My Sourdough Bread Recipe

Why has it taken me this long to share my sourdough bread recipe? I’ve gone and shared how I make banana bread, strawberry scones, bostock, but not my beloved bread? Seriously though, this is my favorite thing to bake. I have consistently made bread from scratch since learning how in January of 2018. Bread baking is one of my true loves in this world. And knowing how to bake sourdough bread from scratch is more important now than ever before.

We live in a world where highly-processed wheat is causing an inflammatory epidemic that has been linked to conditions such as autoimmune diseases and autism. Our gut microbiomes are off-kilter because processed foods are anything but nutritious. I have studied microbiology in Chile, gone through medical training in dental school, talked to farmers preserving ancient heritage grain, worked in a sourdough bread bakery, got my hands dirty volunteering on a farm for six months, and read multiple studies and books. All of this has lead me repeatedly to the following truths:

  • More people need to be making their meals at home.
  • We need to source ingredients that are local.
  • It is imperative to avoid anything packaged in plastic or pre-processed.

Look at the ingredient lists. Nix the preservatives. Be a part of the process. You can start this entire journey just by baking your own bread.

There are many recipes out there and I welcome you to try all of them as I have. Treat this one as a guideline rather than stone-etched truth. Even I change my ratios all the time! It depends on how me and my starter are feeling that day, or what my schedule looks like. My best recommendation is to approach it like you would a science project. And just have fun!

Ingredients:

  • 650 g water
  • 200 g starter – ours is self-made from scratch, using the Tartine Bread’s method.
  • 200 g whole wheat flour – my favorite is Red Fife, Rye, or Sonora from Tehachipi Grain Project in Southern California
  • 800 g bread flour – my favorite brands are Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur
  • 20 g Salt
  • Additional 50 g water
  • Rice flour for dusting

A word on ingredients: High-quality ingredients lead to high-quality bread. It isn’t rocket science. When I started out, I was buying low quality flour which never translated to decent bread. It wasn’t until I started buying fresh grains and then milling the grains myself into flour that I saw a big difference. I bought the Mockmill which is perfect for a household that bakes often. I used grains from a local farmer and had to pick up bags of ancient heritage grain from a farmer’s market in Long Beach. But I understand that a personal mill is quite the investment. Luckily, the popularization of microbakeries and microfarms providing freshly milled flour has occurred since I first started making bread. I recommend Rye Goods and Ecology Center for my Southern California audience.

Materials:

A word on products: I got all of my materials from Williams Sonoma, which happens to be my favorite cooking store. I sincerely like the quality of goods there, and find that the higher price of some of these products are worth the splurge. I have kept all of my materials since day one, and have yet to find the need to replace them.

The Process:

  1. Place the mixing bowl (either glass if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid or the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl) onto the kitchen scale and tare it to 0. Have the kitchen scale setting to grams.
  2. In the bowl, add 650 g of water, 200 g of starter, 200 g of whole wheat flour and 800 g of bread flour.
  3. Using the dough attachment, mix the ingredients in your Kitchen Aid Mixer. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can hand mix the dough. It takes a lot of work, but it’s actually kind of satisfying! Use the plastic bench scraper to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and move it to the center – so that no doughy bits stick to the sides. If it has mixed thoroughly enough in the stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the sides on its own.
  4. Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 30 minutes.
  5. Add 20 g of salt and 50 g of water to the mixing bowl. Mix until integrated, by hand or using the electric mixer.
  6. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Turn the dough every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours. The amount of time depends on the temperature of your space. The warmer the temperature, the sooner the dough will finish fermenting. Likewise, the more active the starter, the quicker the dough will be ready. The most important thing is to look for texture. The dough should double in size and have an airy state. Turning the dough means scooping up the underbelly of the dough and folding it over itself. I do this 3 times with each “turn”, going around the bowl to make sure the dough is turned on all sides.
  8. When the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out from the mixing bowl onto a marble pastry slab. A wooden countertop works well too.
  9. Flour the top part of the dough using either rice flour or bread flour. Using a metal bench scraper, cut the dough in half.
  10. Take one of the halves. Flip the dough so that the floured side is down and the unfloured side is facing up. Gently fold half of the dough over itself so now a floured surface is on top and on the bottom. Using a metal bench scraper, shape the dough into a ball by dragging the dough towards you, then turning it a quarter turn and dragging it towards you again. Keep doing this until you get a boule shaped dough. Repeat with the other dough half.
  11. Let the two boules rest on the pastry slab for 15 to 20 minutes before final shaping.
  12. I like to shape these guys into batards. I do that by flouring the top of the dough, then flipping it over so the unfloured surface is exposed again. I proceed to make an envelope out of the dough. I grab the bottom section and fold it 2/3rd of the way up. I then extend the left and right sides of the dough and fold them to the midline. Then, I take the top part of the “envelope” and fold it to the midline. I then grab the left and right sides of the dough and “braid” them toward the center. Lastly, I roll the farthest part of the dough at the top towards the bottom, and flip the dough over. This is all too confusing, so I do recommend watching videos online on how to shape a batard! It is super helpful.
  13. Once you’ve shaped your dough, I let it rest for a minute and then place them in their bread basket, with the seams facing up.
  14. I place the bread babies in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Make sure to cover the tops of the bread with a double-lined linen napkin to prevent the cold air from forming a tough layer. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more sour it will get as the bread ferments for longer.
  15. When you are ready to bake, turn on the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the combo cooker in the oven so it preheats with the oven. You need a hot combo cooker to make the bread rise!
  16. After the oven has preheated for 45 minutes, remove combo cooker (shorter pan) from the oven using really thick gloves (please don’t burn yourself!) and sprinkle rice flour on the bottom to prevent dough from sticking. Invert the bread baby from the basket onto the combo cooker. Take a blade and score the bread by making one big slash down the midline – you want to go about 1/8th the depth of your dough. Slash it with precision and confidence!
  17. Place the taller pan of the combo cooker on top as a lid, then place the entire combo cooker in the oven.
  18. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes. I have baked bread in 4 different ovens since starting my journey and I can tell you that each one has a different baking time! If you’ve got a strong oven, definitely go on the quicker side.
  19. Remove the top lid of the combo cooker and bake the bread for another 3-5 minutes. This will brown the crust of the bread.
  20. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  21. I recommend eating fresh bread within 2 days. Store in an air-tight container, away from cold drafts which makes the bread stale quicker. If you can’t finish a loaf of bread that quickly, I rec slicing it up and freezing them in a freezer proof bag.

I am a self-taught bread baker and I truly believe anyone can make gut-friendly bread in the comforts of their home.  My recipe works for me 100% of the time. The challenge lies in technique and understanding the dough. Practice will only make you better. My starter has become my most loyal and trustworthy companion. It never fails me and I depend on it whole-heartedly. After you learn the nuances of bread baking and tasted the difference in fresh bread, you will never go back.

The Easiest Healthy Chicken Recipe

It seems to always come up when speaking with young people that there is a struggle with cooking good chicken. I find that unfortunate, as chicken is one of the healthy, staple ingredients in our home. But then again, I was in their shoes once. I remember being 22 years old and serving my husband (then boyfriend) and his best friend homemade Parmesan chicken. I followed the recipe online, and the house smelled gloriously of cheese. To my mortification and deathly embarrassment, the chicken was still raw when we started eating. Not pink raw, but sinewy raw. My sweet friend still kept trying to eat it as I wholeheartedly tried my best to stop him from putting my pride back together. Since then, I have learned how to make chicken consistently cooked-through, and delicious too. Not only that, but I have learned to make it efficiently, in terms of both money and time. I want to share with you the easiest healthy chicken recipe. We use this recipe almost weekly and I hope you do, too!

You can get really fancy with chicken, but today we will learn the basics. A few words before the recipe.

  • Get good quality chicken. I recommend splurging for ones found in Sprouts of Whole Foods, instead of the extremely pink or extremely pale plastic-wrapped breasts at cheaper grocery stores. Good quality chicken will shine through, regardless of what you season it with.
  • Season it with something. Even if it’s just salt and pepper.
  • Time the whole process as described in the instructions.
  • If you are unsure, stick a thermometer in there and make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

And now, on with the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (as many as you want)
  • Evermill Blend
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

The Process:

  1. Heat up olive oil on a cooking pan with a matching lid on medium high heat. This is my favorite recommendation.
  2. Meanwhile, rub Evermill blend on both sides of the chicken breasts. I recently wrote a review on the Evermill spice rack and I truly believe it is the best investment any young person hoping to learn the ways of the kitchen can make. It really leveled up my cooking, and I am not a novice. Out of all the spices on there, the Evermill blend is something you can only get at Evermill, and it is delicious with chicken. If anything, just buy the spice on its own. A side-note: When I was young, I failed to be generous with spices. Definitely rub on more than you think you will need. Make sure the surface area of the chicken is well-coated, and then some. If you don’t have the Evermill blend, then skip to step three.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken. Once again, be liberal. The first three steps should take no longer than a minute.
  4. Once the olive oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan. Do not put on the lid. Let the chicken cook on medium-heat for one minute. It should fry one side to a brown color. Do time this process moving forward.
  5. After one minute, flip the chicken onto the other side. Lower the heat to medium-low and put on the lid so that no steam escapes. Cook for 8 minutes. At this point, I literally turn on a timer and walk away from the stove. Or I prep dishes to eat with the chicken. This recipe really doesn’t take a lot of time at all!
  6. After the timer goes off, turn off the flame and keep the lid on. Do not let steam out. Let sit on the stovetop for another 8 minutes. Don’t forget about that timer.
  7. And voila! By now, your chicken should be cooked to perfection.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Mediterranean Wraps

These easy-to-make Mediterranean wraps are perfect for Spring! My favorite way to fix up lunch is to make-do with what we already have in the kitchen and pantry. It’s a great way for me to avoid food waste, and makes prep-time quicker. In general, I like to cook simply. My husband is the intricate chef. I am the basic farmer. I just recently posted these wraps on my Instagram stories, and I received a lot of positive feedback and recipe requests. So I thought I’d share this Mediterranean wrap recipe.

To be honest, there is no official tried and true recipe because wraps really depend on what I’ve got from the week before. It’s such a laissez-faire conglomeration of food items that I debated whether writing this post was useful at all. Despite being a hodge-podge of random items, the ‘recipe’ ended up tasting good so I decided it’s worth noting here.

It just so happens that we had left-over quinoa from when we ate salmon. I also had left-over spring greens from when we made a salad. Mikey whipped up his hummus from scratch for the ‘sauce’. Any store-bought hummus or online basic hummus recipe will do. And we chopped up some cucumber and tomatoes. I topped the stack with sauerkraut and feta cheese … for good measure.

Mediterranean Wraps

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite hummus
  • Cooked quinoa, drizzled with olive oil and lemon (or a Greek vinaigrette)
  • Spring mix of greens
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Pickled red onion
  • Sauerkraut
  • Feta Cheese
  • Flour tortillas (burrito size)

The Process:

All you have to do is layer on the ingredients in the order they are listed above. I like to cover the majority of the tortilla with hummus, leaving only an-inch of hummus-free border around the perimeter. I do quinoa : spring mix : cucumber : tomato: red onion : sauerkraut in a 2 : 2 : 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 ratio. Feta cheese is quite liberal, although Mike prefers to skip that. Then roll it all up in as neat of a burrito as you can, and cut in half.

Whether this classifies as Mediterranean wraps is still up in the air. All I know is that it’s good and healthy. You can always prepare these ahead of time, for the perfect grab-and-go lunch or treat.

The plate is the Side Plate in Morel from East Fork Pottery. I absolutely adore this brand and we use their dishes every day. They are sturdy, dependable, and oh-so-humbly cute. This is my affiliate link. As always, thanks for supporting the brand.

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Lemon Loaf Cake Recipe

In January, I never got around to decluttering the filing cabinet, or writing the courses I’ve been wanting to write. The Tesla Solar Panels are still not installed due to a hold-up with the HOA. There wasn’t an afternoon of nothingness. But I did travel up the coast in a campervan with my best friend. I read books on my queue, signed up for farm shifts, and completed Bucket List Bake Club’s Challenge. When January got blue, I swapped a blood orange meringue pie recipe for a lemon loaf cake recipe. Because that’s what you do when life gives you lemons.

This lemon loaf cake recipe is so simple to make and takes hardly any time at all. It came from the Kinfolk Table book, a bible for recipes worthy of a simple life. I made a batch and brought it into work for my staff, having received the lemons from a co-worker’s lemon tree. I got asked a lot of questions about it, which is why I decided to share the simple, easy, and delicious recipe.

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 21 tablespoons (10.5 ounces or 300 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
  • 1.5 cups (10.5 ounces or 300 g) sugar
  • Grated zest of 4 lemons
  • 0.5 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs at room temp9
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (10.5 ounces or 300 g) self-rising flour (If you don’t have self-rising flour, use regular flour and add 2.25 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) boiling water

For the Glaze

  • 1.5 cups (10.5 ounces or 300g) sugar
  • 6 ounces (180 mL) fresh lemon juice (I used the 4 lemons I zested!)

The Process:

  1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray coconut oil cooking spray on a 9×5 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer (this almond cream colored one has got me drooling!) on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. The mix should become light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. I make sure the eggs are completely incorporated before adding the next one. As a safety measure, I also break the eggs into a separate bowl, not directly into the Kitchen Aid bowl.
  5. Fold the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula. Then fold in the boiling water.
  6. Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting a tester in the center of the cake and confirming it comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and cool it in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
  7. While it is cooling, go ahead and make the glaze. Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t forget to stir along the way!
  8. Invert the cake onto the rack, turning it right side up. Poke it all over with a skewer. Drizzle the glaze over the cake. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.

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Valentine’s Day Devil’s Food Chocolate Layer Cake

This post is in partnership with KitchenAid and Le Creuset. Both companies have agreed to partner with the blog as I document my baking adventures. This particular recipe was modified from the book Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt. Instead of homemade caramel, I used store bought La Lechera, and there’s no shame in that. I learned how to bake bread with Tartine and own three Tartine books. This edition goes through different pastries and cakes and I would highly recommend it to bakers who prefer making sweet delicacies over hearty loaves of bread. 

I have been wanting to make this Devil’s Food Chocolate Layer Cake for a while. Something about the elegance and simplicity of this cake really drew my attention to it. It stands alone well with cake crumbs coating the exterior, or for icing lovers out there, perhaps a thicker layer of chocolate ganache would do. It is rich without being overly sweet, romantic without being exaggeratedly extravagant. The definition of delectable!

If you are looking for something to do this COVID Valentine’s Day, why not gather your loved ones and work together on baking this cake? If you’ve got little ones without the patience to sit through the steps of icing and layering a cake, the cake itself tastes like a good batch of brownies and this recipe makes two batches worth when using square 8″ x 8″ pans like these gorgeous ruby red Le Creuset pans. (Right now, if you spend $200, you will receive two free heart ramekins for the Valentine holiday.) You can skip the caramel and whip up the chocolate ganache in minutes, icing the top of your brownies with chocolate. One for you, one for the kids. It’s perfect.

The original recipe calls for homemade caramel but for the sake of time, I simply bought a can of La Lechera. The chocolate ganache was easy to make and I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet chocolate chips and heavy cream. Any bittersweet chocolate works in this recipe. Lastly, I had market flowers that were due to wilt, which I cut and placed into the cake. I like to cover the stems with parchment paper so as not to mar the cake.

This cake is super easy to make. With the help of a Kitchen Aid mixer, I was able to mix the cake within ten minutes. It cooks for forty five minutes, during which I was washing dishes and prepping the chocolate ganache. I would recommend waiting until the cake has cooled completely before assembling the layers. I let it cook in their pans for half an hour prior to removing the cake from their molds. Then I place it in the fridge to help firm up the cake prior to icing. Meanwhile, the cake tops are tossed into the oven to dry out. After I assemble the layers, I throw the cake in the freezer for thirty minutes prior to icing the exterior, just to make sure it is set and the layers don’t move around. The most fun part is getting the cake crumbs on the sides of the cake. I found that the original recommendation to tilt the cake isn’t the best, after all my work nearly sliding off the stand and into the sink. I prefer to take a spoon and chuck the crumbs on the sides of the cake, creating a beautiful mess, but nothing my Dyson can’t handle.

If you are looking to this cake as a romantic gesture, I would pair with a glass of red wine and some roses on the side. Candy heart messages optional. It’s going to be a winner, I promise. Other cake recipes this way.

Related Posts:

Ingredients

  • 1.25 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 0.5 cups Spelt flour
  • 4.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.25 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2.25 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1.25 cups buttermilk
  • 20 oz Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 can of La Lechera caramel (about 3/4 cup)

The Process

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray two 9″ cake pans with coconut oil spray or butter them and lightly flour so the cakes do not stick. An alternative is to line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper to make removing of the cake rounds easier.
  3. Sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Attach the paddle attachment to your Kitchen Aid stand mixer and beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and creamy.
  5. Add the sugar a little at a time, continuing to beat on the same speed until light in color and fluffy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, waiting until full incorportaion before adding the next egg. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition with a rubber spatula.
  7. With the Kitchen Aid mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 equal batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. In other words, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk, followed by 1/3 of the flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk, and finishing with the rest of the flour mixture.
  8. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula, then mix again for another few seconds. This ensures full incorporation.
  9. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans and bake until the top springs back (about 45 minutes).
  10. Cool cakes completely in the pans on wire racks.
  11. When the cakes are cool, turn them out by inverting the pans. Turn cakes right side up on the wire pans with the mounds on top. Use a serrated knife to cut off the mounded tops (leaving behind two flat rounds) and stick the tops on a sheet tray back into the oven at 250 degrees F. Let them bake for about 45 minutes to an hour to dry them out. These will turn into your crumb coat.
  12. As for the two cake rounds, I stick them into the fridge sitting on wire racks for 10 minutes to completely cool.
  13. Meanwhile, I make the ganache by placing the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. I heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it comes to just under a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate into the bowl. Do not stir right away. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is partially melted. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and shiny. Open the can of La Lechera, as we will assemble the cake layers next.
  14. Remove the cake from the fridge. Use the serrated knife to cut each round in half, resulting in four rounds. Place one round on a plate or cake stand. Spread 3 tablespoons of caramel over the cake, followed by a 1/4 inch thick layer of chocolate ganache. Place the second round on top of the chocolate. Repeat the process until you place the fourth round of cake on top.
  15. Place the newly assembled cake into the freezer for 15 minutes to set the icing. You can also refrigerate the cake until firm for 1-2 hours if you need more time. If you are letting the cake set in the fridge, I would cover the chocolate ganache with plastic wrap to prevent it from air exposure. Keep that out at room temperature.
  16. Meanwhile, the cake tops should be nice and toasty. Remove them from the oven and place in a food processor. Run the food processor until the cake tops are broken up into tiny crumb pieces. Strain the crumbs through a medium-mesh sieve. You don’t want a fine mesh, otherwise your crumbs won’t go through. Set aside the bowl of sifted crumbs for later.
  17. Remove the cake from the freezer (or fridge) and ice the outside with chocolate ganache using an off-set spatula. If decorating with came crumbs, you only need a thin layer. If you prefer to do just the icing, I would double the icing.
  18. After the cake is iced on the top and sides, sprinkle cake crumbs over the top of the cake. The original instruction says to tilt the cake left and right to let the crumbs fall over the edges but that didn’t work too well for me. I had to take a spoon and fling the crumbs at the sides of the cake instead. You can try either, just be careful not to tilt too much lest the cake starts to slip off the plate!
  19. I decorated the top of the cake with flowers from the Farmer’s Market, but this cake is seriously just as beautiful without any decorations at all. If you wish, you can place a dollop of left-over chocolate ganache in a glob at the center of the cake and stick two Sweetheart candy messages on there, calling it a day.

Note: This cake is best served at room temperature. Let it sit on the counter as you prep the rest of dinner. You can also serve this with berries and red wine. To store, keep covered and in a cool place for up to four days. Refrigeration will dry out the cake.

I hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day.

Oatmeal Rye Chocolate Chip Walnut Everything Bagel Mix Cookie

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We were traveling up the coast of California in early December when I had a lightbulb cookie recipe idea. It was a Thursday morning and we were leaving Los Osos, CA heading to Big Sur National Park. Before our departure, we decided to stop by a bakery to pick up croissants. We came across a house in the middle of a residential neighborhood with two parking spots in the driveway. There was a sign that read, “Pagnol Baywood at 3rd Street Bakery”.

Immediately, I had an affinity for the spot. It was a home whose downstairs floor was completely transformed to a tiny bakery. The owner lived upstairs. It was exactly what I had envisioned for us when I opened my bakery a year and a half ago. Plus, the name of the bakery was creepily very similar to what I almost named Aero Bakery. We live on 3rd St., in downtown Santa Ana and a runner-up name was 3rd Street Bakery. To have come across Pagnol was like seeing a mirror of the life I had dreamt up a year ago.

It was a dewy, foggy morning and the outdoor bistro tables were drenched so we decided to get our croissants to go. We had made coffee earlier that morning in the AirBNB (yes, we travel with our own pour over set-up and here’s a good one we tried recently and liked), so sitting in the car would put us close to our liquid gold. I walked up to the window (a half-opened wooden door to the front of the house) and asked for the menu. And that’s when I heard, for the first time ever, a croissant dipped in everything bagel mix on a baker’s menu. As Mike and I sat in the car and ate our croissants, we could not deny that it defeats our favorite croissant to date (La Lune’s in Melbourne, Australia). But this post isn’t about the croissant. I thought to myself, “What if I incorporated Everything Bagel Mix into a earthy dark chocolate cookie?!?!”

It sounds like madness, but I am a huge lover of adding sea salt to every baked good I make. If you’ve been reading my posts awhile, you may recall that I prefer savory breakfast items over sweet ones anyway. But even a dessert cookie could do with a bit of umami.

With only two days away until Christmas Eve, I am posting this Rye Chocolate Chip Walnut Oatmeal Cookie with Everything Bagel Seasoning for all the parents out there looking for a simple, quick, and delicious recipe to fuel Santa on his merry way.

Important note: These cookies need to be hand-mixed. As much as I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer, I have found that using one whips the dough too much, resulting in a more runny and less “full” cookie. I know that throwing it into the electric mixing stand makes it easier, but I would highly recommend putting in the effort to hand mix with a fork.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 3 cups whole rolled oats
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Everything Bagel Seasoning Mix
  • Chopped Walnuts

The Process:

  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl and mix until creaming.
  2. Add the next four ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Stir in the flour, oats, and chocolate chips.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until the dough is chilled and firm. (I make this recipe in large batches and store cookie dough in the fridge, making cookies as needed throughout the week. If you are busy on Christmas Eve, you can always prepare this dough a day ahead and bake them off in the evening).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  7. Use a 2 tbsp ice cream scoop and scoop out balls of cookie dough, placing them 1 inch apart. Press the dough down gently with the palm of your hand.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the dough with Everything Bagel Seasoning Mix.
  9. Take walnut pieces (I like to use walnut halves) and press them gently into the tops of the cookies. I typically use 2 walnuts per cookie, because I love them so.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating and alternating the sheets halfway through baking time.
  11. Remove the baking sheets from the oven when the edges of the cookie start to brown. Rap the sheet trays sharply on the counter, to help flatten the cookie a bit more. I learned this trick working as the midnight baker for Rye Goods.
  12. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes.
  13. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely for 30 minutes.
  14. Serve or store in an air-tight container (a tupperware would do) for up to a few days.

I make these cookies a day ahead all the time! I love to eat them fresh, so I will bake 4 each day for the house. Also, this recipe makes about 36 cookies, so don’t be afraid to cut it in half, which we also do.

I know it sounds like a lot going on, but in my opinion, it’s a well balanced cookie. You can always substitute walnuts with pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, or pistachios. If you want to make it extremely festive, why not through all of them on there! Santa won’t mind.

Cheddar and Herb Scones

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When it comes to breakfast items, I am one who favors savory treats over sweets. That is why these Cheddar and Herb Scones are a staple in our household! I am already a big fan of scones in general for their simple and quick process. As much as I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer, scones are one of the few baked goods that I make by hand, without any electric gadgets. There is something very meditative about the sifting of flours, the pinching of cold butter bits in between my fingers, and the kneading of shaggy dough with my hands.

My favorite time to whip up these beauties is in the early morning hours, between rising and making coffee. It helps ease me into my day. Rote motions work subconsciously as my body wakes with every memorized movement. The oven pre-heats, warming the cold kitchen cement floors while I prepare the dough. The scones bake for 18 minutes exactly while I wash the dishes I used and boil water in my Fellow kettle. I make my pour-over coffee with my Chemex, the sound of coffee drips melding in with the smell of cheese. I pour my coffee into my favorite East Fork mug just as the oven beeps. It is a routine that I have mastered and re-mastered.

Scones also get bonus points for their versatility. I like to play with different types of flours as well as toppings. I had previously published my favorite Rye Strawberry and Thyme Scone recipe here. Alternative additions in our household include Blueberry and Lemon, or Caramelized Onion and Bacon. This Cheddar and Herb Scone Recipe is a modification of all those recipes. Once you have a good scone recipe down, you can’t really go wrong with the experimentation.

I hope you enjoy this as much as me and the housemates do!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dark rye flour
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup einkorn flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 3 tbsp. sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs (I like a mix of chives, thyme, and rosemary).
  • 1.5 cups Mexican cheese, shredded
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing
  • Smoked Maldon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Useful Baking Tools

The Process:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the center.
  2. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add the butter pieces and with thumb and pointy finger, flatten the butter, pinching floury bits into it, Tara Jensen style. Alternatively, you can use two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas.
  4. Stir in the cheese and herbs.
  5.  Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. Add heavy cream and vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk again until well mixed.
  6. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing until just combined. I l liken the end result to one big, shaggy mess.
  7. Lightly dust a clean work surface (I use my marble pastry slab from Crate and Barrel which I use for all my baking needs, but a wooden surface works well too), with flour. Turn the dough onto this surface and knead until just combined.
  8. Shape the dough into a square (6 inch x 6 inch). Cut the dough into four 3-inch squares using a bench scraper (my favorite is by Ateco but something like this would do, too), then cut the smaller squares into triangles.
  9. Arrange the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with heavy cream using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the tops generously with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Depending on the flavor profile you are aiming for, you can favor one topping over another.
  10. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the scones to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

This recipe was modified from Kinfolk Table, by far my favorite published recipe book for its unassuming simplicity and charm. If you can, support local and small bookstores such as Lido Village Bookstore, one of my SoCal faves.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

I am not the type of person who cleverly come up with recipes on my own. Perusing recipe books, pastry displays at coffee shops, and farmer’s market stalls are really how I get most of my inspiration. I will usually come across a base recipe that sounds good, but will have qualms over a few of the ingredients or will find substitutions necessary. When it comes to baked goods, I will usually swap flours, fruits, and toppings. When it comes to meals, I will typically throw in what I already have in the pantry to reduce waste, and add complexities such as spices, peppers, hints of lime or lemon, even brown sugar.

This lemon poppyseed loaf, however, comes as close to the original recipe published in Tartine Book No. 3. Of course, it was my husband who made it and not I. He came across it last week after eating dinner, sitting at the table perusing through the pages to look for bread recipes. Ironically, this cake was what caught his eye.

Instead of Kamut flour and pastry flour, we used einkorn flour, which I’ve had as a staple in the pantry since my fellow baker reported it as being his favorite bread flour, and all-purpose flour respectively. We did not use Kefir butter like the recipe asked, sticking with the more readily available unsalted butter during these barren times. I couldn’t justify splurging on such a frivolous ingredient as Kefir butter after the financial repercussions of COVID 19 (see how to battle those here in my recent post). This lemon poppyseed loaf (and all other home-baked goods thus far) has been the silver lining to this stay-at-home movement thus far.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup Einkorn flour
  • 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold but pliable
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

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The Process:

  1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients listed from sugar to salt.
  2. Add the butter and, slowly increasing the speed to medium, mix until just combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg before moving on to the next.
  4. Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape along the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is included in the mix.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add the poppy seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Once combined, transfer the mixture into a tightly sealed container and refrigerate overnight.
  7. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 F and take out the container to allow the batter to come to room temperature.
  8. Spray coconut cooking spray into an 8.5 x 4 inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Transfer the batter into the pan.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.
  10. Check for done-ness with a toothpick (hopefully if comes out clean!), adding a few additional minutes if the loaf isn’t ready.
  11. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. If you invert it too soon, the loaf may not come out nicely. Use a knife and run it along the sides of the loaf. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

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We prefer to eat our slices with matcha lattes in the morning. We gave half of the loaf to our parents and kept half for ourselves. We love how the exterior of the loaf is a dark brown sugary glaze. This is my husband’s “favorite thing he ever baked”. For me, it’s a bit sweet, but I bet that increasing the almond meal and substituting a darker flour while reducing the amount of granulated sugar to less than a cup would really make this loaf sing.

Of course, I could never just leave the recipe be.

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For those looking to discover the baker within, I highly recommend Tartine by Elizabeth Pruitt and Kinfolk Table. For a free way to learn how to cook, Skillshare has a few classes which you can access for two months FREE here

The plates are by East Fork Pottery, my favorite place to find tablewares from the heart.

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