Italian Bread

My dad used to love Italian Bread from Columbus Bakery.  Whenever we go back to Syracuse we like to stop there if we have time and grab some fresh Italian bread.  I checked to see if there was a recipe out there in the internet world for their delicious bread.  Of course, there is not.  I decided on using King Arthur’s website.

I wanted a recipe that included a biga.  Biga is basically a starter.  Per King Arthur’s website; A biga is a pre-fermented dough that the French call pâte fermentée. It’s started with a tiny bit of yeast, and allowed to work for several hours. The advantage of making a biga is that because it ferments for a long time, it adds flavor and character to the bread you make with it.

Here is the recipe I used.  I made the biga the night before.  It is best to set at room temperature for 8-10 hours.  By the way, this bread goes great with my Tomato Sauce with Meatballs, which we also had today in celebration of Dad.

Italian Bread



Biga or Overnight Starter

3/4 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast

2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 3/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water


  1. To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. Combine the starter and the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix, then knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, fairly smooth dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, turning it over and gently deflating it after 45 minutes. If you’re using a bread machine, remove the dough when the cycle is finished, deflate it gently, and let it rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface.  Make into a loaf shape.
  5. Place loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap, and let rise it rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, or until it’s very puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  7. Uncover the loaf. Brush it with the egg white glaze.  You can also top with sesame seeds.  I did not do this step.
  8. Bake the loaf for 25 to 35 minutes; the longer it bakes, the crunchier it’ll be. (I baked for 30 minutes.  That worked out perfect!)
  9. Remove the loaf from the oven and cool it on a rack. For extra crispness, cool it in the turned-off oven with the door propped open. (I did the latter and it worked great.  We like the crust crispier.)
  10. Store the loaf in a paper bag for 24 hours; wrap in plastic and freeze for longer storage. 

I did 2 biga recipes last evening so I could have 2 loaves of bread.  We go through fresh bread in one day.  2 loaves may last 2 days!!  Simple and Delicious.  Enjoy!


Banana Bread

This recipe is from a Betty Crocker cookbook I have had forever. I have baked this bread for as long as I have been with my husband and that is 34 years.  Timeless, huh!!  Our whole family enjoys this recipe.  Quick to make and enjoy with with a cup of coffee, tea or whatever beverage you desire.

As always, Simple and Delicious!

Banana Bread



1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
3-4 medium mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup water
1/2/3 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we don’t usually use nuts)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom of loaf pan.  I use a 9x5x3 inch pan.  I also mix this recipe by hand.  It just seems better that way.
2.  Mix sugar and butter in large bowl.
3.  Stir in eggs until well blended.
4.  Add bananas and water and mix together.
5.  Stir in remaining ingredients until moistened.  (If you like nuts, add now)
6.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes.
7.  Loosen sides of loaf pan and remove from pan.  Cool completely before slicing.



Pitka or Soda Bread-My Favorite

Here is the another Pitka recipe.  I have 2 others on my site.  I would say this is a simple soda bread.  It takes less than an hour from start to finish.   Serve plain, with butter, jams or cheese.

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5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk (keep the egg white.  You will need it to brush on top of bread)
2 cups plain yogurt (NOT non fat)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I use Sunflower oil)


  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour baking pan.  I used my cast iron skillet.  You could use a 9″ round cake pan
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add eggs, egg yolk, oil and yogurt in center of bowl.  Mix with hands.
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2″height)  Place in prepared baking pan.  Brush top with egg whites.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in a towel.  When cooled place in plastic bag to store.


Pitka – Village Style

For Christmas this year Martin requested I make Pitka the way his Grandma used to make it.   (All along, that is what I thought I was doing.)  He calls it “village style”. He had a lengthy conversation with his grandma and she explained the recipe.  I made it the way she told me and it was good but a little chewy. (I should have left in the oven a bit longer. Darn!!)

