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Almond Lemon Poppy Seed Teacake

16 Aug

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed my first trip to San Francisco. Since my factory settings default to somewhere between “contrarian” and “hater,” I fully expected to return with the report that the Bay Area does NOT live up to the hype. Wrrrrroooooonnnnnngggg. I had a really wonderful weekend there and can definitely see why it gets the rep it does. Some quick highlights:

ThisIs YourLifeNowKef came to hang, and we walked 12 miles and ate tacos– talk about the perfect way to catch up.

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IMG_8142Everyone in SF kept talking about the “heat wave,” while I was thanking our sweet lord baby Jesus for the zero-humidity, perfect running weather. I headed out for my 16-mile run to the Golden Gate Bridge and was reminded, once again, that I would never make it as a teenager these days because I cannot be bothered to be good at selfies.IMG_8149

I stumbled upon Souvla, which serves the definition of a Greek-American dessert: SOFT SERVE NOTHING-ADDED FROZEN FAGE (FRO-YAY?). I cannot believe I did not die of happiness on the spot. FullSizeRender (36)

When I told people I was going to SF, the #1 recommendation was a trip to Tartine. Pretty much everyone who spends their time making listicles about food agrees that this bakery puts out the best bread in America, so when ThisIsYourLifeNowKef and I happened to stumble upon it, we took it as our duty to check it out.

Today’s recipe comes to us from the bakery’s first cookbook, Tartine. This recipe was published in the LA Times, and there appears to be an entire corner of the internet devoted to this sweet and crunchy tea cake. I made this twice in the first week of being home, and both times I received several text messages within minutes of dropping it off that said something to the tune of “OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH.” The good people of Tartine are real culinary chemists– what this loaf lacks in flour (only 3/4c in the whole thing!) is made up for by almond paste, which must be the magic ingredient for both texture and taste.

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Since no one has proclaimed my kitchen to put out the best anything in America, I will reproduce their recipe verbatim below–there’s no room for my two cents in this masterpiece of a recipe!

Almond Lemon Poppy Teacake from Tartine

Ingredients

  • 1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus some for preparing the pan)
  • 3/4 c pastry or cake flour, sifted (plus some for preparing the pan)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c almond paste, at room temperature (I used one 7 oz tube)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 TBS poppy seeds
  • 3 TBS lemon juice
  • 3 TBS orange juice
  • 3/4 c sugar

Assembly

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, knocking out the excess flour.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt twice. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together just to combine.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on low speed until it breaks up. This can take up to a minute, depending on how soft and warm it is. Slowly add the sugar in a steady stream, beating until incorporated. If you add the sugar too quickly, the paste won’t break up as well.

4. Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon pieces. Continue on low speed while adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn on the mixer to medium speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs in a very slow, steady stream and mix until incorporated. Stop the mixer and again scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the mixer again to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds more.

5. Add the citrus zests and poppy seeds and mix in with a wooden spoon. Add the flour mixture in two batches, stirring after each addition until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time, then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula.

6. Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 7 minutes while you make the glaze.

7. To make the glaze, stir together the lemon and orange juices and the sugar in a small bowl. Place the wire rack holding the cake over a sheet of waxed paper or aluminum foil to catch any drips of glaze, and gently invert the cake onto the rack. If the cake does not want to release, run the tip of a small knife around the edge to loosen it. Brush the entire warm cake with the glaze, then let the cake cool completely on the rack. The cake breaks apart easily when warm, so don’t attempt to move it.

8. When the cake is cool, transfer it to a serving plate, using two crisscrossed icing spatulas or the base of a two-part tart pan to lift it. Serve at room temperature. The cake will keep, well-wrapped, for 1 week in the refrigerator.

Tsoureki Bread Pudding

17 Jul

Thanks to the many, many of you who reached out with kind words about my grandfather. It is appreciated more than you know.

I’ve got no clever transition and very few jokes today, so we’ll just get right into it– tsoureki bread pudding. IS THIS NOT THE MOST BRILLIANT THING YOU HAVE EVER HEARD OF? I mean, really.

So here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna make a loaf of the delicious sort-of-sweet Easter bread, tsoureki. Then we’re gonna drown it in cream and sugar. And then we’re gonna throw some chocolate on it, bake it and eat it.

Please accept my most sincere apologies that I could not have been bothered to take the perfect picture of what is obviously the world’s most delicious dessert. Although, if you need a picture to believe that this dessert is a good idea, I’m gonna need you to check yourself — the cheddar on your cracker may not be as sharp as it used to be.

FullSizeRender (31)I pooled several resources to come up with this recipe–what I ended up going with is reflected below.

