Greek Flatbread

The possibilities for this versatile yeast dough flatbread are endless! Thin like a cracker or thick and soft for dipping; long or round; plain or with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, sea salt and Parmesan; scattered with crumbled cheese and sliced vegetables; whatever flavors are calling to you. You can even make pizzas out of them!… 

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Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a cinch to make and is a favorite in my house in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day! The soda in the name comes from the baking soda that is used as a leavener in a simple quickbread batter made from whole wheat and white flour, eggs, raisins, buttermilk and a touch of sugar.

I love the rustic look of the craggy, crackly crust!

It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that is delicious toasted with butter or cream cheese and jam for breakfast and is the perfect accompaniment for a bowl of soup or a hearty stew.

In this version I used all white whole wheat flour and swapped out half the golden raisins for dried cranberries. My preference is to use half whole wheat and half white flours, but it is quite adaptable to any kind or combination of flours you prefer. Any type of dried fruit can be used and I’ve seen some with caraway seeds and even one with sun-dried tomatoes in it.

The bread dries out fairly quickly so plan on eating it in a day or two, although toasting it easily takes care of that. If you’re family is anything like mine it won’t be around long enough anyways!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
(adapted from Saveur)
2 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (or a mix)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 + 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2. Use a pastry cutter or two knives scissor fashion to cut butter into flour mixture, until  resembles coarse meal. Stir in raisins, breaking them apart with your fingers if needed.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add beaten egg and buttermilk; mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf.

4. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about 1/2” deep in an “X” shape. Bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife, 35-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted.

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Mardi Gras King Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

Mardi Gras King Cake

It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without a King Cake or two ten!

King cakes commemorate the Epiphany, a celebration of the Wise Men’s discovery of baby Jesus. A small plastic baby is tucked inside the cake, bringing the finder good luck and the task of supplying the next cake. Believe me when I say there will be a next cake, since they are eaten everyday during the season of Epiphany that begins 12 days after Christmas and lasts until Mardi Gras. A tradition I can fully immerse myself in.

Who knows King Cake better than New Orleans native Chef John Besh? No one I know of. Made from a soft, buttery brioche dough with copious amounts of cinnamon and lemon zest, the cinnamon fiend in me rejoiced.

Covered in a confectioners’ sugar icing and decorated with colored sugars to represent justice, faith and power, this is a cake you will revel in eating every day. It is everything anyone could ask for in a coffee cake and more. I don’t think I would get sick of it. In my version there’s a decadent strawberry jam cream cheese filling and half whole wheat flour in the batter. It is the most perfectly delicious thing to accompany a cup of coffee or tea.

Although I’m far from New Orleans, a mere bite of cake magically transported me there, if only in spirit. My heart was glad.

Mardi Gras King Cake

Strawberry Cream Cheese King Cake Filling
(by Reeni)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, beat in jam and confectioners sugar. Refrigerate.

2. Instead of dividing the dough into 3 pieces, roll into a rectangle on a large floured surface, about 20×15 inches. On one of the longest edges about 3 inches in spoon the cream cheese in an even straight line. Carefully fold dough over the filling and continue until you have a long log.

3. Carefully move to a large, parchment lined baking sheet and form into an oval, pinching ends together well. Bake according to directions in original recipe.

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Homemade Sandwich Rolls

Homemade Sandwich Rolls

These rolls are terribly easy to make and render such outstanding results I don’t see any reason to continue buying them. The benefits of having fresh, healthy bread are worth the little bit of hands on time these take to make. They’re soft, yet dense enough to hold a sloppy joe or hamburger and just delicious toasted with butter or even with eggs nestled inside them for breakfast. A well-suited roll for any use.

This is a King Arthur Flour (love them!) recipe that I adapted to use half white whole wheat flour and regular rise yeast rather than instant or fast-acting. Brushing melted butter over top will produce a softer crust compared to beaten egg which gives it a shinier finish that also works better for adhering poppy or sesame seeds to.

The directions are vague when it comes to mixing and kneading the dough, if you’re inexperienced there is a great video on the kitchn I recommend with excellent tips and techniques. If you have a stand mixer it will do the work of mixing and kneading. I start with the beater attachment to mix the dough and then switch to the dough hook for kneading, about 5-7 minutes on medium speed.

Homemade Sandwich Rolls

Homemade Sandwich Rolls
(adapted from King Arthur Flour)
1 package active dry yeast (7 grams)
1 cup lukewarm water (110-115 F.)
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
3 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (up to half can be white whole wheat)
1 + 1/4 teaspoons salt
for topping:
1 egg
sesame or poppy seeds

1. In a small bowl dissolve yeast in the warm water, stir in sugar and allow to sit until bubbly, 5-10 minutes.

2. Mix all of the dough ingredients together including the yeast mixture. Knead either by hand (on a floured surface, adding flour as needed), mixer, or bread machine until you get a soft, smooth dough.

