Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers May Challenge- Opera Cake

The challenge this month was a bit lengthly and on the first read was intimidating. But after I realized all the pieces to the cake were things that I had made before, this regal cake seemed much more achievable.

I decided to make the cake for a Memorial Day party we had at our house. I made the everything but the glaze the day before and just assembled on the day of the party. This is where I made my error. Since I was pressed for time when assembling the cake, I put down one layer and the buttercream. Then the next layer, another layer of buttercream, then the last layer and the ganache. You may be thinking, what's wrong with that? The problem is that I didn't have enough time to let the cake firm up before adding the glaze and then letting that sit. So I did the next best thing, I frosted the entire cake with the ganache, and it was great. No one but me noticed that there was a layer missing, and I had plenty of ganache so the frosting looked pretty good. The recipe is a bit long, but if you have a few hours, it's a fun challenge. (Scroll to the end for my pics).

A Taste of Light: Opéra Cake

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.


(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)

What you’ll need:

•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans (Note: If you do not have jelly-roll pans this size, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 10 x 15-inches.)
•a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
•parchment paper
•a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
•two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)


6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

2. Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).

3. Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.

9. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.

10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.


(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

What you’ll need:

•a small saucepan


½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.


(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)

What you’ll need:

•a small saucepan
•a candy or instant-read thermometer
•a stand mixer or handheld mixer
•a bowl and a whisk attachment
•rubber spatula


1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Note: If you are flavouring your buttercream and do not want to use the vanilla, you do not have to. Vanilla will often enhance other flavours but if you want an intense, one-flavoured buttercream, then by all means leave it out!)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)

1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

4. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

5. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

6. While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

7. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

8. At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.

9. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).


(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)

What you’ll need:

•a small saucepan
•a mixer or handheld mixer


7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

1. Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.

2. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.

4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.

5. If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.

6. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.


(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)

What you’ll need:

•a small saucepan or double boiler


14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

1. Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.

2. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.

3. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake

(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavored syrup.

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavored syrup.

Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Potato Flatbread & Pesto

For our Memorial Day party, I also made some Potato Flatbread. It started from a recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, but turned into a great appetizer. It can sit in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, so it's easy to make ahead for a party and then shape and bake the day of. This recipe makes enough for one 10 inch flatbread, but I multiplied it out for 6 flatbreads and it was gone in a few minutes (too fast for me to get a picture!!). This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Potato Flatbreads

3/4 cup AP Flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
3 slight tablespoons mashed potatos (I used Russets)
1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons water, room temperature
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil

1. Whisk together the flour, yeast, and sugar. Then whisk in the salt. Add the mashed potato and butter and mix until just incorporated. Add the water and egg and stir until blended. Roll onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 15 seconds to form a smooth dough.
2. Pour the oil into a 2 cup container and place the dough in it. Turn it over to coat with the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then put the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Remove 1 hour before you are ready to put it in the oven.
3. Preheat the oven to 475ºF, and put a shelf at the lowest level. If you have a baking stone, place it on the rack.
4. With oiled fingers, lightly pull the dough out of the container. Pour the oil onto a pizza pan and rub around a bit. Put the dough on the pan and lightly press to deflate, then fold into a ball by tucking in the bottom with your fingers. Let the dough relax, covered, for 15 minutes.
5. Press the dough out into a 10 inch circle, leaving the edges a bit thicker. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 -45 minutes, until they are slightly puffy.
6. Uncover, and set the pan on the baking stone in the oven for 5 minutes. Then check the bottom to make sure it isn't getting too dark. If it is, move off the stone to another rack. Bake for 5-7 more minutes until the top is golden.

Cilantro Pesto (a great dip for the bread)

1 bunch fresh cilantro
10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup good olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the torn cilantro and basil leaves in a food processor and pulse until chopped.
2. Slowly drizzle in the oil while the processor is running to form a paste. Add the salt and pepper and pulse to combine.

Tuesdays with Dorie - Brownie Buttons

Ok, so I had a party this weekend for Memorial Day with 25 people, and this week's recipe of Pecan Sticky Buns just was not going to fit the theme and I didn't have any extra room to put them. So I made the Brownie Buttons from the book instead. Not exactly the same, but I tried :)

They turned out really well, very chocolaty and a light texture, definitely recommend these...

Brownie Buttons

2 teaspoons lime zest, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch salt
½ stick (2 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ½ oz high quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup soft light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

1. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin pans or use liners.
2. Mix together the orange zest and granulated sugar, set aside. Whisk together the flour and salt, set aside.
3. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar – stirring all the time until smooth. Leave for a minute off the heat then stir in the vanilla, egg and zest mixture. Lastly add the flour and salt and mix lightly until it is smooth and shiny.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 9-10 minutes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie - Traditional Madeleines

My first Tuesdays with Dorie Challenge! I ordered the book 2 weeks ago, but apparently I didn't get the speediest shipping. So here we are with my first recipe, Madeleines. I don't have a pan for this, and am not a fan of uni-taskers as my kitchen is tiny, so I made do. What did I use, you may ask. Tartlet pans. I use these all the time to make little tarts, shaped cookies, as cookie cutters, etc so I don't consider them a uni-tasker. Plus, they are much easier to store than a big pan. Anywhos, back to the madeleines. They taste great, they puffed up nicely and look to have a bump on the flat side, so I think they came out well, even if not in the traditional shape. The lemony flavor is subtle but nice, and they are very tender.

Traditional Madeleines

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.

makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Grilled Focaccia

Since I was grilling fish tonight for dinner, I decided to try making some bread on the grill. The Grilled Focaccia from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum looked good and fit the bill. It turned out pretty nice. I think I had the grill a bit too hot as the bottom was really browned, but it tasted good. It's hard to tell exactly how hot a grill is...

Grilled Focaccia

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon AP Flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup room temp water
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
kosher salt to taste

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and sugar. Then whisk in the salt, you don't want the salt to come in contact with the yeast or it will kill it. Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, lightly stir in the flour until all the flour is moistened and a dough begins to form, about 20 seconds. It will be rough looking, but do not overmix.
2. Pour the oil into a 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl. With oiled fingers, place the dough in the cup, then flip over to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes until puffy. Set the dough in the refridgerator for up to 24 hours, remove 1 hour before ready to put in oven. Or leave at room temperature for anouther 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled.
3. With oiled fingers, lift the dough out of the cup. Holding the dough with one hand, pour a bit of the oil on a baking sheet and spread out. Set the dough on top and press down lightly to deflate. Shape it into a smooth round by tucking under the edges. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, covered, to relax. Press the dough out with your fingertips from the center to stretch to a rectangle abut 9x6 and 1/4 inch high. Brush the dough with any remaining oil and cover. Let rest 20-30 minutes.
4. Preheat a grill to 500º.
5. Using your fingertips, dimple the dough at 1 inch intervals. Sprinkle with kosher salt and rosemary.
6. If using a gas grill, turn one side to low. Place the focaccia, still on the baking sheet, on the hotter side of the grill, covered for 2 minutes. Slide a pancake turner underneath to loosen and slip directly onto the grill on the cooler side of the grill for a few seconds. As soon as the brown lines appear, return the focaccia to the baking sheet and move to the cooler side of the grill for 7-8 minutes until the top starts to brown around the edges.

Monday, May 12, 2008

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I didn't have much time to bake this weekend, so I started some pizza dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight. So tonight's dinner was easy (meaning I didn't have to think about what to make, that's usually half the challenge). The dough is based on Alton Brown's recipe here, I just added the flax seeds so it had a little more flavor and a little more healthy. My husband even asked if we had more, so it had to be good :)

Pizza Dough
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 teaspoons olive oil
Olive oil, for the pizza crust
Flour, for dusting the pizza peel

1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup red onions, sliced
1/4 cup red peppers, sliced thin
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup bbq sauce

Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, 1 cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into a standing mixer's work bowl. Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.

2. Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker's windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.

4. Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest temperature, about 500 degrees F. If the oven has coils on the oven floor, place the tile onto the lowest rack of the oven. Split the pizza dough into 2 equal parts using a knife or a dough scraper. Flatten into a disk onto the countertop and then fold the dough into a ball.

5. Wet hands barely with water and rub them onto the countertop to dampen the surface. Roll the dough on the surface until it tightens. Cover one ball with a tea towel and rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the steps with the other piece of dough. If not baking the remaining pizza immediately, spray the inside of a ziptop bag with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bag. Refrigerate for up to 6 days.

6. Sprinkle the flour onto the peel and place the dough onto the peel. Using your hands, form a lip around the edges of the pizza. Stretch the dough into a round disc, rotating after each stretch. Toss the dough in the air if you dare. Shake the pizza on the peel to be sure that it will slide onto the pizza stone or tile. (Dress and bake the pizza immediately for a crisp crust or rest the dough for 30 minutes if you want a chewy texture.)

7. Brush the rim of the pizza with olive oil. Spread the bbq sauce evenly onto the pizza. Sprinkle on the chicken, onions, and red peppers and top with the cheese.

8. Slide the pizza onto the tile and bake for 7 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Rest for 3 minutes before slicing.

Mother's Day Biscotti

For Mother's Day this year, I decided to make some treats that travel well. Biscotti came to mind as a treat that can stand a few days travel and come out in one piece. These came out really well, and I think the made the trip ok...

Coconut Pecan Biscotti
From Baking and Books

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick liner.
2. Combine the flour, coconut, pecans, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Use the flat beater attachment or a hand-held mixer to blend together briefly on low speed.
3. Using a fork, lightly beat together the eggs, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. With the mixer speed on low, add to the dry ingredients and blend together thoroughly.
4. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Dust your hands lightly with flour and shape each piece of dough into a loaf about 8 inches long, 2 to 3 inches wide, and 3/4 inches high. Place both loaves on the baking sheet, leaving several inches of space between them. Bake the biscotti for 22 to 24 minutes, until the loaves are light golden and set. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
5. Using a serrated knife (I actually used my sharpest chef knife, since my serrated knife wasn’t slicing through the loaves so well), slice each loaf on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place these slices on their sides on the baking sheet. (To avoid breakage, after you slice a piece rest its weight on the blade of your knife instead of picking it up with your fingers. Slide the piece onto the baking sheet.) Place these slices on their sides on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm and golden colored. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer biscotti to racks to cool.

Variations: You can also drizzle the biscotti with thin lines of bittersweet, semisweet, milk or white chocolate after they are completely cool. Let the chocolate set for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving or storing.

Espresso Almond Biscotti
from About Professional Baking by Gail Sokol

31/2 cups AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons ground coffee beans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
21/2 cups slivered almonds
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon egg wash

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, expresso powder, coffee beans, baking powder, baking soda, salt and almonds.
2. In another bowl, blend the sugars, zests, and the eggs until until slightly thickened.
3. Gradually add the oil, vanilla, and almond extracts.
4. Gradually add the dry ingredients until just combined.
5. Divide the dough in half and form each into a log 15 inches by 3 1/2 inches. Place logs on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. The logs will rise as they bake.
6. Brush each log with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake the logs for 30-35 minutes until the tops look crackled.
8. Allow the logs to cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 3/4 inch slices with a serrated knife. Place the slices cut side down on the pan.
9. Return the slices to the oven for 6-8 minutes on each side.
10. Optional - After the slices have cooled, turn them right side up on the pan. Drizzle some melted chocolate over the top decoratively.

Cinnamon Twist Bread

Since my parents were in town this weekend, I decided to make a more fabulous breakfast than normal (which would be cereal with some blueberries for good measure). I saw this Cinnamon Braid recipe here, but I had to make a few changes. Mostly because I didn't want to spend my limited amount of time with my guests making bread, I made the bread through the first rise and shaping on Thursday night, then froze it until Saturday night. Then I put it in the fridge to thaw and rise a bit. About 2 hours before I wanted it finished, I took it out of the fridge to let it rise the rest of the way. It was delish, the gooey filling was nice and hot, and the pecans gave it some good crunch.


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (can use up to 3 1/4 cups)


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, eggs, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, at least 1 hour.

2. Punch dough down turn onto floured surface. Roll into 24×8 rectangle.

3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread over rectangle to within 1/2 inch of long edges. Sprinkle with pecans.

4. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the long side; pinch seam to seal.

5. Place roll seam side down and using sharp knife, cut completely in half long-ways. Place cut sides up; gently twist two pieces together to form a “rope”. Pull ends together and pinch to form a ring. Transfer to pan (I used a 9 inch cake pan since a cookie sheet will not fit in my freezer, but others have used a cookie sheet). At this point I froze the bread under plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

6. About 12 hours before you want to eat the bread, transfer it to the refrigerator. About 2 hours before meal time, put it somewhere warm to take the chill off and finish rising.

7. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Best eaten while still warm, but may be frozen for up to two months. Reheats well in the microwave, but definitely best fresh

Others have made a simple icing of milk and confectioners sugar, but I thought it was great all on its own.