I ended up making another Pitka on Saturday.  I played around with the ingredients a bit. This one turned out tasty too.  Very similar to soda bread.

I am posting both of the recipes I did because we enjoyed both breads.   By the way, this takes no time at all.  The Pitka I made in prior years took a long time but they were delicious just the same.  I will make my third attempt New Years Eve.  This one will be closer to what Olga told Martin.  Third time is a charm! 😉

Pitka One

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8 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk (set aside the egg white to brush top of Pitka before baking)
3 cups yogurt
2 Tablespoons sunflower oil or vegetable oil


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour baking pan.  I used my cast iron skillet for my first attempt.  That was a good choice.
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add eggs, egg yolk, oil and yogurt in center of bowl.  Mix with hands.  You can add more yogurt until combined.  (I had to put this in my stand up mixer to combine.)
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2-3″ height)  Place in prepared baking pan.  Brush top with egg whites.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes (that would be longer than I did!!)
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in a towel.  When cooled place in plastic bag to store.

Simple and Delicious!

Pitka Two

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4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9″ round cake pan or whatever you want to use.  I could have used my cast iron skillet but wanted to try a different pan
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add yogurt and buttermilk in center of bowl. (You could just use yogurt.  I liked the buttermilk addition.)  Mix with hands. (I was able to mix by hand with this recipe)  You can add more yogurt or buttermilk to combine.  (I did not need to add anymore.)
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2-3″ height) Place in prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake 30-45 minutes
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in towel. When cooled place in plastic bag to store.

When making Pitka for Christmas Eve the Bulgarian tradition is you put a coin and positive notes (“good health”, “happiness”, etc.) in the Pitka.  I cleaned off a quarter and wrapped that in foil.  I put notes on parchment paper and folded and placed in the Pitka.

We enjoyed both breads.  However, Martin missed the egg white brushed on top of Pitka 2.  We did end up eating the entire Pitka 2.  Like I previously mentioned Pitka 1 was not baked all the way through.  Too chewy.  I will post number 3 after New Year’s.

Wishing us all a peaceful 2016.  My New Year’s wish; Let there be peace on this earth please!  Let us all break bread together!!

Mekitsi (Bulgarian Fried Dough)

I make Mekitsa quite often.  I originally posted this recipe in 2011.   I have noticed I get quite a few hits for this recipe.  I pulled it up today and realized that my original draft was difficult to understand.  I am hoping my revisions will make it easier to follow my recipe and enjoy the end result. Martin enjoys Mekitsa stuffed with feta cheese.  He is the one who always asks for these so I make them to his preference.  However, if you sprinkle with confectioners sugar or cinnamon and sugar they are quite delicious too.  Martin is from Sofia, Bulgaria. He moved to Green Bay when he was 11.  I try to make some of his favorite foods that he enjoyed when he lived there with his grandparents. Food can bring back the best memories, wouldn’t you agree??  I know when my house smells like garlic it brings back many holidays spent at my grandparents in Syracuse NY.  You would enter their home into the kitchen.  You would immediately be hit with the aroma of that anticipated delicious meal.  Great memories!!


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1 yeast packet or 2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/8 cup of warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup yogurt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon oil (I use Sunflower oil if I have it.  That is an oil that is use frequently in Bulgarian foods.  You can always use canola oil)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Peanut Oil for frying (you can use canola oil also.  Peanut oil has a nice flavor but is also a great oil to use for high heat.)


1.  Start the yeast in the warm water and set in a warm place for 10 minutes.
2.  In a separate bowl add yogurt and baking soda, stir together (this will bubble) and set aside.

If using food processor:

1.  Place 3 cups of flour in your food processor bowl.
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until a ball forms.  It takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove from food processor.  Make into a ball.
3.  Place dough in lightly oiled bowl.  Let rise 60 minutes.  Ready for frying!!

