Simple advice for a better life.

Paska baking -  our 6 year old Paska decoratorUkrainian Traditional Paska -  3 batches of Paska bakingUkrainian Traditional Paska - design D

 

 

Thursday was our family Paska Baking Day.…three generations of bakers – mother, daughter and granddaughter.
We had so much fun, especially my 6-year-old granddaughter, who did a beautiful job helping with measuring the ingredients, and decorating her Paska (above picture).

You may click on the above link for the recipe, but today I will share pictures of the different designs we created for this year’s Paska.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design A

The traditional braid toward the middle of the Paska, a flower in the middle, and some “figi” decorations below the braid.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design BThis one has the twist (two strings of dough twisted together), and a fancy cross in the middle of the Paska.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design G

Here we have a large cross on top of the whole Paska,  and some other decorations along the side.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design C

This Paska is decorated with a long braid twisted around the middle, and dough -birds all around the edge.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design D

My six years old granddaughter decorated this Paska all by herself.  She did a beautiful job, if I may say so myself.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design E

This Paska has two twists intertwined in a way to resemble the thorn crown Jesus wore on his head.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - design F

Last but not least, a single dough rope is twisted around this Paska, with some loops formed symmetrically, and a dough rose in the middle.  Plus a single dough rope is laid around the Paska, about 1/2 inch below the upper one.

Paska baking - our 6 year old Paska decorator

Hopefully our designs will help you to decorate your Paska, or it will inspire you to create your own, even more decorative.  Please share your Paska designs with all our readers.

Ukrainian Traditional Paska - 3 batches of Paska baking

This year’s Easter is very special for Ukrainians, since the Catholics and the Orthodox celebrate it at the same time.  Most of the time the Catholic one is much earlier than the Orthodox, as they both follow different calendar (Julian or Gregorian).

KRYSTOS VOSKRES!  (CHRIST IS RISEN!)

VOISTYNU VOSKRES! (INDEED HE IS RISEN!)

HAPPY EASTER!!

Garlic and Herb BreadI just baked another loaf of homemade bread, using the Dutch Oven (Cast Iron Pot with interior and exterior enamel, plus a lid).

The process is so simple, and the bread turns out awesomely delicious.

This time I got a little more adventurous, and modified the original recipe, to create a more flavorful bread.

I was a little skeptical at first, but once I noticed how nicely the dough was rising, and the aroma of garlic and herbs filled the air, I knew it will be a great success.

I will continue to experiment further with other ingredients, and keep you posted.

Whole Wheat Bread

This is my first loaf of Dutch Oven Bread recipe, made with a mixture of whole wheat flour and unbleached all-purpose flour.

This loaf was light, but due to the whole wheat flour, it was not as airy as the other ones.

Bread Flour loaf

This is my second loaf, made out of bread flour, making it quite airy, and much lighter than the whole wheat loaf. Both breads were quite delicious, especially when served warm with a thin layer of sweet butter….yum!

Since these breads are totally fat-free, they tend to age quickly.  However, their delicious taste does not change, and warming them up in the microwave, or toaster oven, brings back their original freshness.

Today I will share my recipe for a Dutch Oven bread, with an addition of oil, egg, and herbs, giving it more flavor, and hopefully a longer shelf life.

Ingredients:

  •  6 cups of Bread Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 1/3 cups water, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil (or any oil of your choice)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. Basil, dried
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or 2, for more pungent results)

 Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, Basil, and yeast.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg, mix in Olive oil and minced garlic.
  4. Mix the egg/oil mixture with water, and stir into the flour mixture, to incorporate well to make a sticky dough.
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and keep in a warm, draft-free place (I keep it in a turned-off oven), for 12-18 hours, until light and bubbly (please visit the original site for step-by-step pictures).
  6. Flour your hands, and the work area, then remove the risen dough from the bowl, onto the work area.
  7. Keep on tucking the dough under, using as much flour as needed for your hands and the work surface, until you form a nice ball of dough.
  8. Place it on a well floured parchment paper, cover it with couple of clean linen kitchen towels, keep it in a daft-free area, and let it rise for 1-2 hours (it will double in bulk).
  9. At 1 1/2 hours of dough rising, turn on the oven to 425 degrees F and place the covered Dutch Oven in it, to heat it up.
  10. At the end of the 2 hours of dough rising, carefully remove the HOT Dutch Oven from the oven, pour 1 tsp of olive oil into it, and using a pastry brush spread the oil over the bottom and sides of the pot.
  11. Gently slide the dough off the parchment paper, into the oiled HOT Dutch Oven.  Replace the lid, and bake it for 40 -45 minutes.
  12. Remove the lid, and bake it for additional 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200 degrees F.
  13. Carefully remove the pot from the oven, and cool it for 10 minutes, then remove the bread, and place it on a cooling rack.
  14. If yo wish, you may brush off most of the flour from the top crust of the bread, or leave it on, then brush some olive oil with a pastry brush, all over the top, sides, and bottom of the bread, and let it cool completely before slicing.

Once the bread cools off, the crust will be very crunchy, but it will soften up by the next day.

You may store this bread on a counter in the Dutch Oven, or place it in a plastic zip-lock bag.

This bread freezes very well, so you can either slice it all and freeze it to use couple of slices at a time, or freeze the whole piece.

I sliced 1/2 of the loaf, and kept it on the counter, and froze the second half in one piece.

To thaw the bread in one piece, for best results keep it in the plastic bag, and thaw is slowly in the fridge.

