Roasted hazelnut and prune bread

A rich bread and a lovely taste. I was a bit reluctant in adding prunes to a bread believing that will transform the bread into a cake. The reality instead contradicted me: the sweetness of the dried plums only added a delicate flavor to the bread. The second key ingredient of this bread was of course the roasted hazelnuts. They came with a special roasted nutty flavor. But what is the most incredible is the combination between the two: delicate sweet and nutty. Combine these 2 in a bread that contains also whole wheat flour and you will definitely chose this bread as one of your favorites.

On top of the successful combination, this bread is already writing history in my family. If you are asking why, the answer will be simple: it is the first bread made by my daughter. She shaped the little boule that you see bellow with her own little hands. I was working the dough on her left side and she was looking at me, copying every little movement that I was doing with my hands. It was such an emotional moment ... to be the teacher of your own child. She was so proud that she made this boule by herself and she was following its raise in the oven every 5 minutes or so, repeating me over and over again that she was the one who made it. And I was so proud of her too! I was not guessing before that I was having near me a little baker! A unique moment in life for a mother and a bread to be remembered.
I've let her play with the dough just as she was doing with play-doh. Just imagine how my daughter looked like after the shaping: full of flour everywhere, from hair to shoes. Anyway, I gave her a big laugh and a kiss.

When my breads are ready, usually she is asking for a slice. This time, she asked specifically for her own. This one was a little too tough because playing with so much flour makes the bread like that. But who cares, she enjoyed the process so much, and in the end... she has not put her piece down at all. It was hers and she ate it all.

Lemon yogurt

Now, when I am writing this recipe I am actually eating the yogurt form one of these 3 "hero" pots. Mmmm.. mniam ... has a small yellow layer on top with a strong lemon aroma. Deeper, another full teaspoon  and I reach a soft, delicate and whiter layer of yogurt. Even deeper, there is a third layer that is a mix of yogurt with lemon zest.... mmmm... I am actually eating the lemon zest. And what a strong lemon aroma! There is no bitter or sour taste in there and the zest is very soft. I have the feeling that I am eating a cake not a yogurt. If you do not like to eat the zest you can strain the zest out of the milk when you make the yogurt. But sincerely... are you sure you want to do this? Do you have any idea what taste and aroma are you missing? From all the yogurts I've made, this is by far the most flavored and tasty one. And there is no artificial aroma inside, everything is natural. I know, you'll point to the cane sugar... but it can easily be replaced by honey.

I finished my yogurt pot while writing these lines and I still have a persistent lemon aroma in my mouth. I am very satisfied. I made the best fruity yogurt ever!

Whole wheat bread (version 3)

When I have started to make bread with a bread machine (at that time)  I thought that the best bread should be the one with a lot of whole wheat inside. Although I was not wrong believing that this was one of the healthiest choice, in time I discovered other combinations of flours that could be impressive.
This bread reminds me of those beginning times although qualitatively is superior. I have added a tablespoon of honey but the bread do not taste sweet. It helps instead for the bread to grow more.
Ah, and I forgot again that adding sugars to the bread makes the bread becoming dark faster. Nevertheless, I have not burnt it.

Apple and ginger muffins

After the success of my previous blueberry muffins it was a must to bake more muffins. This fitted well, because near my house the apple trees were in their season to give me the best apples I've ever eaten. So, it was the perfect combination of muffins with apples. To make it more fancy, I have decorated them with one or two blueberries.

I was a bit in a hurry when I have done the recipe and I forgot one spice: cinnamon. The original recipe was requesting for it, but I simply forgot and the muffins turned out to be very good like that as well. If you want cinnamon anyway, add one teaspoon to the bellow listed ingredients.

Mixed flour miche

Miche, this is a special bread with high hydration and a great taste remembering of old times from the country side. As great the bread is, as difficult it is to make it. High hydration dough are terribly sticking and running around your board. It sticks to your hands, to your dough cutters, it sticks to your bannetons. The only trick is to develop a good structure of the gluten to be able to give it a shape. But this requires a good technique of kneading the dough. I thought the Manitoba flour will make miracles and it helps a bit it is true, but it is still the technique to make it better. I found myself many times working with high hydration dough and being forced to add a bit of flour when shaping. It is clear that it requires a lot of practice to master it. Until then, I am satisfied with the result I have already obtained. In the end, the result is what it matters and this bread has an excellent taste, aroma, and texture.

