Challah and Brioche Bread

For this bread we will need:

2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast (any kind will do)

4 tablespoons sugar (more if you like your breads sweeter) 

4 tablespoons (half a stick) of butter, softened (salted or unsalted, either will work)

4 eggyolks (one per each cup of flour)

1 ¾ cups warm milk

1 ¼ teaspoon salt (if you are using unsalted butter)

4 cups bread flour

 

In a bowl of your stand mixer mix sugar, yeast and milk.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to bloom.  Once it’s nice and foamy add butter, yolks, flour and salt and mix with a hook attachment for 5-10 minutes, starting with the ‘stir’ setting and going to the 2nd after a few minutes.  The dough should be soft but not sticky, coming off the bowl and your fingers easily.  If the dough sticks, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired state.  Once done, shape the dough into a ball and coat with olive oil.  Place back into the mixer bowl (no point in dirtying another vessel for the dough to rise in), cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.  Room should be fairly warm, somewhere around 75F.  If it’s colder than that, set the bowl in your oven with the light on – it’ll keep the dough at the optimal temperature for rising.

After the dough has risen (it should double in size and feel very light and pillowy) pop it on an oiled board and separate into six or eight pieces, if you want to braid a challah, or divide into as many pieces as you have the brioche forms.  Shape or braid your bread, cover with plastic and let sit for 30 minutes again.  You will see another significant rise, almost doubling the bread in size.

When shaping/braiding you can add dry fruit, nuts, even jam stuffing into your breads. 

While the dough is rising the second time preheat the oven to 400F.  Prepare an oven-proof bowl or small pot, and fill it with ice cubes and a little water. This bread bakes much better with steam, so set this on the floor of your oven right before you pop the bread in, so the oven is nice and steamy.

Once 30 minutes have passed and the bread proofed for the second time, whisk an egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk and brush the bread.  If you like seeds, sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds on the bread, or leave it like that.  Set the bread into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until it’s golden brown in color.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the form for 15-20 min, then take out and cool completely on the rack. 

Store bread in brown paper bags, plastic is really detrimental to the quality and freshness.

Daisy Bread

The name daisy comes from its shape – the bread is baked in the round form and is composed out of pre-shaped balls of dough, so the final product resembles the lovely flower.

For this bread we will need:

2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast (any kind will do)

4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons (half a stick) of butter, softened (salted or unsalted, either will work)

1 ¾ cups warm milk

1 ¼ teaspoon salt (if you are using unsalted butter)

2 cups bread flour

2 cups semolina flour

 

In a bowl of your stand mixer mix sugar, yeast and milk.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to bloom.  Once it’s nice and foamy add butter, flour and salt and mix with a hook attachment for 5-10 minutes, starting with the ‘stir’ setting and going to the 2nd after a few minutes.  The dough should be soft but not sticky, coming off the bowl and your fingers easily.  If the dough sticks, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired state.  Once done, shape the dough into a ball and coat with olive oil.  Place back into the mixer bowl (no point in dirtying another vessel for the dough to rise in), cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.  Room should be fairly warm, somewhere around 75F.  If it’s colder than that, set the bowl in your oven with the light on – it’ll keep the dough at the optimal temperature for rising.

After the dough has risen (it should double in size and feel very light and pillowy) pop it on an oiled board and separate into seven pieces of approximately the same size.  You can weigh the dough if it’s easier for you, I prefer eyeballing it. Shape each piece into a ball.  Spray your form (if you don’t have the special form you can use the pie dish or cake form) Set the balls into the  prepared vessel in a shape of the flower, cover with plastic and let sit for 30 minutes again.  You will see another significant rise, almost doubling the bread in size.

While the dough is rising the second time preheat the oven to 400F.  Prepare an oven-proof bowl or small pot, and fill it with ice cubes and a little water. This bread bakes much better with steam, so set this on the floor of your oven right before you pop the bread in, so the oven is nice and steamy.

Once 30 minutes have passed and the bread proofed for the second time, whisk an egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk and brush the bread.  If you like seeds, sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds on the bread, or leave it like that.  Set the bread into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until it’s golden brown in color.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the form for 15-20 min, then take out and cool completely on the rack. 

Store bread in brown paper bags, plastic is really detrimental to the quality and freshness. 

Breakfast Loaf

So recently I discovered the 90-minute Bread (or the Man-Bread as it was called) and the recipe I tried was easy and tasted okay.  Nothing too exciting.  But I liked the texture and the look of the bread (even though when I made it according to the directions the loaf came out ginormous).  So it got me thinking - what can I do to make it better and really worth the 90 minutes it takes to make?  And I remembered a loaf that my mother always bought for breakfast - it was white, shiny, very dence and slightly sweet and we called it the Milk Loaf.  Made amazing French Toast the next day (although it kept fairly well for up to three days).  So I tweaked the 90-minute recipe and came up with almost exact replica of my mom's favorite breakfast bread.  

You will need:

1 1/2 cups warm milk 

2-3 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt 

4 cups bread flour 

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer (and you will need the stand mixer for this, kneading it by hand is no fun) mix the sugar, yeast and warm milk. Let sit for a few minutes so yeast starts to foam.  Once ready, add oil, salt and bread flour and knead with the dough hook attachment for at least 10 minutes.  It will come together in a ball-ish kind of shape and the walls of the mixing bowl will be completely clean of dough bits.  At this point drizzle a little olive oil on and around the dough and toss it to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let sit for 30 minutes (the room should be warm, around 75F or higher).  After 30 minutes pop it out of the bowl onto well-oiled board, cut the dough in half (weigh it or just eyeball it, up to you really) and knead each half a few times, folding and stretching into an elongated loaf shape.  Cover both loaves with a towel and let sit for another 30 minutes.  During the second rise heat the oven to 400F.  If you have a pizza stone, heat it in the oven at the same time, if you don't have one use a baking sheet but make sure it's heated inside the oven as it gets to the needed temperature.

Once the oven is ready and the loaves have risen the second time, place them on the stone or the sheet, score a few times diagonally with a lame or a very sharp knife and if you want them very shiny you can egg wash them (whisk an egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk and apply on the scored loaves).  For stronger shine apply second coat half way through the baking.  Bake for 30-35 minutes - the bread should become dark golden color and sound hollow if tapped with a knife or back of a spoon.  Remove from the oven, let cool and enjoy! 

Chocolate Pumpernickel Bread with Chocolate Chips and Cherries

 

Pumpernickel chocolate Sourdough Bread

Tools: 3 bowls, stand mixer (or a pair of very strong hands), 500F oven-proof baking pots (like Dutch ovens, Pyrex or clay bakers), medium to large cutting boards, parchment paper, pot holders

Ingredients:

For the leaven
1 ½ tbsp fresh live sourdough starter (2 tbsp if you are adding nuts and berries)
½ cup white bread flour
1/3 cup water
Mix all together and let sit 6 to 8 hours – you will see that it is all live and bubbly on the surface. Best way to test it is to drop a teaspoon of leaven into a bowl of water – if it floats, it’s ready.

For the dough:
2 cups water (2 1/4 if adding nuts and berries)
1/2 cup coffee, cold
5 cups flour (3 cups white bread flour, 2 cups pumpernickel)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons potato flour (improves gluten production in mixed flour breads, not required but good to add)
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries

Note - have another 1/2 cup pumpernickel flour ready, if the dough is too loose add that in.

Mix everything together at the same time you mix the leaven and let sit for 6-8 hours, as long as the leaven. This allows the autolysis process to break down the flour.

When ready, put both leaven and dough into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for 3-5 minutes, scraping down sides, to incorporate. It can be done by hand, but it’s tough. Cover the bowl with cling film and towel and let the dough rest for an hour. In the meantime, dissolve 10g of salt in 1/8 cup of water. After an hour has passed, add the salt and again mix for 3-5 min. You will see the dough is becoming elastic and smooth. Pop the dough into a bowl, cover and let sit for 2 – 3 hours, this period is called bulk fermentation. During bulk fermentation stretch and fold the dough every 30 to 45 min. To do so, pick up the dough on the side of the bowl, pull it up and fold down onto itself (like a flap of an envelope). Repeat four times on four sides of the bowl, turning the bowl a quarter every time.

When fermentation is complete you will see that the dough is puffier than it was in the beginning, smoother and shinier. At this time, turn it onto a lightly floured large cutting board and carefully cut in half using a large knife or a bench cutter. Shape each half into a ball by pushing the sides of the dough under it, tightening the surface. Dust with flour, cover and let rest 15 minutes. This was pre-shaping of the dough.

While the dough is resting, prep your rising baskets (brotforms, bannetons or colanders/bowls lined with a towel). Flour them well, if lining or using a towel/cloth, rub the cloth with flour.
At the end of 15 min rest you will see the balls spread a bit. That’s what you want. Flour them on top and flip them over on the board. Fold the sides in on four sides, again like making an envelope, tighten up and place into the basket smooth side down, seamed side up. Rest and rise 3-4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. My preference is overnight rest, so I prep the leaven/dough during the day and rise the breads overnight, then bake in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 500F with your Dutch ovens in it. Once ready, take a sheet of parchment paper, lay it over a cutting board and cover the basket, then flip it over. The bread should pop up easy. Score the bread using lame, very sharp knife or scissors, and place into the dutch oven, cover and put in the oven. Repeat with the second loaf. Bake 20 min at 500F, reduce heat to 450 and bake another 10 min, then remove cover and bake another 25-30 min. Remove from the oven and cool on the rack. Bread must cool completely before cutting, the crumb is finishing up while it rests and cools. Cut to early and you’ll end up with raw feeling crumb.
Same recipe works with only white bread flour as well.

Pumpernickel Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Cranberries

 

Tools: 3 bowls, stand mixer (or a pair of very strong hands), 500F oven-proof baking pots (like Dutch ovens, Pyrex or clay bakers), medium to large cutting boards, parchment paper, pot holders

Ingredients:

For the leaven
1 ½ tbsp fresh live sourdough starter (2 tbsp if you are adding nuts and berries)
½ cup white bread flour
1/3 cup water
Mix all together and let sit 6 to 8 hours – you will see that it is all live and bubbly on the surface. Best way to test it is to drop a teaspoon of leaven into a bowl of water – if it floats, it’s ready.

For the dough:
2 ½ cups water (2 ¾ if adding nuts and berries)
5 ½ cups flour (3 cups white bread flour, 2 ½ cups pumpernickel)
2 ½ teaspoons potato flour (improves gluten production in mixed flour breads, not required but good to add)
2 cups chopped walnuts, 1 cup dried cranberries (if you are using them)
Mix everything together at the same time you mix the leaven and let sit for 6-8 hours, as long as the leaven. This allows the autolysis process to break down the flour.

When ready, put both leaven and dough into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for 3-5 minutes, scraping down sides, to incorporate. It can be done by hand, but it’s tough. Cover the bowl with cling film and towel and let the dough rest for an hour. In the meantime, dissolve 10g of salt in 1/8 cup of water. After an hour has passed, add the salt and again mix for 3-5 min. You will see the dough is becoming elastic and smooth. Pop the dough into a bowl, cover and let sit for 2 – 3 hours, this period is called bulk fermentation. During bulk fermentation stretch and fold the dough every 30 to 45 min. To do so, pick up the dough on the side of the bowl, pull it up and fold down onto itself (like a flap of an envelope). Repeat four times on four sides of the bowl, turning the bowl a quarter every time.

When fermentation is complete you will see that the dough is puffier than it was in the beginning, smoother and shinier. At this time, turn it onto a lightly floured large cutting board and carefully cut in half using a large knife or a bench cutter. Shape each half into a ball by pushing the sides of the dough under it, tightening the surface. Dust with flour, cover and let rest 15 minutes. This was pre-shaping of the dough.

While the dough is resting, prep your rising baskets (brotforms, bannetons or colanders/bowls lined with a towel). Flour them well, if lining or using a towel/cloth, rub the cloth with flour.
At the end of 15 min rest you will see the balls spread a bit. That’s what you want. Flour them on top and flip them over on the board. Fold the sides in on four sides, again like making an envelope, tighten up and place into the basket smooth side down, seamed side up. Rest and rise 3-4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. My preference is overnight rest, so I prep the leaven/dough during the day and rise the breads overnight, then bake in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 500F with your Dutch ovens in it. Once ready, take a sheet of parchment paper, lay it over a cutting board and cover the basket, then flip it over. The bread should pop up easy. Score the bread using lame, very sharp knife or scissors, and place into the dutch oven, cover and put in the oven. Repeat with the second loaf. Bake 20 min at 500F, reduce heat to 450 and bake another 10 min, then remove cover and bake another 25-30 min. Remove from the oven and cool on the rack. Bread must cool completely before cutting, the crumb is finishing up while it rests and cools. Cut to early and you’ll end up with raw feeling crumb.
Same recipe works with only white bread flour as well.

If you are doing plain pumpernickel, use 1/4 cup less water. For white, use 1/2 cup less water.

Pumpernickel Sourdough Bread

 

Pumpernickel Sourdough Bread

Tools: 3 bowls, stand mixer (or a pair of very strong hands), 500F oven-proof baking pots (like Dutch ovens, Pyrex or clay bakers), medium to large cutting boards, parchment paper, pot holders

Ingredients:

For the leaven
1 ½ tbsp fresh live sourdough starter (2 tbsp if you are adding nuts and berries)
½ cup white bread flour
1/3 cup water
Mix all together and let sit 6 to 8 hours – you will see that it is all live and bubbly on the surface. Best way to test it is to drop a teaspoon of leaven into a bowl of water – if it floats, it’s ready.

For the dough:
2 ½ cups water
5 ½ cups flour (3 cups white bread flour, 2 ½ cups pumpernickel)
2 ½ teaspoons potato flour (improves gluten production in mixed flour breads, not required but good to add)
Mix everything together at the same time you mix the leaven and let sit for 6-8 hours, as long as the leaven. This allows the autolysis process to break down the flour.

When ready, put both leaven and dough into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for 3-5 minutes, scraping down sides, to incorporate. It can be done by hand, but it’s tough. Cover the bowl with cling film and towel and let the dough rest for an hour. In the meantime, dissolve 10g of salt in 1/8 cup of water. After an hour has passed, add the salt and again mix for 3-5 min. You will see the dough is becoming elastic and smooth. Pop the dough into a bowl, cover and let sit for 2 – 3 hours, this period is called bulk fermentation. During bulk fermentation stretch and fold the dough every 30 to 45 min. To do so, pick up the dough on the side of the bowl, pull it up and fold down onto itself (like a flap of an envelope). Repeat four times on four sides of the bowl, turning the bowl a quarter every time.

When fermentation is complete you will see that the dough is puffier than it was in the beginning, smoother and shinier. At this time, turn it onto a lightly floured large cutting board and carefully cut in half using a large knife or a bench cutter. Shape each half into a ball by pushing the sides of the dough under it, tightening the surface. Dust with flour, cover and let rest 15 minutes. This was pre-shaping of the dough.

While the dough is resting, prep your rising baskets (brotforms, bannetons or colanders/bowls lined with a towel). Flour them well, if lining or using a towel/cloth, rub the cloth with flour.
At the end of 15 min rest you will see the balls spread a bit. That’s what you want. Flour them on top and flip them over on the board. Fold the sides in on four sides, again like making an envelope, tighten up and place into the basket smooth side down, seamed side up. Rest and rise 3-4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. My preference is overnight rest, so I prep the leaven/dough during the day and rise the breads overnight, then bake in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 500F with your Dutch ovens in it. Once ready, take a sheet of parchment paper, lay it over a cutting board and cover the basket, then flip it over. The bread should pop up easy. Score the bread using lame, very sharp knife or scissors, and place into the dutch oven, cover and put in the oven. Repeat with the second loaf. Bake 20 min at 500F, reduce heat to 450 and bake another 10 min, then remove cover and bake another 25-30 min. Remove from the oven and cool on the rack. Bread must cool completely before cutting, the crumb is finishing up while it rests and cools. Cut to early and you’ll end up with raw feeling crumb.
Same recipe works with only white bread flour as well.

 

White Sourdough Bread

 

White Sourdough Bread

Tools: 3 bowls, stand mixer (or a pair of very strong hands), 500F oven-proof baking pots (like Dutch ovens, Pyrex or clay bakers), medium to large cutting boards, parchment paper, pot holders

Ingredients:

For the leaven
1 ½ tbsp fresh live sourdough starter
½ cup white bread flour
1/3 cup water
Mix all together and let sit 6 to 8 hours – you will see that it is all live and bubbly on the surface. Best way to test it is to drop a teaspoon of leaven into a bowl of water – if it floats, it’s ready.

For the dough:
2 1/4 cups water
5 ½ cups flour (white bread)
Mix everything together at the same time you mix the leaven and let sit for 6-8 hours, as long as the leaven. This allows the autolysis process to break down the flour.

When ready, put both leaven and dough into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for 3-5 minutes, scraping down sides, to incorporate. It can be done by hand, but it’s tough. Cover the bowl with cling film and towel and let the dough rest for an hour. In the meantime, dissolve 10g of salt in 1/8 cup of water. After an hour has passed, add the salt and again mix for 3-5 min. You will see the dough is becoming elastic and smooth. Pop the dough into a bowl, cover and let sit for 2 – 3 hours, this period is called bulk fermentation. During bulk fermentation stretch and fold the dough every 30 to 45 min. To do so, pick up the dough on the side of the bowl, pull it up and fold down onto itself (like a flap of an envelope). Repeat four times on four sides of the bowl, turning the bowl a quarter every time.

When fermentation is complete you will see that the dough is puffier than it was in the beginning, smoother and shinier. At this time, turn it onto a lightly floured large cutting board and carefully cut in half using a large knife or a bench cutter. Shape each half into a ball by pushing the sides of the dough under it, tightening the surface. Dust with flour, cover and let rest 15 minutes. This was pre-shaping of the dough.

While the dough is resting, prep your rising baskets (brotforms, bannetons or colanders/bowls lined with a towel). Flour them well, if lining or using a towel/cloth, rub the cloth with flour.
At the end of 15 min rest you will see the balls spread a bit. That’s what you want. Flour them on top and flip them over on the board. Fold the sides in on four sides, again like making an envelope, tighten up and place into the basket smooth side down, seamed side up. Rest and rise 3-4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. My preference is overnight rest, so I prep the leaven/dough during the day and rise the breads overnight, then bake in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 500F with your Dutch ovens in it. Once ready, take a sheet of parchment paper, lay it over a cutting board and cover the basket, then flip it over. The bread should pop up easy. Score the bread using lame, very sharp knife or scissors, and place into the dutch oven, cover and put in the oven. Repeat with the second loaf. Bake 20 min at 500F, reduce heat to 450 and bake another 10 min, then remove cover and bake another 25-30 min. Remove from the oven and cool on the rack. Bread must cool completely before cutting, the crumb is finishing up while it rests and cools. Cut to early and you’ll end up with raw feeling crumb.

 

No-Knead Breads

I've seen and tried many no-knead recipes that are very popular today and to me the best was NY Times take on Jim Lahey's no-knead bread that shortened the proofing to 4 hours. It also turned out to be extremely flexible so here are a few variations I came up with. 

Whole Wheat with walnuts and cranberries

1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
Oil as needed.
1. Combine flours, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine and add nuts and berries. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: 1 big loaf.

Other possible variations - pumpernickel with raisins, pumpernickel with sunflower seeds. These will need dark brown sugar.

 

White With Olives

 

3 cups bread flour

1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup pitted oil-cured olives, chopped

Oil as needed.
1. Combine flour, yeast, olives and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: 1 big loaf.