Tag Archives: Baking

Italian Bread Dough with a Herb Twist

Yesterday’s recipe, Baked Oatmeal really hit home with several of you.  I told you it would be a “healthy surprise” and it is.  However, I received two comments that are great suggestions and I am going to try both next time I bake this.

Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries

My eldest son said, “That sounds delicious. But I am my Mother’s son and I think I might tweak it a little too. I’m going to try it with coconut oil for an even healthier boost!”

And then I heard from my dear friend Toni who said, “…this looks really good .. I am going to try it very soon — only I will use Stevia — just don’t need that sugar in such an otherwise very healthy recipe…”


I know you can read these under the comments of the recipe but I think they are both such good suggestions that I wanted to make sure you know about them! J

Moving on, as promised, soon I am going to post my recipes for Cabbage Burgers, Italian Burgers, and Veggie Burgers.  But before I do that, I need to give you the second bread recipe that you may want to use in making the burgers.  You can find the first recipe under My Best Dinner Yeast Rolls.  The second, Italian bread dough is a very multi-functional recipe.  I have made this recipe into dinner rolls, into a beautiful round loaf of herb bread, and our favorite – as the dough for Italian Burgers!

Boy oh boy do I love to bake bread!  I love the feel of it in my hands, the smell of the yeast rising, the look of the bread all happy and puffed up just before baking, and … oh the smell of fresh bread in the oven!  Wow, I don’t know if I can finish writing this recipe, I may need to leave for a bit and go put some bread in the oven.

Every since I began baking bread when I was 18 years old, I have enjoyed it.  But, I have had many failures.  In the early years I would often times end up with a brick instead of a loaf  — it would be too heavy, too dry, too moist and the list goes on.

Today, while I have more successes than failures, I can still end up with an experiment gone awry from time to time.

A couple years ago I was visiting with my brother’s family in Kansas City and my niece, Jaeme, made the most delicious Italian bread to go along with a fabulous chicken and shrimp Caesar Salad!  When I asked Jaeme for the recipe, she admitted that she started with a basic Italian bread recipe and by this time had “tweaked” to the point she wasn’t sure of exact measurements.

Well her wonderful bread sent me home to experiment!  While I don’t think I can match the memories from that evening, this recipe is now one of our favorites.  I hope you will do some experimenting of your own and let me know how it turns out!

Basic Italian Bread with a little herb twist! 

  • 1 cup water, lukewarm (ideal temp is 95 to 120 degrees) – I always check with an instant read thermometer)
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 2 ½ cups bread flour (adjusted as necessary)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Herb Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • Place the water and yeast in a bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, food processor, or Kitchen Aid.  Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes.  Using a dough hook attachment, add the flour and sugar to the water/yeast mixture.  Mix on low speed until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl.
  • Drizzle the oil and salt into the dough and beat on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes or until a smooth, firm, elastic dough is formed.  If the dough remains sticky, add a little flour just 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth.  Do not over-add flour or the bread will end up too heavy.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray.  Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
  • Remove the plastic, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand.  Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well with each roll.  The dough should be elongated and slightly oval shaped, with rounded and tapered (but not pointed) ends.
  • Place the dough on parchment paper or baker’s peel heavily dusted with semolina flour or cornmeal.  Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a moist paper towel, for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  Don’t let the time get away or the loaf with get too large and too airy.
  • Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle on sesame seeds (optional).  Using a razor blade or sharp knife, score 3 (1/4 inch deep) slashes across the top of the dough at a 45 degree angle.  This allows the bread to rise and the air to escape.
  • If you have a pizza stone, preheat the pizza stone in a 400 degree oven.  Alternately, an inverted cookie sheet may be used in place of the stone.
  • Mist the dough generously with water from a water bottle and place on the preheated baking stone.  Put back in oven and bake for 3 minutes.  Open the oven door and mist spray the dough again with the water.  Close the oven door and bake for an additional 3 minutes before spraying the dough for a third time.
  • Bake dough for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when the bread is whacked with the bowl of a wooden spoon.
  • Allow bread to cool before slicing and serving.

