I make a lot of sourdough bread, and I am constantly feeding my starter. It's an ongoing process that takes planning and schedule coordination - which can be tricky while working and dealing with soccer practices and school projects in the evenings. Time can easily get away from you and then it is too late to get a loaf going. And so it goes... SO sometimes I really just want to make a loaf of bread that is super yummy and doesn't take more than 24 hours. For me, that is now My Favorite Challah Bread recipe from Joan Nathan at New York Times Cooking. Pointers that she gives with her recipe are: Several risings make a better loaf, and if you want an especially brioche-like texture, let the dough rise slowly in the refrigerator for one of the three risings. The secret to a glossy loaf is to brush it with an egg wash twice, once just after braiding and then again just before baking.
My Favorite Challah Bread
Yield: 2 challahs
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 Tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.
Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading.)
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1½ inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.
If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Then dip your index finger in the egg wash, then into poppy or sesame seeds and then onto a mound of bread. Continue until bread is decorated with seeds.
Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.
Fall is a great time for Chili, slow cooker stews, or just a nice charcuterie plate. All of which are yummy with some fresh French Bread. I have had good luck with the Classic Baguette recipe from King Arthur Baking, so I tried it again. I make the poolish the night before (around 5 or 6pm – before I get started on dinner) with the plan to cook it in time for an early dinner the next day. To do that, you need to get started at 7am the next day.
There are a lot of little steps to this one, so this is NOT ideal for a Saturday morning with a lot of activities. But if you know the next morning’s games are a washout, then game ON!
The only change I make to this recipe is for Step 12. I place the cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven while the oven heats in the bottom of the oven. And once I placed the bread in the oven, then I added 2 cups of ice cubes to the cast iron pan and shut the door quickly.
This recipe is a keeper, as long as you plan ahead of time for it and make your poolish. Enjoy!
Classic Baguette recipe from King Arthur Baking
I saw this adorable recipe in my Insta feed from Simply So Good and had to give it a try in the Delaney test kitchen. Plus - I love learning new French words.
A Fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found in other variations in other regions as well. Some versions are sculpted to resemble an ear of wheat.
These ghosts are "souper" cute for Halloween, and for dipping into soups or with pasta.
I’m listing the recipe as posted on simplysogood.com, but I’d like to make a few recommendations:
The recipe says to break the dough into 8-12 pieces for the “ghosts.” Maybe I let the dough sit in the fridge for tool long overnight, but I had a lot of dough. So I would say that it could make closer to 20 ghosts. Mine were just too big and as a result were too puffy and took too long to bake. They would have started to burn on the bottom before they were going to turn golden on top.
Also, the recipe doesn’t list a temperature for the oven. Depending on how hot your oven runs, I think 350 – 400F works great.
No-knead Ghost Fougasse
· 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 2 teaspoons salt
· 1 teaspoons yeast
· 1 teaspoon sugar
· 1 1/2 cups warm water
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 tablespoons butter melted
· Flakey sea salt optional
Part I: the Fougasse Dough
1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Stir to combine.
2. Add water and olive oil. Stir just until all the flour has been mixed in and no dry spots appear. The mixture will look kind of shaggy, but not too lumpy.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until the dough has risen to double the size. Do not punch the dough down. Place in refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.
Part II: Shaping the Fougasse
1. Remove dough from the refrigerator and pour it onto a floured surface.
2. Divide the dough into 8-12 pieces depending on how large you'd like to fougasse. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes to make it easier to shape. Pull and shape the dough into an oval or round shapes.
3. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife make slits in the dough. Pull and stretch the dough to create fun ghost shapes and faces. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover and let rise for 10-20 minutes. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes or until golden.
4. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter and flakey sea salt.
· Fougasse dough can be left to rise overnight and used without chilling.
· Chilling the dough makes shaping the fougasse easier.
It is September and I still have some zucchinis coming from the garden, and so I continue to look for new recipes for them. I came across this one for Olive Oil Zucchini Bread on NYT Cooking and the ingredient list was intriguing – including Greek yogurt and lemon zest – which I thought could be interesting.
I love that this loaf is less sweet than other zucchini breads and muffins, and the lemon zest make it taste summery. I think I’ll make this as muffins next time so that I can take them on the run with me.
There’s a reason this has over 3,400 5-star reviews. It’s a more flavorful take on the traditional zucchini loaf. I should also mention that this was easy to make first thing in the morning and it was cooled and ready to eat before leaving for soccer games on a Saturday. Enjoy!
