Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pain D'├ępices

Pain d'Epices

Ever since I saw this recipe posted on David Lebowitz's fabulous blog I knew I had to try it out. It appealed to my bread-loving self and my cake-loving self. Who am I kidding? It mostly appealed to my I-need-something-to-butter-with-my-tea-self. And boy did this recipe deliver.

The bread is slightly spicy and sweet at the same time. Hard to describe exactly, but altogether delicious, with fabulous texture and complex flavour. Definitely worth the effort required to, well, to butter the pan. I suppose that's it. Oh- and to eat it.

Here's the link to the recipe, thank you very much David Lebowitz!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


On international taxes... or at least thats what I wanted to name this post, but no one would have read it. That's what I'm supposed to be studying right now. And yet.... pizza baking called to me. Thats exactly the excuse I'm going to use for my professor when I fail my exam. Wish me luck.

This recipe is courtesy of Nancy Baggett's 60- minute bread book:

  • 3- 3 1/2 c flour
  • 2 1/14 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp (heaping) salt
  • 1 1/4 c hot water (125-130 degrees)
  • 1 T olive oil
Whisk together dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, and stir to get a shaggy dough. knead on a clean lightly floured surface until a smooth and malleable but still moist dough is formed. cover, and set aside in a warm place for about fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare greased pizza pans, and preheat oven to 475. Prepare tomato sauce. I always use my mom's recipe- tomato paste (and a tsp of sugar if its not in your tomato paste) , a little bit of hot water, some crushed oregano, salt and garlic powder.

Knead dough briefly. divide in half and spread dough out on pan. spread dough with sauce, cheese and any desired toppings (mushrooms, veggies, spinach (yum!), olives, basil, parsley, etc.) Bake for 19-22 minutes or until pizza is lightly browned and bubbly. Serve!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

on why I love my friends

Because they bought me a present because they love me.

This week I tried out a recipe for multigrain bread courtesy of Mark from the Back Home Bakery. I've never made mutligrain bread before, and found the recipe somewhat challenging for a few reasons (which totally have to do with my inexperience and not with the recipe)-

1. I think my scale isnt accurate enough- I found measuring the salt really difficult with my scale and the final bread was too salty.

2. The summer heat and humidity here are incredibly high- I think proofing takes about half the time- and its quite possible I overproofed. the loafs were huge, and didnt rise too much in the oven.

3. I didn't time the recipe right- so I ended up staying up till all hours of the night to bake it= cranky baker. not smart.

All in all, it came out tasty, with a good texture, and it was not too bad for a first try. I'll have to try again with my new pizza stone (you guys are the best! )

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Blues

My older sister was apt when she said that in this town, she doesn't get the winter blues, she gets the summer blues.

For the past week its been higher than thirty degrees every day and HUMID. When you walk outside its as if youre walking through a warm bath- and if this sounds nice to you, trust me, its not- not to mention terrible hair frizziness. Summer also means impending doom- exams are coming. Add the two together, and you get one cranky student who does not want to make the trek to campus (in case you were wondering, that cranky student is me).

So, I decided to make some comfort food, and to me- thats muffins. Quick, easy, and satisfying. Muffins were the first thing I learnt how to bake, and right now what I could really use is one big cup of coffee (maybe ill make it iced), and a muffin.

Bran Muffins
  • 1 c. wheat bran
  • 1 c flour
  • 3/4 c (scant) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1 large ripe banana, mushed
  • chocolate chips or raisins (optional)
Mix together bran, flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. make a well in the middle and add remaining ingredients. Mix until just combined- do not over mix. Spoon into prepared muffin tin.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Every Friday, almost weekly for about two years, I wake up in the morning and walk, bleary eyed, to the cupboard. I take out the yeast, the sugar, the flour and the eggs. I make myself a cup of coffee, put on an apron, and begin the challa baking process.

To me there is nothing that says Shabbat more than the aroma of freshly baked challot, and there is no more intensely satisfying bread-baking experience.

I'm submitting them to this weeks yeastspotting.

Well, onto the recipe I suppose!
  • 5 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 c warm water (95-105degrees)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 T margarine, melted
  • 1 egg yolk + 2 tsp water for egg wash
  • Mix together flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Form a well. Mix together water, 2 eggs and margarine. Place in the well. Mix thoroughly. Knead until dough is smooth, not sticky.

  • Allow to rise for thirty minutes. Punch down. Let dough rise again. Punch down and form into two large challas. Brush with egg wash. Place on sprayed/lined coookie sheet. Bake in 325 oven for 45-50 minutes.

Notes: I've found that my challa dough is always way stickier in Israel than in Canada- must be a gluten thing. Resist the urge to add too much flour or your challahs will be dry. I like to add a bit less yeast and let the dough rise longer- I think it gets more flavour that way. Also, sometimes I double the recipe so that I can make four large challot- there's no need to use twelve teaspoons of yeast- i would use a lot less than that. I'm sure it will still turn out. Also- I use a mixture of ketsach seeds (nigella/black cumin) and sesame seeds on top. A little unconventional, but makes for pretty challas :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread

This week I felt like a baking rockstar.
I've only had my blog for about two weeks, but after receiving such positive responses about it, I just felt like handing out my URL to everyone I saw- "here, look at this, its my blog!" and "did you know I had a blog? well I do! check it out!"

So, i guess i got a little ambitious. I decided to try out Peter Reinhart's whole wheat bread. Even though I don't own any of his books (yet), I already know that Peter Reinhart is the bread baking master, with five books about bread baking published and a huge following.

I found this recipe online, and although the soaker/biga method looks difficult and strange, it is SURPRISINGLY EASY. all you do is mix the biga and soaker separately the night before you want to bake the loaf, and then the next day, mix and knead everything together. Even without a kitchenaid (*sigh, i hate being a poor student), it was simple:

  • 1 3/4 c (8 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t (.14 oz) salt
  • 3/4 c + 2 T (7 oz) milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk or rice milk

Mix together in a bowl about one minute, leave at room temp. for 12 to 24 hours covered loosely with plastic wrap. Any longer than that, place it in the fridge.


  • 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 t (.03 oz) instant yeast
  • 3/4 c (6 oz) filtered or spring water (room temp)

Mix all ingredients into a ball then knead with wet hands 2 minutes. Dough will be tacky. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead again 1 minute. Place in fridge covered tightly with plastic wrap for minimum 8 hours to 3 days. Remove from fridge 2 hours before mixing dough.


  • all the biga
  • all the soaker
  • 7 T (2 oz) ww flour
  • 5/8 t (.18 oz) salt
  • 2 1/4 t (.25 oz) instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 T (1.5 oz) honey or agave nectar or 3 T sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 T melted unsalted butter or 1 T vegetable oil
  • extra flour
  1. Chop up the biga and soaker into 12 pieces each and place in a mixing bowl. Add in all other ingredients except extra flour and mix together until combined-(if using a mixer- one min on low, then 2-3 mins. on med. low.)
  2. Remove from bowl to a floured work area and knead for 3-4 minutes adding extra flour as needed to get a tacky, but not sticky dough. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead another 1 minute. Place in an oiled bowl and let it rise for 45-60 mins until it's about 1 1/2 times the original size.
  3. Form into whatever type of loaf you wish. If using a pan, use a greased 4x8 1/2" loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again 45-60 mins. until 1 1/2 x's it's original size.
  4. Preheat oven to 425° and place loaf pan in the oven. Immediately turn the temp. down to 350° and bake for 20 mins. Rotate the loaf a complete half turn and bake another 20 to 30 mins. or to 195°

wasn't as fluffy as i would have liked- might be because its 100% whole wheat, may be because of my inexperience with this technique... guess ill have to keep on baking to find out!

I'm submitting this to yeastspotting-

yay yeastpotting!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Leah's Cinnamon Buns

Last year my university went on strike (for the second year in a row!) So while I was on extended vacation from law school, waiting for the professors and the ministry of education to work things out, I decided to start a business. I had my own home bakery- people would place their orders during the week and I would bake challa bread, cookies, and cinnamon buns out of my kitchen on Friday.

The cinnamon buns were a smashing success, especially, to my dismay, amongst my guy friends who liked to call them Leah's buns (*cringe!). After going back to school I didn't have much time for my business, so I stopped- that didn't stop people from asking me to bring desserts for meals every weekend!

Either way, this is a fabulous recipe, and is always a hit.
  • 1 c. warm milk (I always use soymilk)
  • 2 eggs- room temp
  • 1/3 package margarine
  • 4 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • oil
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
Method: mix milk, eggs, and margarine together. Add the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Knead, and let rise until double, about one and a half hours. Roll out into a rectangle- spread a tablespoon or two of canola oil onto the dough. Sprinkle on a generous amount of brown sugar until the dough is covered in a layer of sugar, then sprinkle on cinnamon. Roll up jelly roll style, then cut the log into 1-2 inch cinnamon rolls. Place in a greased pan and let rise until double in size, about an hour. Bake at 350- for about twenty minutes.

Once cool, prepare icing:
melt three tablespoons of margarine, mix with 1 Tb. of hot watre, 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 cup of icing sugar- adjust icing sugar till drizzling consistency is reached. Drizzle over the cinnamon rolls, and ENJOY!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

whole wheat sourdough loaf

new day, new loaf.

After royally screwing up my starter, I slowly nursed it back to full strength, and was ready to try it out. I found a recipe online for an easy looking sourdough loaf and decided to try it out. It was only after leaving it to rise that I noticed how many bad reviews the recipe got.... I changed the recipe a bit so while it was rising I still had hope that it would turn out....
  • 1 c regular all purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1/2 tsp (heaping) salt
  • 1/4- 1/2 c warm water
mix all ingredients together, knead until smooth. Let rise until double- about four hours, punch down, smooth into a ball, and let rise overnight in the fridge. shape into a loaf, let rise again until double in size. slash loaf with a serrated knife, mist with water and place in preheated 400 degree oven.

The loaf was ok, could have used some more salt. Rose very nicely, and had a great crust.

Conclusion: keep looking for that perfect sourdough loaf, and must invite more guests to eat bread - because as my sister puts it- "If you keep eating all that bread, you'll end up looking like a loaf of bread yourself!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

sourdough+ moving= i'm losing my mind

I started my starter about two and a half months ago. Its been through a few ups and downs- until I finally stabilized it, and produced quite a few gorgeous loaves from it. It created tangy and crusty, flavourful bread.

Then I moved.

I always knew that moving was traumatic, but I didnt realize the extent of it until I took my starter out of hibernation, where it was staying with my sister for two weeks. At first everything was fine, back to normal- I was feeding it twice a day like normal. Then all of a sudden it started getting weird. It got very watery, and started making lots of "hooch"- that low grade alcohol that forms on top of the starter. I would pour it off and feed it with a watchful eye...

At first I thought my new kitchen was too hot... I started controlling the temp of the strater with cold water baths. Didnt help. So I started feeding it more often, thinking that the yeast was eating up the starches too quickly. Didnt help.

Then I started thinking... maybe Im not feeding it enough flour? I double checked my measurements and I was fine... but then, i noticed the amount of water i was using... and it was DOUBLE the amount i was supposed to be using! duh! thats why it was watery.... !

Moral of the story, double check your measurements. And get enough sleep.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cinnamnon Raisin Bread

After an extended hiatus due to moving house, I'm back! Thank you Chavi, my only follower, for encouraging me to keep blogging :)

So the other night I made a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread- adapted from the recipe from "the fresh loaf", and I have learned a few things. Firstly, I need a new bread loaf pan! I let my loaves proof in the fridge in a medium sized bakers secret brand loaf pan- after i had baked them and let them cool, I noticed that the pans' non-stick finish had come off on the loaf! shame on those pans. I'm going to write bakers secret to complain. I will keep you posted.

Secondly, when making a proper loaf of bread- better to make one big loaf as opposed to two smaller ones. Otherwise it looks like a teacake, rather than bread.

Well here's the URL for the recipe-

I halved the recipe, and substituted instant oats for rolled oats, so I didn't soak them, I just added them to the water a few minutes before. I also added an extra tablespoon of honey, because I found the dough wasn't sweet enough.

So, here are pics, which I am submitting to yeastspotting
Have a great day!