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Just like everyone else, I also have a long list my tried and tested [and improved!] banana bread recipes but that does not stop me from tinkering with a new recipe whenever I have some ageing bananas around. While I am not adverse to nuts in my banana bread, I tend to sidestep walnuts in favor of pecans or hazelnuts. Similarly, instead of chocolate chips, I will invariably resort to chopped dark chocolate or even Nutella because they melt to form larger pockets of chocolaty goodness. This particular recipe is part of the Bon Appétit collection of baking essentials and gets its signature taste from the earthy tones of unrefined dark brown sugar. A liberal dose of mascarpone cheese helps to keep the texture moist without the batter turning dense or sticky which, I believe, can only be the hallmark of a ‘best’ banana bread.

BA’s BEST BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup mascarpone or Greek yogurt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 large very ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 8 ½” x 4½” loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment.

  • Leave a generous overhang on long sides. Whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

  • Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the brown sugar, mascarpone, and butter in a bowl.

  • Beat till light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition.

  • Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

  • Add bananas and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate and walnuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

  • Smooth top and bake bread until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, for 60-65 minutes.

  • Transfer pan to a wire rack and let bread cool in pan 1 hour. Turn out bread and let it cool completely.

Bon Appetit’s Best Banana Bread

Welcome to our January Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this striking braided Classic Challah Bread, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

Classic challah is a soft loaf made with all-purpose flour (or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours) and enhanced with both eggs and a sweetener (either sugar or honey). It is similar in taste and texture to Greek tsoureki or Swiss zopf, but unlike those breads it’s dairy-free. Traditionally served at the Jewish Sabbath and on most holidays (save Passover), challah and its many incarnations are a part of Jewish cuisine and culture in much of the world.

What distinguishes challah from other soft white breads is its striking appearance; the loaf is a shiny, deep-mahogany brown, thanks to a coating of egg glaze before going into the oven. The dough for this loaf is wonderfully smooth and supple, making it an ideal candidate for braiding. The simplest way to go is a three-strand braid; but feel free to try the slightly more complex four-strand braid, or even a six-strand braid, which makes a stunning presentation.

CLASSIC CHALLAH

Ingredients:

For the Dough

1/2 cup lukewarm water

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey or golden syrup

2 eggs, room temperature

4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kitchen salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

For the Glaze

1 egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon cold water

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients and knead, by hand or bread machine, until it forms a soft, smooth dough.

  • Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until puffy. It will not necessarily double in bulk.

  • Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide the dough into pieces.

  • The number of pieces will depend on the type of braid. The traditional challah is a three-stranded braid.

  • For a fancier presentation, make a six-strand braid. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 20″ long.

  • If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover it and rest for about 10 minutes, then resume rolling.

  • The short rest gives the gluten a chance to relax. Gently pick up loaf and place it on a lined baking sheet.

  • Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until it’s very puffy, for 90 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature.

  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 375°F. To make glaze, whisk together egg and water.

  • Brush glaze over  en loaf. Place the baking sheet atop another baking sheet to insulate the bottom crust.

  • Put the challah in the lower third of the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Tent loosely with aluminum foil.

  • Once you have tented the challah, bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes till the loaf looks and feels set.

  • Remove bread from oven, and place it on a rack to cool. Store any leftover bread well wrapped in plastic.

  • Challah tends to dry out after a day or so, but it can always be toasted or made into grilled sandwiches.

KAF Challenge: Classic Challah

Welcome to our Holiday Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake one of our favorite holiday recipes, this stunning Cinnamon Star Bread, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

Picture1

You want to bake something extra-special for the holidays. A real show-stopper, as delicious as it is gorgeous. Not only is this loaf gorgeous; it’s your best cinnamon bun dream come true. Multiple layers of cinnamon-sugar encased in tender bread beg you to pull apart, slice, or nibble. Each warm and aromatic bite is better than the last.

CINNAMON STAR BREAD

For the Dough

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup instant potato flakes

1/4 cup nonfat milk powder

3/4 cup+ 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kitchen salt

For the Cinnamon Filling

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Method:

  • Sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer to prevent any lumps.

  • Combine all dough ingredients and knead by hand to make a soft, smooth dough.

  • Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rise for 60 minutes, until doubled.

  • Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and rest for 15 minutes.

  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of dough into a 10-inch circle.

  • Place circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on surface.

  • Sprinkle with 1/3 of cinnamon-sugar, leave 1/4″ of bare dough around perimeter.

  • Roll out a second circle the same size as the first and place it on top of first circle.

  • Repeat layering process with egg, cinnamon sugar, dough, leaving top circle bare.

  • Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cookie cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide.

  • Cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layer.

  • Using two hands, pick up 2 adjacent strips. Twist them away from each other twice.

  • Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with 8 pairs of strips.

  • Pinch pairs of strips together to create star shape with eight points. Remove cutter.

  • Transfer star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush with egg and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.

  • Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

  • Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 10.

KAF November Bakealong Challenge

 

 

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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