Rosemary Foccacia

This came via Gourmet Magazine in March of 2002, but I’ve changed up a few things.  While it does appear to take a long time, make it while you are doing laundry, or cleaning up around the house, and dash back in when necessary to put it in the pan.  My advice: less flour, rather than more.  Whenever I make it with the full 5, it’s dull and too stiff.  When I use about 4-1/2 cups, it’s about right.

Active time: 15 min Start to finish: 3 1/2 hr

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast, or 2-1/4 teaspoons regular dry yeast (not the bread machine kind)
4 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (depending on how much you like salt)

Special equipment: a standing electric mixer with paddle attachment and dough hook

Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy (see photos below), about 5 minutes. Add 4 to 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and 2-1/2 teaspoons table salt, and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.

(OPT: if you don’t have a dough hook and a mixer) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough 1 minute (it will still be slightly sticky).

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with rosemary oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.  Immediately invert a rack over pan and flip focaccia onto rack, then turn right side up (see Cook’s Note below). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cook’s Note: If grains of coarse sea salt are very large, you may want to crush them slightly before sprinkling over focaccia.

Second Cook’s Note: I just loosen the focaccia in the pan with a spatula, then drag it over to the rack.

Yeast, all proofed and creamy-like.

The dough is a little raggy with the added flour.

Switching over to the dough hook, to knead it.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook, no need to knead the dough on a floured surface.

After second rise in the baker’s half sheet (cookie pan with sides), push indentations with your fingers to allow oil to pool up on surface.  I also used a tool to add designs.

Brushed with rosemary oil, salt and ready for baking.

Yummy!  Drag it over to the rack, cut into squares, and serve.


Best made with sultanas (or golden raisins) and served with double (aka clotted cream), these scones are a real treat.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together the dry ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
sprinkle of salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter, until pebbly.

(If adding in sultanas, use about 1/3 cup, and add them in now.)

Add 2/3 cup milk, stirring until dough holds together. Turn out onto floured board and knead five times.

Form dough into ball, flattening it slightly with rolling pin, but keeping it about 1″ to 1-1/2″ thick.  Cut into fourths.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Elizabeth Lucinda Meyers Milton’s Biscuits

When I was given this recipe, it was with the stipulation that I always include the full name of Candace’s great-grandmother, from whence it came.  It’s quick, flaky, and can be made with buttermilk, instead of milk, for a richer flavor.

I have also rolled out the biscuit dough into a rectangle, brushed it with butter and sprinkled cinnamon-sugar on it.  I then rolled it up, sliced it into 3/4″ slices, placing them cut side down in a buttered/greased pan: mini-cinnamon rolls! (You can glaze the mini-cinnamon rolls with some powdered sugar thinned with a little milk.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder

Stir the dry ingredients together.

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter until pieces are the size of small pebbles.

Gradually stir in 2/3 cup of milk.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead five times, or until dough holds together well and there are no loose pieces.

Roll out to 1/2″ thickness with rolling pin.  Cut out with 2″ or 3″ round shape (or cookie cutter without small details), or use the bottom of a glass.  Place touching each other on baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-12, or until edges are slightly browned.


Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu persimmons are short and round, shaped just like a large tomato.  They can be eaten raw and somewhat firm, without having a bitter, astringent taste. The Hachiya variety are larger, and teardrop shaped.  Hachiya persimmons need to ripen until they are very soft.  They contain a lot of tannins when they are immature, which make them taste very astringent as well as cause severe stomach problems if a person actually manages to eat one.  As the fruit ripens the tannin level decreases, until the taste becomes very mild. hachiyapersimmons

That’s why the hachiyas (shown above, with a pointy end) make you pucker up when they are unripe!

That website goes on to note: “Fuyu persimmons can be sliced and eaten raw, when they are soft enough so that they give just a little to the touch, like a ripe tomato.  The skin is very fibrous so you will want to peel them before cutting them up.  After peeling them they will be slippery, so slice in half and put the cut side down so they are laying on the flat edge.  This way you can slice or dice them more easily.”

