Slashing your dough properly creates a beautiful loaf of bread, but can also help it rise in the oven. If your slashes are not deep enough, the dough may tear open on the top or bottom of the loaf. Leaving you with bread that tastes delicious, but doesn’t live up to its artistic potential. The loaf can also end up being a touch dense if you don’t slash deep enough, because it won’t open up and make way for a dramatic oven spring. So, for the most beautiful crust and best interior crumb, you’ll want to follow these few tricks for slashing. Continue reading
Last weekend I lived the ultimate bread bakers’ dream. Thanks to my friends at Red Star Yeast I travelled to the heart of wheat country in Kansas and had the great honor of judging the National Festival of Breads baking contest. The contestants submitted their recipes and were chosen from hundreds of bread bakers from across the country. Eight women came to Manhattan, KS and baked in a theatre-style kitchen in front of about 1500 bread lovers. They deserve a prize for that alone. The breads were all amazing, but one by Lisa Keys of Good Grief Cooks was the one that stood out to all the judges. Her Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread had a combination of flavors, texture and beauty made this the clear winner. You can read all about the contest (you should consider entering for the next one), the contestants and their winning recipes at the National Festival of Breads.
Another absolutely gorgeous loaf that was baked for us was a chocolate swirl bread. I’ve recreated that idea with our Whole Wheat Brioche dough and a swirl of Nutella. It is healthy and decadent all at the same time and it’s baked in a crock pot. I turned to my crock pot when I turned on the AC for the first time yesterday and I really didn’t want to heat up the kitchen by cranking up the oven. The crock pot is ideal for a bread like this, since it fits the shape and we want a soft crust. The result was perfect.
As I am testing recipes, I can find myself with several buckets going at once. I have a family of four and we just can’t always use up all that dough in a timely fashion. I just opened a bucket of dough that had been untouched for several days, well more than several and it was gray, leathery and had some liquid on it (pictures below). It had a strong “sourdough” smell to it, since it had been fermenting for a very long time. For those of us who like that kind of character in our bread, it was very exciting. BUT, there wasn’t that much dough left and if I were to peel back the leathery bits to get to the creamy dough beneath, I wouldn’t even have enough dough for a full loaf. The best thing to do with this older dough is to incorporate it into a new batch. It jump starts the flavor in your new dough, without having to wait days for the fermentation. It is like having a sourdough starter, that you never had to feed. Although in the dough I will show you, I am using the full amount of Red Star Platinum yeast.
Here is a list of some of the equipment that I used in my Craftsy Class. If you click on the pictures it will take you to more details about the item. Continue reading
This is a Super Peel. It is one of those products, like the Danish Dough Whisk, that changes the game for baking with our dough. I was skeptical that this cloth-covered peel would do the trick of transferring our wet dough onto the hot stone in the oven without sticking. I’ve come to use parchment to guarantee the dough won’t stick to the peel, but that’s not at all necessary with the Super Peel. Even after an 1 1/2 hour resting time the dough slid right off the cloth, no sticking, no prying it off with a dough scraper. Voila! The most exciting part is that it scoops the loaf off the hot stone with as much ease. No more chasing the loaf to the back of the oven while trying to get it back on the peel.
Now that we are heading into grilling season, and there is nothing better than pizza on the grill, you have to watch this video about using the Super Peel for transferring pizzas. Gary Casper invented the Super Peel and generously shared the Peel with me to try out.
I loved it so much I asked him to do a giveaway so we could share one with you. *Leave a note in the comments below and you will be eligible to win a Super Peel. The winner is: Sandy! We’ll be in touch, Sandy. Continue reading
We are super excited to announce our new Craftsy bread baking video class. We’ve made a video of our most popular breads with lots of tips and techniques for getting a professional loaf every time you bake with very little time or effort! It is the perfect companion to all of our books. In the video we’ll use a single dough to create all the breads, but the techniques are useful for all the doughs from any of our books.
Here’s some pictures from our video shoot in Denver. Our readers get 50% off the video by clicking the link below. This offer only lasts for two weeks, so join us soon!
It wasn’t that long ago I spent a magic filled weekend with Todd and Diane (White on Rice Couple) in their California studio. It was one of those experiences I will never forget. Not only is their sun soaked space a dream come true for anyone with a camera, but they have a prop room the size of most homes. They invited a group of food bloggers to play in their kitchen and challenged all of us to push our photography in new directions. The talent of the group was mind bending, but it was really the generosity of the group, who freely shared their wisdom, that was so inspiring.
One of the lovely people I met that weekend was Gina Homolka from SkinnyTaste. Her blog and her book are both beautiful and a pure reflection of the woman behind them. She served a salad at the studio party that was simply incredible, so I bought her book. Now that I am home in the polar vortex that is Minnesota, and pretty much snowed in until March, I am all about hot soups. I wanted something that felt hearty enough to conquer the cold, but didn’t make me feel like I needed to nap after. I flipped through Gina’s book and found “Un”stuffed Cabbage Soup. I love stuffed cabbage. It reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen, but I’ve never had the patience to make them. This soup has all of those wonderful flavors, but none of the work. Perfect for a cold night with a loaf of fresh bread. I went with an ultra crusty Epi, but to keep it skinny, I made mini ones.
This is the season of soup. It’s cold outside here in MN and nothing is better than a cup of hot soup. Oh, and there is all that leftover Turkey to deal with and the beautiful butternut squash proliferation at the grocery store. To go with all that soup you’ll be making, there is nothing better than homemade bread. This fougasse is a traditional French flatbread. It is both crispy, due to all that crusty surface and tender on the inside. It’s like a fancy breadstick. Because it is a flatbread, it is faster to make, since you have such a short resting time. My husband made a big batch of butternut squash soup from Amanda Paa’s new book Smitten with Squash. To go with the aromatic soup, I added lots of chopped garlic to the bread dough and the result is fantastic. Continue reading
(photo by Stephen Scott Gross and styled by Sarah Kieffer)
In 2007, when our first book hit the stores, I had never heard of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. In the past 7 years I’ve had quite an education on the subject. It all started here on the website. People were writing in to say they loved our method, but couldn’t eat wheat. There were many, many requests, so Jeff and I set off to develop recipes that fit our fast and easy method but used flours that were gluten-free. We’ve put gluten-free breads in all of our books since then, but they were just small chapters among a bunch of wheat filled recipes. It seemed unfair to the folks who couldn’t eat wheat to buy a book filled with recipes that didn’t suit their needs, so we decided to write a book for them. Last week Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day came out and we are thrilled to share the Master Recipe with you here.
We’ve had great feedback from our original gluten-free recipes, but we wanted to simplify the method even more. That meant developing two flour mixes that all our recipes are based on, so you just have to mix the flour once for many loaves. You just mix up a big batch of our Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix and/or our Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour mix and you’ll be able to quickly mix and bake all 90 recipes in our book. (We’ve tried commercial flour mixes, but haven’t found one that is as tasty, nor do they produce as nice a texture. If you have a brand of GF flour that you like to use, give it a try, but you may need to make some adjustments, so we recommend making a small batch to make sure you like the results.)
We also wanted to provide recipes that are mostly vegan (no eggs) and dairy free. Because eggs are a leavening ingredient, we do like the Master Recipe made with eggs for a lighter loaf. In fact, we find that the dough made with egg whites is the lightest of all the options. You can also use an egg substitute if you choose not to use eggs. And as always with our method, you save time by mixing a large batch and storing it in the refrigerator, pulling off dough to use as you need it.
The following recipe is our Master Recipe from GFABin5 made with egg whites, but you can make the same recipe with whole eggs, egg substitutes or without any eggs at all. Continue reading