Archive for the ‘Sweet Bread’ Category

Maddie’s Best Ever Nut Bread

26 May 13

This is from the wonderful girl that was my first love many (many) years ago. She is right, this is pretty good stuff.

{Herself Sez: Himself has impeccable taste. Maddie is a sweetheart and VERY married for many years! :-)}

The internet is wonderful for finding and keeping in touch with people that you haven’t seen for nearly 50 years.

660 g sugar (3 cups)
190 g Crisco, plain (1 cup)
9 g vanilla (2 tsp)
4 ea eggs, large
630 g flour (4 1/2 cups)
11 g salt (2 tsp)
10 g baking soda (2 tsp)
g water (1 3/4 cups) AND <<==
40 g buttermilk powder (1/4 cups)) <<== OR
2 cups
160 g chopped walnuts (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

This method assumes a decent mixer like a Kitchenaid. You can mix by hand if you like.

Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Now those who have been paying attention know that I seldom use shortening, I usually use butter. This is one of the places that you do not want butter. You would not get much, if any, lift. Your nut bread would be very dense and heavy. I think the best way to handle the Crisco is to get the bars. You probably already know the best way to measure out of a can, but I’ll review for you. If you need a cup of water or butter or anything else of a like consistency, then take a two cup measure and put in a cup of water. Begin adding the shortening until the water rises to the two cup mark. Pour off the water and you have a cup of shortening. As the philosopher said: “Eureka!” Of course, it is much easier to just weigh things.

Add the buttermilk and mix briefly. Now things will be better if you have some real buttermilk. I don’t keep it around, but I do keep a good grade of baker’s buttermilk powder. You can get it from King Arthur or your grocery may carry some. Bob’s Red Mill is a decent brand. At any rate, either use the fresh buttermilk or the powder and water. You will get a slightly lighter loaf with real buttermilk.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated. Add walnuts and mix just enough to incorporate.

Pour into three greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. I do use unsalted butter for the lube, but you can use what you like.

Bake at 350°F for one hour. Cool on a rack.

Like any other nut bread, this works well naked, spread with butter, served with ice cream, whipped cream, or whatever. Also works nicely toasted. This stuff also freezes rather nicely.

{Herself Sez: Sorry about no pictures – have to take some next time Himself makes this bread!}


Banana Bread

27 September 12
300 g bananas – large and ripe, mashed (1cup) – (about 2 large bananas)
450 g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
5 g baking soda (1 tsp)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)
1 stick unsalted butter
220 g sugar (1 cup)
2 large eggs
100 g milk (1/3 cup)
4 g lemon juice (1 tsp)
75 g chopped nuts (1/4 cup)

The simple way is to put the bananas in the mixer bowl first, then the rest except the nuts. Mix with a paddle on low speed until smooth. This only takes a minute or two with a good mixer.

Now the old (and harder) way is to cream the wet ingredients together, then sift and mix all the dry ingredients together, and add about a cup at a time to the wet mix, blending well, until all the dry stuff has been added and blended. You can use a mixer or go by hand for this method.


bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Add the nuts and blend them in. Herself is a big fan of pecans, but suit yourself. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 standard pan.

Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour or until center springs back when pressed lightly.

I think everyone knows that this is what you can do with over-ripe (blackened) bananas. Fortunately, this is also pretty good dessert. Goes well heated with some butter, or room temp with whipped cream.

Danish Pastry

30 March 12

Danish pastry is just another laminated dough which can be made from any laminated type recipe, such as this. Or you can use the croissant dough of your choice, it’s all the same. I’ve given a recipe for croissants before. This is not quite as rich and is more suited to stuffing in my opinion, but follow your own taste buds.

Pecan and Maple Danish

Pecan and Maple Danish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note that you will work this dough cold at all times. Keep the kitchen cool. If your hands get warm cool them off with a bit of ice or rinse with cool water. It is not necessary to have a metal or stone counter to work this stuff. My countertop is wood and works just fine.

To make the basic dough:

—–Butter Center—–
unsalted butter, slightly softened (1-1/2 cup)
38 g bread flour (1/4 cup)

—–Dough Outer—–
525 g flour (3-1/2 cups)
110 g water (1/2 cup)
2 pkgs. yeast
1 egg
180 g cold milk (3/4 cup)
80 g sugar (1/3 cup)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)

With a decent mixer making the dough is not hard. Without, you will need lots of elbow grease.

