Artisan Boule Bread


Wait! Don’t click away from this page because you think making homemade bread is too much work, too complicated, or too likely to fail.  I promise I can hook you with two words:

No kneading.

After reading this recipe and seeing that the word “knead” was no where to be seen, I knew I had to make this bread.  I am not a kneader by nature.  I get frustrated with kneading. Flour gets into every single possible kitchen crevice and all over my clothes because for some reason I thought it’d be a good idea to wear my new black shirt to make bread and oh my gahhh has it been 10 minutes yet or is the dough elastic enough I want to stop kneading my arms hurt. Welcome to my head.

There is a tradeoff for the no kneading with time.  The dough needs to sit over night.  So yes, it takes some time but no real work on your part.  All you do is proof some yeast (just add hot water!), pour some flour and salt.  Stir. Cover.  Sit on your counter. Bake. And viola: bread.  

But to sound fancy let us call it artisan boule bread.  Oh la la.

This would be a great bread recipe to make if you have never tried to make homemade bread before.  Or if you need a confidence booster after having several unsuccessful attempts.  I have about a 50/50 success rate with bread in general, but this bread has given me the confidence to try more homemade bread!

And complain more about how much work it is to knead.

From The Comfort of Cooking


3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water, 110°F


In a bowl stir together all purpose flour, salt, and yeast.  Stir in water with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a wet dough.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 8-24 hours.  The dough will bubble as it sits.

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place Dutch oven in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Form dough into a ball, adding more flour as needed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it rest while the Dutch oven heats in the oven. Place dough on a piece of parchment paper.  Transfer dough into the preheated Dutch oven.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake for 10-18 minutes uncovered. Let bread cool slightly before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf of bread.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread: Improv Blog


Oh, cinnamon.

You are a wonderful spice.
You are quite nice (tasting).
Spicy and warm
This bread is delcious, please don’t swarm

I know, I know.  I obviously missed my calling as a poet.

When I was younger, one of my favorite breakfasts was a simple one: warm toast brushed with butter and topped with cinnamon sugar.  The cinnamon sugar would melt into the butter a form a wonderful sticky spread.  This was a special breakfast when mom would offer on those occasional elementary school day mornings when I used to actually eat breakfast.

This month’s Improv Challenge features that  classic combo of cinnamon and sugar.  While I believe Mom’s buttered cinnamon sugar toast would be a wonderful recipe to share, I wanted to take my favorite breakfast and make it from scratch.  I have been wanting to make this Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread for a long time, and there was no better time than the present.

This bread is soft and pillow-y and full of cinnamon sugar goodness.  It does take some planning as you have to let it rise twice, but it is so worth it. I have recently been having serious difficulties with yeast, but this bread seems to have broken my bread curse.

This bread is best eaten with your fingers straight from the pan- just like a true lady would.  And a true lady should also lick her fingers clean to get every last bite of cinnamon sugar.  All of course while holding up her pinky for sophistication. Verily.

Barely Adapted from Joy the Baker


For the Dough:
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
5 tablespoons warm water, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces butter
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2-3 ounces butter, melted


In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside

In a saucepan combine milk and butter over medium heat.  Stir together over heat until butter is melted.  Let cool until mixture reaches 115-125°F. Stir in vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons water.

Combine 3 tablespoons warm water and yeast with a pinch of sugar.  Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Stir into wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add in eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.  Stir in 3/4 cup of flour and stir for 2 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together the sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the filling.  Melt the 2 ounces of butter for the filling in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns a brown, 5-10 minutes.  Grease a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

Place dough in a large greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Punch down the dough and knead in 2 tablespoons of flour.  Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.  Place on a lightly floured surface and roll dough out to a 12 inch by 20 inch long rectangle.  Brush with melted brown butter. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top.

Slice dough into 6 vertical strips.  Stack the 6 strips on top of each other and slice into 6 strips again to make 36 total strips.  Layer the strips in the prepared loaf pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Run knife around the edges of pan.  Invert onto a plate and flip back over.  Serve warm.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting!  Make sure to check out all the other entries this month!

Asian Barbecue Steamed Buns

I often have the problem of not appreciating  something until it’s no longer around.  Houston has a great mix of all types of cuisine- Tex Mex, Cajun, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Polish, German, etc.  One of my great loves is Chinese food, especially Dim Sum.  Is there anything better than carts of food being pushed all around you while you point and pick then eat until you’re stuffed? (The answer to that is no).

Despite my love of Dim Sum and Chinese food, I often turned down the restaurant option in favor of something else (often a place with an obscenely delicious dessert).  Now that I am moving to a town with fewer options for Asian cuisine, I figured I’d better learn to make some of my favorites myself rather than despair in a Dim Sum-less existence.

