Whole-Wheat English Muffins

Week Three: Breakfast Breads


I don’t know about you, but after the glorious culinary abandon of the holiday season (I’m talking all the way back to Thanksgiving, people), my January is leaving me with a recurring desire to eat nothing but vegetables until summer.  Will it actually happen?  Of course not.  But that desire, coupled with the recent glut of purely white breads in my freezer, has left me craving something more rustic, more grainy.  And there are few breads I know that take better to the addition of whole grains more than the English muffin.

English muffins, as such, possibly originated as a way to use up little leftover bits of bread and biscuit dough; but there is such a long Welsh tradition of cooking bread on hot stones and hearths, not to mention the popular and similar crumpet, that it seems they must have been a creation all of their own.  A recipe first appears in 1747, clearly disproving theories of origination in Victorian times, or even of an American creation (yes, I saw a website claiming that).  Certainly, the term “English muffin” was not used until the food made its way to the USA – do we call our cupcake-like muffins “American muffins”? – but the culinary tradition of the English muffin is well-established in the UK.  Interestingly, though, the cosmopolitan Thomas Jefferson enjoyed a similar muffin at Monticello.

Typically made with butter and milk in the dough, the English muffin is similar to a crumpet: they are both cooked on a griddle, and both feature large, bubbly holes perfect for catching melted butter.  But the crumpet has a more pancake-like batter, and is cooked in round molds, where the English muffin is more bready, and is cut or shaped before going on the griddle.  Also, the crumpet’s holes are in the top of the bread, where the English muffin’s holes are safely tucked away inside.  In addition, the English muffin features a thick dusting of cornmeal over the dough that cooks into a satisfying, crunchy crust.  

One caveat about English muffins, though: please don’t cut them apart with a knife!  Split them with a fork to retain the characteristic nook-and-cranny surface.  When you toast it, the surface gets variously-textured, alternately chewier and crunchier.  You lose that wonderful and unique trait when you just cut them open.  Served warm and spread with a pat of quickly-melting butter that pools in the holes, there can’t be much better.  Ooh, unless you make a sandwich with it, of course!  Scramble an egg, spread some pesto over the muffin, layer with parmesan or cream havarti… heaven!  Or maybe Nutella and banana slices?  What about peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon?  Use them instead of hamburger buns!  Oh, the endless possibilities!


Whole-Wheat English Muffins
Makes 8 muffins
Adapted from motherearthnews.com

1/2 cup milk, warmed until just barely bubbling
1 tbsp honey (or sugar)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
8 ounces whole wheat flour (about 2 cups)
3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp salt
About 1/2 cup cornmeal for dusting

1. Combine warmed milk and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until dissolved. In a separate bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.  Whisk flours, flaxseed, and salt together in a bowl.
2. Add yeast mixture, butter or oil, and half of flour mixture to the milk. Attach the dough hook and beat at a low speed until mostly smooth. Add flour by the half-cup until a soft dough forms. The dough has the right amount of flour when it pulls into a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. It will take a moment for new flour to incorporate into the dough.
3. Move the dough to a greased mixing bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
4. Sprinkle a work surface with flour, and sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet (or more counter space) with cornmeal (don’t be shy with this). Punch down the dough and move to the floured surface. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on the cornmeal, leaving 2-3 inches between the muffins. Slightly flatten each round and sprinkle thickly with more cornmeal. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a greased griddle over medium heat. Gently brush excess cornmeal off muffins and place on the griddle, flattening if necessary, and cooking until a deep golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until the edges feel firm.
6. Cool on wire racks about 5 minutes.  Split with a fork and toast before serving.


1. I added flaxseed to the dough because I just love its texture in bread, as well as the nutty flavor it adds.  (Try it in banana bread instead of nuts!)  If you don’t like flax, or don’t have it, you can substitute 1/2 cup regular rolled oats, or an additional 3/8 cup or so whole-wheat flour (the flour absorbs more water than the flax, so reduce the amount.  Add the flour bit by bit until the consistency is correct.).
2. I used olive oil instead of butter, though butter will give a more traditional flavor.
3. The cornmeal is part of what gives the muffins their lovely crust.  You can use flour, but I suggest not to, if possible.
4. Any pan will do for a griddle, but the larger the pan, the more you can cook at one time.  Cast iron, though, is perfect if you’ve got it.  And don’t crowd them all in there at once!  You’re trying to grill them, not steam them.
5. I did not bake mine at the end as suggested.  I overcooked the tops and bottoms in the pan, so that they came out nearly black, but the sides were firm.  I put them in a ziploc and into the freezer, to be thawed out in a warm oven later, then split and finished cooking in a toaster or under a broiler.
6. Hand-shaping these rolls results in a very round muffin, which cooks a bit unevenly in the pan.  If you want them to cook more evenly, you can roll the dough out flat and cut them out with a biscuit cutter.  (Or you can use my biscuit cutter: a tuna fish can opened at both ends.  Yes, it’s clean.)6.  The recipe calls for a stand mixer, but it can easily be made by hand instead.

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Scottish Morning Rolls

Week Three: Breakfast Breads


I finished out last week with a series of recipes centered around a theme: similar ingredients, similar procedure, different end result.  And, once I thought up a theme, my mind went into overdrive and came up with many, many others.  So from now on, I’ll be presenting breads with a common theme for each week.  I think it’ll be easier to read, easier to follow, and certainly easier to pick recipes!  This week, I give you: Breakfast Breads.

One thing breakfast breads usually have in common is that they’re a little faster and easier to throw together than your standard loaf.  The reason is obvious: who wants to fuss over some complicated concoction when you first wake up, only to wait four hours for it?  One exception that comes to mind here is croissants, those ethereal creatures that are purely a labor of love; and a labor they are, but so worth it!  And no, I will not be making croissants this week.  I do have a recipe for croissants that I’m dying to make, but it will have to come later in the year.