3. Put the dough in an large, oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Gently deflate the dough.  On a floured board or counter top divide dough into 8 equal pieces, shape each piece into a circle about 1″ thick and flatten to about 3″ across. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour or until very puffy.

5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water, brush over tops and sprinkle with seeds.

6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on wire racks.

Moon The Kitchen Cat checks out my Homemade Sandwich Rolls

I’m linking this to Chaya of My Sweet and Savory for her Let’s Do Brunch event!

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Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread

This recipe comes from my nephew who brought two loaves over with him for Christmas. He baked the bread himself and told me I should take pictures for my blog! How cute is that?

One bite of the moist, dense bread and there was no doubt in my mind that it was worthy of a blog post. Packed full of pumpkin flavor, walnuts and cranberries with a fragrant, spicy aroma that reminded me of gingerbread, this is the stuff pumpkin dreams are made of. Truly, the recipe seems incredibly easy to make for such outstanding results.

My nephew brought two loaves with him and I mistakenly sent one back home with him because we had so much food to eat we never even cut into it. Once the last slice was gone I wistfully wished I could take the loaf back! I could whip up my own batch in no time at all but there’s something all the more sweet about having my nephew make it for me. It just tastes better.

Pumpkin Spice Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries, dark seedless or golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9″ by 5″ loaf pan.

2. In large bowl, mix first 6 ingredients. In medium-sized bowl, beat eggs with pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, and oil; stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Gently stir in raisins and pecans. Spoon batter evenly into loaf pan.

3. Bake 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

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Easy Christmas Stollen

Stollen is a German sweet bread filled with dried fruit, nuts and sometimes marzipan. It’s typically a yeast bread, but baking powder is used instead to make this quick and easy version from King Arthur Flour…. 

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Apple Eggnog Bread Pudding with Raisins and Walnuts

Apple Eggnog Bread Pudding

Oh, humble bread pudding, where have you been all my life? It’s hard to believe this extraordinarily simple but incredibly tantalizing dessert has never been a part of my life! Not once do I remember it gracing my lips. Don’t you feel sad for me? I do.

After being tempted by far too many bread pudding recipes spread from one end of the Internet to the other, I had to find out what the big attraction was. In order for me to execute my own ideas I needed to find out what made bread pudding tick. Because I didn’t have a clue. What I found was a surprisingly basic recipe of sweet custard (eggs, milk and sugar) that is poured over stale bread pieces and slowly baked. Anything more than that is the ‘icing’ on the cake, because all kinds of delicious things can be added, it’s what I like to call a ‘kitchen sink’ recipe. Whatever you have on hand in the cupboard and fruit drawer can be used; bananas, figs, apples, pumpkin, any kind of nut or dried fruit, spices, extracts and even liquor!

This is my new favorite way to use up stale bread. And indeed just about any kind of bread can be used, even sweet, quick breads like banana or pumpkin, challah, brioche and even donuts or cinnamon rolls! The key is to let them get a little stale so they soak up the custard easily. And then let them hang out for a couple of hours in the custard to allow it time to soak in, before baking. There is a world of possibilities and I’m so happy that I’m a part of it now! I have 101 recipe ideas. I have to make up for lost time, right?

I dressed mine up with eggnog, apples, walnuts and raisins. And spiced it up with vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The eggnog serves in sweetening up the custard so you don’t need to add any sugar and it also adds egg yolk to it so you need less eggs. Not to mention the ton of distinctive eggnog flavor that is front and center in every single, decadent bite. The custard transforms the bread so that it almost resembles cake. I allowed mine to sit for three hours before baking so every last drop of custard could be soaked up by the french bread.

This is layered with bread on the bottom and apples, walnuts and raisins spread over top. They caramelize into this sometimes chewy, sometimes crunchy topping that is just wonderful with the soft, moist bread underneath. I couldn’t be any happier with the way my first flirtation with bread pudding turned out!

If this isn’t a warm hug on a plate then please tell me what is?!

Apple Eggnog Bread Pudding

Moon The Kitchen CatApple Eggnog Bread Pudding
(by Reeni)

9-10 cups French or Italian bread, cubed
2 cups apples, cubed
2/3 cup raisins, chopped
2/3 cups walnuts, chopped
4 cups eggnog
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar

1. In a deep sided 9×13 metal baking pan add the bread cubes, arrange apples evenly over top then sprinkle with raisins and walnuts.

2. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggnog, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg together. Pour over top of bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or over night.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle or sift brown sugar over top. Place the pan on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Add boiling water carefully to the sheet pan so it comes at least a third of the way up the side of the bread pudding pan. Bake for one hour. Remove the bread pudding from the sheet pan to cool. Allow the sheet pan/water to cool off completely before removing. Serve with whip cream warm, at room temperature or cold. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Printable Recipe

Apple Eggnog Bread Pudding

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