Posts Tagged ‘baking’

I love teaching during the colorful days of autumn.

Over the past week, the students in my class have been busy finding autumnal inspiration to include in their poetry.

We’ve spoken a lot about letting our senses speak through poetry.

We can see the lovely bold colors and the days getting darker.

We can feel the days getting cooler.

We can hear the leaves tumbling in the howling wind.

What about the taste of autumn?

How are they to understand the smell?

Don’t worry, I’ve got that one covered.


Covered in puff pastry, that is!

Any excuse to get these kids in the kitchen, people.

During my prep lesson yesterday, I practiced baking these delicious caramel stuffed, pastry wrapped baked apples.

I photographed the steps in hopes of preparing a guide for my students, but once all was said and done, I realized this wasn’t the recipe for my class. 

I ended up going with a simpler baked apple recipe, but I still wanted to share this gem of a dish with all of you!


The ingredients were pretty basic: puff pastry, caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon, an egg and apples.

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To prepare, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.


Create and egg wash by beating an egg and 1 Tbsp. water together.


Slice off the top of the apple, leaving the stem intact.


Remove the core, being sure not to go all the way through the bottom of the apple.


Carefully get in there to get out all of the seeds.


Peel the whole apple. I did the cutting and coring first because I didn’t want the kids working with knives on slippery apple flesh.


See? Core removed but base intact!

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Remember that bowl of cinnamon sugar? Now’s its time to shine. Roll the apple around in the brown sugar to coat completely.


Carefully place two caramel cubes into the hollow of the apple core. Again, be sure you don’t push too hard and pop out the bottom of the apple.


Is your mouth watering yet?


Next, I joined strips of puff pastry and wrapped them around my prepared apple.

By this point, I realized:

  1. Cutting, coring and peeling would be a bit too much for my kiddos.
  2. Our school kitchen wasn’t equipped with enough peelers for each student anyways.
  3. Making long snakes of puff pastry, an item which needs to be kept cool, would be difficult for my hot-handed pupils.
  4. There were simply too many steps to remember and rewrite in recipe form later in the week.

Even though I knew by this point that my students wouldn’t be making this recipe, I still wanted to finish it off.

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Create two leaves out of the puff pastry.


Carefully place the leaves on the apple so they look like they’re coming from the stem.


Brush the pastry with the prepared egg wash.


Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, being sure to leave space between the pastry and foil. Place in the refrigerator to cool for half an hour before baking.


Bake the covered apples for about 20 minutes before removing the foil and continuing to bake until the pastry is puffed up and golden, about 20 minutes longer.


Gosh darn it, the puff pastry idea may have been out, but those leaves were too cute not to include in my students’ version!

The flaky, crumbly, sweet and gooey qualities of these baked apples were incredible! Almost like a personal-sized apple pie, I highly recommend this recipe.

So, my practice apples turned out great but weren’t going to work for my students. You may be wondering what they did during our baking lesson today.

Well, let me give you a sneak peak into our school kitchen. I’d love to share the photos of these beamingly proud kids, but can’t, so their busy little hands will have to do.

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After watching my “demonstration,” the kids cut, cored, stuffed and decorated their apples on their own.

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When he saw my fully wrapped apple the previous day, a little boy said with amazement, “Wow, Ms. Brady, that looks like a professional cook! You should go on TV!”


Creating their own “professional cook’s” pastry leaves was a highlight of the activity for many of the kids.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be watching them on Food Network one day!


They were all so very proud of their apples.  PA121863

Two of our baking dishes, ready for the oven!


Sadly, my battery died before capturing the final product, but I assure you, the apples were stunning… and tasted as good as they looked!

Baked Apples with Puff Pastry Leaves

If 8 year olds can make this dish, so can you!


1 tart apple

1 heaping teaspoon raisins

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 dash nutmeg and cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Puff pastry

1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Cut off the top of the apple, being sure to keep the stem intact.
  3. Carefully remove the core of the apple. Take care not to cut all the way through the bottom.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg and dash of cinnamon.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the hollow of the apple, again, be sure not to push the stuffing through the bottom!
  6. Top the stuffing with the butter.
  7. Place the apple in a baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  8. Replace the top of the apple.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut two leaf shapes from the puff pastry. Add the veins of the leaves by gently pressing half-way into the pastry with the back of a knife.
  10. Next, place the leaves on the apple.
  11. Whisk together the egg and water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the pastry with the egg wash.
  12. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving room between the foil and pastry.
  13. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
  14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.
  15. Cool before serving.


I was so proud of the way these kids worked today. Even when two other teachers came into the kitchen and started making a racket, my students were so focused in apple baking mode that they didn’t even look up. I find this photo so funny!

If you’re a parent, I beg you, get in the kitchen and get to cookin’ with your kids. You will both leave the kitchen with happy hearts, full tummies and wonderful memories!

Happy Fall, Y’all!


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Yesterday I shared a recipe for sourdough bagels from a book published 8 years before I was born: Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport.

Today I’m here to share another recipe from the oh-so-talented sourdough baker, Rite Davenport.


Sourdough Pizza Dough

In her book, Rita shared not only her recipe for the dough, but also her pizza sauce recipe and suggested toppings.

You’re going to have to buy her book to get the whole kit and caboodle, but I’m happy to share the sourdough pizza dough recipe.P7230042

Sourdough Pizza Dough

Makes 2 very large pizzas


1 1/2 cups sourdough starter

1 cup warm milk

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 1/2- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

olive oil for brushing


  1. Add the milk, salt, sugar and vegetable oil to the sourdough starter. Stir together. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir well after each addition. Add enough flour until the dough is too stiff to stir with a spoon. Dough should be heavy but elastic.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place, free from drafts and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Divide dough into two equal parts. Stretch or roll out each part to create a round pizza dough. Create a slight ridge to form a crust.
  5. Brush the dough with olive oil and continue to create your pizza as you wish.


Our first pizza dough was used as a base for a vegetable pizza which included tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach and broccoli.

Oh so good!

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Sorry to keep you waiting, but as you can see, I made it safely through the streets of Paris and then back to Germany without any trouble.


I’ll create a post on Paris at some point, but to be honest, I’m still so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I just need a break.

Katie and I returned after an overnight bus trip on Wednesday morning. Wednesday and Thursday were spent showing Katie around Bonn, cleaning and packing bags in preparation for her return to the US.

Katie let me use her kindle to read The Hunger Games. Although I wasn’t too interested in the story when she described it, she encouraged me to read the first two chapters before making a decision. I’m glad she was so persistent because the whole of Wednesday was spent finishing the first book and I am now hooked. Can’t wait to read the second book!

It’s hard to believe that after so much time looking forward to my friends’ visits, they are both back in the US and here I am again with a tiny German kitchen and a list of recipes I want to try.

Over the weekend, I tried two different recipes using my sourdough starters. Both recipes are from a gag-gift that’s actually been more gift than gag (lucky since it’s a cook book!)


A colleague of mine knew I was baking with a home-grown sourdough starter. While at a book sale, she found this 1977 Sourdough Cookery book and bought it for me as a joke.


Well, good recipes are made great with time as the recipes from this cookbook prove.

Today, I’m going to share the recipe I was most excited about, sourdough bagels.P7229972

I’ve never made bagels before, and was surprised by how easy they were. Sure, there are a few extra steps compared to regular bread baking, but the additional actions only add about 15 minutes on the total time.


Well worth it when the product is as delicious as these bagels.

So, collect your ingredients and let’s get starter!


Place the sourdough starter, eggs and oil in a large bowl.


Mix together the dry ingredients before incorporating them into the wet.


A sticky, elastic dough will form. Add more flour as needed to create a dough that begins to remove from the sides of the bowl.


Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Let rest and rise until doubled in size.


Split the dough into 8-12 smaller balls. I made 8 large bagels. Gently press a floured finger through the middle of each small dough ball.


I ‘gently’ stretch my dough by swinging it around on my finger while screaming “woo-hoo!”


As you can see, the woo-hoo method worked just fine.


I wasn’t sure how much the dough would rise while resting so made lots of different sized holes in the bagels. The smallish holes made the best final products.


Boil the bagels for 7 minutes before draining and placing on a greased baking sheet.


I sprinkled freshly ground spices and herbs on some of the bagels while they were still wet.


These two were sprinkled with a lavender herb salt.


Here’s the same, beautiful bagel after baking for 25 minutes.


This lovely bagel is dressed in a freshly ground sea salt, chili and orange peel seasoning mix.


Immediately, I gobbled it up with butter.

Over the last few days, I’ve been enjoying the bagels for breakfast.


Toasted plain bagel with butter, cinnamon and sugar.


Perfect for an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

If you are interested in sourdough baking, I recommend the following websites for step by step instructions on creating a sourdough starter at home.

I was so sure that my home-grown yeast sourdough starter would fail that I also made a lazy man’s sourdough starter at the same time.

Lucky for me, both sourdoughs took off with fantastic fermentation. I’m now alternating between each healthy sourdough variety for my baking.

Don’t be afraid of sourdough baking, as you can see from this recipe, it can be a lot of fun!

 Sourdough bagels

Sourdough Bagels

From Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport


1 cup sourdough starter

2 eggs

3 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 gallon water plus 2 Tablespoons sugar for boiling (I used 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt rather than sugar)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sourdough starter with eggs and oil. Mix together flour, salt and sugar. Add to starter mixture. Add enough additional flour for the dough to leave the sides of the bowl.
  2. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.
  3. Cover with a damp cloth. Set in a warm place free from drafts until doubled in size.
  4. Turn out onto floured surface and divide into 8-12 pieces (depending on the size you’re after.) Shape each piece into balls. Punch a hole in the center with a floured finger. Form a doughnut shape by gently enlarging the hole, working each bagel into a uniform shape.Cover and let rise for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Add sugar (or baking soda and salt) to water and bring to a boil. Drop each bagel into the boiling water one at a time. Cook for 7 minutes, turning once. Drain; place on greased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 375 F (191 C) for 25-35 minutes. Bagels should be golden brown and crusty.


Herb Bagels- Prepare bagels as above, except combine 2 teaspoons dried marjoram with dry ingredients.

Onion Bagels- Prepare bagels as above, except add 1 teaspoon dried minced onions to dry ingredients.

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I’ve recently ventured into the realm of sourdough bread baking.

In the last two weeks, I have learned so much about bread baking and have really enjoyed discovering new recipes and techniques.


This weekend I made a light and fluffy sourdough oatmeal bread that is perfect for sandwiches.


Sourdough Oatmeal Bread

Adapted from Sourdough Cookery


1 1/2 cups sourdough starter

1 cup lukewarm water (or milk for a richer taste)

1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup molasses (I used goldensyrup)

2 teaspoons salt

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups rolled oats

4-5 cups all-purpose flour

melted butter or butter replacement


  1. Measure sourdough starter into a large bowl. Add lukewarm water, brown sugar, molasses, salt and oil. Stir to combine.
  2. Add rolled oats, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the flour, starting with 3 cups, adding more flour as necessary to create a tacky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.
  4. Place in an oiled bowl, turning once to oil all sides of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down dough. Turn out onto a surface and separate into 2 pieces. Shape into loaves and place in well oiled loaf pans. Brush tops with melted butter and cover with a damp cloth. Set pans in a warm place to rise for another 1.5 hours. Bread should rise until it reaches the top of the pans.
  6. Bake at 400 F (205 C) for 35-40 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.


Simply enjoyed toasted and smeared with strawberry jam.

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A week ago today, my class dressed in togas and threw a Roman feast.


Unfortunately, it was raining outside, so our Roman Feast/ picnic was moved into the classroom.

The parents generously donated a ton of food.


After being topped with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden, the baked lentil and rice stuffed grape leaves turned out really well.

Most kids were adventurous enough to try the little stuffed rolls.

In addition to the food provided by the parents, we baked our own Ancient Roman bread.


Honestly, this is probably the best bread I’ve ever made.


Among the heaps of delicious food, the two large homemade loaves were the first to be eaten up.

I attribute the success of the bread to the long kneading times… when 18 kids each need a chance to knead the bread, the job gets done sufficiently well.


We followed a recipe from a teachers’ resource website called Sparklebox.

The children had to follow the steps independently to make the bread from beginning to end.


The bread was made with a mixture of whole wheat, rye and all-purpose flour.


The Romans ate sweet breads too, but this recipe was for a savory bread.


After the flours, water with dissolved yeast and salt water were combined, the real fun started!


Time to knead!


This dough goes through two kneading cycles prior to the final rise before baking the bread.


Before the first rise.


After the first rise. We had some very happy yeast!


Second knead.


The dough was shaped into two rounds then placed on baking trays coated with cornmeal. They were then sliced and set aside to rise one last time.


Fresh from the oven!

This bread was crunchy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside.

Many of the kids had never baked bread before so I was overjoyed that it turned out so well.

I hope they try to teach their parents this simple recipe!

Ancient Roman Bread

Makes two large loaves


2 packages fast-rising dry yeast

2 1/2 cups tepid water

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup rye flour

Unbleached white flour to make up 950 grams in total flour weight

1 teaspoon salt mixed with 1 Tablespoon water

Cornmeal for baking sheets


  1. Dissolve the dried yeast in the tepid water in a large bowl.
  2. Weight the whole wheat and rye flour together in a large bowl.Add all purpose flour to make up a total weight of 950 grams. Mix the flours together.
  3. Add 4 cups flour mixture to the water and yeast. Whip for around 10 minutes.
  4. Add the salty water and continue to mix.
  5. Add the remaining flour to the bowl and mix to form a dough. You may need to use your hands.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
  7. Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. Take the risen dough from the bowl knead once more for 10 minutes. Place back into the bowl and set aside to rise for another hour.
  9. Punch the dough down once more and split the dough to form 2 large loaves. Shape the loaves then place them on baking sheets which have been dusted with cornmeal. Gently slice the tops of the dough with 2-3 ventilation cracks. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven set to 230 C (450 F) for 25 minutes, or until the crusts are browned. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  11. If you can wait, allow the bread to cook before slicing and eating.

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Italian Bread

I’ve really been getting into bread baking lately.


I’m pretty sure fresh yeast has been the reason for this change.

Previously, I hated bread baking. After hours of work, I always ended up with a brick hard block of tasteless bread that could barely be cut, let alone eaten.

Fresh yeast.

Fresh yeast has saved me from the yeasty beasty of ruined breads.


My most recent bread baking adventure turned out really well.

I followed this recipe for Italian bread.


I subbed 1 block of fresh yeast for the active dry yeast which was called for in the recipe. I also used all-purpose flour rather than bread flour since I didn’t have any on hand.

P4175775 Although the recipe creator called for using a stand mixer, my hand-held mixer did the job.

P4175777 The vital wheat gluten really made the dough tough.

P4175778 I did as I was told, and kneaded the bread for 15 minutes.

P4175781 After rolling the dough in a bit of olive oil, I set it aside to rise…

P4175784 and rise it did!

P4175787 After punching the dough down, I split it into two parts to be rolled into logs.

P4175790 One loaf was rolled in freshly chopped rosemary.

P4175791 The second loaf I left as is. Plain and simple.

P4175793 The loaves were set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper that had been dusted with cornmeal.

P4175796 Covered with a damp towel and set aside to rise, this is how the loaves looked after the second rise.

I love fresh yeast.

P4175799 Each loaf got a few diagonal slices.

P4175800 Pretty little rosemary flecks. Unphotographed, the loaves received an egg wash before being stuck in the oven to bake.

P4175802 It’s hard to see here, but there’s a dish with hot water under the baking sheet.

P4175817 Fresh out of the oven!

P4175819Hollow sounding when tapped and golden on the outside.

P4185835 Chewy and soft on the inside.

Every time I have success, it chisels away at my bread baking insecurities.

If you’ve not tried baking with fresh yeast, I highly recommend it.

Fresh yeast might just change your life.

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I hope your day has been as warm and enjoyable as mine.

I woke up fairly early this morning and got started right away on breakfast. Anne’s Almond Butter Banana Breakfast Bars have been on my Recipe Wish List for far too long.

These breakfast bars are so simple and so good.

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This recipe really is as easy as mixing together a few wet and dry ingredients that you probably already have at home.

P4024714 I was all out of maple syrup so the only change I made to the original recipe was to use golden syrup instead.

P4024716 P4024719 My apartment smelled fantastic as this was baking away.

Along with fresh brewing coffee, my apartment smelled like breakfast.

P4024725 P4024726 Breakfast is served!

The day continued with shopping.

First up, a visit to the fruit and vegetable lady.

P4024729 Today I bought rhubarb, leeks, chives, potatoes, eggs and a beat. Spring has clearly sprung on her farm!

The rest of the afternoon included more shopping for new work shoes, a kitchen scale and a few more vegetables from the Bonn farmer’s market. At the Bonn market, I picked up fresh green asparagus (white asparagus is the norm here,) fresh spinach and a green pepper.

P4024732 Walking around the beautiful city of Bonn, Germany on such a lovely, warm Spring day, I couldn’t help but smile and feel so blessed to be exactly where I am.

P4024733 Sebastian met me to go to a new-to-us ethnic grocery store that my friend Josh is always talking about. Unfortunately, when I arrived at 2:26, I realized that the store closed at 2:00. Oh well.

We carried on as planned and went on a short walk along the Rhine. It seamed like everyone was out today- walking, jogging, skating, biking, rowing, you name it, the bike and foot paths were packed.

P4024735 P4024736 A drink was had as we watched the people pass by.

Once home, I put the fresh spinach to good use and made palak paneer for dinner. Sadly, the sun was down before the process was finished so I’ll have to wait until I can photograph the left-overs in daylight before posting the recipe. Palak paneer looks enough like baby poo in the daylight, why make it look worse at night?

After such a great day shopping alone then hanging out with my favorite person and eating great food, the highlight of my day was definitely talking to my grandma and mom on the phone today.

After 2.5 years, I’ve finally changed my phone plan to include calls to the US. My first call was to my grandparents and luckily, mom was there too. Talking to them as I cooked dinner made them feel so near to me. I love living abroad but certainly miss my friends and family back home. What a difference a phone call can make!

Now, with a cat cuddled and sleeping across my arms, I think it’s time to call this day to an end.

Happy Spring, everyone!

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