—– Butter Center —–
Get the butter just warm enough to be plastic, but not really soft. Cream the butter until it is soft and silky then add the 38 g (1/4 cup) of flour and blend completely. Put down a sheet of waxed paper on the counter and plop the butter into the center. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper and press it out with your hands to make a very neat and precise 9” x 11” rectangle. Be very fussy about getting it accurate and really square. No – I’m not just being obsessive – it does matter. Slide onto a sheet pan and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

—– Dough Outer —–
Mix together the 525g (3-1/2 cups) flour, water, yeast, egg, milk, sugar, and salt. Mix 3 minutes 1st speed, and 3 minutes 2nd speed. You may use either bread flour or all-purpose flour. I think that bread flour makes a nicer crust. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.

Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. When you turn the dough out it will be soft, but somewhat stiff with the cold. Roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle. Once again be somewhat fussy about the size and squareness. Place the butter on top of the dough offset such that 3 of the sides have a 1/2” border of dough. Roughly 1/3 of the dough will be exposed at one end. Starting with the exposed dough end make a 2 part book fold. In other words fold the exposed end over the butter, which should be about 1/3 of the length, fold again so that the finished piece is 1/3 the length of the original. Be fussy and make sure all is aligned and square. Put the dough on a jelly roll sheet or cookie sheet, cover, and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes take the dough back out and roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle, do the double book fold, and put it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Repeat twice more – a total of 4 times folded. Kinda’ like Japanese or Damascus steel. A whole bunch of thin layers of dough and butter alternated. This is why this kind of thing is called laminated dough.

Egg Wash:
Beaten egg yolk with a teaspoon of cold water.

Now you can make croissants if you like, roll out into a rectangle 15” wide by 1/8” thick and as long as it winds up. Cut in half so that you have 2 strips 7-1/2” wide. Cut triangles with a base of 4-1/2” and a length of 7-1/2”. Roll the croissants from the base toward the point and then form into the crescent shape that gives them their name. Brush them with an egg wash if you want them shiny. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes until golden.

Some other shapes are cockscombs, pinwheels, envelopes and braids – well, false braids work nicely.

Roll pastry into 16” x 18” rectangle. Cut longwise into 4 strips. Spread about 2 tablespoons down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over and seal. Cut into 3 pieces. Notch the folded side of each piece 7 times. Bow the pieces on the sealed side so that the notches open up. You can refrigerate overnight. Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush with egg and bake 5 minutes, drop the oven to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes.

Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Make a 4” slit from each corner toward the center. Put whatever filling you like, about 1 tablespoon between each 2 slits, 4 tablespoons per pinwheel. Fold over every other point of the corners into the center. This will partly cover the filling and form the pinwheel shape. It may help to wet the tips to make them stick better. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Put 2 tablespoons of filling in opposite corners and fold like an envelope. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

False Braid:
One of the niftiest ways of doing things. Cut the dough book in half and roll the half into an 8” by 16” rectangle. You will need about 1 cup of filling. Lightly mark the strip into thirds lengthways. With a pastry knife start at one end and cut off a triangle about 1” wide at the side and to the top at the other end. Should be about 30° or so. Cut the remainder of the pastry into 1” strips on each side.

The little drawing should make things a bit clearer. Lightly mark the dotted lines so you can keep things even. Cut off and discard areas ‘X’. Or make them into mini croissants. Cut the strips in the areas marked ‘Y’. Cover the area ‘Z’ with filling. Starting at the end that you cut the ‘X’s from alternately fold the strips over to the opposing side, which will cover the filling nicely. Roll each end over, moisten and pinch closed neatly. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

1-1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar. ½ stick melted unsalted butter. A few drops of lemon juice. 1 tsp vanilla. Add water as necessary to make a smooth glaze to drizzle over the pastry. Can be used over any of the pastries.

Fillings are multitudinous. A few are as follows:

Almond Filling:
1 egg white
1/2 cup almond paste
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cardamom Filling:
6 Tbs soft butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup currants
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Macaroon Filling:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup finely crushed almond macaroons
1/2 tsp almond extract

Pecan Filling:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp rum extract

Your favorite jam, jelly or marmalade if they are good and thick can be used for filling.

Portuguese Sweet Bread

4 June 11
Yeast bread dough, ready for proving

Image via Wikipedia

I first saw this stuff in the James Beard’s book Beard on Bread. Herself was making it back when. As in the old back-breaking way. When she expressed a desire to have it again I told her that I’d look into it… and update to a more bakerly approach. I don’t have any patience with that old feel your way through school of thought. Precision! That way you can bang it through with little hassle and get consistently repeatable results.

You will notice that this is a lot like kulich or brioche. In fact – most of these sweet butter and egg yeast breads look a good bit alike and are handled in similar fashion. There are, however, differences in taste and texture which make each unique and delightful.

725    g bread flour (4-3/4 cups)
230    g sugar (1 cup)
1    stick unsalted soft butter
125    g water (1/2 cup)
125    g milk (1/2 cup)
3     eggs
18    g salt (1 Tbs)
2    pkg yeast
1     egg, well-beaten, for brushing

Weigh everything except the last egg into the bowl and mix 3 minutes on 1st speed and then 3 minutes on 2nd speed. You will have a rather wet and sticky dough, but don’t worry – this is correct. Into a buttered bowl to rise. Cover with plastic wrap.

Bulk rise for 1 hour, then fold. Divide in half. The choice of shape is yours. The traditional loaf is the standard round loaf. If that is what you want then lube up a couple of 9” pie pans and set the rounded loaves in them. This dough is wet enough that it will spread out too far if it is not supported at first. There other way to do it is to use standard 8.5” x 4.5” x 2.5” standard loaf pans well lubed.

Whichever shape you use cover with plastic and let it rise. This is SLOW rising stuff, so don’t freak out when it doesn’t jump up like normal dough. In fact, it will benefit from a couple of hours rise, then retarding overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out the next morning and let it come up to room temp. You only want this to rise up to 75% or so of the pan height. It will really balloon out when it hits the oven.

Oven temp 350°F. Brush the tops with the last egg, well-beaten. Oven time will be 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on shape. This is not a good thump test bread, the best way to tell when it is done is a thermometer, which will be at 205°F when it is just right. The top will usually be a dark brown from the egg wash.

Dump onto a cooling rack and let it cool before cutting.

{{Herself Sez: As long as I’m posting this for Himself, I’ll add a comment or two. His version here is delicious. I do prefer the round loaf, though, and Himself will make it that way next time. If you look at the Brioche and Kuliche recipes (if not posted, then to be posted shortly), you will be able to see the similarities. But there are differences, and each of these breads tastes somewhat different from the other two, and each has a different texture. Thank you, dear, for editing this recipe so I can make it – should it become necessary.}}

Almond Biscotti

7 May 11

Legend has it that the twice baked treat that we call biscotti originates in the Italian city of Prato and should be called biscotti de Prato. Prato is in Tuscany – kinda’ North Central Italy. The original jobbies were supposed to be this nice almond version. These may go way back. We do know that something like these was being made in the medieval period. The first “official” recipe was somewhere around the 1800’s or thereabouts. People who like biscotti are nuts about this version. It is not hard to make at all.

{Herself sez: Well, pics will have to come later – we ate them up before I could get my camera out and set up! They are THAT good!}

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
230 g sugar (1 cup) – can be reduced to 200 g easily, or less by taste
3 eggs
3 g anise or vanilla extract (1 tsp)
320 g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
8 g baking powder (2 tsp)
dash salt
80 g chopped almonds (1/2 cup)
milk for brushing
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

You should use a mixer for this unless you have more energy and strength that good sense. You can use a flat beater or a dough hook. If you want to be really efficient use the flat beater until you add flour and then switch to the hook.

Cream the butter and sugar until nice and smooth. Use less sugar if this is too sweet for you. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for a few seconds. Anise may be the more traditional flavor if you have it. Remember vanilla wasn’t available until the conquest of Mexico. Interesting that both chocolate and vanilla come from the new world. Add all the rest except the almonds and mix together. Lastly add the almonds and mix briefly to evenly distribute. Traditionally you just use plain old almonds – not blanched or anything else. You don’t really have to chop them, when you slice the stuff you will cut the almonds anyway. Follow your own preferences.

Use the biggest pan that will fit in your oven. If you don’t have a good sized pan then use two smaller pans. Cover the pan with foil and then butter the foil quite thoroughly. Divide the dough in half and then spread it on the pan with a good space between. You will wind up with two strips 12” x 3” or 10” x 4” depending on the size of your pan. You will find it easier to just pat into place rather than trying to spread with a utensil. Keep them as far apart as your pan will allow and as square as possible. You don’t want the two strips to melt together. This will all make sense after you do it the first time.

Brush the top with milk and sprinkle well with sugar. You will probably use about 1/4 cup of sugar or a bit more when it is right. Bake at 375°F for around 20 minutes. You want a nice golden brown and it should be firm to touch.

When nice and brown remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 300°F. Slide the foil and pastry onto a wire cooling rack. Let it cool for 15 minutes. You have to be very careful with these steps as the pastry is rather fragile here. After it has cooled for the required time you need to get the pastry off the foil. The best way that I have found is to place the foil/pastry to the edge of the counter with the strips parallel to the edge. Support the strip from the bottom as you slide the pastry off the counter while peeling the foil down. When you have finished the first strip turn the foil around and do the other. This is the time to be very careful or you will crack the stuff. Slice the pastry with a good bread knife at a 45° angle. If the knife is not good and sharp you may rip the almonds around.

Put the slices with a cut side down on an ungreased baking sheet. You will do much better to use a jelly roll pan (the kind that had a lip all the way around). If you use a real non-stick cookie sheet the slices are likely to go sailing as it takes almost no movement to get the slice sliding. Bake them at 300°F for 10 minutes or so on one side, turn them over and do another 10 minutes. Just turn the oven off, crack the door, and let them cool for a while in the oven. After things have cooled off store them in a really airtight container.

Since these are so bone-dry they are traditionally served with something to dunk them in. Coffee and tea are well thought of. The old Italian tradition was orange juice after dinner. Try it – the reason most stuff (food wise) gets to be a tradition is because it is good.

Monkey Bread –

29 March 08

This sticky sweet yeast bread dessert was first popularized in America by the women’s magazines of the 1950s. Nancy Reagan brought about a resurgence of popularity when she served it at the White House during the Reagan Presidency.Most people have had it made from canned biscuits. The real thing is far superior and not at all difficult.

This is wonderful fresh from the oven. It is not bad reheated.

First, make the dough:

305 grams milk – hot but not scalded. (1-1/3 cups)
57 grams unsalted butter (4 Tbs), cut into pieces
50 grams sugar (1/4 cup)
1 package yeast (do not use rapid-rise)
55 grams 110°F water (1/4 cup) (for blooming yeast)
2 large eggs, room temp
750 grams flour (5 cups)
14 grams salt (2 tsp)

I suppose you could use the paddle on your mixture for the first couple of steps, but I’m too lazy to wash something else, so I just use the dough hook for the whole thing. If you don’t have a good mixer then have fun with the mixing and kneading.

Proof the yeast in the warm water. Mix the milk, sugar and butter 2 minutes low speed. After the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm add the yeast mix, eggs and stir on low speed for 1 minute. Add the salt and the flour Mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Mix on second speed for 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Butter up a good sized bundt pan (at least 12 cup). Don’t use anything else, a tube pan will not work, nor will anything else that has a removable insert.


1/3 cup brown sugar – most use light
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
good handful of chopped pecans (around ½ cup)

Heat up the brown sugar, butter and cream, stir continuously. Just as it comes to the boil, pour it around the bottom of the bundt pan evenly. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the glaze. Be sure to get nice, even coverage.

The dough should be risen by now. Cut off golf ball sized pieces and roll into balls. Set aside.


handful of chopped pecans (about 1/2 cup)
¾ stick melted unsalted butter (5 to 6 Tbs)
Enough sugar to coat (about ¾ cup)

Pour the melted butter into one dish and the sugar into another. Roll each dough ball in the butter and then the sugar and then place them into the bundt pan.

When you are about halfway up the pan sprinkle the pecans. Keep adding layers of coated balls until you reach 2/3 to ¾ of the way up the pan.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 45 minutes. Flip the bread out onto a cooling rack. There will probably be some coating and nuts in the bottom of the pan. Spoon out onto the bread immediately.

Let it cool for at least 20 minutes and then enjoy while warm.

Herself Sez: O Yeah! Made with dark brown sugar, oodles of pecans and lots of butter – yummm!! Fingers get sticky and greasy – you just gotta lick ’em off! And then it takes a washcloth to  take care of your face!! This is wonderful stuff! But I warn you, a whole loaf is just too much for two people – even 1/2 a loaf is too much for the two of us. We usually end up giving away about 3/4 of the loaf to friends (the grandchildren are mostly non-sugar kids at this point, so we don’t even offer it to them). The Ol’ Curmudgeon only makes it when we have people in mind to give the majority of it to – so it won’t go to waste (or to waist!).

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