Some say to cook with the hichiya and eat the fuyus in salads, or raw, but one cook found that Fuyus work fine in making her Persimmon Bread.persimmonhachiya1

When I made my bread, I waited until my hachiyas were this soft–or as someone said, like pushing in on a water ballon! And I didn’t peel them, throwing the cored persimmon whole into my food processor with the ripe pears.  If one hachiya is not as ripe as the other, you can cheat by micowaving it until it is soft.  persimmonhachiya2

Alternatively, you can core them, then scoop out the jelly-like flesh. When I made my Pear-Persimmon bread, I simply cored them, then whirred the persimmon — skin and all — in the processor.  We sometimes refer to them as “persey-mons:” once when we were staying in Bologna, I asked the hotel breakfast lady what kind of tree was just outside the breakfast room.  “Persey-mon” was her reply, and so it stuck.Persimmons, sliced1

One way to serve the Fuyu persimmons raw is to core and peel them, then slice them across the width. Layer them into a shallow serving bowl.  Whisk together some white vinegar with some honey, about 2 Tablespoons of each, or until the tart-sweet taste is balanced. Test and add more honey to taste, if needed.  Pour this over the persimmons, then sprinkle with poppy seed.  This is an elegant and easy side dish.

Another recipe I found (untested by me) is to make a salad using spinach leaves as a base.  First, start by making a vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix the rice vinegar, orange juice, honey and sesame oil in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking vigorously to emulsify the ingredients.  Lay down some spinach leaves, then the cored and sliced persimmons.  Sprinkle with toasted pecans, and dried cranberries, then pour the vinaigrette over all. (If you use 2 persimmons, it will serve 4 people.)

My New Favorite Roll Recipe

Thanksgiving Rolls_1

These are a basic roll recipe, without too much egg, so they are light, white and fluffy and taste very good.  I made them last year as well as this year, and we loved them both times.  This is from the Fleischman’s Bake It Easy Yeast cookbook, a staple in my house.  Although it was published in 1973, and retails on Amazon for $196.00 (gotta love those bots), this recipe can also be found on Breadworld by Fleischman, which has many of the recipes I love.

4-3/4 to 5-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 envelopes yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp. yeast)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg

For top, if desired: 1/4 cup butter, melted

Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl. Heat milk, water, and 1/4 cup butter until very warm (120° to 130°F). Stir into flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. (Or, if desired, place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.)

Thanksgiving Rolls_2Divide dough in half; roll each half to a 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick. Cut each into 6 (12 x 2-inch) strips. Cut each strip into 3 (4 x 2-inch) rectangles. Brush each rectangle with melted butter. Crease rectangles slightly off center with dull edge of knife and fold at crease. Arrange in rows, slightly overlapping, on greased baking sheets, with shorter side of each roll facing down. Allow 1/4-inch of space between each row. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.  Take the time to let them get nicely risen.

Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 13 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from sheets; cool on wire rack. Brush with more melted butter, if desired.

NOTE:  I do not like the RapidRise yeast, as I feel the breads go too stale when using that (must be the conditioners they have in there, or something).  Regular yeast is what I used, but made sure to allow a bit more time for the rising.

Mary’s Bread • from the Beachside Quilting Retreat

Marysbread_9At our recent Beachside Quilting Retreat, Mary — our hostess — brought a loaf of bread to serve us that first night and we all raved over it, asking her lots of questions, jotting down the recipe.  Two days later, when we went to Summerland’s antique store, where we found two pumpkin-shaped Le Creuset pots: I bought one and she bought the other, and that afternoon, we had a bread-making lesson in between all the sewing and quilting.  While the ingredients are simple and easily whipped into a ragged-looking dough, it’s her cooking method that sets this bread apart.  The heavy enameled cast-iron pot is set into a cold oven, which is then preheated for a long period of time.  This is what she calls the “brick-oven” method of baking as heat and moisture surrounds the baking dough, ensuring a nice crust.  This recipe makes three loaves.Marysbread_1
Measure out 3 cups lukewarm water.  Add 1 and 1/2 T. yeast (2 packages of regular yeast) and 1 T. kosher salt (table salt is okay); let it sit for a few minutes to “bloom.”  Stir in 32 oz. flour, roughly 6 to 7 cups.  Stir with big spoon and cover with plastic wrap, letting it rise in a corner of the kitchen. While it will rise for a total of 2 hours, after it’s risen for roughly 1 hour set the cast iron pot with its lid into a cold oven and preheat the oven for 45 minutes to a temperature of 475 degrees F.

Marysbread_3When the dough has risen for two hours, divide into thirds by grabbing about one-third of the dough. Mary says it’s ragged looking, but keep going. Using lots of flour that’s been spread onto either a pastry cloth or a cutting board, shape it into a ball. Cut an “X” into the top of the dough using a sharp knife or razor blade.

Marysbread_4 Marysbread_5Set ball into hot pan, being careful not to burn yourself. Cover with the preheated lid and cook for 20 minutes.

Marysbread_8Uncover, and cook for 10 more minutes or until it is a nice golden brown. Either tip out the bread — or grab from the pot — onto a counter and/or rack; let cool.

Cook’s Notes:
On the second and third loaf (since the dough has been in the fridge), put the dough out onto the floured surface to come to room temp while the oven heats up. Mary says she has left the dough in the fridge for as long as 12 days. The only noticeable effect has been that the dough gets more sour-tasting.

Orange-Cranberry Bread


This is another of my mother’s great recipes, a moist bread so fresh-tasting with cranberries and orange flavor that you’ll find your day just won’t start quite right during cranberry season if you haven’t had a slice of this for breakfast.  But it’s also good for snacks, and a fairly guilt-free snack at that: with only one egg and two pats of butter, it’s low-fat, but with flavor.


Although the recipe makes one loaf, why stop there?  All the photos below show me making up two loaves.


To make two, I first mix up the dry ingredients for one batch in the food processor…


…then transfer it to a bowl and start the second batch.


I cut up, then. . .


…pulse in the butter, then follow the recipe as written.

When you finish with one batch, scrape out the bowl well, then pour in the reserved dry ingredients and start again.  No need to wash up in between.

Cranberry Bread (makes 1 loaf)

Place in mixing bowl of food processor:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 scant tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbls. zested orange peel, from 1 large orange

Mix briefly, then add:
2 Tbls. real butter.


Pulse a few times to chop up butter, then add:
1 beaten egg, mixed with 3/4 cup orange juice.


Mix just to moisten.  Add:
1 and 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Pulse 2 or 3 times, stirring in between pulses with spatula, if necessary.


Spoon into greased, floured loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 60 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes in pan before removing.  Then it should pop right out.  Slice, wrap up for the freezer, or to share with a friend, and enjoy!


I used freshly squeezed orange juice. 


In front are the reject berries: soft, underripe, or nearly goners.

Buttermilk Rolls

I was casting around for a buttermilk roll recipe, as I had to do a luncheon for seventy people and I wanted to order the local bakery’s buttermilk rolls, but alas, the tight budget prevented that option.  This one did the trick, as it has a good “heft” and bite to it, as well as that slightly tangy taste that buttermilk gives.  I’d make it as written once, then if you wanted to cut that flavor, I suppose you could up the sugar by a tablespoon or two, but you’re on your own for that variation.  This one is a little odd because it calls for yeast AND baking powder AND baking soda, but I suppose the soda’s there as a companion to the buttermilk; I always see them together in my recipes.

Can I remember where I found this?  Nope–one of the mindless tired nights trolling the web, but there aren’t too many buttermilk rolls out there that you’d want to make.  This one has the notation that “they got it from their neighbor” and “it doubles and triples well,” but my mixer could only handle the single version (I know because I tried the double.  Don’t do that at home) but after I figured out the logistics, I was on my way.  If you measure the dough (see below), each batch makes about 18 rolls.  As breads go, this one’s an easy one.

One last thing.  Don’t use the bread machine yeast as it has dough conditioners in it.  In my experience (strictly anecdotal) I think it makes the bread go stale faster.  Try for the regular kind. (Sorry about the blurry picture.)

