Pane Bianco Star Bread

Pane Bianco Star Bread

Dear King Arthur Flour, I've unintentionally accomplished two of your BakeAlong challenges in one go. 

The first time I made a star-shaped bread was with a few Hapkido friends about a year and a half ago. It was at the beginning of summer when the weather was quickly turning too warm to make bread but we were determined. Straight out of the oven, it was gushing Nutella, pillowy, chocolatey and mmm, mmm, mmm. It is definitely on my list of things to remake (as soon as I clear out more sweets). But who knows, I keep telling myself that almost every week before I make something new.

Since the holidays were only a few weeks prior to when I made this at the beginning of January, I decided to go for a more savory option. As is usual in the KBC kitchen, I was of course, trying to use up something. This time it was sun-dried tomatoes which I have been meaning to incorporate into bread for a while now. As is also usual, I was running about a hundred different scenarios of how this bread could be. Would it be a pizza? Something kind of like a savory babka or other loaf-type bread? And what other accompaniments? Meat? Cheese? Herbs? etc etc... Sometimes this goes on too long so I just have to decide on something. Other times, I finally decide on something only to change my mind and go in a completely different direction.  

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Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

This is the result of Sunday's craving for a combination of apples, cinnamon and fluffy yeasted bread. 

I woke up last Sunday knowing I wanted to make something of that combination but the options were endless. And off went my brain. Should it be another kuchen? Or should I do this bakealong with King Arthur Flour? Should it be a loaf? A braid? A round? Should I attempt kouign-amann (someday, soon)? Apples sliced or diced? (tbh, I didn't do the KAF version because it looked a little dry and I didn't find myself with potato flour or instant mashed potatoes on hand.)

Finally, I forced myself to decide because if I didn't, I wouldn't have enough time to photograph and go to hapkido (both are very important things). And this is how this  beautiful roll came about. And why waver from something both simple and easy if you know it works? So I went back to this kuchen dough from last week. 

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Plum Streusel Cake (Pflaumenkuchen)

Plum Streusel Cake (Pflaumenkuchen)

And thus I resume my adventures into more German food making.

Last year I made this German Apple PancakeAnd prior to that there is of course spaetzle which Popo would make for Kristen and I when we were kids so it has a special place in my heart. We were obsessed with it but of course ate it in the least German way possible with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. I can feel my friend Mark cringing and cringing. But we will talk about spaetzle on another day. 

This plfaumenkuchen which I have pronounced again and again in my head and got kind of freaked out when hearing this pronunciation, is something that I stumbled across by accident. Well not completely since I religiously read Molly's blog. It got me researching more about plfaumenkuchen and it sounded fascinating. Why would you not top bread dough with fruit and streusel? It basically combines all of the things that I like. And since it was finally gloriously cool enough to make bread, I decided to tackle this thing that I had known nothing about only days before.  

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Maida Heatter's Mile-High Cinnamon Bread

Maida Heatter's Mile-High Cinnamon Bread

I have a fascination with swirled breads.

And this cinnamon bread is a beast. But a beautiful one.

But, so unlike the cinnamon bread that I am used to. For example, this and this. The one my mom makes has thick swirls and an ooey gooey center. 

I am a big fan of that ooey gooey center but am willing to sacrifice that for the amount of swirls that you are able to achieve with this method. 

This post on Food52 caught my eye for many reasons. 1) It's Food52, 2) It's bread and cinnamon bread at that and 3) Maida Heatter. Maida Heatter's smiling face has graced the bookshelves of Popo's, my mom's and now my kitchen since as far back as I remember. In particular, Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts which I was sooo happy to pick up at Powell's Books in PortlandBut this bread is from another book of hers (Best Dessert Book Ever) so of course I didn't know of it's existence or I would have tried to tackle it years ago. 

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Pita Bread with Hummus

Pita Bread with Hummus

It's been a long time since I've made bread

But this began with the hummus. 

Hummus from scratch was one of the first things I made as a sophomore in college as I was exploring what it meant to cook for myself. I made it in the winter, similar to this one, as a healthier snack option than the box of Wheat Thins from Costco that my roommate Mackenzie and I went through within days. If memory serves correctly, I tried to put spinach in that hummus but it did not bode well. It was not smooth, it was not homogenized. I had clearly done something wrong but with no clue as to what that was. Maybe it was the canned chickpeas or my food processor but after that experience, I didn't trust my hummus making skills.

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Sesame Seed Buns

Sesame Seed Buns

Well, here we are at the last month of 2016.

I am always convinced it will never get cold but then one week it does and then I am really cold. That's when I whip out all of the blankets I own, start wearing leggings under all of my pants, boil water for tea constantly and find any excuse I can to turn on the oven.

Bread is always one of those things that begs me to turn on the oven. Plus, stirring and kneading the dough warms up the blood quite a bit. And by the time you've stirred, kneaded, waited patiently for the bread to rise, shaped the buns, waited for them to rise again and finally baked them, there really is nothing better than fresh bread straight out of the oven.

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English Muffins

English Muffins

English muffins are a perennial favorite between both Kristen and my dad. 

In particular, Thomas' English muffins have always stood out as the brand of choice. Every time Kristen and I walk by the bread aisle at Costco, she has to gaze longingly at the 24 count bag until I start walking away to freeze my butt off in the produce room only to emerge and find that she is again distracted but this time by the poppyseed muffins. 

So, for whatever reason, we don't buy English muffins and instead just look at them longingly and dream of the nooks and crannies for all the butter and jam to nestle into.

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Cinnamon Chocolate Jumble Loaf

Cinnamon Chocolate Jumble Loaf

The days of summer have begun and I'm not quite ready to give up baking bread just yet.

Granted, I made this a couple of weeks ago when the weather was in the perfect low-70's—both moody and overcast from what I feel like was the last rainfall for a while. 

My original intent was to make monkey bread but that took a lot more time and effort than I had in the day so it became a messy jumble loaf instead.

 

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