Double Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Summer is finally and officially here! The 4th of July has come and gone which means summer is here to stay and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Last week I moved (again) into a house that is going to be really great after a year of less-than-ideal living situations.

The sun is finally out and it’s been hot. The kind of hot that’s almost but not quite uncomfortable. Until you get a sunburn, in which case the heat is painful the next day.

Sunburns and sweat and moving aside, I can’t wait for the rest of this summer. It’s going to be great. If you’re looking for a good way to kick off your summer, this bread is a good one. Yes, you’ll have to turn on your oven, but this bread is pretty much a giant cinnamon roll studded with fresh summer berries.

This bread starts off with a yeast dough. We’ll mix the yeast with some butter and a couple other things to activate it, and then form a dough and let it rise.

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While the dough rises, we’ll get the berries ready and make the buttery, cinnamon-y spread that will go on the inside of the bread.

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The dough will be nice and puffy after it rises.

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We’ll roll it out, spread the filling over it, and sprinkle the berries on top.

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This is where things get a little tricky. We’ll roll up the dough into a log, rolling tightly so the berries don’t all end up at the far edge of the dough.

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Then the log gets sliced in half and each half get turned up towards you to face you.

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Then, the two halves will get twisted together.

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Finally, the twisted dough will get shaped into a circle, and you’ll press the ends together so it doesn’t all fall apart.

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Then, quickly but gently so the dough wreath doesn’t unravel, pick the wreath up and place it into a cast iron skillet, springform pan, or cake pan. Bake, and enjoy all the hark work you just did!

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This bread is rich and dense without being too sweet. The butter-cinnamon filling adds a good amount of indulgence and the berries add little bursts of juice with every bite. This one does take a bit of work, but it’s more than well worth it.

 

Double Berry Cinnamon Bread

From Joy the Baker

Makes 1 loaf

 

For the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil

 

For the filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…feel free to use 3 or even more – I couldn’t find any raspberries)

1 large egg, beaten

 

Make the dough:

Combine the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the warmed milk, and then stir in the egg yolk and melted butter. Whisk the mixture until thoroughly combined. Let the yeast mixture sit for 5 minutes. It should foam and froth, which means the yeast is activated properly. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the milk/yeast mixture over the flour and knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured, clean counter, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and a little damp, but not too sticky. Form the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl greased with olive oil, and cover. I like to cover it lightly with plastic wrap and then put a clean kitchen towel on top. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about an hour.

While the dough rises, mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together for the filling and set aside until later.

When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan, cast iron skillet, or a normal 9-inch cake pan and set it aside, too.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead it twice. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be precise — get it as close as you can and make sure the two longs sides are the same length and the two short ones are the same length.

Put the filling on the dough in a few blobs, and spread it over the dough evenly, leaving about 1 inch of dough on all sides. Place the berries over the cinnamon spread, and press them into the dough a little bit.

Now, beginning from one of the long sides of the dough, roll it into a log. Be sure to tuck it under as best you can, and force the berries into the roll if you need to. The berries will make the log a little lumpy. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving about an inch of dough uncut at the top. If there is excess dough at the bottom with no filling in it, trim this dough (I didn’t do this but wish I had). To braid the dough, carefully lift the left strand over the right strand. Repeat this until you have used all the dough, straightening and adjusting the braid as necessary. Press the ends of the two strands together. Bring the two ends of the braid together, and press together.

Quickly and carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared pan. Brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

 

 

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Black Pepper Biscuits (with bacon and eggs)

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Mmm, biscuits. Definitely not my area of expertise when it comes to baking. Not that I’m an expert in anything baking-related…but if I were, it definitely wouldn’t be biscuits. I think this is the second time I’ve ever made them. Not like cookies, which I’ve made dozens and dozens of when it’s not even Christmas time. For sure not like banana bread, a loaf of which was practically always camped out on the kitchen counter, because somebody (*cough*little sister*cough*) couldn’t keep up with her banana eating. And certainly not like cake, which I make every time someone I know has a birthday. Including myself, to the dismay of my poor grandmother.

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But the thing about biscuits is you can make a meal out of them and feel less bad about it than making a meal out of cookies or banana bread or cake. Which I absolutely encourage on occasion, but sometimes, you just need some protein with your butter and flour. Usually on weekend mornings. These biscuits are the perfect thing to make on a lazy Sunday. They don’t take much time at all – less than half an hour total. You can fry up the bacon and eggs while they’re baking. Then slice them up, add more butter if you’re a total sucker for butter like I am, and enjoy this wonderful grease-fest of a breakfast. And then take a walk. Or a nap. They both work wonders.

 

Black Pepper Biscuits

Adapted a teeny bit from Honey & Jam

Makes 12

 

3 cups all-purpose flour (she recommends White Lily…I used generic brand)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 (1 stick) cup cold salted butter

1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. You can also bake these in a cast iron skillet if you have one – which is probably much preferred to a baking sheet.

Grate the butter into a small bowl on the large-holed side of a cheese grater. Put it in the freezer. (I can’t believe I’ve never thought to grate butter for scones or pie dough before…it really does work well.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in with a fork. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough 5-7 times in the bowl, and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough down until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Fold it over and pat it down again. Fold the dough over a second time, and then cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or floured glass, or rectangles with a bench scraper or sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet or in the cast iron skillet. Top with more freshly ground black pepper. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you’re not going to use all the biscuits at once, freeze the dough in individual already-cut biscuits before baking. Bake them directly from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

 

For each person you’re serving:

2 slices thick cut bacon (I used pepper bacon, because I’m a pepper fiend)

1 egg

 

While the biscuits are in the oven, fry your bacon to desired doneness. Transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain most of the grease, and then fry your egg in the bacon fat. Seriously. Do it. It’s the weekend.

Cut a biscuit in half and top with bacon, egg, salt and pepper, hot sauce if you want. Maybe some green onion or parsley. Anything goes.


Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

ImagePizza crust is one of those mega-polarizing topics that really doesn’t seem important until you’re sharing a pizza at a restaurant with friends and there’s no chance of a consensus on whether to get thin crust or thick crust. I stand firmly on the thin crust side of the debate. Because not only does a little crispiness make just about anything a little better, but mostly because pizza is really about the toppings. Another one of those foods where the ratio is important.

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(okay, maybe I did roll this out a little too thin, but it still held up beautifully)

Why drown the toppings in crust? Or sauce or cheese for that matter. When it comes to pizza, I think a little goes a long way for every ingredient. Nothing overpowers the whole thing, nothing gets completely brushed under the covers of too much crust. Thin crust gives everything (including itself) a chance to shine. You really get the best of all worlds when you go for the thin crust pizza. Seriously.

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This crust is delicious. It’s nice and thin but doesn’t get soggy at all, which is key in thin crust land. For toppings, we did tomato sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, caramelized onion, artichoke hearts, basil, and a little goat cheese. Everything in moderation. It was perfect. But the great thing about pizza dough is that it’s essentially a food canvas. Do whatever you want!

 

Homemade Thin Crust Pizza Dough

From The Kitchn

Makes 2 10-inch pizzas

 

3/4 cup (6 ounces) lukewarm water

1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose-flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

 

Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix with wooden spoon or your hand until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn the dough, along with any flour remaining in the bowl, out onto a clean work surface. Knead about 5 minutes, until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to the counter and your hands like gum, knead in more flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth.

At this point, you can let the dough rise until you need it or until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. After rising, the dough will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 or as hot as it will go for at least half an hour before baking the pizza. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven before turning the oven on.

When ready to make the pizza, get two 12-inch wide pieces of parchment paper. Cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or sharp knife. Working one piece of dough at a time, make a large disk with your hands and place it on the parchment.

Use the heels of your hand to press and stretch the dough gently until it’s 1/4 inch thick at most. If you want it extra thin like I did, use a rolling pin. If the dough starts shrinking back you can let it rest for 5 minutes and then start working it again.

Top your pizza dough with whatever you want. Using a pizza peel or the bottom of a cookie sheet, slide the pizza (with the parchment) onto the pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, just cook it on a baking sheet. That’s what I did. No one will know the difference.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating and removing the parchment halfway through. When it’s done, the crust will be golden brown. Cook until your cheese is melted and a little toasty.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before slicing.

 


Banana Bread with Streusel Topping

ImageBanana bread is one of those things that I’ve always felt pretty indifferent about it. It’s good, but not great. I have a piece, but it never leaves me wanting more. I probably don’t need more than one piece at a time anyway, especially because it’s probably going to be slathered in butter or nutella or something equally delicious and fattening, but that’s not the point. The point is, banana bread and I have never really been good friends, but definitely not enemies. We’re somewhere between acquaintances and frenemies.

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Wow, did I really just liken my lack of thoughts one way or another towards banana bread to the weird awkward middle ground of that quasi-relationship you have with that person you see on campus ALL the TIME, and you’re not sure whether to wave or nod or look away or shoot them a dirty look or….so yeah. Yep. That comparison just happened, and then I let it go way too far. Whoops.

Anyway, this banana bread and I could totally be friends. Are totally friends. It’s not too rich. Definitely not too dense. Not too banana-y. And it has a streusel topping. Streusel! What’s not to like? This recipe is BFF material.

It starts out like any other banana bread: a little soupy, a little lumpy, and on the way to something tasty.

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And then there’s streusel! Don’t let this picture give you a bad first impression…it might be unflattering but it doesn’t matter, this is what takes this banana bread to the next level of awesome.

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Mmmmmmm…..I don’t think I’ll ever be making banana bread sans streusel again.

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Tessy’s Banana Bread

From Shutterbean via Lucinda Scala Quinn’s book Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

Makes 1 loaf (I doubled it, because I had enough bananas for that, and also doubled the streusel for each loaf, because in the picture, there wasn’t enough streusel to cover the loaf, and we can’t have that, can we?)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup buttermilk (you can substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt if you want)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 large banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the topping (this is doubled from the original. I don’t think it’s too much, but feel free to halve it back to its original amount):

2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a loaf pan (I used an 8×4 – the smaller size – but you could use a larger one, just watch the baking time as it might decrease).

In a large bowl, whisk together the four, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and buttermilk. Add in the egg and beat for 1 minute. Add in the mashed banana and vanilla and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and make sure it’s distributed evenly.

To make the streusel topping, mash together the butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until combined. I mixed it with my hands. Distribute the topping evenly over the unbaked bread batter. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut and serve from the pan.