Tsoureki Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of tsoureki, cut into cubes (or, any store bought not-plain Jane bread … a cinnamon raisin loaf would probably be all kinds of awesome, too)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 c sugar
  • 6 c milk (please do not even come to me with anything other than whole)
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 TBS bourbon (Metaxa if you have it!)
  • pinch of salt

Assembly

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 pyrex or large cake pan. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, butter, vanilla, chocolate and nutmeg together.
  2. Arrange in the tsoureki cubes in the pan, the fewer the layers, the faster it will cook. Pour the egg mixture over it. Set aside and let the bread soak up all that creamy goodness for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F while the bread/cream mixture sits.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is browned and center is set. This will vary depending on your pan, so go with what it looks like rather than what these direction say.
  4. While the pudding bakes, make the sauce: simmer sugar and water on medium heat, swirling the pot  instead of stirring, until it is a deep amber.
  5. Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cream.
  6. Add bourbon and salt. Return to heat for 1 minute more, stirring constantly and gently.
  7. Serve pudding warm or room temp, with a generous serving of cooled bourbon sauce.

A Blueberry Treat Whose Name We Shall Not Mention

30 Jun

Some things that I love, in no particular order: carbohydrates that defy definition, blueberries, and GingerKef’s cousin. So when I got the chance to bake a blueberry kind-of-cake/kind-of-bread WITH PresidentKef HIMSELF, I knew it was going to be a good night.

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PresidentKef and I go way back to the early days of this blog, when he was just a young man searching for Emerald City and I was a young, imprudent woman living on Lincoln Rd. Since then, we’ve been basically #BFF.

PresidentKef came into town last week and requested some time in kitchen with Kef, and I was only too happy to oblige. This recipe comes from the 1940s, and has an obnoxiously-appropriate-of-the-era name to boot: Blueberry Boy Bait. Blech. Good to know that in the 60 years between this recipe’s publication and the Neptunes’ production of “Milkshake,” America held true to the ideal that a hefty amount of saturated fat and sugar would snag you a suitable life partner.

Anyway- PresidentKef and I had a blast whipping this guy up. Here’s a mini lesson on when to be precise in baking and when to just go with your gut:

Sadly, there is no chocolate in this recipe– but there is a bunch of butter, sugar, and gluten. I’ve made this two or three times for large groups and it has always been met with demands for an encore appearance (but somehow, not one suitor… hmph). It’s “cake” in the way that coffee cake is, which is to say somewhere in between bread and cake (cread? brake?). Whatever you call it, it’s awesome, and I think you should make it.

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A Blueberry Cake Whose Name We Shall Not Mention

Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 16 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first)
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 13×9 pan (pyrex or metal).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand or electric mixer on medium high, beat butter and sugars until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Scrape down bowl between egg additions.
  3. Reduce speed to medium, then beat in one-third of flour mixture. Once incorpated, beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture.
  4. Toss blueberries in about 1 tsp of flour (optional). Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  5. Make the topping: scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Mr Kef’s Crowning Achievement: Sourmilk Donuts

2 Nov

Better than the muffin man– I’m married to the donut man!

It’s no secret that MrKef is happier as the breadwinner than the breadmaker in this family. He doesn’t venture into the strange room with the oven and dishwasher often, but when he does, it usually makes for a good story. For some of his previous shenanigans, check out the hilarious crime scene I woke up to last time he cooked, and his Jamdown-wowing  goat stew.

Over the weekend MrKef realized he had let this fancy milk he buys at Jrink go one day too long in the fridge. It’s entirely too expensive to go to waste, so he did some googling and found that one can make all kinds of bready bakedgood with milk that’s gone bad. Who knew?

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These are the definition of easy- if you can stir ’em, you can make ’em. In case you don’t believe me, we made these after I had a full day of clinical, after I went on my first run in three weeks (#praiseHim), and before we went to Aar-zanaKef’s pumpkin carving party (and yes- if you were wondering- that is the first joint-couple Kef name to grace these pages).

We got the original idea from this recipe–what is reflected below are the few tweaks we made to thicken up the batter and speed the whole thing up by making them munchkins instead of full fledged donuts.