Blueberry muffins

I find myself lately looking for simple recipes of cakes that my daughter can take as a snack to her school. Cupcakes of course are a good option. Last time I made muffins, I have told the story how my daughter picked a recipe only because the topping had been decorated with blueberries. Well, when you feel bad that you cannot offer what your kid is asking, then you look for that thing in the the supermarket next time. And I was lucky to still find some blueberries on the market, so it was a clear demand for me to include them in my next muffins recipe. So here they are:

Rustic bread

I am baking sourdough bread during the weekend, but when I have some days off during the week I am baking yeast bread. This is an example of a bread from Hamelman's book made with yeast. It was the time for me to try this type of bread from his book as well as I was focusing so far only on the sourdough recipes. And the result is .... well .... is not like sourdough bread but is a nice bread.

Sour cherry cake

This is a very classic cake that I remember my mother was doing a lot when I was a child. The sour cherry could have been fresh, in compote or even those one preserved in aspirin. It is a simple recipe because is nothing else than a normal cake composition that you use in those fancy anniversary cakes with some cherries spread on top. The nice part comes when the juice of the cherries combines with this dry part of the cake. That creates a juicy and red area extremely delicious.
The recipe is for sure not at all limited to cherries. You can use in fact any kind of fruit with the only condition that you drain them well before. And now the recipe ...

Gratin de fusilli

I had in mind for some time to do some pasta. We do not cook pasta very often (not necessary for a specific reason) but I wanted a try. When I made this plate I was considering to make a separate dish for my daughter as I was in big doubts that she will eat it. But before cooking it, I showed her the nice fusilli with the thought that she would like to play with them. When she saw them, instead of playing with them she looked at me and said "hungry!" I looked at her with doubts thinking... are you sure.... then I continued the recipe. When finished, I put her a portion and immediately went to make the photo, leaving her alone in the kitchen. I couldn't finish my photo and I heard "I want more!" Quickly I've entered in the kitchen and I've started looking on the floor to see the pasta there. But no, she has been eaten it full. After that, you cannot imagine my speed to finish the photo to give my daughter a second portion.

Sourdough rye with walnuts

What about a combination of rye and walnuts in a bread? Do you want to try? For me this bread is remarkable. The percentage of rye flour in this bread is around 50% and this makes a crumb that is a bit dark. The beautiful taste of rye is brought to perfection with the addition of walnuts.
In the oven it raised nicely and I've chosen to bake it dark because this is how I like it... with a dark brown crust.

If you make this bread you will cherish even the last crumb of it.

Raspberry jam and meringue cake

Last time I've made this cake was almost 3 years ago. It was for the birthday party of my daughter so it brings me back memory from that time. Also, I have the recipe from my mother in law, so is more a family legacy.
It is a very sweet cake but so delicate and soft. It has 3 layers: a dough on the bottom, jam in the middle and meringue on the top. And if you have to eat something sweet, then eat something that it worth. This one for sure it does.

Durum bread (version 2)

Durum flour is in fashion in my house these days and this is the second bread in row with durum flour. This time is one with less durum flour inside than the previous one. As it can be seen in the photo, the crumb got more aerated and the bread raised nicely.
If I am asked to chose between the 2 versions it will be difficult to decide which one is better. Both are excellent breads and worth to be done over and over again. Just take out the butter from the fridge ...

Durum bread

I remember doing this bread once with semolina. It was such a failure that I simple didn't want to make a photo of it: flat and not so much raised. Of course, when I was thinking of semolina I thought is about the normal semolina, and this was the cause of my failure. It took me a while to understand the difference between the 2, (there is a nice article to explain the difference between the 2 in this article) but the result was clearly seen in the 2 bakes. The previous one was flat, with practically no shape and the only strength and elasticity of the bread came from those 100g of normal flour from the preferment. Of course was far to be enough.
After long searches I finally found the durum flour and order it. My mind went straight to this recipe and I wanted to redo it. Bellow is the recipe and above is the result in the photo.
I baked this bread over the weekend and it was a hot weekend (~30ºC). In the end, I felt my bread to be a bit over proofed but I couldn't do too much because I needed to wait for the oven to heat. For next time I'll either reduce the quantity of yeast in the final dough, or the time for the bulk fermentation. Instead, if the outside temperature is lower, like 21ºC, I will not change a thing!

I need to make a note about the dough. As you can read in the article about the difference between semolina and durum flour, the latter has a high gluten level. Mine was indicated to be 14-15.5% which is a lot! The dough was very elastic, a pleasure to work with it. But it was also extremely sticky... resembling more to the rye flour when you work with it.

As for the taste... oh My God... it is a fine bread, there is nothing to do with crunchy grains of semolina. You have to be a "connaisseur" to know that inside it is durum flour. Taste is like ... from the country side... just incredible !

In the end, when I have done the photo, it took me just one moment not to look at my hero food and that moment was used by my daughter to steal the morsel of bread from my table. As the crust was soft, she put her little teeth in it and made a nice bite. It can be seen in the piece on the left of the photo. So what better quality checker than my own daughter?

Here it comes the recipe: