Hot Cross Buns are as synonymous with Easter as Fruit Mince Pies are with Christmas. I cannot imagine Easter Weekend without them! Be sure to also try the recipe for Hot Cross Pain Au Chocolat, an Easter-themed pastry.
This recipe is a cross (excuse the pun!) between a Hot Cross Bun and the popular French pastry, pain au chocolat, which is made with yeast-leavened dough and filled with chocolate. “Pain au chocolat” literally means chocolate bread.
The Muffaletta (moof-fuh-LEHT-tuh) also know simply as “muff”, is a classic New Orleans sandwich. It is the ultimate make-ahead sandwich and is super easy and convenient to make. Hollowed-out bread (authentic round muffaletta loaf or other Italian round bread) is filled with generous amounts of olive salad and a variety of cold cuts of meat, cheese and vegetables. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature.
An Italian immigrant, Signor Lupo Salvatore, owner of the Central Grocery & Deli in the French Quarter of New Orleans, claims to have invented this sandwich in 1906. He apparently started making the sandwiches for the men who worked at the nearby produce stalls of the French Market. The sign over the covered sidewalk proudly proclaims, home of “The Original Muffuletta.” The Central Grocery & Deli not only sells the Muffuletta sandwiches as take-out or eat-in, they also sell the ingredients of the Muffuletta – including olive salad by the jar – for people who want to make the sandwich at home.
Muffuletta Bread or 1 round country loaf (25 cm in diameter) Olive Salad (see recipe below) 50 g Italian salami, thinly sliced 50 g Italian ham, thinly sliced 50 g Provolone cheese, thinly sliced 50 g Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
a handful or two of small sweet red peppers (pimiento) or Peppadews, halved
Olive Salad (this should be made the day before for flavours to infuse) 200 g green olives, drained, pitted and coarsely-chopped
200 g Kalamata olives, drained, pitted and coarsely-chopped
10 ml crushed garlic
1 anchovy fillet, mashed
15 ml capers, drained and rinsed
15 ml red wine vinegar
15 ml fresh lemon juice
60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
60 ml parsley, finely-chopped
freshly ground black pepper
To make the olive salad, combine all the ingredients and then allow the flavors to infuse.
Store covered in the fridge for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
To assemble the muffaletta, remove the insides of the bread and reserve for another use, e.g. make bread crumbs to be used in Meatballs, etc.
Spread some of the olive salad over the cut side of bottom half of bread.
Layer the salami, ham, cheese, pimiento and rocket with a tablespoon or two of olive salad between every other layer.
Place the top half of the bread on top like a lid and wrap the sandwich in cling film.
Weigh the sandwich down with a cast-iron pan or tinned vegetables and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the sandwich from refrigerator, cut into wedges, and serve.
Panzanella is a Tuscan salad consisting of chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Making Panzanella salad is a terrific way to use up stale or leftover bread.
500 g stale bread (fresh bread will work too!)
100 ml garlic infused olive oil
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
16 black olives, pitted
a handful fresh basil, leaves removed from the stalks
30 ml balsamic vinegar
25 g Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C when the bread is almost risen.
Slice the bread into 1 cm thick slices. Then dice the slices up into even cubes.
Transfer the diced bread to a baking tray lined with a Wizbake baking sheet and spread it evenly over the surface.
Drizzle the oil evenly over the diced bread and stir well to make sure the bread has evenly absorbed the oil.
Bake the bread until golden brown and crispy.
In the meantime, add the cherry tomatoes and olives to the pan and stir-fry gently over a moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Season with pepper and salt.
Add the fresh basil leaves, balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil to the pan and mix well.
Transfer the salad to a bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding extra pepper, salt or balsamic vinegar.
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese and serve.
The most effortless recipe for home-made Italian bread. Ciabatta literally means “slipper” in Italian, so keep this in mind when shaping the bread! The bread is deliciously hard and crisp served soon after baking but may be enjoyed within a day or frozen, thawed and reheated.
500 ml cake flour 2 x 10 g packet instant yeast 5 ml salt 5 ml sugar 15 ml olive oil 350 ml lukewarm water additional cake flour additional oil to grease hands and bowl
Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl with a lid that can seal airtight.
Stir to combine, make a well in the centre and add the oil and water.
Beat the dough well with a spoon to make a soft dough, difficult to stir but too soft to knead.
Add extra flour until the dough holds together in a soft ball and becomes less sticky.
Grease the palms of the hands very generously with oil and gather the dough into the hands.
