Category Archives: Bread

Olive Bread

The hubby and I were recently invited up to our friend’s beautiful beach house in NY.  We had a wonderful time, fabulous weather, and amazing food!  One of the breads we had was an Olive Bread stuffed with delicious Kalamata olives.  We loved the bread so much that I decided to try baking it when we got home.  I have a bread baking cookbook and knew I had seen a recipe in there for olive bread.  This bread recipe is simple because it doesn’t call for a sponge and you can bake it in one day.  This recipe yields two loaves — enjoy one and freeze the other!


  • 3 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.  Add the oil, flour, and salt.  Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, 5-7 minutes.  Add a little flour, so the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and sprinkle the olives over the top.  Knead the olives into the dough, briefly and gently.  Form the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow dough to rise, 1-1.5 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead briefly.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half.  Cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Shape each dough into a tight round loaf.  Tuck any olives that fall out back into the dough.  Place the loaves on the baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450.  Lightly dust the tops of the loaves with flour.  Using a knife, slash a diagonal line from one end of the loaf to the other end.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 425.  Bake the breads until they are golden brown and hollow when tapped, about 25-35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Yield:  2 loaves

*Adapted from Essentials of Baking


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Cinnamon Sugar Focaccia

I’ve only ever made savory focaccia bread before now.  Then, I came across this amazing Cinnamon Sugar Focaccia from How Sweet it is and decided I’d have to try.  I used my original focaccia recipe and made a few changes such as using vegetable oil instead of olive oil and adding some honey and cinnamon to the dough.  This bread was warm, fluffy, and delicious – it’s the perfect after-dinner treat or if you really have a sweet tooth, the perfect breakfast treat.

In other news, I recently became obsessed with Pinterest.  It’s fabulous and quite addicting.  I added a Pinterest button on the right-hand side of my blog; feel free to follow my Pins if you’d like!


  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar, plus 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 5 cups flour and extra for kneading
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, plus 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp melted butter


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp sugar, oil, honey, flour, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. If using a kitchen aid, attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 5-7 minutes (or knead by hand for same amount of time). Add up to 1/2 cup flour while kneading in order to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Form the dough in a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 1-1.5 hours.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and press the dough into the pan. If it’s too elastic to spread out, let it rest for 5 minutes. Cover the pan with a dry kitchen towel and let rise again for 1 hour. Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 400. Dimple the dough with your fingertips and brush melted butter over bread.  In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon and sprinkle over bread.  Bake focaccia for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
*Adapted from how Sweet it is


Filed under Baked Goods, Bread

Gingerbread Loaf w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Tis the season for gingerbread especially this Gingerbread Loaf w/Cream Cheese Frosting.  Cream cheese frosting spread on top of just about everything tastes delicious, but trust me when I say that this gingerbread and cream cheese frosting combo is killer!  Gingerbread has quite a few strong spices in it, so the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting really pairs deliciously with the spice.  You definitely will have to eat more than one slice.  Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in middle.  Coat a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, dust with flour, and tap out excess.
  2. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and allspice in a large bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla until combined.
  3. Combine butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in molasses until well combined then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated.
  4. Stop mixer and scrape bowl and paddle (mixture will look separated and curdled). Add one third flour mixture beating on low speed just until flour is incorporated. Add half buttermilk mixture and once batter is smooth add another third flour mixture. Add remaining buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. While cooling, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth.  Add in the milk and vanilla.  On low speed, add the powdered sugar and beat until combined.
  7. Once gingerbread has completely cooled, spread frosting on the top and the sides.

