Happy Easter! ~ Easter Bunny Rolls

The Easter bunny came to our house today! 😉

I found this bunny roll idea in several places online, and I couldn’t resist making a batch of my own. They are simple and quite adorable.

I made these rolls with my basic whole-wheat dinner roll recipe. I didn’t use dill this time around, but I think an herb of some sort would be delicious. I love this recipe because I can make the rolls in the evening, let them rest in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake them in the morning. There is nothing quite like fresh bread on Easter morning (without having to get up early to make it! 😉 )

Easter Bunny Rolls

Makes 5 dinner rolls

2 tablespoons warm water (about 80 degrees F.)

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 3/4 cups white whole-wheat flour

All-purpose flour for dusting work surface

Approximately 1 tablespoon beaten egg

Approximately 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt

Place a piece of parchment paper on a half sheet pan, and spray the parchment with cooking spray. Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator for the sheet pan where the rolls will rest overnight.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let stand until the yeast and water mixture looks creamy, about 5 minutes. Next, add the ingredients from the sugar through the whole-wheat flour to the bowl. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough will be elastic and sticky.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface that is lightly dusted with all-purpose flour. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Sprinkle a little extra all-purpose flour over the dough and on your hands if the dough sticks.

To make bunnies, roll 5 of the pieces of dough into long ropes, each about 12 inches long. Take the two ends of each rope and twist them over each other twice, leaving about an inch of both ends sticking out on top for the ears. Make sure the bottom has a loop with a hole in the middle to make room for the tail. Cut the remaining piece of dough into small pieces for the tails. Roll each piece into a ball, and place the ball in the center of the loop. (If you have leftover dough, you can form a little Easter egg shape to go with the bunnies!) Place all of the rolls on the prepared baking sheet. Take care to leave enough space between the rolls to allow them to rise without touching each other.

Spray the tops of the rolls with nonstick cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let the rolls rest in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes, or until close to doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Brush the rolls with the beaten egg, and sprinkle a little coarse salt on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and cooked through.

Easter Eggs ~ Pickled Rainbow Deviled Eggs

Happy Easter!

My mom makes pickled eggs with beets for Easter, just the way my grandma used to do. I think it’s an old Pennsylvania Dutch tradition that made its way into our family traditions! I decided to expand on that tradition this year by dying my eggs pink, but also yellow, orange, blue, and purple. Amazingly, all of the colors are totally natural! I was really delighted with all of the bright colors. 🙂

After I dyed the eggs, I made them into deviled eggs. Use your favorite deviled egg recipe. I like to use Greek yogurt in mine, so they had a bit of a tang between the pickling and the filling. They will be a perfect Easter afternoon snack (if they make it that long! 😉 )

Pickled Rainbow Deviled Eggs

If you make all 5 colors, you will end up with 15 whole eggs or 30 deviled egg halves

Inspired by Food52

For the pickled eggs:

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

(Each coloring below is for 1 batch of the basic pickling blend above. To make all 5 colors, make the basic pickling blend in 5 separate batches.)

For pink:

1 small beet, roasted and peeled, cut into large pieces

For yellow:

1/2 tablespoon ground dried turmeric

For orange:

1/2 tablespoon ground dried turmeric

1 small piece (the equivalent of approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons) of roasted and peeled beet

For blue:

1/4 small red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For purple:

1/4 small red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

Set aside 5 glass containers that are each big enough for 3 eggs and one colored batch of the pickling mixture. Divide the eggs evenly so every container has 3.

In a small saucepan, bring one batch of vinegar, water, and salt to a simmer. Whisk to make sure the salt fully dissolves. Turn off the heat and add the coloring of your choice.

Pour the colored pickling blend over the top of 3 eggs, and make sure they are fully submerged. Repeat with the remaining 4 colors.

Refrigerate until the eggs are the color you desire. I left mine in the pickling blend for a few hours, stirring every once in awhile to make sure they colored evenly. They will also get more pickled with time. (I found that the pink, orange, and yellow took less time to reach the color I desired than the blue and purple. I left the eggs in the pickling blend longer for the latter two.)

For the deviled eggs:

Prepared pickled eggs

5 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Salt to taste

Cut each egg in half and remove the yolks.

In a medium bowl, mash the yolks with a fork. Add the yogurt, mustard, mayonnaise, and salt, and mix until the filling is well incorporated and smooth.

Scoop the filling into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the filling into each egg white.

Easter Treats ~ Hummingbird Mini Bundt Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Happy Easter!

To celebrate the holiday this year I made hummingbird cakes, which are a Southern classic with a tropical twist. They are filled with banana, pineapple, pecans, and sometimes coconut. That combination leads me to dream about warmer weather and palm trees! 😉 Plus the name of the dessert just sounds like springtime to me. I thought they would be perfect for Easter this year.

Hummingbird cakes are usually frosted with a cream cheese icing, but rather than cover the pretty Bundt cake design, I decided to fill mine with a cream cheese filling. The sweet cream cheese is a nice surprise to find when you cut into the cakes.

I used a mini Bundt pan that makes 6 small individual cakes. The pan holds about 4 cups of batter between the cakes. After filling the pan I still had some leftover batter and filling, so I made muffins with the extra in cute Easter liners. The muffins go well with coffee for breakfast. 🙂

Hummingbird Mini Bundt Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Makes 6 mini Bundt cakes (and 6 muffins)

For the filling:

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the cake:

Butter, softened, for preparing the pan

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquefied

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 or 3 bananas, depending on the size)

1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut (optional)

Powdered sugar, for dusting the cakes

For the filling:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, sugar, and egg. Blend until everything is well combined. Then add the flour, and beat until just combined. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium round nozzle. Set aside.

For the cake:

Evenly spread a thin layer of butter over all the nooks and crannies of the mini Bundt pan.

(Line a muffin pan with 6 paper liners for the leftover batter and filling if you wish.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add the banana and pineapple, and stir until well combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until everything is just combined. Add the nuts and coconut (if using), and stir until they are evenly distributed in the batter.

Fill each well of the mini Bundt pan about 1/3 full. With the back of a small spoon, make a channel in the batter all around the pan. Pipe a layer of cream cheese filling into the channel, taking care to keep it away from the sides of the pan. Top the filling with batter until each well is about 3/4 full.

(With the remaining batter and filling, you can make muffins in the same manner, each with a dollop of filling in the middle. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan to cool on a wire rack.)

Bake the Bundt cakes for about 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean.

Let the Bundt cakes cool in the pan. Once cooled, invert the cakes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Easter Brunch Addition ~ Quail Scotch Eggs with Smoked Halibut Mashed Potatoes

Scotch Quail Egg with Smoked Halibut Mashed PotatoesWhat’s better for Easter brunch than Scotch eggs? Two different kinds of Scotch eggs! 😉Scotch Quail Egg with Smoked Halibut Mashed PotatoesIn addition to crab Scotch eggs, I made one more version with cute little quail eggs encased in smoked halibut mashed potatoes. It was a festive little dish that was a perfect accompaniment to our Easter brunch.Scotch Quail Egg with Smoked Halibut Mashed PotatoesQuail Scotch Eggs with Smoked Halibut Mashed Potatoes

Inspired by a recipe from BBC Good Food

1 large russet potato

Skim milk, to taste

Smoked halibut, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

10 quail eggs

1 cup (approximately) all-purpose flour

2 beaten eggs

1 cup (approximately) panko

Peel and coarsely chop the potato. Add to a medium saucepan. Fill the pan with cold water so the potatoes are covered. Bring the water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. Drain the water. Mash the potatoes, adding the milk a little at a time to thin them out into a thick and creamy texture that will hold up around the eggs. Flake the smoked fish with your fingers and add it to the potatoes. Mix well. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, adjust the heat so the water stays at a gentle boil. Add the quail eggs. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs immediately after 3 minutes and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Carefully remove the shells.

Gently press and shape a couple of tablespoons of the fish and potato mixture around each egg. The result should be in the shape of an egg.

Preheat oven to 475 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Add the flour, beaten eggs, and panko to three separate shallow bowls.

Roll the potato-covered eggs in the flour, making sure they are completely coated. Gently knock off the excess flour. Then roll the eggs into the beaten egg until they are fully coated. Let the excess beaten egg drip off. Finally, roll the eggs in the panko. Press gently to make sure the crumbs stick.

Lay the panko-covered eggs slightly apart on the prepared baking sheet. Spray the tops of the eggs lightly with cooking spray to help them brown. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

PS. I made mine with smoked halibut, but I think hot smoked salmon would also be delicious.

