Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots | Wok Wednesdays

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

This Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots recipe is the simplest stir-fry from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge so far.

The ingredient list is short. Flank steak. Soy sauce. Cornstarch. Salt. Carrots. Onions. Matouk's Calypso Sauce.

Matouk's Calypson Sauce? Oops. I should have looked at the ingredient list about a week ago so I could have hunted down or ordered this sauce.

The ingredients list for Matouk's Calypso Sauce includes pickled Scotch bonnet, prepared mustard, cane sugar, onion, garlic, and celery seed. Sriracha has a similar ingredient list, minus the mustard. And a different chile. 

I ended up adding a bit of mustard to Sriracha and crossed my fingers. I have no idea if what I concocted is even close to Matouk's Calypso Sauce, but this stir-fry was amazing either way.

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

The flank steak pieces are marinated for a very short time in the soy, cornstarch, and some of the salt. The carrots are julienned and then stir fried with the onions (I used a sweet onion). The steak is then seared in the hot wok, the vegetables are added back in, and everything is tossed with the hot sauce.

This was so easy and so delicious. I had leftovers for lunch the next day and it was still amazing.

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

Participants in Wok Wednesdays have agreed not to post the actual recipe. Instead, we encourage you to check out the award winning book, Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young. This recipe is on page 78. It's perfect for steak lovers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread for #BreadBakers

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Breads may look like muffins, but they are are actual sourdough breads baked in a muffin tin.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

These are filled with raisins soaked with ground fennel seeds, shaped, and then rolled in cornmeal. The flavor combination is exceptional.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

The concept of pocket breads comes from Josey Baker, a bakery owner and the author of a new book, Josey Baker Bread. When he was first starting his business, he developed these small loaves for potential customers who didn't want or need to buy a large loaf of bread. His book has several pocket bread flavors, including dark chocolate cherry, chocolate peanut butter (with mini peanut butter cups!), and cheddar chive.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

The theme for this month's Bread Bakers event is grapes, which could mean grapes, wine, raisins, or anything else grape. I originally intended to bake a bread with fresh grapes, but when I found these pocket breads, I had to try them. This is not your typical raisin bread. The sourdough aroma and flavor is perfect with the cornmeal, fennel seeds, and the golden raisins. And they are so cute, right?

One of my favorite ways to serve these is toasted with melted Havarti cheese. So good.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread

Makes 12 Pocket Breads


Raisin Soaker

2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 C (70 g) golden raisins
1/4 C (40 g) cornmeal
1/2 C hot water, about 100 degrees F

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for about 8 to 12 hours. Drain before using. 

Sourdough Pre-Ferment

15 g (1T) active sourdough starter
1/2 C cool water
105 g (3/4 C) whole wheat flour

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for about 8 to 12 hours, until bubbly. 

Final Dough

All of the pre-ferment
1 1/4 C lukewarm water
450 g (3 C) bread flour
12 g (2 tsp) fine sea salt (or regular non-iodized)
All of the raisin soaker, drained
About 3/4 C cornmeal for coating the pocket breads


  1. Scrape the pre-ferment into a large bowl.
  2. Add the water, bread flour, salt, and raisin soaker, and mix with a wet hand until combined. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  4. Do four "stretch and folds" of the dough (check out this post for a video of the stretch and fold method), every 30 minutes. 
  5. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 3 hours. 
  6. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.
  7. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, about 100 grams each. 
  8. Form each into a ball (the dough will be sticky so flour your work surface and wet your hands). 
  9. Lightly spray the balls with water, roll the formed balls into the cornmeal, and place them, seam side down, into the cavities of the muffin tin. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 3 hours. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 
  11. Slash the tops of the breads, and spray the tops with water.
  12. Bake the rolls for 5 minutes, open the door of the oven, and spray the rolls once more with water and close the door. 
  13. Bake for another 25 minutes, until nicely browned.
  14. Remove the rolls from the oven and turn them out onto a cooling rack. 


