Easter Parade

luckkywilliamson1's Easter album on Photobucket

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chocolate Bread

It is Day 4 of Bread Week and we just have to
sneak in my recipe for Chocolate Bread
studded with chocolate chips and topped with pink sanding sugar.

This is a yeast bread not a batter bread.
I first had one like this from a local bakery
and they never carried it again, so I had to
create one of my own.

The cute brown bakers in the above photo can be found
at Sur La Table.  They are great to bake in and are
wonderful when you give the loaves as gifts.  They come in all
shapes and sizes.

My son and daughter-in-law made me this wonderful
plaque which has a place of honor in my kitchen.

It is perfect for today's bread.

This could be called Double Chocolate Bread as it has
chocolate chips added.

A good way to tell if your bread is ready to bake is to measure
it.  Get down to eye level and make sure that it has risen about
1 inch from the top of the pan.  Did you know that the
distance between your first two knuckles on your pointer
finger is about 1 inch.  You always have a measuring tape with
you.  Measure the span of your hand with your fingers outstretched,
mine is about 8 1/2 inches.  Your arms outstretched should be the
same as your height from fingertip to fingertip.  Now you can always
get approximate measurements wherever you are!

Be patient and wait for the bread to rise.  Today mine took
2 hours - super long (maybe it was the weight of the chips).

This bread takes extra time to bake too.

Chocolate Bread Recipe

1 C. milk, scalded
2 T. butter
1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 lightly beaten eggs

1 pkg. yeast
1/4 C. warm water
1 T. sugar

2/3 C. cocoa
3 1/2 C. flour 
1 tsp. salt 

1 1/2 to 2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
(I used 2 C. but it does make it a little hard to cut.)

Take the scalded milk while hot and add the butter.
Let the butter melt.  Add the 1/2 C. sugar and vanilla
and when it has cooled to lukewarm add the 2 eggs.  Mix.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 C. warm water with the 1 T. sugar.

Sift the cocoa, flour and salt.

In the mixer with the dough hook, mix the milk mixture
and the flour mixture.  Let knead for 5-7 minutes.

Add the chocolate chips.

Cover the dough and let rise until double.  
Punch down and shape into desired loaves.

You can form it into 1 standard loaf or two round loaves 
or four mini loaves.

Brush with melted butter and sprinkle on 
sanding sugar (sugar crystals or decorator sugar).

Of course I chose PINK.

Cover and let rise until double - or until it measures
about 1 inch above the loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 350 (325 if using a dark pan).

Bake standard loaf 45 to 50 minutes,  two round
loaves, 35-40 minutes and mini loaves about 30 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes in pan, then run knife around edge
to loosen.  Remove to cooling rack.

Let the bread cool before cutting as the chocolate
chips will be soft.

My absolute favorite way to eat this is to
toast it with a little butter.

This would be a great breakfast bread or a
bread to go with tea.  I bet it would be great with
cream cheese also.

I am glad so many of you are enjoying Bread Week.

All of the breads are very doable, give one a try.

I will be posting with

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuscan Villas Table And Italian Focaccia

Today I am going to show you my latest interior design
project.  I have just finished decorating the model at
a large condominium project - Tuscan Villas.

The counter is set for two in the soft golds, greens, and creams
of Tuscany.

I love the texture on the edges of these plates and bowls.

The cream flatware fits right in and matches
the soft creams

I started the layering with this great charger.

Soft green and cream Ralph Loren
 napkins hang between the plates.

Artificial artichokes accent the bowls picking
up more of the greens.

To go along with the Italian theme of the
decorating we have squares of focaccia on the counter.

Since it is also Bread Week, I thought
Italian Focaccia would be the perfect
bread for today's recipe.

Here is just a peek at the clubhouse which I also decorated.
I will have to do a post on that another time.

This is the exterior of the townhomes that I did the model for.

This is the kitchen which features wonderful open cabinets
and stainless steel appliances with granite counters.

The living room has a large space where I placed 
an oversized entertainment center.

Love the touch of leopard print in the living room.

Also the living room features a large comfortable couch.

I will feature more of the interior of the model in a later post.

It is day 3 of Bread Week
featuring Italian Focaccia.

The bread starts with herbs that are heated up in olive oil.

This bread is a very soft dough so it will not come
away from the edges of the bowl. 

The oil and herb mix is brushed on the bottom of the pan,

After the dough is placed in the pan and allowed to rise,
you press your fingertips in it to make indentations
to capture and absorb the herbed oil.

Then bake and enjoy.

Italian Focaccia Recipe

2 C. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
2 pkg. fast acting yeast
4 C. flour
2 tsp salt

6 T. olive oil
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Mix the water sugar and fast acting yeas.  Let 
sit for 5 minutes.  Mix in the flour and the salt and 
knead to form a very soft dough.  Cover and
let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and the herbs and garlic.
Bring the oil to a simmer and turn off heat and
let sit for a few minutes.  Using a pastry brush,
brush some of the oil on the bottom of a 9x13 inch
pan.  Gently tip the dough into the pan and gently
press into the corners of the pan.  You don't want
the oil on the sides of the pan because you want
the dough to stick to the sides of the pan.  Cover
and let rise about 20 minutes.  Flour your fingers
and make depressions all over the dough with 
your fingertips.  Drizzle or brush the remaining
oil on the bread.  (You don't have to use all of
it if you don't want to.)  Top with Parmesan

Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.  Let cool in pan.

Look at those wonderful pockets of herbed oil.

Slice it once it is cool.  It is also good for sandwiches.

Hope you enjoyed Tuscan Villa's Table and Italian Focaccia
for Day 3 of Bread Week.

I will be posting with

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crusty Artisanal Bread

It's day 2 of Bread Week.


I love to make bread! 
 I also love to eat home made bread.

For years I tried and tried and tried to bake a bread that had
a thick chewy crust with big holes on the inside and a moist
interior - a European style artisan bread.
 You know, you have heard all of the "tricks" too -
place a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven,
or spritz the oven with water, or place ice cubes on the
floor of the oven.  Well, if you are like me, none of those
methods produced the bread I was looking for.

Then one day, my friend Kathy (who loves to cook and is a
fabulous cook) gave me the recipe for
this bread.  Her brother in law had found it in a newspaper article
as Sullivan St. Bakery Bread.  You can see the recipe online
by clicking here. It was developed by the owner
of Sullivan St. Baker, Jim Lahey.

This was it, after years of so - so bread.  This had all of
the right textures - crisp chewy thick crust,
moist interior with large holes.  We have twisted
a few things but it is fabulous.  Hope you try it, you will love it!

This is the step that you cannot skip, so you do have to plan ahead.
You have to mix the bread up and let it sit covered with
plastic wrap on the counter overnight. He says to mix in one
bowl and transfer to another greased bowl. I have done it both by
transferring it to a greased bowl and by leaving it in the same
bowl.  It sticks a little less when you put it in a new greased bowl.

It will seem kind of shaggy when you mix it that night, but in
the morning it will look like this - all wet and bubbly.

You will want to place about 1/4 C. flour on the counter and
generously flour your hands.  Then
gently scoop the bread dough onto the flour.  Top with another
generous amount of flour and gently fold it back onto itself
a couple of times, beginning to form a ball.

Now it will appear like this.  You want to be gentle to preserve
those wonderful air bubbles - don't work it much.

Place the ball, seam side down onto a piece of parchment
paper that is dusted with corn meal. (This is a little trick
Kathy taught me from another recipe - it makes the transfer
of the dough a lot easier and continues to preserve our precious
air bubbles.

