The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Lots of Baking Over the Holidays

CAphyl's picture

Lots of Baking Over the Holidays

I did a lot of baking recently, but wasn't able to post very much as we had family visiting.  They left today to return to the snowy midwest, so I will get back to a normal baking schedule.  We did have a wonderful time over the holidays, and I will miss them.

My niece loves sourdough, so I made quite a bit of bread during their visit.

For Christmas, I made a classic sourdough and cornbread sage stuffing.  You can see the sourdough bread and homemade corn bread I made in the photo above. My niece and I cut up the cornbread for the stuffing and added fresh sage from the garden  (Recipe at bottom).

I have been making lots of the Classic Sourdough lately, so I need to try some different breads for my January bakes.

My niece loves banana bread, so I made some with chocolate and walnuts...gluten free. She loves pizza, too, so I made her a sourdough cheese pizza and one with pepperoni, onion, olives and mushrooms for the rest of us.

My niece also loves baguettes, so I made David's San Joaquin baguettes.  I made progress, but they weren't as good as David's.  I still have a long way to go!  Still learning the best way to work with the high hydration dough, the shaping and scoring.  It was better than my last attempt, so I will keep trying. My niece really liked them, and I made baguette sandwiches for my sister and niece for the plane ride today back to the Midwest. I also gave them a few slices of the banana bread, so they will have a nice meal on the plane.  

The crust and crumb were better than my last attempt, and the gang seemed to enjoy them.  My husband sure liked his sandwich! He is always so neat with the cheese placement.  I tend to put the sandwich together in a more random fashion.

We have had some of the coldest weather in several years here in California (not complaining as so much of the rest of the country has snow and real cold, and our family in the UK had a nasty storm recently).  The colder weather brings beautiful scenes looking out the back of our house.

It is interesting that we had a 4.5 earthquake last night when we were at the movies, but totally missed it.  Did not feel a thing. Glad it did not cause any real damage. I guess that's the price we pay for these beautiful scenes.

I am excited to try a new recipe tonight for Coq au Vin.  Will let you know how it goes.  I am planning to pair it with heirloom carrots from the farmer's market and a really nice Pinot Noir!  Downton Abbey starts its new season tonight, but we got a head start when we saw a number of episodes of this season when it debuted in the UK this fall.  It's been a while, so we may watch it again.  

Looking forward to seeing everyone's January posts.  Best,  Phyllis

Here's the recipe for the sage stuffing (from the New York Times):

Cornbread and Sage Stuffing


1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably organic stone ground

1/2 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon mild honey

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (to taste)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a 9-inch cast iron skillet, a heavy 2-quart baking dish or a heavy 9-inch square baking pan in the oven while you prepare the batter.

2. Place the cornmeal in a bowl, and sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir the mixture with a spoon or whisk to amalgamate. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt (or buttermilk), milk and honey. Whisk the cornmeal mixture into the liquid mixture. Do not overwork the batter.

3. Remove the pan from the oven, and add the butter to the pan. Swirl the pan so that the butter melts quickly before it gets too brown, then quickly whisk the butter into the batter. Brush the sides of the pan with any butter remaining in the pan.

4. Quickly scrape all of the batter into the hot pan, and place in the oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It will be quite brown on the edges. Allow the bread to cool in the pan, or serve warm.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings. This is easily doubled for a larger quantity of stuffing. Bake it in a 3-quart baking dish (it will take about 45 to 50 minutes) or in two 9-inch pans.

Variation: Sage Cornbread

Stir 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon rubbed dried sage into the batter before turning into the pan.

Cornbread and Sage Stuffing

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each olive oil and unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

Salt to taste

4 stalks celery, cut in small dice

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons rubbed sage, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground pepper

A double batch of cornbread (see above), crumbled (you can do this in a food processor fitted with the steel blade)

1/2 cup milk, or as necessary, for moistening

4 tablespoons unsalted butter if baking separately

1. Heat the olive oil (or oil and butter) over medium heat in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about three minutes, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the celery. Cook together for another few minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the garlic, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. Combine well. Taste and adjust salt. Moisten as desired with milk.

2. Stuff the cavity of the turkey, or transfer to a buttered or oiled 2-quart baking dish. Dot with butter. Cover with aluminum foil, and heat through in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Yield: Makes enough stuffing to fill an 18-pound turkey.

Advance preparation: You can make the cornbread several days ahead and the stuffing a day ahead.



emkay's picture

Hi Phyllis, Looks like you were quite busy over the holidays. I cannot wait for Downton Abbey to begin again tonight. Lucky you that you got a head start on series 5 episodes while in the UK. :) Happy New Year and happy baking! 


