One of my new passions lately has been bread baking. I just love the process and the way the doughs comes together to make something sweet and satisfying.
Before I became a professional baker, baking bread intimidated me. On the surface, it just seemed so difficult and required a lot of time between making the dough, rising, and baking; aka: patience.
However, it became such an easy process over the years after being professionally trained and has become such a passion for me lately.
My first professional bread baking came when I was a pastry assistant at a Washington, DC restaurant. I made focaccia, oyster crackers, olive bread, and herb cheese bread for all the bread baskets that would be presented at customers tables. I fell in love with making focaccia, I found it so therapeutic and such an easy dough to make.
Moreover, the past few years my jam has been mostly sweets in the form of cakes, custards, pies, and cookies. Occasionally, I’ll make a batch of cinnamon rolls here and there which is a baker’s must, of course!
There is nothing like sinking your teeth into fresh baked bread and that chewy texture and a hint of sweetness. Yum, it’s definitely one of my weaknesses.
Not to mention, the incredible smell you kitchen and house gets from the aroma of a batch of bread baking up in your oven.
Recently, I decided to experiment with some doughs and recipes with a variety of different techniques, flavors, and sweet enhancements.
Let me share some of my favorites.
Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread
Cinnamon sugar, a great pairing and makes an even better marriage in this pull apart bread. The dough is rolled out and lathered with melted butter and cinnamon and sugar.
Sliced into squares, stacked, then baked up in a loaf pan and pulled apart for easy serving. Delicious and quick and perfect for enjoying anytime of the day.
Strawberry Danish Rolls
Out of all the bread categories, danishes are probably my weakness. There is just something about a rich dough, loaded with a cream cheese filling, and preserves that makes my tummy go nuts over them! Throw a crumb topping on for good measure and the deal is totally sealed.
These are made from a enriched dough with butter, not your classic laminated/puff pastry dough. With that, the dough comes together quick and easy and is so tender and light.
After these are baked off and cooled, I freeze them on a cookie sheet, then place them all in freezer bag to always have on hand.
When ready to serve, just pop them into the microwave for about 30 seconds. They taste just like they came out of the oven.
Crème Brulee Breakfast Rolls
Crème Brulee is one of my favorite custard desserts. This is where the idea came from for these breakfast rolls.
Leftover pastry cream was used as the filling and a sweet enriched bread dough wrapped it all up. Much like a cinnamon roll but using the pastry cream in place of the butter cinnamon sugar mixture.
After these were baked and removed from the oven, I sprinkled the tops with sugar and used my kitchen torch to lightly caramelize the sugar. Just like with Crème Brulee and having that little crunch with the soft bread is wonderful.
As mentioned above, these can be frozen and reheated in the microwave.
Three Cheese Pull Apart Bread
Taking the same technique as above with the cinnamon sugar version but I made this into a savory counterpart of a pull apart bread.
Instead of bathing it with butter and cinnamon sugar, the dough is rolled out and given a triple dosing of cheeses.
Cream cheese is spread all across the dough and then sprinkled with freshly grated Monterrey jack, parmesan, and a sprinkle of garlic salt. This goes perfectly with any meal and extra awesome when serving steak.
Who doesn’t love these guys, right? Buttery, flaky, and just flat out delicious. Just melts in your mouth and incredibly satisfying!!!
I first learned how to make crossiants in culinary school, it was a really quick class so we didn’t get to spend too much time on the technique. But, I remember how awesome it was watching my instructor make them so perfectly. One day I thought… was my goal to make them as beautifully as my Chef Instructor did that day.
So, I studied up on laminated doughs and while working at Sur La Table, met a pastry chef who made them phenomenally! Outstanding!
Laminated dough is definitely an art but once you get the technique down, it’s really a fun process with the dough. I usually block off a day to make them as they require a multi step process.
The secret to all the flaky layers is the butter square inside the dough and all the folding and rolling. Coupled together, creates all the delicious flaky layers.
However, they are totally worth it when they come out of the oven with their signature golden tops, you can hardly wait to dive in.
Here, I made smaller version to enjoy with coffee, tea, and as a small dinner bread. Also, they make for a wonderful crossiant breakfast casserole constructed similar to a bread pudding.
These freeze wonderfully too!
A few other of my favorite bread recipes: