Wednesday, 29 February 2012

No-Knead Coconut-Chocolate Bread

February is Chocolate Lover’s Month. What better way to celebrate than with Chocolate Bread. And, it just so happens that Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives chose Bread with Chocolate for Bread Baking Day (BBD #47). 

It didn’t take me too long to decide what bread I wanted to make. I chose another one of Jim Lahey’s No Knead Breads. The way he described his experience creating this Coconut-Chocolate bread made my mouth water. He was trying to recapture his childhood passion for the coconut-chocolate combo in Mounds bars. I believe he succeeded. This bread melts in your mouth. I always loved that combination myself.



Coconut-Chocolate Bread

Makes: One 8-inch round loaf; 1 1/2 pounds

Adapted from: My Bread, The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey


  • 280 g (2 cups plus 2 T) bread flour
  • 100 g (2 cups loosely packed) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 150 g (1 cup) semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 4 g (3/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 g (1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 280 g (1 1/4 cups) cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water
  • bran or additional flour for dusting (I used spelt bran that I froze when I milled and sifted the spelt flour for Sprouted Spelt Bread)



Stir together the flour, half of the coconut, the chocolate, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the water and using a Danish dough whisk, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough.  This will take about 30 seconds.  Cover and let it sit at room temperature until the dough is more than doubled in size, about 12 to 18 hours.



After the first rise, dust a work surface with bran or flour.  Scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.  Lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. You can use a spatula or floured hands for this part. Tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.



Place a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) on your work surface and dust it generously with bran (I used Spelt bran), then sprinkle it with 1/2 cup of the remaining coconut. I barely used 1/4 cup of coconut for this part.



Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. Lightly sprinkle the surface with the remaining 1/2 coconut. I only ended up using about 1/4 cup for this part as well since I used shredded coconut, not the large flakes.



Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours.  The dough will be ready when it is almost double in size.  You can poke it with your finger to test.  When it holds the impression, it is ready.  If it springs back, let it rise another 15 minutes or so.



One-half hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Place a covered 4 1/2 to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.  I used my new Bread Dome to bake this bread.



Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it.  Unfold the towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up.  Be careful!  The pot will be very hot! 



Place the cover on the pot and bake the bread for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, about 20 to 25 minutes more.  It didn’t take my bread this long before it turned chestnut.  I think I baked it a total of 40 minutes. As you can see the coconut will burn so be careful!



Use a heatproof spatula or pot holder to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

I took this bread to a get together last night and it was received very well as you can imagine. It is divine!  This is the best chocolate bread I’ve ever made.  It is actually sweet.  It is bread, but it could pass as a dessert in my opinion.



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





Thanks to Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives, who chose Bread with Chocolate for Bread Baking Day (BBD #47) and to Zorra of  1x Umruhren Bitten, who founded Bread Baking Day back in 2007





Happy Baking!


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Baking Biscotti Picanti with the Bread Baking Babes

Happy Anniversary to the Bread Baking Babes!  For their 4th Anniversary celebration, the Bread Baking Babes made Biscotti Picanti. This savory biscotti sounded so good that I wanted to join in the baking fun again this month. 

Biscotti Picanti (also known as Sicilian Spicy Rusks) is a very addictive snack bread. I can see why Lien chose this as the anniversary bread. I’ve been enjoying it plain and dipped in homemade marinara.



Biscotti is twice-baked bread and this delicious biscotti is made with all-purpose and semolina flours and flavored with dry white wine, white sesame seeds, anise seed and olive oil. Oh my goodness!  I told my taste tester I would save him some, but I’m having a hard time keeping my promise. 


Biscotti Picanti (Sicilian Spicy Rusks)

Makes: About 36 rusks (depending on how thin you cut them)

Check out Lien's post for more details.

The recipe is from Anissa Helou's Savory Baking from the Mediterranean. She graciously gave us permission to feature it on our blogs.


  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 package = 7 grams)  I used instant
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
  • 1 ⅔ (± 225-255 g) cups AP-flour (+ extra for kneading and shaping)
  • 1 ⅔ (240 g) cups semolina flour
  • ¼ cups (25 g) aniseed
  • 3 TBsp (28 g) white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup + 2 TBsp (150 ml/130 g) extra-virgin olive oil (+ extra for greasing the bowl)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
  • 115 ml water



Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup/60 ml warm water and stir until creamy. I used instant yeast so I skipped this part. I added the yeast to the dry ingredients and the additional 1/4 cup water with the liquid ingredients.

Combine flours, aniseed, sesame seeds, yeast, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.