CAphyl's picture

Mary: Did you happen to catch the baking show on just before Downton?  We saw it when we were in England, and I really loved it.  It is with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, both big baking celebs in the UK.  In fact, my husband got two baking recipe booklets by Paul Hollywood from the Sunday paper in the UK for me a couple of years ago, and that's how I really got started with baking.  I did many of the yeasted recipes, but didn't have sourdough starter, so I made Paul Hollywood's recipe, and that is how I got started with my starter.  If you have a chance, turn it on and watch before Downton.  They don't do a lot of breads (more sweets as that is more interesting for the audience), but it is interesting how the bakers figure out how to approach the challenges. We have seen many of the episodes in the UK, but I did not see the end (we have recorded it in the UK), so I will see it one way or the other.  Take care.  Phyllis

emkay's picture

Hi Phyllis, I did catch that baking show before Downton. Last summer I watched a few episodes of the US version of the same show, so it was nice to see the British version which I assume is the original. Paul Hollywood was also a judge for the US one. It seems like a fun show, but I don't know why they have to bake outside under a tent. :) 

CAphyl's picture

Happy New Year to you as well!  We saw four episodes, I think, so we always get confused as to what we saw when and where. Friends of ours live near Highclere Castle where they film Downton, so we may go to see it next year, if possible. It isn't open all year, so we will have to see if we can visit when it's open. Enjoy the season and happy baking.  Best,  Phyllis

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Your stories show a part of the process that adds so much to the bread baking. Somebody loves something... so you try it and even if it doesn't quite hit the mark for the baker you almost always get a smile and told how wonderful it is. And then we also get to enjoy how nice they look here - thank you.  Happy New Year.

CAphyl's picture

Everyone seemed to enjoy the bread, so that is the satisfaction, isn't it?  The other thing is that we--as bakers--never think it is our best, do we?  We can always do better.  But that makes the process fun as well. I am looking forward to more baking challenges in 2015.  Thanks for your kind comments and Happy New Year to you as well. Best, Phyllis

dabrownman's picture

It all looks so good.  Nothing like homemade SD and Corn Bread mixed stuffing.  We are eating the last of ours from Thanksgiving tonight's leftover dimmer.  Those pizzas look yummy.  SJSD baguettes are worth the long learning curve. Sadly, I am way behind the learning curve it seems though.  The fog and sunset are beautiful too.  Sad the Hliday's are over and the new year awaits .  Yeah!

Happy baking in 2015 Phyllis!

CAphyl's picture

We really enjoyed the cornbread stuffing, but I think I would add a few more things to it next time.  More garlic for sure and perhaps mushrooms.  The pizzas came out well; I still want to try your crust recipe with all the herbs as it looked fantastic.  I am still working David's baguette recipe and probably will be for some time.

I know you have the nice sunsets in winter as well.  It's wonderful to look out the window and see the beautiful colors reflecting on the water here.

Back to baking this week.  Look forward to your posts.  Best,  Phyllis

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

All looks great Phyllis!  Especially the baguettes.  I wish I was this busy baking this holiday season.

Good luck on the Coq au Vin, one of my faves.  Be sure to take the time and brown the skin nicely.  Makes all the difference in the end flavour.  The whole point is to scrape up all those yummy brown bits in the pan with the wine.

Happy baking this year.


CAphyl's picture

The Coq au Vin came out well.  It was a lot of work, but I am sure I will be making it again.  My husband really enjoyed it.  I did brown the skin, but I think I would brown it a touch more in future.  It is wonderful when the wine goes into the pan....the smell in the kitchen was really wonderful.

Happy Baking to you as well.  Best,  Phyllis


Janetcook's picture

Everything looks very tasty - especially the banana bread.  I have a daughter with a penchant for chocolate anything and walnuts too….but, alas, her New Year's resolution is to lighten up on her consumption of chocolate. I am afraid something like your banana bread would be too much of a temptation.  :)

I have family in the Bay area and have heard reports of the rain and cold weather.  They do no complain due to so many years with drought conditions.  I live in Colorado and much prefer the snow we get and have been getting lately.  Makes everything beautiful and the moon shine off of newly fallen snow is something to behold.

Glad no damage with the earthquake.  I do not miss those one bit!  (Are you in No. Calif. or So. Calif?) 

Thanks for a peek into your kitchen.


CAphyl's picture

Janet:  Let me know if you change your mind and want the banana bread recipe.  It is quite good. 

We live in Southern California and feel the drought acutely.  We are north of LA just past the Ventura county line. We did have some rain recently that helped, but we need so much more.  For a girl from the Midwest, it is so different to have warm weather in the winter, but I have sure got used to it!  The hazards we have here are fires--which I know you know well in Colorado--and earthquakes.  We have seen the fires from our house and have experienced a number of earthquakes that didn't do much damage.  Fingers crossed we avoid any issues in the future.  Thanks for your kind comments and look forward to your posts in 2015.  Best,  Phyllis