I love summer. I really, truly do. Being able to spend all day every day outside is a glorious treat. With the added bonus of living so close to a beautiful beach, my kiddos and I picnic outside by the water several times during the week. Even with the fair amount of rain we have endured over the past couple months, I still feel that we have taken full advantage of being outside while the sun is shining.
However, my one major beef with summer is how freakishly hot and humid it gets - and no amount of air conditioning can fix it! I have been suffering from hot flashes all summer long (thank you hormones!) and the humidity makes me feel as if I am about to pass out at times. Thus, turning on the oven has not really been much of an option.
And unfortunately, I have been craving bread. I love to bake it, I love to eat it. Baking bread is my therapy and something that I know will be enjoyed by all members of the family - no complaints from Matthew or Paul when it comes to fresh bread of any kind!
We. Love. Bread.
(Thank goodness I also like to run!)
So, while I am sitting her with the urge to bake up a fresh loaf (and completely unable to do so because it is 80+ degrees), I thought it appropriate to share my five favorite bread recipes to make.
Soft, slightly sweet, and deliciously rich, I have made Challah so many times I am almost certain that the number of loaves would probably circle the moon and back (I may exaggerate just a touch). But really, this is my absolute favorite bread in the world. I like to make stuffed and rolled variations of my same basic recipe (chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, and apple-cinnamon to name a few). You can also play around with the basic flavoring of Challah by adding in vanilla bean, pumpkin puree, lemon/orange zest, raisins, cranberries, or cherries. The possibilities are endless. I have posted Peter Reinhart's recipe on this blog (which is delicious) but I tend to make Smitten Kitchen's version regularly because it uses far fewer eggs.
Similar to Challah, this bread is also soft and sweet but flavored with Cardamom. I find this bread irresistible because of the Cardamom - which is definitely among my favorite spices of all time. You can take this bread to a whole new level by adding an orange glaze (powdered sugar + orange zest + orange juice) and drizzling it all around the baked bread once it has finished cooling. This is always a welcomed addition at the brunch table! I posted a recipe for this back in December as part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group.
3. French Baguettes
These take a bit more time and patience than most other breads, but the end result is totally worth it. People ask me often if these are worth making at home and I always enthusiastically respond: "YES!" They taste so much better and are so darn cheap to make that you have to attempt it at least once. This is a recipe that might be a bit tedious the first time you make it, but once you have the feel for it and know what to look for in the dough, subsequent attempts are a breeze. Plus, there is something very satisfying about making your own baguettes. It makes you feel fancy. I have posted a baguette recipe here.
These are my go-to roll recipe for company (although my beloved Lion House Rolls are an extremely close second). The honey butter topping is what takes these over the top. Soft, dense, sweet, and wonderful when paired with baked ham or turkey, these always make an appearance at Thanksgiving and Christmastime. I have had a few dinner guests devour about 4 of these (and they bake up HUGE) and ignore the main course (perhaps the main course was inedible but that in no way negates the fact that these rolls are delicious!). I can't believe I have not posted this recipe yet considering the number of times I have made these! However, it can be found here - although I recommend doubling the honey butter topping.
5. Buttermilk Sandwich Bread
I try my best to bake our sandwich bread each week. During the summers, I have taken a break from this but hope to pick it up again in the Fall. While I normally oscillate between different recipes (whole wheat, oatmeal, rye, etc), this is the favorite recipe by far. Whenever we have a couple fresh loaves of this bread laying around, Paul suddenly starts to eat a whole lot of toast. Coincidence? Recipe found here.
That's it for me! Head on over to Moxie Wife to check out some less carbohydrate-heavy five favorites posts!