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I love bread, I cannot lie. Our neighbors seem to enjoy it too. For months now I have been successfully trading bread for smiles, car washes, window cleaning, wine, and mmmmm my favorite nopales salad. Here is the loaf that has been really popular lately.

It’s a modification of my favorite Tartine recipe.  The natural leaven makes it taste amazing even several days after it was baked.  Try this bread fresh while still warm – and you are in danger of eating the whole loaf in one sitting.

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RYE BREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200 g leaven
  • 800 g water (75⁰ F/ 25⁰ C)
  • 270 g whole-rye flour
  • 830 g unbleached bread flour
  • 20 g salt

Yields 2 loafs

DIRECTIONS:

Day 1: make leaven – combine 200 g water, 1 tbs of sourdough starter and 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour.  Mix well, loosely cover the top of the container with a plastic wrap, and let ferment overnight.  Discard the rest of the starter.

Day 2: Test the leaven: it’s ready if a tsp of it dropped in the water floats.

Once the leaven passes the floating test, combine all ingredients but salt and mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and let rest for 25-30 minutes.

Save leftover leaven – it’s now your starter.

After the first rest, add the salt, and mix it well into the dough.  Let rest for about 3 hours, turning the dough upside down with wet hands twice during the first two hours.

After about 3 hours, when the dough has increased in size, dump it onto a floured surface and separate into two equal parts.

Working with one half at a time: with a bread scraper fold the dough edges in to form a ball.  Let rest, seams down, on a floured surface for about 25-30 minutes, covered by plastic or a floured towel.

Next, working with one half at a time, place it face down on a floured surface.  Carefully fold the edges with your hands slightly pressing them into the remaining dough: starting by carefully stretching the bottom edge and folding it to meet the opposite end; repeating with left, right, and finishing with the top edge. Form a loaf.  Place a loaf in a proofing basket, lightly sprinkled with rice flour, lined with a floured tile, face down, seam up.

Put the baskets in plastic bags and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

To bake: place an iron pot with the lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 500⁰ F/ 260⁰ C.  Dump the loaf into the preheated pot, seam side down. Cover with the lid, and bake the bread in it for 20 minutes at 475 ⁰ F/ 245 ⁰ C.

After 20 minutes remove the lid and let bake for 25 more minutes.

Let chill on a wire rack or eat while it’s hot.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

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This week I learned that gentleman-like manners are rooted deep inside our little gentlemen, and should be encouraged not just for our (mothers’) unselfish reasons, but for the child’s benefits as well.   

Our 3 year old son has been going to the swimming pool since he was 6 months old and a few months ago started diving all by himself.  I thought the timing was good to start serious lessons.  We signed him up at this Limousine of swimming schools in SF, called La Petit Baleen, where little kids – just like my baby – learn how to work their fins off swimming, jumping, and diving.   

Naturally, as soon as I left Lil’ Jem with his group, the wailing started.  Separation anxiety. Fun!  Here I am, hiding in the dressing room, biting my nails, while my baby is screaming his lungs out (suddenly in English); and all the moms shooting “understanding” (yet somehow torturous) glances my way!  Oh, the joys of parenthood!

This continued for 2 more classes when one of the deck managers made a few suggestions on possible ways to resolve the situation. In a week (after a few practice runs with babushka), Lil’ Jem was proudly presenting a flower to his teacher.  Guess what? It totally worked!  I haven’t heard a peep from him since!  Ohm… 

Now, I wonder where the little gentleman disappears when it comes to sharing toys with his little sister!?

Obviously I thought the little swimmer deserved a treat.

Both of my guys are obsessed with dark chocolate.  Lately I started feeling that our pots and pans were becoming endangered as Endangered Species were taking over the kitchen.  I saw this recipe and AMAZING photos at Relishing it a while ago, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how this loveliness could use up some of our chocolate stashes. My bread didn’t turn out half as beautiful as Laurie’s, but it was absolutely crazy delicious!!!

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YEASTED CHOCOLATE COFFEE CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

BREAD

  • ¼ oz active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup warm milk (110⁰F/43⁰C)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 tbs butter, melted and slightly cooled

EGG WASH

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbs milk

FILLING:

  • 8 oz bitter chocolate (2 bars)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tbs ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt

TOPPING:

  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

DIRECTIONS:

Make the bread.In a medium bowl mix the yeast and a pinch of sugar with the milk and let stand for about 5 minutes, or until foamy.  In another bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar and the egg.  Whisk into the yeast mixture.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment, combine the flour and kosher salt.  Add the egg mixture and mix on low speed until almost fully combined, add the butter.  Mix until smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 9-10 minutes.  Grease a large bowl.  Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.  Place in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 1 – 1.5 hours.

Make the filling.  In the food processor with large blade attachment grind chocolate and butter.  Add salt, cinnamon, and sugar to the mixture.

“Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a flour work surface.  Let rest for 5 minutes and then roll it out into an 18-inch square.  Sprinkle all but ½ cup of the filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.  Brush the edges with the egg wash.  Tightly roll the dough from one end to the other.  Pinch the seams to seal.  Fold in half and form a “U” shape.  Twist 2 or 3 into a braid.  Make sure to pinch the ends of braid together.  Grease a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan, line with parchment, leaving 1-inch overhangs; then grease the parchment paper.  Place the dough in the pan and brush with egg wash.”

Make the topping. In a small bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar, flour, butter, and the reserved filling.  Sprinkle it over the bread.  It’s ok, if the filling falls down the edges.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F/175⁰C. Cover the bread with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Please bread pan on a sheet and position it on the center rack in the oven.  Bake for about 55 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 325⁰F/160⁰C, and bake for another 15 minutes till golden brown.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack before removing it.

Make ahead: the bread could be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Thank you for sharing the recipe, Laurie!

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My dearest friend Alma and I went to the movies today to watch teenagers killing each other; enjoyed it tremendously and had some sodas and popcorn.  That soda (the ultra-enormous size “small” cherry coke) was the first chemical drink I’ve had in weeks.  The guilt level was so high – morally it almost felt like a hara-kiri sword going through my stomach.  The taste was so good –physically it almost felt like heaven… add Katniss Evergreen shooting everyone left and right – true paradise!

To prepare for this deliberately wrong (on so many levels) outing, I made a pretty healthy lunch.  This recipe is adopted from my bread bible, Tartine.  As a person, who grew up on semolina cereals, I was quite impressed – the loaf didn’t taste anything like those childhood breakfasts I’m trying to forget.  It was perfect for my avocado/sprout/goat cheese/sundried tomato sandwich!

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SEMOLINA BREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200 g leaven
  • 750 g + 50 g water (room temperature)
  • 700 g semolina flour
  • 300 g all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 75 g fennel seeds
  • 75 g sesame seeds
  • 20 g salt
  • 200 g mixed seeds (poppy, fennel, and sesame) for coating

Yields: 2 loafs

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare leaven a night before by mixing 1 tbs of mature starter with 200 g oof water and 200 g of all-purpose flour.  Leave at room temperature loosely covered.

Test the leaven for readiness by dropping a spoonful in a glass of luke-warm water.  If the leaven is floating, it’s ready to be used.  If it drops, you need to give the leaven some more fermentation time.

Pour 750 g of water into a large mixing bowl.  Add the leaven, and mix it so it almost dissolves.

Add the flours and mix well till incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20-45 minutes.

In the meantime toast and process the fennel and sesame seeds in a spice grinder.

After the initial rest, add salt, remaining 50 g of water, and ground seeds to the dough.  Mix well.

Follow the instructions of the basic country dough recipe, starting with “Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs.”   Divide the dough into two when first placing it on a floured surface.  Instead of sesame seeds, use the multi-seed mixture used in this recipe.

When baking two loafs, after the first loaf is finished, reheat the Dutch oven for another 10 minutes at 500⁰ F /260⁰ C before placing the second loaf into it.

Enjoy!

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Ladies, happy International Women’s Day!  I know it’s not much here, but back in Russia you get showered with flowers, presents, dinners, songs, poems, romantic movies, and whatever else you can possibly imagine.  The rules are simple: every female gets to be admired on this one day, and every male gets to participate in accomplishing the task.

Early in the relationship I managed to train my husband to deliver on this holiday.  It started beautifully with a home-made cake (from a box) broken in half by an accident and drowned in chocolate pudding (also from a box) – the most romantic dessert I’ve ever had! It continued with shampooed carpets in our apartment in Houston.  It migrated to dates at our favorite restaurants.  And it finally arrived to “I’ll be home early for the holiday dinner”.

Ah, the honeymoon stage, where art thou?

Well, to remind myself of home, and the good times everyone is having there, I’m simply baking bread.  It doesn’t quite look as the black bricks we used to buy, but it surely smells and tastes like them. 

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SOURDOUGH RYE BREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200 g leaven
  • 760 g water (75⁰ F/ 25⁰ C)
  • 40 g dark molasses
  • 170 g whole-rye flour
  • 830 g unbleached bread flour
  • 20 g salt

Yields 2 loafs

DIRECTIONS:

Day 1: make leaven – combine 200 g water, 1 tbs of sourdough starter and 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour.  Mix well, loosely cover the tope of the container with a plastic wrap, and let ferment overnight.  Discard the rest of the starter.

Day 2: Test the leaven: it’s ready if a tsp of it dropped in the water floats.

Once the leaven passes the floating test, combine all ingredients but salt and mix very well.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and let rest for 25-30 minutes.

Save leftover leaven – it’s now your starter.

After the first rest, add the salt, and mix it well into the dough.  Let rest for about 3 hours, turning the dough upside down with wet hands twice during the first two hours.

After about 3 hours, when the dough has increased in size, dump it onto a floured surface and separate into two balls.

Working with one half at a time: with a bread scraper fold the dough edges in to form a ball.  Let rest on a floured surface for about 25-30 minutes, covered by plastic or a floured towel.

Next, working with one half at a time, place it face down on a floured surface.  Fold the edges with your hands slightly pressing them into the remaining dough: starting by carefully stretching the bottom edge and folding it to meet the opposite end; repeating with left, right, and finishing with the top edge. Form a loaf.  Place a loaf in a proofing basket, lightly sprinkled with rice flour, lined with a floured tile, face down, seam up.

Put the baskets in plastic bags and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

To bake: place an iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 500⁰ F/ 260⁰ C.  Dump the loaf into the preheated pot, seam side down.Cover the iron pot, and bake the bread in it for 20 minutes at 475 ⁰ F/ 245 ⁰ C.

After 20 minutes remove the lid and let bake for 25 more minutes.

Let chill on a wire rack or eat while it’s hot.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

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The brother-in-law nicknamed me Carb Queen, and it wasn’t from watching me cook… Yes! I love carbs! I speak carbs! And I surely don’t hesitate to indulge on most things carb…  in large… well, VERY large quantities.  

For the last two months our family have been getting high on this delicious bread.  The basic recipe comes from my favorite Tartine; the idea comes from this lovely bakery in Santa Rosa that brings their amazing 5-seed sourdough to San Francisco farmers markets every week.

Luckily for my family, we are still not at the point where we can consume the whole loaf in one sitting… or even in two… and sometimes in three…  It keeps very well.  In any case, I usually slice half of the loaf, place it in zip-top bag, and freeze for up to one month.  

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FIVE-SEED BREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs poppy seeds
  • 2 recipe Basic Country dough

Yields 2 loafs

DIRECTIONS:

Pour boiling water over the flax seeds and let soak for about 30 minutes.

After the 1st rest of the dough, add salt but don’t add water.  Pour the flax seed mixture over (it will be gooey, do not drain the water).  Add all other seeds.  Squeeze the seeds into the dough with your fingers to completely incorporate or use your mixer.

Follow the Basic Country recipe for proofing.

After the raising is done, separate the dough into balls.

Follow the basic recipe for shaping and baking.

If baking one loaf at a time, after the 1st loaf is done, reheat the oven to 500⁰ F (260⁰ F).  Warm up the Dutch oven in there for about 10 minutes before starting the second loaf.

P.S. Stacie, if you are reading this, I took the pictures above this afternoon, outside, no artificial light used…  That’s what you abandoned!  Come back!  It feels empty here without Iowans!  Or better talk my man into bringing us closer to MidWest!  Please ;-)

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The crab season started in San Francisco and last night our neighbor invited us for a crab-fest in his house!  Yeeeey!  The crab-fest slowly morphed into a wine-fest…  unfortunately with easily predictable outcome … severe dehydration…  Don’t worry, we are not 21 anymore!  We have our tricks, and by 10 this morning, we felt and looked like new!  The secret is in Vietnamese Pho!  Oh, it’s the best cure!!!! 

You think that would be the today’s recipe, but NO!  I cannot manage to make a dissent broth!  I just cannot!  I tried so many recipes online but none taste good enough.  The problem is – we are serious about our pho.  We traveled to Vietnam to eat Pho.  We tried it in every town and neighborhood we visited. Our favorite bowl could be found somewhere in the Old Quarter of Hanoi .  Our favorite US equivalent resides in Tenderloin (well, Little Saigon) of San Francisco, and it’s called Turtle Tower.  If you are ever in town, and if you are not afraid of… you know.. sketchy neighborhoods – it’s the place to enjoy. 

Here are some photos from our trip:

 

 

 

Anyways, even a night of… crab-fest-ing didn’t stop me from doing hot yoga tonight.  And oh… what a delight! Hence, I’m still on the right track to fulfilling my vein ambitions. The session even managed to suppress this Russian mom’s appetite for a not-so-light-dinner she started before the class! I was quite satisfied with a grapefruit and some raw veggies.  This yoga stuff is incredible!

Well, because of all this hard work, I deserve a reward: my family’s favorite bread!

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WALNUT-RAISIN BREAD

INGREDIENTS

1 Recipe of the Basic Country dough

1 tsp coriander

25 g molasses

1/2 cup of walnuts, slightly crashed

1/2 cup of raisins

DIRECTIONS

Soak the raisins in 1 cup of hot water for about 15-20 minutes, drain

Prepare the dough according to the basic country dough instructions until the point where salt and water are added.  Add salt, coriander, and instead of water add 25 g of molasses as well as the walnuts and raisins.

Incorporate the ingredients by squeezing them with your fingers into the dough.

Follow the directions of the Basic Country dough for proving, and shaping.  Once you shape a loaf and ready to place it into the proofing basket, pat the loaf with a wet hand.  Sprinkle it with some crashed walnuts, and place the loaf into the basket on a floured towel.

Follow the basic country bread instructions on the final rise and baking.

 

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