I’m happy to say that this is my last Christmas recipe for 2010! It was a long run, but I’m tired and have to let my Kitchen Aid rest for a bit. Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread that is filled with candied fruits and nuts. I love to eat it sliced with some butter on top. It’s also very good toasted as well. My mom bought these wonderful Panettone liners for me from an Italian grocery store in Syracuse. They’re great because you don’t have to grease them and they’re oven-safe; you just place the dough inside and bake right in the oven. You can then serve it to your guests right inside this pretty little foil liner.
The recipe I used has been adapted from my Sweet Maria’s Big Baking Bible cookbook. First, I used candied orange peel, craisins, and lemon zest. My husband doesn’t like nuts, so I left those out. The candied orange peel is actually a recipe that I tested for Leite’s Culinaria. A few weeks ago, I received some exciting news that I had been selected to be one of Leite’s official recipe testers! It’s a lot of fun recipe testing, and the candied orange peel was one of the recipes that I chose to test. It’s a great recipe and you should definitely check it out!
Hope you guys have a wonderful Holiday! Merry Christmas!!!
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5-5 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup candied orange peel (to view recipe please go to Leite’s Culinaria)
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- Sprinkle yeast over water and set aside.
- In a stand mixer, beat butter, eggs, salt, and sugar.
- Using a wood spoon, add yeast and 4 cups flour and mix well.
- Using the hook attachment on your stand mixer, knead dough until not sticky, adding 1-1 1/2 cups flour.
- Knead in craisins and candied orange peel. Add dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and dish towels and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2-2 hours.
- Remove dough from bowl and knead on a floured work surface a few times and place in panettone mold or liner. (If you don’t have a liner or mold, you can line a deep cake pan with parchment paper that extends over the edges.)
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 tbsp butter.
- With a serrated knife, cut an “X” in the top of the dough and brush the melted butter over.
- Cover with plastic wrap and towels and allow to rise in a warm spot for 30-45 more minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Bake panettone for 10 minutes or until the top is golden.
- Turn oven down to 325 degrees and bake for 50-60 minutes or until brown.
- Allow to cool before serving or freeze for future use.
Yield: One 10″ loaf
Concord grapes are currently in season and are not only delicious to eat alone, but to bake with as well. I decided to make Schiacciata con L’uva
, or Focaccia with grapes, using a recipe I found from Gourmet
. Schiacciata (ski-a-cha-ta) means “flattened down,” and in Tuscany, the term generally refers to flatbread or focaccia. During the grape harvest season, Tuscans make this not-too-sweet dessert that is said to be of Etruscan origin. When baked, the flavor of the Concord grapes is enhanced and gives that wonderful Welch’s grape juice flavor that is reminiscent of childhood. This bread is moist, soft, and has a distinctive grape flavor that will make you want to grab a jar of peanut butter out of your cupboard. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have!
Have you ever baked with Concord grapes? If so, share your recipe.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp Chianti or other dry red wine
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3/4 cup warm water (110–115°F)
- 2 1/2-3 cups half all-purpose flour and half cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 3 1/2 cups Concord*
- 1/2 cup sugar
*Do not pit the grapes—it’s difficult to do and too much liquid will exude from them into the dough.
- Stir together yeast, wine, honey, and warm water in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in 1 cup flour (mixture will be lumpy). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Add oil, 1 1/2 cups flour, and sea salt and stir until a sticky dough forms.
- Knead dough in stand mixer or on a floured work surface, gradually adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic but still soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Turn out dough onto work surface and knead several times to release air.
- Cut dough in half. Roll out 1 piece of dough, keeping remaining piece covered, with a lightly floured rolling pin into a rough 12- by 10-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan and gently stretch to cover as much as possible of bottom (dough may not fit exactly).
- Scatter half of grapes over dough, then sprinkle grapes with 1/4 cup sugar.
- Roll out remaining piece of dough in same manner and put on top of grapes, gently stretching dough to cover grapes.
- Scatter remaining grapes and 1/4 cup sugar on top and gently press into dough. Cover pan with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bake schiacciata in middle of oven until well browned and firm in middle, 30-40 minutes.
- Loosen sides and bottom of schiacciata with a spatula and slide onto a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.
Today’s blog post is dedicated to all you bread bakers out there. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about baking, but there used to be a time when I was pretty bad at it. It wasn’t until a certain baking fiasco made me want to become a better baker. Let me share one of my more embarrassing baking moments with you…
I was baking cookies and thought that wax paper and parchment paper were interchangeable (The fact that the two have different names should’ve been a clear sign that the two are not in fact the same). After putting my cookies in the oven on top of the wax paper, I realized the wax paper was starting to char and that my cookies were sticking to the paper. I called my mother, who happened to be driving in the car with my father, and asked her what I did wrong. She had me on speaker phone and her and my father proceeded to laugh at me and make fun of my baking blunder. It was then that I realized I didn’t know all these little baking idiosyncracies that my mother knew; even my own father who does not bake or cook very much knew that putting wax paper in the oven was a no-no and that this is what parchment paper was for. Ever since this little incident, I vowed to become a more knowledgeable baker. This brings me back to bread making…
Bread making is part of the baking realm, but it is really a whole other giant. Bread baking is so complex and sensitive; sprinkling yeast onto water that is too cold or too hot will result in a mess; sourdough starters can turn moldy if the temperature in the room dips or rises and; the type of flour you use can significantly change the outcome. Last week I felt like baking some bread, but not the typical 1-day bread—I wanted to bake some Ciabatta bread that would require a sourdough starter as well as a sponge (Ciabatta means slipper in Italian and refers to the bread’s flat, elongated shape). I got this recipe from my Essentials of Baking cookbook. I started my sourdough starter on Sunday afternoon and by Wednesday evening, I had 4 loaves of Ciabatta bread fresh out of the oven. They were definitely not pretty and the dimples “disappeared”, but they were moist and tasted good. It was a total crap shoot though; I used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, and it was the first time I made a sourdough starter, so I wasn’t even sure how it was going to turn out.
I think it’s safe to say that with bread making, practice makes perfect. Every time you bake bread, there’s always something that could go wrong, even something like the weather could affect your bread. For these reasons, my hat goes off to all you bread makers out there.
Do you have any bread baking tips to share? What’s your favorite bread to bake and why?
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups cool whole milk (78 degrees F)
*(This makes 2 batches of starter, but recipe only calls for 1. You can half the starter recipe or double the sponge and make 4 loaves of Ciabatta instead of 2.)
- In a glass bowl, combine the flour and water and stir with a wooden spoon until mixed.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 days, stirring the mixture once a day. If the starter turns moldy or pink, throw away and start over. If it bubbles and has a sour smell, it has attracted airborne yeasts and is a good starter.
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 whole milk, heated to warm (105 degrees)
- 1 1/4 cups cool water (78 degrees)
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 2 cups bread flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy, for 5 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the water, sourdough starter, and flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 TBSP sea salt
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- Extra all-purpose flour for work surface
- Transfer the sponge to the stand mixer and add the bread flour, salt, and oil.
- With the kneading hook, knead on low speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise overnight.
- Sprinkle two sheet pans with flour.
- Cut the dough in half.
- Generously flour a flat work surface and shape dough while it is cold into a flat rectangle. Add dough to keep from sticking.
- Place the loaves on the sheet pan and dimple all over with your fingertips.
- Cover the pans loosely with dry kitchen towels and allow to rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Mist the bread with water and bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown and hollow when tapped.
- Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool.
Focaccia is a flat, Italian bread that is baked in the oven. It can be topped with fresh herbs, olives, a variety of vegetables, as well as meat (i.e. prosciutto). Focaccia is an extremely old bread; it’s over 2,000 years old, and historians believe it originated either with the Etruscans or the Greeks. The name Focaccia actually stems from the Latin name for panis focacius which means “hearth” or “fireside” since the Ancient Romans used to bake it in their stone ovens. Today, there are numerous types of Focaccia all over Italy. Focaccia in Florence is actually called Schiacciata. You can’t pass a bakery or a panini stand without seeing this bread in the window. It’s typically made with sea salt and rosemary, but sometimes it’s used for paninis as well. This dough is very similar to pizza dough and may even look like some of our Chicago-style, thicker pizzas. But in Italy, Focaccia is much thicker than the thin-crusted, Napolitano pizza. In the US, Focaccia is very popular for sandwiches. The fluffiness and thickness of this bread makes it much more substantial than sliced bread. It’s best eaten warm, right out of the oven.
My mother-in-Lawlor makes delicious Focaccia bread, and it’s something my husband has grown up on. I’ve made Focaccia before, but generally just use the fresh herbs. I decided to take it up a notch and make mine with onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary, and some toasted pinenuts. The recipe for the dough actually comes from one of my cookbooks entitled Florence. I’ve seen various different recipes for Focaccia and all seem slightly different.
What would your favorite Focaccia toppings be? Do you have a special recipe you use?
Buon appetito miei amici!
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water for about 5 minutes until foamy.
- Add the sugar, olive oil, flour, and the sea salt to the yeast. If using a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook for 5-7 minutes. If kneading by hand, mix the dough with a wooden spoon and knead for 5-7 minutes adding flour to prevent sticking.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Lightly oil a sheet pan and turn dough out into the pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan and cover loosely with a dry kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees .
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, and pinenuts and saute for another 2 minutes.
- With your thumb, lightly dimple the dough.
- Spread the onion mixture over the bread and sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cut bread into squares and serve warm. (Can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.)
I was inspired to use my fresh, picked strawberries to make strawberry bread after going on a farm tour this past weekend and eating some bread that one of the farmer’s wives made for us (more to come on this farm tour later). I found a great recipe from the Joy of Cooking. The strawberry bread I had this past weekend was darker in color which leads me to think she used brown sugar instead of just regular sugar like the Joy of Cooking recipe. However, both breads were moist with subtle undertones of strawberry and cinnamon. Top this bread with some butter for a quick breakfast treat or eat it after dinner with a chilled dessert wine.
- 1/2 c unsalted butter
- 3/4 c sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 c flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 c plain yogurt
- 1 1/2 c chopped fresh strawberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 5″ loaf pan.
- Beat the butter until soft, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue to beat until fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. With the beater on low, add the flour mix and the sour cream alternating between the two, starting and ending with the flour.
- Gently fold in the strawberries.
- Place the batter into the pan and bake for about 50 minutes are until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Serve warm with butter or freeze for later use.
One of the fondest memories I have of my grandmother is baking Easter bread with her. This Easter bread, or what my grandmother referred to as Babka bread, is an Eastern European bread that is sweet and almost cake-like. My Baba, Ukrainian for grandmother, set aside an entire day solely dedicated to baking loaves and loaves of this wonderful bread. She had several of her own techniques for baking this bread including using heavy bath towels to cover the loaves so they would be warm and rise faster instead of kitchen towels. She braided her Babka so that it looked more like a Jewish challah bread. She also placed the loaves of bread into aluminum roasting pans that would enable the loaves to expand during the rising stage as well as during baking. I don’t recall my Baba having a recipe that she referred to, but instead, baked these loaves purely from memory. There were no kitchen aids or kneading hooks when she baked. She did everything by hand and every loaf had to be pampered and prepped just right. I remember being impatient — I always wanted to cut the rising time short so I could eat this bread sooner. This bread is extremely versatile – - it can be eaten warm right out of the oven, cold spread with jam, toasted with butter, or even used as sandwich for leftover Easter ham. This year, my mother and I both decided to bake this bread. While my bread did not come out as delicious as I remember my Baba’s being, I know that this Sunday when I eat my mother’s babka bread, it will bring back irreplaceable memories of baking this wonderful Easter treat with my Baba. While I did not share my grandmother’s family recipe that I used here, I did find a recipe that is very similar. Enjoy and Христос воскрес (Happy Easter)!
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 c warm water
- 1/2 c sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 for glaze
- 5 c flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c unsalted butter at room temp
- 1 c golden or regular raisins (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt, butter, and raisins. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. (The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.)
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Punch down the dough. To make a 3-strand braid, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces with a sharp knife. Using your palms, and starting in the center and working outward, elongate 1 piece by rolling it gently against the work surface with even pressure until you have formed a rope as long as the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Lay the 3 pieces out and begin braiding them. Pinch the ends together at the top and at the bottom, and tuck the strands under at the ends.
- Place the braided loaf on the prepared pan, cover with a dry kitchen towel, and let rise again in a warm, draft-free spot until the loaf doubles in size, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat to 350°F
- Brush the braid gently with the beaten egg. Bake the braid until it is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Makes 1 large braided loaf.
My mother-in-law’s dear friend Ann hails from County Clare, Ireland, and she was kind enough to share her Irish Soda Bread recipe with me. The recipe is a family recipe that Ann’s mother and grandmother used to make from memory, so when Ann came to NY, she decided to write this recipe down for future use. This bread is easy to make and is extremely versatile – - you can eat it plain or you can toast it with butter and jam. This bread freezes well too, so make an extra loaf for future use (my mother-in-law and I baked 5 loaves yesterday!) Thank you to Ann and my mother-in-lawlor for sharing this recipe with me!
- 3 1/2 c flour
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 TBSP caraway seeds (optional)
- 1 c raisins
- 1 egg
- 1 c buttermilk
- 2 TBSP butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and caraway seeds.
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter for 10 seconds.
- Add the egg, raisins, and buttermilk to the butter and mix well.
- Add the egg mix to the flour mix and mix until incorporated. If too sticky, add flour to make dough workable.
- On a floured surface, knead the dough for 1 minute. Form the dough into a loaf and place in a greased 9 x 5 pan.
- Bake the bread for 1 hour or until golden on top.
Who doesn’t like fresh baked bread that comes straight from the hot oven? Exactly… so I decided to make focaccia bread to serve with chicken cacciatore that I made for dinner the other night. I have made this recipe a few times and am not sure why I haven’t made it more. It’s easy and delicious. The recipe I use is from the greatest baking resource that I know (besides my mother of course)… William Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking.
This is an amazing cookbook that has everything from pain au levain to puff pastry to classic chocolate ganache. I would recommend this cookbook to the beginner or the experienced baker. It has all the classic baking recipes that are fairly stress-free and easy to follow. Hope you guys try this one and let me know what you think!
2 packages dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cups flour and extra for kneading
3 teaspoons sea salt
1.5 teaspoons dried rosemary*
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, the flour, and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. If using a kitchen aid, attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 5-7 minutes (or knead by hand for same amount of time). Add up to 1/2 cup flour while kneading in order to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Form the dough in a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 1-1.5 hours.
Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of oil on a half-sheet pan. Press the dough into the pan. If it’s too elastic to spread out, let it rest for 5 minutes. Cover the pan with a dry kitchen towel and let rise again for 1 hour. Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 450. Dimple the dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle with remaining sea salt and rosemary. Bake focaccia for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in aluminum foil or freeze. ENJOY! (Printable recipe)
*There are numerous variations for toppings you can choose from. Another delicious option is to saute onions and garlic in a pain until both are caramelized. Add to the focaccia just before dimpling the dough.