On Bread Making

Before we get into the best bread ever, I’m going to first admit something – posts will not be as frequent this summer. There. Rather than feel bad about it, I’m just going to embrace it. Fall, on the other hand, will be a different story.

With that out of the way, I wanted to share an amazing bread recipe from Smitten Kitchen which yes, takes a bit of time to make (not a lot of “hands on” time, but a lot of waiting for the dough to do things like rise), but it is absolutely worth it. I made this yesterday for our sandwiches this week and it’s received great reviews so far.

New York Deli Rye Bread (c/o Smitten Kitchen):

I am going to take verbatim Deb’s instructions because a) I didn’t change much and b) they are detailed enough that even a novice bread maker (like myself) can get a successful loaf out of it, if you follow these to a T. The whole process took me about 6 hours (not including the shopping beforehand…a tip: rye flour isn’t sold everywhere. I suggest a bulk food store, like Bulk Barn), but I only had to actively do something for about 30 minutes. The rest was just making sure the dough was rising properly and letting it rest while I ran other errands. All the words are hers, but the photos are mine – just to prove that it can be done!

rye bread!

Sponge
3/4 cup (4 ounces, 117 grams) bread flour
3/4 cup (3.3 ounces, 95 grams) rye flour
1/2 teaspoon (1.6 grams) instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons (0.6 ounces, 18.7 grams) sugar
1/2 tablespoon (4.6 grams) malt powder (or barley malt syrup or honey (10.5 grams), or sugar (6.2 grams)) *I used the sugar version*
1 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces, 354 grams) water, at room temperature

Flour Mixture
2 1/4 cups (12.5 ounces, 351 grams) bread flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (2 grams) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (0.5 ounces, 14 grams) caraway seeds (you can grind these if you want to avoid the crunch)
1/2 tablespoon (0.3 ounces, 10.5 grams) coarse salt

Dough and Baking
1/2 tablespoon (0.25 ounces, 6.7 grams) vegetable oil
about 2 teaspoons (about 0.5 ounces, 16 grams) cornmeal for sprinkling

and so it begins...

Make the sponge: Combine sponge ingredients in a large or mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth, to intentionally incorporate air — this will yield a thick batter. Set it aside.

Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge: In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture in places.)

Mix the dough [Either with a mixer – I used the mixer version] Add the oil and mix with the dough hook on low-speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. then raise the speed to medium and mix it for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic, and it should jump back when pressed with a fingertip; if it is sticky, turn it out on a counter and knead in a little extra flour.

dough mixing

[Or by hand] Add the oil and, with a wooden spoon or your hand, stir until the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, then scrape it onto a very lightly floured counter. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, after which it might be a little sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes. (Resting the dough makes it less sticky and magically easier to work with. Trust me.) Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is very smooth and elastic and your upper arms are strapless gown-ready.

dough rising

Let the dough rise: Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Flip the bowl over and let the dough fall out on to a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold or form it back into a square-ish ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the (re-oiled) bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.

Shape it and wait out the final rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. (*I wanted to get a loaf out of this, so I lightly oiled a bread pan, sprinkled the base with cornmeal and shaped the dough for the last time in here). Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. [Skim ahead to preheating your oven, which you should do soon.] When it is gently press with a fingertip, the depression will very slowly fill in.

Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 450°F as early as you can tolerate. (*I did it about 30 minutes before – the hotter the oven, the more crunchy the crust!) On a shelf at the lowest level, place a baking sheet or bread stone. [If you want to get fancy and bread-oven like: Place a cast-iron skillet or sheet pan on the floor of the oven to preheat.]

pre and post baking

Slash and bake the bread: With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the top of the dough. Mist the dough with water and quickly but gently set the baking sheet on the hot stone or hot baking sheet (*Or, just put the bread pan in the oven). [If you’ve decided to get fancy and bread oven-like: Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately shut the door.] Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400°F and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (or a thermometer inserted into the center reads 190°F; I prefer this method because you’ve done much too much work to possibly end up with an under- or over-baked loaf of bread).

Cool the bread on a wire rack. And enjoy the deliciousness!

mmm fresh bread

 

Loving…

There are very few things more terrifying than realizing that half of another year has gone by. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type thing that gets me every time. On the other hand, it’s also pretty indicative of all the great, not-so-great and indifferent things that have happened in the past 6 months.

