Tag Archives: bread recipes

An overhead show of sliced marbled banana bread

Why We’re Drawn to Comfort Baking in Times of Stress, According to a Psychologist

If we could sum up our collective baking experience in 2020, it would boil down to two words: banana bread.

When the global pandemic first upended our everyday lives back in March, many of us turned to baking. It didn’t matter whether or not we were seasoned pros, we all seemed to crave the baked goods we cherished as kids. (Think: cookies, muffins, bread and pies). There was something comforting about the familiar smells and tastes — and it had many of us resorting to a form of culinary therapy in a time of uncertainty. You couldn’t scroll through your Instagram feed without coming across dozens of bread loaves conjured up by even the unlikeliest bakers in your friend group.

Get the recipe for Healthy Marbled Banana Bread

So, what gives? Why now, in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19,  have we once again turned to baking — albeit with a distinct holiday sparkle this time around. As it turns out, our desire to bake when the going gets tough actually has deep psychological roots that can be traced back to our childhood.

Dr. Brent Macdonald, of the Macdonald Psychology Group in Calgary, has more than 20 years of experience in the field — and is more than familiar with the various intricacies of the human brain when it comes to food associations.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come Out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

“[Baking or cooking] can remind you of the positive experience of sharing it with family, of being cared for and comforted as children — and that same emotional transference happens in adults,” he explains. “The smell, the taste, the texture, the experience of eating something that brought you pleasure as a child brings up all those positive emotions of comfort and warmth.”

As Macdonald notes, it’s no mere coincidence that we seek out these familiar foods in times of strife. For many, it’s a form of mindfulness — even if we don’t realize it. “We tend not to have [comfort food] when we’re doing well — we typically have it when we’re feeling stressed. That’s our medicine, in a sense,” he says. “The good thing about it is that it works — comfort food and comfort baking makes us feel better. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — we shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment that we have comfort foods we enjoy. It kind of gets a bad rap because of its association with sugars and carbohydrates — and fair enough. But once in awhile, treats are treats for a reason.”

Get the recipe for Fudgiest Sweet Potato Brownies

But given this whirlwind year where many have faced significant social and professional upheavals, Macdonald says it’s still important to take note of how consuming these baked goods makes you feel — aside from sentimental reminders of Grandma’s kitchen.

“Does [comfort baking] make you feel good and just feel good? Or does it make you feel good temporarily, masking some really unpleasant emotions that come back immediately once you stop eating? Because that’s an unhealthy pattern,” Macdonald says.

So, what’s the actual science behind this feel-good attachment we have to baking? Over the years, researchers have shown evidence that the act of baking triggers various parts of our brain, including the amygdala (the part of our brain where emotions are given meaning) and the hippocampal cortex (memory retrieval) which can ultimately help us reduce stress and anxiety. Therefore, a simple scent — vanilla or melted butter — can take us back to the relative safety and comfort of our childhood, thus inspiring in us the desire to recreate the recipes we indulged in during our “stress-free” younger years.

Get the recipe for Perfect Fermented Sourdough Bread

And with certain scents you can almost feel the power of those neuroreceptors firing off, Macdonald says. “We start to drool, to salivate, as our body prepares to ingest the food. It’s similar to people who have nicotine cravings. All of those things set off an anticipatory response that is waiting for that intake.”

So, with the holiday season upon us and no sign of COVID-19 abating before the end of this strange year, indulge in a little feel-good baking — whether you’re a novice or pro. After all, it’s one of the most budget-friendly therapeutic activities you can engage in — and the end result tastes delicious. Happy baking!

Try your hand at these classic Christmas cookies that will spread holiday cheer or these bountiful bread pudding recipes you’ll make over and over.

Molly Yeh’s Flaky Dill Bread: The Perfect Use for Leftover Herbs

Our favourite Girl Meets Farm recipes often include Molly Yeh’s mouth-watering baked goods – think cake and cookies – and this flaky, herb-alicious bread is no exception. Whether you’re looking for a warm mid-day snack or flavourful dinner side, this eight-ingredient masterpiece is your best bet.

