Bread, Caramel, Cookies, Christmas

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a LOT of time in the kitchen. I got a little burned out on baking. I don’t have my own recipes to share today, but I’ve found a couple gems from around the internet that I’d like to share. And a little holiday wrap-up…

I have made this bread recipe from King Arthur Flour a bunch of times now – even gave some away over Christmas! And it’s so easy and – once you have the dough made – quick to just pull a chunk off, form the loaf, etc. Very easy to NOT screw up 🙂

I love this bread. Not just because of the taste – which is crusty on the outside but dense and sour and salty (not over salty) and has real flavor. Not like the 3 for 99cent bread you can find at Kwik Trip. It’s simple too – flour, salt, yeast, water. Mix it all up in a 6 qt. container with a lid, let it sit in a warm place for 2 hours and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Keeps for up to 7 days. Makes 3-4 small (1 lb. loaves)

And it’s fantastic slathered with spinach dip – a favorite from holiday celebrations as a kid. Yum! Even though it’s good for 7 days (the dough, that is), I prefer the loaves made with in 2 or 3 days of creating the dough. It just gets a little more sour tasting and the texture gets a little more… spongy? Which Hermit LOVES so I guess whenever I make the dough I’m winning. Like Charlie Sheen? Yup.

And of course there was all kinds of other goodies at Christmas.

I made Salted Caramel Sauce from Bakingdom‘s site. Originally for these delicious cupcakes, which were OMG-delicious and I didn’t change a thing from the original recipe. Then I made 4 batches of the caramel to give away at Christmas as well.

Salted Caramel Mocha Cupcakes:

But it’s really good on ice cream (or frozen yogurt) or apples as well. ❤

And then we had a delicious Christmas supper on Christmas Day, full of lots of Lutefisk, Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, Lefse, Swedish Sausage, ham, etc. (This is my sister-in-law’s Christmas spread and it was so beautiful I have to share a picture!)

Part of the 1,000+ cookies I baked (no exaggeration unfortunately)… Cranberry-Cherry Pinwheels, Pepparkakor, Cinnamon-Chocolate Crinkles:

It was over 50° on Christmas Eve day so we got some fresh air in the house. Amazing!

Got some Justin Bieber Holiday wrapping paper on clearance. Yeah, that’s the exchange gift for family Christmas … lol.

And, two of my favorite things I gave this year. (Well, a couple haven’t been given yet so I can’t talk about them…) First, a long-sleeved t-shirt to Hermit from Geekiana on Etsy. ❤ Doctor Who. She’s got all kinds of Whovian merchandise out there, if that’s your thing.

Another Etsy creation… can you tell I like Etsy? This was just the pattern for this cross stitch, which I made for one of our friends. PERFECT fit! 😀 (In hindsight, the black is a *little* hard to read but looks really cool with the metallic threads. It says “Did you eat a bowl of stupid for breakfast?)

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season full of joy, happiness, and good food. 😀

What was YOUR favorite part of this season?

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Caraway Rye Bread

Caraway rye is one of my favorite breads. I’ve only recently gotten into baking bread and the whole process fascinates me. I feel like I have just started scratching the surface with my knowledge of bread making, yeast, etc.

I feel like I could study breadmaking for years and years and still not understand everything about bread. But I will surely enjoy learning and making batch after batch of delicious homemade bread.

We hardly ever buy bread anymore and when we do, I always try to get it from the bakery. I can no longer stand the bread that has a 3 week shelf life because it’s pumped full of additives. *barf* It’s so bland and it explains why I didn’t eat much bread growing up.

This recipe produces 2 loaves of dense, soft bread. I love the taste of caraway but I’m thinking of omitting the caraway seeds on top of the bread – they get very hard and crunchy during baking and get stuck between your teeth. Best to maybe just stick with the seeds that go into the recipe.

Caraway Rye Bread, adapted from All Recipes.

Printable Recipe

Makes 2 loaves, can easily be doubled.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/8 tsp. active dry yeast (or, 1/2 of a .25 ounce package)
  • 2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour, plus extra for shaping the loaves
  • vegetable or canola oil, to grease the bowl
  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour (all-purpose will work just fine as well), plus extra for kneading
  • 1 egg + 1 tsp. water, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds, to top the bread (optional)

Method:

1. In a medium bowl, add warm water, yeast, and sugar. Give it a quick stir and let sit (proof) for 10 minutes.

2. Add the 1 tbsp. caraway seeds, salt, rye and bread flours. Stir until just combined and the dough holds together.

3. Lightly flour a clean surface and turn dough out. Adding extra bread flour as necessary, knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 – 10 minutes.

4. Grease a large bowl. Add the kneaded dough to the greased bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size. (I find putting the bowl in an oven with the light on (but NOT the oven) is a nice, warm spot.)

5. Grease a large baking sheet or cover in parchment paper. Once doubled, divide dough in two halves. Form each half into a rustic loaf, about 3 inches in width and height and 10 inches long.

6. Put the loaves on the baking sheet and cover with dish towel. Return to the warm place for another 30 minutes or so. The loaves should double in size again.

7. Once risen, pre-heat the oven to 400º [if your loaves are rising in the oven, make sure to remove them before preheating].

8. Cut 3 diagonal slashes in the top of the bread, evenly spaced. Brush egg and water mixture over the top of the loaves. If using, sprinkle 1 tsp. of caraway seeds over each loaf.

9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating pans after 15 minutes, until browned. Cool on wire racks.

As a side note – this bread makes wonderful garlic toast! Take about 4 tbsp. softened butter, smash/chop up 2 cloves of garlic and mash and mix together – it doesn’t have to be precise. Take 5 or 6 slices of this brad and slather the garlic-y butter on both sides. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350º about 6 minutes on each side. Let sit for a couple minutes and enjoy.

So tasty with homemade turkey meatballs and marinara sauce on whole-wheat spaghetti – recipe coming soon!