Generously dust the top of the dough and a cotton tea towel with
flour and cover the dough.  Let rise for 2  to 2 1/2 hours or until
double.  Don't use a terry cloth towel as it will stick to the dough.  This
is a slow rising dough!  (Don't rush this part.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and then place an enamel coated
pan with a lid in the oven to heat for 30 minutes.  After 30
minutes remove the pan from the oven.  Take the lid off and lift
the parchment paper and place it into the hot pan
 Replace the lid (you want to capture all the moisture)
and put it back in the hot oven.  Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake an additional 5-10 minutes if desired.
(I usually do just 5.)

I used a Le Creuset pan (that I got for a bargain a few years
ago at Costco), but you can find enamel coated pans at
Home Goods and even Wal Mart.  You will need about a 6-8 quart

The plastic handles on Le Creuset will not tolerate the high
heat for this bread.

Guess what I found at Sur La Table the other day.  They 
got wise and now are selling stainless steel knobs for $11.95,
so I got a new one and replaced the plastic one.

They should know better!  My Cuisinart enamel pan
 came with a metal handle.

Lift the loaf out by using the paper.  Peel the paper off and
let it cool on a cooling rack.

You can cook yours longer to get a darker crust, but I love it
this way.

Slice when cool (if you can wait that long - I have a hard time
with that), or break the bread into pieces (my kids love that).

Crusty Artisanal Bread Recipe

Mix with a wooden spoon in a large ceramic bowl:
3 C. all purpose flour
1 5/8 C. warm water (slightly more than the original recipe)
1/4 tsp. rapid rise yeast (yes that is only 1/4 tsp.
his recipe doesn't call for rapid rise, but I have
tried both and like the texture of rapid rise best)
1 1/4 tsp. salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl using a wooden
spoon or spatula.  It will seem quite shaggy.  Transfer to
a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Leave out
on the counter overnight. 

Place 1/4 C. flour on counter and gently turn out dough
onto counter.  Top with another generous sprinkling of
flour.  Turn it in on itself several times, forming a ball.
Use generous amounts of flour on your hands as it is
very sticky. 

Place on a piece of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.
Dust with flour and dust a cotton tea towel with flour, then
cover the dough with the towel.  Let rise for 2 to 21/2 hours
or until doubled in size.  Don't rush this.  It is a slow rising
dough with so little yeast. 

The last 45 minutes or so, preheat your oven to 450.  When
the oven is heated, place a 6-8 quart enamel coated cast iron
pan with lid into the oven for 30 minutes.  Don't rush this
either.  The pan with the lid
creates an environment for the bread like
a mini steam oven that is used in
Europe to create these artisanal breads and you don't have
to spend $20,000 to have your own!  All of the moisture that
is escaping from the bread as it bakes is captured inside the
enamel pan with its lid on.  I have tried an uncoated dutch
oven and didn't think it worked as well.  He says you can
also use a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish as long as it is
big enough (I haven't tried those.)

Remove the lid and bake an additional 5-10 minutes if
desired.  This gives a tougher, darker crust. 
 I usually don't leave
mine in very long, maybe 5 minutes.

Remove from pan by lifting the paper.  Peel off paper
and let cool on a rack.

The crunchy crust is best that day.  You will notice that
commercially baked artisanal bread is packaged in bags
that have little holes punched in them to keep the crust
crunchy.  If you place it in a regular plastic bag the
crust will not retain its classic crispness.  Of course, if
you keep this kind of bread in the commercial bags
with perforations, it
dries out, so eat it that day!

Serve however you desire.  I pictured the bread with assorted
If you haven't tried the Manchego cheese (the back cheese with the
black coating) from Costco, you have to try it.  It goes great
with the fresh bread.  It is so nutty and buttery.

My sister Jean taught me how easy it is to clean up after
making bread if you use a dough scraper for the flour and
the dough stuck on your counter.  Great idea!

Artisanal European style breadmaking
is within your reach.  Give it a try and let
me know how it worked for you.

Hope you enjoy Bread Week.

I have already had people report back and say they have
made some bread!  Keep it up.

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