Make use of all that luscious dill growing in your herb garden by combining it with your homemade dough and enjoy the soothing scents. Serve hot for optimal deliciousness. Find more tips and recipes with our ultimate herb guide.

Related:  Molly Yeh’s One-Pot Wonder Taco Hot Dish

Molly Yeh’s Flaky Dill Bread

Total Time: 2 hours
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup pastry flour
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Oil, for greasing the bowl
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, very soft
1 cup chopped fresh dill

Related: Your New Favourite Dish Starring Avocado: Molly Yeh’s Guacamole Salad

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, pastry flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Create a well in the center and add 3/4 cup water. Mix until you have a shaggy dough.

2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding additional flour as needed, until smooth, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 6 balls. Keep them covered with plastic wrap when you’re not working with them. Using your hands, spread 1 tablespoon butter on a large work surface, top one of the balls of dough with another tablespoon of butter and pat out into a flat circle. Put the buttered dough ball on top of the spot of butter on the work surface. Using a flat hand, gently massage the dough in circular motions (as if you’re washing a window) to flatten it out into a very large translucent circle. It’s OK if it tears and is not perfect just try to get it as thin as possible!

4. Top with a sprinkling of the dill and then roll it out into a long, skinny log. Roll the log into a coil and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is a Birthday Treat to Remember

5. Roll out the coils into 7-inch-round circles by placing them between two pieces of wax paper and flattening with a rolling pin. The dough will probably want to stick to the wax paper, but it’s ok if it tears while you’re peeling it off. Alternatively, you can stick the rolled-out coils in the fridge for about 30 minutes, which will make them slightly easier to handle.

6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook one at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Serve hot!

Get to know the cookbook author and blogger behind Girl Meets Farm with 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Molly Yeh.

Watch Girl Meets Farm and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Bread Baking for Beginners: How to Make the Perfect Sourdough Loaf

There’s nothing like the smell of homemade bread in your kitchen, and the taste of a fresh sourdough loaf is always so much better than store-bought. While there are some bakeries that sell traditionally made sourdough bread, it’s not always common to find. Besides, it’s actually easy to make your own bread at home. With a few readily available ingredients and a little bit of time, you can learn the basics of working with sourdough. The slow fermentation process of sourdough makes the bread easier to digest, and tastes absolutely delicious. We know you’ll love it!

Sourdough Bread Recipe: Bread Baking for Beginners

The Perfect Fermented Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 20 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 ½  cups sourdough starter
½  cup water
1 cup spelt flour
½  cup rye flour
½  cup white flour
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 cup white rice flour for sprinkling

Related: Can’t Find Yeast? 12 Yeast-Free Bread Recipes You’ll Love

Directions:
1. Combine the starter with water and the different flours in a large bowl. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated evenly. The dough should be a bit sticky.

How to Make Sourdough Bread

2. Let the mixture sit in the bowl for 30 minutes, covered with a towel. You’ll want the room temperature to be warm, around 25°C (78°F).

3. After 30 minutes, add in the sea salt. You can gently rub the salt into the dough with your fingers.

4. Place the dough on a clean counter or a large cutting board, and lightly flour the surface. Here’s where you’ll do a technique that’s called “slap and fold” for around 5 minutes: Stretch out the dough into a rectangular shape and slap this against the surface.

Related: 15 Things You Can Make With Your Leftover Sourdough Starter

Once the dough is laying flat on the surface, fold the bottom end over into the center. Stretch out the dough again and repeat several more times in the 5 minute period. You’ll find that the dough starts to hold together better and is smoother after this process.

5. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Place it back in the bowl, and cover with a towel for this resting period.

6. After 30 minutes of resting, you’ll do a set of what’s called “stretch and fold.” This is more gentle than the “slap and fold.” Stretch the dough into a rectangular shape and fold the bottom edge into the centre. Then fold the upper edge into the centre.

7. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with the towel to rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat another set of stretch and fold after the 30 minutes.

8. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with the towel to rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat a third set of stretch and fold after the 30 minutes.

9. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with the towel, and this time let it rest for 2 to 2.5 hours. During this time you should see the dough rise, about 30-50%.

