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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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

Lamb Pita

Turkish Spiced Lamb Pita – (Lahmacun)

In addition to making pizza on superbowl sunday, I propose that you shake things up a bit with these Spiced Lamb Pitas. This is one of my favorite recipes in our new book. I love it for many reasons, but the story behind my first bite of Lahmacun is as rich as the bread itself.

I arrived in Istanbul with my husband and two sons (9 & 11 at the time), after a long trip from Minneapolis. As we entered into the city, with the sweetest cabby in the world, and the fastest driver I have ever seen, we realized we were not in the Midwest anymore. It was a feast of the senses. To say we were overwhelmed by the beauty, smells, sounds and traffic, would have been a gross understatement. No sooner had we put our bags down in the hotel, then the concierge called the room to say I had a “friend” waiting for me in the lobby. He whispered into the phone and said “Please, be careful of people who claim to be your friend in a new city.” His way of warning me about something. I didn’t know anyone in the city, and hadn’t made plans to meet up with anyone, so I heeded his warning and sent my husband to the lobby to find out who this mysterious “friend” might be. It was indeed a friend, a dear sweet woman named Serap, who I’d met in the States. She owns a delightful Turkish restaurant called Depot 62 in Manchester, Vermont. I had told her I’d be in Istanbul, asked her for tips on where to eat, but that was all I ever expected to hear. Here she was, the loveliest surprise in the world. She was visiting her sister in istanbul, and they took the day to give us a tour of the city. They fed us the most glorious foods and she introduced me to her favorite Turkish food; Lahmacun. I will never forget that day and this flatbread is forever linked with one of my most precious memories. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

This thin pita is topped with Spiced lamb, quickly baked, so it is still soft, topped with chopped onions, parsley and a squeeze of lemon, then it is rolled up like a crepe.  Continue reading

pullman loaf

Pullman Loaf – perfectly shaped sandwich bread

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

Doughnuts

Savory Doughnuts

This week is Chanukah and it is all about frying our food, which brings me great joy. I am constantly trying to come up with something new to add to our menu of latkes, jelly doughnuts and all the other traditional fare. These savory doughnuts were inspired by the fried pizzas I had in Naples. We ate them as snacks during the day, to tide us over to the next pizza. Most of the pizzarias sold them outside their front doors to people waiting in long lines or folks on the run. Pizza dough stuffed with ricotta and deep friend; simple, but perfect. My boys love them stuffed with a variety of fillings, so use your imagination and create your own savory doughnuts. Continue reading