I'm so excited about this month's Bread Bakers theme, which is all things grapes. Check out the amazing grape-themed breads the #BreadBakers made this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This cinnamon apple twist bread has these things going for it:

  1. It's beautiful.
  2. It's delicious.
  3. It's impressive.
  4. It's easy.
  5. Your friends will admire you. 
What more do you need?

The dough is rolled up like cinnamon rolls, but instead of slicing the rolled up dough cross wise like the rolls, the dough is sliced lengthwise, and then braided, cut side up, to create this gorgeous swirly bread.

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These loaves would be perfect for breakfast or brunch. You could also leave off the glaze if you want something a bit less sweet. I think it would be awesome as a hostess gift with the glaze on the side.

The apple filling calls for Intant ClearJel, which is a thickener that is great to use with fruit pie fillings. I happened to have it on hand (of course I did, because you never know, right?). f you don't have it, you can use flour, corn starch, or tapioca.

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread


13 ounces pastry blend flour (or a blend of 65% all purpose and 35% cake flour)
1 1/2 ounces potato flour or potato flakes
3 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 T slightly softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 C milk


1/2 C sugar
3 T Instant ClearJel or flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C peeled and grated apple (about two large crisp apples), I used Braeburn
1 T lemon juice


2 ounces powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp boiled cider (optional)
1 T apple juice



  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the dry ingredients with a whisk. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix for about a minute until the dry ingredients are wet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  3. Knead the dough with the dough hook for 10 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky, so add a bit of water if the dough is too dry. 
  4. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and spray the top with spray oil. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 90 to 120 minutes.


  1. Mix the cinnamon, ClearJel or flour, and sugar in a medium bowl. 
  2. Mix the apples and lemon in a small bowl. Toss them with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Cover and set aside.

Assemble the Loaves

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it down gently to deflate it. 
  2. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each into 10 by 12 inch rectangles. 
  3. Spread the filling over each piece and roll, starting with the 12 inch side, into logs. 
  4. Cut each log in half lengthwise, and keeping the cut side up, twist the two pieces like a braid, and press the ends together and tuck them under (see the loaf above). Repeat with the second log. 
  5. Place the twists onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled, about an hour or two. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about an hour before glazing. 
  7. Using a fork, drizzle the bread with the glaze. 
This recipe was slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour and is the recipe that the bakers of the Avid Bakers Challenge are making for October. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

I approached these Apricot Pastries with caution. I did not want to get my hopes up because this recipe involved making my own puff pastry.

Yes, the recipe says "1/2 recipe Puff Pastry.. or 1 1/4 pounds store-bought puff pastry." I went for the challenge of making my own puff pastry.

Fortunately, this dough is totally flexible, in that you can make it over a couple of days and refrigerate it between folds. It got easier as I went along, probably because the butter finally got with the program.

homemade puff pastry
The final dough after six "turns."

I've had some experience with croissant dough, and my favorite recipe involves mixing the butter with a bit of flour and shaping it into a block. In the case of this dough, you use butter straight from the refrigerator without mixing. The butter was a bit resistant to forming a cohesive block. I also think I made my butter block too thick. As I mentioned, it finally got with the program and cooperated.

Fortunately, I watched this video in advance of attempting the dough, and was comforted by the fact that Michel Richard, an amazing pastry chef, had butter leaking out of his dough at first. It's not just me. This dough is pretty forgiving.

I made the butter block and dough in the evening, and then proceeded to do the laminating process the next day. After the final fold, I refrigerated the dough overnight, until I had time to make these pastries. I rolled out the rest of the dough, wrapped it, and put it in the freezer. I've got big plans for this pastry. I am one proud baker.

Puff pastry. Check.

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

These apricot pastries are delicious. I cut off a piece of one to try and then managed to inhale the whole thing. The pastry pieces are rolled in sugar, filled with a pastry cream that is pretty easy to make, and then topped with poached apricot halves. Finally, they are glazed with melted apricot jam.

A friend suggested that I use a very sharp knife rather than a cookie cutter so that the edges will separate and get even more puffy. I was just happy to see them puff up as a sat on a stool staring at the oven window as they baked. Yes, I do that a lot.