A few things I have learned:

  • Misting the dough with water will ensure a crisp golden brown crust.
  • Temperature of the water to mix with yeast is critical enough to invest in a quick read thermometer.
  • This recipe is a good one to use for Italian Burgers a recipe I plan to post next week!

Psalm 7:17
I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.

Proverbs 25 – These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:

My Best Dinner Yeast Rolls

If you love to bake bread then this recipe is for you!  If you have never made bread, but are ready to learn something new – this recipe is for you!

I have been making bread since I was in high school.  My brothers will attest to the fact that I have made some pretty bad stuff.  However, time and practice does help and last year my new neighbor, Gaye, gave me this recipe that she received from a home school co-op friend.

I think recipes are so much like family trees.  If we were able to follow the path of where a recipe came from we would find branches upon branches of friends, family, cooks, and bakers that have passed a recipe from one to another.  I rarely claim a recipe as “mine” because most generally the recipes in my box all have roots somewhere else.  Occasionally I will “teak” it to the point that the original may be unrecognizable and then possibly it may be “mine.”  Through the years I have been given recipes by so many people I have met along my life’s path.  I do believe that if I had them filed chronologically they would tell a good portion of my story.  Today is about this wonderful bread recipe.


One of my best childhood recollections is walking into my grandmother’s farmhouse and smelling all the incredible smells coming from her kitchen.  She was a fabulous cook and baker.  We would show up and she would have a homemade feast just waiting for us.  This always included homemade bread and dinner-type rolls for sandwiches.  The smell of yeast rising in the kitchen still brings back these childhood memories.

Making bread is not hard.  There are just a few simple rules you must follow to get a good end result.  With this recipe you will find the kind of dinner rolls that are meant for Sunday alongside some fried chicken, mashed potatoes, a couple good veggies and some apple pie! Oh for heavens sake, I am hungry again!

Dinner Rolls

Heat to scald but DO NOT stir!  (This can be done in the microwave or on top of the stove)

  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt

Bubbles rising to the top of milk indicate scald is satisfactory.

Stirring will cause scorching so put milk and water in kettle first and then dump sugar and salt in without stirring.

Remove from heat and then add:

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • ½ cup potato flakes, potato water or mashed potatoes (leftovers work just fine)

Cool slightly so yeast will not die and then add:

  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup yeast

Begin adding approximately 10-12 cups bread flour, (can use part wheat flour if you want)  Dough should be soft and slightly sticky.  If you have a Kitchen Aid or a large food processor you can use the dough hook and it will knead this dough wonderfully.  If you don’t have either of those, then flour your workspace and just kneading the dough by hand, working in a little bit of flour at a time until you have smooth, elastic dough.  Continue to work until dough is a proper consistency and then cover with a towel and set in a warm place.

Let rise until almost double and then work out into rolls (about the size of a golf ball) and place in greased pans. Rise again until doubled and then bake in 350 degree oven until lightly browned. Enjoy!

Note: You can cut this recipe in half if you don’t want to make such a large batch.

You can place them in a cake pan and they will rise touching each other, or you can bake on a large cookie sheet and again they should rise to touch one another. If you want individual rolls you can place each ball individually in a muffin tin.

You can work these out into rolls (about the size of a golf ball) and then immediately freeze them on a cookie sheet. Remove them at least 4-6 hours before baking and let rise in a warm place. Bake as normal when risen to double in size. Enjoy warm rolls with dinner.

Parker House Rolls: Generously brush a 9×13 inch baking pan with butter. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a 12×6 inch rectangle. Brush dough generously with 3 Tablespoons melted butter. Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut dough into 6 equal strips lengthwise. Cut dough crosswise into 4 equal sections. You will have 24 elongated rectangles. Fold each rectangle in half, and place in prepared baking pan, 4 across, and 6 down. Brush tops with remaining 3 Tablespoons melted butter. Cover pan with buttered plastic wrap. Set aside to rise until dough does not spring back when pressed with a finger, 25-30 minutes.

Clover Leaf Rolls: Shape 3 small balls and place in muffin tin and allow to rise and bake as normal.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

A Daily Proverbs

Psalm For Today

Sweet Potato Casserole

I have made sweet potato casserole for about 10 years. My southern husband’s aunt gave me her “never fail” recipe and I began tweaking it here and there to make it my own.  Unfortunately what happened is that I never made it the same way twice – and that isn’t always a good thing 🙂

Recently, my friend Sue shared a Sweet Potato Casserole recipe with me from Cook’s Illustrated.  It is the best I have ever made!  I have stopped “tweaking” it and will follow this one – with one exception.  The recipe calls for nutmeg, and my sweet husband just doesn’t care for the spice, so I try and leave it out when I can.

This takes a little effort – but every bite will be worth it.  Not to mention the kudos from family and friends!  Be sure and take time to bake fresh potatoes rather than using canned.  The result of the roasted potatoes is unmatched.   And – you won’t miss the marshmallows – I promise!


Bon Appétit’!

Sweet Potato Casserole  Serves 10 to 12

7 pounds (6 to 8 medium) sweet potatoes

Streusel Topping

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted cutter, cut into 5 pieces and softened
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup pecans

Filling

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half
  • For the sweet potatoes: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Poke sweet potatoes several times with paring knife and space evenly on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake potatoes, turning them once, until they are very tender and can be squeezed easily with tongs, usually about 1 to 1 ½ hours.   Remove potatoes from oven and cut in half lengthwise to let steam escape; cool at least 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  • For the streusel: While potatoes are baking, butter a 9” x 13” baking dish. Pulse flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until blended, about four 1-second pulses. Sprinkle butter pieces over flour mixture and pulse until crumbly mass forms, six to eight 1-second pulses. Sprinkle nuts over mixture and pulse until combine but some large nut pieces remain, four to six 1-second pulses.  Transfer streusel to medium size bowl and return empty work bowl to processor.
  • Once potatoes have cooled slightly, use spoon to scoop flesh into large bowl; you should have about 8 cups. Transfer potato flesh to food processor. (A Kitchen Aid mixer or hand mixer will work as well.)
  • For the filling: Add melted butter, salt, pepper, vanilla and lemon juice to potatoes in the food processor and process until smooth about 20 seconds.  It is okay to process a little less and leave some chunks.  Adds some character to your casserole!  Taste for sweetness: because natural sugar levels in sweet potatoes vary greatly depending on variety, size, and season, it’s important to taste the filling before adding sugar.  If the filling is bland, add up to 4 tablespoons sugar; if the potatoes are naturally sweet, you may opt to omit the sugar altogether. ( I don’t ever add sugar, we prefer the taste of the potato without any added sugar) With processor running, add egg yolks and pour half-and-half through feed tube and process until blended, about 20 seconds.
  • To assemble and bake casserole:  Pour filling into prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle with streusel, breaking up any large pieces with your fingers.  Bake until topping is well browned and filling is slightly puffy around the edges, 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

My Notes:

  • To serve 4 to 6 people, halve all ingredients and bake the casserole in an 8- inch square baking dish for 35 to 40 minutes.
  • If you can find them, Beauregard, Garnet, or Jewel sweet potatoes have the best texture for this recipe
  • The potatoes can be baked up to 2 days ahead. Scrape flesh from the skins and refrigerate in an airtight container.
  • Sweet potatoes are great with turkey or chicken, but really just delicious with ham!

Romans is one of my favorite books of the Bible and contains many life verses for me.  Romans 8 is a chapter I read often.  I encourage you to click on this link and you can read this verse or many more!

Romans 8:31-32   “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

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