I spent this last weekend at the home of my boyfriend’s uncle and aunt, who very graciously escorted us throughout their hometown, revealing hidden gems in a highly underrated Midwestern city.  I made this recipe to bring as a small host/hostess gift, unglamorously but functionally presented in a gallon-sized ziploc.  The name, Scottish Morning Rolls, is new to me; but the form and flavor are reminiscent of English muffins (unsurprisingly, given the name).  One difference between the two is that these are shaped individually into rolls, whereas English muffins are cut out of one rolled-out piece of dough.  The texture of Scottish Morning rolls is also a bit denser, not-quite-exactly but more like a bagel.  They are not quite as sour as English muffins, either, but they do retain a similar softness.  Yes, they do need a little while to rise, but they bake quickly due to their small size, and don’t need to rest long after baking.  Sliced and toasted with butter, accompanying soft scrambled eggs and salty bacon, they made a perfect lazy Sunday brunch.

Scottish Morning Rolls
From Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter
Makes about 10 rolls

1 Lb unbleached all-purpose flour (about 4 cups)
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active-dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm milk (105-110 F)
2/3 cup lukewarm water (105-110 F)
2 tablespoons milk, for glazing
Extra flour for dusting

1.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet (or line with parchment).
2.  Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, and stir until dissolved.  Let stand 5 or 10 minutes, or until foamy.
3.  Sift or whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture and water into center of the flour, and mix to a soft dough.
4.  Knead lightly in the bowl (dough will not be smooth), cover with plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
5.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down lightly.  Divide evenly into 10 pieces.  Covering the others, knead each piece briefly.  With a rolling pin, roll each to a flat oval, about 4×3 inches.
6.  Place rounds onto prepared baking sheet, well-spaced.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
7.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly press down on top of each roll to equalize air bubbles and to prevent blistering.
8.  Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons milk and dust with flour.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until light brown on edges.  Cool about five minutes on a rack, and serve warm.


1. I divided mine into 12 slightly-smaller rolls, only because I have a hard time dividing half a lump of dough into five pieces.  Whatever works for you!
2. After kneading lightly in the bowl (step 4), my dough was very shaggy, and not at all smooth and together.  I figured I’d done it wrong, but thought I’d see what happened.  Turned out that the liquid soaked into the flour perfectly, and the dough was lovely and soft after rising.
3.  I didn’t press on the rolls (step 7), and they turned out just fine.  Maybe my yeast is getting a little old, but they didn’t form any large bubbles that would’ve blistered.  If you see any, then it might be a good idea to follow that step.  It is apparently traditional to shape them like that, despite the fact that any finger-imprints are lost in baking.
4.  If you plan on splitting and toasting them like an English muffin, I suggest underbaking them slightly.  They are lovely to pull apart and eat as is, but the shape just seems to suggest that sort of treatment.  These are ideal for freezing in a ziploc (split them first), and popping straight into the toaster for a quick breakfast.  Easy!

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Focaccia With Sage


unbaked... camera ran out of batteries!

This is the last bread in the series, but I think it’s my favorite.  It uses the same basic ingredients and procedure, but through different timing and shaping, it becomes a completely different end product.  Ok, so there is some sage, but that doesn’t have any effect on the texture, so I figure it’s fair game.  What’s focaccia without some herbs, anyway?

You may be familiar with focaccia, as it’s become increasingly popular in the US in recent years, particularly as a sandwich bread.  But focaccia can come in a wide range of shapes and textures: from a thicker, more typically-bread-like round; down to something like a thick pizza crust.  In fact, there are sometimes so many toppings on focaccia that is might as well be a pizza.  This loaf ends up being a little thicker, easily sliced in half to make sandwiches.  I can see it now, spread thickly with grainy mustard or pesto, layered with prosciutto, turkey, and a spicy olive salad….  My mouth is watering!

The beauty of a bread like this is the endless opportunity for variation.  This recipe calls specifically for sage and garlic, but you can use anything.  Rosemary, oregano, thyme, and basil would all be very delicious and authentically Italian choices; but why stop there?  Mint would be wonderful, as would parsley (a highly underrated herb, in my opinion).  Chives?  Tarragon?  Dill?  Throw ’em in!  And it doesn’t have to stop with herbs, either.  Try any spice (cayenne, cumin, fennel, etc.) kneaded into the dough.  Top it with sun-dried tomatoes!  Dot it with ricotta!  Let your imagination run wild!


Adapted from Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter
Makes one 10″ round loaf

1 1/2 tsp yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz unbleached white bread flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)

For the topping:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 or 10 fresh sage leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)

1.  Lightly grease a 10″ cake pan.  (You don’t have to if it’s nonstick.)
2.  Sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup of the water, stir to dissolve, and let stand 5-10 minutes, or until foamy.  Stir in oil and remaining water.
3.  Sift or whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Pour in yeast mixture, and mix to form a soft dough.
4.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
5.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
6.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface, gently press flat, and knead in chopped sage.  (It may take a few minutes to evenly distribute the sage throughout the loaf, and some will certainly fall out.  Just smush it back in.)  Shape the dough into a ball and roll out to 10″ circle.  Place in prepared cake pan.
7.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.  Using clean fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon, poke dimples into the surface in a regular patter.  Cover with plastic wrap again, and let rest until doubled in size.  (Mine took 30-45 minutes.)  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
9.  When fully proofed, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle evenly with garlic, and place sage leaves on top.
10.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
11.  Remove from pan and let cool at least 15 minutes on a wire rack.  Serve warm.


