Archive for the ‘the Art and Soul of Baking’ Category


Biscoff Spread Biscotti with Chocolate Chunks

August 30, 2012

This summer kicked my butt. Record-breaking heat and a super-icky project at work took its toll, but now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and lo and behold, I had this post sitting around just waiting to be published. What a nice way to ease back into blogging!


I picked up a jar of Biscoff Spread on a recent trip to World Market. Being a big fan of the cookies, I knew I’d like it. And I was right! My favorite ways of eating it so far are straight out of the jar and spread onto a banana. I wanted to try baking something with it too, so I got going before I dipped a spoon too many times and emptied the jar. I figured it would be easy to swap Biscoff Spread for Nutella, so I decided to adapt a biscotti recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking, which I had also seen here on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. Tracey bakes and cooks amazing things, and Art and Soul is one of my favorite cookbooks, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong. And for the most part, I didn’t.

These are super-awesome biscotti. Crunchy but not too hard. Almonds, chocolate, and a delicious toasty flavor from being twice baked. But they don’t taste like Biscoff Spread. Not the first day or the next day or the day after that. After my husband ate several biscotti, I had him try the Biscoff Spread (he hadn’t tried it and didn’t know it was in the biscotti) and he confirmed that they didn’t taste like the spread. But the good news is that the biscotti are so good! I’m over my disappointment that they don’t taste like Biscoff and I’m ready to make these again. Obviously the spread did something behind the scenes to make these taste so good. Whatever that behind-the-scenes magic was, it worked!

Biscoff Spread Biscotti

Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (6 oz) Biscoff Spread, room temperature
2/3 cup ( 4 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) slivered almonds, toasted
5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4″ chunks (you can also use 1 cup (6 1/2 oz) mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350º F and place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Put the butter, Biscoff Spread, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened in color, 2-3 minutes. (Or use a hand mixer and beat a little longer.) Add the eggs one at a time , beating well (15-20 seconds) and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture all at once, blending with the mixer on its lowest speed just until there are no more patches of flour. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Add the almonds and chocolate and mix on low just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir gently to make sure everything is distributed evenly.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place half the dough on one side of the sheet and gently squeeze and roll to shape into a log about 13 inches long. Press down to flatten the log to about 2 inches across. Repeat with the second half of the dough, keeping the logs about 4 inches apart. Place the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet to  prevent the bottoms from browning too quickly. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. While the logs are cooling, turn the oven to 275º F and place two oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.

When the logs are cool, carefully transfer a log to a cutting surface. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs on a diagonal to 3/8 inches thick. Place the slices, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the second log and another baking sheet. Put both sheets in the oven and toast 30-40 minutes, switching the sheets between the racks and rotating each front to back halfway through the baking time. Bake until dry and lightly tinged with color. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container up to 2 months. If they soften during storage, re-crisp in a 300º F oven for 10-15 minutes, let cool, then return to the airtight container.


Chocolate Cream Scones

July 2, 2011

Recently, I was chatting with Michele via email and she mentioned that she’s not a big fan of scones. I love scones, so I thought we should try out a recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking. She made the Cream Scones and I made a variation, Chocolate Cream Scones.

This recipe calls for a food processor, and is so easy to make. I made half the recipe and baked it in my new Nordicware scone pan. Rather than wasting an egg, I brushed them with a little cream and then sprinkled sugar on top.

These were full of chocolate flavor, tender, and moist. My husband, who isn’t a big scone fan, liked them a lot. Do you know how people say that they don’t like scones because they’re dry? I’m one of those people who likes a more solid scone, where you can break off a chunk and spread it with some jam. These were tasty, but were too tender and moist for me.

This book is wonderful, but if you want to do a trial run first, you can find the recipe here on Google Books (the chocolate variation is on the next page). If you want to see the other recipes I’ve made from this book, you can look here. Be sure to stop by Michele’s blog to read about her vegan Cream Scones!


Rustic Olive and Thyme Bread

May 27, 2011

Olives + Bread = Mmmmm. Add some fresh thyme and it’s Mmmmm squared. That’s today’s math lesson.

Years ago, olive bread was something that I bought from a fancy bakery as a special treat. Now I’m making it in my own kitchen, which is an even bigger treat! This recipe, from The Art and Soul of Baking, is one of my favorites, in part because my husband enjoys it so much.

I’m so happy to own a copy of this book, but if you want to do a trial run first, you can find the recipe here on Google Books. If you want to see the other recipes I’ve made from this book, you can look here.

Keep on baking! If you have extra thyme, make some Herbed Fougasse. If you have extra olives, give Provençal Olive Fougasse a try (that post also includes an olive shopping tip).


Herbed Fougasse from the Art and Soul of Baking

March 8, 2011

I had some unexpected free time last weekend and decided to make fougasse. Why not? I decided to try the version from the Art and Soul of Baking. It’s supposed to look like a leaf, but mine looked like…bread with holes in it!

It could be lovelier, but it couldn't be tastier!

I hadn’t baked or eaten fougasse before, but I had a feeling it was something I’d like. Rosemary, thyme, and olive oil inside and out add to the flavor. Magical bread chemistry gives it an addictive chewy crust. The only disappointing thing about this recipe is that I only made half. You see, the book says that the recipe makes a loaf large enough to feed “a small crowd.” That scared me. My half-sized loaf was about 11 x 6 inches and it didn’t last long. Next time, I’ll make the full recipe, and it won’t be long before the next time rolls around!

You can find the recipe for Herbed Fougasse here on Google Books.

I’ve made some other delicious things from the Art and Soul of Baking: Monkey Bread, Seven-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread, and Danish Coffee Cake.


Monkeying Around With Monkey Bread

May 21, 2010

A week ago, I was aware of monkey bread but hadn’t eaten it or made it. Now, I’m ready to man the 1-800-MKY-BRED hotline! OK, that’s an exaggeration, but I did make two versions and have a few things to share with you about the recipes.

Version 1: Monkey Bread from the Art & Soul of Baking

This recipe is based on Art & Soul’s Old-Fashioned White Loaf bread dough. After the first rise, I cut the dough into cherry-sized pieces, dipped them in melted butter, and rolled them in cinnamon sugar. I put the balls into a pan for the second rise and then baking.

The recipe says to make one batch of bread dough and bake it in a loaf pan. I made a double batch of dough and baked 24 mini monkey bread muffins, a 6″ round pan of monkey bread, and a 6″ round pan of plain white bread. Unfortunately, the muffin version was a flop. I probably overbaked them, but even if I hadn’t, I don’t think this is the way to go with this recipe. The 6″ version, which had two layers of the dough balls, was much better. The muffins had only one layer, many of them fell apart, and they were too crusty. Instead of bringing these to work, I tossed them in the trash. But the 6″ version was delicious. The plain white bread was delicious too; the perfect thing for a pb & j sandwich.

The recipe for Old-Fashioned White Loaf starts on page 72 of the Art & Soul of Baking, or you can find it here on Google Books. Page 73 has the details for the Monkey Bread variation.

Version 2: Grands! Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread from Pillsbury

This recipe skips the pesky details of making a yeast dough; instead it’s based on refrigerated biscuits (note that the exclamation point is part of the Grands! name; I’m not adding that to show my enthusiasm for them). I cut the biscuits into quarters, coated them with cinnamon sugar, arranged them in the pan, and doused the whole lot with a melted butter and brown sugar mixture. This is a quick iPhone photo, but you get the idea.

This was quick to put together and I was able to bake it in the morning and take it straight to work. I served it at a team training session and it got a thumbs-up from the group.

You can find the recipe here on the Pillsbury website.


My husband and I are the only ones who tried both versions. First, let me say that both versions are really good. When I was trying to decide on a favorite, I thought hmmm…I like the homemade bread dough in version 1, but boy that butter and brown sugar mixture in version 2 sure is good. I asked my husband what he thought (without telling him what I was thinking) and he said he really liked the texture of version 1 but also liked the brown sugar mixture in version 2. As we all know, great minds think alike. I need to get working on Monkey Bread version 3!


Seven-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread

March 10, 2010

I like grainy bread, so when I was paging through The Art & Soul of Baking, the recipe for Nine-Grain Whole Wheat Harvest Bread caught my eye.

So why is my bread called Seven-Grain? Well, the recipe calls for a nine-grain hot cereal blend but all I could find at the grocery store was a seven-grain blend in the bulk section. Later on, I was at a different grocery store and found a wide array of Bob’s Red Mill cereal mixes from seven grains on up to 12. Regardless of the number of grains, this bread looks beautiful and tasted great. The dough was very easy to work with, and I was so happy with my slashes. My father-in-law suggested using a serrated knife to slash the dough and it worked great. This is the second recipe I’ve made from The Art & Soul of Baking, and I’m impressed with the clarity of the instructions in the book. I didn’t have to second-guess any of the steps, which I really appreciate.

Michele is always up for baking bread, so she made this with me. She added sunflower seeds to hers, which I think I would have liked a lot. Something to keep in mind for next time! Be sure to visit her blog to see how her bread turned out.

I have a copy of The Art & Soul of Baking from the library (though I don’t think it will be too long before I buy my own copy). If you don’t have the book, you can find the recipe here on Google Books. If you didn’t see my post about the Danish Coffee Cake I made from this book, check that out too!


Danish Coffee Cake: Cheese and Almond

January 25, 2010

Home-baked coffee cake! Yes, it takes longer to bake your own danish coffee cake than it does to run to the store to buy one, but not surprisingly, the homemade version is much more delicious! And thanks to Michele, I went the homemade route this weekend and made two versions: almond and cheese. Michele and I both baked this over the weekend, so be sure to go to her blog to see her post (spoiler: she liked it!). Thank you Michele for the awesome idea to make this!

My husband and I really enjoyed these. The inside is tender and the outside is delicately crisp. He slightly favored the almond and I slightly favored the cheese, but we both liked both flavors a lot. Shortly after baking, I delivered half of each coffee cake to my parents, and hopefully they enjoyed this as much as we did!

Two halves, ready for delivery

While this isn’t a beginner recipe, I didn’t think it was particularly difficult; however, planning and patience are helpful. To make the danish dough, you mix the dough and then incorporate the butter through a series of rolling and folding, with breaks for chilling along the way. This process creates layers of butter and dough, resulting in a tender, layered pastry. This method is similar to croissants, which I’ll be making sometime soon, and puff pastry, which I’ve been meaning to make forever. Call me a baking nerd, but this was an exciting accomplishment for me! I made puff pastry in a class, but this was the first time doing something like this on my own, and it was fun to see it all come together in the finished product.

Cheese cross-section: the dark specks are cardamom

Braided Danish Coffee Cake with cheese filling


  • I made 1/2 recipe of the danish dough, which makes two coffee cakes. I baked both, but the recipe gives instructions for freezing an unbaked coffee cake if you want to save one for later.
  • I made the danish dough one day and shaped, filled, proofed, and baked the next day. If you are going to leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight, wrap it loosely in plastic: since there is yeast in the dough, it needs a little room to expand.
  • The recipe gives two options for spreading the butter on the dough: you can use your fingers or you can roll the butter between sheets of plastic. I used my fingers but I had a hard time with that, so next time I’ll try rolling it.
  • The photos in the book show how to create the braid.
  • I filled one coffee cake with the cheese filling recipe from the book.
  • I filled the other coffee cake with Dorie Greenspan’s almond cream, which I made when I made her French Pear Tart. A lot of the almond cream leaked out a lot when the coffee cake was baking, so I’m not sure this was the best choice but it tasted great. Next time I’ll try the almond filling recipe from the book.

The recipe

If you have a copy of The Art and Soul of Baking, look on page 121. If you don’t have the book, you can find the recipe here on Google Books. As you’ll see, the recipe for the Braided Danish Coffee Cake refers you to the recipes for the danish dough and fillings; all are available in Google Books, so just scroll through to find the pages with the other recipes. Take a look at the other recipes that you can make with the danish dough – they all look delicious! I don’t have the book, but I’ve heard many good things about it, and after making this recipe, it’s going on my cookbook wish list. I really like how the instructions are written; they’re easy to follow and I am 100% satisfied with the results.

%d bloggers like this: