Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Larry and I recently celebrated our twelfth anniversary. One of the best things about being with him is the everyday, ordinary, sweet and loving things that make up our life together. These little gestures remind us of how grateful we are to have found one another, later in life.   For years, I pined away for love, and I doubt I’ll ever forget that loneliness, or take for granted the warm comfort of waking up next to him.

Long before we met, both my sweetie and I had the tradition of making waffles for Sunday morning breakfast. It was one of many signs that we belonged together, and we’ve continued enjoying “special breakfast” on Sundays ever since. Waffles still show up often in the rotation, and are our daughter’s absolute favorite.

This recipe has that lovely quality of seeming light and rich at the same time, a result of the sour cream and whipped egg whites, I suppose. No matter why, they’re delicious and sure to please the loved ones who are gathered at your table.

Sour Cream Waffles

adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum

Makes about 12 “five of hearts” waffles.  You’ll get fewer from your Belgian waffle maker, but people will not eat as many.  This recipe feeds 4-6, depending on how much you love waffles.


3 eggs, separated

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk (I use 2%)

3/4 cup sour cream (light is fine)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted


In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until well blended.  Beat in milk, melted butter, vanilla, and sour cream.  Combine flour, salt and other dry ingredients.  Add to egg mixture and mix until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the batter, which will toughen it.  Beat egg whites until stiff, and fold into batter.

Heat waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer’s suggestion.  In my heart-shaped non-stick waffle iron, each waffle takes a heaping 1/3 cup of batter.

Cook until golden brown.  Serve immediately, with butter and maple syrup, or fruit and yogurt, or whatever strikes your fancy.


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Sunshine Breakfast Rolls

We had houseguests over the long Memorial Day weekend. Having good friends visit is so much fun, and I enjoy the excuse to put on a good spread. At the same time, though, I want to be spending my time visiting, not by myself in the kitchen. I’ve learned a few tricks to help me serve some nice meals while also enjoying myself. I emphasize good food that’s not fussy and keep the number of dishes that require last-minute attention to a minimum. I try to make side dishes and dessert ahead of time, and I’ve come to appreciate main dishes that bubble away on the stove or roast in the oven while we all enjoy appetizers and drinks. Of course, it’s always great if Larry grills a nice piece of meat out on the deck for dinner, which can be dressed up with a sauce I’ve put together that afternoon.

The same idea works for a special breakfast.  I like guests to wake up to something special, but I don’t want to have to get up at o’dark hundred to cook it for them! On Sunday, I served these scrumptious sweet rolls, along with fruit salad, scrambled eggs and bacon. I actually made these rolls weeks before, and froze them for occasions like this.  On Saturday night, I pulled out a pan of rolls, and let them thaw on the counter overnight. I also threw together a quick fruit salad and stuck it in the fridge, along with the orange glaze for the rolls.  Sunday morning, all I had to do was set out the fruit salad, scramble up the eggs and bacon, warm the rolls in the microwave for a quick minute, drizzle on the glaze, and sit down to enjoy a great breakfast with good friends.

These rolls are a delightful alternative to the traditional cinnamon roll, made with orange marmalade and studded with diced apricot.  I was inspired by Ree Drummond of the great blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  If you haven’t checked her out, you should.  She’s a superstar in the food blogging world, yet very down-to-earth and endearing.

Sunshine Breakfast Rolls

Makes 20-24 rolls, which can be divided into three 9″ cake or pie pans.

Basic Sweet Dough Ingredients:

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 packages active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

3 eggs, room temperature

5 cups all-purpose flour

grated fresh nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Filling ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted (You might not use all of this, and that’s okay.  There’s always something to do with leftover butter.)

1/2 cup Sweet Orange Marmalade, warmed enough to spread

1 cup brown sugar (I used dark, but you could use light)

1 cup dried apricots, diced


Place milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan.  Heat and stir gently until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  Cool to lukewarm.

dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add lukewarm milk mixture, eggs, spices, and 4 1/2 cups flour.  Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer.  Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 2 minutes.  Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl.  Knead in the mixer for two more minutes.

