Category Enriched Dough

Naturally Leavened Bomboloni (Doughnuts)

Our sleep was always broken by a small, three-wheeled cart scurrying down the stone streets with a large megaphone strapped to the roof. Political ramblings poured unrestricted out of that speaker, echoing off buildings and stone-paved streets as it ran down the length of each avenue — faster and louder than I’m sure anyone in our family’s hometown in Southern Italy cared for. Without the desire for air conditioning1, every single house had their window open overnight to let in the cool breeze. And the opportunistic man in the speedy cart was keenly aware of this situation. As a kid traveling to visit family, waking early wasn’t nearly as bad as going to bed early, after all, it just meant you’d get to play sooner. But probably my favorite thing of all, and the reason I secretly hoped that man would drive by even earlier, was it meant heading out early with my brother and dad the local baker for fresh bomboloni.

Back then I didn’t quite appreciate the lives these bakers led. For them to sell fresh baked goods first thing in the morning they likely worked through the night: mixing, folding, shaping dough, and finally baking in the old ovens just as the sun streamed through the city streets. We’d walk in oblivious to all of this, instead focused acutely on which pastry to buy and devour on the walk back. I like to think our enthusiasm for their baked goods somehow validated their long night of hard work. I do know they were there every morning ready to discuss a recent soccer game, wrap the pastry in paper, and send us back on our way.

Naturally leavened bomboloni are essentially sourdough doughnuts (with no sourness). They’re also known as berliner, krapfen, ballen, pączki, donut, and many more names all over the world. It seems everyone at some point figured out that frying enriched dough was incredibly delicious. I’m sure glad they did.

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  1. I still don’t understand this! But then again, I grew up in the US where air conditioning is everywhere without question.

Brioche Hamburger Buns

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a workshop by the one and only Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation (essential reading!). I walked away from the workshop infused with inspiration and a head full of fermentation ideas. Of course it wouldn’t be a hands on workshop if I didn’t leave with a jar of bubbling veggies — a relish of sorts. The fermenting relish we created by hand during the workshop had numerous spicy New Mexico chiles1, onion, corn, tomato, sweet potato (cooked) and garlic added to the mix. After getting my hands dirty with mixing, mashing, and packing I began to ponder what I’d first like to use this spicy concoction on, and then it came to me: hamburgers!

Coincidentally, the upcoming weekend of July 4th has always been a big grilling weekend out here and what better way to celebrate our Nation’s independence than to fire up the grill and throw on some burgers and veggies. I’ve made hamburger buns several times in the past but have yet to formalize a recipe for my favorite version. This formula has evolved over time and is similar to my cinnamon roll recipe in that it’s based on an enriched brioche dough, but with changes to butter, milk and flour types. Continue reading


  1. As is the custom here in New Mexico, if it’s not spicy let’s first make it spicy, then figure out the rest of the details.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough cinnamon rolls: the new every-weekend tradition? I originally began work on this recipe with the intention that these would be a wonderful Christmas morning indulgence, the birth of a new holiday baking custom. But after making them several times for testing I’m convinced they should seriously be a weekend indulgence. Why limit ourselves and declare these only for special events and holidays? Seriously, let’s just make them every weekend.

Cinnamon rolls fit so perfectly with the cold weather. They’re like that warm blanket you left on the radiator, that puffy wool sweater you wear around the house or that cup of hot chocolate that breaks through the cold. Layers of tender dough segregated by ribbons of gooey cinnamon-sugar and topped with a creamy, white sugar glaze — it’s enough to make you completely forget it’s cold outside, or perhaps stop caring about winter altogether.

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