Showing posts with label baked. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baked. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bulgur Wheat Bread #BreadBakers

A tender loaf with a welcome bit of nutty chewiness from the bulgur wheat, this yeast bread has a soft crust and slices up beautifully.

As much as my grandmothers loved cooking and even baking, I don’t remember either of them ever baking bread. The French influence in our Louisiana heritage did mean that bread was important; you just bought it at a bakery. From the time I was tiny my mom told me stories of when she was younger and she would bring a stick of butter along to the bakery to pick up a fresh hot loaf just so she could butter the bread and eat it immediately in the car. Who wants to wait? The only bread I remember in our house when I was growing up was white sandwich bread and French bread – still white inside – preferably baked by the southern Louisiana institutions of Evangeline Maid in Lafayette and LeJeune’s in Jeanerette, respectively. Even today, my mom’s freezer in Houston usually has a loaf or two of LeJeune’s delicious French bread, still made by hand, for when she needs a bread and butter fix.

When I started dating my husband and was introduced to his dad and stepmom, I finally met a woman who baked bread weekly, more often that that, in fact, if she had bread loving visitors (like us!) because her home-baked bread was the centerpiece of every lunch, surrounded by cheese and sliced meat and condiments and salad. And breakfast, more often than not, included toast. I wrote at length about Fiona’s wonderful bread for the inaugural post of Bread Bakers exactly one year ago, so I won’t go into it again here, except to say that hers was also the first time I remember eating and loving whole wheat bread instead of white. She started me on the road to baking my own bread and even buying whole grain breads. They are just so much more flavorful! (Although it's still hard to beat a pimento cheese sandwich on Evangeline Maid.)

This month our Bread Bakers challenge to bake bread with whole grains was set by our able host of Cali’s Cuisine. I decided to kick mine up a notch by adding bulgur wheat as well. It was a very good decision. This recipe, adapted from one in the New York Times online, makes two nutty deliciously healthy loaves and freezes beautifully.

N.B. You'll need three and a half hours of resting or rising time, in addition to almost one hour baking so start early in your day!

Ingredients - for two standard loaves
For the sponge:
2 packets active dry yeast (1/2 oz or 14g total)
3 cups or 710ml warm water
3 tablespoons mild honey
1 cup or 200g coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups or 250g strong white bread flour
1 cup or 120g wholemeal bread flour

For the bread dough:
1 bread sponge recipe (see above)
1/4 cup or 60ml canola oil, plus a little extra for oiling bowl and baking pans
1 scant tablespoon salt
2 cups or 240g wholemeal bread flour, plus additional as necessary for kneading

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and honey, and stir until dissolved. Leave it for a couple of minutes to make sure that the yeast is reacting and making some small bubbles before proceeding.

Add in the bulgur wheat and leave to rest again for another five or so minutes.

Now whisk in the white bread flour and the wholemeal bread flour one cup at a time. Keep stirring or whisking for at least two minutes after all three cups have been added. You'll end up with quite a thick batter.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave to rest in a warm spot for one hour. It should bubble up quite dramatically.

Fold the oil into the sponge along with the salt and then fold in one cup of the wholemeal bread flour.

Sprinkle your clean work surface with flour from the second cup of wholemeal bread flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl.

Here’s where it gets sticky. I found that using a stainless steel dough scraper really helped with this part of the process.

Sprinkle the dough with more wholemeal bread flour. Use your scraper to turn and fold and “knead” the dough, until the last of the cup has been added.

Keep folding and kneading for about 10 minutes, adding just a little more flour as needed, until the dough springs back when you press it with a finger. It will still be quite sticky.

Wash out your bowl and grease the inside with a little canola oil.

Scrape the dough into the bowl and turn it over to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl again with cling film and leave in a warm place for one hour.

Punch the dough down, cover it again and leave to rise for another hour.

Grease two bread loaf pans. Divide the dough into two equal parts and place them in the greased pans. Sprinkle with some wholemeal bread flour and put them in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C at some point in that 30 minutes. Mine takes forever to get to temperature so I start about 10 minutes in. You do what you need to do.

When your 30 minutes are up and your oven is preheated properly, cut some quick slashes in the dough with a very sharp implement.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F or 88°C on an instant read thermometer or the top is golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.