Related: Our 16 Carbiest Breakfast Recipes, From Croissants to Pancakes

10. After resting, place the dough on your clean countertop or cutting board again and lightly shape into a round. Experienced sourdough bakers call this the pre-shape step. You can let this rest for 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, line a colander or bowl (or use a proofing basket known as a banneton, if you have one) with a towel and lightly flour it.

11. Gently reshape the dough into a round and then place this into the lined strainer, bowl or banneton. Cover with a towel and place in the fridge overnight for around 14 hours.

12. In the morning, preheat the oven to 450°F, placing a Dutch oven with its lid (without the dough) inside the oven for 1 hour.

13. Take the dough out of the fridge. Place a piece of parchment paper (you’ll want to trim the paper to make sure it fits in the Dutch oven) on top of the dough, and then invert the strainer, bowl or banneton to flip over so the dough is resting on top of the parchment. Use a small sifter to sprinkle white rice flour over top of the dough. Then score the top of the bread, using a razor blade, bread lame or really sharp knife. You can do one simple line down the centre, or you can try doing other more creative scores (simply look online for “how to score sourdough”).

14. Carefully transfer the dough into the heated Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Be careful, since the Dutch oven and lid will be very hot.

15. Bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and turn the heat down to 400°F. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden colour.

16. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 2-3 hours before slicing.

For more must-bake bread inspiration, browse these brilliant banana bread recipes, or try your hand at this no-knead olive za’atar bread.  And don’t toss that sourdough discard! Instead, make these easy five-ingredient sourdough discard crackers.

No-Knead Olive Za’atar Bread That Looks Fancy (But is Super Easy)

Trust us: This no-knead bread recipe will make you feel like a professional baker. The secret? It’s a super simple, fool-proof recipe that you really can’t mess up, unlike other breads out there. While it does require a bit of time to allow the dough to rise, all good things take time, right? After that, you’ll be off to the races. You can flavour this bread however you please, but we find the combination of our favourite Middle Eastern spice, za’atar, with salty kalamata olives is the perfect marriage of flavours. 

We chose spelt flour because that’s our preferred healthy flour of choice, but you can use a combination of whole- and unbleached-wheat flour, or AP flour. When made only with whole-grain, the bread will be dense, so we recommend combining a light or unbleached variety to give it airiness and levity. Now go impress yourself and your friends, and get baking!

Related: How to Make the Perfect Sourdough Loaf (Bread Baking for Beginners)


No-Knead Olive Za’atar Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Proofing Time: 6-18 hours
Bake Time: 75 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups light spelt flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp za’atar
½ tsp dry active yeast
1 ½ cups room temperature water
¼ cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives

Directions:

1. Place dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, including the yeast.

2. Make a small well in the middle of the ingredients, and pour in the water. Mix slowly to incorporate, then fold in the olives. A shaggy dough will begin to form. Do not over-mix. 

Related: Conquer Brunch With This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata and Sourdough Bread

3. Once the dough mixture is shaggy, cover the bowl with a towel and let rest anywhere from 6-18 hours. The longer you wait, the better the dough.

4. After the resting period, the dough will have doubled in size.

5. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place a large oven-safe pot with a tight lid into the oven. We prefer a dutch oven. Leave it there for 30 minutes. 

Related: How to Make Everything Garlic Bread Knots

6. While the dutch oven is heating up, take the dough out of the bowl and place it onto a floured surface. The dough will be very sticky, so be generous with the flour. Begin to roll it into a ball, but remember, this is no-knead, so there is “no need” to start pounding it or folding it. Simply round it into a ball and leave it alone.

7. Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough back into the bowl. Cover it with a towel and let sit for the remainder of the 30 minutes that your pot is heating up.

8. After 30 minutes, remove the pot from the oven (it will be hot so be careful!). Remove the lid and place a piece of parchment paper into the pot and drop the dough in. Put the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes.

9. Once the 30 minutes is up, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes.

10. Then, take the freshly baked bread out of the oven and place it onto a cooling rack. You will be so impressed at how artisanal it looks, not to mention that you actually made it yourself, from scratch!

11. Enjoy with butter, ghee, olive oil or on its own.

Now that you’ve conquered bread from scratch, pair it with one of these healthy Middle Eastern recipes you’ll make on repeat.

The Most Delicious Chocolate Babka with a Healthy Twist for Your Hanukkah Party

Babka is an extremely popular Eastern European Jewish dessert, and for good reason. Imagine eating pools of gooey, delicious chocolate alongside crunchy toasted nuts that have been swirled and baked inside a warm, slightly crusty loaf of bread – that’s babka. Obviously, bread + chocolate = two of the best foods on the planet, so it only makes sense to marry them together in baked form. You can also create babka with raisins or cinnamon (or both), but our preference is for chocolate, so we devised a healthy-ish version of the classic. We swapped out white flour and white sugar for more nutrient-rich ingredients – but you won’t taste the difference, scout’s honour! We recommend making a second loaf to ensure leftovers (this version is healthy enough for breakfast, after all).

Delicious Healthier Chocolate Babka Recipe

Servings: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 1 hour + 6-14 hours rising time
Bake Time: 40-50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

Dough
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 package or 2 tsp instant yeast
½ tsp maple syrup
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, diced into cubes
1 large egg, room temperature
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp sea salt
2 ½ cups spelt flour

Chocolate Walnut Filling
⅓ cup unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup coconut sugar
100 grams dark chocolate 70% or higher (approx. 1 chocolate bar), roughly chopped
¼ cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Syrup
½ cup water
½ cup coconut sugar

Directions:

Dough
1. In a saucepan, gently warm the almond milk, so it’s warm to the touch but not too hot. Take off the heat and add in the yeast and maple syrup. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy and foamy. If it doesn’t foam up, your yeast may have died or the milk was too hot.

2. Next, combine the dough ingredients by hand, or using a food processor or electric mixer with the hook attachment (we chose the food processor). Whichever method you decide, mix together the butter, egg, coconut sugar, vanilla and salt. In the food processor, pulse on low for about two minutes until the butter is creamy.

3. Gradually begin to add the flour, 1 cup to start. Pulse in the foamy milk-yeast mixture along with remaining flour until the dough comes together to form a ball. If the dough isn’t coming together, add more flour, starting with 1 Tbsp at a time. If it’s too dry, add water 1 Tbsp at a time.

4. Knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface or using your electric mixer for about 8-10 minutes, until the ball of dough is smooth and not sticky.

5. Place the kneaded dough in a bowl that’s been lightly oiled or buttered (so the dough doesn’t stick) and cover with a towel or beeswax/plastic wrap. If you can, refrigerate for 6 hours up to overnight. If you don’t have that time, let it rest in the warmest place in your kitchen for an hour, but overnight is best.

Filling
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the walnuts, until the mixture is silky and smooth.

Assembly
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle, approximately 22 x 12 inches. Once rolled out, spread the filling evenly over top, you don’t need to leave a border. Then sprinkle the walnuts all over.

2. Starting from one side, begin rolling the dough into a long log, like you’re rolling up a tortilla or a yoga mat; then stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes (this will help with slicing the dough in the next step).

3. Remove the dough from the freezer and slice the rolled dough log in half lengthwise.

4. Place the two slices right next to each other with the chocolate insides facing up and make an “X” shape (the “X” should be right in the middle). Twist both sides over each other, like a braid or a rope. Place in a bread pan that’s been buttered and covered in parchment paper, you may need to fold it a bit more or squish it into the pan. Cover the babka with a towel and let it rest for 1 – 1 ½ hours so it can rise further.

5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and bake for 40-50 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (unless it punctures a chocolatey area).

6. While it’s baking, prepare the syrup by combining the water and coconut sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 4 minutes and whisk until the coconut sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool completely.

7. When the babka is out of the oven, generously brush the syrup over the top to help lock in moisture and create a glossy finish.

8. Gently remove the babka from the pan, slice and enjoy. Babkas also freeze remarkably well, so you can make several batches for other occasions.

For more festive recipes, try these 15 delectable Hanukkah doughnuts, plus the only dishes you need for a Happy Hanukkah.