Frozen slices may be microwaved, or warmed up in the Toaster Oven.

My next bread recipe will use something different yet…stay tuned please, if effortless bread making interests you.

Enjoy!

Exotic Banana Bread Bananas are such a staple food in our house (great source of Potassium to prevent muscle cramps), so we hardly ever run out of them, but at times there are few very ripe ones left over, hence perfect time to whip up some banana bread.

This week was one of those times with several very ripe bananas, which contributed to this newly concocted recipe for an Exotic Banana Bread.

It is a light recipe, since it has less sugar and fat, than my other recipe for Decadent Chocolate Banana Bread, posted earlier.

This banana bread is very light and airy.  The coconut and cinnamon flavors add to its exotic aroma.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal all-purpose unbleached flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I use kosher salt)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 large bananas, mashed (nicely ripe…even if they begin to get little brown spots all over its peel)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (you also may use coconut oil, I did not have any on hand)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate morsels (or you use raisins, craisins, nuts, or other dry fruits)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Incorporate all ingredients with a whisk, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with brown sugar and white sugar, until very light and creamy, resembling cake batter.
  3. Mix in coconut extract, oil and bananas.
  4. Gradually add in flour, and mix well to incorporate.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Generously grease and flour a loaf pan.
  8. Pour the batter into the greased pan, and bake 60-70 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then remove onto a cooling rack to cool completely, before slicing into serving pieces.

Exotic Banana  Bread

Enjoy!

Dutch Oven Bread – Recipe #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Few weeks ago I baked my first bread in the Dutch Oven, but used all-purpose unbleached white flour, mixed with some whole wheat flour.  The bread was very tasty, and spongy.

Today, I tried the same recipe, but with bread flour, and the results were amazing.

The bread dough was rising much more rapidly than my first one.  It was very spongy, and light, and the bread turned out even better than my first loaf.

I can’t believe there is such an easy way to make homemade bread.

Since I used the same recipe and same directions, I will not repeat them here, but you can check out my previous post, if you are ready to make some fresh bread for your family.

I am definitely going to invest in a Dutch Oven of my own (waiting for a good sale), as this one is borrowed from my daughter.

 

Can you believe this loaf of bread costs only 81 cents….and that includes all the ingredients, and cost of the energy used to bake it.

 

 

My mom always made her own bread for as long as I can remember.  She made the best bread ever.  I wish her recipe was written down, but unfortunately she always baked from memory.

I love the recipe I use for Ukrainian Traditional Easter Bread (Paska).

I also tried making bread in a bread machine, but it was a disaster (the birds in my back yard benefited from a nice bread snack instead, since I never throw away bread into trash).

This time I tried the Dutch Oven recipe (please click here for excellent step-by-step pictures and instructions).

At first I was kind of skeptical, since it does not require any kneading, only 18+ hours of rising on its own without any effort on my part, then it is baked for an hour in a covered Dutch Oven cast iron pot.

I was determined to try it out, and was pleasantly surprised by the look and taste of the baked bread.

This recipe definitely made it to my Pinterest board of  “Recipes Tested and Loved”.

Nothing tastes better than a slice of fresh-baked bread, smeared lightly with soft unsulted butter….aaahhh….so delicious.

My family, and even my toddler grandchildren, absolutely loved it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the bread was a success.

I did brush off most of the excess flour you see all over the top of this bread, then while the bread was still hot, I rubbed a cold butter stick all over the crust (brushed some olive oil into the crevices), for a more luscious appearance, and to soften the crust (a tip from my mom).

If you prefer a very crusty bread top, you may omit this process.

The recipe is very simple, as it only needs bread flour, dry yeast, salt and water.  I did not have bread flour at home, so I used 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour and 2 cups of wheat flour, and it turned out great.

Since this time I did not make any changes to the original recipe, please go to the  original site  for a specific list of ingredients and instructions.

I would like to mention that I kept the covered dough in my oven (room temperature….not warmed at all), with the door closed, for about 16 hours rather than 18 hours, as it looked ready at that time.

I did use cooking spray with flour, to spray the bottom of the hot pot, before placing the dough in it for baking.

Also, I baked the bread for 45 minutes, covered, then again for 15 minutes uncovered.  I did use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bread to be 200 degrees F, as she suggested.  I checked it after 10 minutes of baking it uncovered, and it was only 185 degrees, so I decided to bake it for another 5 minutes.

Here is my bread baking time frame:

  • 9 PM Friday – I mixed the dough, covered it and left it to rise
  • 1:15 PM Saturday – the dough was ready to be formed into a ball, wrapped in a cotton kitchen towel, and rest for 2 hrs.
  • 2:45 PM Saturday – Preheated the oven and placed the Dutch oven in there to heat it up
  • 3:15 PM Saturday – Placed the ball of dough into the hot Dutch Oven and started baking process
  • 3:15 – 4 PM Saturday – baked the bread in a covered Dutch Oven
  • 4 – 4:15 PM Saturday – uncovered the pot and baked the bread until its center  reached 200 degrees F
  • By 5 PM Saturday, the bread was cool enough to slice and sample.

I honestly recommend this recipe, as I know you will be so proud of yourself making a homemade bread that is almost effortless, yet sooooo tasty.

Not to mention the low cost of this loaf of bread!!

Here is a quote of the cost calculation, as posted on the original site:

81 cents for a substantial 2.5 pound loaf of bread

 

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

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