Olive Oil Zucchini Bread
· Butter, for the pan
· 1 ½ cups/185 grams grated zucchini
· ⅔ cup/140 grams light brown sugar
· ⅓ cup/80 milliliters olive oil (or other oil such as safflower or canola)
· ⅓ cup/80 milliliters plain Greek yogurt
· 2 large eggs
· 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
· 1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
· ½ teaspoon/3 grams salt
· ½ teaspoon/3 grams baking soda
· ½ teaspoon/2 grams baking powder
· 1 ½ teaspoons/4 grams ground cinnamon
· ¼ teaspoon/1 gram ground nutmeg
· 1 teaspoon/2 grams finely grated lemon zest
· ½ cup/55 grams chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to mix together the grated zucchini, sugar, olive oil, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract.
3. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest and spices in a separate bowl. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the walnuts if using.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The bread will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
5. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a rack completely before cutting and serving.
I love all the pretty focaccias I see on IG on “Focaccia Friday”, but I had yet to find one that was super easy and yummy. Plus I’d like to be able to use some of my sourdough starter with it. I also need to use some serious amounts of rosemary off of my rosemary bush. Thank you to @sourdough_enzo for sharing your focaccia recipe in your stories. I followed it exactly and it came out amazing! I’ll definitely be making this one again.
In terms of timing, I mixed all the ingredients together at noon on Saturday, and then did the first stretch and fold at 12:45, let it sit until 1:30, and then did 3 coil folds over the next three hours (1:30, 2:30, and 3:30). I put it in the fridge at 3:30, then took it out at 10pm to sit at room temperature overnight. On Sunday morning I preheated the oven while making my morning tea, prepped it with my favorite toppings (rosemary, Kalamata olives, and sea salt) and put it in the oven at 7:30am.
You can see how pretty it turned out! I will definitely be baking this one again.
Focaccia Recipe from @sourdough_enzo:
1.Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 30 - 45 minutes
2.Perform 1 stretch and fold
3.Let sit for 30 - 45 minutes
4.Perform 3-4 coil folds over 3 hours
5.Transfer dough with coil fold motion to buttered AND generously oiled baking sheet. Cover and put in the fridge.
6.Pull out of the fridge at 10pm and let sit covered at room temperature (65F) until around 7am the next day.
7.Preheat the oven to 425F.
8.Dock/dimple the dough with wet or oiled fingers and top with desired toppings.
9.Bake at 425F for 25-30 minutes.
This recipe from NYT cooking’s Mark Bittman is an attempt to cut the start-to-finish time of Jim Lahey’s original recipe down to just a few hours rather than the original 14 to 20 hours of rising time. This is a great alternative if you want some fresh bread and didn’t get the sourdough process started yesterday. The Delaney test kitchen tasters gave this one two thumbs up. It was gone so fast I’m glad I got a few pictures in first!
In terms of timing - I started at noon, then started baking a little before 5pm. It was perfectly baked, cooled and still slightly warm in time for dinner.
If you make this one, please let me know if it’s a hit in your house too!
Speedy No-Knead Bread
1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
When King Arthur Baking says that this is The Easiest Loaf of Bread You’ll Ever Bake, they aren’t kidding. After some sourdough struggles, it is rewarding to return to this recipe that is easy, always a success, and always a crowd pleaser. They say it is European-style crusty bread. I say it’s good that it makes two loaves because my crew can’t stop eating it. I can’t wait to make a serious BLT for lunch using this nice, fresh bread. I highly recommend this recipe if you are just starting out with your baking, or if you're a seasoned baker. It's just so easy.
The Easiest Loaf of Bread You’ll Ever Bake
1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
2. Stir together all of the ingredients (except the cornmeal) in a large bowl, starting with 4 1/2 cups of the flour. Use a sturdy spoon, or your stand mixer equipped with the beater paddle. Mix until everything comes together in a rough, shaggy mass of dough.
3. If you’re kneading the dough by hand, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, using some of the additional 1/2 cup of flour called for. Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you, then press it away from you with the heels of your hands. Rotate the dough 90°. Repeat this fold-press-rotate process with a rhythmic, rocking motion for about 6 minutes. When fully kneaded, the dough will be bouncy and smooth.
If you’re using your stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead the dough at medium speed for about 7 minutes, until it’s smooth, elastic, and feels a bit bouncy. If the dough doesn’t form a ball that clears the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in just enough of the additional flour to make this happen.
4. Place the dough in a bowl that’s been lightly greased with vegetable oil or cooking spray; the bowl you started with is fine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or another airtight cover, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it's doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. If your kitchen is particularly cold (below 65°F), place the bowl of dough in your turned-off oven with the oven light on.
5. Gently deflate the dough and cut it in half. Pat each half into a rough 6” x 8” oval.
6. Working with one piece of dough at a time, grab a short side and fold the dough like a business letter (one short side into the center, the other short side over it). Use the heel of your hand to press the open edge of the “letter” closed. Gently pat and roll the dough into a log about 10” long. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
7. Place the loaves, seam-side down, on a baking sheet (lined with parchment if desired). Sprinkle the pan (or parchment) generously with cornmeal; this will keep the bread from sticking and give it a crunchy bottom crust.
8. Let the loaves rise, lightly covered with greased plastic wrap, for 45 minutes. They should become nicely puffy. Gently poke your index finger into the side of one of the loaves; if the indentation remains, your bread is ready to bake.
9. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F.
10. For extra-crusty crust and a great rise, add steam to your oven as follows: While the oven is preheating, place an empty cast-iron frying pan on the lowest rack. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop. (Note: For this I fill the cast iron pan with ice cubes and place it on the lower rack right before adding the bread to the oven. It works just as well and doesn't feel as dangerous.)
11. When your bread is risen, use a sieve to dust the loaves with a thin coat of flour. Then make three or four 1/2” deep diagonal slashes in each loaf; these slashes will help the bread rise evenly as it bakes. Place the bread in the oven and pour the boiling water into the frying pan below. Quickly shut the oven door. Wear good oven mitts during this process to shield your hands and arms from the steam.
12. Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and a loaf sounds hollow to the touch when you tap it on the bottom. The interior temperature of the bread should register at least 190°F on a digital thermometer.
13. Turn the oven off, crack the door open, and allow the bread to remain inside for 5 additional minutes; this helps keep the crust crisp. Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack. It’s best not to cut into the bread until it’s cooled down a bit; cutting into hot bread can negatively affect its texture.
I had been wanting to make a sandwich bread for a while, so I gave it a try with the Low-Knead Sandwich Bread recipe from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt with NYTCooking. According to the NYT, this recipe was inspired by Jim Lahey’s influential no-knead bread recipe.
The recipe was easy to follow, and cooked beautifully. I used egg wash on the top before baking, and sprinkled it with some sea salt and sesame seeds for a little more flavor. Look at the beautiful crumb! I’ll definitely be making this one again. I think next time I’ll replace 100g of water with 100 g of whole milk for a softer, richer loaf as suggested.
In terms of timing/schedule, I started at noon, then alternating folding and resting until 3pm and then transferred it to the fridge to rest overnight.
The next morning I took it out at 8am, placed it in the loaf pan and let it rise at room temperature. The recipe calls for this to take 2 hours, but mine took 3. Probably because the house is cool with the AC.
I put it in the oven at 11, and it was done in 35 minutes.
If you make this one, let me know how it goes!
Last week on IG I was drawn to the beautiful pictures that @mamaluu_bakes shared of her Sourdough Focaccia, and she shared the fabulous recipe from Dan @mothership_breads. I had to try it for myself in the Delaney Test Kitchen. And @mamaluu_bakes, I took your advice and also used my Kitchen Aid and it worked great.
You can find the recipe on both of their IG feeds, and I’ve reposted it here for you as well:
-400g tipo 00 or all-purpose flour
-80g mature 100% hydration whole grain based starter
-20g extra virgin olive oil, and extra for coating pan
-10g sea salt
Mix all the ingredients together until a shaggy dough forms.
Let this rest 30 minutes and after that knead it using stretch and folds/Rubaud method for about 4 min., let rest 10 min. and then Rubaud for another 3-4 minutes.
Cover dough with a damp tea towel and let it bulk ferment at room temperature for approx. 5 hours performing stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 1.5 hours. Bulk until the dough has nearly doubled in volume. My kitchen is quite warm, between 27C and 30C and this took me ~5 hours.
After that, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in a 4C fridge overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24).
In the Morning: A couple hours before baking take a 10” cast iron skillet and coat it generously with olive oil. Take the dough out of the fridge and gently ease it from the bowl to skillet with olive oil coated fingers.
Flip the dough ball around to coat it with olive oil.
Then let the dough proof, covered with a damp tea towel, in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
At this point the dough should spread out considerably towards the edges of the pan and appear very soft and bubbly. It would be considered overproofed for making regular bread.
Gently lift the dough up at the edges to let air bubbles from underneath the dough escape, and to allow the olive oil to redistribute underneath it. Gently push the dough to the edges of the pan and dimple it with your fingers. Top with desired toppings, sprinkle with flaky salt and drizzle generously with more extra virgin olive oil.
Bake it in a preheated 500F oven for about 20 minutes, cool until just warm, and enjoy!
I saw this recipe for pretzel knots in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) a few weeks ago, and immediately clipped it. Frozen hot pretzels are a popular evening snack for my boys, so I thought I could make them something even better. This is a great activity with the little ones, even if they only join you for the shaping of the knots. Plus it is springtime - and it makes me think of baseball, the Braves, and stadium hot pretzels.
This recipe is from Kelly Senyei’s cookbook “The Secret Ingredient Cookbook.” For this recipe, she says the secret ingredient is the everything bagel seasoning. And while I don’t disagree, I only used that for half of them. I used coarse sea salt on the other half since not everyone in my house likes everything bagels (crazy, I know).
If you try this for yourself, please let me know how it goes! And if you're interested, check out Kelly's website for more great recipes: www.justataste.com
Noni's Soft Pretzel Knots
Garden Focaccia Breads: another TikTok cooking trend where I am late to the party.
Some people make them look like gardens or elaborate designs. I was looking for a relatively easy recipe and found this one for Garden Focaccia Bread Art from Chef Ronnie Woo and Rachel Ray. His design was really beautiful, too, with a rising phoenix made from red onions. Mine was not nearly as pretty as his, but given it was my first time making this type of bread I think I did just fine. I highly recommend this recipe.
Garden Focaccia Bread Art With Vegetables + Herbs,
by Chef Ronnie Woo (serves 6)
In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, honey, and warm water to form a shaggy dough. Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until a smooth ball forms. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425˚F. When the dough has risen, drizzle a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and spread with your fingers to coat the pan lightly from edge to edge. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and press evenly into the pan. Using your fingers, press into the top of the dough all over with the tips of your fingers to dimple the dough.
Arrange cut vegetables and herbs on top of dough. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then let rest for 10 minutes more. Bake until golden brown on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Drizzle with more olive oil before serving.
The Baguettes I made last time were yummy, but I’m testing lots of different recipes. This time I tried the Classic Baguettes from King Arthur Baking.
This recipe was relatively easy – you just have to plan ahead. I made the starter/poolish at 5pm the night before to give it plenty of time to expand and become bubbly by the morning.
The next morning, I got started on the next step at 7am. For step 2, I used my KitchenAid and that worked great.
There are a lot of steps, so this is not an ideal undertaking if you have a lot of activities the next morning. The good thing is it'll be all done baking by lunchtime.
For Step 8 I used a baker’s couche and that worked better than I expected.
The only change to the recipe for me was for Step 12. I already had the cast iron pan heating in the bottom of the oven. Once I placed the bread in the oven, then I added 2 cups of ice cubes to the cast iron pan and shut the door quickly.
I cooked them for exactly 25 minutes, and they were as yummy as they were pretty. My son commented that I got the “cuts” right this time. The difference is that I have more practice with the baker’s lame. Definitely my best try at baguettes so far. This recipe is a keeper, as long as you plan and schedule ahead of time for it. (Not unlike any of other bread!)
If you try this one, let me know how it goes!
Being a Delaney (by marriage), and it being St. Patricks’ Day Week – I felt compelled to try Irish Soda Bread. In doing my research ahead of time, I learned a lot about its origins.
Soda Bread became popular in Ireland when bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) became available as a leavening agent. Bread soda made it possible to work with the “soft” wheat grown in Ireland’s climate, versus the “hard” wheat flour like we have in the US today which needs yeast to rise properly. “Soft” wheat doesn’t work well with yeast but is great for quick breads, like soda bread.
There is also a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread and on their website you can learn a lot more about the history of soda bread. But according to them, the earliest published soda bread recipe was in a London magazine in 1836.
Soda Bread’s popularity was easy to understand –the soda wasn’t perishable, it was relatively inexpensive, and the other two main ingredient – wheat flour and buttermilk (which is a by-product of making butter) were easily available.
Before baking, a cross is traditionally cut on the top of the soda bread. It is said that this is done to bless the house and ward off the devil. But it is also practical - it lets the heat get through to the thickest part of the bread so it can stretch and rise. It also automatically separates the bread into 4 equal quadrants making it easy to break apart, hence both breaking bread and giving thanks.
My husband found the recipe for me to try – it is “Granny Reynold’s Soda Bread.” According to the recipe, “Casements Bar in San Francisco serves this tender and tangy soda bread, based on a family recipe from co-owner Gillian Fitzgerald.” Gillian says its equally delicious topped with butter and jam for breakfast or dipped in stew for supper. I can say that it was delicious with butter and jam – I used my favorite local Atlanta Emily’s G’s Triple Berry Jam. And I'd recommend this bread not just for St. Patrick's Day, but any time. Yum!
Kris Delaney is a marketing executive, foodie, travel enthusiast, and book nerd based in Atlanta, GA.