In the process of using up an eggplant from our CSA Share yesterday (Google it – there are a million great sounding recipes for roasted eggplant dips), I discovered we had no actual bread in the house. Wheat thins didn’t seem like the appropriate vehicle for a Middle-eastern Dip, so I began looking at exactly what the skill level for Pita Bread might be. Whatever that skill level is, I can tell you that homemade Pita bread is worth the effort. Warm, soft, and with a great homemade bread aroma filling our home, I’m pretty sure we won’t be buying that pre-sealed and often dried out version from our local grocer.
This recipe comes courtesy of the New York Times and was developed by David Tanis. It is delicious (did I already say that?), and I discovered that by sealing the dough balls in plastic and storing the in refrigerator, I could make fresh-from-the-oven Pita bread the very next day. One suggestion that I found made a huge difference: up the oven temperature to 500 degrees F and set a pizza stone in the oven. Heat that for about 20-30 minutes before baking.
Make sponge: Put 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup all purpose flour and whisk together. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling – about 15 minutes.
Add salt, olive oil and nearly all remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 cup). With a wooden spoon, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.
Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes until smooth. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Try not to add too much of the reserved flour; the dough should be soft and a bit moist (can be refrigerated at this point for several hours of overnight – bring dough back to room temp, knead into a ball and proceed with recipe).
Clean the mixing bowl and put dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then cover with a town. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place. Leave dough until it has doubled in size – about 1 hour.
Heat over to 475 degrees F (I upped mine – see note). On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy duty baking sheet, large cast-iron pan or ceramic baking tile. Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal-sized pieces. Form each piece into a little ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Remove 1 ball (keep others covered until using) and press into a flat disk with rolling pin. Roll to a 6-inch circle, then to an 8-inch diameter about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed.
Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot baking sheet. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Turn disk over with tongs or spatula and bake 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a napkin-lined basket and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough ball.
Prepare the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray (or just oil it). Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Place eggs, sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and airy (about 3 minutes), stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Stir in the squash, lemon zest and juice. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined (about 45 seconds). Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven until a wood pick inserted in the center comes out clean (50-55 minutes). Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack and cool for 1 hour.
Prepare the glaze. Whisk together all ingredients into a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.
Because we’ve received a really (really, really) large amount of zucchini, I’ve developed a new appreciation for gardeners and the creative recipes so many people share to help use up zucchini crops. We’ve had some delicious muffins (thanks Joanne Chang-Meyers) and today, we baked this delicious and moist Vegan Zucchini Bread recipe from the website Nora Cooks.
1/4 cup canola oil (also suggested were coconut oil, vegan butter or applesauce for those wanting to bake oil-free version)
1/3 cup almond milk
1 TBSP ground flaxseeds
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 cups white or whole wheat all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
OPTIONAL: 1 cup dairy free chocolate chips or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 9×5 loaf pan with parchment or spray with oil.
In a large bowl, add the oil, almond milk, ground flaxseeds, brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk well until combined.
Lightly blow the grated zucchini with paper towels and add to the bowl. Stir the zucchini into the wet ingredients.
Now add the flour to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon on top of the flour. Stir gently until just combined, being carful not to over-mix or the loaf will be too dense.
Fold in walnuts or chocolate chips if using. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the loaf to cool on a rack. Slice and enjoy.
Can also be made into muffins (12). Oil a muffin pan, spoon batter nearly to the top of each muffin cup and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then overabundance is the brainchild of resourcefulness.
This week our CSA share was filled with zucchini squash. In an effort to not waste a single thing, I turned to using zucchini in baked goods. After all, isn’t that what everyone does with an over-abundance of zucchini?
Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery shares a killer Good Morning muffin in the first Flour Bakery cookbook. While similar to the morning glory muffins, this one is chock full of fruits, nuts, and…. zucchini.
Good Morning Muffins
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup hot water
1 small zucchini, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped and toasted
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with non-stick spray or line with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, stir together the wheat bran and hot water until the bran is completely moistened. Add zucchini, raisins, pecans, coconut, and apple. Stir until well mixed.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture thickens and lightens. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil and then the vanilla. Add it slowly so as not to deflate the air you have just beaten into the eggs (should take about a minute). Remove from the stand mixer.
In medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well mixed. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold carefully just until the dry and wet mixtures are well combined. Then add the bran mixture and fold again just until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing).
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.
The muffins taste best the day you bake them, but then can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than one day, refresh them in a 300 degree F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from freezer in a 300 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes.
Up until about a week ago, we have been without an oven for about two months. As you can imagine, that put quite a damper on baking during our self-quarantine; no home-baked bread, and no morning baked treats. Happily, we were able to resolve some installation issues in our kitchen and now have a working stove and oven at the ready.
One of my favorite breakfast pastries is a scone, so it seemed like the celebration of a return to baking should include a batch of them. This is my current favorite recipe, a guide really, for scone-making. It includes some really helpful techniques that result in flaky, buttery scones and can be adapted for different add-ins and flavors of sweet scones.
Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter using a box grater. Add it to the flour mixture and combine with a pastry cutter (2 forkes, fingers) until the mixture comes together in pea-sized crumbs. Place this mixture in the refrigerator or freezer as you mix the wet ingredients together.
Whisk 1/2 cup cream/buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the flour mixture, add the add-ins of choice, then mix together until everything appears moistened.
To make triangle scones pour onto counter and, with floured hands, work dough into a ball as best you can (dough will be sticky). If too sticky, add a little more flour, if too dry, ad 1-2 more Tbsp cream. Press into an 8-inch disk and cut into 8 wedges.
To make 10-12 drop scones keep mixing dough in the bowl until it comes together. Drop scones, about a 1/4 cup of dough each, 3 inches apart on a (parchment) lined baking sheet.
Brush with milk.
Meanwhile preheat over to 400 degrees F. Drop scones or place triangle cut scones on parchment lined sheet and refrigerate while oven preheats.
Bake for 18-26 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on the top. (Larger scones will take 25 minutes or so). Remove from oven and cool a few minutes before topping (optional).
Leftovers will keep at room temperature for 2 day or in the refrigerator for 5 days.
While we are all sheltering in place I can imagine that people are indulging in some comfort foods. This is a recipe that helped me not only use the blueberries I bought, but use up the yogurt we had in the fridge as well. Also, it satisfied a craving I had for something sweet. As expected, it was delicious! Ellie Krieger, who hosts Healthy Appetite on the Food Network and Good Food on PBS, always finds a way to make things more healthy – and a little more guilt-free. Follow Ellie Kreiger on her website here.
1 c whole wheat pastry or regular whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP granuated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 TBSP butter (room temperature)
2 TBSP canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c plain nonfat yogurt
1 c fresh blueberries (or used frozen & thaw first)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray (I used two mini loaf pans in place of 1 larger pan).
Whisk together the AP flour and whole-wheat flour, the baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together granulated sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. In a large bowl (mixer), beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. (this needs to be smooth and lump-free). Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and the yogurt.
Add flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring until just combined.
Spread half of the batter into the prepared pans (or if using 2 mini pans, spread 1/4 of the batter in each of the mini pans). Sprinkle half (quarter in each for mini pans) the nut mixture over the batter and top with blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan(s), smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the top(s), pressing gently. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes (my oven needed closer to 40). Let cool slightly and the unmold and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
This year, my – or is it our – intention is to eat more whole grains. Since I’m mostly committed to baking my own bread as well, I’ve had to do some research into whole grain baking. It is different!
King Arthur Flour maintains a great source of recipes, supplies and tips for all levels of bakers. If you haven’t been on their site recently, take a look – there’s sure to be something you’ll be motivated to bake. While this recipe calls for KAF’s Harvest Grain Blend, you certainly can blend your own concoction of seeds and grains according to taste.
This bread takes about 11 hours from start to finish, so mixing up the dough the night before and doing the bake in the morning is probably the most efficient way to make it.
3 1/4 cups (390g) High-gluten flour or King Arthur unbleached AP flour
1 cup (113g) white whole wheat flour OR 100% whole wheat flour
1 cup (149g) KAF Harvest Grains Blend
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 3/4 cup (397g) cool water
Using your hands or a mixer (what I used) at slow speed, mix all the ingredients until the flour has been incorporated and a sticky dough forms. Continue to knead the dough gently for 2 to 3 minutes longer until it is somewhat smooth.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 8 hours; it’ll become bubbly and rise quite a bit.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and form it into a round loaf to fit a 9″ to 10″ round lidded baking crock. (I used my heavy dutch oven)
—— Here’s where I did things differently (my suggestions follow)
Place the dough in the lightly greased crock, smooth side up. Cover with the lid and let rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes. It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand.
Put the bread in a cold oven, and set the oven temperature to 450°F.
Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to bake for another 5 to 15 minutes, until it becomes deep brown in color, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers about 205°F.
Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out onto a rack, and cool before slicing.
So as it turns out, I’ve had good results baking the bread in the same way that I’ve baked the No Knead White Bread previously posted on this blog. So if you are willing to trust the force, here’s how I finished things up:
Put a heavy enamel, lidded dutch oven into the cold oven (you may need to remove a rack to make sure things fit) and fire up the oven to 500 degrees F. While the oven preheats, shape the dough into a 9″ – 10″ circle and, seam side down, place it on parchment paper. The paper will become a sling for lifting the dough into the dutch oven so it needs to be about an 18 inch square. I usually put the dough/parchment sling in a fry pan just to help the dough keep its shape.
Once the oven reaches 500, turn it down to 425 degrees F. Remove the lid from the dutch oven, lower the parchment sling/dough into the dutch oven, replace the lid and bake for 25 minutes.
At the end of 25 minutes, remove the lid from the dutch oven. Continue to bake lid-less for 10-15 minutes.
At the end of THIS baking period, carefully lift the bread by the parchment and place it on a wire rack to cool. Good luck waiting until it’s cool enough.
I used to bake bread all of the time and, for a while, I was the proud owner of a bread bucket courtesy of my mother-in-law which we used to turn out several loaves of bread at a time.
While bread-making doesn’t intimidate me, I fell out of the habit sometime when I went back to school and only occasionally made bread until I discovered this recipe for No Knead Bread which was originated by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. And while the original is delicious, the improved loaf suggested by Cook’s Illustrated in this post on Epicurious is genius. Who knew adding beer and vinegar would make bread better?
This is not a recipe that can be rushed. I usually start the dough about 18 hours before I’d like to bake, which can be a challenge for busy schedules! But trust me, the end result is well worth the planning.
3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour (I used King Arthur unbleached)
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager (Budweiser for the win)
1 Tbs. white vinegar
Whisk flour, yeast and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
Lay 12- to 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slit along top of dough.
Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes.
Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Unbelievably, this year, I’ve been drawn away from chocolate cookies toward citrus-y cookies! I know, there are Peanut Butter Blossoms in my (baking) future, but so far I’ve been working on something entirely different.
Again, The Boston Globe’s Classic Holiday Cookie article is my source. Three bakes in and every single one has been a winner! Today’s recipe for Natale Cookies comes from Linda Marino and is a great nod to my ethnic heritage. Can Feast of the Seven Fishes be far behind?
adapted by Linda Marino
Ingredients for cookies:
2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
Ingredients for Icing
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk (I used Flor d’Sicilia in place of OJ – about 1/2 tsp; and substituted the other tsp of OJ with milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons orange juice
2 tablespoons rainbow nonpareils or sprinkles or colored sugar, for decorating
In a bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder to blend.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until well combined. Add thesugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and orange extracts.
With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour mixture just until no white patches show. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough is cold.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
On lightly floured counter, pinch off a generous teaspoon of dough. Roll it under your palm into a rope about 6 inches long. Gently knot the rope to create a round. Set knots on the baking sheets with the ends tucked under, about 1 inch apart. Continue rolling and shaping knots until all the dough is used.
Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, or until they are set and starting to brown. Transfer the parchment sheets to wire racks; leave the cookies to cool.
Make the icing: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the milk and 1 teaspoon of the orange juice and stir until the mixture forms a smooth icing. Add the remaining milk and orange juice and stir until the icing falls easily from a spoon.
Remove the parchment sheets from the wire rack. Set 1 rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
Pick up a cookie, turn it upside down, and dip it into the icing. Set it right side up on the wire rack. Continue until all the cookies are dipped. Sprinkle with nonpareils, sprinkles, or colored sugar. Leave to cool completely
In general, I don’t keep a lot of home-baked sweets in our house. I do so, not as a lofty statement against sugar consumption. I do it because I love them too much! But after Thanksgiving has gone by, there is some strange phenomenon that occurs: I feel the need to bake cookies.
I like to make something either from my heritage or childhood, or something that might not be the usual. Oh, I like sugar cut-outs (and I do have my Aunt Eleanor’s killer recipe for cut-out cookies using Jello as one of the sugars), and I enjoy decorating, but I love to find a cookie with an unusual taste or texture.
Sheryl Julian, the Boston Globe’s excellent food editor, recently published this article about Classic Holiday Cookies in the Sunday Globe magazine. So far, I’ve made 2 of these recipes and plans are materializing to bake the others. Today I made Laura Raposa’s Orange-Coconut Macaroons and promptly froze them for our holiday dessert plate. The fragrance of orange completely blew me away.
Grated rind of 1 navel orange or scant 1/4 teaspoon or orange oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
3 1/4 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (Either my oven is too hot or this temperature was a bit too much for the cookies to bake 18 minutes; monitor and turn down as needed)
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In an electric mixer, combine the condensed milk, egg whites, vanilla, orange rind or oil, salt, and unsweetened and sweetened coconut. Beat on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until thoroughly incorporated.
Scoop 2 tablespoons of the batter (a small ice cream scoop works well) onto a baking sheet, and continue making mounds, leaving 1 inch between them. Dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water and shape the dough into mounds, smoothing out any feathery edges.
Bake the macaroons for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they are light golden brown. Let them cool on the baking sheets.
Meanwhile, fill a saucepan with several inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl that will fit neatly into the pan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the bowl, stirring occasionally.
Remove the chocolate from the heat and wipe the bottom of the bowl dry. Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the macaroons in a crisscross pattern. (I skipped this, but for gifting or to be fancy, it sounds delicious).
Let the chocolate cool on the cookies. Use a wide metal spatula to remove the cookies from the baking sheet.