It doesn’t matter if it’s the BIG holiday, a dinner with pals, or just your average weeknight supper, your meal is enhanced with bread.
Growing up, there was always a stack of white sandwich bread slices on our dinner table. I think my mom felt that if we ate bread, at least we might survive her cooking (Sorry, Mom)!
Then for years, bread was a no, no.
No way you could eat bread with dinner…Just one half of a burger bun was enough to send your belly into super-sized mode.
Now here we are.
Climbing out of a pandemic having developed a true affinity for artisanal bread loaves. I know people that never, ever cook but they’re making their own sour dough starters…and naming them!
Whether you’re buying from the bakery or you’ve developed a real need to knead, let me introduce you to a couple of ideas on how you can incorporate bread into your meal plan.
No Yeast Quick Bread
Quick breads come together without the time spent rising. A quick bread recipe uses baking soda and/or baking powder to rise rather than yeast. These breads are easily flavored to compliment your meal.
To accompany your roasted turkey, you might choose a savory quick bread. Muffins and skillet breads come into this category, too.
With your Southern supper there’s nothing better than corn bread.
And if it’s holiday gifts you looking to create, you can’t beat pumpkin or apple quick breads with all sorts of additions like chocolate chips and dried fruit.
Here’s a favorite quick bread recipe.
Bacon, Cheddar and Sage Quick Bread Recipe
Makes 1 loaf or 3 mini loaves
Time To Prepare
15 minutes to mix and about 50 to 55 minutes to bake
- 6 slices bacon, diced into ⅛-inch pieces (I like to use maple bacon)
- 1 ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 large eggs
- ⅓ cup milk
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated, about 1 cup
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a (8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch) loaf pan or 3 (5 ¾ x 3 ¼-inch) mini-loaf pans with vegetable oil spray.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the crispy bacon to paper towels to drain.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk the eggs, milk, and olive oil in another bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir. Add in the cheese, sage and bacon and stir until just mixed through. The dough will be thick.
Pour the dough into the loaf pan. Bake the bread until a tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. You’ll need slightly less time for mini-loaves.
Remove the loaf from the pan. Mix the butter and honey together in a small bowl. Brush the top and the sides of the loaf with this mixture.
Things That Rise
Breads that use yeast to rise require a bit of kneading and some time to let everything work together to create a well-proofed bread dough.
The good thing about his is that you can make your dough in the morning and bake in the afternoon or even the next day. Proofing will continue (albeit at a slower pace) in the fridge.
Rise and Roll
Once your yeast bread dough rises, with just a little bit of extra effort you can turn that dough into buns or dinner rolls, or knots, or sticks or any little THING you want to create.
Adding some sesame seeds or flakey salt to your dinner rolls make everyday rolls a dinner treat. How about brushing those warm rolls with a little bit of basil oil.
Now your bread just got a whole lot better.
Better yet why not turn one batch of bread dough into two loaves. My focaccia bread recipe will make a skillet focaccia loaf (enough to feed 8 to 10) and another batch of dinner rolls.
This is perfect for the holidays.
Two THINGS in one!
Skillet Focaccia Bread and Dinner Rolls Recipe
Serves 6 to 8
Time To Prepare
20 minutes to come together, plus a couple of hours for bread to rise
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
- 1 ¾ cups warm water
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ cup olive oil, plus more for the skillet
Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Cover with a clean cloth and allow the bubbles to form, about 10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer whisk together the flour and kosher salt. Pour in ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast-water. Use a spatula or your very clean hands to bring everything together into a shaggy dough. Settle the bowl on the mixer and fit it with the dough hook. Mix to combine. Once the dough comes together around the hook, continue to knead the dough is smooth. This takes anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Generously coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with olive oil (at least 2 to 3 tablespoons). Transfer half of the dough to the skillet, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” that hold your seasonings. Cover and place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 30 minutes.
Cut the remaining dough into 6 to 8 pieces. Roll these into balls and place into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. You can decorate the focaccia bread with your favorite herbs, spices and a generous dash of flaky salt. Brush the rolls with egg wash. Bake until the top of the bread and the rolls are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Bread Brick THING
If all of this sounds a bit daunting, meet Chase Fox Harnett, owner of Hudson Oven an artisanal bakery in New York state.
You can order an artisanal bread “brick” and in just hours have a delicious loaf of home-baked sour dough bread. No named, bubbling, starters needed!
I ordered and the accompanying instructional video is perfect, a complete lesson in bread baking with a click of your camera.
This is literally a “just add water” THING.
A THING that will get you started down the path to bread baking on a regular basis. No stacked white slices for you!
Here’s a couple of pics from my Hudson Oven brick bake.
Tried it? Tell us!
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