Monday, 31 May 2010

Red, White, and Blue Cream Cheese Braid

Bread Baking Day #30 is being hosted by Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. Her choice this month was Breads with a Twist.  What a neat idea!  I had a hard time choosing which one to make because there are so many yummy twisted breads to choose from.

This has been a crazy month for me, but I've been trying to make at least one bread from each of my bread-baking groups.  I almost ran out of time before I got to this one.

Never fear, I saved the best for last! My contribution to BBD #30 is a Rhubarb Cream Cheese Braid.

I thought about making the lemon braid because it sounded so good, but I wanted to make something in honor of Memorial Day.  I decided to use the Rhubarb Orange Jam I made earlier this month for the tigress can jam instead of lemon curd because the rhubarb jam is red.  With the red (rhubarb), and white (cream cheese filling), I almost had all of the colors of the U.S. Flag. Now, all I needed was the blue.  So, I added some blueberries on top before serving.

And, there you have it! My Red, White and Blue Bread for Memorial Day! Yummy!  Yummy!

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Braided Lemon Bread recipe.

Makes: 2 large loaves or 4 smaller loaves


  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  • All of the sponge
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt  (I used vanilla yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • egg wash for brushing braid
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on braid

Cream cheese filling

  • 2/3 cup cream cheese, softened (I used fat-free)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I used fat-free)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rhubarb jam


In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.

Instead of using my mixer, I chose to do this with my bread machine.

I added all of the wet ingredients first, beginning with the sponge. Then, I added the dry ingredients. And set the machine on the dough cycle. I had to add more flour while the machine was kneading the dough, because it was really hot and humid here.

I added a little bit of flour at a time until the dough was a soft, supple consistency. Then, I just let the cycle complete itself.  This made things so easy!  I was able to run some errands while I was waiting for it to finish.

Preparing the Filling

While the machine is doing it's thing, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients (except the jam) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. The problem with using fat-free cream cheese is that it doesn't get very soft so it wasn't smooth.  It was more like cottage cheese, but I decided not to worry about it.  Reserve the filling and jam until ready to fill the braids.

Shaping the Loaves

Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half.

I followed the recipe for the first loaf. 

Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10" x 15" rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier. Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the jam, leaving 1" free on all sides of the filling.

To form the mock braid, cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side. Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf.

Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd. Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Here is the finished first loaf.  It was huge.  It tasted delicious, but you couldn't really see the rhubarb and it just had a hint of flavor.  I wanted more flavor so...

I decided to do the second loaf a little bit different.

I started by cutting the dough in half again.  Then I rolled it out to a smaller rectangle. Instead of dividing it into 3 separate sections, I just spread the cream cheese filling down the middle.

Then, I spread the rhubarb jam over the cream cheese filling.  I used more cream cheese filling and jam this time to give it more flavor and color.

Then, I cut 1" crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections.

To form the braid, criss-cross the strips over each other down the length of the bread.

I had to do a little bit of tucking to make sure the jam wouldn't ooze out the end of the braid.

Then I covered the braid with wax paper and let it rise for about 45 minutes.

Now, it was time to bake it.  I brushed the loaf with the egg wash.

Then I sprinkled raw sugar over the top.

And baked it for 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees oven.  My oven is a little bit hot so I reduced it from the 375 in the recipe.

Here is one end of the finished loaf.

Here is the other end. 

It was delicious!  I gave the first loaf to my boyfriend.  He really liked that version!  I kept the second loaf. 

Thanks for visiting The Bread Experience Bread-Baking Blog. I hope you enjoyed your visit and will join me again next time.

Be sure to check out all of the fabulous breads in the
BBD #30 Roundup.

This bread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

Happy Baking!


Saturday, 29 May 2010

Grilled Chicken Tacos on Flour Tortillas

This month, the Artisan Bread Bakers made Flour Tortillas for the bread of the month. BOM (Bread of the Month) is a virtual bread-baking party hosted by Phyl Of Cabbages & King Cakes.  I've never made tortillas before so I was really looking forward to trying them.  I've also been wanting to try the Grilled Chicken Tacos featured on the cover of the May Issue of Food and Wine.

Yesterday marked the start of Memorial Day weekend here in the States and it's typically a big weekend to grill out.  So I decided it would be the perfect weekend to try these Grilled Chicken Tacos. Well wouldn't you know it - it rained last night!  Not to worry!  I grilled the chicken inside instead of outside on my gas grill. They still tasted good.

Here's how you make the tortillas...

Flour Tortillas

Makes 12 tortillas
Recipe from
Artisan Bread Bakers on Facebook 


  • 3/4 pounds (2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
  • 5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, or a mixture of the two  (I used vegetable shortening)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • about 3/4 cup very warm tap water



Make the dough.
Combine the flour and fat in a large mixing bowl. Work in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated.  I used my pastry tool to cut in the butter,
then finished working the dough with my fingers.
Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork; the dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass. If all the dry ingredients haven't been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary).
Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency -- definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.
Rest the dough.
Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball.
Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).

Roll and griddle-bake the tortillas.
Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle: Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.

Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). 
After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don't overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp.
Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer. Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other. 

Now to make the Grilled Chicken Tacos...

Grilled Chicken Tacos

Makes: 12 Tacos
Recipe from the May 2010 Issue of
Food and Wine.


  • 3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds, skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed (I used homemade flour tortillas instead)
    Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (I didn't have this so I used sharp cheddar instead)
  • Jarred salsa verde and chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes and cilantro for serving.

Making the Marinade for the Chicken

I started the process about 6 hours before I planned to serve the tacos.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with the lime juice, water and salt.  I didn't have any fresh tomatoes so I used some homemade salsa I made last Fall using fresh tomatoes. 

Transfer the puree to a large resealable plastic bag and add the chicken thighs.  Seal the bag, pressing out the air.  Refrigerate the chicken for 6 hours to overnight. I forgot to take pictures of this part, but it's pretty easy.
Grilling the Chicken

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan.  Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and pat them dry.  Brush with the oil and sprinkle with the paprika and parsley.  Grill over medium high heat turning occasionally until the chicken is lightly charred and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a work surface and let stand for 5 minutes.  Cut the chicken thighs into strips.  I cut it into chunks instead of strips. 

Serve with the warmed tortillas, cheese, salsa verde, avocados, onions, tomatoes and cilantro. I didn't have any fresh tomatoes and we used the avocados for salsa for our chips so I just served the tacos with homemade salsa along with some onions and green peppers.


The tacos were delicious!  These flour tortillas are so easy, I'm going to try them again. I also plan on making some corn tortillas soon!

Happy Baking!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Grissini - Italian Bread Sticks

Grissini is another one of the breads that was randomly chosen for the Mellow Bakers group this month.  These Italian Bread Sticks include a good bit of olive oil to provide richness and roasted garlic for exceptional flavor.  They're also really easy to make!  I liked them; however next time, I'll add more garlic - a bunch more garlic.



Slightly adapted from: Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.

Makes: 24 Bread Sticks


  • 4 1/8 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/8 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast


I started the process by roasting a head of garlic according to the instructions from King Arthur Flour on how to roast a garlic for the most effective flavor and highest yield.

I increased the yeast in the recipe based on the comments in the Mellow Bakers Forum.  If you want crispier bread sticks, then you might want to reduce the amount of yeast used.

My sons and I prefer our bread sticks to be more bready than crispy so adding the extra yeast helped in this regard.  If you want crispier bread sticks, then the 1/2 teaspoon is probably just fine.

This dough is very easy to manage by hand.  I used my Danish dough whisk instead of a mixer and it worked great.

After mixing all of the ingredients, I transferred the dough to the counter sprinkled with flour and kneaded the dough until it was soft and supple. This dough was really nice to work with. 

Then I transferred the dough to a bowl sprayed with spray oil, covered it with plastic and let it ferment for an hour.

After the dough had doubled in size, I divided it into two pieces and spread each piece into a rectangle.

Then I cut the bread sticks into thin strips using my pizza wheel.

The first batch was plain because I forgot to put the sesame seeds on top.  These bread sticks also ended up a little bit crispier than the second batch.

I remembered to put the sesame seeds on the second batch. And, I didn't bake these quite as long so they turned out a little fluffier.

I liked both versions but next time, I think I'll cut them just a little bit wider and bake them so that they're not crispy.  That and the extra garlic should make for some really delicious bread sticks!

These bread sticks were so easy and didn't take much time so I'll definitely be making them again.  They taste really good with homemade marinara sauce.

The Mellow Bakers group was started by Paul at
Yumarama. We’re baking breads from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.

Happy Baking!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Whole Grain Mesquite Buns and Pizza at the Mountain: HBinFive

This month has been crazy busy for me so I didn't get to the HBinFive May 15th breads: Hearty Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, Turkish Style Pita Bread and Whole Grain Garlic Knots.  I was going to make some of the breads for the June 1st Bread Braid, but I've already made the whole wheat sandwich loaf so I decided to try something different.

As you may remember, in April, I posted about Southwestern Focaccia/Pizza made with mesquite flour and other flours. Peter with Casa de Fruta saw the post and was very interested in finding out how the mesquite flour would perform in other types of bread. He asked if I would be willing to test the flour on regular bread and I agreed.

I started with the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes Master Formula and changed it up a bit.  I halved the recipe and used 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup of the mesquite flour.  The rest of the ingredients -- yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten, and water -- remained the same.

Whole Wheat/Mesquite Hamburger Buns

I made buns with half of the dough.  The dough smelled really good and the mesquite flour gave it a unique flavor so I thought it would taste good with grilled hamburgers.  It rained the night I made the buns so we decided not to grill out.  Instead, I had a fried egg and cheese on one of the buns.  I didn't take a photo but the combination was really good.

For comparison sake, here is a photo of the Soft Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns I made in January using the Soft Whole Wheat Dough.  As you can see, these buns are golden brown whereas the ones made with a little bit of mesquite flour have a different coloring. They also have a different flavor as you can well imagine.  I liked them both.

Pizza at the Mountain

For the rest of the dough, I was going to try some whole grain and mesquite knots but opted for pizza instead.  As I mentioned, my life has been really hectic this month. Finding time for myself much less baking has been a challenge.  In fact, I was so stressed, I didn't even feel like baking - which is very unusual for me.

So to relieve some of the stress, we went strawberry picking last Saturday and then decided to go camping for the night.  We live near a very unique Stone Mountain so we decided to camp there for the night.  The pictures aren't the greatest but hopefully, you'll get the gist.

Here is the view of the mountain from our campsite. 

Since I still had half a batch of the whole wheat mesquite dough, I decided to take it with me camping.  I've been trying to make grilled pizza on a camping trip for some time now and it seemed like something always prevented me from doing it. I decided to give it another go.  That's the beauty of the Artisan Bread and Healthy Bread in Five minutes' method.  Once you have the dough in the refrigerator, you have some flexibility as to when you make the bread (or pizza in this case). To reduce the number of items I had to carry with me, I rolled the dough in olive oil and placed it in a plastic bag in the cooler to transport it to the mountain. 

Here is another view of the lake from our campsite. Very nice and very beautiful.

It was late when we got to the camp site on Saturday so I made the pizza for breakfast on Sunday. When it was time to grill it, I spread the dough out in a rectangle on a piece of aluminum foil to make sure it would fit on the grill.

Once the coals were ready, I transferred the dough to the grill.  This was tricky because the picnic table where I was preparing everything was a little bit away from the grill.  I was just hoping I didn't drop it on the ground.  I didn't!

I let the pizza dough cook for a little while, then realized it wasn't working too well since the grill didn't have a lid. 

So to improvise, I used another sheet of aluminum foil to cover the top.

The bottom of the pizza was finally done so it was time to flip it over.  Well, this was another tricky process because the heat of the grill had made the dough stick to the aluminum foil.  In hind sight, I should've spread the aluminum foil with more olive oil.

We carefully peeled the pizza off of the aluminum foil, flipped it over and placed it on another piece of aluminum foil (which had been spread with olive oil).

Then I placed the pizza on the grill to bake the other side before adding the toppings.

For the toppings, I used homemade marinara sauce, tomatoes, broccoli, green peppers, and onions.  The marinara sauce was frozen when I put it in the cooler but by the time I was ready to use it, it had thawed out.

I had chopped the vegetables and placed them in plastic bags so it made the pizza-making process really easy at the camp site.

When the other side was ready, I placed the toppings on the pizza

Then sprinkled it with mozzarella cheese.

Then it was time to transport it to the grill again.  I really didn't want to drop it this time because the dog was waiting with bated breath in case I did.  Fortunately, it made it to the grill.

I baked the pizza for awhile but the cheese wasn't melting since the grill wasn't enclosed.  To help the process along, I used the back of my pizza peel to keep some of the heat from escaping so that the toppings would actually bake through. 

The pizza finally did finish baking and this is what it looked like. 

I would like to come up with a better (different) solution for the next time I grill pizza on an open grill, but in a pinch, this system worked out okay.  It just took awhile and my arm got tired of holding the pizza peel over the grill. It was also rather hot! However, the finished product was worth the effort.  It was delicious!

Thanks for joining me in the bread-baking blog.  Check out the blog BigBlackDog to see all of the breads in the June 1st Bread Braid roundup.

Happy Baking!

About the HBinFive Baking Group

The HBinFive Baking Group, started by Michelle of Big Black Dogs, is baking through all of the breads in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. For more information on the HBinFive baking group, check out BigBlackDog.

Here are some additional bread-making resources:
You might enjoy some of the other breads that have been featured in the bread making blog.