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A Year in Bread Feed

October 07, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Fauxcaccia

...recipe this Friday on A Year in Bread

February 25, 2009

Adapting bread recipes for cold, slow fermentation

I realize this outs me as a huge bread geek (as if A Year in Bread hadn't already) but I found the coolest little formula today. It's a quick way to convert the quantity of yeast in a regular bread recipe to make it using a longer, slower rising process.

Being a huge fan of bread that spends its first night in the refrigerator, I am probably inordinately excited by this - and no doubt everyone else already knew this bit of math - but I just had to share.

Not here.

There: Adapting Bread Recipes for a Cold Rise.

November 09, 2007

Rosemary fan rolls recipe

rosemary fan roll

I think every baker needs a few never-fail recipes in their back pocket. Recipes that they can play with endlessly with a fair degree of certainty of success. This recipe is a variation of one of my standby recipes: a poolish baguette from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. If I had to pick just a few breads to bake all the time, this would be one of them. In its original form, it makes chopped rosemarywonderful baguettes and is well suited to being shaped for breads like epis and I have been  able to corrupt... err, vary it pretty endlessly over the years.

In fact — confession time — I once made a double batch of this bread. Except I didn't double the yeast. And I tripled the oil. (don't ask, it was late, I was rushed and had no business driving a KitchenAid...) As I kneaded the dough, stumbling my way through a series of "this feels all wrong" corrections, I slowly figured out how badly I had screwed up. Ever the good food writer, I trudged on, determined to take photos for an article titled "How to waste two pounds of flour" that I would write someday. Except for one problem: the bread was fine. It wasn't great, but it was good. This recipe earned its place in my back pocket that day.    

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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.

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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 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 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...

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