2 cups buttermilk (100-110 degrees F)
2-3 packages dry yeast, or about 2 1/3 Tablespoons dry yeast granules
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 – 6 cups flour (I used the full six cups of flour)

shortening, for baking sheets
cornmeal, for baking sheets

In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a heavy duty mixer, dissolve yeast and sugar in warmed buttermilk.  Add 1 cup flour, and beat until smooth.  Allow to set for 5-10 minutes, until mixture starts to foam and bubble.  Add salt, baking soda, baking powder, and olive oil.

Stir to dissolve, and add 3 more cups flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth. If using mixer, replace paddle beater with dough hook.

Add fifth cup flour, 1/4 cup at a time, while kneading; dough will still be rather sticky.

Add sixth cup flour, 1-2 Tbsp at a time, while kneading dough, until dough is no longer too sticky.  I used nearly the full amount of 6 cups flour.

If using mixer, dough will begin to form a ball around the dough hook.  If kneading by hand, dough will no longer stick to bowl and hands too much, though it may still be slightly sticky. Use more or less flour as necessary to reach this state.  Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to oil top of the dough.  Cover, and let rise in a warm place, 80-90º F, until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

Punch down dough, and knead by hand for about a minute to incorporate surface oil.

Here’s where the measuring comes in.  Divide dough into one-ounce pieces, about the size of a large walnut, for small rolls, or two ounce pieces, a little larger than a golf ball, for normal size rolls.  I used a scale and made 2 1/2 ounce pieces, which yields about a 3″ diameter roll–a good sandwich size.

Shape pieces by hand into smooth balls, as shown above, by pulling the dough around to the underneath.  Then roll them around underneath your hand on the counter.  The resistance of that surface is needed. Alternatively you could use a glass-topped stove, or a large smooth cutting board, but no flour.  Apply some slight pressure downward as you roll the ball under your hand.  When you feel it kind of come together, stiffen up (my husband said they felt “cold” in his hand) and when turned over there is a little dimple, they are ready.  Check out the video, above.  I figure it’s about 20-25 circles of the hand that does it.  No need to count–figure out what it “feels like” and go for that.

Place about one inch apart on greased cookie sheets that have been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Brush the rolls with cold water, or mist them using a spray bottle. I forgot this step once, and the world didn’t end.

Rising rolls, covered with the souvenir dishtowel from Zabar’s in New York City

Let rolls rise in a warm (80 degrees F+), draft-free place for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in volume.  A good place to do this is your oven: if the oven has a pilot light, just place the baking sheets in the oven. If you have an electric oven or one with an electric ignitor instead of a pilot light, turn on the oven for 45-60 seconds, and turn it off before placing the baking sheets in the oven.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake rolls for 16-18 minutes, checking after 16 minutes, until a medium, golden brown.

Remove rolls from baking sheets, serve immediately, or cool to room temperature on wire racks if you plan to freeze them.  If you are going to freeze them, place cooled rolls in plastic freezer bags, preferably double bagging them.

To reheat, thaw for about a half hour, and heat in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

This recipe makes about 60 mini-rolls or 30 large rolls, or 18 even-larger (2 1/2 ounce) rolls.  Here’s the little sandwich we made for the luncheon, using 1 1/2 ounces of lunchmeat (or about 3 pieces of  thinly-sliced Hillshire Farms pieces of turkey).  Since we were making these a week ahead, we slipped them into ziploc sandwich bags, then into larger bags.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 (1223 gram–I think this must be the smallest roll; I didn’t check)
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Calories 99.0
Calories from Fat 15   —     15% Daily Value
Cholesterol 0.6mg
Sugars 1.6 g
Total Carbohydrate 17.7g  —  5%
Protein 2.8g

Irish Soda Bread

First of all, this apparently is NOT traditional Irish Soda Bread.  According to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, the traditional one does not have raisins in it.  Well, we can agree on that score.  The one I love to make doesn’t have raisins either — it has sultanas — also known as golden raisins.

Back in March of 2009, when we were having book group, I wanted a recipe to take to Joan’s house to compliment the fresh-squeezed orange juice she had promised to serve for refreshments.  And, because it was March.  And when we in America think March, we think green, Ireland, shamrocks, and corned beef and cabbage.  Of, if you’re like me, See’s Irish Potatoes, as well.  Now, with this recipe, you can think “Irish Soda Bread.” Modified slightly from one published in Bon Appetit Magazine.

You’ll need a sturdy 10-inch baking pan; I use a springform pan.  It will fill that all the way.

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) REAL butter, chilled when cut into small cubes, then left out to come to room temperature (if you are having a hot day, maybe leave it in the fridge)
2 cups golden raisins (also known as sultanas; you can buy them at Trader Joe’s)
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter heavy 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 to 2 1/2-sides.  In large mixing bowl, blend first five ingredients to blend well.  Add cubes of butter; mix only until they become coated with flour and are about pea-size (NO MORE!).  Stir in sultanas and caraway seeds.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk together to blend.  Add to dough.  Mix briefly, just until dry is thoroughly moistened.  You may have some dry ingredients in the bottom of your mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir in the dry ingredients thoroughly.  A light touch on the mixing yields a tender loaf.  Go easy.

Turn dough into the prepared pan, smoothing top and rounding slightly in center.  If desired, dip a small sharp knife in flour and cut a 1-inch deep X in the top center of the dough.

Bake until the break is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool bread in pan for ten minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.  To serve, slice into 3/4″ slices, across the loaf.  This is really good spread with butter (and a little bit of jam if you want, but I’m sure that’s not Irish, either).  For book group, I carted it over there warm, and we gobbled it down accompanied by sweet orange juice, freshly squeezed from Joan’s own orange trees.

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.


Pear-Persimmon Bread

This recipe was prompted by buying four gorgeous persimmons from a neighbor’s table, set up on the sidewalk with a box (with a slot) where I could put my dollar.

First step to the bread: thinking the persimmons were the Fuyu variety and trying to serve them for a side dish.  Oh, pucker-up-city! But they were gorgeous.

Next step to the bread: letting them sit out on the counter until they were, as one cook said, the texture of a wobbly water balloon.  Yes, that means the Hachiya (a kind of a wedge-shaped persimmon) is ready.  It also helped that I had two pears that were mush, and didn’t want to let them go to waste.  After hunting for a pear-persimmon combination, I used James Beard’s Persimmon bread recipe as a starting point, but had to make a few changes.  Like no cognac because I don’t do alcohol.  And monkeying with the recipe to accommodate the pears.  But here’s mine, which makes two 9-inch loaves of bread.

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 cups sugar
1 cup melted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 cups persimmon/pear puree (from about 2 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons and 2 very ripe pears)
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup cranberries

Oven 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans, tapping out excess flour.

Measure the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mixing them together with the blade attachment.

Prepare the fruit puree: rinse the persimmons, then cut the thick flowery stem out of the top.  Place in a food processor. I don’t peel mine at all. [One of my persimmons turned out to be rather hard on one side, so I put it in a small bowl and microwaved it until it was soft and cooked and matched the softness of the other persimmon (desperation measure).]  Peel, core and add the pears to the food processor, then puree the fruits together.

Melt the butter in a small microwave proof bowl (about a 4 cup bowl), add the eggs to this and whisk, then add the pear-persimmon puree and whisk.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and blend on a low speed for about 1 minute.  Scrape all around the bowl to make sure the dry ingredients are being incorporated, then blend for about another minute.  Add nuts and cranberries.  (The original recipe says you could also add raisins, apricots, dates, or a mixture of these fruits.)

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine was done at 55 minutes–it is a darker bread, but you don’t want to get it too done.)  Turn out of pans and let cool on wire rack.

It must be good because Dave gave it his Second-Helping-Stamp-of-Approval.

It’s pictured here on my Grandmother’s china, which I got from my mother this year. The very first recipe I ever tried for persimmon bread was my grandmother’s, written out on a 3 x 5 index card. I still have it in my recipe file.  It has canned persimmons and shortening in it, which is why I decided to create a new one.