Steamed buns are a yummy Dim Sum treat with a pillowy soft roll wrapped around a tangy barbeque filling.  I made mine with mushrooms rather than meat to keep it lighter, but feel free to add in any meat or any other type of filling.  The recipe may seem  intimidating at first, but really if you just read  everything through and use your time efficiently, it’s nothing hard and great for a weekend dinner.

Adapted from Love and Olive Oil

For the Dough:
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup warm water
1 package active yeast
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3-1/2 cup all purpose flour, for kneading

For the Filling:
12 mushrooms, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon five spice power


For the Dough:
In a measuring cup, combine honey, water, and yeast.  Stir together and let stand for at least 10 minutes, until foamy.  In a large bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.  Pour onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth but still sticky, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the Filling:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a teaspoon of sesame oil and mushrooms.  Cook until tender, about 6-9 minutes.  Add scallions and bamboo shoots and cook for another 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon sesame oil, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, light brown sugar, and five spice powder.  Stir into pan and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Set aside and cool.

Punch down dough.  Roll into a rectangle and cut into 24 rectangles.  Roll into balls and sprinkle flour on top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.  Cut out 24 squares of parchment paper.  Roll balls into rounds and place 1 scant tablespoon of mushroom filling on each.  Pinch closed and place seam side down on wax paper.

Working in batches, steam each roll for 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

Makes 24 mini steamed buns.

Pretzel Rolls

I, like every other sane person, love bread.  I also love big soft pretzels.  These rolls combine those two amazing things.
Bread is not hard to make- I promise.  Really, the only downside is just waiting for the bread to rise, which isn’t hard, just time consuming.  The only extra step to these rolls involves poached them in boiling water before baking.  Again, not hard at all.
Go make these rolls now- they have a crisp, salty exterior and soft center.  We ate these with steak sandwiches, but there are so many possibilities.  These were so good I ate them on their own with a little ketchup and mustard.
1 1/2 cup Warm Water (110°F)
1 package active
dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt
Dissolve yeast into warm water.  Let sit at least 5 minutes, until yeast
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt, and melted
butter.  Add water and stir with wooden
dough until a soft dough forms.  Knead
for 5-15 minutes until combined and elastic. 
Spray a bowl with cooking spray. 
Place dough in bowl, and cover with a towel.  Sit in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour,
or until doubled in size.
On a slightly floured surface, punch down dough.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Divide the dough into 18 circular
pieces.  Each piece should weigh about 2
ounces.    Place on baking sheets, leaving 1 inch in
between each roll.  Cover with towel and
let rise in warm place for 30-45 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest
and middle positions.
In a large source pan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low
boil.  Add baking soda and lower heat to

Working with 3 rolls at a time,
put rolls in poaching liquid.  Poach for
30 seconds then carefully use slotted spoon to flip roll over.  Poach for an additional 30 seconds.  Remove with slotted spoon and place back on
baking pans.  Repeat until all rolls have
been poached.

Brush each roll with lightly beaten egg.  Make sure to coat all sides completely. With
a sharp knife (not serrated), cut an “X” on top of each roll. Sprinkle kosher
salt on top of rolls. 
Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 18 slider rolls.*

*Can easily make larger rolls and different shapes.  Just adjust the baking time to reflect any size changes.

No Turkey Required Stuffing

So, you have my recipe for cranberry sauce already, and now here is another Thanksgiving recipe for all year round: stuffing you can make without a turkey!

In our house there is a strict division between people who like dry stuffing and wet stuffing.  I consider myself a diplomat, as I like both.  Dry stuffing is easy to make on its own without a turkey- just bake it.  Wet stuffing was more elusive: I always thought wet stuffing would be impossible to make without a turkey to stuff it in.

Then one day I decided I was going to make wet stuffing no matter what.  Really, I had made it more difficult in my mind than it actually was.  Just use a slow cooker or bake at a really low temperature and use lots of chicken/turkey stock to keep moist.  It’s not as perfect as if you could stuff a turkey, but even I can’t eat 10 pounds of turkey by myself as hard as I may try.

Make this with some turkey cutlets and cranberry sauce, and you can be like me and have Thanksgiving dinner all year round!

From Cinnamon Freud

10 slices of bread
Half yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
5-7 mushrooms, chopped
1 cup chicken broth,more for desired “wetness”
Butter/ butter spray
Salt, pepper, poultry seasoning to taste


Tear bread into small pieces and place in a crock pot.

In a skillet, melt butter.  Cook onion and celery until soft over low heat, about 5-7 mnutes.  Add mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.  Cook until mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture to crockpot.  Mix together, adding more salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.  Add chicken broth slowly, until desired “wetnes” is reached.

Cook on high for 20-30 minutes.  Continue to cook on low for 40-60 minutes.