Category Archives: breads

autumn baby baking books breads fall personal

Hello | Happy Halloween

easy pumpkin bread recipe

I started to write this post about 100 times. I don’t know why it was so hard, but it was. It was tough and time was tight.

First, I thank you a million times over for your emails and messages. It’s wonderful to know you care and you wonder. I like that. I like it so much.

So, here goes.

No, I’m not pregnant.

Yes, I took a break.

And, yes, everything is good. It’s great even. read more »

books breads Uncategorized whole grain

Home Again + Some Biscuits to Share

Good to the Grain Cheddar BiscuitsWhen I was a teenager, I could sit on my bed for hours with a stack of fashion magazines and a bottle of fizzy water. I didn’t do it everyday. I was far too busy on most days dividing my time between angst and working after school. But, on the days when time permitted, it was my quiet respite from the world. I think back to those afternoons and feel warm and wonderful with memory. It’s funny to think about, really. Those weren’t life-changing afternoons, but they were important. Those tiny moments stolen whenever possible are life’s greatest indulgences. But certainly things change. I can no longer imagine being confined to my bedroom for hours without being terribly stricken with illness. I also don’t have a single subscription to a fashion magazine although I might change that as soon as I finish this post. I still do enjoy copious amounts of fizzy water, sitting still, and reading. On those rare evenings when everything works out perfectly, I might find myself on the couch in the early evening with a cup of the good stuff and a stack of fresh cookbooks.


A good cookbook can reel me in just like a good novel. It’s just as addictive, I find. But it’s not the rough cut pages, gorgeous typeface, and mouthwatering photos, over which I fawn. Those elements are wonderfully seductive, but they are merely the icing on the cake.  All too often, such things are distractions. You peel away the icing and find little substance beneath. Every now and then, however, I find a true gem on my hands. That’s what I found in Good to the Grain. This book is a lovely tome of baking written in a truly generous manner. Boyce shares much about her world and the tools of her trade. She does so matter-of-factly without flowery writing or fluff. And, although the book is bursting with imperfectly gorgeous food photography, it’s the recipes and helpful discussions that are the real deal here. This is a concise manual of baking written by a mother who, in the quest to feed her wee ones healthy foods, developed a groundbreaking collection of whole grain baking recipes. I was riveted and not the least bit disappointed.

Good to the Grain Cheddar Biscuits read more »

breads Breakfast easy Italian

Rosemary Focaccia Bread | The Small Pleasures

easy focaccia bread recipe

I even remembered the snacks. It was a miracle because I don’t always remember the snacks. Sometimes, I forget the snacks, but remember to pack an extra pair of baby socks. Sometimes, I forget the socks, but I manage to refill the wipe container. On those days, I’m certain to forget the diapers. That’s just how it is on most days. Yesterday, however, I was jolted out of a sleepy haze when the electricians arrived at 7:30 in the morning. I was in my pajamas. We all were. There is nothing quite like two strangers wondering around your home with big ladders and bright-eyed-ready-to-work faces when you are still seeing blurry and garbed in pink fuzzy pajamas. It’s humbling and more than a little embarrassing.

But I got it together despite the circumstances. Bits of ceiling rained down all around me as I snipped grapes into itty bitty pieces. I made a sandwich. I packed diapers, wipes, extra clothes, socks, and the aforementioned snacks. I was feeling accomplished. Nothing was going to stop me. We managed to get out the house in record time and even to wash our redheads. I stopped for gas. There were no tears. I drove to Greenlake while the little red fox napped peacefully. My friend arrived on time as well and pulled into the spot next to me. What are the chances of two miraculous parking spots on a busy day at the lake? Very slim, I am sure.

It was all rainbows as my friend parked her car and I pulled Maeve from her carseat. Yes, it was quite perfect until a split second later when I spun around and shut the car door.

I froze. I knew immediately.

I locked EVERYTHING in the car. Snacks too! Everything, but the baby. I guess I have to be thankful for that.

easy focaccia bread recipe

It was a tough morning and I’ll admit I nearly cried when the auto rescue service was an hour late and my wee one was screaming for food. What a morning. It does make you thankful for the little things. Little things like moments of peace, baby smiles, and long naps. And, really, the whole thing got me thinking about parenthood. It’s pretty great nearly all of the time. If you are thinking about becoming a parent, I encourage you to do so. The good parts far outweigh the bad.  That being said, things are going to change. Drastically. Yes, I know you know that. But it’s a hard thing to wrap your brain around without a solid basis for comparison.

One thing I never considered before Maeve arrived was my concept of luxury. I’m not talking about trips to the spa. There’s more to it than that. I’m in my thirties and my sense of what’s special and how I like to spend my money and downtime was well-developed at the time Maeve arrived.  Most of those little luxiourous pleasures are gone and redeveloped. Am I a bit wistful? Sometimes. I have a new concept of luxury, however.

easy focaccia bread recipe

These days, it’s bliss when I’m able to walk through my house barefooted without stepping on bits of chewed up food and miscellaneous toys. It’s wonderful to take a shower for more than 5 minutes and actually condition my hair. Putting on earrings makes me feel like a superstar. And the bathroom? Well, it’s perfectly brilliant when I’m able to close the bathroom door without protest and do whatever it is I might need to do.

The greatest luxury, however, is the ability to bake or cook something that’s more than just boiled noodles or stir-fried vegetables. Those moments are note-worthy and often make it onto this blog. It doesn’t happen everyday, which is why I’m so happy to find baking recipes that are easy and require only inactive time. I can wait for things to rise. I have nothing but time to wait for things to rise because I’m certain to be whisked off into another room to read countless books or to crawl around on my hands and knees pretending to be a wild elephant.

easy focaccia bread recipe

I’m excited to share this recipe for focaccia with you. There are other easy homemade breads out there, but this one was on the super easy side of things. That’s because I barely used my hands or brain for any of this. I used the dough hook on the mixer instead of my bare hands. I bet you have one of those. If you do have one and some basic ingredients, you can whip up this miracle bread. I made it twice in quick succession so I’m quite confident a more organized person can make enough focaccia for an army in no time.

And you should. This bread is wonderful. It’s aromatic. The rosemary scent will fill your house. The buttery flavor will compliment nearly any sandwich. Or, eat it on its own. That’s what we did. We stood over the rack of barely cool bread and inhaled big hunks of it one bright afternoon. Maeve too. She loved it and that’s a huge selling point around this place.

I do caution you to watch your bread. Focaccia cooks quickly. That’s good and bad. Start checking in at 20 minutes. My first batch was a touch more golden than I’d like, which dried out the bread a bit. It was still edible, but focaccia is best when it’s softer and more moist. Take it out of the oven when it’s just golden all over and you’ll see what I mean. It will be perfection and you won’t be able to resist pulling off big pieces before it’s cool.

I bid you amazing weeks. Keep your ovens on and your keys close, my friends. I’ll see you soon!

easy focaccia bread recipe

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough 1 minute (it will still be slightly sticky), then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with rosemary oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Immediately invert a rack over pan and flip focaccia onto rack, then turn right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Gourmet

breads dessert easter rhubarb spring

Rhubarb & Pear Hand Pies | Let’s Talk Pie

Rhubarb Hand Pie Recipe

I like cake, but that is no revelation. Everyone likes cake. It’s like puppies. Everyone likes puppies. If you don’t, there is probably something wrong with you and you should stop reading this blog and seek help.

Alright, that might sound a bit extreme.  If you really want to know the truth, I’ll take a slice of pie over a slice of the most decadent chocolate cake any day of the week. I mean that. Pie is divine. What other dessert, apart from a beloved crisp, always delights in showcasing something seasonal and fresh? I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find one. While folks do some wild and fun stuff with ice cream these days, that just won’t cut it. If you have to use a spoon, what’s the point?

Rhubarb Hand Pie Recipe

Pie is on my mind a lot these days. I suppose it’s because it’s spring now and I know the growing season is just beginning.  There is always something new to put in a pie. Really, it’s so forgiving. With the right dough, you can’t go wrong. This week, I came home to my meager garden only to discover a vibrant rhubarb plant growing there amongst a pile of soppy leaves and countless ignored projects and plants. Oh, rhubarb, you are always the earliest to arrive and the last one to leave. I have to thank you for that.

Rhubarb Hand Pie Recipe

I took it as a sign. I had to make pie. After all, Maeve needs to understand what is so wonderful about the spring. Although she loves mud and puddles, there is more to it than that. So I cast aside her sugar restrictions for an afternoon so she could experience the first fruits of spring. And, as you can see, the apple does not fall far from the tree. I’m not sure she ever ate with such vigor. It was fun to watch, but I only gave her half a pie. She is a tiny little thing, after all. Or maybe I needed more pie for myself? I can’t recall. Either way, the hand pies were a hit. They’re a far cry from those awful hand pies they sold during middle school lunches. You know the ones, right? They were in waxy white packages with colorful writing? They always seemed tempting until you bit into one and discovered it tasted like soap. I would know too. My mother washed my mouth out with soap on more than one occasion. It was disgusting and not unlike those middle school pies.

Rhubarb Hand Pie Recipe

This pie is lovely. It’s a bit tart because of the rhubarb and the lemon juice, but that’s what I like about it. The pear and sugar really mellow out the punch and give it a nice and not-so-sweet flavor. The dough is a perfect consistency too. With a bit of buttermilk to add a slight tang and keep it together, it’s not too crumbly, but not soggy either. Plus, the pie is easy to eat too and fits so perfectly into the palm of your hand. I’m not sure why it took me so long to make a hand pie, but I’m looking forward to many many more. We enjoyed ours on Sunday afternoon with hot coffee. There’s not much better than that, I think. Cake simply cannot compete.

Rhubarb Hand Pie Recipe

Rhubarb and Pear Hand Pies 

For the pastry:

3 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar +more for dusting

1 large egg

3 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)

2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the filling:

4 cups washed and thinly sliced rhubarb

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 medium pears, washed, peeled, and roughly chopped

2 teaspoons corn starch

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  With an electric mixture on high speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add egg, and beat until just combined.  Add cream cheese, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  Add reserved flour mixture, and beat until smooth.  Form dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap.  Flatten dough into a disk, and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Or, freeze it for up to 1 month (thaw in refrigerator before using).

Add the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and pears to a non-reactive heavy pot and heat over medium heat until soft, about 15 minutes. You can use a potato masher to mash up the bits of fruit into smaller pieces as it cooks. Add the cornstarch and boil for about 1 minute until it dissolves into the mixture and thickens.   Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Let it stand at room temperature until pliable, 2-3 minutes.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 4 and1/2 inch or 5 inch rounds using a cookie cutter or round bowl (overturned). Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Spoon 1 tablespoon filling tinto the center of each round and brush the edges with water.  Fold round in half.  Using a fork, press down on the edges to seal.  Repeat with remaining rounds.  (Note: if you are using a slightly bigger round, you can spoon up to 2 spoonfuls of the mixture into each round)

Lightly brush the egg white over the pie tops and sprinkle them with the remaining sugar.  Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer pies to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: You can use whatever you like to fill these gorgeous little hand pies. Jam is wonderful as are preserves and lemon curd.

Source: The pie crust recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart.

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