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October 01, 2007

Potato bread recipe

This recipe was originally posted at A Year in Bread. You can read that article,  which includes a whole wheat version of this recipe here: Beth: Potato Bread


turkey and tillamook with microgreens on potato bread

For reasons perhaps best explained by marketing, a lot of kids — even those who usually make sane food choices — seem to prefer bland, white bread. Sandwiches, toast, pretty much anything has to be white bread, but especially sandwiches. And kids eat lots of sandwiches.

This potato bread recipe is one I made for the first time way back when theKid craved that stuff that came in the blue, yellow and red dotted bags - you know, the stuff that makes you Wonder who buys it. The potato tenderizes the dough and amps up the yeasty rising action, creating bread that is softly chewy with a bit more substance than most white breads.

Continue reading "Potato bread recipe" »

September 22, 2007

Honey wheatBerry bread ~ for the boy

honey 'n wheatBerries

He’s as sweet as Skamokawa honey
Just like honey from the bee.
           Tupelo Honey, with apologies to Van Morrison

Sometimes it is, as the kids say, all about the boy.

We all know people who have done odd things for love: ran up multi-thousand phone bills, changed names and careers, moved to a city they would never have considered otherwise, or tried to replicate a mass-market loaf of bread.

This week at A Year in Bread, I make bread for the boy...

August 23, 2007

kitchenMage's Leftover Oatmeal Bread recipe

oatmeal bread


When you bake bread as often as I do, it is easy to find yourself looking around covetously at ingredients in your kitchen that might have been headed for another use. Cooked cereal is one of those things that lends itself to ad hoc bread making, adding a whole grain depth to otherwise white bread. This also appeals to the frugal side that many home cooks have, turning leftovers that might otherwise be thrown away, into tasty bread.

This is less of a recipe and more of a formula to use up leftover cooked cereal, which it seems all too easy to end up with. I have a soft spot for oatmeal bread, but you can make this with any cooked cereal. Or leftover brown rice, for that matter.

Continue reading "kitchenMage's Leftover Oatmeal Bread recipe" »

August 15, 2007

A Year in Bread in midsummer

berries like grapes

It's too hot to bake!

Well, almost too hot to bake. This month at A Year in Bread we are focusing on quick breads, with Kevin's scrumptious Cheese Bread starting us out. My post is going up tomorrow, but there is a subtle hint here somewhere about the recipe. If I could just remember where I put it.

Continue reading "A Year in Bread in midsummer" »

June 20, 2007

Pesto Rolls

baked pesto rolls

Over at A Year in Bread, one of my other playgrounds, I just posted my recipe for the current round of "summer breads": Pesto Rolls. Made like a savory cinnamon roll, but with baguette-ish dough, pesto and Parmesan, these are great for summer picnics where slicing and buttering is a hassle but plain bread is boring. I absolutely adore these things and start making them every summer as soon as I can get my hands on basil. Read the rest and get the recipe here. I also put up a flickr set of action photos taken while making them...and clutching a camera remote in my teeth. (yes, really)

April 25, 2007

pizza is a gateway bread...


Many people, even accomplished cooks, approach yeasted bread with more than a bit of trepidation. While the vision of a beautifully risen loaf of bread with a glossy, caramelized crust lures many a would-be baker, the reality all too often remains sadly out of reach.

I think the fact that there are so few ingredients-flour, water, yeast, and salt are essential, all else is embellishment-is intimidating. It seems to put so much responsibility on the baker. Daunting.

Depending on how you go about learning to bake bread, the process can be daunting. Bread baking has its own terminology (some in French), techniques that look simple can be anything but, and who knew there were so many kinds of flour? It is little wonder that many people don't even know where to start. If only they had someone to tell them...





Seriously, that's where you start: Pizza.