PPS. Here’s sending you one final happy Easter wish!!Quail Scotch Egg with Smoked Halibut Mashed Potatoes

Easter Brunch ~ Crab Scotch Eggs

Crab Scotch EggHappy Easter!

This year I made a couple different Scotch egg recipes to get into the spirit of the holiday. 🙂 A traditional Scotch egg is a boiled egg surrounded by pork sausage, breaded, and deep-fried. To make a lighter and more Pacific Northwestern version that also felt like a dish worthy of Easter Sunday, I made crab Scotch eggs. 🙂 Yum! My favorite crab cake recipe transformed (and got a little British!) to make this special dish. I made my Scotch eggs hard-boiled, but I’m sure the molten center of a soft-boiled egg would also be lovely.

Crab Scotch Eggs

6 large eggs

For the crab cake mixture:

1 pound cooked and shelled Dungeness crab meat

1/4 cup finely diced celery

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 large egg

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup panko

For the coating:

1 cup (approximately) all-purpose flour

2 beaten eggs

1 cup (approximately) panko

Preheat your oven to 475 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Gently place the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat the pan over high heat. Once the water starts to boil, cook the eggs for 5 minutes. (Turn the heat down accordingly so the eggs don’t bounce around too much in the boiling water, but make sure the water continues to boil gently.) Remove the eggs immediately after 5 minutes and submerge in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Peel the eggs. Set aside.

For the crab cake mixture:

Make sure your crab doesn’t have any hidden bits of shell mixed in before you begin. In a large bowl, mix the celery, chives, mayonnaise, egg, mustard, and hot sauce with a fork. Then add the crab and panko. Stir gently until everything is well blended.

Shape and gently press the crab mixture around the boiled eggs until they are completely encased.

For the coating:

Add the flour, beaten eggs, and panko to three separate shallow bowls.

Once the boiled eggs are coated in the crab cake mixture, roll them in the flour, making sure they are completely coated. Gently knock off the excess flour. Then roll the eggs into the beaten egg until they are fully coated. Let the excess beaten egg drip off. Finally, roll the eggs in the panko. Press gently to make sure the crumbs stick.

Lay the panko-covered eggs slightly apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.Crab Scotch Egg

Happy Easter! ~ Bird’s Nest Sugar Cookies

Bird's Nest Sugar CookiesTo celebrate Easter this year, I made these sweet little bird’s nest sugar cookies. This is a popular Easter cookie idea, and for good reason…They are adorable and easy to make. I used my whole-wheat sugar cookie recipe to make my version of these little nests. It’s a fun challenge to dress up the same dough for different holidays. 🙂 Using this same recipe, I made hot cocoa cookie cups for Christmas, double heart cookies for Valentine’s Day, and now these little nests for Easter. Hmm…What can I make for Mother’s Day, or for a summer celebration cookie?

Bird’s Nest Sugar Cookies

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

Unsweetened shredded coconut (approximately 1 1/2 cups)

White chocolate (approximately 1/4 cup to attach the jelly beans)

Jelly beans (approximately 1 cup) (I used the naturally flavored and colored beans from Trader Joe’s)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a second large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour mixture, and beat until just combined. You may need to hand mix the last bit if the dough becomes too thick for the mixer.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into approximately 1-inch balls between your hands. Flatten the balls slightly and form a small well in the center of each so they are the shape of nests. Roll each cookie into the coconut, gently pressing the coconut into the dough to make sure it sticks. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until slightly firm, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack.

In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate. Spoon a small amount of the melted chocolate into the middle of each cooled cookie, and attach three jelly beans to the chocolate. Allow to set completely before serving.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter Sunday!Bird's Nest Sugar Cookies

Easter Treats ~ Simnel Cupcakes

Simnel CupcakesHappy Easter!

