Everyday Soft French Bread

Recently, my friend’s husband made this wonderful bread. It was so delicious, she ran over to give us a few slices to sample. Lucky me! 🙂 She also shared the recipe, of course. This bread is completely different from a classic crusty baguette. It is soft, tender, and quite dense. The dough is more manageable and it can also be made from start to finish in a single day.

The recipe was adapted from The French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis. The texture and flavor of this loaf are reminiscent of my husband’s favorite sourdough sandwich bread, which also includes milk and butter in the dough. Both this loaf and the sourdough sandwich bread seem to be resistant to becoming stale- if they’re not eaten right away. 😉

Yield: One 18 by 3-inch (45 by 7.5 cm) loaf

For the Bread:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 325 g to 360 g (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur), plus more for dusting
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Glaze:

  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp whole milk
  1. Scald the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, just until it has tiny bubbles around the edge of the pot.
  2. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or to a large bowl.
  3. When the milk is slightly cooled (and no longer feels hot), sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let sit until some of the yeast has bubbled up to the top of the milk, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the salt, stir, and slowly add half of the flour.
  5. Add the melted butter.
  6. Add up to 1 1/4 cups (187 g) of the remaining flour to form a fairly thick dough. If the dough is still soft and very sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get a dough that is firm, but not stiff. (I started with 325 g flour and incorporated an additional 20 g to achieve the desired consistency.)
  7. If using a stand mixer, knead the dough with the paddle attachment on low-speed for 5 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
  8. Form the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (I used a proofing oven.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and position a rack in the center.
  10. Gently punch down the dough down. Pull to form it into a baguette shape measuring 18-inches by 3-inches (45 cm by 7.5 cm). (I formed mine into a 16-inch long shape because of the length of my baguette pan.) Crimp the ends.
  11. Let it rise until it is about one-third larger, about 30 minutes. (I placed it on a baguette pan in a proofing oven.)
  12. To make the glaze, melt the butter and the milk together, whisk to combine. Keep warm until ready to use.
  13. Brush the loaf with the glaze. (I used about 2/3 of the glaze.) Score the top of the loaf 4 or 5 times using a sharp knife, lame, or kitchen shears.
  14. Bake until the loaf is golden and baked though, about 25 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven, brush the loaf with any residual glaze, and let cool before slicing.

Caramel Apple Dapple Cake

I love a quick cake. I have made this one on a couple of occasions! It is a wonderful seasonal treat. Apparently, it is named a “dapple” cake because the apple chunks create a rippled effect on the surface of the cake where the glaze can settle. The coffee in the batter balances the sweetness and gives it a beautiful brown color.

This recipe is from Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I weighed the ingredients and used heavy cream in the glaze. We ate it for dessert but it could also be served as a coffee cake. Super moist and yummy.

Yield: One 9×13 cake, about 12 to 15 servings

For the Cake:

  • nonstick cooking for pan
  • 320 g (2 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 113 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 170 g (3/4 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (4 T, 57 g) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) lukewarm brewed coffee
  • 4 cups peeled, cored, and chopped Honeycrisp apples (cut into 1/2-inch/1.25 cm pieces)(I used 2 very large apples)

For the Glaze:

  • 170 g (3/4 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 T (57 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

To Make the Cake:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees (180 C), preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×13-inch light-colored metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. (I use binder clips to hold the parchment overhang in place to prevent it from falling onto the surface of the cake.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.
  5. Add the granulated and brown sugars and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly stream in the oil until well blended.
  7. One at a time, beat in the eggs.
  8. On low-speed, spoon in half of the flour mixture.
  9. Slowly pour in the coffee.
  10. Stir in the remaining flour until the batter is smooth.
  11. Fold in the apples by hand.
  12. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth evenly.
  13. Bake until the cake is deeply golden all over, begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. (I baked mine for 40 minutes but may check it even earlier next time.)
  14. Let cool slightly in the pan set on a wire rack.

To Make the Glaze:

  1. In a 1 to 1 1/2-quart (1 to 1.4 L) saucepan over high heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, milk, and salt.
  2. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring often, and boil until you can see it has thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes depending on your pan.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. (I forgot to do this every time- by accident, of course :/ )
  4. Let the glaze cool just until it stops bubbling.
  5. Pour the hot glaze over the still-warm cake. Working quickly, use a spatula to spread the glaze so thinly and evenly that it covers the entire the surface of the cake.
  6. Let the cake cool completely, uncovered, on the rack.

Note: Leftover cake can be stored loosely covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Caramel Apple Skillet Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

I have made this sweet treat on a couple of occasions. I love skillet desserts! This one is perfect for fall or even in the winter. It has an amazing texture.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I used a browned butter glaze from our favorite apple pie bars instead of the salted caramel frosting suggested in the original recipe. I also modified the method. Yum.

