Category Archives: Easy Baking


For the month of September’s Daring Baker’s Challenge Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread.
I got to learn a lot about Soda Bread, thanks to Meredith. Contrary to the popular belief, soda bread wasn’t invented by Irish bakers. In fact, food historians give credit of first using soda to leaven bread to the Native Americans, who used pearl ash to help their breads rise.

I believe, Over the years, the Irish people have definitely made this delicious treat their own and are most commonly associated with this diverse and delectable food. I have always come across Soda Breads with Raisins, cranberries etc. Most of the breads also have a cross in the top of each loaf. They can be white or brown.

IMG_9227 The bread contains simple ingredients – flour,baking soda, buttermilk and salt. No- eggs,butter,oil, sugar etc. The ingredients come together in matter of minutes and the bread is ready in less than one hour. Soda bread adds a festive flair to every St. Patrick’s Day meal.
IMG_9229 Using Soda Bread, I made two kinds of simple sandwiches – one with mayo, sun-dried tomatoes along with sautéed onion and peppers. The second one was my little ones favorite with almond butter and slices of banana. It turned out to be a little hard the next day, I should have wrapped the loaf in clean kitchen towel while they cool. Meredith says that Soda bread is best if wrapped in aluminum foil after it is completely cool and then given a day to season.

Irish Soda Bread – Daring Baker’s September’15 Challenge

Yield: 12

An easy quick bread!


  • 2½ cups sour milk or buttermilk
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour( I used white wheat flour)
  • 4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. (I do this by hand, but you could use a mixer if you’d prefer.)Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.Pour the buttermilk into the well.Mix the dough until the flour is completely incorporated. (It will be very stiff. I find it helpful to knead the dough by hand a few times while it is still in the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated before moving on to the next step.)Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.

Pat or roll the dough into a circle shape that is approximately 1 inch thick.Using your fingertips or the blunt end of a wooden spoon handle, make several dimples in the top of the dough. (This is very similar to the technique used when making focaccia bread.)

Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated hot oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Reduce the heat to moderately hot 400°F. Pull the baking sheet out from under the dough, so the parchment is directly on the oven rack. Bake for 10 more minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Buttermilk substitutes :

To 2½ cups of milk add 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or white vinegar) let stand for five minutes and then use as normal buttermilk.
2 cups of plain unsweetened yoghurt plus ½ cup of milk
1½ cups of sour cream plus 1 cup of milk

Thanks Meredith for the easy challenge!


sweeha 1
The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.
Sfeeha 3
As I mentioned the filling was pretty easy one to make. We were supposed to mix the cheese, an egg, parsley and pepper. I skipped the egg while making my filling. You can store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator and reheat them a bit when serving. Or freeze them in a single layer in the freezer for up to 3 months. But mine didn’t last for this long, it got wiped the same day!
sheeha 5
This dish will need some planning ahead as the dough needs to rest overnight if possible. But once you start working, it will take a couple of hours from start to finish depending on the amount you are making.

Yafawi Sfeeha

Yield: 15 - 18 pieces

An authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad, crispy on the outside and softer on the inside.


  • To make the dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, scoop flour using cup measure then level
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons powdered milk (you can substitute this with warm milk, you will need less water if using milk)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • About 1 cup warm water for kneading
  • Melted ghee (or olive oil) to stretch the dough (ghee gives a great texture and flavor).
  • Cheese Filling
  • 3-4 cups Nabulsi cheese, crumbled (You can use feta or Halloumi if you like but you need a reasonably hard and salty white cheese)
  • ½ cup Italian parsley, minced (you can use fresh mint or fresh za’tar)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Black pepper
  • Walnut Sweet Filling
  • 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped, (you can use any sort of nut you wish)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ tablespoon orange blossom water
  • ½ tablespoon rose water
  • Sugar Syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ cup water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)


Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil then start adding the warm water until you get a tender and slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 min on a stand-up mixer or 12 min by hand. you might need more depending on where you live and the kind of flour you are using). Form the dough into small golf-ball-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet that is very well greased with ghee or olive oil and pour some more (oil or ghee) over dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for few hours at least (or overnight). Prepare filling in the meantime. After you have your filling ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray (the surface that you will be working on). Take one piece of dough and using your hands, gently start spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible. Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle, then fold the opposite side to the middle as well. Spread your filling in a long line across the dough. Roll like a long tight rope making sure that it is tight enough to ensure no filling escapes. Then taking one end start rolling the rope towards the inside in a spiral shape. Put some more ghee on your baking sheet and place the done Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of your Sfeeha using ghee to keep it nice and moist.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F and bake Sfeeha for 15-20 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a bowl of soup during winter or a salad and Greek yogurt in summer time.

Cheese Filling - Mix ingredients and your cheese filling is ready.

For the Walnut Sweet Filling - Mix all ingredients together and your filling is done.

For serving: Powdered sugar or sugar syrup.

For the Sugar Syrup - Mix sugar and water over high heat in a stainless steel pot. Don’t stir. Once it comes to a boil stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Remove off heat and add orange blossom water if using.

Note: Once you have the sweet ones baked and hot pour some cold sugar syrup over them or let them cool off and dust with powdered sugar. I decided to make mine into poaches instead of spirals.

Yafawi Sfeeha’s were delicious, full of flavor. This challenge was something new to me so I really enjoyed baking them. They make great appetizers too. I have also mentioned the sweet filling recipe above which I am yet to try.

Thanks Manal for a fantastic challenge!



bread 2
For the month of May, Aparna chose an easy bread which is loaded with flavors – An Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread. This bread was originally adapted from 500 Breads by Carol Beckerman.
bread 3
It’s an easy bread to knead,shape and bake.This Bread is a typical American style sweet breakfast bread.
We enjoyed this bread for breakfast as well as evening snack. Apricot, Orange and Cinnamon put together makes a flavorsome bread!

Orange & Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Yield: 2 loaves


  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • The juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 5 tablespoon apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Oil for greasing


Grease two 8”x 4” loaf tins with a little oil. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes till frothy.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and the 3 tablespoon sugar. Add the liquid yeast, the eggs, the juice and the zest of orange and work into a somewhat firm dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, and turn so it is coated all over. Cover and put it in a warm place for about 1 1 /2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Knead for a few minutes until the dough feels firm. Roll into to 6 x 13-inch rectangles.

Spread each rectangle with apricot preserves and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll up each triangle like a jelly roll and place in the loaf tins. Put in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until double in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake the loaves for about 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaves make a hollow sound when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes 2 medium sized loaves.

Thanks Aparna for the recipe!



pear 1
This post is long pending. I wrote this a while back but got to post it only today. It’s been four months in Milwaukee. And we have been exploring all the places and restaurants. We moved here during peak winter. Thanks to the snow storm we were just cooped up in the hotel for the first few days.During our stay in Marriott one of the first few restaurants that we visited was Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery located in the heart of Downtown. We dined on a Friday night. Luckily we didn’t have to wait for long to be seated. From the moment of our arrival we had a great positive experience. The location, overall place and ambience impressed me. Their American food menu offers variety of salad, sandwiches, pizzas and burgers.
They had a few vegetarian options which were pretty good. Low fat and Gluten Free food are also featured on their menu. Not to forget their kids menu is perfect. My little one loved their Mac and cheese. They also had Buttered Noodles, Grilled Cheese and more. When we told the waitress that we just moved in to the city she welcomed us to Wisconsin and suggested us to try their “Cheese Curds”. These little balls like popcorn are truly delicious nuggets of battered and fried cheese. The natural flavor is a “mild fresh dairy” taste. You don’t need any dipping sauce to go with it, they taste great as is. We gobbled up one after the other. Mind you they are quite “ADDICTIVE”!
For the entrée, it had to be the Tacos.The minute I laid eyes on their menu I knew what I wanted . They had Mini Street Tacos with either Fish or Steak. But the waitress was happy to make a vegetarian one for us. The plate was beautiful plated with four mini tacos, sprinkled with some veggies, avocados and cheese with a big squeeze of lime which gave the tanginess that I enjoyed the most.
We usually don’t order desserts unless something intrigues me. I can never say no to “Caramel”. This was one of the best desserts I have had – Salted Caramel and Toffee Mason Jar Dessert. As the name suggest it was served in a mason jar. The bottom was filled with toasted graham crumbs, the next layer was caramel sauce, a layer of cheesecake custard, some heath bar toffee bits and whipped cream. If you have never experienced this combination you should give this a try. This was sinful!!!
We enjoyed our dinner and happily walked up to the hotel. Great start to our life here! I have visited their restaurant in MN as well. But that was way long back. The only thing I remember is my husband enjoyed their Beer and I enjoyed my food☺
So if you are planning to dine in somewhere in downtown, Rock Bottom is a great place to be. You will not be disappointed. Great place, great service!

740 N Plankinton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Unfortunately I don’t seem to find the pictures I took on my phone. So do hop on to their website for more details.
Note – All views expressed here are my own. I haven’t been paid to write this post.

pear 3
Now coming to the dessert. I don’t have a sweet tooth but would love to indulge on desserts occasionally. And when I do, fruit based dessert tops my favorite list. Fruits provide the natural sweetness along with all the nutrient goodness. This dessert is pretty easy to make and consists of only four simple ingredients – Pear, Figs, Almonds and Dates. Dates are wonderfully delicious and are packed with essential nutrients, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Pear 6
They are low on calorie too. Choose fresh, firm fruit with rich flavor. Keep unripe pears in a basket at room temperature or wrap in a paper to ripen as you would do to Papaya/cantaloupe

Healthy Dessert – Baked Pear with Figs,Dates and Almonds


  • 2 pears
  • 24 raw almonds
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 4 figs
  • Coconut oil spray
  • sliced almonds for garnish


Preheat oven at 375F. Coarsely grind the raw almonds,dates and figs. Set aside. Halve the pears, Scoop out and carve the centre creating a hollow. I also cut a silver off the base just to make it sit upright. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spray coconut oil on the cut side of the pears. Place them cut side down and bake for 15- 20 minutes.By now you will see some juice oozing out of the pears and also the pears would have softened and have a golden tinge when you flip.

Remove it from the oven. Flip them over. Divide the dried fruit mixture equally among the pears.

Stuff as much as you want. More is good:) Garnish with sliced almonds. Place them in a freshly lined baking sheet (juice from the pears must have browned the parchment,so its better to use a fresh one). Increase the heat to 400F. Bake the pears for another 15 mins. Serve warm.

Dates+ Figs + Almonds along with milk/almond milk make a fantastic shake. One of my relative passed this recipe to me and ever since then I have been hooked on to it. And that is how I got the idea of making this recipe. Baked Pears with dry fruits – doesn’t get simpler than this. Takes care of all your sweet cravings!


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