I can probably bake cupcakes in my sleep but the thought of baking bread gives me nightmares. After three failed attempts I had almost given up on breads. But like with anything worth having, persistence pays. So does common sense!
Lessons learnt so far- start with simple, basic recipes. Pay attention to technique and the most important one, have patience! Baking bread is so much more rewarding than baking a cake (did I just say that?!) I truly enjoy the process. If you have not done this before, I urge you to give it a shot. It is so worth it!
Focaccia is a great place to start. It’s simple and superbly flavorful. You can play around with your choice of herbs and spices. It is a very versatile bread too – you can make sandwiches or just dip it into your favorite soup for a very comforting meal.
You can also bake it in any shape you like. I divided my dough in half after the first rise. Rolled out half into a rectangle to be baked on a sheet tray and sectioned the other half and baked it in my cast iron wedge pan
Yield – One 9 x 14 inch rectangle
- Warm water (between 110 and 115 F) – 1 and 1/3 cup
- Honey – 2 tsp
- Active dry yeast – 1 package (0.25 ounces)
- All purpose flour – 3 and 1/2 cup + extra as needed
- Extra virgin olive oil – 1/4 cup plus more for drizzling on the bread
- Grated parmesan – 1/3 cup
- Sea salt – 2 tsp
- Fresh thyme – 6 sprigs (you can use dry too)
- Take warm water in a bowl. It is advisable to measure the temperature with a thermometer. The optimum temperature for yeast is 110 to 115 F. Add honey to water and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast on top and mix briefly. Set this aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast blooms and the water turns foamy
- Use a stand mixer or hand mixer with the dough hook attachment, run it on low speed and gradually add the flour, olive oil, salt and parmesan to the water and yeast mixture. Once it’s all added in run the mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes
- If after 5 to 7 minutes, the dough doesn’t pull away from the sides and gather around the dough hooks, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time till it comes together. The dough should not be too sticky
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gently bring it together into a ball
- Grease a large bowl and dump the dough ball into it. Now flip the dough ball in the bowl so that the entire ball now has a coating of oil
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel or greased cling film and leave it in a warm place to rise. This takes about an hour and the dough will almost double in size
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll it out into a rough rectangle till it is between 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick. Place it on a greased baking tray, cover with a greased cling film and let it rise again for 15 to 20 minutes
- Preheat oven to 400 F or 204 degree Celsius
- After the dough has risen, poke deep holes all over it with your finger. Drizzle olive oil generously over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle thyme and sea salt over the entire dough
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. The focaccia will be slightly golden and will easily slide around on the tray when done
- Slice and serve with more olive oil
Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven
That’s right! Baked, not fried.
I’ve been wanting to make a baked version of these insanely addictive treats for quite some time now. My mom absolutely loves them and I so wanted to bake her a batch while she was here, visiting us. But every time we went out to eat she would skip the entree and order a plate of churros for herself. I did not want to double up on those calories so I kept delegating this recipe to the bottom of my baking to-do list.
Then I found the perfect motivation. I made a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s Hot Fudge Sauce. This stuff is indeed the bomb. I want to put it over everything! And what goes better with chocolate sauce than churros?
I mean, just check this out!
It’s easy to make – half an hour from beginning to end – and it’s something you can easily whip up for company. Best part is, no special equipment needed. Just a saucepan, spatula and some elbow grease!
Let’s get started
Yield – 24 Churros each 4 inches long
- All purpose flour – 1 and 1/3 cup
- Large eggs – 3 (at room temperature)
- Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup (If using salted butter leave out salt from the dry ingredients)
- Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
- Granulated sugar – 2 tbsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Water – 1 cup
- Vanilla extract -1 tsp
- Granulated sugar with 1 tsp of nutmeg or cinnamon for dusting finished churros – 1/3 cup
- Preheat oven to 400 F or 205 degree Celsius
- Add butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt (if using) and water to a medium sized saucepan and place it on medium heat. Stir occasionally till the sugars and butter melt completely
- Let the liquid come to a boil and then take it off the heat
- Add in the vanilla extract and flour to the hot liquid and stir vigorously till a smooth dough is formed and it begins to gather around the spatula
- Make a well in the center of the dough and and the first egg. Stir vigorously again till the egg is completely incorporated. It takes a couple of minutes. You will see the dough getting smoother and shinier after the egg is mixed in
- Mix the other two eggs one at a time stirring thoroughly after each addition. Here’s a visual guide. The image on the right was taken after the three eggs were added
- Fill the dough into a piping bag fitted with a wide open star tip and pipe the dough in straight lines on a parchment lined sheet tray. I piped them about 3.5 to 4 inches long
- Spray or lightly brush the piped dough with oil. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes
- When done the churros will be crisp and golden brown on the outside and will slide around easily on the tray
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes
- Take granulated sugar and nutmeg (or cinnamon) in a wide bowl and mix. Toss warm churros in the sugar till they are lightly coated. Serve!
Notes – These churros are best eaten fresh, right out of the oven. You can dip them in any sauce of your choice – melted chocolate, salted caramel, fudge – all work great! If you want to make these churros in advance, cool them and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, warm them in a preheated oven at 350 F or 180 degree Celsius for 5 minutes and then toss them in the sugar – nutmeg mixture
Recipe adapted from Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt
When your toddler refuses to get within 10 feet of anything that even remotely resembles a berry or dried fruit, you grumble a bit, blame it on her daddy’s genes and then, if you’re like me, you get baking. I find loaf cakes are excellent for camouflaging all kinds of those ‘too healthy to eat’ ingredients that your toddler and/or husband actively avoid. That’s how this Fig Loaf came to be.
It’s extremely easy to make. It goes excellently well with tea or coffee and it makes a great breakfast too! I like it lightly toasted with some chocolate spread and sprinkles on top. Now tell me that didn’t entice you!
This recipe requires you to make a fig puree or ‘jam’. You then add this puree to the batter which gives the loaf cake its pure fig-ey taste. It is a simple process that takes about 10 minutes start to finish.
If you want to forget about the loaf cake and just settle down with a bowl of this and a spoon, that’s okay too. I won’t mind.
UPDATE! I tried baking this recipe with Aquafaba, which is basically water in which chickpeas have been cooked, with fantastic results. Just substitute the egg in this recipe with 3 tbsp of aquafaba and follow the recipe as is. It turns out perfect as you can see from these mini loaves
- All purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
- Baking soda – 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Egg – 1 large
- Oil – 1/3 cup (Any neutral oil will do. No olive oil)
- Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup (Can increase to 1 cup for more sweetness)
- Buttermilk – 1/4 cup
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/3 cup
- Chopped dried figs – 1 heaping cup
- Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
- Lemon juice – 1 tsp
- Water – 1/4 cup
- Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
First we make Fig Puree
- In a small saucepan combine figs, brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence and cook over medium low heat. Once the sugar has melted add the water to the figs and cook them down, stirring occasionally. Make sure the figs don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
- Once the figs turn mushy and begin to break down, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Puree the fig mixture, using very little water if necessary, to form a chunky ‘jam’. Set aside
Now onto the bread
- Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius
- Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside
- In another bowl whip the egg using a hand blender till it turns frothy
- Add the sugar to the egg and whip till the mixture becomes very pale and fluffy. This takes 2 to 3 minutes
- Now add the oil and the fig puree to the egg-sugar mixture and whip till it is thoroughly combined
- Next add half the flour mixture and whip briefly to combine
- Add in all the buttermilk and whip again
- Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and whip till it is all incorporated
- Using a spatula gently mix in the chocolate chips and make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter
- Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan till it is 2/3 full
- Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, check on the loaf cake. If the top is too dark, tent the loaf pan with foil and continue to bake till it is done. This ensures that the top doesn’t burn while the cake bakes
- The loaf cake is done when a tester inserted into it comes out clean or with very few crumbs attached.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack
- Gently invert the pan onto the cooling and let the cake slide out and then allow it to cool completely
NOTES – I used a 7.5×3.5×2.5 inches loaf pan and had a bit of batter left over that made 3 small cupcakes. Every oven is different. Keep an eye on your loaf cake after the 30 minute mark to make sure it doesn’t over bake. Store the loaf cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Then store it in the fridge.
This recipe is based on the Fresh Fig Bread recipe over at thespruce.com
Biscotti has always been popular. With me. I found it puzzling then, that I had not bothered to dedicate even a single post to the perfect coffee companion. The situation had to be remedied.
I intend to bake a batch every few weeks in the name of recipe testing and if I’m able to hold on to them long enough to take a few pictures, I intend to blog about them too!
I was so excited with the way this batch turned out that I immediately invited a couple of friends over for a session of coffee and taste testing. Huge success!
When, after downing a couple of biscottis each, they showed no signs of slowing down I grew alarmed. I had to snatch the tray out of their hands and escort them to the door. HA! That saved the day and this blog post.
It’s super simple. Just cream butter and sugar together, add the eggs and whip until fluffy.
Add the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips and mix just until combined. Shape into a log and bake.
Cool and then slice the log.
Bake again till done. Don’t let the double baking scare you. It’s easier than it looks.
Make it but don’t invite any friends over. At least not the first time.
- Salted butter at room temperature – 6 tbsp (If using unsalted butter add 3/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients)
- Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup
- Large eggs – 2
- Vanilla extract – 1/4 tsp
- Instant coffee powder or strong brewed coffee – 1 tsp
- All purpose flour – 1 and 1/4 cup
- Almond flour – 3/4 cup
- Cocoa powder – 1/2 cup
- Baking soda – 1 tsp
- Semi sweet chocolate chips – 3/4 cup
Yield – 20 cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 degree Celsius
- Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs in one at a time and whip well after each addition
- Mix the instant coffee powder with a teaspoon of water and add it to the sugar-butter-egg mixture along with the vanilla. Whip briefly to combine
- In a separate bowl add the all purpose flour, almond flour, cocoa powder and baking soda and combine with a fork or whisk
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three batches mixing well after each addition
- Fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula
- Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or foil or a silpat mat. Dump the dough onto the tray and shape it into a log approximately 12×4 inches
- Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. The log will develop cracks on top and should be firm to the touch
- Cool the log on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes
- Carefully slice the log at an angle into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices. You’ll get approximately 20 slices. It is okay if the insides are still a little soft
- Transfer the slices back to the cookie sheet carefully. Place them cut side down in rows and bake in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake again for another 5 minutes until the slices are firm
- Transfer them onto a cooling rack to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container
Recipe adapted from the chocolate biscotti recipe at Chocolate Chocolate and More
This one is for you and only you. No sharing necessary. In fact it is best eaten in solitude, at the end of a long day, when you want to reward yourself for being the awesome superhero that you are.
