Archives for posts with tag: bread

Chocolate Brioche

I found this recipe for mini chocolate brioche several weeks ago and I had been waiting for a chance to make it ever since. On first glance the recipe seemed really involved, and since I’ve been busy getting ready for an art show, I didn’t think I had the time to make it.  So, I’ve been biding my time and dreaming of coffee and sweet bread. Last weekend, I needed a little break from all my art-makin’ and I decided it was time to treat myself to a sweet sunday breakfast.

This brioche dough needs to rise 8 to 12 hours, so you start by making the dough and then letting it rise overnight. There are a lot of steps, but since they are broken up, it turns out to take more planning than effort. The end result really is amazing, your efforts will yield a subtly sweet and tender bread with a dark chocolate center, finished off by hints of honey. I’m SO glad I found the time to make it. Seriously, I felt like a baking superstar. This recipe has definitely found a permanent spot in my cooking repertoire.

Baby Chocolate Brioche:

From: Patricia Wells At Home In Provence 

  • 1 TSP active dry yeast
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk (105°F)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 TSP salt
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces of good quality dark chocolate (I use 83% Cacao) Divided into 12
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 TBS whole milk
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • extra honey for drizzling (optional)

step one, make dough

1. Combine the warm milk, honey, and yeast and let it stand until it’s foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the olive oil, eggs and salt, and stir to blend.

3. Add the flour a little at a time, slowly mixing everything together. When the dough forms a ball, knead in the remaining flour. Knead until the the dough is soft and smooth, but still firm. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour.  This step can be done in a heavy duty electric mixer if you happen to have one (I don’t).

4. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let it rise 8-12 hours.

step two, divide into 12

5. An hour before you want to bake the rolls, remove the dough from the fridge, punch it down and divide it into 12 equal portions.

step three

6. With the palm of your hand flatten each ball of dough into a disk and press in a portion of the chocolate into the center. Then reform the ball around the piece of chocolate, so that the chocolate is completely covered.

step four

7. Place the rolls on a baking sheet, and cover with a clean towel. Let the dough rise another 30-45 minutes.

8. Preheat the oven to 400°F


9. Make the glaze by beating the egg yolk, then blending in a tablespoon of milk, and a tablespoon of sugar. Brush each roll with the glaze.  (Drizzle the optional honey on the rolls if you want a little extra sweetness… which, come on, you do.)

10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are a deep golden brown.

Now, prepare yourself for a delicious and luxurious breakfast.


challah I was first introduced to challah bread while working in the after school program at Tehiyah Day School, a Jewish elementary school here in the Bay Area.  Challah is an eggy, slightly sweet, and very tender bread that is the traditional Sabbath bread of European Jews. We would often serve it to the kids as snack on Fridays and they absolutely love it. I developed a taste for it myself, it’s excellent with a little cream cheese and it makes amazing french toast.

Every Friday the kids take home a loaf of challah for the Sabbath dinner. It’s really adorable to see hoards of little kids running to the bus, each with a braided loaf in tow. With some of the smaller kids, the loaf of bread seems almost as big as they are.  I often wondered how many of those loaves survive the ride home and actually make it to the dinner table intact. I’m guessing not many.

A little perk that came with working on Fridays was that inevitably someone was going to forget their bread and I got to bring it home. These days I’m only working at the school twice a week and Friday isn’t one of my days.  I’ve been missing my challah french toast so I decided to try and bake it myself. It took about three hours but most of that time was passive. It was actually easy to make and it turned out great!


  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/3 cup of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil for greasing
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • Coarse salt (optional)
Step one, Mix

Step one:  Dissolve the instant yeast in the warm water, letting it sit for a few minutes. Then mix half of the flour with the salt and add all of the yeast water.  Stir to combine with a wooden spoon.

Step two: Mix in 3 eggs and the honey and blend until smooth.


Step three: Begin adding the remaining flour, a little at the time. When you can no longer stir with a spoon begin kneading the dough. Repeatedly fold and press to combine. Add just enough flour to keep the dough from being a sticky mess. Knead for about 10 minutes.


Step  four: Grease a large bowl with a neutral oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for one and half hours.

roll out dough

Step five: Deflate the ball and divide into three equal pieces. Let them rest for 10 minutes, then roll each ball into ropes about 15 inches long.


Step six:  On a greased baking sheet, or a baking stone,  smash the ends of the dough ropes together and braid the dough, just like you would hair.

Step seven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cover and let the dough rest while you preheat the oven.

brush with egg

Step eight: Right before you put the bread in the oven, beat the egg yolk and brush the top of the bread with the yolk. Sprinkle the bread with the poppy seed and the optional salt.  Place it in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. The bread is done with you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow. Cool before slicing.

This makes a fairly large loaf. I gave half away to our neighbors because it really is best if eaten in the same day it was baked. If you don’t like poppy seeds, a tasty option is to sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. Happy baking!

biscuitsThis weekend I took a short but sweet trip home to North Carolina for my sister’s college graduation. Flying back and forth from San Francisco, CA to Raleigh, NC  is a lot of traveling for a weekend trip but I had not been home since Christmas, so it was worth it. It’s hard when your two favorite places are on opposite sides of the country! It was a wonderful visit, packed with family time, hanging out with friends, and eating lots of Southern food. In honor of my recent visit home, I’m going to share a recipe for a quintessential Southern food; buttermilk biscuits!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Step One: Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Step Two: Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until the flour resembles coarse cornmeal.

rub in the butter

Step Three: Add the buttermilk to the mixture and stir until moistened. Knead the dough a few times until combined. Don’t over handle the dough. The quicker you combine everything, the fluffier the biscuits will be.

Step Four: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and pat down to an inch thick circle.

Step Five: Use a floured circle cutter (I used a drinking glass) to cut out your biscuits. Place the biscuits together in a cast iron skillet or baking sheet, so that the sides are touching. Take the scraps of dough and use your hands to form into another biscuit. Don’t re-roll the dough.

cut the biscuit

Step Six: Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Buttermilk biscuits are delicious with a little honey or molasses. Another amazing way to eat a biscuit is to split it in half and make a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese. No matter how you eat it, it’s sure to satisfy. Enjoy!

cast iron panCast Iron pans, oh how I love you!  I use my cast iron pans everyday-twice a day. I find them invaluable for their versatility and even, consistent heating. They are definitely in the top five of my most essential cooking tools. (In case you’re wondering, the other four are: a wooden spoon, big pot, sharp knife, and measuring cup.)

Cast Iron has been a basic and indispensable cooking implement for hundreds of years but I’ve come to realize a lot of folks are unfamiliar with basic care and upkeep. My Mom told me that she “ruined” the pans she received for her wedding by soaking them in water. I put “ruined” in quotes because you can actually revive rusted pans. The Kitchn has a great article on how to re-season your pans. Some basic rules for cast iron:

  • Keep it greasy! (well-seasoned pans are non-stick and have a shiny surface)
  • Don’t clean it with soap (it removes the seasoning)
  • Don’t put it in the dish-washer
  • Don’t use steel wool (use salt as an abrasive)

Cast Iron pans are pretty cheap, especially if you find one at a thrift store or yard sale. I just picked one up for $20 at flea market here in Berkeley. Plus, they’ll last a lifetime and can be passed on from generation to generation.

One of my favorite things to cook in my small cast iron pan in cornbread.  Cornbread cooks so evenly and browns beautifully in cast iron and it somehow feels more authentic (I imagine southern ladies of olden’ times making their cornbread the same way.)  The cornbread recipe that I’ve been using is both simple and delicious. It comes together quickly and is easy whip up while you’re in the midst of cooking the rest of your meal.

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbs melted butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients
  3. In another bowl whisk eggs, milk, and butter together
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until well-blended.
  5. Cook for 25 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean and the top is slightly brown)


I love it when I find a recipe that’s so simple that it almost makes itself. Soda bread is amazingly easy to make, before you know it…BAM!!  You have fresh bread! I baked a loaf of soda bread one evening while Andrew and I were making soup, and I had the dough made and in the oven before he could finish chopping the onions.

This recipe for soda bread come from Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen’s book The Urban Homestead. It’s an overall enjoyable read; the writers have a quirky sense of humor and keep you entertained while gettin’ ya some learnin’ about being self-reliant in the city.

soda bread ingredients, flour, baking soda, buttermilk, salt

Soda Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plain yogurt, or other sour milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in the buttermilk a little at the time, when large clumps begin to form, use your hands to gather the clumps into a large ball.
  4. If needed, add a little more buttermilk to get the dry clumps to come together. Try to get the clumps together as quickly as possible, the more you knead the dough the tougher and less fluffy it will be.
  5. Drop the dough ball onto a cookie sheet and flatten out to about 3 inches thick.
  6. Cut a deep X through the middle
  7. Bake it until it browns, about 35-40 minutes.

Easy peasy! I used yogurt instead of buttermilk and really enjoyed the slight tang it gave the bread. Soda bread is reminiscent of a big biscuit and was delicious with a little butter. It went perfectly with soup and the next morning I made french toast out of the leftovers. It was pretty darn tasty like that, too.  I usually find the prospect of baking bread pretty intimidating but this recipe is no nonsense and a perfect beginner’s bread.

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