Thursday, September 20, 2012

5 Minute Artisan Bread

I grew up on homemade bread, but somehow I completely missed that talent.  I have never been able to bake very edible bread.  I heard about this a while ago and how easy and foolproof it is, and have been wanting to try it.  I finally decided to, yesterday, but didn't have enough time!  Don't let the name of this fool you.  It actually is going to take you a few hours, initially.  The work itself probably only totaled about five minutes, but there is time needed to let it rise.  And a great thing about this is that you can make it, one loaf at a time, and then keep the rest in the fridge for another day.  You can have fresh baked bread daily!  And it is super delicious!  Next time I'm going to try it with whole wheat flour and honey, or oats on the outside.  I'm sure if you know anything about bread (which I do not) you could come up with some creative ways to make this recipe (cinnamon bread?).

5 Minute Artisan Bread

3 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt or other coarse salt
6 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl, combine your water and yeast and stir it a little.  Don't worry about it getting completely dissolved.  Then add the salt and flour, all at once.  One tip that said was to not press down into the flour as you scoop, or you'll throw off the measurement.  Gently scoop it up.  I went ahead and believed them, as I have not had a lot of success in this department.  Mix it with a wooden spoon or with a kitchen aid type food processor until the flour is completely mixed in.  FYI: This took a few minutes and when it was done, it was pretty moist, not at all dry.  Next, cover your bowl loosely and allow the dough to rise until it is about double in size, anywhere from 2-5 hours.  Mine pretty much quite rising after 2 hours, even though I left it another hour.  At this point, you can use the dough or put it in the fridge for another day.
When you are ready to use the dough:
Prepare your baking apparatus.  I used my baking stone and was really happy with how it baked.  Sprinkle the top of your dough with flour.  Grab a large handful of dough (about a grapefruit sized amount) and cut it off, using a serrated knife.  Holding that dough in your hands, add a little more flour to the outside surface so that you can handle it better.  Form this dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough and turning it a little at a time, while you bunch up the dough on the bottom (Does this make sense?  If not, go to, as they have a very detailed description of this step).  Rest the dough and let it rise on a baking sheet or on your stone for about 40 minutes.  After about 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  When your dough has had sufficient rest, wake it up by first dusting it with flour and then using a serrated knife to slash it across the top, multiple times (hmm, that ended up sounding a little creepy.  Sorry.).  Then put it in your hot oven.  Also put in a roasting pan (or something like that) with about a cup of hot water and quickly close the oven door.  This will make it nice and steamy while it cooks.  Bake it for about 30 minutes, or until it is a nice golden color and firm to the touch.
The rest of the dough can be refrigerated for up to two weeks and when you want fresh bread, just follow the "When you are ready to use the dough" instructions.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

No Bake Cookies, or Haystacks

These cookies are filled with memories for me.  I know them now as "no bake cookies" but I grew up calling them "haystacks".  I remember eating them with school lunch.  I never made them at my own house because my mom is completely anti-peanut butter (and even though these don't even taste like peanut butter, if she knows it is in a recipe, we never made that recipe!).  I do remember making them at my best friend Julie's house, however.  And when I pulled out my recipe card, it is written in Julie's handwriting!  How fun for me.    

Haystacks (No Bake Cookies)
adapted from: Julie and

2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter
3 c. oatmeal

In a large saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, cocoa and milk, stirring constantly.  Bring it to a boil and boil it for 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and peanut butter and stir it until it is smooth.  Add the oatmeal and mix it well.  Drop it by tablespoon full onto wax paper and let it cool and harden.