1. I decided not to use the garlic on top, solely because I didn’t feel like washing the cutting board.  But it’s delicious!  Try kneading the garlic into the bread for a more even distribution.
2. I dusted the top with some kosher salt when it came out of the oven, just because I felt like it.  Oh, and please don’t omit the olive oil on top.  It might seem like a lot, but spread out over a whole loaf, it isn’t much; and it serves to keep the bread moist, and help the toppings adhere.
3. If you like, sprinkle some bits of mozzarella or some freshly-grated Parmesan (not the awful stuff in the green can!) over the top, about 5 or 10 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.  It’ll go all melty and delicious!
4.  My cake pan was 9″, making my bread a little taller.  But you don’t even need a cake pan, really; that just keeps it perfectly cylindrical.  If you bake it on a sheet pan, the edges will be a little sloped, but it’ll still be round and lovely.
5.  If you find it hard to roll out, cover it and give it a 5 minute nap, then have another go.  No rolling pin?  Use a clean wine bottle.  No wine bottle?  Press it out with your fingers.  Easy!

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Swiss Braid


Looking around my kitchen yesterday, bread pans, bench scraper, and bowls sitting on the drying rack, flour seeping slowly into the every nook and cranny, freezer increasingly full of various foil-wrapped loaves, I realized that my apartment is becoming a de facto part-time bakery.  And I’m fine with that; I probably spend as much time in the kitchen as I do in my bed.  I can already tell that in the last couple of weeks, I’ve improved my bread-making skills.  Look out – by the end of the year, there’ll be another Nancy Silverton around!  

Now, I had been pretty confident of my dough-wrangling abilities.  After all, I’ve been making bread for years, and I’ve been through culinary school (lah-tee-dah)!  But the truth is, this recipe gave me some problems.  Not so much in the mixing or fermentation, but in the makeup.  This is a braided dough; and if you’ve ever, um, been a girl, then you’ve surely braided hair once or twice.  It’s just about the same thing, except that the dough isn’t attached to anyone’s head.  My problem, though, came from the fact that this recipe calls for the dough to be split into two pieces, not three.  I figured, how hard could it be?

Well, when it’s late, and you’re trying to move quickly, it can be plenty hard.  I think I braided and un-braided about ten times.  Finally, I got out two reference books, and pretty much figured it out.  But even if it didn’t turn out textbook-perfect, it looks good enough to me.  I’m including pictures of the braiding process below, so hopefully that will help you.  If you just can’t be bothered, then a three-strand braid is fine; it may just end up a little shorter than the two-strand.  You can roll the dough to thinner strands, but you’ll probably have to cover them and let them rest for about 5 minutes after rolling to a certain point.  The gluten gets all worked up, and you just have to let it relax for a bit before it will play nice.

So how does this bread relate to the theme I’ve set for myself this week (similar ingredients, different end results)?  True, there’s only 2 tablespoons of water in this recipe, compared to over 1 cup for the others; but the difference is made up with sour cream.  Yes, sour cream obviously has a different flavor than water, and that is a large reason it’s in the recipe; but the fat in it is crucial here, as is the additional butter added to the dough.  The reason behind all this is what I’ve been harping on all week: gluten.  

Gluten forms whenever you handle dough: through kneading, cutting, shaping, rolling, and especially braiding.  If you took a basic four-ingredient dough (flour, water, salt, and yeast) and braided it, it would be tough as all get out, because the gluten would be so over-produced by all the handling.  The role of fat in a bread dough is to shorten the strands of gluten – hence the term “shortening”.  If gluten strands are like teenagers trying to just all hold hands and enjoy a quiet moment together, fat is like the chaperone wedging itself in between, smacking their hands apart.  Any fat will do the job, from olive oil to butter to sour cream.  When you braid bread, you need that shortening action to keep your bread tender, and edible.

So, ok.  This recipe isn’t exactly the same as the others, but it is a different and interesting shape.  This is nearly as basic as a braided recipe gets (yeah, I cheated a little with the sour cream, but let’s not get stuck on details).  Not many people in America make braided breads, as they’re mostly common in Switzerland and Germany, so they usually impress.  And who doesn’t like to pull apart a soft braid into tiny bite-sized pieces?  It’s so tactile and satisfying!

Swiss Braid
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter

For the dough:
12 oz (about 3 cups) unbleached white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active-dry yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water (105 – 110 degrees F)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened

For the glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

1.  Grease a sheet tray, or line it with parchment.  Mix the water and the yeast together until dissolved.  Gently warm the sour cream in a small pan until it reaches about 105 degrees F (no hotter than 110!).  Add to the yeast mixture and mix together.  Add beaten egg.
2.  Sift or whisk the flour and salt together into a large bowl, and make a well in the middle.  Add the yeast mixture and gradually mix to a dough.  Beat in the softened butter.
3.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
4.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down gently.  Cut in half and shape each piece of dough into a long rope, about 14 inches in length.
5.  To make the braid, place the two pieces of dough in a wide X-shape in front of you on the prepared pan.  Pick up the ends of the bottom string and move them straight across the other string so that they change sides but do not cross each other.  Repeat the procedure with the other string, and repeat until the braid is finished.
6.  As you come to the end of the braid, pinch the strings together and tuck underneath.  If some strands remain much longer than the others, trim them to size.  (You can still bake the little nugget off and have a tiny roll!)
7.  Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.
8.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix the egg yolk and water for the glaze, and brush over the loaf.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.