To strengthen and manipulate the dough, slap the dough from the one hand to the other 100 times! Or, knead in an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for 4 minutes.
Oil two bowls generously and place half of the dough into each bowl.
Seal airtight with a lid or cling wrap and allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes until doubled and full of air.
To make two smaller ciabatta’s, cut and separate the dough into two portions with a pizza cutter table knife and shape into a “slipper” shape.
Sprinkle the bread/s with flour, cover with oiled cling wrap and allow to rise another hour or until well risen and filled with air.
When the bread has almost doubled in size, preheat the oven to 200 ° C.
Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Remove the bread from the oven with oven mittens and transfer it to a cooling rack to cool for a few minutes.
Serve the bread immediately with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Servings: 1 large or 2 smaller loaves
The bread is at it’s best soon after baking but may be enjoyed within a day or frozen, thawed and reheated when needed.
To make one large loaf or focaccia, slip the dough onto the prepared baking tray and with oiled hands shape and stretch the dough to make an attractive flat bread.
Rye Flour Ciabatta Bread Substitute 1 cup of the cake or bread flour with rye flour and add 5 ml caraway seed for a delicious flavour. Sprinkle the shaped bread with rye flour.
Bran-rich Ciabatta Bread Substitute 100 ml (use 400 ml) of the cake or bread flour with 250 ml digestive bran.
Olive and Sun dried Tomato and Herb Bread Have ready about 125 ml stoned olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary sprigs, chopped rosemary, dried herbs or garlic and herb seasoning. Brush the shaped loaves with olive or sunflower oil and press the prepared topping ingredients into the dough of the shaped loaves with the index finger. Add sprigs of rosemary or herbs and let rise.
Tuscan Onion Bread Brush the shaped loaves with olive or sunflower oil, arrange thinly sliced onion rings (1 medium onion) on top and sprinkle with coarse salt and / or garlic and herb seasoning.
Recipe by Carolié de Koster. Also see the recipe for Italian Ciabatta in the Art of Cooking Recipe book p. 831.
Even novice bread bakers can manage this delicious, quick-to-make recipe. Served with piping hot soup it will make the perfect comfort food.
750 ml/420 g brown bread or wholewheat flour
750 ml/420 g cake flour 1 – 2x10g sachets instant yeast (depending on time available for rising) 7,5 ml salt 50 ml sesame seeds (optional) 50 mlpoppy seeds (optional)
500 ml lukewarm water 30 ml oil poppy, sesame and sunflower seeds to sprinkle
Grease 1 medium (28 x 12,5 x 8 cm) or 2 small (23 x 10 x 8 cm) bread tins well non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and add the water and oil.
Mix with a spoon or the dough hook until a heavy batter is obtained.
Adjust the consistency if necessary, adding a little extra water or flour.
Mix 1 – 2 minutes only until slightly sticky.
Set the bowl aside and let it rise uncovered until well risen and well rounded on top. About 20 minutes if two sachets of yeast are used or 40 minutes if one sachet is used.
Preheat the oven to 200°C when the bread is almost risen.
Transfer the dough one large bread tin or 2 smaller bread tins and sprinkle the top of loaf with one or a mixture of the seeds.
Bake the bread for about 45 minutes or until the crust has browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the top crust. A metal skewer should come out clean if the bread is cooked through.
Set the bread aside on a cooling rack to cool completely before it is served with butter, honey, jam, etc.
Servings:1 large or 2 smaller breads.
Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cooking recipe Book p. 817.
This very contemporary way of serving a low-kilojoule chicken and salad sandwich would be ideally suited for a casual meal on the patio with friends and family. Prepare an open sandwich for a light meal or a stacked sandwich for a more substantial feast.
± 750 g chicken breast fillets
100 g butter
Cajun Spice Mix
15 ml paprika
5 ml garlic and herb seasoning
2 to 5 ml cayenne pepper
1 to 2 ml white pepper
2 to 5 ml freshly ground black pepper
10 ml salt
2.5 ml dried thyme
2.5 ml mixed dried herbs
soured cream home-made tomato salsa OR Mexican-style canned tomato
salad ingredients, e.g. lettuce, cucumber, sprouts, avo, spring onion, chives
Flatten the chicken breast fillets with a mallet or rolling pin to 10 mm thick.
Combine all the ingredients for the spice mixture and sprinkle over the breasts and set aside or cover and refrigerate until ready to fry and serve.
In the meantime, butter 6 to 12 slices of bread or enough for 6 to 12 servings.
Arrange the bread on a large serving platter or individual plates and top neatly with the salad ingredients.