If you want to mix by hand:

1  Place flour in a bowl. Make a well in center of the flour and add the yogurt, yeast mixture, oil, vinegar, sugar and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, mix well to form a soft dough.
2. Turn out onto a clean, unfloured surface and lightly knead for about 10 minutes.  Put in a glass bowl and let rise for 1 hour.
3.  They are ready to fry or transfer to plastic bag and refrigerate for 1/2 day or overnight.  If you refrigerate and make later, take out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are going to fry.  That will get the dough to room temperature.

Let’s fry them up:

1. Heat peanut (or vegetable) oil.
2. Cut off a golf ball size piece of dough and with moist hands pull the dough into a flat disk about 3-4 inches in diameter. (The shape can be irregular, no need for a perfect circle).
3.  Fry in oil being sure to turn the dough when the first side is brown.  When both sides are brown, remove from oil and place on a paper towel.  For a sweet treat, when cool sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar or powdered sugar.


4.  For a savory treat, I most always  stuff with feta cheese.  To do this you make the disk, put crumbled feta cheese in the middle, december 013december 014fold over and fry in peanut oil.  december 017Get one side brown, the flip over and brown other side.

5.  Place on paper towel to drain. december 018 Watch it when you eat these as the cheese can be very hot in the middle.

Let them cool a little bit before taking that first bite!  Sweet or Savory, these are a delicious treat!


Quick Cheese Bread (with a little Rosemary if you like. We sure do!)

Fall is in the air. Time to bake some bread.  Here is a recipe I found in an America’s Test Kitchen magazine a long time ago. We add rosemary and it makes a great complimentary flavor.  Everyone enjoys this simple and delicious bread!

Quick Cheese Bread

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3 ounces (1 cup) Parmesan cheese, shredded (use the large holes of a box grater to shred this cheese)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon Rosemary, fresh and chopped, optional (it adds an awesome flavor though)


1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese evenly in bottom of pan.
2.  In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, and pepper to combine.  Using rubber spatula, stir in cheddar, breaking up clumps, until cheese is coated with flour.
3.  In medium bowl, whisk together milk, sour cream, butter, and egg.  Using rubber spatula, gently fold milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined (batter will be heavy and thick, don’t overmix).
4.  Scrape batter in prepared pan; spread to sides of pan and level surface with rubber spatula.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly over surface.
5.  Bake until bread is deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes.  Let bread cool in pan on wired rack for 5 minutes.
6.  Remove bread from pan and let cool to room temperature. Take a spatula and go around the pan before removing.  It will release out of bread pan without any problems.  Let cool about and serve.

Cinnamon Buns – Simple and Delicious

I make these buns a few times a year.  I got the recipe from Cooks Country magazine.  I first posted this recipe in 2012, then again in 2013.  I made these last week and brought them into work.  The ladies loved them.  I thought it would be nice to post the recipe again and move it up on my feed for my coworkers (and others) to bake these Simple and Delicious buns!

Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing

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Cinnamon Sugar Filling

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I used light, that was all I had)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Combine sugars, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Add melted butter and stir with fork until mixture resembles wet sand, set aside.

Biscuit Dough

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
6 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush 9 inch nonstick square or circular cake pan with 1 Tablespoon butter.

For the Biscuit Dough
1.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
2.  Whisk buttermilk and 2 Tablespoons melted butter together in small bowl.
3.  Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed.
4.  Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead until smooth.

Next, pat the dough with hands into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle.  Brush dough with 2 Tablespoons melted butter.  Sprinkle evenly with filling, leaving 1/2 inch border around edges of dough. Press filling into dough.  Loosen dough from counter.
5.  Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, into a tight log.  Pinch seam to seal.
6.  Roll log seam side down and cut into 8 equal pieces.
7.  Place 1 roll in center of prepared pan and place remaining rolls around perimeter of pan.  Brush with remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter.
8.  Bake until edges are golden brown, 23-25 minutes.  seafood pizza 004 Use spatula to loosen buns from pan and place on wire rack to cool.  After 5 minutes of cooling, start icing!


2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup confectioners sugar

While buns cool, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set rack with buns over sheet.  Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk together in a non metal bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first-and it really does).  Sift confectioners sugar over (sometimes I sift, sometimes I don’t); whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds.  Spoon glaze evenly over buns and serve immediately.

This may seem like it takes forever but it really doesn’t and these buns are AWESOME!!

NOTE:  I ended up making 2 batches Thursday night.  One for us and one for work.  I prepared them the night before and placed in the refrigerator overnight.  I took a pan out in the morning for work and when I got home from work I baked the other pan for our Breakfast Friday.  When you take out the overnight pan, let it set on counter to get to room temperature (about 45 minutes) and then bake as instructed. I made the icing while they were baking.

Another Simple and Delicious adventure in my kitchen.  ENJOY!!

Apple Bread – Comfort food at it’s best!

I have been baking Apple Bread for a very long time.  I used to love late September, early October when we lived in Syracuse.  In the fall we used to go to the Apple Festival, pick our own apples at the apple orchards, and have a huge selection of the most delicious apples.  That seems like such a long time ago.  Yesterday was a cool, approaching end of the Summer day.  Why not bake apple bread? One of the best comfort foods, that is for sure.  I always bake the 2 loaves.  They never go to waste.  (If you want you could cut the recipe in half and bake 1 loaf.)  We ate half, Eric took half home with him, I brought some to work and will have some left over for the week!

Apple Bread

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August 018

3# bag of apples (10-12 apples)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (We don’t use nuts)

1.  Peel and grate apples. (I grate you could finely chop)
2.  Stir together sugar and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl. (I hand mix.  No need to use mixer with this recipe.)
3.  Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Mix together.  The batter will be stiff.
4.  Add apples and fold into batter.
5.  Divide batter evenly between 2 greased 9×5 bread pans.August 019
6.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
7.  Remove from pans and let cool on wire racks

That is it!  In our family we all love this simple and delicious treat.  Hope you do too!!


Lemon Crumb Muffins

I love the color yellow so anything with lemon works for me.  Especially with a crumb topping and glaze.  This is super simple and absolutely delicious!!

Lemon Crumb Muffins

February 011


2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream (1 cup sour cream and omit buttermilk.  I love the tang of buttermilk.)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter


1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (did I tell you I love lemon!)


Preheat oven 375 degrees

1.  In a small bowl, mix crumb ingredients together until crumbly.  Set aside.
2. Beat eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until eggs are frothy, about 1-2 minutes.  Add sugar and oil, beat until creamy.  Add sour cream and buttermilk, lemon peel, lemon juice and extracts, mix well.
3.  Stir in dry ingredients until blended.
4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Put 1 Tablespoon of crumb mixture on top.  If you make a cake, top with all the crumb mixture.
5.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.
7.  In a small pan over low heat whisk glaze ingredients until lumps from sugar are dissolved. Drizzle over warm muffins.
8.  Eat immediately –  YUM!!  Simple and Delicious!!

Baking Powder Biscuits

We LOVE these biscuits.  I make them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They are super simple and really delicious.  Just bake them.  They take no time at all!!

Baking Powder Biscuits
(compliments Cook’s Country)


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3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (or not unsalted), cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
4 Tablespoons shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (don’t have any buttermilk?  Whisk 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into 1 1/4 cups of milk and let it stand until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Voila, buttermilk!)


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, and shortening in food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in buttermilk until combined.
2. On lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth, 8 to 10 kneads. Pat dough into 9-inch circle, about 3/4 inch thick. Using 3-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out rounds of dough and arrange on prepared baking sheet. (I use a 3 inch wide juice glass) Gather remaining dough, pat into 3/4-inch-thick circle, and cut out remaining biscuits. (I get about 12-14 biscuits)
3. Bake until biscuits begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool.