All posts tagged “bread

Spiced Squash Challah_Katherine Sacks
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Spiced Squash Challah

The holiday season sure keeps us busy: I can’t believe December is already half over! Time sure flies, especially when you are with friends and family. I was able to spend a relaxing week at home for Thanksgiving and enjoyed some time with my parents and quite the holiday feast. My sister not only picked out an incredible 14-pound free-range turkey (which I dry brined with orange, fennel seed, and chile and then roasted), but she also baked some beautiful and moist challah for the table.

Back in New York, I was inspired last weekend to try out the bread for myself, and thanks to a squash I had sitting around, decided to play with the original recipe a little bit. Along with a cup of squash puree, I added in some cranberries, raisins, and gingerbread-type spices to turn the bread into a delicious snack. (We all need those every once in awhile, right?) This variation would be great for french toast, bread pudding, or stuffing, and it’s also wonderful on its own, a bit like the Italian holiday bread pannettone. And even though Turkey day is over, the festive color and spice would likely be welcome on any holiday table.
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Sourdough Pancakes_Katherine Sacks
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Sourdough Pancakes

We spent the first part of the week in Austria, enjoying a few beautiful days of skiing and snowboarding in the alps. Back in Berlin, Wednesday felt like Monday and with only a couple of days for errands, work, and catch up, everything about our week seems a bit off. Thankfully we have a morning routine that includes plenty of exercise, healthy breakfasts of eggs and sautéed spinach, and green juice from our new cold press juicer, all of which has helped get us back on track. But I can’t help but already crave the weekends, which have become the time for longer runs, hikes in Brandenburg, and some indulging, which is where these fluffy pancakes come in.

When I said I wanted to get into bread last year, I had just met Malin, a talented baker who trades her bread for everything from artisan salts to horse back riding excursions with her bread exchange. Inspired, I decided to try my hand at sourdough and worked at creating a starter. After a nice sour start, my first bread fell flat and without much free time on my hands, I let the project go forgotten. But this December, my bread baking was renewed when my good friend Jes shared some of her restaurant’s 8-year-old starter! I managed to travel with it from California to Berlin and have been baking ever since. Expect more about all that in a future post.

This recipe comes thanks to the problem of the starter’s feeding cycle: everyday you encourage the natural yeast with fresh flour and water, and if you can’t bake everyday, you end up tossing out some of the original. Instead, thrifty bakers use the excess starter for everything from pizza dough and pop-overs to waffles and pancakes. Many recipes require an overnight resting of the dough—called a preferment or a poolish—which helps feed the yeast further and create an airy end product. I like this recipe because it is quick and yields wonderfully fluffy pancakes all the same. I add in the orange zest for a nice boost of floral sweetness. If you don’t have a starter but are interested, there are all sorts of helpful posts over on King Arthur’s blog to get you started and Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread and the folks at the Weekend Bakery are also very helpful. Read More

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Irish Soda Bread

IrishSodaBread
I’ve been thinking a lot about bread lately, and hoping to make more of it at home. An easy start is Irish Soda bread, which is actually more cake then bread. The quick dough is leavened with baking soda (thus its name), and the classic is very simple, a white or whole-wheat flour bread with a soft crumb and noticeable flavor from the baking soda. The version most Americans are familiar with is more like this recipe, and includes sugar, egg, sweet currants or raisins, and caraway seed. Buttermilk helps keep the bread moist and gives a nice tart flavor.

I’ve also become really fond of the German habit of eating muesli in the morning and I thought adding it to the bread would make a nice flavor addition. Sort of my German spin on the Irish tradition.

This post is coming a bit late for Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day, but luckily Irish Soda bread is incredibly easy to make – mixing and baking takes all of an hour. Of course, if you don’t have time this weekend, it’s delicious anytime of year. Enjoy!

IrishSodaBread_steps

Irish Soda Bread, adapted from the New York Times
Serving: 1 loaf
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, cubed

2/3 cup buttermilk, plus extra for brushing
1 egg
2/3 cup raisins
1½ teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 cup museli

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Using two forks or a pastry cutter, cut in the cubed butter until a sandy mixture forms. Break up any large pieces of butter with you fingers. Add in the buttermilk and egg and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Stir in the raisins, caraway seeds, and museli.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured workspace and knead for a few turns, until the dough forms into a nice ball. Place rounded dough on a lined baking tray. Use kitchen sheers or a sharp knife to mark an X in the center off the dough, brush the top with buttermilk, and dust gently in flour.

Bake for 50 minutes, until it is a deep brown. The bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Enjoy with a large smear of rich Irish butter.