Bread Basket for 4th of July Picnic!

bread basket

Having just returned from Kansas and seeing the amber waves of wheat, I was moved to bake a bread that represents the American Breadbasket. This simple basket-weave of bread sticks is a stunning way to serve tuna salad (or anything else your craving) at your 4th of July picnic. You can make a large one to share or smaller baskets for individual plates.

Happy 4th of July!

The winner of the Gold Medal Flour giveaway is announced at the bottom of the post. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Crock-Pot Bread

Last week I did a post about baking a loaf of bread in a slow cooker. The resulting bread was fast, easy and delicious, not to mention it didn’t require a hot oven on a warm summer day. Several people asked if the same technique could be used with our gluten-free doughs. I am happy to announce that YES, it also works with gluten-free. I used the “Not Rye (But So Very Close)” recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Check with your crock-pot’s manufacturer before trying this, since some model’s instructions specify that the pot has to be at least partially filled with liquid to avoid safety or durability problems.  And never bake  in a crock-pot unattended. Continue reading

Crock Pot Bread Baking (Fast Bread in a Slow Cooker)

crock pot bread

When I moved to the midwest I was introduced to Crock Pot cooking. I had never even seen a slow cooker before and had no idea the range of foods that could be created in a plug-in cooking pot. Since then I have had everything from No-Peek-Chicken, Swedish Meatballs and Peach cobbler, done in one of these magic devices. When my husband was an art director Aveda they had “crock pot parties,” which meant everyone plugged in their slow cookers at their desks and made a dish to share.  Brilliant! Maybe kids should bring crock pots to school and have healthy food cooking at their desks.

But, bread in a crock pot? Over the years we have gotten requests from readers to develop a method of baking our dough in a crock pot. I had my doubts, lots of them. I didn’t think the slow cooker could get hot enough, I thought it would take too long, I didn’t think it would bake through or have a nice crust and I resisted trying it. I was so convinced it would be a fail. Oh, how wrong I was. The crock pot does indeed get hot enough, and it takes less time than using  your oven, because the rising time is included in the baking. The only thing I got right was the crust, it is very soft and quite pale when it comes out of the slow cooker, but just a few minutes under a broiler and I got a gorgeous loaf. I am a convert and it is just perfect for summer baking when you don’t want to heat up your oven. You could even amaze your friends at work by baking a loaf under your desk!  *

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gluten free pizza 13

Gluten Free Pizza (Locally Foraged Toppings, the Gifts of Spring!)

This week I had the tremendous pleasure of doing an event with the Minnesota Food Bloggers. The group is held together with the love and sweat of Stephanie Meyer and includes 450 passionate food lovers. The group gets together about once a month to celebrate what is exciting and new in the Minneapolis food scene, which is growing larger and more exciting every day. Stephanie invited me to do a pizza class for the group, and I jumped at the chance. An excuse to hang out with this group and an opportunity to get them all tossing dough in the air and baking pizza. The venue was also a tremendous draw for me, we did this giant pizza party at the Kitchen in the Market. A fully equipped professional kitchen run by the sweet, sassy and talented duo Molly McDonald Herrmann and Tracy Morgan. Here is a lovely post of the party by Sarah Kieffer whose site  The Vanilla Bean Blog is just beautiful.

We made dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day the kind made specifically for tossing high in the air. The dough for tossing is made with Bread Flour, so it is a bit stronger and can handle being thrown as high as you dare. The group has several folks who are on a gluten free diet, so we had our gluten free crust available to them. The g-f crust is tasty and makes a brilliant pizza, but can’t be tossed high in the air and needs to be handled in a different way from traditional dough.  Below are our instructions for the no-fail gluten free crust. But, before I roll out the dough, I want to say a little about the toppings. There are some gifts that are priceless…so rare, so precious and so fleeting that they make you want to weep. Kathy Yerich, one of the partners of Rouge Pottery, brought me such a gift at the pizza party. She went foraging for morel mushrooms, ramps (spring onions) and nettles and brought them to me in a basket. The contents of this basket were almost too gorgeous to eat, but I managed and made this pizza, which my husband said “tastes like summer!” What a gift. Continue reading

Hot Cross Buns!

hot cross buns

(This is a post that first appeared in 2009 – we hope it is fresh for some and a welcome memory for others!)

“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns!” are the words to the children’s song and it is so true. I made these buns at the request of many of you and my kids devoured them within minutes. They are the buns traditionally served at Easter time. A sweet dough, spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing.

As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them. Some people slash the dough to make the cross, others use a flour and water paste to create the symbol and others use the sweet icing. Tell me how you make your buns, and if you don’t have a family tradition yet, you can start with these!

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toast

Perfect Toast

My favorite breakfast is a homemade bread, toasted to perfection, fruit preserves, and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I know it sounds simple, but getting that bread to caramelize and crisp up on the outside, but have a soft interior, isn’t always as easy as you may think. We’ve heard from some readers that they have a difficult time toasting, so here are some simple steps to getting a perfect slice. Continue reading

bagels

Bagels (a dedication to the late Murray Lender)

Most Americans were introduced to bagels through the frozen bagged bagels by Lender’s. In all honesty the bagels in a bag weren’t all that great, but they made the doughnut shaped breads a household staple. People no longer had to search for a Jewish bakery to find them. Today Murray Lender died and in honor of the man who put the bagel on the American map, we are sharing our recipe for making bagels at home. They are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and so easy to make.

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peasant bread

How to Make a 2-pound Loaf

In Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day we suggest baking a 1-pound loaf and give detailed instructions for making this smallish bread. It seems like a nice size loaf for a family of 4 to eat in a day. On some occasions you may want to bake a larger loaf and it requires a few adjustments to our recipe. Here are step by step instructions for baking a 2-pound free form loaf. Continue reading

Balthazar 05

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizzette

The concept for these little pizza/tarts came from a family recipe. My cousin, Riad Nasr, is a world class chef and quite often the source of inspiration in my kitchen. He practices his craft in New York City at a line-up of crazy-popular restaurants including Pastis, Minetta Tavern and Balthazar. Several years ago he wrote the Balthazar cookbook and included a savory tart with herby caramelized onions and goat cheese. I made it and fell in love. When Jeff and I decided to write our Pizza book I knew this flavor combo would be fantastic as a pizza. I’ve made it in several classes that we’ve taught to rave reviews, so I thought I would make it with you here.

The key to this pizza is caramelizing the onions. You can speed up the process by using a slightly higher heat and adding a touch of sugar, but for this recipe we’re going the old fashion route and doing it slow. I admit this may take a few more than 5 minutes, but I think it’s worth it. For those of you looking for a speedier version you can find one on page 108 of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Continue reading