Hello again!

No photo description available.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I had lost my ability to log into this blog but wasn’t worried about it until I realized I was still being charged for it; nothing like financial incentive, is there? I figured out how to log back in, and now perhaps I can post a little more frequently about what I’ve been baking.

Above: Kardemumbullar!

Sourdough pretzels


As I mentioned in my last post, I was inspired to do a ton of baking after my Saveur magazine came in the mail last week.

There was an awesome article about bakers in Germany who still use sourdough to create a delicious pretzel full of complex flavors.  Sadly, the article did not include a recipe!  But I found one online and best of all, it used unfed starter straight out of the fridge.

These pretzels were super easy to make, turned out awesome, and my family gobbled them up.  I’ll be making these again for sure.

Kardemummabullar (twisty cardamom buns)

46028799_2214531652158287_6027254325191901184_nSaveur’s gorgeous baking issue came this month, and it inspired me to do lots of baking last weekend.  Two of the recipes inspired by this issue were sourdough pretzels and Kardemummabullar, a swedish cardamom bread that was a little flaky and totally delicious!

I couldn’t find the recipe online yet, but here’s one that is similar.

I also sadly don’t have any pictures of the process, but I want to save this one because it is a keeper!

The hardest part of this recipe is doing the twisting.  The recipe in the magazine is not helpful; it could do with a diagram or two.  Basically, you have to cut the dough into strips, twist them, then wind them into a bun shape.  In any case, they turned out well and my family really enjoyed them.

Next recipe: sourdough pretzels!

Pumpkin Spice yeast bread for communion

Have you seen this joke making the rounds?  It seems like everything is pumpkin spice these days.

Image result for pumpkin spice communion wafers

People tagged me on the post and sent it to me with messages like this:


After I was sent this picture no less than three times, I decided I would try to make pumpkin spice bread for communion.

Don’t worry, I ran the idea past the Pastor of my church first 🙂

I found a recipe on the King Arthur website, but I made a few additions and modifications.  I added food coloring to make the bread really orange, changed the recipe because I wanted the fresh ginger to be really smooth, and cinnamon just because.

You will need:


1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin or squash

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons yeast

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

food coloring


1. Mix the milk and ginger together in a blender.  Then add the pumpkin and vegetable oil.  Make sure it is blended really well.IMG_3225

2. Mix together all the other ingredients except the flour. IMG_3226

3. I didn’t have any brown sugar (I never do) but I just mixed regular white sugar and molasses to make it.IMG_3227

4. Add the pureed milk, ginger and pumpkin mixture.IMG_3228

5. Add the flour.  You’ll use between 6 and 7 cups.  Just use enough to create a soft dough.  Knead until the gluten forms and it stops sticking to the sides of the bowl.IMG_3229IMG_3231IMG_3232

6. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours.IMG_3236

8. Divide into two loaves.  Since I’m using it for communion bread, I made one boule and one loaf.  Bake about 45 minutes at 375 degrees F.IMG_3237IMG_3238IMG_3239IMG_3240

Ideally I would’ve baked the boule for longer since it’s pretty light, but the internal temperature was right (190 degrees F) and we had to go somewhere.  They smell delicious!

I can’t wait for people in my church to try these!

Pride Communion Bread

This weekend, my pastor sent a link to rainbow swirl bread for Pride Month.  She suggested I could do something similar.  I was up for a challenge!

I don’t have pictures from the process, mostly because I was wearing gloves and it was super messy, but here are pictures of the finished process.




A Smitten Kitchen Thanksgiving


Once again, I’m selfishly using a post to keep track of where I found the successful recipes I make.

This year, I made three different pies for Thanksgiving.

An apple and green tomato crumble pie (filling recipe here)

A chocolate pudding pie that was a HUGE hit (recipe here)

And a cherry-berry pie (recipe here).  I used frozen cherries and blueberries and made sure to squeeze ALL the juice out.

All three used Smitten Kitchen’s all-butter pie crust, although I did half-and-half with lard as well as a few tablespoons of cream cheese, just to keep things interesting.

While the chocolate pudding pie was far and away the favorite, the other pies also garnered rave reviews.  I don’t think of myself as a desserts person, as far as making or eating, but maybe I need to change this view of myself and my abilities.

There are very few recipes I get from Smitten Kitchen (Deb Perelman) that aren’t a slam dunk.  I even made her banana bread this morning (sans Bourbon since it was for the kids).

Update on kugelhopf au lard

Ever since Mr. Bread Maiden got this cookbook, I’ve been making kugelhopf au lard.  We mostly call it bacon bread, and it’s been a staple of mine any time I have to give a gift.  IMG_9822

This is what it looks like in the book, clearly made in a bundt pan.  For a long time, I didn’t own a bundt pan.  That changed this weekend.


Up until now, I’ve only ever made this bread in normal bread loaf pans.  But I couldn’t wait to try it the way it was intended to be made.IMG_9815IMG_9818IMG_9821

Could’ve incorporated the bacon, shallots and sage a bit more in the finished dough, but otherwise it’s flaky, buttery, bacony and lovely.  The presentation really takes it over the top!

Chocolate zucchini bread

IMG_9824IMG_9827[1]I hope to make this again so I can document the steps more clearly and with pictures.  However, for now this will have to suffice so I can be sure to find the recipe again.

From this recipe at SimplyRecipes.com

You will need:

4 cups grated zucchini, water squeezed out

2.5 cups AP flour

1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter and flour one bundt pan or two regular-size bread loaf pans
  3. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cocoa in an extra large bowl.  Add chocolate chips.
  4. Beat sugar and eggs for one minute, then add the butter, coffee and vanilla.  Stir until combined.
  5. Add zucchini to the sugar-egg mixture, then gently add zucchini-sugar-egg mixture to the dry ingredient bowl.  Combine with a spatula until just mixed, then pour into prepared pans.
  6. Bake 50-70 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, let rest ten minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a cooling rack.


Pesto bread with tomato water


This year our tomato plants went crazy. We tried coring and freezing them like we’ve done in years past, but they quickly took over the freezer.  So we’ve been cooking them down and freezing the stewed tomatoes instead, which takes up a quarter of the room of the cored tomatoes.IMG_9626

Yesterday, our pot overflowed and I had to scoop lots of tomato water out.  Mr. Bread Maiden was wondering if it would be possible to use the tomato water in bread.  We thought it would complement my pesto bread, which I baked for last year’s Arlington County Fair.


I used my typical white bread recipe for the base, Ina Garten’s good white bread.  Where she calls for water and milk, I used the (cooled) tomato water instead.


After the dough came together, I knead it for a little bit since it has so much yeast, I knew it would rise quickly and I wanted enough gluten formation.  After 15 minutes, I re-shaped it so it would be nice and smooth. Then I covered the bowl and let it rise for two hours outside on my covered porch.IMG_9632

When the dough was ready, I divided it in two halves, one to be shaped into a babka and one to be shaped into a provitica, a shape I’d seen on The Great British Baking Show.

Here’s how I did the babka:


After rolling up the dough and cinching it shut, I used my pastry scraper to divide it in half and twisted the two halves together to form the pattern you see below.  This is what I did last year for my fair presentation.IMG_9636

For the provitica, I knew I had to roll the dough out way flatter for a bigger sheet.  You can see how I did it:


Sadly, I got a few tears because I didn’t knead enough.  Next time!IMG_9639IMG_9640IMG_9642

Once the dough is rolled up, coil it in the buttered pan and let rise another 45 minutes or so.  IMG_9643

Brush each dough with egg wash, then bake the doughs in a 375 degree F oven for however long it takes, 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown.


Pretty happy with how both of these turned out!

Now for the inside of the provitica:


How beautiful is that??  Worth the effort.

The tomato water added a nice warm hue to the dough, but I would not have noticed it unless I knew it was in there.  Still, I was a little worried because tomato water does not have the same compounds as milk, and I wanted to make sure the yeast was not overwhelmed by the acid.  Clearly, that was not a problem.  I may do this again!

Arlington County Fair 2017

FullSizeRenderSorry for the long hiatus, friends!

I didn’t stop baking, I just took a little break from blogging about it.  I hope this post will jump-start the creative process again!


The boys dropping off my breads at the Fair last year.  Look at how much they’ve grown!

This year, as I have off and on for the past six years, I submitted an entry to the Arlington County Fair’s baking competition.  Every year somehow I end up getting 2nd place, but it doesn’t bother me.  Mostly I enjoy the challenge and getting to compare my bakes against the other entries.  IMG_5058

The thing that was different this year was that my older son, Little Bread Dude, decided he wanted to enter the competition as well.  We brainstormed a recipe and decided on the Hide and Seek Muffins from Mollie Katzen’s amazing Pretend Soup cookbook for young children.  I made sure he knew he would have to make and do everything himself, and he seemed ready for the challenge!

So that left me trying to figure out what to make.  I’d been thinking about our employee bake-off and how to wow the judges of that competition, so I decided to use the County Fair as a trial-run for our employee bake-off.  If the Fair judges liked my recipe, I would use it again.

Based on talks with several friends, I decided to make s’mores kolaches.  It seemed easy; after all, it’s just a soft dough wrapped around chocolate and marshmallows. What could go wrong?


Plenty, as it turns out.  I tried whipping up my own dough with crushed graham crackers and ended up with a tough dough more resembling a pie crust than a soft bread dough.  I tried to make it work (see above) but it just wasn’t happening so I scrapped it and started over.  My second dough, based on this recipe, was much better.  I added half the amount of crushed graham crackers I had before, as well as extra molasses, honey and cinnamon and it worked out well.20914206_10101290108873347_1789835943340217018_nIMG_9517

Little Bread Toddler really liked them, ha ha!

Each step presented its own challenges. I gave up on the idea of the filled kolaches because the marshmallows would disappear into the dough when they cooked, leaving a large gaping hole.  I tried making chocolate mousse but it didn’t set.  The chocolate glaze ended up working well, but I wish I hadn’t put so much effort and time into that mousse!  Then there was getting the right amount of roast on the marshmallows.  I also rolled my kolache dough in egg, then cinnamon and sugar to get more graham cracker flavor.  I made enough kolaches (more than enough!) so I could pick the best ones to enter to the Fair.

Once my kolaches looked right, then it was time to help LBD with his muffins.  I set out the tools and ingredients he would need, then let him work.  I also took videos in case there was a dispute over whether or not he had made them himself.  I thought the biggest challenge would be using a knife to core the strawberries, but he was the most proud of cracking the eggs himself!IMG_9521

I was so proud of him and all his hard work!  We packed them up and woke up early the next morning to drive them to the Fair.  The whole next day I was so nervous to find out the results.  I didn’t really care about how I did, but I wanted to prepare myself to comfort LBD if he didn’t win anything.20914262_10101290108938217_1638133760716947780_n

Imagine our surprise when he won Reserve Grand Champion!


smiling from ear to ear

To explain a bit about the awards process: you enter the Fair under a category within baking.  Say, for example, muffins.  If you win first place in muffins, then your dish is judged among all the first place winners in your age bracket (LBD’s was 6 and under).  So he won among all the 6 and under bakers.  He was pretty excited about it, as you can tell.20915077_10101291463428807_4314104392145540382_n.jpg

And me?  Well, you guessed it:IMG_9537

Another second place ribbon.  But to me the best part of the Fair was that LBD enjoyed it and wants to enter again next year (in the 7 – 12 year old category).  We attended the awards ceremony on Sunday and everyone was so impressed to see a 6-year-old baker.  I hope he continues to enjoy it even if he doesn’t win.IMG_5059

***Edited to add*** I haven’t documented my entries every year, but if you want to read my other posts about entering the County Fair, here are the links:


Turns out I didn’t always win second place after all!