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Italian Sesame Bread

I’ve been remiss-no posts during the Christmas holiday!  I had too much fun eating with my family.  There will be no cookie posts for a while, I’m all cookied out!  I really like making bread a lot more than cookies.  I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in over 2 years!  I have 2 starters in my fridge, one for white sourdough (it’s 200 years old) and one for rye bread or multi grain sourdough, thanks for both Kathy!  I have  a passion for the No Knead bread recipe from the Sullivan Street Bakery, but that’s another blog!

This recipe is good for beginners.  It’s pretty simple, doesn’t take too long and looks and tastes fabulous!  It will be easier if you have the Easy Roll Improver and the Bread Shine, but it’s not necessary.   This bread is great with butter or dipped in olive oil and it’s also wonderful toasted.  It won’t stay crisp after the first day (if it’s around that long)but it will stay fresh and you can always toast it.

Italian Sesame Bread

 

3 3/4 c.  European Style Artisan Bread Flour (King Arthur) or

All-Purpose Flour

1 T. Easy Roll Dough Improver (King Arthur) (optional)

2 t. instant yeast

1 1/2 t. salt

2 T. olive oil

1 c. plus 2-4 T. water

3 T. toasted sesame seeds

Bread Shine Spray (King Arthur) or 1 beaten egg white

Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients-by hand, stand mixer, bread machine or food processor-until you’ve made a smooth, elastic dough.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, turn to coat, cover and allow to rise 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Gently deflate dough, divide into 3 equal pieces, each will weigh about 9 1/4 oz.  Roll each piece into a 20 inch rope, tapering the ends.  Place the logs on a lightly greased or silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.  Braid them loosely, pinch the ends together and tuck them under.

Spray with bread shine or brush with egg white.  Cover and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until almost double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray or brush the bread again and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake the bread for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips

 

1. When making the braids it’s easier to lay the rolls side by side and braid from the center towards the ends and then tuck the ends under.

2. If the bread browns too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil after 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Pignoli Cookies

Changed the look of the blog, the old layout wasn’t really conducive to recipe writing, who knows. it may change again.  As I said, this is an evolving blog, sometimes it feels as if it’s a living thing! On with the recipe!

I have had numerous requests for a good Pignoli Cookie recipe.  I won’t be providing a picture with this one since I’m not actually baking them this year!  There are a few cookies I try to make infrequently because of time constraint and cost.  My children (adults) have coerced me into making Rainbow Cookies (also known as Seven Layer Cookies) this year.  Both the Pignoli Cookies and the Rainbow Cookies require almond paste.  Whether you buy canned almond paste or make your own, it is a costly endeavor.  So. I chose to make only the Rainbow Cookies (you’ll get the recipe when I make them-I promise!).

I got the Pignoli Cookie recipe from a friend whose father was a baker.  The recipe is a good one, just time-consuming and costly.  The recipe follows with lots of tips!

Pignoli Cookies   (Original Version) makes 20 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar                                                                              9 oz. almond paste

1/2 cup confectioners sugar                                                   2 egg whites

1/4 cup flour                                                                               Parchment Paper or Silpat

Directions

Put almond paste in a bowl and break it up.  Then add the egg whites and beat the mixture  with an electric mixer on low-speed.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat.  Scoop 1 teaspoonful and place on cookie sheet.  As you place your pignolis on the top of the cookie it will take shape.  If the dough is to sticky, just dab your finger in a very small amount of flour. Flatten the cookie slightly to press in all the nuts. Space the cookies about 1″ apart on the sheet, they’ll spread a little.

Bake 12-19 minutes, depending on your oven, until they begin to brown.  Remove the cookies and parchment (if you’ve used it) together onto a cooling rack. Then, peel of parchment paper.  If you’ve used silpat, cool slightly on the pan and then use a sharp-edged spatula to remove the cookies, and place on cooling rack.

These cookies are best when fresh, but will remain soft for 3-4 days in a plastic bag.

Tips

1. If the cookies are sticky and you dab your finger with flour-don’t use too much!  The cookies will come out dry.

2.Do not be tempted to omit the parchment or silpat, you won’t be able to remove the cookies from the pan!

3. When you flatten the cookies, be gentle-they’ll flatten even more when baking and after!

4. Please don’t roll the dough into balls, dampen them and roll in the nuts-IT DOESN’T WORK! You’ll have to place each nut individually anyway-it’s a waste of time!

5. Do watch the cookies in the oven-they over brown fast.

If you have a fondness for these cookies (they’ve got a big fan base!) you’ll really enjoy these!