More whole grain goodness from my fellow Bread Bakers:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nutella Bundt with Nutella Glaze #BundtBakers

Nutella Bundt with Nutella Glaze #BundtBakers  Fudgy and soft with a subtle nuttiness, this Nutella Bundt cake with Amaretto and ground almonds, topped with slightly warmed Nutella, is a brownie-like confection that every chocolate or Nutella fan will love.
Fudgy and soft with a subtle nuttiness, this Nutella Bundt cake with Amaretto and ground almonds, topped with slightly warmed Nutella, is a brownie-like confection that every chocolate or Nutella fan will love.

When they were growing up and still at home, I would occasionally find an empty Nutella jar in one of my daughter’s bedrooms - most often the elder, if truth be told - scraped clean of sticky hazelnut chocolate and abandoned under the bed. They spread it on toast, rolled it up in crepes and, as just mentioned, ate it with a spoon. They come by Nutella love naturally, a tale you can read about here, along with a recipe for my Nutella Swirl Muffins. When they went off to university in Providence, no stores near them seemed to carry the creamy delight of our young lives. One year I even sent them jars ordered on Amazon as a special treat, in celebration World Nutella Day. When they were coming home for Christmas last year, I bought a very large jar of Nutella in anticipation (750g or 1.7 lbs by weight) and stashed it in the cupboard. It was opened, a little Nutella was eaten and then, the holidays over, they left. That big jar has been languishing there for eight months now, mocking me each time I opened the cupboard door, threatening to turn rancid, as old things with oil will ever do. I began to scour the internet for recipes with Nutella and finally settled on this one from Nigella Lawson’s site.

I had to adapt it slightly for lack of all the ingredients, but this is essentially Nigella’s cake, fudgy, soft and brownie-like in texture. The additional Nutella warmed and poured on top is mine though. I had to get through that jar, folks!

Without further ado, here’s my contribution to this month’s Bundt Bakers Sprinkles theme, hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. August is Terri’s birthday month and what better way to celebrate than with Bundts with sprinkles. Hope your birthday was the best, Terri!

For the cake:
6 large eggs
1/2 cup or 120g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups or 400g Nutella or whatever hazelnut chocolate spread you have on hand
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
1 cup (spooned in, not tightly packed) or 100g ground almonds
3 1/2 oz or 100g dark chocolate
1 pinch salt

For the glaze:
1/2 cup or 135g Nutella

To decorate:
Some sprinkles, of course, to fit our theme

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your Bundt pan by buttering and flouring it, or use the baking spray that already has flour in it. That's what I usually do.

Carefully separate your eggs into whites and yolks. Melt the chocolate for your batter in a microwaveable bowl using a few short zaps and stirring well in between. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, use your electric beaters or stand mixer to beat the butter and Nutella together and then add the Amaretto, egg yolks and ground almonds. Beat well.

Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until soft peaks form.

Add a large dollop of the fluffy whites into the chocolate bowl and stir with a spatula or spoon to loosen the chocolate batter.

Now add the rest of the egg whites, a dollop at a time, folding gently to combine the whites with the chocolate batter with each addition. You are trying to keep it light so this is not the time to mix vigorously. Just gently fold.

Spoon your batter into the prepared Bundt pan, making sure to fill all the curves and crevices. I used my Nordic Ware heart pan (<Amazon affiliate link) with a 10-cup capacity.

Bake on the center rack of your preheated oven for about 40-50 minutes or until it is all puffed up and springs back when touched.

It was even higher when I first took it out but it didn't seem to appreciate my big oven mitt thumb on the tip of the heart. 

It starts to deflate when you take it out of the oven, but don’t be alarmed. This is just concentrating the fudgy-ness inside. Cool for 10 minutes then turn the cake out of the Bundt pan onto a wire cooling rack.

Allow to cool completely before attempting to decorate.

When the cake is cool, warm the Nutella gently in a microwaveable vessel until it can just pour. If it gets too hot and runny, let it cool until it is just pourable but won’t run down the sides of your cake too quickly. Scoop a little up with a spoon and drizzle it back into the vessel to test the consistency.

Pour the warmed Nutella onto your cake and decorate with the sprinkles of your choice, or perhaps some chopped nuts.


Here are this month's "Sprinkles" Bundts:


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Gingham Picnic Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

Perfect for a picnic-themed party or for taking on a picnic, these festive vanilla sugar cookies are decorated with royal icing and coconut and are actually quite easy to make, though the process takes time. My step-by-step photos show you how.

Back in the years of small children and birthday parties, we lived in places that either didn’t understand children’s birthday cakes as Disney-enthralled children imagine them or there simply weren't bakeries that could produce cakes like we wanted. So my girlfriends and I always made the cakes. Esmeralda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, 101 Dalmatians, The Little Mermaid, a standup Barbie doll in a ball gown, just to name a few. Whatever my girls wanted, they got. One year our elder daughter wanted a picnic themed party so I baked a rectangular cake and decorated it green, like grass and topped the whole thing with a picnic scene, complete with gingham picnic blanket and tiny picnic fare. Instead of actually writing this post, I just spent way too much time looking for a photo of that cake and sadly managed to turn up one where we were only starting to decorate.

That's the birthday girl supervising and my chief partner in crime for all things crafty,
my friend Jacky, wielding the ruler. See my decorating tool box? This was serious business, folks!

This was in the days before digital cameras and I must confess that my system of organizing photos lacked, shall we say, a system. Or organization. Can anybody relate?

Nonetheless, that cake was the inspiration for these cookies because our theme for this month’s Creative Cookie Exchange is Pack for a Picnic Cookies. Now possibly The Spiced Life doyenne, Laura, our illustrious leader and chooser of themes, meant only cookies you could take on a picnic and in that these would also qualify. But picnic cookies meant a walk down memory lane for me with gingham and grass. And ants. Possibly the random caterpillar. Bugs aside, it felt good to go there.

As I mention in the first paragraph, these are not hard to make, but they do take time. Most of it is hands-off chilling in the fridge time though so don’t let that scare you off.

For the cookie dough:
1 cup or 227g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
Red food coloring gel. Or your preferred color for gingham.

N.B. I use Wilton’s no taste red gel. <Amazon affiliate link. Liquid colorings add too much moisture to the dough so it’s best to avoid them. The amount depends on how dark you’d like your dough. Do keep in mind that the dough will darken as it chills.

For the grass border:
Royal icing (see recipe below)
1 cup or 85g sweetened flake coconut
Green food coloring (I used Wilton’s leaf green gel. <affiliate link) The amount depends on how dark you’d like your grass.

For the royal icing:
1 1/2 cups or 190g icing sugar
1 egg white or 2 1/4 teaspoons pasteurized egg whites or egg white substitute
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Optional: green food coloring (Coloring means it hides better under the grass.)

For ants or caterpillars:
Semi-sweet chocolate
Mini M&Ms

Cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.

Sift your flour and salt into the bowl gradually, beating well between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally.

Turn half of the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead a couple of minutes. Shape it into a rough rectangle and wrap it in cling film and refrigerate.

Add red or other food coloring to the other half of the dough still in your mixer. Mix on low until the dough is a nice homogeneous color. If the color is to your liking, form the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it.

The two doughs before the first chill. 

Once the dough is firm enough to hold its shape well, use a folded plastic bag and a rolling pin to shape it into two more precise rectangles, tucking each into a corner of each bag and folding the sides over to keep the dough in when you roll it flat and even.

After the first chill and shaped into straighter rectangles. You can see how much darker that red has gotten.

Chill again for at least one hour.

Remove the rectangles of dough from the bags and trim any uneven edges. Cut each into strips as wide as the rectangles are thick. The goal is very long rectangular blocks as wide as they are tall. For you teachers and parents out there, think Cuisenaire rods.

On top of a piece of cling film, start assembling your gingham cookies by alternating white blocks with red blocks and building upwards to create a 3x3 block or 4x4 block pattern. Lightly press the blocks together as you stack them. I was able to make one with a 4x4 block pattern and one with a 3x3 block pattern and only had one long block left over.

This step is important. See how loosely the pieces are attached in the photo above, despite being pressed into place as each was added? We are going to fix that! Wrap the stacked blocks tightly in cling film then lightly tap them on your work surface so the blocks are pushed uniformly together, creating a square “log” of sorts. Do this on every side and then do the ends as well. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes or until you are ready to bake the cookies.

Meanwhile, you can make the royal icing and color the coconut.

To make the royal icing, use the whisk attachment of your stand mixer to beat the egg white and lemon juice until just a little foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and salt gradually. Continue mixing until the sugar is completely incorporated. Add some green food coloring at this point, if using, and mix well.

Keep it covered with cling film until ready to use or the royal icing will harden up.

To color the coconut, add it to a Ziploc bag along with a good 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of gel coloring. Shake and knead the bag until the coloring is more or less uniformly dispersed in the coconut. This will keep in the freezer for ages if you end up not using it all.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking parchment.

Unwrap one of your gingham “logs” and cut off the uneven ends. Now cut the logs into slices as wide as each square on the end.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 1-12 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Continue until all the cookies are baked or freeze the balance of the dough, rolled tightly in cling film.