Yield: One 10-inch round cake, about 10 to 12 servings

For the Caramel Apples:

  • 4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 large baking apples (about 12 to 16 ounces/340 to 454 grams), such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup/110 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup/290 grams dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup/215 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Browned Butter Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • milk or heavy cream, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency
  • pinch of coarse salt or fine sea salt
  1. Make the Caramel Apples: In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the apples, brown sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the apples soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Make the Cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix to combine.
  6. Scrape the bowl well, then beat in the vanilla.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
  9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the apple mixture (including all of the caramel-like liquid in the pan) into the batter. Mix just until incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the surface is evenly golden brown and appears set – a toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely. (I baked it on convection for 30 minutes but may add a couple of minutes onto the baking time next time.)
  11. Make the Glaze: In a small pot or pan, melt the butter. Continue to cook until browned and fragrant.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together browned butter, powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add milk as needed until drizzling consistency is achieved.
  13. Spoon into a ziplock bag and cut a tiny tip off one corner of the bag.
  14. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake before slicing.

Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns with Vanilla Glaze

The photo of this special breakfast is on the cover of the April issue of Bon Appétit. I made it almost immediately after seeing the magazine! I really liked the idea of using dates in the filling to add a little bit of natural sweetness and fiber- and to reduce the amount of sugar. Yum.

This recipe is from Bon AppĂ©tit, contributed by Molly Baz, Sohla El-Waylly, and Sarah Jampel. It was included in an article titled, “Butter, Sugar, Flour, Magic: A Basically Guide to Better Baking.” There are a lot of other delicious treats included in the article. 🙂 I made the dough and the date filling the day before assembling and baking.

It would be a lovely breakfast to serve on Easter morning.

Yield: 9 sticky buns

For the Dough:

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 7 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4-oz (2 1/4 tsp) envelope active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Filling and Assembly:

  • 1 cup (180 g) packed Medjool dates, halved, pitted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (83 g) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 T buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

To Make the Dough:

  1. Combine the buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. (It won’t get smooth.) Heat in the microwave in three 10-second intervals until just about body temperature, or when it registers 98°F with an instant-read thermometer. (Alternatively, the mixture can be heated in a small saucepan on medium-low for about 1 minute.)
  2. Whisk egg, brown sugar, and yeast in a liquid measuring cup to combine, then whisk in the buttermilk mixture.
  3. Pulse the flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to combine.
  4. With the motor running, stream in the buttermilk mixture. Process until about 80% of the dough comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes. (The mixture will look very wet at first, then the sides will begin to pull away.)
  5. Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto an unfloured surface. (It will be wet and sticky.)
  6. Knead, pushing it away from you, then pulling it back toward you, until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. (You can lightly oil your hands if the dough is too sticky.) The dough will grow silkier, tighter, and easier to work with as you knead.
  7. Roll out the dough into a rough 8-inch square.
  8. Fold dough over onto itself to make and 8×4-inch rectangle, then flatten it slightly and fold over once more to make a 4-inch square.
  9. Roll dough back out into an 8-inch square.
  10. Repeat the folding process (Step 8); you will finish with a 4-inch square.
  11. Pour remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium bowl and add dough (still folded); turn to coat.
  12. Cover bowl tightly and chill dough until doubled in volume, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. (I refrigerated my dough overnight.)

To Make the Filling and Assemble:

  1. Place dates in a small bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups hot water to cover. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain dates and transfer to a food processor; discard soaking liquid.
  3. Add cinnamon, salt, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
  4. Purée, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth, about 4 minutes. (You should have about 1/2 cup purée.)
  5. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
  6. Transfer dough to a clean, unfloured surface and roll out to an 8-inch square.
  7. Fold in half into an 8×4-inch rectangle, then fold rectangle over itself to form a 4-inch square. If dough feels tough and uncooperative, let it sit for about 5 minutes to relax and try again.
  8. Roll out dough into a 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick.
  9. Dollop date purée all over. Using a small offset spatula, spread evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border without purée along edge farthest from you.
  10. Sprinkle brown sugar over purée.
  11. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up dough into a tight log.
  12. Using a sharp serrated knife and long sawing motions, trim about 1/2-inch of dough from both ends. (These ends can be discarded, but I baked them in a separate small ramekin.)
  13. Slice log crosswise into 3 sections, wiping knife clean between cuts.
  14. Slice each section crosswise into 3 buns. (I used a ruler.) You should have 9 buns total that are each about 1-inch thick. Transfer buns to prepared pan as you go.
  15. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Place in a warm, dry spot. (I used plastic wrap so that I could monitor the rising process. I also placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
  16. Let buns rise until they’re doubled in volume and spring back when poked, leaving only a small indentation, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the humidity and warmth of your kitchen.
  17. Remove plastic wrap, if using, and cover pan with foil.
  18. Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  19. Bake buns, still covered, until puffed, pale, and mostly set, about 20 minutes. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces, covered with foil, at the same time.)
  20. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes if you prefer a soft and squishy bun and up to 25 minutes for a more toasted bun. Let cool slightly. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces at this point for about 5 minutes- uncovered.)
  21. Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl to combine.
  22. Brush glaze over warm buns and serve in skillet.