Puff Pastry Recipe


1 pound pastry flour (alternatively, you can use a mixture of all purpose flour and pastry flour)
1 T salt
1 1/4 C ice water
1 pound very cold unsalted butter


  1. Blend the dry ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor. 
  2. Add the water all at once, and mix with the blade until the dough forms a ball. 
  3. Form the dough into a ball, cut the top of it with a sharp knife in a tic tac toe pattern, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it while you make the butter block. 
  4. Place the cold butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound it into to a square that is one inch thick. Place it into the refrigerator if it gets too soft. 
  5. Roll the dough into a 10-inch square on a floured surface. It is fine to keep dusting the dough lightly with flour to keep it from sticking. 
  6. Place the butter block in the middle of the dough so that the corners of the dough can be folded over the butter like a square envelope and meet in the middle. You might have to stretch it a bit, so be sure to stretch it evenly throughout. At this point, I refrigerated the dough for about 30 minutes. 
  7. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough lengthwise into a 24 inch long rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, turn it so the closed fold is on the left and repeat the rolling and folding process five more times. You should wrap the dough and refrigerate it in between turns if the it gets too warm or the butter begins to leak out. You can even chill it overnight. I kept track of the number of turns by making tick marks in the cookbook. 
  8. The dough will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator and up to 30 days in the freezer. To freeze it, roll it to about 1/2 inch thick, wrap it, and freeze it. I cut mine into quarters first before rolling it out for the freezer. 

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries


1/2 of the puff pastry
about 2 cups of sugar
About a cup and a quarter of your favorite recipe of pastry cream
16 apricot halves, either poached or canned
1/2 C apricot jam mixed with 2 T water, heated over the stove or in a microwave


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. 
  3. With a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut the pastry into 8 circles. 
  4. Pour some sugar on the work surface and roll the pastry with a rolling pin over the sugar to coat one side and elongate the dough. Don't roll over the ends. They should be slightly thicker than the middle. 
  5. Place the pastry, sugar side up, on the baking sheet. 
  6. Place a heaping tablespoon of pastry cream in the center and add the two apricot halves, cut side down. 
  7. Bake the pastries for about 35 minutes. Immediately remove them from the pan to a wire rack. 
  8. Brush the top of of the pastry and apricots with the melted jam. 
  9. They can be served warm or at room temperature. They are the best the same day they are baked. 
This recipe can be found in the wonderful cookbook Baking with Julia written by Dorie Greenspan

The puff pastry recipe can also be found here, and the recipe for the pastries (including pastry cream) can be found here

I am baking along with the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group. To see how other bakers fared with this recipe, check out these links on the Tuesdays with Dorie page

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

This apple and ham pizza absolutely made my day.  The combination of the apple, ham, and Havarti cheese is the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and the apples hold up well during the hot bake.

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

We had this pizza for dinner with a salad, and I had the lone leftover piece for breakfast the next day. I immediately made it again. So good.

The crust for this pizza is really versatile and easy to work with. The dough is mixed a day in advance and magically rises overnight. The dough recipe yields five pizzas. You refrigerate the dough after shaping it into dough balls, and you can make pizza over two to three days. Woo hoo! I used the rest of the dough to work on my pizza skills, including baking pizza on the barbecue. It was awesome. (I'm pretty sure I drove my friends on Instagram crazy with all of the pizza posts).

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

The outer crust gets all airy and bubbly, and the pizza is crispy throughout.

Will I make this again? Oh yeah.