1.  If your dough shrinks a little after braiding, cover it and give it a five minute cat-nap, then gently lift and pull the ends a bit to lengthen the loaf.  Don’t tug!
2.  After brushing with the egg wash, prior to baking you can sprinkle the braid with poppy seeds or sesame seeds for a little extra decoration.
3.  A suggestion from Bo Friberg, author of the highly excellent book, The Professional Pastry Chef: Brush the braid with egg wash and proof a little less than specified.  Egg wash the braid a second time, then place the sheet pan in the freezer long enough for the loaves to become firm on the outside, 15 – 20 minutes.  Bake directly from the freezer.  The temperature change from the freezer to the hot oven, combined with the under proofing, makes the bread develop more oven-spring.  This shows up between the strings as a lighter-colored area (without egg wash) and gives the pattern more definition.
4.  If you’re looking for something more showstopping, try braiding together white and whole-wheat breads.  The contrast is very pretty, and gives everyone at the table their preferred choice of bread.


Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

Step 4

Step 4

Step 5

Step 5

Step 6

Step 6

Step 7

Step 7

Step 8

Step 8

Step 9

Step 9


Step 10

Step 11

Step 11

Step 12

pinch the ends



Ta da!

Ta da!

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Split Tin Bread


The third loaf in this series has nearly the same ingredients as the previous two: flour, water, salt, and yeast.  But where the French bread had honey and butter for additional flavor, this uses only a splash of milk.  And, not to leave one out, the Cottage Loaf relied solely on the virtues of its basic ingredients.  One big difference, of course, is that this bread is baked in a loaf pan instead of on a sheet pan.  (The name of this recipe refers to its British roots: they say “tin” instead of “pan”.)  It’s basically a standard white bread, perfect for sandwiches, characterized by a deep crack cut into the length of the loaf before baking.

Another difference in this recipe is the use of a very basic “sponge”.  To make a sponge, the yeast is dissolved in the water, then mixed with around half of the flour to make a thick batter.  The sponge is then left to proof, and is later mixed with the remaining ingredients.  I use the word “basic” only because sponges are usually mixed separately from the rest of the flour, and usually left longer than the twenty minutes stated in this recipe.  Why longer?  By letting the yeast work longer, unhindered by other ingredients like eggs and fat, they produce a much better flavor and texture in the finished product.  Twenty minutes is the about the least amount of time needed for a useful sponge; but they can, and generally do, sit for longer – anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.  Try it with this recipe if you like; it can only improve the flavor!

A little warning, though: if you let the sponge sit longer than 4 or 5 hours, you should reduce the amount of yeast, adding the remainder when you add the other ingredients.  The reason for this is that over time, the yeast may work too much, and over-ferment the dough, leading to off flavors and textures.  Think of it like this: many hands make short work.  Add a lot of yeast, and the rising will be done very quickly.  Add a little yeast, and it takes longer to do the same job.  Better flavors and textures tend to result from a long fermentation, which is why you’ll see recipes that call for 12 or 24 hour fermentations, but only 1/4 teaspoon of yeast.  These recipes also tend to have a higher percentage of water.  Wetter doughs are hard, if not impossible, to knead by hand; but luckily, time and the rising action of the yeast forms the gluten in lovely, long, silky strands.  (This is the principle behind the NY Times’ famous No-Knead Bread recipe, in case you’ve seen that one.)

Phew!  I think it’s time to wrap that up.  Here’s the recipe for Split Tin Bread that I mentioned about thirty paragraphs ago!  I stirred all this together in a big bowl with a wooden spoon, but if you have a mixer with a dough hook, that would work too.  I think doing this by hand is the best way to make the sponge, and after that, I just couldn’t be bothered to wash my mixer.  Enjoy!


Split Tin Bread
Adapted from Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/4 Lb unbleached white bread flour (about 5 cups), plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (105 – 110 degrees F)
4 tablespoons lukewarm milk (105 – 110 degrees F)

1.  Lightly grease a 2-pound loaf tin (about 7 x 4 inches, more or less).  
2.  Mix the yeast with half the water until dissolved.  Let stand 5 or 10 minutes, or until foamy.
3.  Sift or whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture and remaining water into center of the flour, and using your fingers, mix in a little flour.  Gradually  mix in more of the flour from around the edge of the bowl to form a thick, smooth batter.
4.  Sprinkle a little more four from around the edge over the batter and leave in a warm place to “sponge”.  Bubbles will appear in the batter after about 20 minutes.  Add the milk and mix in the remaining flour from around the edge.  Mix to a firm dough.
5.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 or 1 1/4 hours, or until doubled in size.
6.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Gently press dough into a rectangle the length of the tin.  Roll up lengthways, tuck the ends under, and place seam-side down in the prepared tin.  Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 20-30 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.
7.  Using a sharp knife, make one deep slash lengthwise down the center of the dough.  Dust with flour, recover, and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
8.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Bake for 20-25 minutes more, or until golden brown, and sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Turn out of tin onto a wire rack to cool.

1. My bread hadn’t risen above the edge of the pan when time came to slash it, making the process a bit awkward.  It may work better for you to let it rise the full 30-45 minutes, then slash it.  Better yet, split the dough in two pieces, and pan them side by side, lengthwise in the tin.  They will join together while rising and baking, but retain the namesake “split”. 

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Cottage Loaf


Since I gave such a thorough discussion of the bread-making process yesterday, I thought I’d finish out the week with variations on that theme.  Which is to say: breads with similar recipes and procedures, but with very different outcomes, based on how the process is manipulated, mostly with time and shaping.

Yesterday, I gave you a recipe for a French bread, shaped like a baguette, and fermented and proofed for a fairly standard time period.  Today, I bring you what my cookbook calls simply “Cottage Loaf”, a bread with a home-y flavor, yet pretty enough to be a centerpiece for any important meal.  And honestly, I found it just as easy to shape as a baguette.  (I always found long, droopy lengths of dough awkward to move around.  Here, you just move two balls around.  Simple!)  What you end up with is a shape reminiscent of a king’s crown, or maybe a short snowman, depending on your point of view.  And while the actual ingredients are nearly the same, and the doughs have similar flavors, the finished product is worlds apart from yesterday’s French bread.  

I always loved that about bread: how you can take the same basic building blocks, and create infinite variations based on proportion, shape, and time.  That’s a major reason I feel no one should be afraid to make bread; so what if your ciabatta didn’t turn out quite like you intended?  Maybe it turned into a very fine pugliese instead!  (And even if it didn’t, just tell people that’s what you meant.  No one will question you if you use hard-to-pronounce words like that.)

This recipe features something unusual when the “baking” step comes around.  You put the dough into the cold oven just as you turn it on, rather than letting it preheat completely.  I can’t honestly say whether or not I’ve ever seen another bread recipe that does that; so, of course, I assumed I knew what I was doing, and put the dough into a hot oven.  This is why you always read new recipes completely, no matter what!  Argh, lesson learned.  My bread turned out a little brown on the edges, and a bit dense.  But it tasted good, and it sure was pretty!  I guarantee this bread will impress just about anyone you serve it to.  If you can manage it, try to time the baking so that your guests can see and hear you pull it out of the oven.  Yes, hear – the crust should “sing” to you, crackling happily as it cools.  

Cottage Loaf
Adapted from Bread by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter
Makes 1 large round loaf

1 1/2 Lb (6 cups) unbleached white bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 2/3 cups lukewarm water (105 – 110 degrees F)

1.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet (or line with parchment).
2.  Mix the yeast with 2/3 cup of the water until dissolved.  Let stand 5 or 10 minutes, or until foamy.
3.  Sift or whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture and remaining water into center of the flour, and mix to a firm dough.
4.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
5.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down lightly.  Knead for 2-3 minutes, then divide into two balls: one with 1/3 of the dough, and the other with 2/3 of the dough.
6.  Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet.  Cover with inverted bowls or lightly oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
7.  Gently flatten the top of the larger round of dough and, with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the center, about 1 1/2 inches across.  Brush or sprinkle with a little water and place the smaller round on top.
8.  Carefully press a hole through the middle of the top ball, down into the lower part, using your thumb and first two fingers of one hand.  Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and leave to rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes.
9.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees F and immediately place the bread on the lower shelf.  It will finish expanding as the oven heats up.  Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped.  Cool at least 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

1.  To ensure a good-shaped loaf, the dough needs to be firm enough to support the weight of the top ball.
2.  Do not let the dough sit too long on the second rise, or the loaf may topple over when baked.  But even if it does, it will still taste good!
3.  I mistakenly let the oven heat up all the way before putting the dough in.  The crumb turned out very dense, with tiny holes, but the flavor was still very good.
4.  To get the lovely little slits around the outside, use a clean pair of kitchen shears to cut vertically into the dough.  Don’t be shy; the extra surface area allows for more expansion as it bakes, and therefore more lovely crust.

Posted in Savory, Yeast Breads | Leave a comment

Honey Butter French Bread


This is a fairly generic bread recipe that falls under the broad category of “French bread”.  The term “French bread” can describe any number of moderately crusty, varyingly airy, white breads; but the main feature is that they are usually shaped like a baguette (a long, thin loaf).  True baguettes are defined very specifically; according to French law, they must contain very specific ingredients, and proportions thereof.  But, the French always were very hyper-protective of their cultural idiosyncrasies.  In America, we tend to be more lax about such things.  Thus, you can go into grocery stores across this country and pick up fifty different loaves of “French bread” and actually end up with fifty different kinds of bread.  So, rather than discuss what makes this a better or worse French bread than any other recipe, I think I’ll discuss the bread-making process instead.  Fair warning: this will get technical.  If you’d just rather skip to a recipe for a nice little French bread, lightly flavored with butter, and slightly sweet with a touch of honey, then feel free.  You won’t hurt my feelings one bit.

There are twelve basic steps involved in making a yeast-risen bread:

1. Scaling
2. Mixing
3. Fermentation
4. Punching
5. Scaling
6. Rounding
7. Bench Resting
8. Makeup & Panning
9. Proofing
10. Baking
11. Cooling
12. Storing

Scaling – This just refers to measuring out the ingredients.  Since weighing is the most accurate way to measure flour and other dry ingredients, bakers refer to the use of a scale in this step; hence, scaling.  Water, milk, eggs, and other wet ingredients should be measured through volume, not weight.  Though it seems simple, this is a very important step.  Precision can be tricky, since flour can absorb slightly different amounts of water depending on humidity and temperature.  Water temperature is also of import here: too hot, and you kill your yeast; too cold, and it will take longer to rise.  Yeast proofing is included in this step, while dough proofing is different and has its own step later on.

Mixing – Arguably the most crucial step in making a good bread.  Mixing does three things: 
1. Combines all ingredients into a smooth, uniform dough
2. Distributes the yeast evenly throughout the dough
3. Develops gluten (the tough, rubbery substance that is formed when wheat flour is mixed with water.  I’m sure I’ll be discussing gluten a lot more over the course of this project, but that’s the basic idea.)

Gluten forms in long strands in the dough, and is created through kneading.  Knead too little, and you will have under-produced gluten, which means your bread will be dense; knead too much and the over-produced gluten will make the bread tough.  Luckily, it is virtually impossible to over-knead by hand.  (Your KitchenAid mixer is another story.)

Fermentation  – The easiest step yet, otherwise known as “rising”.  You let the dough take a little nap, usually in a lightly-oiled bowl so it’s more easily removed, and usually covered with plastic wrap or a damp cloth to prevent the surface from drying out.  What actually happens here is the yeast converts the sugar and starch in the dough into carbon dioxide (and alcohol, but there’s less of that).  Gluten continues to develop, but it becomes smoother and forms longer strands.

Punching – No, you do not beat up your dough.  Punching is a term for deflating your dough.  Yes, at this point, you want to get rid of some of the carbon dioxide that your yeast worked so hard to produce.  But in so doing, you also equalize the temperature in the dough, redistribute the yeast, and relax the gluten a little.  And yes, the most common way of doing this is to gently push a floured hand (or fist) into the middle of the dough.

Scaling – What, again?  Yes, again.  This time, though, instead of ingredients, you’re weighing out equal measurements of dough, to be made into loaves or rolls.  But for the purposes of home baking, you can usually skip this step, since a bread recipe usually only makes one loaf.

Rounding – Rounding means you form your dough into a ball and stretch a gluten-y skin around the outside, by stretching and tucking the sides underneath.  This skin holds carbon dioxide (given off by the yeast) in the dough, making the finished product lighter and more airy.  It also makes for a prettier end product.

Bench Resting – Cover the dough so it doesn’t dry out, and let it take another cat nap, usually about 10 or 20 minutes.  By disturbing it in the previous step, the gluten has gotten all worked up, and this gives it a chance to relax again.  Gluten can be awfully uptight sometimes.

Makeup & Panning – Here’s the most fun part (next to eating your finished bread, anyway)!  Makeup means you shape your dough into whatever you want to end up with: a round loaf, an oval, a long baguette, a braid, etc., etc., etc.  Panning means, um, you put it in or on the pan.  Loaf pan, sheet tray, whatever you need.

Proofing – Basically, this is the second rise.  The yeast continues to produce carbon dioxide, puffing up the dough, and the gluten continues to form, holding in those gases.  If you let the bread sit too long at this point, the yeast will produce too much gas for the gluten to handle, and the dough will eventually collapse, making the finished product tough and flat.  Bake it off too soon, though, and there won’t be enough little airy pockets in the bread, and it will be too dense.  Luckily, there is a simple way to tell when it’s just right: gently poke one or two fingertips into the side of the dough.  If the indentation springs back, the dough needs more time.  When the indentation remains, it’s just right.

Baking – Pretty self-explanatory.  But what exactly happens here?  Water in the dough turns to steam and expands, but is held in by our old friend gluten.  This is called “oven spring”, and will continue to happen until the outer layer of dough cooks and hardens enough to prevent it.  The yeast finally give up the ghost at around 140 degrees F, so there’s no more action from them.  Eventually, all the starches in the dough gelatinize and the sugars caramelize (seriously!), and your loaf is done when it’s nicely browned, and it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

Cooling – This is where you learn the virtue of patience.  The scent of your fresh creation hangs in the air, you perhaps hear the crackle of the crust “singing” to you, and the golden curves of the loaf recline almost seductively on a cooling rack.  Other than a burnt tongue, what harm could come from sneaking a quick slice?  Plenty!  Pick up that knife now, and all your hours of hard work could become undone in so many seconds.  You remember the principle behind letting meat rest so the juices have time to redistribute, right?  Well, the same theory applies here, except that it’s steam instead of juice.  Cut into your bread before it’s ready, and all your steam escapes.  This turns the entire loaf gummy, and lets it dry out faster than it normally would.  So be patient, and go do something else for ten or fifteen minutes.

Storing – So you’ve waited like a good baker, and reaped the full reward of your efforts.  And you couldn’t finish the whole loaf in one sitting, right?  Now you have to put it away.  If you intend to eat it all in the next several hours, it can just sit out, uncovered.  Longer than 8 hours, though, and you should cover it, by putting it in a paper bag.  Plastic bags and wraps are ok, but any hard crust will go soft.  But wrapped or unwrapped, never put your bread in the refrigerator!  Refrigerators are big machines that make bread go stale!  If you don’t intend to finish the bread in a day or two, you should wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil (for the most protection), and freeze it.  Every bread I’ve ever made has frozen beautifully, and easily thaws in a 350 degree oven in minutes.  To make things easy, I cut large loaves into single or double serving pieces.  Just grab one from the freezer and pop in the oven.  And sometimes, if I’m lazy, I’ll even just stick a frozen slice or roll under a hot broiler.  Toaster ovens are perfect for reheating bread!

And now, for all your patience, here is a recipe for French bread.  Unless, of course, you just first skipped to this part.  I can’t say I blame you much!


Honey Butter French Bread
From Bon Appétit Magazine 

2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope dry yeast
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon honey
5 cups (about) unbleached all purpose flour (21 1/4 oz)

1.  Mix 1/4 cup warm water and sugar in large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over; stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 8 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups warm water. Mix in butter, salt and honey. Using wooden spoon, stir in 4 cups flour (17 oz).

2.  Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form dough into ball. Butter large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then with clean towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour.

3.  Punch down dough. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half; roll each dough piece between hands and work surface into 9-inch-long loaf. Transfer loaves to baking sheet. Cover with plastic, then with towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

4.  Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 425°F. Make 5 diagonal slashes crosswise in surface of each loaf. Lightly brush water over tops and sides of loaves. Bake loaves 20 minutes, brushing occasionally with water. Continue baking until loaves are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.


