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.
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
There is 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Minneapolis and the temperature has dipped WAY below zero. This is why we Minnesotans are such bakers, it warms up the house and makes everyone happy. Christmas Stollen is a great tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with fruit, spiced with cardamom and a little treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven we dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. If there is any left the next day it makes amazing French toast.
People always ask us about our favorite bread-baking tools, so here are some of them, with links to Amazon:
A thermometer: you really can’t get a good crust until you know your oven’s temp. They’re cheap and effective.
Baking stone: For a great, crisp, crust, you really need one, and this 1/2-inch thick Old Stone brand has been very durable for us. There are other stone/iron options, see our post on that. Continue reading
Sweet Brioche is the latest in my series of crock pot breads*. It may have taken me a while to give the old slow cooker a try, but now I am unstoppable. Some of you may know that I am in the very last stages of a kitchen remodel, which has me displaced and baking under less-than-ideal conditions. So, the crock pot is the perfect way to get the job done. It can travel from room to room and it takes up no space at all. This time of year we may not be concerned with heating up our house with the oven, in fact, I rather look forward to it. That is precisely why we northerners refer to winter as the “baking season,” because we do as much of it as possible to keep ourselves warm. But, this time of year can be a battle to find enough oven space. Thanksgiving and Christmas can pose a Rubik’s Cube style challenge of getting everything baked and on the table at the same time. Why not eleviate some of the pressure by throwing a ball of dough in your crock? Next I have to see if I can make bread pudding in my slow cooker. I do look forward to having my kitchen back, but until then I will not be without fresh baked bread.
Happy Holidays! Continue reading
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
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! *
The beauty of a pullman loaf is the perfectly shaped slices. If you don’t want to take a chance on a loaf that has a slightly irregular shape, then this is the pan for you. It make for a perfectly square sandwich loaf or movie-worthy toast. Any of our bread doughs will work in this pan, but some rise more than others, so you will have to adjust the amounts. In this post I used a 100% whole grain oat bread from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which will rise less than our recipes using only white flour from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You may need to experiment a little, but I will walk you through the process below.
Jeff and I are back on the road to bake pizzas. We are teaching a few classes on the way and would love for you to join us. There are a couple of spots left in our class in Atlanta if you are free to join us on 1/14, for more information visit our events page. Continue reading