Sour Milk Donuts

Ingredients

  • 4 .5-5.5 c flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.25 sugar
  • 3 TBS shortening
  • 1 c sour milk (use insanely fancy milk your husband didn’t drink , or put 1 TBS  vinegar or lemon juice in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk to fill. Let sit for 5 minutes and milk will sour.)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Oil- enough for deep drying
  • 0.5-1 c sugar
  • 2-4 TBS cinnamon, to taste

Assembly

  1. Mix together 4.5 flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl combine sugar, lard, milk and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ones, and mix well. Batter should be thick enough that it can be rolled into balls–if it’s not, add the remaining flour as needed, a quarter cup at a time. You’re in the ballpark when it the dough is a bit sticky but doesn’t make an absolute mess of your hands.
  2. Roll the dough into munchkin-sized balls. They will get expand in oil, so be judicious.
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat–the oil should be at least 3-4 inches deep, so choose your pot accordingly. When oil is hot, add doughnuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping over halfway. Cool on brown paper or paper towels.
  4. Mix sugar and cinnamon to taste and roll each donut in the mixture before serving. Serve warm or room temp.

Opa Go Bragh– Irish Soda Bread, Greek Style

16 Mar

Today we’re traveling back in time to one of the only recipes that satisfies my Greek and Irish ancestors. A gluten free Irish Soda Bread with Greek yogurt–what could go wrong?

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 c flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten free)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar (I used coconut)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c golden raisins
  • 1.5 c whole milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt (FIBBYDY)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and raisins. In another bowl, whisk together milk and yogurt until fully combined. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir using a wooden spoon until you have a shaggy dough.
  3. Lightly flour your counter or a piece of wax paper, press the dough into a loose ball, and lightly knead the dough for a couple of minutes on your work surface. You want the dough to be pliable and not too sticky. Reform the dough into a ball and throw it on your prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
  4. Find a large mixing bowl that is twice the size of your dough ball and is OVEN PROOF  (I used my large Pyrex mixing bowl– you will know it is oven proof because it will say on the bottom) and place it on top of the dough to help keep dough moist and to avoid burning. Bake for 30 minutes with the bowl covering the dough. Remove the bowl and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.

Nutella Brioche Flower, Bad Pictures, and a Frosty Valentine’s Weekend

19 Feb

Just in case anyone thought I was playing around, I made the most amazing treat over the weekend. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Nutella Brioche Flower!photo(4)I fell in love with the idea of this when I saw it on Instagram (first, follow me @ChefKefiRN…then, search #FOODWINEWOMEN to be amazed at the stuff people come up with) and decided it would be the Valentine’s Day treat that I would bring to MrKef’s family on Staten Island. I found this recipe and knew within about 15 seconds that it was the one for me: it promised my kitchen would be filled with the “smell of lemon and nutella” (umm..yes, please!) and the woman who narrates the amazingly-instructional video does a dead-on Mrs. Potts and what’s better than cooking with Angela Lansbury, really?

Before you make any judgment as to your ability to make this bread, I implore you to watch the video–it really is not skills intensive at all, especially if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook!

Since this one is full of gluten and full of sugar, I did not taste it, but it got very positive feedback from those who did, and –as promised–the kitchen smelled really amazing. I am looking forward to making all kinds of iterations of this one–a FIG jam tsoureki flower, a s’mores flower, a peanut butter and jelly flower…. the possibilities are endless. I will try the next one with Cup4Cup to see how it fares as a gluten-free brioche (which seems about as oxymoronic as you can get, but a girl can dream).

Next on the docket: Valentine’s Day weekend. MrKef and I are not that into the holiday, but as it’s fallen around a long weekend for the last couple years, we usually try to do something out of the ordinary together. This year, we went up to New York to see our families, a play, and check out a fun hotel. But before all that, we ate our body weight in paella at Guardado‘s in Bethesda. They say the $35 served-still-steaming pallea feeds 2-3, but honestly I think 4 really hungry people would still struggle to make a dent in it! We went for the Valenciana and the Black varieties, as I will order pretty much anything with squid ink, and I highly recommend it.

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Moving right along from dimly-lit restaurant photos: frosty, blustery, freezing New York. Every time I go home, I think to myself, “Why don’t I live here?” and then I remember that it can be in single digits for days and days and I snap out of my NY nostalgia pretty quickly.

After a really lovely visit with MrKef’s family, we went to see Disgraced, which is an intense 90-minute play about Islamaphobia and assumptions in America (is anyone surprised that was our Vday pick? I don’t think so.). We both loved it and I would actually really like to go and see it again–lots of threads to tease out. In addition to being reasonably-timed, it is extremely reasonably priced because the Lyceum is such a big theater… and it has Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother and the woman who played Jimmy’s mom in Boardwalk Empire. So, really, go see it and we will unpack it all over coffee.