*Adapted from Chow


Filed under Baked Goods, Bread, Desserts

Broccoli Soup

Cool weather for me means soups and stews!  Broccoli soup is one of those classic soups that I love to make and love to dip bread in.  I decided to make some savory monkey bread with oregano, garlic, and olive oil.  The monkey bread came out soft and perfect for dipping in this creamy soup.  The soup recipe is also easy and delicious; I added a bit more garlic and red pepper flakes since I love both those flavors.  Melted cheese on top of the hot soup makes this dish perfect for a cool, fall day.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 small celery ribs, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Shredded cheese, to melt over soup
  • Bread for dipping
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli and water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and puree until smooth. Season the soup with salt and pepper and sprinkle cheese over.  Serve with bread.
*Adapted from Food and Wine


Filed under Baked Goods, Bread, Soup & Salad

Italian Cheese Bread

My hubby and I went to the Alexandria farmer’s market this past weekend and we stopped by one of the vendors selling delicious looking breads and baked goods.  One of the loaves that my hubby was eyeing was a savory cheese bread.  He was going to buy it, but then I decided that I would try baking it for him.  So I found a recipe from the Panera Baking Cookbook for Italian Cheese Bread.  This bread was actually very simple to make and didn’t require too much time to proof or raise.  I used a blend of Italian cheeses (Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and Romano).  This recipe baked two beautiful loaves that I simply could not resist slicing into right after they came out of the oven.  This bread is moist, super fluffy, and has the perfect crunchy crust.  It also has a wonderful cheese flavor that will make you want to eat the entire loaf.  I was good and used some restraint to resist eating one of the entire loaves before my husband got home.  But as soon as he walked in the door and smelled that my-wife-just-baked-fresh-bread-! smell, he proceeded to eat the loaf like there was no tomorrow.

 I am a staunch advocate of supporting your local farmers and vendors; in this case, it was fun to save the $6 and bake my own cheese bread.  But rest assured that my $6 went to another vendor’s awesome goat cheese.  In general, there are things we spend money on at our farmer’s market and some things we don’t; I can’t grow 30 pounds of tomatoes on my back porch, so I bought 30 pounds from a local farmer last summer so I could can some tomato sauce (you likka the sauce?).  The same goes for most veggies, fruits, and cheeses.  As much as I wish I could make my own brie, I can’t.  Herbs and baked goods we usually pass on because I grow my own herbs on the back porch and because baked goods I can usually take a stab at making if we see something we really want to try.

What are your favorite farmer’s market purchases?  Do you pass on things or generally try them all?



  • 1 cup warm water (95-105 degrees)
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour


  • ¾ cup warm water (95-105 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 4 tsp (0.5 oz) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tsp vegetable shortening
  • 4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian shredded cheese (I used a blend of Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and Romano)


  1. To create the starter, combine the water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully.
  2. Add the flour to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover with a cloth and ferment the starter at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. For the dough, combine the water, honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to dissolve the yeast fully.
  4. Add the shortening, flour, salt, cheeses and fermented starter. Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed.
  5. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide into 2 pieces.  Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and place in two separate bowls that have been lightly greased with vegetable oil.  Cover the bowls with warm cloths and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  6. Spray two baking loaf pans with cooking spray.  Form the dough into loaves, place into pans, cover with warm cloths and allow to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Score the loaves with a sharp knife, sprinkle lightly with water, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the crusts are a deep golden brown.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven and the loaf pans and place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.  Makes 2 loaves

*Adapted from the Panera Bread Cookbook


Filed under Bread

Baby Shower

This is the first time that I’ve officially mentioned on my blog that my older sister is having a baby!!! It’s our family’s first baby, so everyone is extremely excited for this little bundle of joy to arrive. My sister is doing extremely well and she looks fabulous – she’s 29 weeks pregnant in this photo, but you could never tell she’s that far along!!

This shower is actually #1 of 2 baby showers that my Mom and I are throwing for her. This first one was thrown at her house down here in NOVA for her friends in the area. The second one will be at a restaurant up in Syracuse for our family and family friends. Since this was the smaller shower of the two, my Mom and I still went to work with designing the perfect brunch menu that my sister would love. I baked several goodies including my Strawberry Banana Muffins, Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread, and these guys: Chocolate Chip Toffee Muffins. They were super delicious. I actually baked them a week before the shower and froze them. Then I left them out at room temperature the day before; they defrosted beautifully and tasted amazing! I was actually worried about freezing muffins because I’d never done it before and was scared that you would get some of that nasty freezer-burn taste. None of that here though 🙂

In addtion to the breads and baked goods, we made my Mom’s infamous Sausage & Egg Casserole. My Mom has been making this egg dish for Christmas brunch every year for as long as I can remember. But she only makes it for Christmas brunch and since my sis loves it, we decided to break with tradition and make it. Instead of making the casserole in a 13×9 inch pan, we made individual muffin cups of the casserole. They came out really cute and the muffin-sized portions were easier to serve to the lovely ladies. We also made some tasty homefries to go along with the egg and sausage dish. For drinks, I made Strawberry Agua Fresca via Jenna of Eat, Live, Run. This drink is fabulous! It’s so easy to make, but tastes so refreshing and healthy. We left them non-alcoholic, but adding some Prosecco would make this drink even better.

Last, my Mom made her Baby Pacifier Candies. This is another treat that my Mom has made for numerous baby showers. They’re so easy to make, but make such cute treats for each of the ladies to take home. They’re made out of a peppermint patty, a jelly bean, and a mint and chocolate holds them all together. Super cute right?

We had such a great time throwing my sister this baby shower! She (and baby) got some wonderful gifts as well. We were also happy that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were able to attend as well. Stay tuned for details about the baby shower coming up in Syracuse; my Mom and I have some more creative treats in store!

Have you ever thrown a baby shower or attended one? What cute/unique treats have you seen before?

Also, stop by Steph’s Bite By Bite this Friday, May 13th for her Online Bake Sale! Steph is raising money to help in the fight against Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease, and Myeloma. A lot of great bloggers are donating their baked goods to help Steph support this wonderful cause. I’m donating my Peanut Butter Banana Bread, so be sure to stop by and bid on some baked goodies!

Chocolate Chip Toffee Muffins


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toffee bits


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease 24 mini muffin tins with cooking spray or paper liners.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the butter mix. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips and toffee chips with a spatula until distributed evenly.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, fill each muffin cup level with the rim.
  6. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.
  8. Serve at room temperature or freeze for future use.


Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Bread, Breakfast, Desserts

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Unfortunately, I won’t be spending Mother’s Day with either my Mom or my Mother-in-law this weekend 😦  Living away from family stinks, but I am fortunate and grateful that I will be seeing my Mother-in-law next weekend and my Mother the weekend after that!!!  For this post, I decided to share with you some delicious Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread that I adapted from Peter Reinhart’s cookbook The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  I actually baked this bread for my sister’s baby shower brunch (stay tuned for more details on the baby shower!).  I was baking a few other things that weekend for the shower, so I completely forgot that I was out of raisins!  I’m not a huge fan of raisins in bread, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I also decided to use whole wheat flour in addition to the all-purpose flour, so you’ll notice that the cinnamon swirls aren’t as visible with the whole wheat flour.  I assure you that the wonderful cinnamon taste was still there even if you can’t see it.  This bread is perfect to bake for a Mother’s Day brunch.  Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mamas out there!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup water, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins (optional – I left them out)


  1. Stir together flours, sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the egg, butter, buttermilk, and water and stir on low speed until ingredients come together to form a ball.  If the dough seems too sticky, add flour.  If it seems too stiff, add water.
  2. Switch paddle attachment to dough hook and begin kneading on medium speed for 6 minutes.  Add flour if necessary.  If adding raisins, add in at the last 2 minutes of kneading.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl with canola oil and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling to coat the dough in oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place a dry kitchen towel on top.  Allow to rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form into loafs.  Grease 2, 9″ loaf pans and place dough inside.  Spray the tops with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap and dry kitchen towels.  Allow dough to rise another 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Place the oven rack in the middle shelf and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the loaf pans on a baking sheet making sure the pans don’t touch each other and bake for 20 minutes.  Rotate pans 180 degrees and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  6. Immediately remove the bread from their loaf pans being sure not to burn yourself.  Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

*Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Check out these other sweet treats that would be perfect for a Mother’s Day Brunch:


Filed under Baked Goods, Bread, Breakfast