At The Snapery Bakery, we decided that, although brioche is delicious, it’s not exactly ideal for burgers, which is what it’s most demanded for. Brioche is too sweet and rich to be slathered with sugary sauces, a fatty patty and a slab of melty cheese. So, of course, we had to develop a bun ideal for burger use.
Hiyaw, an inspired entrepreneur and talented chef, was an early HBK Incubates member and started his Ethiopian catering company in our kitchens. Injera, a spongy flatbread made with teff flour, an ancient gluten-free grain, is served underneath savory Ethiopian dishes. It’s traditionally used as both food and utensil, so you tear injera into pieces and wrap up bites of food in it, eating the whole package with your hands. Injera’s naturally fermented starter gives it a distinctive sour taste that cuts the richness of long-simmered soups and stews such as Doro Wat.
I first tasted m’smen traveling in Morocco. I bought a piece of the tender, buttery, flaky bread drizzled with honey from a street vendor. It was an exquisite culinary experience. So years later, in 2009, when the Arab American Family Support Center referred three strong candidates from Morocco to our training program, my first question was, “Do you know how to make m’smen?” One of the three, Bouchra, taught us how to make the bread and, much to her surprise, it quickly became one of our best sellers. M’smen, also called rghaif or melloui, is often served with fresh mint tea, but we hear from our customers that they use it for all sorts of things, including making tuna sandwiches. You can mix and divide the dough up to 8 hours before shaping, allowing ample time for the gluten to relax.
This is one of my personal favorites, and it’s also the most popular rye bread in our bakeries. It’s a light and tender loaf that stays fresh for a long time. Here, the fabulous, intense taste of dark malt and rye is supplemented by the lovely crunchiness of pumpkin seeds. If you can’t get your hands on cut rye berries, which give the bread a chewy bite, you can just as easily use cracked rye berries.
I prefer homemade naan to the dense and doughy store-bought ones. It’s so easy to whip up; you just need to plan ahead so the dough has time to rise. I use whole-wheat pastry flour to make naan because it contains more fiber than all-purpose flour but less gluten, which helps produce a softer bread. The naan dough is actually a twofer, because you can use it as a base for flatbread pizza. While the choice of toppings is endless, Margherita pizza sprinkled with nigella seeds is my favorite way to eat up all those colorful little tomatoes we grow in our backyard.
A little sweet potato kneaded into yeasted dough makes rolls extra soft and sweet. Down South, we like our bread so tender that it’s sometimes on the edge of underbaked. I affectionately call thoses quishy rolls. These orange-tinted rounds can—and should—be baked all the way through. They’ll end up as supple as any squishy ones.
If bread pudding is mostly bread, it makes sense that the better your bread, the better the pudding. I usually make my bread pudding with challah, the way Luther liked it best. For this book, I decided to mix things up a little. This recipe uses raisin-cinnamon bread for that hint of spice I love. The big secret, as with all bread pudding, is to use stale bread; otherwise, it will disintegrate in the custard.
This chewy, cheesy snack bread is legendary in Wisconsin, and replicating it in our kitchen was no small task. To get a cheese-loaded loaf of bread without bogging it down with grease, we rolled cubes of provolone and Monterey Jack cheese into our eggy dough after its first rise. Paying special attention to the temperature of the ingredients ensures an efficient and effective fermentation time. Incorporating red pepper flakes into both the dough and the topping gives this bread its signature kick.
Since the whole-wheat flour absorbs more water than white, the dough benefits from a longer resting period after the initial mix. The rest for the basic country dough is 25 to 40 minutes; 40 minutes to an hour is good for whole wheat. Some bakers favor an overnight rest for whole grain—a technique worth exploring as long as you wait to add the leaven until you begin to give the dough turns.
In this recipe adds Swiss chard, sausage and tender ricotta cheese to a classic bread pudding recipe. Make this the day ahead and pop it in the oven when you get home at day’s end.