill will be delivered early New Year's Eve...

The new stove is awesome. They've come a long way since we last bought our kitchen appliances 20 years ago in Pennsylvania. I was making beef stew for dinner, so I thought some fresh bread was in order. Besides... we were running low on sandwich bread...

The new oven has a setting for proofing dough!

That's kinda cool - especially in winter.

I know I'll be baking plenty of bread this winter - especially since my brother gave us a 5 gallon bucket of organic hard winter wheat flour! It's an outrageously flavorful flour!

Hard Winter Wheat Flour

The new house is slowly coming together. Much of it is already looking like we've lived here for years... Most of the pictures are on the walls... Book shelves still need a bit of organizing, and the kitchen is still a work in progress.

It is not easy figuring out where things are going to go when our storage space really has been cut in half. But, we're getting creative...

It's actually a lot of fun!

Today's bread is a take on a white loaf I make now and again. I just played with the flour mixture, a bit...

Wheat Bread

One of the nice things about this bread is it doesn't have a long first rise, so it can be on the table in a couple of hours! It also makes great buns or pull-apart rolls!

Basic Wheat Loaves

  • 2 pkg yeast (4 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 egg

Stir together 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 packages dry yeast.

Heat over low heat, 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, the oil, honey, and salt until warm – about 125°F.

Cool slightly and stir into flour/yeast mixture and mix until smooth – about three minutes.

Beat in 1 egg.

Slowly add remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

Let rest about 10 minutes.

Knead until smooth and satiny – about 10 minutes.

Cover and let rest about 20 minutes.

Divide dough in two and form loaves. Place into greased loaf pans and brush tops with oil.

Let rise until doubled – 60 to 75 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes.

Immediately remove from pans and brush tops with melted butter. Cool on racks.

If you make rolls, bake for about 18-20 minutes.

Very simple, very tasty.


Irish Country Bread

Irish Country Bread

The great white flour shortage of 2020 is about to come to an end at our house - I have an order in to Adluh in Columbia, South Carolina for a delivery on Saturday. We have a reasonably well-stocked pantry, right now, so I am definitely not going to leave the house just to try and find flour. Ain't gonna happen. Besides, we were low on grits and I've been buying grits from Adluh for years. I ordered some of them, as well.

Far from feeling cabin-fever or confined, I'm much more leery about mingling with the great unwashed masses, right now. There are still way too many people out there who are not talking any of this seriously. I'll stay home, thankyouverymuch.

We were also able to have a bit of liquid refreshment delivered since the State Stores have closed down.  It's always good to have a bit of medicinal elixir in the house...

But back to baking...

It's not that we were totally out of flour - there are varying amounts of Anson Mills Red Fife, whole wheat, rye, sprouted wheat berry, semolina, cake flour, organic whole wheat pastry flour, and Tipo "00" in the pantry. Just no all-purpose or white bread flour. Yes, one can make a perfectly acceptable loaf of bread using 100% whole wheat or 100% rye flours - or even 100% white - but I tend to like my breads a bit lighter and like to blend flours. Even in times of national emergency, I'm spoiled.

Since we have flour arriving, I felt comfortable splurging and making a few loaves.

These loaves are based upon a recipe from Andrew Zimmern via Food and Wine magazine. I followed his recipe fairly close, except I used a blend of 2 cups Tipo "00" flour and 3 1/4 cups Anson Mills Red Fife. Two were topped with sesame seeds and two with poppy seeds.

Irish Country Bread

It has a lovely light crumb and the perfect - slightly chewy.

Irish Country Bread

adapted from Andrew Zimmern

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Poppy seeds and sesame seeds, optional

In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the warm water with the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour with the salt and sugar into a food processor bowl. Add the butter and process until it is mixed in well. Place into a stand mixer.

Add the yeast water and another 1 1/2 cups of water and mix on low until dough starts coming together. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Form a ball and transfer to a large buttered bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Punch down the dough and scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Gently shape the dough into 4 rounds and transfer to a large baking sheet. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place until nearly doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Brush the rounds with the egg wash and sprinkle poppy seeds or sesame seeds, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until well browned and firm. Let the loaves cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

An excellent loaf! And, if made smaller, would make excellent hamburger buns!

This will definitely get us through the weekend... Time to start looking for the next batch.

If we're going top be stuck at home, we're gonna eat well, dammit!

Shrimp Ravioli and Sourdough Bread

We're still cooking and eating - it's just that there hasn't been a lot that has been truly remarkable, lately. Looking back over the archives, how many times can I write about a particular dish?

So... when Victor said he wanted to make a shrimp ravioli - based upon a lobster ravioli he had seen made - my ears and tying fingers perked up!

My second thought - the first just being drool - was we would need a loaf of bread for this. Victor is the pasta-maker. I'm the bread-baker. Teamwork!

He used his basic pasta dough from Alon Shaya:

Pasta Dough

  • 1 1/4 cup 00 flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mix flours. make a well and add the eggs, egg yolks, and oil. Slowly mix in the flour and knead until smooth. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling to desired shape.

and then made a simple filling of:

  • shrimp
  • ricotta
  • egg
  • parmigiano reggiano
  • lemon zest and juice
  • salt & pepper

And, finally, a sauce of

  • butter
  • sage
  • lemon

Very simple - and ridiculously flavorful.


The trick in making the ravioli is after rolling out the dough, brush half of it lengthwise with an egg wash. Place the filling in dollops along the unbrushed side, fold over, press. and cut. It's so much easier than trying to brush edges and they seal so much better - not a single one leaked!

Since I knew the night before that we were having the ravioli, I decided on a sourdough bread, using our friend, Susan's sourdough starter.

I didn't follow a specific recipe - it was more just some basic technique. And even that was streamlined.

I used bread flour and Anson Mills Rustic Red Fife Bread Flour at about a 50/50 ratio. The starter was all basic bread flour.

It had a really nice, chewy crust and a really delicate crumb.

It made a pretty large loaf, so half went into the freezer.

It really was the perfect dinner.



Victor's making homemade pasta, so I decided to make some breadsticks. My first thought was a loaf of crusty bread, but we'll be having one of those on Tuesday with our Crab Cioppino.

Yes, our Christmas Eve tradition continues... I already have the Dungeness crab and most of the other seafood. I'll pick up the clams tomorrow.

It has been a really long time since I made breadsticks . This recipe is really easy - it's a dump, mix, rest, roll, and bake. Not a lot of thought has to go into it.

I really like using a scale and weighing out ingredients, but... not everyone does, so I've included both weights and volume measurements. My advice is to get a scale and learn metric.



  • 380 g (2 3/4 cups) bread flour
  • 3 gr (1 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 190 ml 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 65 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) butter, melted and cooled
  • 7 gr (1 tsp) salt
  • olive oil, sesame seeds, grated cheese

Place everything in a mixing bowl and mix until well combined - about 3 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.

Increase speed to medium and mix for another 5 minutes. Cover bowl and let rise for an hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Divide dough into 16 pieces, each weighing about 40g. Roll each piece into a thick pencil shape about 10" long. Brush with olive oil and roll in cheese or sesame seeds.

Place on sheet pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and crisp rotating pans halfway through. Cool and enjoy!


I made two different kinds, but you can do one or the other -= or leave them plain.

Really simple, really basic, and a nice crunch!

Russian Black Bread

Russian Black Bread

This is an interesting recipe...

99.999% of the breads I make are pretty basic combinations of flour, water, salt, and yeast. It's rather amazing that how you play with those four ingredients can create such a variety of different breads.

This bread, on the other hand, reads like a science experiment! There are a score of ingredients - and ingredients you don't often see in a savory bread - like cocoa powder and espresso powder. And every one of them work to create a decidedly delicious loaf!

The basic recipe comes from King Arthur Flour... I don't know how authentic it may be, but it's a damned good loaf!

Russian Black Bread

  • 1 1/8 cups (255g) lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (106g) pumpernickel or rye flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (43g) dark corn syrup or molasses
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (18g) black cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rye berries
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups (298g) bread flour, divided

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces, 121g) of the bread flour.

Mix to make a thick batter-like dough.

Mix in the remaining cup of flour and knead for 7 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic, but may still be somewhat sticky to the touch. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Russian Black Bread

After the first rise, shape the dough into an oblong loaf.

Russian Black Bread

Place in a greased standard loaf tin, cover with greased plastic, and let rise until almost doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. When the dough has almost doubled, brush or spray the top with water, dust with pumpernickel or rye flour, and score (slash) the top.

Bake the bread for about 35 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you thump the bottom.

Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.

Russian Black Bread


It's one of those loaves that's pretty much perfect in every way. It has a great crust, a soft crumb, and it's just loaded with flavor.

I didn't have black cocoa so I used Scharffen Berger Dark Cocoa Powder. Any good cocoa powder will work, but Dutch Process is probably better...

I also added some rye berries for a bit of crunch - just a teaspoon. The fennel seeds added a really nice surprise. Again, just a teaspoon.

This is definitely a keeper recipe!

Russian Black Bread