I see pizza is the perfect starter bread for a number of reasons:

pizza crust with sauce and basil

  • Tolerance is good. Pizza dough tolerates a lot of mistakes and abuse. As long as you don't do something truly dreadful-like forget the yeast or let the dough sit on the counter for two days-you will turn out a decent pizza. The first few may not be great, but with extremely rare exceptions, the worst homemade pizza is better than the best frozen pizza (and quite a few that you can have delivered).
  • Size matters. As bread goes, pizzas are small so, unlike a loaf of bread, they aren't much of a commitment. Seriously, the time it takes to use up a loaf of bread you really don't like, yet feel obliged to eat, can seem endless. Pizza, on the other hand, is usually gone the day it is made.
  • awesomeGrrl putting toppings on her pizza

  • Take your time. There are a number of discrete processes involved in making a pizza: mixing dough, preparing toppings, shaping crust, assembling, and so on. The entire process can be done more or less at once or spread out over the course of a couple of days (making the dough the first day and baking the pizza the second or third)
  • It takes a village. One of my favorite simple foods to cook with other people is pizza. It's a perennial favorite, infinitely adaptable, simple to make once you get the hang of it, and best of all, most people will gleefully jump in and cook with you. Nothing livens up a party like gathering around a kitchen island to decorate pizza.
  • Teach your children well... Pizza is a marvelous teaching opportunity because anyone who is old enough to eat pizza is old enough to help make it, even if only a tiny bit. A toddler can stand on a chair and help you put on chunky (thus easy to grab) toppings. As children get older, and gain skills and confidence, they can take on more of the work.
  • awesomeGrrl rolling out pizza crust

  • To each her (or his) own. Individual pizzas are the best. Most people love the control of building their own food, exactly the way they want it. Sometimes this encourages people, particularly small folk, to stretch their own boundaries a bit-I have watched kids who normally eschew vegetables pile onions, peppers, and olives on their pizzas and eat them with gusto.
  • Money, money, money, money! According to Pizza Marketing Quarterly, US sales of pizza edged over 31 Billion dollars in 2005. At 10-15 bucks a pie, that's a lot of dough! Compare that to the cost of making your own pizza-under a dollar for the dough, another buck or two on toppings-and the cost argument is simple.
  • chicken calzones made with Susan's pizza crust

  • Bend me, shape me, any way you want to. Once you have basic pizza down, you can move on to any number of variations. Calzones are one of my favorite uses for leftover dough, but you can use the dough for anything from breadsticks to foccacia. Just change how the dough is shaped and filled/topped and you have a whole new creation.
  • I can fix that pizza in two notes! Most problems with pizza come down to two things: insufficient heat and too many toppings. The cure for the first is simple, buy a baking stone, preheat it in a 500° (or hotter) oven for an hour and bake the pizza as hot as you dare. The issue of too many toppings is between you and your self control.

The first step in your pizza quest is trying out some crust recipes. I have three suggestions: Kevin Weeks, Farmgirl Susan, and mine. They each offer a different take on pizza crust, both in process and results. Susan's dough is quick and particularly easy to work with, although Kevin's is seriously good too and worth waiting the extra hours for. Mine is...different. Check them out. Then come back and show us what you made.

March 28, 2007

This is why I use parchment!

Tomorrow is my day to post a pizza crust recipe over at A Year in Bread so this afternoon found me sorting through photos of pizza. While it is not what I was looking for, I had to share this one shot. The story goes something like this:

One night we were making pizza and I discovered we were out of parchment paper, which I generally use when baking breads. The stone was already hot, the pizza crust was poufy, and we were hungry. What to do, what to do?

After debating a run to the store, we decided to put the pizza directly on the stone.  Parchment is nice and all, but cornmeal is usually enough to stop a pizza from sticking to the stone. Actually, the plan was to throw caution to the wind and gently place the bare crust on the stone, quickly top it and get it back in the oven. (This actually isn't as absurd as it sounds, I've done it a number of times, with a different dough. Remember that "different dough" part for later.)

Everything that was to go on the pizza was sliced, diced and arrayed on the counter. We reviewed the plan of attack: crust on stone, toppings on crust, back in oven. Check.

someoneElse extracted the 500 degree pizza stone from the oven and perched it on the range so we could work. I looked at the crust, made from this great new recipe I was playing with, and decided that I couldn't afford to put it down on a peel or anything like that, I had to move it by hand. I picked up the crust, dashed all three steps across the room and flipped the crust onto the stone.

Continue reading "This is why I use parchment!" »

March 19, 2007

A Year in Bread: Come bake with us!

slice of light

It all started with this chat message from Farmgirl Susan to me: “We’re plotting something...and it involves you!” I got her to tell me that "we" meant her and Kevin of Seriously Good. This was immediately followed by Susan dropping offline, which should have been my first clue this wasn’t going to be easy.

Ten minutes later, she was back.

me:  oh sure, you tell me there's some plot that involves me afoot and then you drop offline... see how you are... :)

farmgirl:  I didn't drop offline!

me:  Chat said you were offline.

farmgirl:  Computers lie, you should know that!

me:  So what's the plot? Are you going to tell me or do I have to torture poor little Bowtie? (Bowtie is Farmgirl’s virtual cat, who lives with me and I am not above torturing his adorable face...usually by rubbing his belly or something equally dreadful.)

farmgirl:  Don't you dare! I'll be right back! Geez! Thug!

me:  But he's got such cute little toes! ...and ears! ...and what do you mean "be right back?" You just got here!

farmgirl:  DO NOT EAT MY CAT!

me:  He's getting HUGE! It's either eat him or feed him. Eating him would be cheaper!

farmgirl:  I repeat: DO NOT EAT MY CAT!

me: someoneElse says he’d be great with lemon and pepper. Yum! Plus he (Bowtie, not someoneElse) hangs out under the rosemary so he's herb-infused. Wouldn’t that cost extra at most places?

farmgirl:  someoneElse says everything is great with lemon and pepper! Probably even brownies.

me:  someoneElse says he's a very good cat. Congratulations on raising him so well

farmgirl: No problem! Oh! Email from Kevin! Be right back.

me: Be right back? Be right back! Oh sure, you go talk to Kevin… But leave













farmgirl:  oh give me a break

me:  Sure! Arm or leg? Man you have a mouthy cat! Bowtie is in the other room just mrowing away. Sure I can’t cook him?

farmgirl: If you ever want to find out what the plot is, do not eat my cat!

me:  So send me the mail already! I want to bake bread!!! ...or eat a cat...

farmgirl:  Oh okay! Hold on! Geez!

     Impatient little thing, aren't we?

     Barrettes on too tight?

     Brownie withdrawals?

     Somebody drop a house on your sister?

me:  That's it! Brownie withdrawals...or maybe it was the house thing.

farmgirl:  oh! another email from Kevin! be right back!

This went on for the better part of an hour, ending when Susan dropped offline again. It took until the next day for me to actually pin both Susan and Kevin down to chat... the three us at A Year in Bread on the 21st for the rest of the story...

February 10, 2007

thoughts on the no knead bread

two loaves of no knead bread

Ever swimming against the trend, I only recently got around to trying that no-knead know the one...Lahey's bread, Bittman's article, all the cool kids are making it...or is that soooo last month? grin Like I said, I'm not so hot on following the trends...

In looking up those links, it's obvious that the recipe got a lot of people talking, and baking. That's so cool! As a long-time bread baker, I think it is marvelous that there are so many people making decent bread - many for the first time. Anything that gets people who have fear of yeast (FOY), as many have confessed, baking bread is a step in the right direction.

That the bread people are baking is a crusty, open-crumbed rustic bread, which is often seen as a more 'advanced' bread is particularly sweet. Then there is the personalization; every baker seems to use a different style baking pot and people are adding all sorts of tasty stuff: sourdough, whole-wheat, olives, herbs, and even chocolate-cherry. Even new bread bakers are experimenting with a bread recipe. That's pretty amazing.

        round of applause to all the new bread bakers!

I've been working with this sort of bread dough for a number of years: wet dough, long ferment, just without the covered pot in the oven. (I used to bake bread under a cloche, which provides much the same effect when combined with a pizza stone, but even without one, I am happy with the crust my bread gets.) This lack of novelty probably accounts for my failure to hasten to the kitchen when I read Bittman's article. I looked at it as another recipe that used techniques in which I was already conversant. From that perspective, there wasn't anything revolutionary. No need to rush the barricades.

Besides, I am annoyed. Not at the popularity of the bread or anything like that. I have similar recipes I like, I don't particularly need this one right now. What gets me is that there is no movement to let the FOY go, just to shift it to kneading. Come on kids, this isn't tough stuff. Grab the bread dough, smoosh it around for a minute or two, rest it for 20, smoosh for another minute and it's done. Nothing to be scared of and it doesn't even take much time. 

Yet, I still felt the tug of possibility: what if I was missing something? When even experienced bakers, bakers I respect, said good things about it, I decided I had to give it a whirl.

So, what do I think? Well, truth be told, it is great food blog bread.

sliced no knead bread

First, it is very pretty, no doubt about that. Visibly crisp crust. Beautiful open crumb. Yep. That's some gorgeous bread. Photographs beautifully, too. You could take shots of this stuff all day long. Trust me, people have. Heck, I have a few of my own. (Hi. My name is kitchenMage and I am a bread pornographer...)

It is also dead simple to produce bread that pretty. The slack dough, long ferment, and baking method combine to make a very forgiving recipe. Served still warm with a slather of butter, it's an impressive loaf, especially for someone who seldom, or never, bakes.

Well, except in one aspect. It tastes like...not much. It's not even bad enough to be notable. Flavorless, gummy, and an hour out of the oven the crust starts to toughen. Bread to make you believe in the Atkins diet. This is revolutionary?

I made two batches -just in case I screwed up the first - refrigerating the second one while it fermented to see if it made any difference in flavor, as it does with pain la ancienne., not so much.

There was a moment of self-examination, second guessing my baking skills (is it just me, everyone else seems to love this bread...did i just leave out the salt? both times?) But you know what? David Lebovitz agrees with me. And so does the lovely bird-kisser at Food Migration whose name I can neither recall nor find. I also found this at Food Migration: "...if you don't knead it with your own two hands, how do you get the love into it?" Many of the mages at whose floury elbows I apprenticed would totally agree!

Yet I was determined to find something of value in this experience, because there must be something useful to pass along. So here you go, two things about no knead bread.

no knead bread shaped

The dough on the left was fermented on the counter, the one on the in the refrigerator, something that usually improves flavor. Not so much here. What it did do, however, is make the dough much easier to work with. I weighed ingredients for both batches so they are within a few grams of each other, but look at the difference between them!

no knead bread shaped

The loaf on the left is this oozy ball of wet, while the one on the right let me fold it (also good for gluten development) and 30 minutes later you could still see the fold! There was no visible difference in the texture of the bread or how much it rose...and they tasted the same, for whatever that's worth.

The other thing that was helpful was letting the dough rise on the parchment paper it was to be baked on. Yes, even inside the dutch oven. I simply placed a parchment sheet inside the basket I put the dough in to rise and put the dough on top of that. When I was ready to bake, I lifted the parchment and put it directly in the preheated dutch oven. No deflated bread from moving it off the rising surface and no sticky mess to clean up. Now, that is, even if not revolutionary, a simple change in the recipe that would make it less hassle. Maybe you could use the two minutes you save on cleanup to do something else bread knead it.

December 18, 2006

getting ready for my favorite december ritual


We are lucky enough to be the host for the great annual "Thump, thump, giggle, giggle" reunion, when a handful of young women gather to kill each other on our network. And Eat. Over and over and over. For days on end. Seriously. (both the killing and the eating)

This year's bash is six people for four days, which adds up to lots of virtual death and lots of food. Coming on the heels of the book, my schedule was tight...and then the storm of madness hit and the power went out and...well, so much for schedules.

Since we got power back two days ago, I have made:

  • 2 dozen Bagels
  • 4 Baguettes
  • 18 Rosemary olive oil pull-apart rolls
  • 2 dozen pita
  • 3 loaves oatmeal cinnamon twist bread
  • 2 dozen cinnamon rolls
  • double batch of brownies
  • double batch of cookies

I'm guessing that I'm going to be too busy to post much in the way here as it's happening, but I put up a flickr set just for this, in case anyone is crazy enough to want to follow along.  It does at least give you a little hint of the mess that is my kitchen.

Menu for the bash after the jump.

Continue reading "getting ready for my favorite december ritual" »

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