Archive for the ‘ Bread ’ Category

HOMEMADE SESAME SEED BUNS

If you’re at all like me, you absolutely loathe the crappy, mass-produced, light-as-air hamburger buns that they have on hand at most major supermarkets.  I’m talking about the ones that you throw your hot, juicy burger onto, that in turn dissolves into a condiment-laden sponge within minutes.  Last Summer, I’d finally had enough and decided to try making some of own.

While significantly more substantial than those found at most fast food establishments, these little guys are still very tender and delicate, retaining a resiliency that not many sesame seed buns can boast.  Unlike those at the grocery store, these will not melt or crumble in your hands.  They can stand up to a good amount of juices and have a flavor infinitely more complex than your typical factory-made variety.

With Memorial Day hours away, grilling season is finally upon us. Do yourself a favor this summer and try making these buns from scratch at least once.  I promise, your burgers will thank you.

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SPICED BROWN SUGAR CARROT BREAD

As much as I would love to start out each day with a couple of cheesy scrambled eggs, salty bacon and a nice big piece of toast, the reality is that I wait until the absolute last minute to get out of bed and shower each morning, thus leaving me with no time to ever really cook anything of substance.  Sadly, my late-to-rise routine usually results in me dashing out the door each morning with a hastily toasted bagel in one hand and my computer in the other.  Of course, I love a good cream cheese slathered bagel, but sometimes I’m looking for something a bit sweeter to start my day with that still fits within the hand-held morning model.  While donuts and pancakes can be far too sweet for a quick breakfast and since cereal isn’t meant to be taken on the go, I’ve found that a nice thick slice of moist quick bread is the best compromise.

The mix of spices and ginger make this quick bread exceptionally delicious and the perfect way to use leftover carrots you probably have wilting away in your crisper. With a small, even crumb and dark, caramelized exterior, this bread is best with a pad of butter and your morning coffee. It may not satisfy the urge for a savory, cheese and egg-laden breakfast, but I doubt anyone will be complaining.

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BAGEL DOGS

Like baked barbecue pork buns, bagel dogs held a special place in my heart growing up. When hunger pangs struck after a long day at school, these bagel wrapped beauties were one of my favorite go-to snacks.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a town with a small bagel shop that was making them from scratch each morning.  More than anything, I was lucky enough to have a father who enjoyed them as much as I did, so there were always a few in the fridge.  In college, I’d take a dozen back to school with me and they’d easily disappear in a couple days time.  I only had three roommates!

It wasn’t until recently, when I learned of that same bagel shop’s demise that I finally felt motivated to try making them myself at home.  After a couple of so-so attempts and oddly shaped dogs, I finally found a recipe and technique that yields outstanding results – better in many ways than the ones of my youth.  Sure, the process of making bagel dogs from scratch might seem a little daunting and unnecessary considering the availability of frozen varieties at almost every grocery store, but believe me when I say, there is no substitute for the real thing.

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HAM & CHEESE BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

With a surplus of homemade English muffins lying around just waiting to go stale, I started to wonder if there was another use for them that I’d yet to consider.  Enter the breakfast sandwich.  Like spicy fried chicken sandwiches, I ate my fair-share of these hand-held wonders growing up.  Today, sadly, I don’t make it down to the old Micky-D’s as often as I once did.  Not as keen on eating battery-farmed eggs and sub-par pork products, I’ve been at a loss in my search for a breakfast sandwich made with good, quality ingredients.  Believe me, I’ve checked.  So, armed with a fresh package of organic American cheese slices, a carton of pasture-raised, organic eggs and some preservative-free Canadian bacon, I set out to recreate a more wholesome version of the iconic breakfast sandwich of my youth.

I’m not much of a sweets guy when it comes to breakfast.  In fact, I’ll pass on the french toast, Belgium waffles and pancakes just about any day of the week.  Instead, this is what I crave.  A warm, lightly toasted English muffin slathered with butter, topped with gooey cheese, salty meat and a perfectly seasoned egg.  It might not be brain-food, but with one of these in your belly, I guarantee you’ll be well-equipped to deal with any of the day’s challenges.  So, if you’re like me and love a great breakfast sandwich but are less than inclined to patronize the local fast-food mega-chain, do what I did and make one for yourself.  I think it goes without saying that they were OUTSTANDING.  I’d like to think of them as another perfect example of a fast-food favorite cooked with slow food sensibilities.

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HOMEMADE ENGLISH MUFFINS

Homemade English Muffins

Nooks and crannies.  These three words became my mantra as I set out to bake one of my all-time favorite breakfast staples from scratch.  Afterall, it’s an English muffin’s series of nooks and crannies that really sets it apart from the other breads in the breakfast lineup.  If I was going to replicate anything close to my childhood favorite Thomas’, I was going to have to ensure the development of enough peaks and valleys to adequately support my preferred topping of butter and a little of  my mom’s homemade strawberry jam.

You might be wondering why anyone would set out to make their own English muffins at home when there are perfectly fine specimens available at the supermarket.  To be completely honest, I don’t have a very good answer to that question.  You see, my sister just gave me a copy of the new Momofuku cookbook for my birthday, and while all the recipes looks fantastic, it was the recipe and photo for their signature English muffins that first popped out at me.  As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, I by no means consider myself an expert baker, but it has been in the production of this blog that I’ve developed a renewed sense of adventure in the kitchen.  These days I’m eager to go outside of my comfort zone and share my experiences in the cooking of recipes that I might have shied away from in the past.

It took a couple of days, but the oftentimes finicky process was well worth the effort in the end.  After clumsily navigating the pitfalls involved in working with an extremely delicate dough and the laborious task of religiously flipping the puffy, implant-like balloons of dough as they slowly baked on the cast iron griddle, I found that I was left with a new appreciation for the very makeup of these humble muffins.

So, are they worth making at home?  I’d say yes, if only for the personal satisfaction of watching a pad of butter slowly melt and ooze into all those nooks and crannies of your own creation.

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