Cherry Schiacciata

cherry schiacciata It’s cherry season! I never get tired of eating them one by one, but for something different, I took a pound of dark, firm sweet cherries and baked them into a schiacciata.

Wait… a what? Say: skya-CHA-ta. Think: a Tuscan classic (often made with grapes) whose name is Italian for “squashed.” See: a golden flat bread, similar to focaccia, bejeweled with juice-oozing fruit. Taste: the sweetness of cherries, rosemary, and anise against the backdrop of an olive-oil scented bread, wonderful for breakfast or a snack.

The cherry version is a bit more messy than the grape version because pitting the cherries (and for heaven’s sake make the small investment in a cherry pitter) allows their juice to escape into the dough as you are mixing them in, making the dough both wetter and pinker. I did not find this to be especially troublesome, but an alternative to mixing the fruit in would be to sandwich it between two layers of flattened dough.

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YeastSpotting 7.11.14

Loaves and Rolls, First Batch
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Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch
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Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More
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YeastSpotting is a periodic collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.

Time to Make the Sourdough!

NorwichSD (1)

The weather is warming up here in the Northern Hemisphere. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, now would be a great time to start one from scratch. Flour, water, and patience are the only ingredients. You could be baking up a few loaves of Norwich Sourdough in as little as one week from now!

Panettone, In Miniature

mini-panettone-wild-yeast

It’s panettone time again! I bake this rich, light, citrus-and vanilla-scented bread every holiday season. It’s one of my favorite things to make because, although it requires meticulous mixing and handling, a more festive bread never graced a holiday table.

This year I used my go-to recipe, which I detailed in last year’s panettone post. The only difference is that, for the first time, I baked it in these wonderful diminutive molds. Although it was a bit more work, I loved ending up with 20 small breads — each perfect for one, or sharing with a friend.

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Pan de Muerto

pan-muerto-wild-yeast

Pan de muerto is the traditional Mexican sweet bread eaten during Día de los Muertos, observed November 1 and 2 to honor loved ones who have died and celebrate the eternal cycle of life. The signatures of this soft, sweet, orange- or anise-scented bread are the “skull” and “bones” and that decorate its top and sides.

This pan de muerto recipe is richer in butter than one I have made in the past, and zestier with the use of sourdough starter. I present it in honor of mis muertos, who made my life richer and zestier in countless ways:

My father: Charles W. Tenney, Jr., a brilliant mind and playful wit, who encouraged me to dream first and ask questions later.

Charles W Tenney Jr

My maternal grandparents: Mary Strawson, who taught me  to make things with my hands, and Stanton Strawson, who thought hammering together wooden vessels to float in the tide pool was a perfectly wonderful pursuit for little girls.

Mary and Stanton Strawson

My paternal grandparents: Mildred Tenney, who loved nothing more than sitting down at the piano to play a lively tune, and Charles W. Tenney, Sr., who gave me stamps that inspired me to learn how to use an atlas and discover more about the big world out there.

Mildred Charles Tenney

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Help Save SFBI!

I learned much of what I know about baking at the San Francisco Baking Institute, a tremendous resource for both professional and hobby bakers. Founder and president Michel Suas has built something truly special and unique in the artisan baking community, and now the school is in danger of being closed while the state processes SFBI’s application for renewal of its licensure.

– Update 12/28/12: The state of California has agreed to allow SFBI to continue operating while its application is being processed. Thanks to all supporters! –

How can you help? Sign this petition to allow the school to remain open while the red tape is being processed. Send statements of support to . Share with your friends. Please help this remarkable place to continue offering the best artisan baking education in the country!

Here is the full text of a letter I received from the SFBI staff:

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