To celebrate the holiday this year, I made a batch of simnel cupcakes. 🙂

Simnel cake is a British confection eaten around Easter time. It is a type of fruit cake with some warm holiday spices mixed in, but I think the most interesting part about this dish is the decoration. These cakes are decorated with a ring of 11 small balls of marzipan symbolizing 11 Apostles, with the exception of Judas. I love dishes such as this one that combine culture, history, and deliciousness! 😉

Simnel CupcakesI only decorated a few of the cupcakes, and I froze the rest of them without any decoration to keep them fresh for later. (By the way, microwave one frozen cupcake for 30 seconds, and it tastes like it came right out of the oven. I like to eat them plain as a snack.) I ended up using one small 150 gram package of marzipan because I only decorated a few of the cakes. This amount will be enough to decorate about 8 cupcakes, depending on how thin you roll it. If you would like to decorate the whole batch, you will probably need three packages to be on the safe side. Marzipan keeps well in the refrigerator for later if you don’t use all of it. I also only used about ¼ cup of apricot jam. Again, if you plan to decorate all of your cupcakes, you will probably need more.

Simnel CupcakesSimnel Cupcakes

Makes 20

¾ cup light olive oil

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt

6 tablespoons skim milk

½ cup fine or caster sugar

3 eggs

2 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 ¼ teaspoons mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 ½ cups mixed dry fruit (finely chopped apricots, currants, etc.)

Marzipan (one 150 g package will cover and decorate about 8 cupcakes)

Powdered sugar, for dusting work surface

Apricot jam (¼ cup will be enough for about 8 cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cupcake tins with 20 paper liners.

Combine oil, yogurt, milk, sugar, and eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined. Add the fruit, and mix until evenly distributed.

Fill each baking cup about ½ full. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

In the meantime heat jam until it is more viscous, and sieve it through a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the smooth portion of the jam, and discard the solids.

On a clean and smooth surface, sprinkle some powdered sugar to keep the marzipan from sticking. Roll out the marzipan with a rolling pin until it is very thin. Cut out rounds with a round cookie cutter that is approximately the size of the top of a cupcake. With remaining bits of marzipan, make small, evenly sized balls.

When the cupcakes are cooked and cooled, brush a small amount of the jam over the top of each one that you would like to decorate. Place a round of marzipan over the jam, and press gently to adhere to the cake. Lightly brush the top of the marzipan with jam, and also lightly coat 11 little balls with jam. Stick the balls in a circle on top of each cupcake.

Simnel Cupcakes

Sweet Ending to Easter Dinner ~ Rhubarb Rice Pudding

We enjoyed a simple and elegant Easter dinner at home this year. I tried three recipes that were inspired by Sophie Dahl’s cookbook entitled Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes. She’s a British cook I recently discovered, and I like her style. 🙂 She has two cookbooks, and she also had a little cooking show on the BBC.

For our Easter dinner, we enjoyed bruschetta with an artichoke spread, lobster and crab salad, and this rhubarb rice pudding. I have a sweet tooth, so this was my favorite dish of the evening. 🙂 I love the subtle edition of orange flower water and rose water. It made it a little special and spring-like without being overwhelming.

Rhubarb Rice Pudding

Based on a recipe by Sophie Dahl

For the rice:

4 cups skim milk

¾ cup basmati rice

1 cinnamon stick

¼ cup honey

½ teaspoon orange flower water

For the rhubarb:

12 oz rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths

½ cup water

1 star anise

½ teaspoon rose water

2 tablespoons honey

First, make the rice pudding. Pour the milk and rice into a medium sized saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, bring to a boil, and then simmer over very low heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. At this point, stir in the honey and orange flower water and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the pudding is to the consistency that you like. Remove the cinnamon.

In a separate heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the rhubarb, water, star anise, rose water, and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until you have a lovely tender pink softness. Remove the anise. Plate the rice pudding and swirl the rhubarb through. Or, conversely, serve the rice with a small dollop of the rhubarb on the top as I did.

Happy Easter ~ Simple Yellow Cupcakes

Happy Easter!

I made a batch of simple yellow cupcakes to celebrate the season. These cakes would be great with any kind of frosting or decoration on top. For example, here’s an idea to try for next year! Ha! They are a good base cupcake, and then you can get creative from there. 🙂 I used a super cute cupcake kit from Meri Meri. I love their products. 🙂 They dress up any ordinary cupcakes and make them ready for a special occasion!

I started with Martha Stewart’s recipe for yellow cupcakes. I replaced the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. I added a little bit more milk (skim rather than whole) since whole-wheat flour can require more liquid for a moist cake. I also replaced all of the butter with light olive oil.

