Archive for the ‘Yeasted Baked Goods’ Category

[You can find a very, very close version to this recipe on Martha’s website right here. It is not the exact version that appears in the MSBH, but it’s almost exact. Here is why I don’t include recipes in my posts.]

These took a while – they are not too labor-intensive, but they do require rising and proofing and whatnot. And forming. And there are more than a couple ingredient prep tasks. But they seem to be worth it! I say “seem to be” because I’m off of gluten and sugar for the month of March. But I had some enthusiastic tasters who all agreed that these babkas are the bomb.

You start with yeast dissolved into warm milk and eggs and egg yolks whisked with some sugar.

You mix these wet ingredients together and then that mixture is combined with all-purpose flour and salt in your mixer’s bowl.

The paddle attachment brings the dough together and then the dough hook is substituted to do the heavy lifting. Lots of butter is added during the dough hook stage.

After about 10 minutes of kneading with the dough hook, all the butter is worked in and the dough is completely smooth. I am always amazed when making doughs like this – I always think there is just no way that much butter can be worked in without ruining the dough, but it always works out beautifully in the end.

This soft, silky dough is kneaded by hand into a smooth ball and allowed to proof in a buttered bowl until doubled in size.

I used my oven’s bread proofing function and it took about an hour to double. There is a lot of air in there! From here, the dough is punched down and allowed to rest on the countertop (I covered it so it wouldn’t dry out).

While the dough was resting I made the chocolate filling. The recipe calls for two pounds of semi-sweet chocolate cut into fine chunks. I did not want to do this, for various reasons, so I opted to use King Arthur Flour Company’s chocolate chunks. This is not ideal for a few reasons I can think of, but my hand and wrist joints simply will not allow me to chop that much chocolate, so this was my solution. While not ideal, I am absolutely happy with the results and I would use this stuff in any recipe calling for chocolate chunks. But yes, I do know taking a large brick of chocolate and chopping it by hand is always preferable.

The chocolate chunks, cinnamon, and sugar are combined together in a bowl.

And then butter is cut in. I was perplexed here – even if I had chopped the chocolate into much smaller pieces by hand I think this step would be problematic. In the end I used both the pastry cutter and my hands. My mixture did not resemble the much smoother and paste-like mixture in the MSBH photos, but I think it worked out fine in the end.

The dough is portioned into thirds and each portion is rolled out flat into a square.

And egg wash made from egg and cream is brushed around the edges to help the seam the loaf once it’s rolled up.

Filling is spread out evenly over the dough, much like filling in the Sticky Bun recipe.

Then the dough is rolled tightly. I recalled my mistake with the Cinnamon Raisin Bread, where I didn’t roll the loaves tightly enough. I made every effort to roll these tightly, pulling the dough taught after every half-roll. I think this helped a great deal in achieving a more marbled effect in my final loaves. The dough held together remarkably well, even when my stretching thinned it out considerably.

The roll is then seamed and ready for further manipulation.

The roll is twisted five or six times, kind of like wringing out a wet rag.

And then it is bent like a horseshoe, brushed on top with egg wash, and topped with more of the chocolate filling. From here, one side is brought over the other and the ends pinched together to form a figure-8.

And then the loaf is twisted a few more times. I was so impressed with how well the dough stood up to all my man-handling. Some of the chocolate falls off and there were a few tears here and there, but not many.

The formed loaf then goes into a buttered and parchment-lined loaf pan. Don’t skimp on the butter. It definitely keeps the loaves from sticking but it also ensures that the crust bakes up flaky and delicious.

You brush the loaves with more egg wash and top with Streudel Topping, wish is just a mixture of powdered sugar and flour with butter cut in. The loaves then proof until until “puffy” which for me was about an hour in a cool room. (I could not use my oven’s bread proofer because the butter in the filling and topping would have liquified.)

The recipe says you can opt to freeze the loaves at this point, in the pan, and I did so with one of them. I simply wrapped the entire pan with several layers of plastic wrap and then put the whole thing in a large freezer bag. When I go to bake it I will, according to the recipe, need to allow it to stand at room temp for 5 hours.

Two of the loaves went into the oven and I found I needed about 25 more minutes than what the recipe called for. The loaves baked up beautifully. The parchment really helps you lift them out of the pan to cool. They are very, very heavy!

They have the most wonderful, deep chocolate smell when the come out of the oven.

We sliced into them when they were still somewhat warm, which squashed the top of the loaf a bit. I would suggest waiting until they cool completely, if you can stand it.

So, here’s what my friends – ages 39, 38, and 12, if that matters – thought:

Opinion #1 – “Delicious, like a French bakery item. The crust tastes like a croissant, one of those you buy at good bakeries that are crisp on the outside. The chocolate is so good, you can tell it’s good quality. I like the sugary topping whatever it is. You would think chocolate and bread would be weird but this is like eating a very good chocolate croissant. It is more like a pastry than bread or cake. Yum!”

Opinion #2 – “You should make this for the next potluck, it’s like a dessert. I would eat this for dessert. I like the dark chocolate flavor and how creamy the chocolate is. I don’t notice the bread so much except for the crunchy crust part, which is really buttery and good. This is probably not good for me. I could eat the whole thing. It’s kind of like a cinnamon roll except with chocolate instead of cinnamon-sugar and in the shape of a loaf.”

Opinion #3 – “This tastes like a chocolate pop-tart except softer and messier.”

A big hit all around, I think!

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This is a very easy recipe and went pretty quickly. If you have a bunch of leftover egg yolks from using whites in another recipe, this bread is a good way to use up those yolks.

All the ingredients go into the mixer at once.

And then that’s all mixed together.  My dough never quite came together cohesively until I added some additional flour.

The mixer does most of the kneading so once that’s done you just bring it together a bit and then fold it a few times to prepare for the first rise.

It goes into an oiled bowl to rise until doubled in size.  This took a couple hours.

The dough is then portioned into three pieces.

These pieces are rolled out and braided together to create the loaf. My dough might have been a little dry, as I ended up with a lot of creases in the “ropes” that I couldn’t work out. I also realized that I should have tried to braid it more tightly from the start – it would have helped with evenness and improved the look of the baked loaf.  Tighter is better!

The braided loaf is placed on a baking sheet to proof. Once it’s done proofing, it’s brushed with an egg wash and I also opted to sprinkle some poppyseeds on top, which the MSBH says is a traditional way to prepare Challah.

Then it’s into the oven for about an hour. You can see how my braids spread apart considerably because I didn’t braid it tightly enough.

The loaf gets quite dark.

I have had Challah before and it’s never been my favorite bread – I find it to be on the bland side. It’s great for strata, however, and I made a big casserole dish full of strata with this loaf of Challah.


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Another recipe that makes the whole book worth it.  These are awesome.

You make a super easy yeast dough in your mixer using olive oil and shredded Parmesan, and then bring it together by hand on the countertop.

The dough rests at room temperature only for a short while, then it is placed in an oiled bowl and chilled entirely in the refrigerator.  It never really rises or proofs.  Once chilled, you can portion it into the pieces that will become the individual crackers.

Then you’ll need to use a pasta machine or pasta attachment for your mixer to flatten the dough.  You can roll the individual crackers by hand, but let me tell you, after making these I think that would take so much strength and effort to get them thin enough!  You’d be so tired!

I played around with the thickness of the crackers and what I found worked best:

  1. don’t hesitate to cut the portions even smaller than the MSBH instructs – I did this with some of them and preferred the smaller portions;
  2. flatten each piece of dough a little with your fingers – this will also help warm the dough up a little so it will pass through the rollers more easily;
  3. use the thickest setting (I used #1 on my KitchenAid attachment) to run the dough through first, then run it through again on a thinner setting without having the dough tear (for me this was #4).
  4. Thin dough makes for the prettiest, crispest, tastiest crackers!

They go on a baking pan and get brushed with egg wash and topped with Parmesan cheese, course salt, ground pepper, and fresh rosemary before going right in to the oven.

They baked up best for me on my convection setting, developing big, bulbous air bubbles and an uneven, warm golden tone around the edges and on the tops of the bubbles.

You can see the difference between the thicker crackers and the thinner ones in the photo below.  The thicker crackers (in the background) stayed fairly anemic in color and did not develop big air pockets. They were chewy and more like pita bread. The thinner cracker in the bottom right corner baked up crisp and crunchy, just like a cracker.

They taste so, so good.  I will definitely be putting these on heavy rotation at my house.

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This recipe was a little fussy and this first attempt of mine had a few hiccups, but overall it’s a winner.  I plan on making it again soon, in hopes I can correct the few things that went wrong this time around.

You make a simple sweet dough (milk, butter, eggs, sugar, yeast, flour, etc) in your mixer.

With yeast doughs, you can’t just follow the recipe exactly and think your dough will come out predictably.  The dough may need a little more or less flour each time.  I gauge this by watching for when my dough “cleans the bowl.”  I was explaining this to a friend and thought it would be nice to have a few photos to explain:

Once all the ingredients are mixed together, you want your dough to form into one cohesive ball of dough as it mixes – it should not stick to the side of the bowl.  If it’s sticking, try mixing on a higher speed for about 10 seconds to see if the dough eventually works its way together.  If it continues to stick to the bowl, add a little flour – about a tablespoon at a time and mix on a fairly high speed to incorporate.

See the layer of dough on the side of the bowl? I sprinkled with flour and let the mixer do the work of incorporating it.

The dough may “climb” the dough hook and you’ll need to stop and scrape it down from time to time. (I use this model of Kitchen Aid mixer; it has a bigger bowl and larger dough hook – perfect for recipes like this.)

Eventually the dough will come together and as it is kneaded in the mixer, it will “clean the bowl,” meaning it will pick up all the flour and dough that was on the side and bottom of the bowl.  That is when you know it has enough flour.

Because it’s a sweet dough, it is smooth and silky – not at all tacky.  Then at this point, it’s just a matter of letting it knead in the mixer.

In the end, you’re left with a lovely, soft and silky mound of buttery-smelling dough.

This is patted down and topped with the raisins and cinnamon, which are kneaded in by hand.  This leaves you with he final dough which is allowed to rise in a covered bowl.

After rising, the dough is halved as this recipe makes two loaves.

Each portion is rolled out into a rectangle, brushed with melted butter, and topped with a hefty amount of a brown sugar-cinnamon filling. (My favorite rolling pin.)

The sides are folded in and the loaf is rolled.  This is one step in the process where you should really envision the final product you want and pay attention to how you roll the loaf, taking care not to shift all the brown sugar as you’re rolling.

Once rolled, the seam is pinched closed and the loaves are placed (seam side down) in two loaf pans and allowed to proof. (These are the loaf pans I use.)

Then they bake.  I need to adjust the temperature and time – as you can see, my loaves got far too dark on top.  That unattractive hump on the loaf on the right was an air bubble from not rolling the loaf tightly enough.

Additionally, the interior of one of my loaves did not bake through and collapsed under the weight of the top layers and cinnamon-sugar filling.  I think this could be remedied by rolling the loaf more tightly and adjusting my oven temperature so the bread bakes more evenly.

You can see in the photo below that my brown sugar filling stuff mostly accumulated at the bottom of the loaf, rather than being distributed in swirls.  This probably happened as I rolled the loaf – I inadvertently slid all the mixture to one end.  You can also see a big air pocket in the top right corner which came from not rolling the dough tightly enough and allowing the filling mixture to escape.  I can’t wait to make this again to see if I can fix these mistakes and get a perfect swirl inside.

Aside from those few mistakes, the bread itself is very, very good!  It smells delicious while it bakes and the brown sugar mixture melts into this ooey-gooey cinnamon-roll filling type stuff.  It’s wonderful.  Made for fantastic toast.  This would be great with the addition of walnuts.

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This is another recipe using the Danish Dough.

First, you make a filling with prunes, corn syrup, sugar, and cinnamon.

This all cooks in some water for a while and then is cooled completely before going into a food processor to blend.

A half-batch of Danish Dough is rolled out into a large rectangle and cut into individual squares.  Or “squares.”

Each square is cut and then folded to form the pinwheel.  The MSBH has easy-to-follow instructions on this and it’s not hard at all.

Then the filling is spooned onto the center of the pinwheel.

The pinwheels are placed on a baking sheet and covered to proof.

Then they are brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sanding sugar just before going in the oven.

My tips got a wee bit dark but other than that the whole process went off without a hitch.

The danish part itself is good, as always – flakey, buttery pastry that is delicious with the sweet crunch of the sanding sugar.  The filling was not so good.  It’s very, very sweet and prune-y so if you like sweet & prune-y, you may very well love it.  I, however, did not.  I do like the construction and look of these treats, but I might opt for a cream cheese/jam type filling in the future.

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Happy New Year!  Nothing like kicking off a new year with some cream-filled pastries.

Let me just say right here that I have never made anything quite like these before and so my learning curve was quite steep.  I learned a lot, however, and think that if I made these a few more times I could achieve better results.  For now, I will just present to you my beginner’s version.

You start with some Danish Dough and some Vanilla Pastry Cream.

My dough was incredibly stiff and I gave up shortly before getting it into a perfect rectangle with square corners.  But basically it should be a rectangle that you cut into 3-inch squares.  If I had had another 20 minutes to let my dough warm up, I would have gotten there, I swear.

And then a dollop of pastry cream goes on the center of each square.

The edges get a coating of egg to help the dough stick together when they’re sealed.

Sealing these is difficult, I can’t lie about that.  The pastry cream oozes out at every opportunity and once it gets on the edges of the dough square, good luck ever getting them to stick together.  I did find that stretching the corners a bit helped keep the cream in place (but not by much).

I just had a helluva time.  One thing I might try in the future is cutting the squares a bit larger (but using the same amount of pastry cream) and sort-of making a little crater in the middle of square with my finger tips so the pastry cream will settle in more.

As you can see, a few of my buns never sealed up – the pastry cream was just too unruly!

I took the sealed buns and gently rolled them on a piece of parchment paper as the MSBH instructs.  This is difficult too – even with very gentle motions, the pastry cream would work its way out and the seams would burst open.  I only achieved one perfectly smooth, round, seamless bun.  I think this all would come easier with practice.

The buns are left to rise for a while and then baked.  I was bracing myself for major explosions and burnt pastry cream everywhere, but I only had one bun rupture while baking and it didn’t cause a mess at all.

The baked buns cool completely before being brushed with melted butter and dipped in a bowl of sugar.

And that’s that!

The unsugared tops give the impression that there’s nothing sweet about these buns at all and in actuality, that’s true (I took a bite of one before the butter/sugar step).  Neither the baked pastry or the pastry cream is all that sweet.

But with the sugar – wow!  It drastically improves the look of the buns and adds a much-needed kick of sweetness.

I was expecting this awesome pocket of gooey pastry cream in the center of the bun but what I found instead was pretty underwhelming.  The pastry cream bakes along with the dough so it dries out quite a bit.  It becomes more of a pastry paste.  And there’s just not enough of it (the recipe says 1 tablespoon per bun) to make its presence known.

I can’t imagine using more cream and still being able to seal the buns up, but the centers need something more.  Maybe instead of a tablespoon of cream you could do a half-tablespoon of cream and a half-tablespoon of strong jam.  Or perhaps just using a more strongly flavored pastry cream (like bourbon!).  Or maybe just getting better at sealing the dough so you can double the amount of cream used.  I don’t know.

Anyhow, as always, the Danish Dough bakes up beautifully.  It’s so soft, flaky, and buttery.  I love using it.

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The MSBH is the first time I’ve encountered pissaladière,* which according to Wikipedia is basically pizza sans the sauce and the cheese.  And the anchioves and olives are arranged in a pleasing geometric pattern.  Not about to be outdone in anything culinary, the French refuse to simply throw ingredients onto a pizza with the devil-may-care attitude of the Italians.

A fantastic and easy dough is made with olive oil.

As I mentioned recently, my old Kelvinator oven finally bit the dust.  But I am now back in business with a fancy-schmancy new Kitchen Aid oven that has a bread proofing function and everything.   What used to take two hours now takes 30 minutes.  So lovely.

The entire pissaladière is baked on an unlined baking sheet that has been generously coated with olive oil

The MSBH instructs the dough to be rolled out on a floured surface and then transferred to the pan, but after making hundreds of pans of foccacia at an artesian bakery back in the day, I have to say that “pouring” the proofed dough onto the oiled sheet and then gingerly working it out to the edges is the way to go.

So, the dough proofs in an oiled bowl, and you can rub some more olive oil on your hands if it’s still sticky.  I think the key is to be gentle, because you don’t want to destroy the gluten that has formed and you want to keep air in the dough itself so you get those great porous holes that are a mark of stellar baked bread.

The panned dough is covered and allowed to proof again while the toppings are prepped.

The toppings include tomatoes, anchioves, olives, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, garlic, onions, olive oil, and salt.

The onions are sautéed with what I consider to be an obscene amount of olive oil, along with the garlic and the salt.  They are cooked way, way down and then mixed with the fresh parsley and thyme.

The tomatoes are not cooked prior to going onto the pissaladière, but they are de-seeded and sliced into strips.

The tomatoes are evenly distributed on the top of the unbaked dough, followed by the cooked onion/herb/garlic mixture.  Then anchioves are arranged in a cross pattern and dotted with olive halves.

Then it’s into a very hot oven (use convection if you’ve got it – I do now, hooray!) to bake quickly, just like a pizza.  Slide it out of the pan, slice, and serve.

I could not find the called-for Nicoise olives anywhere in Laramie – or any good oily black olives for that matter – so I used some Kalamatas but that was a mistake.  The toppings are already SO SALTY from the salt that is cooked with onions that the Kalamata olives were just overkill.  (And if I make this again I’ll cut way down on the salt in onions, period.)

Another big negative for me was the amount of olive oil.  The toppings were all awash in olive oil what with the the cooked onions and the anchioves – every bite was far too heavy and greasy and totally detracted from the actual flavor of the ingredients.  So I’d definitely cut back on the olive oil used to cook the onions by at least 50%.

The very BEST part of this recipe is the crust.  It has a bright, rustic flavor and is perfectly crisp on the bottom and edges with a fluffy, porous crumb. I will use the dough recipe again and again but will likely change up the traditional toppings.

You really don’t miss the cheese on this “pizza,” so nixing the anchovies and experimenting with other vegetables and herbs would yield countless vegan pizza alternatives.

*I have received numerous comments and emails about including the actual recipes with my posts, which I will absolutely not do.  First, I do not have the time or disposition to type out every recipe.  Second, although I know copyright laws about recipes are a bit nebulous, I cannot imagine it would be legal to duplicate and entire book of recipes on the internet.  More importantly, however, is that it just isn’t ethical to do so.  One person claimed that Martha Stewart is “rich enough” already but there are dozens of people who write, edit, and produce her cookbooks.  With all that said, however, I am going to start linking to recipes from the MSBH that are actually on the Martha Stewart website itself, just as they appear in the book.  The pissaladière is one such recipe (and watch the video that is there if you can – Martha gets in a little comment about the chef about having three baby mamas while he’s trying to mix the bread dough. God love her.).

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