1.  Reviews of this recipe at Epicurious.com suggest that people have problems with the bread sticking to the pan.  I always use a piece of parchment under bread when baking, and never have problems.  In lieu of parchment, you could sprinkle some cornmeal on the pan before placing the shaped dough.
2.  I
only recently discovered that a sharp serrated knife is ideal for slashing proofed dough.  The key is to move quickly, and absolutely do not press down on and flatten out the dough.  Be fearless!  Slash that bread!
3.  I used bread flour instead of all-purpose.  I figure, I’m making bread, why not use bread flour?  I’m sure all-purpose is just as good.  But beware!  If you use bread flour, increase the amounts given in ounces!  It does NOT weigh the same as all-purpose!
4 cups of bread flour =
19 oz.  
5 cups of bread flour = 23 3/4 oz.  
(Maybe I’ll get into discussing the difference between the flours at some point…)
4.  I found that I needed just about all 5 cups of flour.  But that could change if I made it tomorrow, or six months from now.  Flour absorbs different amounts of water depending on humidity.  For that reason, it’s a good practice to hold off some flour when first mixing ingredients together, adding more as needed. 

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Beer Bread… with lime?

My sister introduced me to this simple, savory quick bread.  Now, I have always loved cooking with alcohol.  Sometimes, I even put it in the food.  (ba-dum, tish)  The fact that the recipe calls for an entire can of beer probably got me to make it the first time; but it is the slightly sweet, faintly buttery, English-muffin-like flavor that earned it a permanent spot in my recipe collection.  This bread couldn’t be easier: four ingredients that you likely have sitting around, quickly stirred together, and baked into a crusty, yet crumbly, loaf.  If you have no time (or patience) for a yeast bread, this one will provide an excellent substitute.  

I have seen several variations of this recipe, mainly increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar and butter; but this is my favorite.  Play around with it, make it your own!  Add some herbs, or grated cheese.  Use different beers, see what they taste like.  It’s so incredibly easy that it will never feel like a hassle to make, and it’s so delicious (especially toasted!) that you will never have extra sitting around for long.

I recently decided to make this one night after opening a beer that, after tasting, I had no intention of finishing.  Without naming names, it was a light beer with lime flavoring.  It tasted mostly like a bad soda, and the 2.2% alcohol was simply not worth it.  Unwilling to throw away “perfectly good beer”, I pulled out the worn index card with my sister’s Beer Bread recipe.  I measured out what was left of the beer, and came up 2 sips short of the needed 12 ounces.  Why I decided to make up the difference with dry vermouth, I’m not entirely sure; I think it had to do with a concern about the lack of alcohol affecting the texture, or something.  Also, after starting the recipe, I realized I didn’t have enough all-purpose flour, so I made up the difference there with whole-wheat flour.  Stirring the mess together, I decided to bake it in my cast-iron skillet instead of my two loaf pans, each too small to hold the whole recipe (one less thing to clean, you see).

Between the lime beer, the vermouth, the dense whole-wheat flour, and the skillet, I was sure this poor loaf was doomed to failure.  But, throwing caution to the wind, I stuck my concoction in the oven, and silently wished it luck.

And you know what?  It came out perfectly.  The top domed cheerfully in the pan, turning a luscious golden brown.  The crust turned out as toothsome as ever.  It smelled heavenly.  And the taste?  Despite being perhaps a touch sweeter than usual, there was no hint of lime or vermouth.  The whole-wheat flour lent a rustic quality, and the familiar taste of butter lingered slightly on the palate.  This bread, it seems, is forgiving of even the most major modifications and mistakes.

I’m giving you the recipe as I have it, without all the vermouth-y modifications described above.  Generally, when using beer to make bread or other baked goods, you want to find a light, mild-tasting beer.  I used to keep Pabst Blue Ribbon on hand for such needs.  A stronger-flavored beer can sometimes overwhelm the other ingredients, or become bitter.  On the other hand, of course, sometimes you want that effect, depending on the recipe!  Just don’t use that nice microbrew you’ve been saving; I promise it will taste better on its own.

Beer Bread

3 cups + 2 teaspoons self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 twelve-oz can light beer

1.  Coat 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with butter, olive oil, or cooking spray.  Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons flour.
2.  Mix all ingredients until moist and just combined.  Pour into loaf pan. 
3.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.

1.  If you don’t have self-rising flour, use the following instead: 3 cups all-purpose flour + 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder  + 3/8 teaspoons salt (or 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt).
2.  To prepare the pan,  coat with oil of choice, sprinkle with flour, and knock out excess.  After bread is baked, loosen with a knife if needed, and bang edge of pan on counter to release the loaf.

Posted in Quick Breads, Savory | Leave a comment

Scandinavian Rye Muffins

When I think of rye bread, I usually picture a plump loaf, sliced thick and piled with corned beef and sauerkraut.  The very name conjures images of hole-in-the-wall delis in some generic New York neighborhood that exists only in my head.  Coming across this recipe in Gourmet therefore gave me pause.  Rye… muffins?  Muffins are fluffy, sweet things, stuck in a delicious halfway-point between cupcakes and dinner rolls.  Even the name sounds adorable.  Rye bread and muffins are, if not exactly worlds apart, definitely incongruous.  I had to make it.  Could this recipe really mix the two, and successfully produce rye muffins?

In short, not really.  Yes, they are cooked in muffin tins, but they ended up more as small rye dinner rolls.  Not that that’s a problem, but I was expecting fusion of a higher level, something more along the lines of a grainy brioche.  So maybe I’ll tweak the recipe and get back to it later in the year, but for now, I give you a pretty good recipe for Rye Dinner Rolls.  It has a lovely flavor, with light smokiness from the cumin, and a hint of anise that makes me wish I’d added a pinch of ground cloves.  Don’t skip the orange zest or the salt sprinkled on top (I used plain kosher salt).  Oh, and I baked these in regular-sized muffin tins before I realized that mini muffin tins were called for.  So they turned out short, and had a bit too much crust-to-soft-interior ratio, but were otherwise fine.