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

Apple and Ham Pizza

Overnight Pizza Dough

1000 grams (7 3/4 C) white flour
3 C water at 90 to 95 degrees F
20 g (1 T + 3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
.8 g (scant 1/4 tsp) instant yeast

  1. Hydrate the yeast in a small amount of the measured and heated water in a small container. 
  2. In a very large bowl or 12 quart dough rising bucket, combine the flour and the rest of the water. Mix by hand until all of the flour is wet, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  3. Scatter the salt over the top of the dough, and add the yeast mixture. Wipe out the container with a piece of the dough to get all of the dissolved yeast. 
  4. Mix the dough by hand by pinching it and folding it alternatively, until the salt and yeast is fully incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
  5. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough twice during the first hour (once after 30 minutes, and once after 60 minutes). 
  6. After the last fold, spray the top of the dough with spray oil, cover the dough, and let it rise for about 12 hours at room temperature. 
  7. When the dough is ready, gently ease it onto a floured work surface. Cut it into 5 equal pieces, about 340 grams each. 
  8. Shape the pieces into balls and place them onto a floured baking sheet. Spray the tops with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days. 

Apple and Ham Pizza

1 T olive oil plus more for the baking sheet
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
1 T fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 pizza dough ball
8 ounces grated Havarti cheese
1 thinly sliced crisp apple, peel on (I used Honeycrisp, but Braeburn would be great too)
4 ounces thinly sliced ham

  1. Place a pizza stone in the middle of your oven and preheat it to its highest temperature.
  2. Rub 1 T olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Toss the red onion with the thyme, 1 T olive oil, and salt and pepper. 
  4. Place the pizza dough onto a floured work surface and press it down to form a disk. Flip it over, and continue to press it to stretch the dough. Pick it up, and stretch it with your hands. 
  5. Place it over your hands, and work it around with your knuckles to continue to stretch the dough. 
  6. Place the dough onto the oiled baking sheet. Press it into the oil to stretch to to about a 10 inch round. Take the cheese, and press it into the dough. As you add the cheese, the dough should eventually stretch into a 12 inch round. 
  7. Add the onion mixture, top with the apples and the ham. 
  8. Place the baking sheet on top of the baking stone and bake for about 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and continue baking for about 15 to 20 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown. 
The pizza dough recipe was adapted from Ken Forkish's book, Flour, Salt, Water, Yeast. The book is amazing. Trust me. You can also find the recipe here. The topping combination was inspired by the October 2014 issue of Food Network Magazine. 

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of girlichef. It also runs smoothly with the help of our bakers. Our host this month is Heather from girlichef, and our theme is Apples. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves Pear Breads!

  #TwelveLoaves: Apples
If you’d like to add your bread to this month's #TwelveLoaves collection, here’s what you need to do:
  1. Post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, making sure to mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post (this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone's posts).
  2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of this blog. The bread MUST meet the Twelve Loaves theme (October = Apples). 
  3. Share your Twelve Loaves bread (must be baked and posted this month) on your blog by October 31, 2014.
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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Malaysian-Style Stir-Fried Squid and Pineapple | Wok Wednesdays

This Malaysian-Style Stir-Fried Squid and Pineapple dish was created by a chef who grew up with the plain Chinese Hakka style cooking but later learned to love the more spicy and tropical Malaysian style of cuisine. The creator of this recipe, Mei Chau, grew up in Malaysia after her family emigrated from China. She was in charge of making meals for her siblings. While she cooked in the plain Hakka style, she learned to love the spicy Malaysian style food when the family would go out to eat. She eventually moved to New York, where she started her own restaurant, blending the flavors of China, Malaysia, and France.

This dish is another amazing illustration of the Chinese diaspora from Grace Young's book Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

The most difficult part of this recipe for this western girl was figuring out what squid to buy. I hit a Korean market first, and saw an amazing array of squid... huge squids... way bigger than called for in the recipe. I was ready to hit my Chinese market, but then decided to stop by a local fish restaurant that has an attached fish market. The price might have been higher, but they cleaned it, chopped it, and answered all of my questions.

The ingredients for this dish include squid, garlic, shallots, pineapple, tomatoes, hot sauce, sugar, salt, and scallions. That's it!

The recipe calls for just 8 ounces of squid, because more than that would cause it to create too much liquid and create a braise. I placed the pieces of squid between paper towels and refrigerated them to make sure they were dry enough for the stir-fry.

The other question mark is the hot sauce. Mei Chau likes to use Lingham's Chilli Sauce, which was not readily available to me. The book suggests Tabasco and sugar as a substitute. I subbed Sriracha sauce and was really happy with the results.