Yellow Cupcakes

Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup light olive oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a standard sized muffin tin with baking liners.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until well incorporated. Add half of the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined. Then add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter evenly in the prepared muffin tin.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Easter Dinner ~ Farfalle “Butterfly” Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Neufchâtel

Happy Easter!

I wanted to make something special but simple for our Easter dinner, since I didn’t have a lot of time to put it together today. I found a pasta recipe from MarthaStewart.com that fit the bill. I made a couple of minor changes, but stayed pretty close to the original recipe. I replaced the cream cheese with Neufchâtel to reduce the fat. I also diced the onion and sautéed it in a separate pan before adding it to the mix, since I’m not wild about the flavor of raw onion. This is really simple enough for a weeknight, so I’ll keep it in my collection of quick and delicious recipes. 🙂

Farfalle Pasta with Smoked Salmon and Neufchâtel

Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

12 ounces farfalle (butterfly pasta), preferably whole wheat

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 small red onion, diced

Olive oil

2 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed

2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

4 ounces smoked salmon, flaked into bite-size pieces

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, sauté onion in olive oil in a separate pan until slightly caramelized.

Drain pasta, and return to pot.

Add onion, cream cheese, dill, capers, and salmon to pasta. Toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce that coats farfalle (you may not need all the water). Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve.

Farfalle means “butterflies” in Italian, so I stayed with that theme and decorated the table with little butterflies! They seem so springy and cheerful. I found a website called Ellinee.com that has a lot of cute and free printable clipart. I have decorated our meals with their artwork on several occasions this year. I hope you’ll check it out! Very festive, and did I mention, free? 🙂 I want to give a big thank you to that website for brightening our table! For this meal, I added butterflies to our bouquet of tulips and wine glasses (by taping them to skewers), and I also laid them around the table.

Happy Easter ~ “Potted” Chocolate Mint Pudding

 

Happy Easter!

I ran across a very cute idea for a spring dessert this Easter. We had little potted chocolate mint puddings with a sprig of mint “growing” out of them. The original Martha Stewart recipe is a very rich pudding, so I used my recipe from St. Patrick’s Day (with a couple changes for this dish) to lighten it. Follow the chocolate Guinness pudding recipe, but exchange the Guinness for more skim milk and add ½ teaspoon of mint extract in addition to the vanilla. Fill a little flowerpot shaped container with the pudding, and top with crumbled chocolate cocoa cookies. Then “plant” a sprig of mint in the top.

These would also be perfect for Mother’s Day :).

Happy spring!

Happy Easter! Homemade Bread

Happy Easter! This Easter Sunday I decided to try my hand at a homemade loaf of bread since bread and Easter naturally go together. My first try with a different recipe didn’t go so well, but my second with the recipe below turned out better than I had hoped! It still amazes me when I put something in the oven and it transforms into something yummy. The wonders of cooking science! We really thought it tasted like something from a fine artisan bakery. This recipe is adapted a little from Bon Appétit magazine. The original can be found at Epicurious.com. It really isn’t that hard to make…Just a little bit time consuming. But really, is there anything quite as inviting as fresh baked bread? 🙂

Sesame and Sunflower Whole Wheat Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 envelope dry yeast

1 1/2 cups skim milk

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 egg (separated)

1/2 cup cracked wheat (also called bulgur wheat) or bran

2 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (approximately)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (shelled)

2 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons rolled oats

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

(Or whatever other seeds you have on hand that you think might go well on top of the loaf)

Combine 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour and the yeast in a large bowl. Heat milk, honey and sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat until it feels very warm to the touch, but not too hot to put your finger in. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir in egg yolk, remaining 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, bulgur wheat or bran (whatever choice you are using), and salt. Mix in enough all-purpose flour a little at a time to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface about 10 minutes, adding more all-purpose flour if it is very sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Add the dough, turning to coat the entire surface. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm draft-free area until it has doubled in volume. (About 1 3/4 hours).

Grease a cookie sheet. Punch the dough down. Mix in the sunflower seeds and 2 1/2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth. Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Cover and let them rise again in a warm draft-free area until they are almost doubled in size. (About 1 1/4 hours).

Preheat your oven to 375. Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the mixture over the loaves. Sprinkle oats, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, or whatever seeds you choose to use on top.

Bake until the loaves are brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 40 minutes.