Friday, February 25, 2011

A New Kind of Comfort Baking

My comfort "go to" recipes have always been very sweet - chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, quick cupcakes, and anything else similar. It's never been bread. Ever. Just too difficult - whether it takes too much time or involves too much effort. On a personal preference note - I am not a big bread eater. Don't get me wrong, I love sandwiches and good quality bread, but a loaf can sit in my freezer for months. Months!

With the recent turn of cold weather I have been suffering through, I've been craving more substantial baked goods, especially those that are not super-sweet. A couple of weeks ago I hosted my first ever Chinese dinner - it was more like a banquet really (I can only cook for 4...or 10 - nothing in between!) and I served steamed lotus paste and red bean buns. These are simple sweet bread with a mildly sweet filling. It is almost savory in nature - but for a Chinese spoon, it's extremely comforting. It brings me back to my childhood - eating dinners in loud restaurants and being served red bean, lotus and hot tapioca desserts at the end. I'm starting to go on a tangent here - but I'll post later with more pictures from the Chinese dinner.

Anyway, I made a recipe from the latest Martha Stewart Living - a Chocolate Swirl "Coffee Cake" - it's more like a loaf/cake...or for those who visit Solly's in Vancouver - it's like a fluffier chocolate babka! (which is my favourite item there) A sweet yeast dough is swirled with a bittersweet chocolate filling, topped with a rough streusel and then drizzled with icing. And amazingly, it wasn't that sweet.

It was however - a lot of work! Breads are definitely a weekend project. Start the dough, take the dog for a nice long walk and then prepare for the second rise (and filling). Wait for the second rise while watching some TV or doing some light cleaning and then pop your creation into the oven. Chill and enjoy the amazing smells that will fill the space. The worst is when it is done - and you still have to wait! I'm not sure what it is about freshly baked bread, but you definitely have to wait for it to cool. I believe it may have something to do with the yeast finishing the reactions and/or the crust and bread to settle. Anyway - a very  long wait later, I finally got to take a bite of this delicious bread/cake - and wow!


  1. Omg this looks amazing!!! Like a healthier version of coffee cake? Or...not. Either way it looks delicious and must have made your house smell like a Cinnabon.

    Btw, I'm liking the new look! Much slicker.

  2. "It's never been bread. Ever. Just too difficult - whether it takes too much time or involves too much effort."

    Yah, you can get a short time or less effort with bread, but not both ;-). However, absolutely the best (and most reliable) bread recipe I've ever made is this one from Michael Smith: Yah, you have to wait awhile, but at least you don't wind up with tennis elbow from kneading the damn thing!

  3. I actually really enjoy kneading! (sucker for punishment, I suppose) There is something so satisfying about thwacking a pile of dough into submission on a countertop while coaxing out those precious protein molecules. Good workout too :P

    Got another bread post coming up soon. Thanks for commenting!