You must use your senses and your good judgement here.  Flour varies in its moisture content, and measuring it is surprisingly inexact.  Watch the dough and add only enough flour until the dough forms into a cohesive ball and (mostly) cleans the sides of the bowl.  You are looking for a smooth elasticity.  It should not be very sticky, but you should be able to knead it easily.  I find that I use about 5 1/2 cups of flour, total, in this recipe, but you might need more.  Or less. There is no substitute for careful observation and your own good judgement.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover with plastic wrap or damp clean kitchen towel.  Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until dough is doubled in bulk.

After dough has risen, punch down and roll out on lightly floured surface, in a long rectangle (more or less 10″ x 24″), to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Brush with melted butter and warmed sweet marmalade.  Spread brown sugar evenly, but not too thick.  Sprinkle diced apricots over the brown sugar.

Starting along the top (long) edge, roll the dough towards you, stretching it to keep it tight.  Cut the long roll into 20-24 pieces (depending on how thick you like them).  Place them in greased pans.  This recipe will fill two 13″ x 9″ pans (with about 12 rolls apiece), or three 9″ cake pans, with about 7 rolls each.  Alternatively, you can bake them on cookie sheets, separated so that they don’t mush together.  This will give you more crust and less fluffy sides, but this has it’s charms, too.

Cover lightly and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, 30-45 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove from pans.  Spoon Orange Glaze over the rolls immediately prior to serving.

Orange Glaze


3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/8 tsp salt

Zest of one orange

Freshly squeezed juice of same orange


Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add sugar and salt, gradually, beating until smooth.  Add zest and 4 Tbsp juice, dribbling in extra juice until glaze is the consistency you want. (Thicker, if you want to spread it, thinner if you want to drizzle it.)  If you overdo it, and add too much juice, just add a little extra powdered sugar to thicken the glaze up again.

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I’m not a fan of food that tries to be something it’s not.  For example, I never appreciated tofu hot dogs and tofurkey at Thanksgiving.  There are whole strains of vegetarianism that adopt this approach, I know, but they leave me cold.  You can eat wonderful vegetarian foods, delicious and satisfying in every way, without having it pretend to be meat. Similarly, folks I know who have to eat a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance enjoy a great variety of tasty and satisfying meals, without having to bake something that pretends to be bread.

Where this approach fails is when one begins to feel deprived, left out, or conspicuously different.  If you’ve grown up eating something that has all sorts of memories and symbolism attached to it, and now can no longer have it in your diet, it’s normal to feel that as a loss.  Food has emotional and cultural power; it’s not just a bunch of nutrients for our body.

So it is that I found myself searching on the internet for recipes for Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls recently.  I’d been invited to Easter Brunch at our good friends’ home, and I had offered to bring sweet rolls.  Two of the guests at the table were gluten-intolerant, including a two year old who would not take kindly to being told “no, you may not have the sweet, gooey, enticing treat that everyone else is having.”  The older guest would presumably have been more gracious, but nonetheless disappointed.  So, I took it upon myself to find an acceptable alternative.

And what I found is that some very creative and determined people had been working on this problem for some time.  If you must be gluten-free, this is a good time to do it.  There are many more options than there were just a few years ago. One particularly great resource is the website, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, which is where I found this terrific recipe.  Turns out, Gluten Free Girl had been working on finding acceptable cinnamon rolls, making batch after batch, and recently declared these rolls to be “The Cinnamon Rolls of My Dreams.”  Which is pretty high praise, I think.

The dough takes a bit of getting used to — it doesn’t behave quite like a normal gluten-filled dough would.  But her instructions are very clear and helpful, and the rolls turned out to be a convincing facsimile.  Everyone at the table enjoyed them, and no one had to feel deprived.  Which is something to celebrate, any time of year.

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef


1 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast

4 ounces almond flour (1 1/4 cup)

4 ounces corn flour (3/4 cup)

4 ounces sweet rice flour (3/4 cup)

4 ounces potato starch (2/3 cup)

4 ounces tapioca flour (1 cup)

1 tablespoon xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup milk powder (we used goat milk powder in this batch)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

Filling for Cinnamon Rolls

4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick or 8 tablespoons)

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 tabelspoons cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Activating the yeast. Bring 1 cup of the water to 115°. This is a good temperature for yeast — not too hot, not too cold. If you want to be particular about it, you can use a thermometer to measure the temperature. I like to turn on the tap water and run it over my wrist. When the water feels like the temperature of my skin (with no cold splashes or hot pockets), it’s ready. Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Set it aside to rise, about 15 minutes.

Mixing the dry ingredients. Combine the almond flour, corn flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and salt together. Whisk them together in a food processor, or in a stand mixer, or with a whisk. Combining them into one flour will help the final cinnamon rolls to be light, rather than dense and lumpy. Add the brown sugar and milk powder. Stir to combine.

Finishing the dough. Bring the remaining 1/2 cup of water to 110°. If you have a stand mixer, move the dry ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer. (If not, you can make this dough with a hand mixer or by hand.) Turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add the yeasty water, then the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing in between. Mix for a few minutes until the dough comes together. If the dough feels a bit too dry, add the remaining water. (I always seem to need it.) The dough should be soft and a bit shaggy but not soggy. It will NOT be as firm as you expect a gluten dough to be. Instead, you are aiming for pliable and a bit spongy, like a cookie dough.

Yeast doughs will vary in behavior depending on the weather. These measurements are a guide. If you find you need another splash of water to make the dough feel right, then go ahead. If the dough feels too wet (like you need to wipe your hands after touching it), then add a touch more potato starch. Start to trust your instincts.

Letting the dough rise. Move the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and set the bowl in a warm place in the kitchen. Allow it to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough will have become a bit more pliable, a little more like gluten dough, at this point.

Rolling out the dough. Grab a Silpat (or piece of parchment paper) and lay it on a large baking sheet. Move 1/2 of the dough onto the Silpat and cover it entirely with plastic wrap. Slowly, roll out the dough to the edge of the baking sheet. (You’re rolling out its width, first.) I try to make the dough the width of the rolling pin. Next, spin around the baking sheet and roll out the dough lengthwise. You probably won’t take it as far as the edge. Simply roll it out to about 1/2-inch thick. Take off the plastic wrap.

Making the filling. Melt the butter on the stove, on low heat. Put half the brown sugar, cinnamon, agave nectar, golden raisins, and walnuts onto the rolled-out dough. Drizzle 1/4 of the melted butter on top.

Rolling the dough. Here’s the important part: go slowly. Grab the Silpat on the edge farthest from you and pull it up gently. The edge of the dough should start to roll away from the Silpat and toward the dough. If not, then nudge it with your fingers. Make tight rolls, moving slowly and patting the dough gently as you go. Roll the dough, then press it down with the Silpat, then roll some more, with the dough falling toward you, going slowly. If the filling oozes out as you reach the end, that’s okay. It’s a sign you’re going to have good cinnamon rolls.

(Nothing of this should be about being perfect, anyway.)

Cutting the dough into rolls. Go grab your dental floss. Yes, your dental floss. Cut a long piece of it, longer than two hand widths apart. Slide the piece under the log of dough, then bring the two edges together to cross over the top. By doing this, you should be slicing a piece off the log. This makes for lovely, neat pieces, instead of jagged hunks. Make your way down the log of dough with the dental floss. You should end up with about 8 pieces, with ragged end bits as well.

(Sometimes I bake the ragged ends separately, as little cinnamon swirls. Sometimes I just throw them in.)

Preparing to rise the rolls again. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the bottom of a pie pan. Place the sliced rolls into the buttered pan, tightening the rolls if they have begun to unravel. Set them aside to rise.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough and remaining filling.

Allow the rolls to rise for 1 more hour. Gluten-free doughs do not rise as high as gluten doughs do on the second rise, but they do puff out nicely. It’s worth it.

Baking the rolls. Preheat the oven to 350°. When the oven has come to temperature, slide in both pans. Bake until the rolls fill firm to the touch when you press on both sides of one, but still with some give, about 25 minutes.

Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes, then invert them onto a plate.

Frosting the rolls. Put the butter and cream cheese into a food processor. Whirl them up. While that is mixing, pour in the vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar in handfuls, looking at the texture of the frosting between batches. It usually takes about 2 cups for frosting to be thick and rich in our food processor, but you may like a different texture. This is only a guide.

Frost the rolls when they have reached room temperature. 

Go at it.

Makes about 15-16 cinnamon rolls.

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Jewish Apple Cake

I am fortunate to live near a great bakery. Breadworks is such a gem. They bake terrific artisianal breads that have crackly crusts and tangy sourdough flavor. Their display cases tempt me with a dizzying array of tarts and pastries, a dozen flavors of homemade gelato, in addition to flavorful, unusual soups and salads and hot entrees.

A while back, I fell in love with a coffeecake they bake, called Jewish Apple Cake.  It’s a sturdy, moist pound cake with a golden brown crust, studded with slices of apple.  And they give you an unbelievably large hunk of it for less than $3.  Still, as much as I loved it, I wished it had more apples.  And I wondered if I could find a recipe.  Since I’m not Jewish, I asssumed it was something that was passed down from your beloved Bubbe.  I went on a search.

And I learned some interesting things.  First, it’s not some sacred recipe, handed down from generation to generation. It seems to have originated in the 1950’s in the Baltimore/Philadelphia area. And it’s unclear why it’s called “Jewish.” Maybe it’s because it contains no dairy, so it’s pareve for meat or dairy meals. In any case, everyone who’s had it seems to rave about it.

It’s super easy to make, and not expensive (with oil instead of butter).  It is moist, chock full of apples, and keeps incredibly well, or so I hear.  It doesn’t last too long around our house, so we’ve not really pushed it to the limit.  But it sure is versatile! It works as an afternoon treat with coffee or tea, a homey dessert, or a great addition to breakfast or brunch.

Not sure what variety of apple to use? Check out this chart.

Jewish Apple Cake


4 large or 6 small apples

1 tablespoon cinnamon

5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup orange juice

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool completely in the tube pan before inverting it onto a plate and then flipping it onto a cooling rack.

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Bunny Bread

My mother’s family has this fun tradition of making a sweet bread for Easter morning, in the shape of a bunny.  (Well, usually in the shape of a bunny, but some odd branches of the family tree have been known to bake an Easter Chicken or two… )  My mom used to make two, and she’d bring one to the newest neighbor or to the minister or some other lucky person.  I knew I had become an adult woman when I made my own bunny, and invited her to my house for Easter brunch, and she proclaimed it, “the best bunny ever!”  Sadly, she died just six weeks later.

I’ll be baking a bunny again this year, with my daughter’s help, no doubt. It’s a mildly sweet, rich, eggy bread that goes well with eggs and fruit and asparagus or whatever you’re serving.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Wellen’s Easter Bread


3/4 cup milk

1 stick butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. yeast

1/2 cup warm water (~110 degrees F)

4 1/4 – 4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

2 eggs


Scald milk.  Add butter, sugar and salt, and stir until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved.  Cool to room temperature.  In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add cooled butter mixture, eggs and 4 cups flour to bowl on stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Add yeast.  Stir to blend.  Knead 5-8 minutes. Dough should be soft and elastic.  Add just enough flour to handle easily.  Put dough into greased bowl, and cover with damp kitchen towel. Let rise in warm place one hour or until doubled in volume.  Punch down. Form into bunny shape on greased cookie sheet.  My grandmother always put a colored egg on the tail and used jelly beans for eyes and a nose.  Let rise.  Bake at 375 degrees F 20-30 minutes.  Glaze when cool.

Hilde’s Cinnamon Variation:

Roll out the piece of dough to be used for the body of the bunny.  Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins.  Drizzle with melted butter.  Roll up, as you would for a loaf of bread.  Try your best to shape it back into a bunny body shape.  Remember that all sins can be covered with glaze later.


1 lb. powdered sugar

Milk, a few Tablespoons, just enough to thin

1/4 tsp. almond extract

As you can see, this is not exact.  I just put some powdered sugar in a bowl, add milk and stir, adjusting the amount of milk and sugar to get a glaze that will barely pour.  Wait until your bread is completely cooled to glaze.  I’ve learned it’s best to wrap up the bunny without glaze and glaze it on Easter morning, so it doesn’t get messed up when I wrap it.

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As I write this, I am madly packing for a family trip to Seattle and Vancouver.  One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I like to come home to a clean house and refrigerator.  There’s nothing worse than arriving home, tired and hungry (because they don’t feed you anything on planes these days) to a dirty, messy house with spoiled food in the fridge.

So, last night, as I was doing the final load of laundry, I noticed several very ripe bananas in the fruit bowl on the counter.  “Hmmm…,” I think. ” Those are not going to make it.”  And so, because I’m a little bit crazy, I decide to make banana muffins at ten o’clock at night. The good news is that this recipe is tried and true, easy to put together and tastes great.  When you choose to bake the batter into muffins, rather than a loaf, you save a lot of time. An hour after I was originally inspired by those lonely browning bananas, I was putting the cooled muffins away for our breakfast.

Now, if I can just be equally inspired to dust and vacuum and clean the bathrooms, I’ll be in good shape!

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

adapted from Sunset’s Book of Breads


1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup mashed banana (about 3 large or 4 small)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/3 cup hot water

1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts, optional


Mix melted butter and sugar.  Add beaten eggs and mashed banana, blending until almost smooth (I like a few little banana lumps).  In a separate bowl, combine the flours, salt, and soda and mix thoroughly.  Add dry ingredients alternately with the water to the sugar/butter mixture.  Add nuts or chocolate chips, if desired.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, about 1/3 cup of batter per muffin.  (My yield was 15-16 muffins.) Alternately, you may scrape all the batter into a 9×5 inch loaf pan to make one loaf.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes for muffins, or 70 minutes for a loaf.  Check for doneness by lightly touching the tops of the muffins to see if they spring back just a bit.  You don’t want to overbake them!  You can test the loaf with a toothpick or wooden skewer.  It should come out clean when the banana bread is done.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Nutritional info per muffin:

Calories: 192, Fat: 7.7 grams, Cholesterol: 36.5 grams, Protein: 3 grams, Sodium: 173 mg, Carbohydrate 29.1 grams, Fiber 1.6 grams, Sugar: 15 grams, Calcium: 9 mg

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In my experience, kids love to be in the kitchen when you’re cooking.  When you can, it’s great to involve them, even when the “help” is not really so helpful.  At 8, Morgan actually contributes some real assistance from time to time, but mostly she tastes and comments and inspects things as I go along.  I credit her interest in cooking in part to her great preschool teachers at the Boulder Journey School.  There, the kids in her class made two cookbooks, one for bread and one for soup.  The bread cookbook was alphabetical, A is for Apple Bread, B is for Banana Bread, etc.  Not only did the kids participate in reading, measuring, mixing and baking, they also wrote out the recipes and illustrated the cookbook!  Needless to say, it was charming, and made a lovely gift for the parents.  But no doubt the greatest gift of all is a child who has an appreciation for and interest in real cooking. I believe that knowing how to cook brings lifelong happiness.  And that’s a lesson worth learning.

This yeasted bread is lightly sweetened, and studded with chunks of apple.  It makes a great breakfast bread, snack, or even a somewhat virtuous dessert.  I haven’t tried making sandwiches with it, but I bet they’d be awesome.

Makes two 9″ round loaves.


3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

3 packets active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (between 85 and 110 degrees F)

2 apples, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour, plus some extra


Put milk, butter, brown sugar and salt into a small saucepan.  Heat until almost boiling (this is called scalding) and the butter has melted.  Set this mixture aside and let it cool down to room temperature.

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add 1 teaspoon sugar.  After it foams up, add the yeast mixture to the (cooled) milk mixture in a mixing bowl on a stand mixer.  Add chopped apples, eggs, flour and cinnamon.

Knead with a dough hook in a KitchenAid mixer (speed 2) or by hand for 5-8 minutes, adding just enough extra white flour for the dough to come together in a ball and clean the sides of the bowl.

Put dough into another large greased bowl.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and put in a warm (but not hot) place.  Let it rise for one hour, or until it is doubled in size.

Punch down the dough.  Shape it into 2 round domes and put each on a greased pie pan or a cookie sheet. Let it rise 20 minutes more.  (This is a good time to turn on your oven and let it preheat.)

Bake the bread at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  You can check to make sure it’s done by thumping the top.  It should sound hollow, and be golden brown on the top.

Now the hard part: let it cool enough to cut off a slice.  Yum!

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