Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread RecipeWhen you find a recipe that piques your interest, your mouth starts to water in anticipation of what could be. But, there is always the possibility that the picture you have in your mind is not the reality. Sometimes that is due to user error and other times it is because of the way that recipe is written.

My problem is, when I get excited about a recipe, I want it to be perfect and I am really bummed when it’s not. One of the hardest things to do is to write a recipe that is clear and concise for a reading public that includes cooking talents that span the spectrum. It is almost impossible to get it perfect for everyone.

Therefore, when I find a recipe that I want to try, I always read through it a few times before I start the process. That way there are usually no surprises, and it usually comes out the way I expected. There are a few occasions when even armed with knowledge, it doesn’t work right. It can be very disappointing and disheartening especially when you can’t figure out what went wrong. Baking is notorious for this…

Case in point, I recently tried to make a cinnamon apple twist bread that I found from King Arthur. With the little chunks of apple and the cinnamon dressed up with a sweet glaze, this recipe appealed to my need for some indulgent fall flavor. And, I thought it would be a fun treat for a lazy Sunday breakfast.

Things started out just fine. The dough came out beautifully. But, things went sideways with the filling. I opted to go the Clear Gel route and that may have been my mistake. Or, maybe I just chose the wrong apples—because there was so much juice that the filling went everywhere. I managed to get the bread braided and ready to rise but I knew that the result was going to be gooey sticky. (Which could actually be a good thing, am I right?)

At the end of the day, the bread sorta worked. It tasted great but looked terrible. This weekend, I am going to try it again going the cornstarch route. I will not let this recipe defeat me!!

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread Recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Baking Company
Yields 2 loaves

This makes a delicious breakfast loaf and presents beautifully on the table. Read more…

Cheddar Beer Rolls

Cheddar Beer RollsLet the Good Times Roll
I am not a huge beer drinker. I really have to be in the mood for a beer. And even then, I have very specific beer tastes. It’s either a lighter beer like a Corona when it’s hot or I am on a beach. Or, usually, when it’s cold outside at the tailgate, it’s a Guinness or other type of stout. Nothing in between.

I do, however, cook with beer…a lot.

I have a number of recipes that involve beer from Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onion to Spicy Beer Marinated Flank Steak but one of my favorite ways to cook using beer is to make bread.

Sure you could do a straight-up beer bread like my Classic Beer Bread recipe which is a great addition to any fall chili or soup dinner. But, if you are looking for something with a twist give this Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe a shot. They are great on the table as dinner rolls. But, they work equally well when made into hamburger buns for a little something unexpected to up your tailgating game…and if you really want to get crazy, add some diced jalapeños.

Cheddar Beer Rolls Recipe
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 12 dinner-sized rolls or 6 hamburger buns

The addition of beer makes these Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe especially light and fluffy. And, you can also make delicious burger buns. Read more…

Panzanella With Fresh Burrata

Panzanella With Fresh BurrataBreaking Bread
If you like to bake bread, are just learning, or are trying to master a particular technique, chances are you have found yourself with extra bread that goes stale. Fresh, homemade bread is one of life’s great pleasures. But, it doesn’t last very long. So, you either have to eat it all immediately (not a totally awful idea) or find different ways to use it. Throwing all of your hard work away is just not an option.

There are plenty of ways to use stale bread. You can make fantastic croutons for your salad. French Toast is always delicious—depending on the type of bread. Though, I have been known to make French Toast out of anything that will hold its shape after dunking. Also, never underestimate the power of good bread crumbs when making some meatballs.

Now that we are heading into the warmer months where the tomatoes get better and the idea of a big heavy dinner is unappealing, my mind starts to turn towards meals that are light, don’t require heat to prepare them and still have a lot of flavor. And, if they use up any ingredients like say, stale bread, then so much the better. Panzanella is one of those options.

Panzanella is a classic Italian bread salad that comes in many iterations. I recently found the recipe below and my family is excited about it. Good tomatoes are the key to this recipe. So look for the best ones you can find.

Panzanella With Fresh Burrata Recipe
Yields 4 servings
Adapted from Tuesday Night Mediterranean by Christopher Kimball Read more…

NY Style Bagels

Amy's New York Style BagelsWho Needs Noah?
NY Style Bagels have been a popular topic lately. The rise of the Boichick Bagels from Berkeley (as well as the article in the New York Times) have led to bagel lovers searching far and wide to get a taste of what the Times called the best bagels in the country. That’s what they said. I’m not trying to start a fight. I know how adamant people can be about their bagels. I do, however, propose another way to enjoy a great bagel.

Many of us in the last year have turned to bread making—as anyone looking for flour and yeast last April can attest. Thousands of people were introduced to the world of sourdough. I myself got back into bread making but I went a different direction. A few months ago, I had this idea that I wanted something different for breakfast that weekend, but I was tired of the usual sweeter stuff. My daughter had been making some soft pretzels that she saw online. And, watching her prompted me to want to learn about making bagels. (The concept is somewhat similar)

The idea may sound daunting but it’s really not. It does require an overnight rise in your fridge. So, planning ahead is key. Admittedly, the process would have been harder had I not seen a video on YouTube from NY Times contributor Clair Saffitz. As a visual learner, watching this video made the whole process easier. If you are interested in trying to make bagels, I highly recommend you watch this 10-minute video first.

When making bagels, be prepared for a workout. You will be kneading this dough for at least 20 minutes. It’s the perfect excuse to miss arm day…

My first batch of bagels was kind of wonky. I followed Claire’s recipe exactly and while they tasted good, even though I left them in the oven a couple minutes too long, I struggled with shaping them. Ultimately, I gave up on the rope/snake version and tried shaping by making a hole in the middle of the dough ball and stretching it out. (She mentions that method briefly in the video) The result was a puffy, perfectly chewy bagel that looks more like the bagel shape I am used to seeing. (Not sure if that makes it any less authentic?…) This has remained my go-to method of making bagels ever since.

I have yet to make my bagels with toppings on them like everything seasoning or sesame seeds. Personally, I prefer a plain bagel so that I can go savory or sweet depending on my mood. Also, you may or may not get a full dozen out of the dough. I weigh all of my ingredients on a scale and I have never had the same quantity result. Don’t worry if that happens to you. It is what it is…

I have also learned that doubling the batch is a requirement if you have teenage boys in your home. A single batch is great if you just want bagels for a Sunday morning. If you want to have some, say for the week, it’s best to make a double batch. Whatever you don’t eat that day can be sliced and put in the freezer. All you do is grab one and throw it in the toaster for a perfect weekday breakfast.

Another word of advice? Line your cookie sheets with parchment and/or spray them lightly! The water and malt syrup bath can make them stick to the sheet, which is a bummer.

NY Style Bagels Recipe
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking
Yields 12 bagels (most of the time)
Read more…