Monday, April 20, 2015

Easy French Bread

                 I was about to head out to mow a small strip of lawn in our back yard when I popped a piece of french bread into my mouth. I stopped, turned around, and walked straight to the computer to get this recipe up. I have so many recipes to share..I promise to get caught up soon! The weather will be turning next week and with the rain means more days in side and being able to catch up on my blogging.

This recipe is really easy! I know I say that a lot but I really don't make complicated recipes. They might have many steps but that doesn't mean it's hard and the more you work with yeast the less intimated you become by it. Even if your bread comes out wonky..and let me tell you, I still bake up wonky loaves, no body is going to care. I promise. There is no shame in funny shaped loaves. It's bread and it's good.

French Bread

5-1/2-6 cups All-purpose Flour
4-1/2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups Warm Water

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook,add in 2 cups of the flour,the yeast,salt,and warm water. Turn the mixer on low and mix until combined. Turn the mixer on to speed 2 and add in 3 more cups of flour slowly. Knead for 7 minutes and adding in additional flour as needed until a smooth and elastic dough is achieved. Shape into a bowl and place into a lightly greased bowl,turning once to coat. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size,about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover and rest for 10 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Roll each portion into a 15x10 rectangle. Roll up,jelly roll style,starting from the long side,pinching the seam shut. Pinch the ends and pull slightly to taper. Place seam side down onto prepared sheet. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise till nearly doubled in size,35-45 minutes.

Preheat oven 375/190. Uncover loaves and lightly mist the tops with a spray bottle. Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the tops of each loaf.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

** If you want a shiny crust,skip the misting of water and use an egg wash on the loaves before slicing**

Cool on wire rack

Yield: 2 Loaves
Source: Better Homes and Garden The New Cookbook 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Raspberry Jam Buttermilk Muffins

                 I apologize for the lack of postings on here..Spring is a busy time for me. I am knee deep in tiny seedlings,garden renovations,running out and soaking up the sun and warmth when it decides to show up, and tons of time spent in the kitchen trying to remember everything I learned in my bread class! 
         My fridge always has a variety of jams in it and we go through periods where we eat a lot of it but as quickly as we love it one week, we ignore it for the next two. I decided to pull the jars out and see what I could do about using them up.

Here's my answer! You can use whatever jam you want and switch out the topping if you prefer. You can leave the almond extract out,add in cinnamon,use shredded coconut on top or leave them plain. I've done all of those depending on the jam I am using.

Raspberry Jam Buttermilk Muffins

2 cups Flour..I use half whole wheat and half all-purpose
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Egg
Jam of choice
Sliced Almonds for the top..or shredded coconut!

Preheat oven to 375/190. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners and set aside.

In a large bowl,whisk together the flour,sugar,baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk,oil,extracts and egg. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Add one tablespoon or so of batter to the bottom of each muffin liner. Next drop in a tablespoons worth of jam into the center of the batter and then top with remaining batter. Sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire rack. Cool completely or eat warm..These freeze well!

Yield: 12 Muffins
Source: Heavily adapted from The Big Book of Bread

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Take A Peek Wednesday: Bread Baking Class


              A few Saturday's ago my wonderful husband woke up with me at 5:45 am so that we could be dressed and ready to catch the morning train at 7:45. We had a 3-1/2 hour ride so that I could attend a bread baking class with a group of friends.

                 One of the perks of my husbands job is that we received free first class train passes and let me tell you, it makes all the difference in the world! There is always a seat available and it's much quieter in first class.


              When we left Enschede the sun was out in full force but the closer we got to Schagen the darker it became and as always, there was rain involved. We didn't care though because when you're with a group of women that you highly admire and enjoy being around, your world is always sunny!
       There was so much laughter and tons and tons of learning. It was held in English which totally helps when you are trying to pay attention to everything that is being said and taught. I loved every single thing about it. We baked these incredible looking loaves of bread..mine is the top right, the one with the funny ball on top. We all wanted to make sure we knew which one was ours so that we could see the final product from all of our hard work.
            There's my loaf of bread! I actually shed a few tears when it came out of the oven because it was the first time I was able to achieve a perfectly round loaf of bread. The tips and tricks I learned that day will stay with me forever. In fact, we all had so much fun with the Chef, Ralph Nieboer that we have already booked another class in a few months. This time we are doing a pizza class together. We're going to bake them in an outdoor bread oven and I can not wait! This Fall we will be attending a sour dough class and I hope I can squeeze a holiday bread baking class in November or December!