I’ve been a home bread baker for most of my adult life and, especially now as more home bakers are interested in breads, I’ve been experimenting with different loaves. This one – a No Knead Bread developed by Sullivan Street Bakery‘s Jim Lahey is the bake I return to most frequently. It uses a list of simple ingredients and, with a little forward planning, the rise time is not a roadblock.
Usually when I’m putting together this dough, I start in the late afternoon the day before I intend to bake. Doing so allows most of the rising of 18 hours (I do think the longer rise time makes a difference) to happen while I’m asleep. I do the reshaping, preheating, and baking the next morning.
This recipe was originally shared in the New York Times by Mark Bittman. After it was originally published, NYT Food readers shared some suggestions for homebakers which are part of this recipe published in the Times. I’ve incorporated my own adjustment to baking based on what I learned from America’s Test Kitchen (those tweaks are in bold italics below).
Over the last few years, I have come to realize how important weighing ingredients like flour is to successful baking. While consistent bakes are often at the whim of the weather (how humid, how warm the air temperature), I strongly recommend using a food scale for weighing ingredients which makes the time investment in turning out a quality loaf more of a certainty.
3 ⅓ cups/430 grams all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons/390 milliliters water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger. Here’s where I use some baking tips learned from America’s Test Kitchen’s version of a No-Knead Bread: tear off a piece of parchment big enough to hold the ball of dough (about 12×14 or so). Put the parchment into a 10-12 inch fry pan and allow the dough to rest on top of the parchment (covered loosely with a piece of plastic). If you like your bread dusted with flour or toasted sesame seeds, this is the time to do that.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. And here’s another modification if you are using parchment: TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN TO 425 degrees when you are ready to put the dough into the dutch oven (or whatever you are using). Paper could ignite if you don’t turn the temperature down.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
One of my fondest childhood food memories is of the big rectangular tin of cutout cookies my Aunt Eleanor used to make for the four of us each Christmas and Easter. She had collected an impressive array of cutout shapes which, when I had to downsize, went to another family member. I love her recipe – which includes a box of lemon or orange gelatin as one of the cups of sugar.
I wanted to keep this memory going with our granddaughter who has an egg allergy, so my Aunt’s recipe needed to be replaced. Fortunately, many cooks and bakers are replacing or eliminating eggs these days, so the choices were plentiful; however, this was the recipe that I used for this year’s holiday bake and it is delightful – the website, Safely Delish, has quite a nice collection of allergy-friendly recipes.
There is nothing more fun than decorating cookies with a toddler! When I say sugar goes everywhere, believe me – sugar in shoes, on fingers and in every possible nook and cranny. Any cleanup is definitely worth the fun and laughs. Looking forward to our next session and more cookie decorating!
Cream together butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes (I put the dough aside overnight – you can do this, but you may need to allow the dough to come up in temperature a bit in order to roll it out).
On parchment paper (used a silicon mat) roll dough out to 1/4-1/3 inch thickness. If the dough warms up too much during the process, refrigerate rolled dough an additional 10-20 minutes before cutting shapes).
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Press one side in sugar or sprinkles if desired (I did not do this as we wanted to save for decorating day) Re-roll any remaining dough for additional cutouts.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes depending on cookie shape, size, and thickness. Allow to cool on the pan for at least 5 minutes before transferring to wire cooking rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Each holiday season, I choose a biscotti recipe – or two – to make for my family as a way to honor my Sicilian heritage. This year’s bake comes from New York’s Union Square Cafe and melds chocolate, espresso and white chocolate (the original calls for milk chocolate). The condo filled with the aroma of dark chocolate and espresso which, for me, was transformative. I honestly don’t think there are any two flavors the complement each other more than chocolate and coffee.
I made a few tweaks to the baking instruction: I like to use white chocolate with a cookie that is already off the charts in chocolate flavor. I also use the baking shortcut of standing up each cookie for the second bake. To me, it saves having to flip cookies from one side to the other and gives a really even bake. I also would recommend creating four dough logs on the first bake – the yield will be closer to the 60 in the original recipe and the dough does seem to spread out quite a bit. However, to honor Union Square’s recipe, I’ve included their original recipe and method below.
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon double-strength brewed espresso (I used espresso powder)
3 large eggs
7 ½ ounces (1 rounded cup) small milk chocolate chips (I used white chocolate)
1 large egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash (don’t skip this!)
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; set aside.
Using a heavy-duty electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter for 3 to 5 minutes at medium speed. Add vanilla extract and espresso. Mix for 10 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 10 seconds at medium-low speed after each addition. Add sifted flour mixture and mix at low speed until dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes. Add chocolate chips and mix just until chips are evenly incorporated, 15 to 20 seconds.
Transfer dough to a work surface and divide in two, shaping into balls. Form each ball into a log 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Brush tops of logs with egg wash and sprinkle each log with 1 tablespoon raw sugar. (Here’s where I took some advice on the recipe website: CHILL THE DOUGH – wrap in wax paper or cling wrap and allow it to chill to make handling easier.)
Bake until biscotti have spread, have a few cracks and bounce back slightly when pressed with fingertips, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices. Place each slice with a cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick liner. Bake until firm, crisp and slightly dry, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.
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.