The main thing, though, that I love about this recipe is the method of baking bread in muffin tins.  I mean, I’ve seen a few (usually sweeter) breads done like this (Parker House rolls come to mind), but why not just pan all kinds of bread like this?  Instant single servings!  It’s perfect!  And why, oh why, didn’t I think of it before?  Spluh.  


Scandinavian Rye Muffins
from Gourmet Magazine
makes 24 mini-muffins

1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1 1/2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
1 cup warm water (105-115°F), divided
2/3 cup rye flour
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for greasing
2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
Vegetable oil for greasing
1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon

2 nonstick mini-muffin pans with 12 (1 3/4-inch-wide) muffin cups

1.  Stir together yeast, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 15 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

2.  Whisk together rye flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, zest, salt, anise seeds, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds. Add flour mixture along with melted butter, molasses, and remaining 3/4 cup warm water to yeast mixture and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, beating until combined. Add remaining 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and beat until incorporated. (Dough will be very sticky.) Scrape down dough from side of bowl with a rubber spatula and let rise, bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

3.  Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter muffin pans.

4.  Stir down dough (it will be too sticky to punch down). Divide dough evenly among 24 muffin cups, about a rounded tablespoon per cup. (Grease tablespoon with oil as necessary to prevent sticking.) Let dough rest, uncovered, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature 30 minutes. Gently brush tops of muffins with some of egg wash, then sprinkle with sea salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds.

5.  Bake until muffins are puffed and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Turn out muffins onto a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.


1.  Dough can be made (but not allowed to rise) 1 day ahead and chilled in refrigerator, bowl wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Put chilled dough in muffin pan as directed and let rise 1 hour, then proceed with recipe. 

2.  Muffins keep, frozen in sealed plastic bags, 2 weeks. Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven until muffins are heated through, 8 to 10 minutes for frozen.

Posted in Savory, Yeast Breads | 1 Comment

Whole Wheat Chapattis


Yesterday was New Year’s Day: a day for careful reflection of the year behind and what life has given you in it, a day for contemplation of the year ahead and the sort of better person you want to be at the end of it, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.  What it really meant for me was that I was moving very slowly.  If I’m honest, the veil of headachy confusion didn’t lift completely until evening.  It was Day One of the bread making project, and I couldn’t even be bothered to make coffee.  But I have my goal before me, and I was not about to be sidetracked on the very first day over a little revelry-induced fuzziness.  

A simple bread was in order, nothing fussy or complicated would do.  Speed was also key; the faster I had a starchy food ready, the better off everyone would be.  I settled quickly on a recipe for an unleavened Indian flatbread called chapatti.  Typically eaten with lentils or curries, often in lieu of utensils, chapattis are one of many different and delicious rotis (flatbreads) from South Asia and Africa.  They are certainly a direct descendant of what the very first bread must have been: simply flour and water, mixed together, and baked over an open flame.  Chapattis are specifically made with whole-grain atta flour (made from durum wheat, which also makes semolina, or pasta flour); but I didn’t have any of that, so whole wheat flour would have to do.  The other three ingredients, water, salt, and oil, are always on hand in my kitchen, so no worries there, and the short ingredient list left little room for confusion.  But most importantly, unleavened meant there was no yeast to wait on.  Perfect.

This dough is a little ragged when first mixed together, but kneading brings it together nicely, and quickly.  My pan wasn’t as hot as it perhaps should have been, but it did the job well enough.  I believe they would’ve puffed up more if it had been hotter.  But dipped in olive oil, they tasted just fine to me, and spread with leftover white and black bean dips, they were the perfect antidote to the excesses of last year.  Now let’s see if I can avoid a similar fate at this time next year….


Whole Wheat Chapattis
makes 8 six-inch rounds

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt (heaped, if using kosher salt)
1 T olive oil (or vegetable oil)
3/4 cup lukewarm water, divided

1. Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl.  Make a well in the center, and pour in the oil and 1/2 cup of the water.  Gradually add remaining water, continuing to mix until flour absorbs the water.  The dough will be very shaggy and clumpy.  Turn out onto a surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Do not add more flour.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.

2. Divide dough into eight equal pieces and roll gently into balls.  Cover the ones you aren’t rolling out.  Roll each into a thin round, about 6 inches across, flouring the surface lightly if needed to keep dough from sticking.  Do not stack rolled out dough.

3. Heat a griddle or skillet (cast iron is best, but whatever you have will work) over medium-high heat.  Place one chapatti in the skillet and cook about 10 seconds, flip and cook for 1 minute, flip again and cook about 1 minute.  Press down any bubbles that form so that bread cooks evenly (if you like, I couldn’t be bothered).  Bread should puff up and have an even distribution of brown spots.

4. Place on a clean plate or baking sheet and keep warm in a 250 degree oven.  Brush bread with melted butter or olive oil, if desired (I couldn’t be bothered with this either, but I’m sure it’s lovely).  Serve warm if you can, but they taste just fine at room temperature.


1. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use an empty (clean) wine bottle.
2. For me, each chapatti cooked in the amount of time it took me to roll each one out.  You don’t need to roll them all out first. 
3. For a slightly chewier bread, substitute 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour for all-purpose.
4. If you have leftover chapattis for some strange reason, you can cut them into wedges and crisp them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.  Serve with hummus, guacamole, salsa, or any other favorite dip.  (If you’re ambitious, you can brush them with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with a favorite herb or spice, before cutting.)  Or just roll them up with scrambled eggs, or use for wraps for sandwiches.  Oh, the possibilities of a good flatbread!

Posted in Savory, Unleavened Breads | Leave a comment