Spoon soured cream and tomato salsa into small bowls and keep refrigerated until required.
Het the butter until moderately hot and fry the chicken breasts for about 3 minutes on a side or until nicely browned and thoroughly cooked but not dry.
Keep warm until ready to serve and slice into slightly smaller portions if preferred.
Place the the hot chicken on top of the salad, spoon over a little sour cream and scatter a few shreds of lettuce, spring onion, avo, etc.
Serve immediately, passing around the remaining soured cream and salsa.
6 to 12 servings.
Recipe by Carolie de Koster from the Art of Cooking recipe book p. AOC p. 28.
These authentic flat “pocket” breads of the past, originally baked on hot stones have made a great comeback! The hollow or split pitas may enjoyed with any part of the meal or stuffed with hot or cold, savoury or sweet fillings. For best results, knead the dough very well and allow for a thorough first rising (until completely doubled) before shaping into flat breads and rising once more.
Prep time 45 minutes (including rising time)
Cook time 30 minutes
1 x 8 g sachet (1 tsp/5 ml) instant yeast (or use double quantity for quicker rising)
3 cups (750 ml) bread flour
2 cups (500 ml) lukewarm water
¼ cup (60 ml) melted butter or olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
± 1½ cups (375 ml) extra bread flour
Mix the yeast with the first measure of flour in a mixing bowl, the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook or a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients except the extra flour and mix well.
Add just enough of the extra flour gradually to form a dough which can be handled comfortably. Take care not to make the dough to firm for it will be difficult to work with and the end results will be dry as well.
Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, in the mixer for 4 to 5 minutes or 2 to 3 minutes in the bowl of a food processor until smooth and elastic. Sprinkle lightly with flour and shape into a neat ball.
Return the dough to the bowl used, cover and let rise until doubled, about 3 to 40 minutes – allow to rise very well and double completely for the best pitas.
Knead down the dough and pinch off balls the size of a small apple for large pitas or the size of a large egg for smaller pitas. Sprinkle with flour, cover and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
Roll out the balls on a well-floured surface into either round or oval-shaped pitas about 1 cm thick. Sprinkle with flour, cover with a cloth and rise 20 minutes.
Place firm baking trays (not greased) which will not warp in the oven, into the oven and preheat the oven to 220ºC while flat breads are rising. Turn over each flat bread when placing onto the hot trays so that the moist underneath side is on top and the pitas will puff up and become hollow during baking.
Place the breads into the oven, reduce heat to 180ºC and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until puffed and lightly coloured but not browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art of Cooking Recipe Book p. 832.
Brush baked flatbreads with olive oil and sprinkle generously with the Za’atar Spice Mix. Serve with labneh (Greek yoghurt).
By adding dried fruit and nuts to this bread it is taken to a whole new level. Also try the Light Rye Bread which can be served with soup or as part of a cold buffet including salad, fish, cold meat and especially good tasty cheese.
Note If a bread with a dark colour is preferred use treacle or molasses. For a light bread use honey only or ½ honey and ½ molasses.
2 cups (500 ml) rye flour
1 cup (250 ml) cake flour
2 x 8 g sachets instant yeast (less if time is unlimited)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 – 2 tsp (5 – 10 ml) caraway seed (optional)
1 Tbsp (30 ml) butter or oil
2 Tbsp (30 ml) honey or treacle or molasses (see Note above)
1½ cups (375 ml) lukewarm water
1 cup (250 ml) extra cake flour
1 cup (250 ml) mixed nuts
½ cup (125 ml) cranberries
Topping a little plain yoghurt or buttermilk
Combine the dry ingredients and add the butter or oil and honey and/or treacle or molasses and water and mix well.
Add sufficient of the remaining flour to form a dough that is still slightly sticky and soft but just firm enough for kneading.
To knead by hand, turn out the dough on a floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, adding extra flour as necessary and return to the bowl. Or, to knead in an electric mixer, knead 3 to 4 minutes with the dough hook or until no longer sticky, adding a little extra flour as necessary.
Cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Add the nuts and cranberries and knead it into the dough. Cover and allow to stand for another 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into two portions and shape into oval-shaped loaves.
Place the loaves onto the baking tray and brush with yoghurt or buttermilk and sprinkle with rye flour. Slash the top of the loaves diagonally with a sharp knife or snip with a pair of scissors.
Allow the loaves to rise until doubled and pre-heat the oven to 200°C while the loaves are rising.
Place the well-risen loaves into the oven, lower the temperature to 190°C and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180°C and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the top crust.