Do Ahead: Purée can be made 3 days ahead. Place in an airtight container, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Meyer Lemon Breakfast Cake

I made this super moist and tender breakfast cake with my precious Meyer lemons. It could be made with regular lemons too, of course. I did think that the tangy glaze was a little over the top, so I modified the recipe to make half of the amount next time.

This recipe was adapted from Bon AppĂ©tit, via The View from the Great Island.com. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour in addition to cake flour and baked the bread on convection in a Pullman loaf pan. Special and tasty. 🙂

For the Cake:

  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Glaze:
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice to thin, start with 1 tablespoon and add more as necessary
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter (or spray with cooking oil spray) a Pullman loaf pan or 9×5 loaf pan and line it with parchment paper with long ends so you can lift the bread out later for glazing and slicing. Crease the ends so that they do not fold over onto the cake while it is baking.
  3. Remove the peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler. A serrated peeler works best for this. You want to remove just the yellow part of the peel, with little of the bitter white part.
  4. Put the sugar and lemon peelings in a food processor and process until the peels are completely incorporated into the sugar.
  5. Put the lemon sugar and butter into a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy ~ a full 5 minutes.
  6. Beat in each of the eggs, one by one, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt and add to the mixer, alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand, to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, but don’t over beat.
  8. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spread out evenly, and bake on the center rack for about 40 minutes in a Pullman pan, or up to 50-55 minutes in a standard loaf pan, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine).
  9. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove, using the parchment paper handles, and let fully cool on a rack.
  10. Meanwhile whisk together the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Spread the glaze over the cooled bread.

Irish Soda Scones with Orange Glaze

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I like to try a new version of soda bread as part of our celebration. 🙂 This version was great- light and fluffy with sweetness from the glaze. Everyone really enjoyed them.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used raisins instead of currants, reduced the size and baking time, and made half of the batch with caraway seeds (for me) and half of the batch without seeds (kids!). We ate them for breakfast but they would be wonderful with a cup of afternoon tea as well.

Yield: 18 to 20 scones

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces; work into flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until dough resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add currants/raisins, caraway seeds, and buttermilk; stir until just combined.
  5. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake until bottoms are golden, about 12 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
  8. Meanwhile, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and orange zest. Drizzle over scones; serve.

One Year Ago: Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Two Years Ago: Irish Soda Bread Buns

Three Years Ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

German Lebkuchen

I love having at least one spice cookie in my Christmas cookie assortment. This year, I selected Lebkuchen because I know my mom is a fan of them. I only made one batch- what a mistake! I should have doubled it (at least)… Next time. 😉

This recipe is from Hannah of the beautiful blog Domestic Gothess. I glazed the finished cookies and omitted dipping them in chocolate. I weighed the dry ingredients and freshly ground the spices in the dough. They were wonderful!

For the Lebkuchen:

  • 150 g (1/2 + 1/3 cup) dark brown soft sugar
  • 150 g (5.3oz) runny honey
  • 50 g (4 T,  1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • finely grated zest of 1 naval orange
  • 300 g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cups) ground almonds
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs

For the Glaze:

  • 150 g (1 1/2 cups) Confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 T water

  1. Put the sugar, honey, butter and orange zest in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs into the sugar mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. In two or three additions, mix in the flour mixture until well combined.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least half an hour or (ideally) up to overnight.
  6. To Bake: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 (on convection) and line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop out portions of the dough using a large cookie scoop (1 1/2″ in diameter) or measuring spoon (about 1 1/2 tbsp at a time), and roll between slightly damp hands into smooth balls.
  8. Place them well spaced apart on the baking sheets and flatten them slightly with your fingers.
  9. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until firm and lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Transfer the Lebkuchen to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  11. To Make the Glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and gradually mix in enough of the water to form a slightly runny icing – not too wet though or it will all run off. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet.
  12. Dip the tops of the Lebkuchen in the glaze, allow the excess to drip off then place them right-side up on the wire rack to set.
  13. Once set, store in an airtight container. The cookies improve over time. An apple placed in the container may keep them more fresh.

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