Listening:

Two Frenchmen rocking it out, 70s style, with Pharrell. It doesn’t really get better than that.

Wanting:

This double-painting from Urban Barn.

bike

Craving:

This super simple and delicious raspberry-rhubarb pie.

pie - strawberry/rhubarb

Fruit pies are one of the best things to “master”, in my opinion. The crust recipe can remain largely the same (my favourite remains the one I referenced here and here – it is dangerously delicious), and you can get creative with the filling. You just need to follow the rule of 3/4 cup sugar + 3/4 cup flour + vanilla extract (1 tsp) + enough fruit to fill the pie and be properly covered by the sugar/flour mixture. In this case, I used a container of strawberries and about 350g of rhubarb. To add a little extra goodness, I like to paint the crust with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over top before putting it in the oven (typically at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and left for about 20 minutes or until the filling starts to bubble).

Using:

PicLab and Snapseed – by far my two favourite iPhone apps for adding font to photos and editing them, respectively.

Relaxing:

This weekend for Canada Day. Extra-long long weekends are the best… Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks!

muskoka chairs in muskoka

This Bread is Bananas

Banana bread – one of the easiest things to bake and so delicious. Last night, having an abundance of ripe bananas in our house, I decided to make a loaf for dessert and work snacks. Nothing beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven, still warm, buttered piece of banana bread.

banana bread

 

Blue Ribbon* Banana Bread:

Ingredients:

4 ripe bananas

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat, if you’re looking to get healthy)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

1 tsp baking soda

mixing it up

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Mash bananas with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Mix in melted butter.

3. Add vanilla. sugar, egg and baking powder and stir well.

4. Add flour and mix until fully coated and thick.

5. Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan and place in oven. Let bake for one hour.

There you have it! Super simple and delicious. Plus a good way to use up those bananas that are maybe just a little too brown for anything else.

 

 

*ok so it hasn’t actually won any awards…but the alliteration was too good to pass up.

Loving…

You know what’s not fun? Getting sick twice within a month, AND when it’s just starting to get warm out. Total first world problems. On that note, though, I am excited to get this weekend started.

Listening:

I heard this song for the first time in “Pitch Perfect” (a movie I will fully admit to watching more than once), but I have liked whatever I heard from the Naked and the Famous in the past. Their songs remind me of driving in the summertime with the windows down and shades on.

Craving:

A pie…like this

pie

Planning:

A big spring cleaning! I definitely have to do something about my hot-mess of a closet situation (make room for new clothes?), and now’s the perfect time. One thing about cohabitating is that you suddenly have half the clothing storage space you used to have…

should i stay or should i go

Wishing:

All the mommas out there the HAPPIEST Mothers Day! I know it’s said time and time again, but they are amazing and I don’t know how they do what they do. Mine especially – she’s pretty awesome!

Last year's high tea celebration at MoRoCo.

Last year’s high tea celebration at MoRoCo.

Snickerdoodle: Not a Breed of Dog, but a Delicious Cookie

These are the glorious Snickerdoodle Cookies

These are the glorious Snickerdoodle Cookies

Last night, Allison and I had our weekly catch up. This time around, rather than hit up a venue like the Drake, we decided to get our hands dirty and bake something. We both like doing it (and we certainly like eating the end result), so we decided to try a recipe we have both been eyeing for a while: Snickerdoodle Cookies. I found an awesome version at The Kitchn for an easy, quick way to make these cinnamon-y treats. Here are our foolproof steps to cookie greatness:

Step 1: Wear pants in the same colour family and a matching apron (accidentally, of course). This step is optional.

Purple pants + Anthropologie apron and we're ready to roll

Purple pants + Anthropologie apron and we’re ready to roll

Step 2: Gather your ingredients. For this recipe you will need…

baking ingredients

Plus an extra 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg for the cinnamon sugar.

Step 3: Get to baking! The instructions provided are very easy to follow:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. While it is heating, melt the butter in a saucepan over the stove or in the microwave.
  2. As the butter cools, mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl. Once the butter is cool, slowly whisk in the 3 eggs into the butter in a new bowl.
  3. Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until they are well mixed.
  4. In a shallow bowl, mix the ingredients for the cinnamon sugar.
  5. Taking approximately 1″ balls of dough, roll into the cinnamon sugar mix and place on a non-stick, non-greased baking sheet, flattening them lightly.
  6. Place them in the over for approximately 7 minutes, then let cool for 5. And you’re done!

baking awayStep 4: Have a glass of wine and enjoy! These cookies are so delicious and so easy to make – perfect for a gift around the holidays or “just because”.

plate 'o cookies

Happy May, everyone!

Loving…

Usually, as soon as Friday hits, all I want to do is look forward to the little things (a book, a song, a trip to Ikea) that I will get to do over the weekend. With that in mind, welcome to the first installment of a new weekly post – Loving…(aka Friday Faves). Here you’ll find a brief list of things that are currently making me smile, or occupying my mind, or are just generally awesome.

Listening:

My “F you, winter!” jam.

Reading:

kelly oxford is my new hero

Kelly Oxford is hilarious in 140 characters on Twitter. She’s equally funny in a more free-form, unlimited book format. I got to meet her at a book signing earlier this week and she’s such a nice, funny woman that I’m an even bigger fan now. I’m almost done with Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar and can’t recommend it enough – if for no other reason than she’s a Canadian and references it proudly (you won’t get a Kids in the Hall callout from any other memoir). Totally in the vein of Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – I love books by honestly funny women.

Baking:

I haven’t made these in a while, but I’m looking forward to whipping up a batch of Zucchini Muffins this weekend for next week. A lot of people make a crinkled-nose face when I mention these muffins, but they are amazingly delicious. Perfect breakfast food, unique flavour and the bonus is that they freeze really well (so you can enjoy for a bit longer).

Love this recipe from Martha Stewart - I would modify slightly by removing the banana and replacing the flaxseed with pecans.

Love this recipe from Martha Stewart – I would modify slightly by removing the banana and replacing the flaxseed with pecans.

Planning:

To plant a springtime, apartment herb garden. I’ve promised myself I will have a green thumb once we get a house (even if it kills me), so I’m going to start practicing now. Thanks to my other-other half (Alli) I’m all set up…

Get ready, pasta!

Get ready, pasta!

Wanting:

To be here right about now…

Paris

“Paris is always a good idea” – Audrey Hepburn

Happy Friday everyone!

Weekend Baking

Baking on the weekends is a great way to relax, and take the stress of work out on some dough. Also, a great way to get some sweets made for snacks during the week. I’ve mentioned before how much I love pie, and while National Pie Day is actually in January, March 14th is “pi” day (a little nerdy? yes, but there’s dessert involved!) so I’ve got it on my mind this month.

Homemade pies are among my favourite dishes – they aren’t incredibly challenging to make, but certainly have an “I slaved all day in the kitchen for this” feel to them when you serve them to friends or bring them to a get together. If I have time, I always make the dough from scratch, but store-bought does the trick enough – it’s really all in the filling and presentation.

The best part about pies? Sweet or savoury, there are endless options for filling and you can experiment with what you want to include with minimal fear of it tasting off. How else do you think something like strawberry-rhubarb came to be?

A few months ago, I took a chance with a more unique pie recipe that was a huge hit. In case you’re feeling homey this winter weekend, here’s how you can make this fabulous Grape and Apple Pie:

pie

Lattice Crust (while I’m partial to the lattice, you can make any kind of crust design – the one at Epicurious is an awesome way to frame the pie):

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, frozen, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (or more) ice water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add shortening and butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to bowl. Mix 6 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl; pour over flour mixture. Stir with fork until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into 2 balls; flatten each into disk. Wrap each in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Filling:

  • 3 pounds tart, crisp apples (I used Granny Smith), peeled, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound red or black grapes, halved, seeded if needed
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Mix apples, grapes, sugar, and flour in a large saucepan; stir to coat. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fruit is translucent and juices are thickened, 30-40 minutes. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer fruit to crust. Remove remaining dough from refrigerator. Using a decorative cutter, make a pattern in center of dough, leaving a 2″ plain border; reserve cutouts. Invert dough over fruit in crust; peel off parchment paper. Trim dough along edge of crust, leaving no overhang. Arrange reserved dough cutouts decoratively over top crust, pressing lightly to adhere. Place pie on a baking sheet.

Bake pie until crust is golden brown and juices bubble, 50 minutes-1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Happy Baking!