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Makes 2 medium loaves or about 16 to 20 slices.
Recipe by Carolié de Koster from her Art of Cooking Recipe Book page 813.
This bread is a great alternative to bread made with bread or cake flour.
375 ml almond flour
90 ml coconut flour
60 ml psyllium husks
2.5 ml salt or seasoning of your choice
7.5 ml baking powder
10 ml sugar or xylitol
5 large eggs
60 ml coconut oil or butter, melted
5 ml apple cider vinegar
Pre-heat the oven to 175 º C and grease a small loaf tin (10 cm x 20 cm) with butter.
Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, psyllium husks, sugar or xylitol, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and mix until combined.
Combine the eggs, coconut oil or butter and vinegar in a measuring jug and whisk it with a fork to combine.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Transfer the batter to the loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes.
Set the tin aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Transfer the bread to a cooling rack to cool before transferring it to a serving dish or storing it in an airtight container.
French toast is the champion of brunch. Nothing says “weekend” like tucking into crispy triangles of bread dripping with syrup or honey. In France, French toast is referred to as “pain perdu”. It is referred to as “lost bread” because it is a way to reclaim stale or otherwise “lost” bread. The hard bread is softened by dipping it in a mixture of milk and eggs, and then pan-fried in butter. It is served with a dusting of icing sugar and jam or syrup. It is also known as eggy bread, gypsy toast or omelette bread. In France, pain perdu is served as a dessert, a breakfast or an afternoon tea snack.
See my post “New Foodie Movie: French Toast” for info on this South African movie that will be released on 24 April 2015. If you haven’t been to Paris, France, it will feel as if you’ve been after you have seen it through Lise’s eyes!
Brioche is a French pastry and is made in the same basic way as bread, but the dough is as rich as a pastry because of the extra addition of eggs, butter, liquid (milk, water, cream, and, sometimes, brandy) and occasionally a bit of sugar. Brioche is often baked with fruit or chocolate chipsand served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert. It is ideal for making French Toastdue to its dense texture.
The dough can be baked in any loaf pan, but the classic Brioche shape is achieved by using special fluted brioche moulds or a big Brioche mould (see images below). The traditional shape of a brioche is that of a round lump topped with another smaller round lump or topknot (hence its original name, meaning “with a head”), though it can be baked in regular loaf or muffin tins with great success. Both the large and individual brioche moulds (pictured below) can be used for a variety of different recipes, for instance my Orange, Almond and Polenta Cake (see picture below).
1 x 10 g sachet instant yeast
500 ml cake flour
150 ml lukewarm water
125 butter, melted
5 ml salt
30 ml white sugar
4 large eggs
500 ml additional cake flour
1 large egg
30 ml water
Mix the yeast with the cake flour in a small mixing bowl before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, except the extra flour, in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat well.
Add sufficient of the additional cake flour to form a soft dough.
Knead lightly on a floured surface for 4 to 5 minutes until smooth.
Flour the bowl, return the dough to the bowl, cover and allow to rise in a mildly warm spot for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease 12 x 9 cm-wide brioche tins with butter.
Knead down the dough lightly and shape the dough into 12 equal portions.
Divide each of the 12 portions into a larger portion and a smaller portion – the smaller portion should be one quarter the size of the larger portion.
Transfer the larger portion of dough in the bottom of one of the brioche tins.
Force a hole into the center of the larger portion of dough with your fore finger, reaching all the way down to the bottom of the tin, and stick the smaller ball in the hole. This keeps it from popping off during baking.
Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
Place the tins on a baking pan and lightly brush the tops of the brioche with the egg glaze.
Allow it to rise in a mildly warm spot until doubled.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and firm.
Allow to cool in the tins for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Serve warm with butter only or sweet or savoury accompaniments as preferred.
The dough can also be baked in a 12-hole muffin pan or a large brioche mould.
Recipe adapted from French Brioche Rolls, Art Of Cooking page 842.
This impressive-looking bread is much easier to make than it looks! It can easily be adapted by replacing the filling with alternative sweet or savoury fillings.
1 kg shop-bought bread dough
Spinach, Spring Onion & Cheese Filling
400 g baby spinach leaves, rinsed
125 ml spring onion, thinly sliced
10 ml crushed garlic
5 ml salt
50 g parmesan, Grana Padano or Pecorino cheese, grated
50 ml cake flour
1 large egg
10 ml water
To make the filling, place the spinach, spring onion, garlic and salt in a large saucepan and sauté gently until wilted.
Transfer the spinach mixture to a chopping board and chop it finely.