Wait till the kids are sound asleep. Tackle all your chores for the night. You really want this to be the absolute last thing you do before you hit the bed. Then spend just 20 minutes putting this together. It’s totally worth it. I have made it a gazillion times already and it never gets old!
As easy as 1-2-3. Tossed chopped apple in a butter sugar mixture.
Make the crumb topping.
Top apples and bake!
Soft, gooey apples in a sweet caramel sauce topped off with a buttery crumble. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’re in dessert heaven. It’s a magical combination of comfort food and guilty pleasure.
If you must share, this recipe can be easily doubled.
- Apple chopped into small pieces – 1/4 cup
- Salted butter – 1/2 tbsp
- All purpose flour – 1 tsp
- Milk – 2 tsp
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
For the crumb topping
- All purpose flour – 2 tsp
- Oats – 1 tbsp
- Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
- Baking powder – a pinch (approx 1/8 tsp)
- Cold salted butter – 1/2 tbsp
- Preheat the oven to 375 F or 190 degree C
- First the topping – Mix all the dry topping ingredients in a small bowl and add the butter. Using a fork or your fingers gently mix the butter into the dry ingredients. It should all be evenly combined but you should still be able to see bits of butter. Refrigerate this mixture while you get the apples ready. This will make sure the butter in the crumble mix doesn’t melt
- Chop apple into bite sized pieces and set aside. I like to peel the apple first
- Melt butter in the microwave in a small ramekin or oven safe cup. This is what I have and I love them!
- Add all purpose flour, milk, vanilla and sugar and mix until smooth. This turns into a delicious caramel sauce
- Add the apples to this mixture and toss to combine
- Top with the crumble mixture
- Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes
- The apple crisp is done when the crumble topping is nice and golden and you can see the sauce gently bubbling near the surface
- Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Top with ice-cream and dig in!
My toddler is a cookie addict. If she could have her way she’d have cookies for breakfast every single day. Now, I could get behind that sentiment too but I’m sure I’m just one chocolate chip cookie away from busting out of my new pair of jeans. Sigh!
I’ve been looking high and low for a low cal cookie recipe that also tastes delicious. I wanted a light cookie but just didn’t want it to taste like it was diet friendly – you get me?
This cookie fits that job description perfectly! It’s light, delicate, sweet, crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside. Gluten free. No butter. No oil. In other words – a dream come true!
Bonus – it’s unbelievably easy to make.
Just mix almond flour, sugar and zest in a bowl
Whip egg white and vanilla extract mixture to soft peaks
Fold egg white into flour mixture and scoop onto a cookie sheet. See those little orange flecks? Beautiful flavor!
Although these cookies are fantastic by themselves, something about their pointy ends made me want to dip them in dark chocolate. Yeah! That was a good move!
The cookies were gone in under 24 hours You’ll definitely want to double this recipe.
- Blanched Almond Flour – 1 cup
- Granulated sugar – 3 tbsp
- Orange zest – 1/4 tsp approx (zest of a small orange)
- Large egg white – 1
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- White distilled vinegar – 1/2 tsp
- Chocolate chips – 1/3 cup (optional)
- Unsalted butter – 1/2 tbsp (optional)
Yield – 18 small cookies
- Preheat oven to 325 F or 162 degree Celsius
- In a mixing bowl combine almond flour, granulated sugar and orange zest and set aside
- Take vinegar in a separate (clean!) bowl and with a paper towel wipe down the entire bowl with the vinegar. This makes sure your egg whites whip up well
- Add the egg white to this bowl along with the vanilla extract and whip with a whisk or hand blender till you get soft peaks
- Add this egg white mixture to the almond flour mixture and combine gently with a spatula. It will look crumbly initially but it will come together
- Scoop a teaspoon of the dough and using a second teaspoon form a quenelle shaped cookie by going back and forth between the two spoons. I was not too successful, as you can see. You can just form small balls of the dough and flatten them slightly on the cookie sheet
- Space the cookies about an inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes
- The cookies will not spread. The cookies are done when they turn golden brown around the edges
- Allow them to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely
- Optional glaze – Melt the chocolate chips and butter over a double boiler or in the microvave. Stir until smooth. Dip each cookie into the chocolate and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet till the chocolate sets
These cookies are of course, best eaten fresh but you can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days. Anything longer than 3 days, I would recommend storing them in the refrigerator as they tend to get soft.
Recipe adapted from Almond Cookies over at Taste Love and Nourish