Archive for the ‘Baking’ category

Oatmeal bread in the bread machine

July 13, 2012

Quick and simple with good flavor and chew, this bread makes great toast. This recipe is for a 1.5 lb loaf.

1.5 c water
1.5 TB cooking oil
6 TB honey
1.5 tsp salt
3/4 c rolled oats
4 c all purpose unbleached flour
1.5 tsp instant yeast

Put all ingredients in the machine per the manufacturer’s instructions and start the “normal” cycle. Once the kneading has been running for a few minutes, check the dough and add a couple of TB flour if it seems too moist. Allow the cycle to complete then remove the loaf from the pan to cool on a rack.

Oatmeal pan bread

February 10, 2012

Adapted from a Jacques Pepin recipe, this easy and quick-to-make bread has a host of uses, with soup, cheese, salad, etc. Best served warm, I think.

1 c quick oatmeal (not “instant”)
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c finely chopped onions
1 large egg
1/2 c chopped parsley leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c whole milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine and mix all ingredients. Heat 2 TB of vegetable oil in a 7 inch (size not critical) skillet, cast iron is best, until just starting to smoke. Add batter and smooth out to make an even layer. Drizzle another TB of oil on the top. Put in oven for 15-20 min, until the bottom is nicely browned. Flip over and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Remove to plate and let cool for a few minutes before slicing into wedges.

Auntie Terrie’s Bran Muffins

April 30, 2011

This delicious recipe comes from my wife’s Auntie Terrie. Do not substitute other brands of bran cereal for the All Bran – I have found the Kellogg’s works the best. This makes 12 large muffins.

2 c Kellogg’s All Bran cereal
2 c milk
1 c vegetable oil
1 c white sugar
2 eggs
2 c all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c raisins
1 large or 2 small granny smith apples, peeled and coarsely grated

Soak All Bran in milk until soft, about 30 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil/sugar mixture, dry ingredients, raisins, and grated apple to the All Bran/milk mixture and mix using a wooden spoon. Fill greased muffin cups to the top, as this recipe does not rise a great deal. Bake at 350 f for 30 minutes. If using a convection oven bake at 325 for 23 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Easy yet great French bread

April 30, 2011

There’s nothing like a baguette or batard fresh from the oven. While there are many recipes for “authentic” French bread, and many of them produce good results, the following is by far the easiest and most reliable I have found. It is adapted from a recipe in The Best Bread Ever by Charles van Over. Note – you must start the bread the day before.

I have tried French bread recipes from many sources, ranging from Julia Child to Cooks Illustrated. These recipes all seem to have one thing in common: complexity. In particular, the rising usually involves a cloche, a special cloth that is used to hold the dough during certain parts of the rising. Also, the loaf-forming procedures often seem like advanced origami. This is all well and good and can give terrific results, but I think of this bread as an everyday food that should be easy to make. While the total time is 2 days, the time you have to put in is 15-20 minutes in all.


The flour you use will make a difference. My preferences are King Arthur’s unbleached all-purpose white flour or their French-style flour. You do not need “bread” flour—all purpose works just fine (although you can use bread flour with excellent results). The recipe uses a food processor, which not only saves time and effort but allows you to use a rather wet dough that results in a superior bread but is next to impossible to knead by hand. It also uses a baguette pan, eliminating the hassle of creating nicely formed loaves. You’ll also need a water sprayer. This recipe make 2 batards or 3 of the thinner baguettes.

Measure the flour by weight if you can. You will soon get a feel for the best consistency, and the exact water-to-flour ratio will not always be the same.

1 lb (appx 3-1/2 c) flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1-1/4 c water (about)

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in the food processor and pulse to blend. With the machine running, slowly pour about 90% of the water into the mixture and process for 20 seconds. The dough should come together in a single mass and be shaggy and sticky. If it is dry and crumbly add 2 TB water. If it is too “soupy” add 2 TB flour. Process for an additional 35 seconds or a bit more. This dough will be a bit wetter than a typical bread dough. It’ll look like this, more or less.


Scrape the dough onto a clean, unfloured counter. The reason for not flouring the counter is that you don’t want to add more flour to the dough so it stays moist. Without extra flour it will stick, so use your dough scraper to pull it up and then slam it back onto the counter about a dozen times. Don’t be shy! This is a good time to take out your aggressions! It will start out looking like this:


And finish looking like this:


Put the dough in an ungreased bowl:


Cover with plastic wrap – just the bowl, don’t press the wrap down onto the dough. Put in the fridge until the next day. The long, slow rise in the fridge really makes a difference in flavor and texture. The next day, it might look like this:


When you get up the next morning, take the bowl out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 5-6 hours. It will rise a good bit more and may develop some bubbles at the surface.

Turn the risen dough onto a floured counter and use your dough scraper to divide into 2 more-or-less equal pieces:


Use your hands to roll and stretch each piece into a loaf. Don’t fuss. They need not be exactly equal in size. Put them in the baking pan:


Cover with a clean towel, not terrycloth, and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours. While the loaves are rising, place the oven rack slightly below the middle position. Then, 1/2 hour before baking preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Here’s the bread after rising:


Just before baking, uncover the loaves and slash the tops diagonally in 2 or 3 places using a razor blade about 1/2 inch deep (see note below):


Put the baguette pan in the oven and quickly spritz the inside of the oven 5-6 times with water, using a plant mister. Don’t spray directly on the loaves, although if a bit of water gets on the loaves it will be fine. Reduce the oven setting to 450. After 2 minutes open the oven and repeat the spritzing. Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes until the crust is brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer will read 205-210 degrees in the center of a loaf. Cool on racks. Eat.

Note on slashing loaves: The slashing is important, not only for appearance but to allow the loaves to expand more while baking. I use a standard double-edged razor blade with the back edge taped over for safety. I make the slash about 1/2 inch deep. The only “trick” I have learned is not to rush it, but to cut slowly. For example, the slashes in the loaves pictured above each took about 4 seconds for me to slowly draw the razor across the bread. For storage, I enclose the razor blade in a small cardboard folder fastened with a paper clip.

Note 2: This bread freezes surprisingly well. Not as good as fresh, but most welcome when you do not have time to bake. Cut into 1 inch slices and put in a zipper bag, then freeze. Heat in the toaster oven for a few minutes before serving.

Best buttermilk biscuits

April 25, 2011

My wife developed this recipe over the years. Outstanding biscuits! Don’t expect this or any biscuit recipe to be perfect the first time you make it. It takes a little experience to get to know the right feel of the dough.

2 c flour (low gluten such as White Lily)
1 TB baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
3/4 c buttermilk
1 TB butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450° (conventional) or 415° (convection). Convection gives the most even cooking.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Cut in the 6 TB of butter until mixture resembles corn meal. Add buttermilk, stirring until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead well at least 30 seconds. Roll to 1/2″ thickness. Cut into 2 to 3 inch rounds. Place on non-stick baking sheet or greased regular baking sheet so that each biscuit is almost touching its neighbors. Knead remaining scraps together into a ball, roll out, and cut more biscuits. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush with melted butter. Let sit 5-10 minutes on baking sheet before baking. Bake 12-15 minutes in regular oven or 7-1/2 to 8 minutes in convection oven. They will double or triple in height and become lightly browned on top.


1) White Lily brand all purpose flour works the best. Do NOT use White Lily Self Rising Flour.
2) The dough is very sticky and soft when you first start kneading. Keep kneading on a well-floured surface until you can roll it out.
3) Kneading the biscuit dough for at least
1/2 minute improves the texture of the biscuits.

Orange-poppy seed cake

April 25, 2011

One of our favorites. Using oil instead of butter gives it a lighter flavor that lets the orange and poppy seed taste come through. I think it goes well with plain yogurt, but I would not turn my nose up at vanilla ice cream.

3 c all purpose flour
2 c sugar
1/4 c poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c cooking oil (I use canola)
3 eggs
3/4 c milk
2 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 c orange juice

Spray a 10 inch bundt/tube pan with non-stick spray. Preheat over to 350f with rack at lower-middle position.

Put the dry ingredients in a mixer bowl and mix to blend. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low to blend then on medium-low for about a minute, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Scrape batter into pan and even out the top. Bake for 45-50 min until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10-15 min and then invert into a plate.

Optional glaze: mix 1 c sifted powdered sugar with 3-4 TB orange juice until you have a smooth, thick paste. Drizzle over cake once it is almost completely cooled.

Irish soda bread

April 23, 2011

A very tasty quick bread that can be made in not much more than an hour. Makes great toast, too.

1-1/2 c each all purpose and whole wheat flour
1/4 c sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp each baking soda and salt
2 c buttermilk
1 egg

Mix all the dry ingredients together using a whisk, being sure they are well combined. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together and stir into the dry mixture until well but not completely combined. Turn out onto a floured surface. You’ll have a shaggy, wet, sticky mess that is nothing like the dough for a traditional kneaded yeast bread. Using floured hands, form as best you can into an 8 inch round and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using a wet serrated knife, cut a deep cross in the top (very traditional!). Bake at 325f for about an hour, until an instant-read thermometer reads 205-210f in the center of the loaf. Cool on a rack.

Topping for crisps and crumbles

April 23, 2011

Crisps and crumbles are great and easy desserts, fruit tossed with sugar and maybe some spices, then topped and baked. This is the best topping I have found, and you can use it for just about anything you like. This makes enough to top about 2 lbs of fruit.

1/2c flour
1/2c rolled oats
1/4c white sugar
1/4c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
6 TB butter, cold, and cut into pieces
1/2c walnuts or pecans

Put all ingredients in your food processor and zap until crumbly. Use to top your fruit, then bake as directed.

No-knead bread

April 23, 2011

Several recipes for no-knead bread have been published, and I experimented with them until I came up with something that works for me. Don’t expect this to save you work – with a mixer or food processor to do the work, the kneading is the least of your worries! But, this recipe does give a lovely, rustic bread that is chewy with great flavor.

3 c bread or all-purpose flour (replace 3/4c with whole wheat if desired)
1-1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1-1/3 c cool water

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl and then stir in the water to get a sticky, shaggy dough. This will be wetter than other bread doughs. Add a little more water if needed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. Or, leave in the fridge overnight, taking it out first thing in the morning. The end result should be dough that has about doubled in size with lots of bubbles on the surface.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Using your dough scraper, pull the edges up and over toward the center to get a roughly round, flattish shape. Invert the dough onto a well-floured linen or cotton towel or a baking cloth. Cover with another towel and let sit until about doubled in size.

Meanwhile, put a covered, heavy 4-5 quart pot (cast iron, le Creuset, etc) in the oven and preheat to 475f for at least 30 minutes (See warning below). Remove the pot from the oven, remove the cover, and invert the dough into it (seam side up). Immediately replace the cover and return the pot to the oven. Reduce heat to 450.

Bake for 30 min. Remove the  cover and bake another 10-20 min until the bread is a nice brown color. Remove from the pot and cool on a rack.

Warning: Most electric ovens turn on the broiling element as well as the baking element during preheating. Oven-proof handles on your pot may not be broiler-proof. If you are worried, preheat the over first and then put the pot in it for at least 30 minutes.

Traditional scones

April 21, 2011

Please save me from the cantaloupe-size commercial scones that are laden with chocolate chips and god-knows-what-else. Save me also from the scones that use milk in place of cream. The traditional plain scone is a real treat and, with a food processor, easy and fast enough to make fresh for breakfast. If you are feeling daring, it would not be untoward to throw in half a cup of dried currants. This makes 6 to 8 scones.

2c cake flour (low gluten flour, I use White Lily all purpose flour)
5 TB butter, cold, cut into pieces
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 TB sugar, divided
1/2c heavy cream or maybe a bit more, plus an extra TB or 2 for brushing
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 450f. Place rack in lower-middle position.

In your food processor, pulse the dry ingredients to blend, using 2 TB of the sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the egg and cream and pulse to get a sticky and slightly crumbly dough. You may need to add another TB or two of cream depending on your flour. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead once or twice, just enough to gather the dough together. Pat out the dough to 3/4 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, dipped in flour to prevent sticking, cut dough into 2 inch rounds (more or less) and place on a baking sheet (either non-stick or lined with parchment paper). Gather remaining dough and form by hand into similar shapes. Brush tops of scones with cream and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Now you have a choice. You can put the scones in the oven right away or you can let them sit for 10-15 min first. Letting them sit results in a slightly lighter and airier scone, but the difference is subtle.

Bake for 9-12 minutes until nicely browned. Serve warm with clotted cream or butter and your best jam and marmelade.

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