March 8, 2011
This past week I tried out Mark Bittman’s “Rick Golden Bread” recipe (How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, page 714).
3 1/2 cups flour (I did one cup wheat and the rest white)
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon cold butter
about 1 cup of milk
softened butter as needed
melted butter as needed
- Combine all the flour, salt , sugar, yeast, and cold butter in a bowl and mix with your hands until the butter is broken up into the dry ingredients.
- Slowly add 3/4 cup of milk and mix until the dough is soft and smooth. Add the remaining milk if need-be. It should be slightly sticky.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes, just until it is smooth. This is a chance to knead in more flour if you need to. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a plastic bag and a cloth, and let rise 2 hours.
- Next, divide up the dough into however many loaves you intend to make. I cut 1/3 off and made a single small loaf with that portion and cut the remaining 2/3 into three pieces to braid for challah.
- Shape the loaves (for the challah, roll out each section into a snake about in inch thick and then braid them together). Cover and leave them to rest 20 minutes on a floured surface.
- When they have puffed slightly, use your fingers to seal the bottoms of the loaves and place them in buttered baking pans. Cover and let rise 2 hours.
- Now, baking: preheat the oven to 350. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Bake until golden brown (about 40 minutes, or less with out unpredictable and hype-active oven). As a baking guide, we sometimes pull the loaves out of their pans and knock on the bottom: when the bread sounds hollow, it is done.
March 7, 2011
Today I made a variation on Mark Bittman’s french bread loaf. When it was done, we used the bread for wonderful winter paninis. So, the recipe, paraphrased:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast.
about 1 cup and 2 tablespoons water
- Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together.
- Add 1 cup lukewarm water and mix until smooth. If need be, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.
- The dough should be smooth and a little sticky. If it is too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time; if too dry, add water.
- Oil the dough and place it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a sheet of wax paper and a cloth on top of the wax paper.
- Let rise up to 3 hours (up to 12 in the refrigerator)
- Take your dough at shape it into a loaf (or rolls, or baguettes) and place it on an oiled and lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with wax paper and cloth again.
- Here you can either let it rise another 2-3 hours at room temperature, or, for me, pop it in the fridge for the whole afternoon. Before baking, take it out of the fridge, uncover, and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
- Slash the top of the loaf.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, place an oven safe pan on the lower rack and put water on to boil. When the water boils pour it into the pan on the lower oven rack and quickly close the oven door.
- Now, turn the heat down to 375 and put the bread in.
- Bake for about 20-30 minutes for a loaf (less time for baguettes or rolls, of course).
This has become a real favorite of Bittman’s breads and I try to make it as often as possible since it’s so easy and yummy.
March 7, 2011
We’ve been making pizza every few weeks since it requires relatively few veggies and is consistently delicious. Over the weeks I have tested both Mark Bittman’s pizza recipe and my own personal one. Ultimately we all agreed on my recipe: it is more diverse and always wonderful. It also doesn’t require a food processor.
My pizza recipe was given to me in 2005 when I lived with friends of my parents in London. They were both great cooks and passed on tidbits of their knowledge to me. So, scrawled into a handbound notebook six years ago, I have this fail-safe recipe:
- Make a sponge of the following:
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 rye or whole wheat flour
- 2. Let is rise for 20-30 minutes
1/2 cup water (also lukewarm)
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups flour
(Note: if you do 100% whole wheat flour, add 1/4 teaspoon extra yeast in the first stage)
- Carefully oil your dough all over and place it in a bowl. Let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place with a cloth over the top.
- Punch down lightly and let it rise another 40 minutes
- Finally, knead gently for a few minutes, roll out into desired shape and place on a oiled and floured baking pan. Bake at a very high temperature until slightly golden-brown.
Some topping ideas for mid-late winter:
This weekend a friend from college was here visiting (and here snowed in for the night…just because we had a few days relief in the mid-40s doesn’t mean winter is over) and we made a mushroom onion pizza with small garlic chunks. When she arrived for dinner last night-the pizza dough rising on the counter-it had only just started to rain; however, by the time we’d eaten dinner and sat down to watch The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus (2009) it was snowing heavily and we decided our friend should spend the night. Of the Imaginarium: a wonderful movie with an unexpected ending. It could have done with a few more exposition scenes to help smooth the narrative shifts, but overall very enjoyable. Beautifully shot and designed.
This morning it is still snowing heavily and the word from the fine people who have actually left the apartment this morning is that the snow is at least two feet deep.