Following the play, we met up with JetSetKef and his FIANCEE, KimmieKef. They are being totally Amish about their engagement status (MamaKef says it still isn’t “official” until it’s on Facebook), so I am not even stressed that I am grinding JetSet’s gears by not taking the time to find the accented-capital E to correctly use the word fiancée above. QueijoKef joined us and we recreated this amazing evening. But first, we took a selfie:

photo 3Once all that fun was over, MrKef and I headed back to the VERY highly-recommended Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City. Very hip, reasonably priced (on a Sunday night, anyway) and super close to the subway, we had a blast at this place–especially in the Mediterranean/Latin American fusion restaurant, Mundo (grape-leaf-wrapped halloumi and yucca fries, anyone?), and at the PINGPONG TABLE. Check out MrKef’s moves:

photo 2 photo 1Whew, that was a long one. Finally we come back full circle: the recipe!

Nutella Brioche Flower

Ingredients

  • 3c + 3TBS bread flour or all-purpose flour (I used all purpose)
  • 6 oz room-temp milk
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 2 oz butter, melted
  • 2 room-temp eggs, beaten lightly
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • Nutella (I used about half a jar and it was a little too much) or whatever spread you’d like
  • 1 TBS milk + 1 TBS water (for glaze)

Assembly

  1. Whisk together the yeast, sugar and milk. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and lemon zest. Make a well in the center and add the butter, beaten eggs and yeast/milk mixture. Mix to a soft dough–if you’re using a standing mixer, just use the dough hook on med-low, otherwise just use your hands (this dough is not particularly sticky).
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or 4 minutes by mixer.  Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly-greased bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place until the dough has about doubled in size (about an hour). I always use the microwave for this.
  4. Cut a circle 12″ in diameter out of parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. If you haven’t watched the instructional video here yet, do it while the dough is rising.
  5. After the dough has doubled, punch it down for any air bubbles and knead it for another 3-4 minutes by hand or 1 minute by mixer. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each piece into a ball.
  6. One at a time, roll out each ball  into a circle measuring about 10″ in diameter. The dough should be about 1/8″ thick. Do not be intimidated- this is a study dough and you can do this without very good pastry skills (like me!)
  7. Place the rolled-out dough onto the parchment circle and use a flat spatula or knife to spread an even layer of nutella, leaving a small border at the edge. It really doesn’t have to be a very thick layer, or the center of your flower will look a bit too nutella-heavy.
  8. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough but do NOT spread nutella on the top of the final layer.
  9. Leaving a small circle at the center, cut the dough in half, then quarters, then eighths, and finally sixteenths.
  10. Take a pair of adjacent segments. Lift and twist them away from each other through 180°. Lift and twist through 180° again, then twist through 90° so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process for all pairs of segments.
  11. Cover with lightly-oiled plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours. Preheat the oven to 360F.
  12. Mix together the water and milk. Brush the brioche with the glaze and then bake for 20-25 minutes, or until center begins to turn golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Grainfree Bread from Against All Grain

2 Feb

It’s a dreary, wet Monday morning and New England has, once again, fooled the world into thinking it’s a reasonable corner of the universe. That doesn’t spell good news for the rest of the week.

Luckily, the doom and gloom is balanced by this sounds-sweet-but-is-actually-savory bread. It sounds a bit bizarre, but the cashew butter really does give it that kind-of salty, mostly-neutral taste of actual sliced bread, and, if you toast it, the texture is spot-on for a sandwich.

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I used this recipe exactly from Against All Grain (a really brilliant paleo/gluten free/sugar free recipe source), though mine didn’t rise as high or come out as white as hers did. The whole thing took less than 20 minutes to assemble, and it really did get better as the week progressed. This recipe is MrKef approved, so gluten lovers should enjoy it, too.photo 3Be sure to check out Danielle’s original post, as she has some great notes on baking that I have not transcribed here.

GrainFree Blender Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 c cashew butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 0.5- to 2 TBS honey
  • 2.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 0.25 c almond milk
  • 0.25 c coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.25  tsp sea salt

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F (actually do this ahead of time because otherwise the eggwhites will fall when the baking soda activates).  Line the bottom of an 8.5×4.5 glass loaf pan with parchment paper (or jerry rig a silicon mat to do the same, as I did in first pic above), and grease sides very lightly with coconut oil.
  2. Using either the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or an electric mixer, beat together cashew butter and egg yolks, then add the honey, vinegar, and milk.
  3. In a separate bowl with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until peaks form.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in another small bowl.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and beat until combined, making sure to get all the sticky cashew butter so you don’t have clumps later. You will have a wet batter, not a traditional bread dough.
  6. Add egg whites into the cashew butter mixture, and beat again until just combined. We’re not trying to fold them in, per se, but don’t go crazy and overwork it.
  7. Pour batter into pan, and bake immediately for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown and passes the toothpick test. Cool for at least 15 minutes, then use a knife to loosen sides and remove bread from pan. Cool for another hour before serving. This bread is best served toasted.
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