Soft Garlic Knots

Brace yourself for incoming carbs!! Seriously, I was planning out my posts for the next few weeks and I realized I had 4 (maybe even 5!) bread recipes in the queue. Do I have a problem with carbs? Very good possibility!

This particular bread/roll recipe is one that’s been a regular in my kitchen for probably 3 or 4 years now. I even had it posted on my old blog. The only reason it didn’t make the “Top 30(1)” import cut was because I hated the photo and I make them often enough that I knew I would eventually get a photo I was happier with. The time has finally come and I think you’re going to love these rolls just as much as I do!



Perfect Pizza Dough


Over the years I have tried a lot of different recipes for pizza dough.  The pizzas that I made were always successful, but I was never blown away by the crust. I’ve found you can disguise a mediocre crust with really great toppings, but why settle for mediocre? When I go to my favorite pizza restaurants I would never discard that extra inch of bread, yet at home I always did. I needed to do something about that.

That’s where this recipe comes in. This recipe yields dough that is crisp on the bottom with a tender and chewy crust around the edges. You aren’t overwhelmed with a flour-y taste and it has just the right amount of olive oil flavor. It works just as well with plain cheese pizza as it does with a flavorful BBQ Chicken pizza (like the photo, recipe to come). Quite simply, it’s the perfect pizza dough. Do not be intimidated by the length of these directions, it’s really not difficult to make and the recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas, so the work of one day spreads to 2 meals!

*Warning – I took a LOT of photos of this process!

Perfect Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water (about 110°)
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Stir together 1/2 cup of warm water with the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow to proof for 5 minutes (yeast will dissolve, water will start to look milky and foamy). Stir in the room temperature water and olive oil.

While the yeast is proofing, stir together the bread flour and salt. Create a well in the flour and pour in the water/yeast mixture.

Using a strong wooden spoon, begin to work the flour into the liquid.

When it becomes too difficult to do by hand, flip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with hands for 10 minutes until it forms a smooth and elastic ball, adding only enough flour to work surface and hands to keep dough from sticking. If the dough seems too dry and hard to knead, you can add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Alternatively, use a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine flour and salt. Pour in the liquid and allow to knead on low speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

At this point I think the dough needed just a minute or so more of kneading

Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray or coat lightly with olive oil. Add the ball of dough, gently moving it around the bowl to coat with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 90-120 minutes, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough. If you plan to bake immediately, preheat oven to hottest temperature (450-500 degrees F) and place a pizza stone in the lower 1/3 of oven. If you plan to use later, divide dough into 2, shape into balls, cover tightly with plastic wrap, place in a ziploc bag, and freeze. Later, remove dough from freezer and allow to thaw in fridge overnight, then proceed to following steps. Do the same with one ball if you plan to make one pizza now and one pizza later.

Divide dough into 2. Cover with a clean, damp towel, and allow to relax for 10-20 minutes. Working one at a time, place the dough ball on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Use hands and begin to stretch the dough, turning the parchment paper as necessary to keep an even round shape, into a 12-inch round. Using a pastry brush, apply a thin layer of olive oil to the outer inch. Top with desired toppings, leaving the outer 3/4-1 inch ridge.

Using a pizza peel or large cookie sheet, transfer parchment paper and pizza to hot pizza stone and bake for 8-12 minutes or until the outer crust starts to turn golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Repeat with second ball of dough, if using right away.


  • Always preheat oven to highest temperature at least 30 minutes prior to baking. Hot, hot, hot ovens are how pizza delivery joints get crispy crust.
  • If desired, use hands to create an outer ridge in the dough. (I cup my left hand a little and use the outside edge of my right to sort of “pinch” the dough all the way around)
  • If you are having trouble stretching your pizza dough, allow it rest for 5-10 minutes. This gives the gluten time to relax.
  • Don’t be afraid to cook the pizza right on the parchment paper. It makes it much easier to transfer to the oven.

Source: Baking Illustrated, as seen on Good Thymes and Good Food

American Sandwich Bread

Well kids, I’m baaack! After an exhausting 36 hours of traveling, I arrived back in Suzhou early Sunday morning. I settled my luggage in and then we headed out to grocery store. I had pretty high hopes for myself that I would be able to make dinner Sunday night – instead I took a “short” nap at 2:00. At 7:00 I forced myself to at least move to the living room, where I promptly fell asleep again. I guess I needed it.

The good news is that by Monday morning I was feeling much better – and ready to get back into the kitchen! Because I looooove the smell of fresh baked bread, because I’m a sucker for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and because it was Monday and just seemed like the right thing to do, I made a loaf of American style sandwich bread.

If you are looking for a good sandwich bread, this recipe is it. The crumb is dense and sturdy enough for any sandwich, but the taste is still light and fresh. I have a feeling this bread will be making a weekly appearance in my kitchen.

American Sandwich Bread

3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) rapid rise yeast

*The “big move” meant leaving behind my beloved standing mixer, so for now I’m hand kneading and mixing. I will still include the directions for using a standing mixer, though. Let’s face it, it can be done by hand but it’s way easier with a mixer!
Prepare an oven by heating to 200 degrees. Once it has reached 200 degrees allow to heat for another 10 minutes then, turn the oven off. This warm oven will the perfect environment for rising dough.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together 3 1/2 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons salt. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the warm milk, water, melted butter, honey, and yeast. When the yeast has dissolved and started to foam, fit the standing mixer with a dough hook. With the mixer on slow speed, pour the liquid into the flour. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and allow to knead for at least 5 minutes. Adding more flour a tablespoon at a time, if necessary. If mixing by hand, create a well in the center of the flour and pour the liquid in. Use a wooden spoon to stir together until it becomes too difficult, then use your hands. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. When the dough is smooth and elastic form it into a ball.

Place the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the warmed oven. Allow to rise for 40-50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few seconds then form into an 8-inch square. Starting with the edge furthest away from you, roll the dough into a cylinder. Turn the cylinder seam side up and pinch all along the seam. Place the dough into a lightly greased bread pan seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free, place, for 20-30 minutes.

While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a baking dish with 2-cups of water and place on the bottom rack in the oven.

Bake the bread until an instant read thermometer reads 195 degrees, about 40-50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

Source: What’s Cooking Chicago originally from The New Best Recipe

Wheat Brioche Sandwich Buns

Bucket lists seem to be quite the thing lately. I’ve seen a lot of blogs doing “30 by 30” or “12 in 2012” series on their blogs. While I think that’s an awesome idea, I’d kind of rather keep my list in my head. That way if I don’t get to everything on it, I’m the only one that’s disappointed. Besides, my list is ever evolving. It needs space to grow.

Homemade hamburger buns have been on my mental bucket list for WAY too long. I have no idea what I was waiting for, but I can tell you that now that I have made them, they’re here to stay. I did a lot of research and even when I found one that sounded perfect I still decided to make a small tweak. I like trying to include whole grains in my baked goods when I can so I hoped that I could make that substitution and still have a good result. I didn’t do a full half and half substitute because I didn’t want the buns to be too heavy. It worked! And the buns were everything I hoped they would be.

If you’ve been considering making your buns, give these a try! They are not nearly as intimating as you might think. Really, they’re no more difficult than making any bread. I used my standing mixer, but I’m fairly certain you could do the whole process by hand if you needed to. The results you get and the pride you’ll feel when you see those beautiful buns (snicker) will make every ounce of effort well worth it! Not to mention the benefit of knowing EXACTLY what is going into your food and avoiding things like HFCS.

Wheat Brioche Sandwich Buns

1 cup warm water
3 Tbsp warm milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened*
Sesame seeds (optional)

Combine the water, milk, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to proof, you’ll know it’s working when the top gets foamy and the yeast is dissolving. In a small bowl beat 1 egg.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the 2 flours and salt. Add the butter* and use your fingers to rub it into the flour, it should start to look like wet sand. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and egg. Fit the mixer with a dough hook. Knead on low speed for 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will be sticky, and that’s OK. If it seems dry, add a little extra water a tablespoon at a time.

Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover with a clean towel and set in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. (Mine took an hour and 15 minutes).

Line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a very lightly flour surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place 4 on each baking sheet, allowing room for rising. Gently press down on each one so they are a little flatter. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

While the buns are rising, beat the second egg with one tablespoon of water. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a shallow baking pan filled with water on the flour of the oven, or on a rack in the lowest position.

When the buns have risen, brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). Bake for 15 minutes, turning the pans halfway through, or until the tops are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Excellent, when lightly buttered and toasted and topped with something delicious like a burger or shredded chicken or pulled pork.

*To make the butter step easier, I actually used cold butter and used a cheese grater to grate the cheese into the flour. From there it was easy to rub together.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from the New York Times and Comme Ca Restaurant