When the cookies are completely cool, fill a small plate with your colored coconut and pipe or spread royal icing on one side of each cookie.

Dip that side in the green coconut immediately and press down just a little so the coconut sticks.

And voilà! Now do the other sides.

Place back on your cooled silicone mat or baking parchment and leave till the royal icing sets. If you are in a hot climate like I am, you can pop these in the refrigerator to speed it up.

To make the ants, microwave some chocolate until it's just melted but not hot. It doesn’t take but a few squares for a few ants so use your judgment. Use a piping bag with a small tip to dot the cookies with ant-like shapes. Use dots of chocolate to hold down mini M&Ms and to make caterpillars with tiny legs.


This first batch was from the 4x4 cookies. Sadly, I didn't take any photos of the 3x3. 

Here's our wonderful list of 14 picnic cookies this month:

Creative Cookie Exchange 2014
If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cheddar Mielie Bread with Sun-Dried Tomatoes #BreadBakers

Celebrate the bounty of summer with sweet corn and sun-dried tomatoes in a cheddar loaf with a hit of spicy chilies. This rich bread is fabulous toasted until crunchy, bringing out its extra cheesiness. 

You’ve heard me wax lyrical about summer cherries when we were living in France and how they are my favorite treat when in the States each summer, but I’ve been holding out on you about my love affair with sweet corn, the cobs of early summer, their tender pale yellow kernels bursting with milk and sugar, cooked ever so briefly and delicious just as is. They don't even need butter or salt. I could eat my not inconsiderable weight in those as well.

As I searched online for inspiration for this month’s BreadBakers challenge to use summer’s bounty in bread, I was looking for something that would celebrate my love of sweet corn. But I didn’t want cornbread. I wanted corn bread, that is to say, bread with corn, if you know what I mean. It was quite a challenge to make The Google separate the two.

Corn. Maize. Maíz. Jagung. Maïs. Milho. These I knew from living in various countries but mielie, pronounced mealy, was new to me. (Even better: Suikermielies which means sweet corn, or literally, sugar corn.). I kept coming across recipes for mielie bread or mealy bread, both of which intrigued me. The first because I was unfamiliar with the Afrikaans word for corn and the second because my immediate thought was, Who the heck wants to bake mealy bread? It didn’t sound like a nice thing. Mealy is not a desirable quality. It also put me in mind of mealy bugs. Shudder. Turns out that mielie bread and mealy bread are one and the same and there is no actual mealiness or bugs involved. Some have cornmeal as well as corn, others are quick bread with corn kernels. Exactly what I was looking for!

My lovely cheesy loaf was adapted from this recipe on Simply Delicious Food.

2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup or 75g butter, melted and cooled
1 cup or 240ml buttermilk
 1 large fresh corn on the cob
1 small can (8 .5 oz or 241g) cream style sweet corn
8 oz or 227g cheddar cheese, grated
1 oz or 30g sun-dried tomatoes (store bought or make your own!)
2 hot red chili peppers

Boil your corn on the cob for about 3-5 minutes in lightly salted water. Drain and rinse with cool water. Leave until cool enough to handle and then slice the golden kernels off the cob with a sharp knife.

I cut the cob in two to make it easier to hold.

Meanwhile, pour some boiling water over your sun-dried tomatoes and leave them to rehydrate.

Once plumped, drain the water and squeeze any excess out. If you are using tomatoes packed in oil, dry them off thoroughly between some paper towels.

Chop the tomatoes roughly with a sharp knife and mince your red chilies.

Divide your grated cheddar into two relatively even piles and add a small handful of the chopped tomatoes to one of them. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease a standard size loaf pan.

Meanwhile, sift all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and then add the fresh corn kernels and the tomato-less pile of cheddar to the bowl and mix well to make sure all the kernels are coated with flour. This will help ensure they stay suspended in the bread batter, rather than sinking to the bottom.

In another mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, butter, buttermilk and creamed corn. Add in the minced chilies and the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined.

Pour the thick batter into your greased loaf pan.

Cover the top of the batter with the cheddar/sun-dried tomato mixture and place the pan in your preheated oven.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the loaf is browning too fast, cover the top with aluminum foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool down for 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the bread pan.

Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing to serve.


Have you ever baked bread with corn that wasn’t cornbread? What’s your favorite summer fruit or vegetable? Here to encourage you to bake some bread with the bounty of summer is our talented host Pavani of Cook's Hideout and the rest of my Bread Bakers group.


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.

Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email with your blog URL to

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