I am participating in Wok Wednesdays. We are stir-frying our way through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young. As participants, we don't post the recipe, but encourage you to get the book and support the author. It's worth it. I promise.

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne is quite magical. A couple of pieces of the dough are twisted together, placed in the bottom of the banneton or brotform, and the shaped loaf is place on top of it. After the loaf is inverted and placed in the oven, the twisted dough "cordon" (cord) creates a natural place for the bread to split open without the need for slashing.

Its origin comes from the followers of Francis of Assisi, and the name comes from the cordeliers, the men who tied their humble robes with cords as a symbol of poverty (the Bread Lab).

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne from Karen's Kitchen Stories

With most crusty breads, you need to choose where you'd like the loaf to split open where baking, and to do that, you slash the unbaked loaf with a razor or sharp knife just prior to baking it. Alternatively, you can just let the loaf decide for itself where to split open (which can sometimes result in side blowouts).

In the case of this bread, the cord causes the bread to split on either side of it. Why does it do that? I'm not sure why, but check out this video from BreadLab. It's pretty magical.

The original recipe calls for "high extraction" flour. To create this flour, you sift whole wheat flour to remove much of the bran. If you don't have the patience for that, you can substitute a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flour.

To create a steam environment, I baked this on a baking stone and covered it for the first 20 minutes with an upside down disposable foil baking pan sprayed with water. This was the first time I tried this method, and I was really happy with the results.

My friend Ralph from The Netherlands introduced this bread to the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook group. The bread is soft and flavorful, and makes amazing sandwiches and toast. It's perfect for hot corned beef or pastrami.

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne

Adapted from Bread Lab

Flour Mix

300 grams bread flour
125 grams high extraction flour, or a 50/50 mix of white and whole wheat flour
75 grams rye flour

Place all of the flour mix ingredients together in a bowl and whisk to combine.


150 grams 100% hydration sourdough starter
100 grams of the Flour Mix
90 grams of lukewarm water
20 grams of buttermilk 
1 1/2 g instant yeast

Mix all of the poolish ingredients together, cover, and let rest for about 90 minutes, until bubbly and doubled in size. 

Final Dough

The Poolish
40 grams buttermilk
170 grams water
400 grams of the Four Mix
12.8 grams salt

  1. Add the buttermilk and water to the poolish and stir. 
  2. Pour the ingredients into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the flour. Mix into a rough dough with your hand or a large spoon. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes. 
  3. Add the salt to the dough and and mix it in by hand or in a stand mixer for about 3 minutes. Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes. 
  4. Knead the dough again for about a minute with the mixer, or two minutes by hand. 
  5. Form the dough into a ball, cover it, and let rise until doubled, about an hour. 
  6. Place a baking stone in the lower third of your oven, and preheat it to 475 degrees F.
  7. Remove about 75 grams of the dough, shape it into a ball, and set it aside.
  8. Shape the rest of the dough into a batard or boule. 
  9. Dust your proofing basket with lots of flour (Ralph recommends rye flour). 
  10. Divide the small ball of dough into two pieces and roll them out to thin strands that will run the entire length of your basket. Twist the two pieces around each other to look like a rope or cord. Place the cord along the bottom of the basket with the ends draped over the sides. 
  11. Place the loaf, seam side up, on top of the cord and fold the ends of the cord over the dough. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 60 to 120 minutes. You will know when it is ready when you poke it with a floured finger. If it springs back immediately, it still needs some time. If it comes back slowly, it is ready. If it doesn't come back at all, you have over proofed the dough (bake it anyway, but handle gently so it doesn't deflate). 
  12. Place the dough onto a parchment lined peel and place it on the baking stone. Cover with the foil baking pan or a large metal bowl. Alternatively, you can set up your oven with a steam pan and add a cup of hot water right after loading the bread. 
  13. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes at 475 degrees F, remove the cover, and reduce the oven temperature to 410 degrees F, and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is well browned and the interior of the bread reaches at least 200 to 205 degrees F. 
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