Transfer the spinach mixture to a mixing bowl and add the cheese.
Add the cake flour if the mixture looks wet. Mix well and set it aside to cool.
A quick bread with a difference! The flavour is excellent and texture tender and moist. Serve as is or with butter or enjoy on the side with any main course or soup or top with savoury topping such as sliced avocado.
125 ml maize meal or polenta
125 ml oat bran (or additional maize meal or polenta)
30 ml cornflour (Maizena)
30 ml sugar
10 ml gluten-free baking powder
2.5 ml salt
1 x 410 g can cream-style sweetcorn
125 ml milk
3 large eggs
15 ml melted butter or vegetable oil (any favourite)
Optional ingredients 10 ml chopped parsley
15 ml chopped onion or spring onion
30 ml finely grated tasty cheese (Parmesan or any favourite)
60 ml chopped cooked bacon
Pre-heat the oven to 180 º C.
Line a medium size loaf tin (± 22 x 12 x 6 cm) with baking paper and grease with melted butter or cooking spray. Or use a 22 cm ring pan and grease generously with butter.
Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix evenly. Add the sweetcorn, milk, eggs and butter or oil and stir only until evenly combined.
Spoon into the prepared tin or ring pan. Bake the ring about 20 minutes or the loaf for about 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown and firm and a cake tester comes out clean if inserted.
Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before removing carefully. Allow to cool before slicing to serve.
Store refrigerated and toast lightly if preferred when required.
Yields 1 loaf or 12 – 16 slices
Oat bran is considered acceptable as gluten free by most who are gluten intolerant. For coeliacs or if you suspect that you are intolerant of oatmeal, use additional maize meal or polenta.
The loaf is good as is but adding optional ingredients adds interesting flavours and variations.
The loaf may be sliced and frozen and toasted from frozen when required.
Almost every European country has developed it’s own speciality yeast bakes based on a variation of sweet dough. Be sure to have a look at the delicious variations made from the basic sweet dough here.
2 x 8 g sachets instant yeast
4 x 250 ml cake flour
500 ml mildly lukewarm milk
125 ml sugar
125 ml butter or margarine
5 ml salt
2 large eggs
10 ml vanilla essence
± 500 ml extra flour
Mix the yeast with the first measure of flour.
Add all the remaining ingredients except the extra flour and mix well.
Add sufficient of the remaining flour gradually to form a dough which is quite soft but no longer sticky and knead the dough 3 to 4 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook or turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5 to 6 minutes with floured hands until smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to a floured bowl, cover and allow to rise about an hour or until completely doubled.
Knead down and continue as explained for the individual recipes.
Note In most cases only ½ recipe of the dough is required for the speciality cakes made, leaving the other half for another product or a plain sweet loaf or buns as explained below.
1/2 recipe Basic Sweet dough, risen and punched down lightly
125 ml melted butter
125 ml sugar
10 ml cinnamon
Divide the dough into gholf ball size portions and roll each portion into a rope about 10 cm in length.
Place the meted butter and combined sugar and cinnamon onto two plates and roll each rope of dough in the butter and then into the cinnamon sugar.
Tie into knots and place onto a baking tray. Allow to rise until almost doubled and bake at 180°C for about 18 to 20 minutes until firm and cooked through but not too dry.
Allow to cool and serve as is or buttered if preferred.
Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake and is traditionally served during the Festive period.
½ Basic Sweet Dough recipe 175 ml raisins
125 ml sultanas and/or cake fruit and/or currants
125 ml lightly toasted flaked almonds
30 ml brandy
1 ml almond essence
125 ml red glace cherries
30 ml melted butter
30 ml brandy to sprinkle
icing sugar to dust
While the dough is being prepared and left to rise, soak the fruit and nuts in the brandy and almond essence.
Add the fruit to the risen dough and knead in until evenly distributed at the same time as kneading down the dough.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into an oval shape about 2 cm thick or divide the dough into 2 portions to make 2 smaller loaves.
Press the cherries into the dough and fold in half to create an omelette-shaped loaf/loaves.
Grease a baking tray with butter or margarine and place the loaf or loaves onto the tray.
Allow to rise in a mildly warm protected spot until doubled and bake at 170ºC for about 25 minutes until golden and thoroughly baked if tested with a cake tester.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with brandy. Brush with melted butter and dust generously with icing sugar. Allow to cool and serve sliced and buttered if preferred.
Yields l large or 2 smaller Stollen
Note Stollen is moist and tender if served fresh but may be kept several days before serving. If not intended for serving rather freeze.