Add the olive oil in the well and rub into the flour with your fingertips until well incorporated.





Add wine and 3/4 cup (115 ml) warm water and knead briefly to make a rough ball of dough. Knead this for another 3-5 minutes or so.



Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.



Knead for another 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.



Shape into a ball and let rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered with greased plastic, for 1 hour in a warm place (or until doubled).





Divide the dough in 3 equal pieces.





Shape each piece into a loaf about 12”( 30 cm) long. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and leaving at least 2 inches/5 cm between them so they can expand.



Take a dough cutter (or sharp knife) and cut the loaves into 1 inch/2,5 cm thick slices (or if you prefer them thinner in 1"/1 cm slices). Cover with greased plastic and let the rise for about 45 minutes.



Meanwhile preheat the oven to 500ºF/260ºC. Bake the sliced loaves for 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 175ºF/80ºC.



Separate the slices and turn so that they lie flat on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for about 1 hour more, or until golden brown and completely hardened (if not totally hardened, return to the turned off oven to let them dry more).



Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.



Thanks Lien for choosing this delicious biscotti.  It’s definitely a keeper.  Well, that is, if it lasts long enough to keep around.  It didn’t around my house.

BBBuddies feb 2012 (4 year anniversary) klein


Happy Baking!


Sunday, 26 February 2012

No-Knead Pizza Dough and Party for Two

I saw a version of this Pizza on the cover of the March 2012 issue of Bon Appétit and couldn’t wait to try it. It’s made with No-Knead Pizza Dough from Jim Lahey’s new book.

I confess, the main reason I wanted to make this pizza, besides the fact that it looked so good and I wanted to try something new, is because I have a new taste tester that I wanted to impress with my bread-baking prowess. We were texting back and forth one night, and I texted him about the pizza dough and some of the other features in the magazine. After a while, I said “You hungry yet?” and he said, “I know what ur up to silly girl…” 

Well, it worked… He came over to help me make pizza the other night.

As it turns out, my new taste tester is pretty handy in the kitchen. I think he’s a foodie wannabe, but he scoffed at that. At any rate, he was a big help with the pizza. I got pretty distracted as I sometimes (uh, always) do, and he kept me from completely burning the first pizza. I think it was because he was hungry and didn’t want to lose his dinner.  We had fun and the pizza tasted good so that’s what matters.



I liked this pizza dough. It was really easy to make. It’s a wet dough which makes it chewy and bubbly. It becomes crispy when baked under the broiler.

No Knead Pizza Dough

Adapted from: Tomato and Stracciatella Pizzas from Bon Appétit, March, 2012

Makes: Six 10” x 12” Pizzas

We made several substitutions to the ingredients suggested in the original recipe mainly because I couldn’t find the ingredients and our taste buds wanted something different.


  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
  • 4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • Marinara or crushed tomatoes (I used homemade marinara)
  • Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil



Making the No-Knead Dough

Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon (or Danish dough whisk), gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. 



Transfer to a large clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  



Let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room). 

Here is the dough after 18 hours.



Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle.



Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.



DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for 2–3 hours before shaping.


Making the Pizzas

During the last hour of dough's resting, prepare the oven: Arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place a pizza stone on the rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°–550°, for 1 hour.

Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10"–12" disk.


When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. I used parchment paper.

I par baked my dough disk for a couple of minutes. Then I removed the parchment paper before adding the toppings.

Place dough disk on prepared peel and spread about 3 Tbsp. crushed tomatoes or marinara over dough. Place mozzarella slices over the top and any other toppings.  We added pepperoni, sliced red onions and green peppers before baking and the rest of the ingredients after it had been baked.



Slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5–7 minutes. Using peel, transfer to a work surface. 



Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, and olive oil. We also added shaved parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt. Slice pizza. Repeat, allowing pizza stone to reheat under broiler for 5 minutes between pizzas.



I was going to scale down the recipe and only make a couple of dough balls, but then I decided to make all six. I froze three of them for use later, and we made pizza out of the other three balls. We ate one pizza and I sent one home with my friend and kept one for myself to enjoy another day.


Happy Baking!


Monday, 20 February 2012

Bloomin’ Onion Bread and Dinner for 8

My monthly Dinner for 8 group got together this past weekend and of course, my contribution was bread. I had asked the hostess what type of bread she wanted me to bring, and she said “anything with cheese in it”.  Well, when she said cheese, I knew just what I wanted to make.

I had seen this Bloomin’ Onion Bread a few weeks ago on The Girl Who Ate Everything, and thought it was the neatest thing. I was just waiting for the right opportunity to make it. Bingo! 

The hostess set such a beautiful table and put the bread right in the middle. We ate it with our fingers. This was a pretty casual group, but I think the next time I make this bread, I’ll cut it differently so the pieces are a little bit easier to pull off.



I used this Classic Sourdough Bread to make the Bloomin’ Onion Bread. You can use store bought sourdough bread if you must, but that takes some of the fun out of it if you ask me. Plus, this is a blog about bread so using store bought bread just wouldn’t do.



A funny thing happened along the way …

On Saturday, the day of the event, everything was going along just fine. The dough needed to proof for several hours in the proofing basket so I ran a few errands and got some pine straw to put down in my backyard. 

That’s when the fun began. I have a husky-mix dog named Charlie that likes to help me with the yard work. At least I think that’s what he thinks he’s doing. He probably thinks it’s time to play. Anyway, the dough was still proofing so I threw a couple of bales of the pine straw over the back fence. Charlie got excited and grabbed one of the bales by the twine and ran off with it. Yes, he is that strong!  He shook it until all the pine straw was loose. Charlie had seen me remove the twine from the bales before so I guess that’s what he was doing. He’s really smart. Too smart for my own good I always say.

This is Charlie … he had me at hello!


While Charlie was running around the back yard with the pine straw, I was hollering at him to put it down, but to no avail. So I ran in the backyard to save the pine straw and my sanity. I started picking up the pine straw that was strewn all over the yard. I picked up some from under the deck and turned around to take it over to where I wanted to use it. About that time, I ran smack dab into the side of the deck. It almost knocked me out. I didn’t know what hit me, but man it hurt. I managed to finish what I was doing then went inside to get some ice. I was sure I was going to have a black eye.  I ended up with a nice welt under my left eyebrow, but no black eye. Thank goodness.

Although my head and my eye were pretty sore, I was able to finish the bread and make it to the dinner party.  The bruise is hidden under my bangs so if I hadn’t shared my story, no one would even know, but now everyone knows.


Bloomin’ Onion Bread

I got the idea for this bread from Christy from The Girl Who Ate Everything, who got the idea from Anne from The Changing Table and she told 2 friends and she told 2 more friends and so on and so forth. No, I have not totally lost my mind, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about or haven’t seen that commercial, then all I can say is that you had to be there…

Makes: 1 Large Loaf

Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything and The Changing Table



  • 1 unsliced loaf sourdough bread
  • 12-16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green onion
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust. This can be a little tricky going the second way but the bread is very forgiving.


Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Insert cheese slices between cuts. I only had about 8 oz of cheese.  It probably could’ve used more.



Combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Drizzle over bread.



Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap the bread and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.



The dinner party was a lot of fun and the Bloomin’ Onion Bread turned out to be a big hit! We enjoyed it with different kinds of soup. We topped off the evening with a game and some delicious cake. Yum!


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


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Happy Baking and Eating!


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Classic Sourdough in a La Cloche

This is the third part in my series on drying and restarting a sourdough starter. The first part was learning how to dry a sourdough starter. The second part focused on reactivating a dried starter. This post focuses on making basic sourdough bread with the reactivated starter.

I decided to test my reactivated starter by making a classic sourdough bread. I had a specific purpose in mind for this bread, and it needed to be round, so I opted to make it in my La Cloche

I used the method and formula outlined in Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood. Their process is a little bit different from the other sourdough breads I’ve made, and I was interested in finding out how the bread would perform (and taste).  The whole sourdough phenomenon never ceases to amaze me so I’m always curious about different methods and techniques.



La Cloche Sourdough

Makes: One 2 1/8-pound (1010g) French loaf

Method adapted from: Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood.


Active Culture

  • Warm water
  • 90g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour

Culture Proof

  • 180g (1 1/3 cup) of all-purpose flour, divided
  • Warm water

Final Dough:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) culture from the culture proof (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water (I used Spring water)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/4 cups (595 g) unbleached all-purpose flour



In the book, The Woods contend that warming and feeding a refrigerated sourdough for a couple of hours is not enough to prepare it for use in bread so they utilize a “culture proof.”  This sounded reasonable to me, but it is an extra step so I’ll need to do some further testing.  For now, I like the result.

1) Fully Active Culture

To begin the process, you need to make sure you have a fully active culture.  If your culture has been sitting in the refrigerator for longer than a week, the book contends that you need to reduce the acidity level. My reactivated starter is fairly new and had been fed recently (in the past week), however, the acidity level seemed to be fairly strong. So I followed their process for reducing the acidity level before feeding and continuing the process.

To reduce the acidity level, when you take the culture out of the refrigerator, fill the jar with warm water while stirring vigorously. Leave slightly more than 1 cup (240 ml) in the jar and discard the excess.


Feed the culture in the jar with 90g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour and enough water to restore the consistency of thick pancake batter.  The jar should now be slightly more than half full. My jar wasn’t quite half full, but it worked anyway. I placed some tape on it so I could see when the volume increased by 2 inches.



Proof at 70 to 75 degrees F (21 to 24 degrees C).  The temperature in my house was about 65 degrees F so I put my culture in the oven with the light turned on for a little while (maybe 15 minutes), then turned the oven light off for the remaining 3 1/2 hours or so.

If the culture has been in the refrigerator for less than 2 weeks, it should become fully active in about 2 to 4 hours when proofed at room temperature.  As soon as it forms foam and bubbles that increase the volume by about 2 inches (5 cm) in a quart (liter) jar within 2 to 4 hours of the last feeding, it is fully active and ready for use in the culture proof.  If the culture has been refrigerated for more than 2 weeks, you may need to repeat this procedure.  As you can see in the photo below, the culture was foamy and the volume had increased by 2 inches. It was ready for the culture proof.



2) Culture Proof

Start with the fully active culture. Stir it vigorously and put half in another jar.  To each jar, add 90g (2/3 cup) of all-purpose flour and enough water to maintain the thick pancake-batter consistency (approximately 1/2 cup/120 ml).   Proof for 8 to 12 hours.



I started the culture proof at 12pm.  I placed the jars in the oven with the light off for 3 hours, then I turned the light on let them proof for another 6 hours with the light on. According to the book, this process results in a good concentration of both yeast and bacteria, producing good flavor, leavening, and sourness.*

This is what the culture looked like after 9 hours. It’s ready to be used in bread.


* When you make the loaves, if the dough seems quite active, but the loaves do not rise or they retract when baked, it is probably due to the acidity level in the dough. If the loaf is unusually sour, you’ll know this is what happened.  Of course, some people prefer really sour sourdoughs.  I don’t happen to be one of them.


3) Dough Proof:

Pour the amount of culture needed into a mixing bowl. The remaining jar can be fed and placed in the refrigerator to use another day. Add the water and salt to the culture and mix well.



Add the flour a cup (140g) at a time until the dough is too stiff to mix by hand.  I used my Danish Dough Whisk until the dough was too thick to stir, then I used my hands in the bowl to finish mixing it.



Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny.



Proof the dough overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature, about 70 degrees F (21 degrees C), in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. 



During this time, the dough should double in size.  My dough proofed from 9:15pm to about 11am the next day.  The temperature was lower in my kitchen so I let it proof longer.



4) Loaf Proof:

Use a spatula to gently ease the dough out onto a floured surface.  Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.  If the dough flattens a lot during this time, knead in additional flour before shaping it into the desired shape.



This is where I deviated from the directions. I let the dough rest for a few minutes, then I shaped it into a rough ball, covered it with plastic and let it rest for about 20 minutes.



Then I placed the dough ball, seam-side up into a floured proofing basket and covered it with plastic wrap.



I let the dough proof for 4 hours until it had doubled in size.  I placed it in the oven with the light turned off for this phase.



5) Baking the Loaf:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).  There is no need to place a baking stone or steam pan underneath because the La Cloche acts as the brick oven.

Gently transfer the loaf to the La Cloche. Fortunately, my loaf slipped easily out of the proofing basket. It didn’t stick at all.  I use a combination of rice and all-purpose flour sprinkled in the basket and this seems to help keep it from sticking.



Slash the loaf with the desired pattern of choice. I slashed my loaf in a criss-cross pattern. There’s a reason I chose this pattern, but you’ll have to wait until my next post to find out. 



Place the lid on the La Cloche and bake the loaf for 30 minutes at 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). 

Remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).



Continue baking the loaf for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is brown.



6) Cooling and Slicing the Loaf

Remove the loaf from the dish and let it cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.



This bread had a beautiful and crispy crust.  I didn’t take a shot of the crumb because I didn’t want to slice it yet.  Like I mentioned earlier, I had a special purpose for this bread.  I let it cool for about an hour or so, then I proceeded with the next phase in the life of this bread.

The next phase in the life of this bread was turning it into Bloomin’ Onion Bread.  It’s a fun bread that you ought to try. 


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Happy Baking!