Tag Archives: bread

Bread, Bread, Bread

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The one thing I decided I had to do when I became a stay-at-home-mom was to learn to bake bread.  The thought of warm, crusty bread coming out of my own oven, filling my house with the tangy smell of crispy crust and squishy insides, just makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a blanket of homey-ness.  (It’s a word, I swear.)

I decided to give it a try on my own, no recipe, no nothin’.

It didn’t go so well.  It wasn’t a total disaster, but it wasn’t anything to brag about.  My husband was great about it: “Oh, this would make a good breadsticks recipe.  It would be much better as pizza dough.  It’s good but we could try it for rolls instead of bread…”  He’s a good guy, that’s for sure.

Well, I decided bread wasn’t really the best thing to just “do”, so I started to research.  Tutorials, and yeast, and kneading- oh my!

Then I stumbled upon a super-easy bread recipe at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and I decided to try it.

I tucked Brian in for a nap and dug in!  The bread was set to rise before Brian even woke up from his short rest.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  The best part is, I can refrigerate the dough after the rise (up to two weeks) and just throw it in the oven when I want some delicious, crusty bread to make me happy.

With this recipe under my belt, I’m ready to tackle something more difficult- like rolling up my sleeves and kneading the heck out of some dough.  Not that my infant-lifting muscles really need more of a workout!

Rustic Crusty Bread
from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting dough (I used 6 cups- I went by look and feel on this one)

In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel but don’t seal the bowl airtight. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered in an airtight container, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife (I have only ever made two loaves out of the batch of dough so I just divide the dough in half to form my first loaf). Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel or a rimmed baking sheet turned upside down. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes for room temperature dough; if you have used the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stone at that temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough (with the parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until well browned, about 24-28 minutes. Cool completely.
If you don’t have a baking stone, try turning a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heating it in the 450 degree oven for 10 minutes prior to baking. When ready to bake, slide the parchment paper with the dough on it directly onto the overturned baking sheet and bake according to the recipe. You can also stretch the rounded dough into an oval and place in a greased loaf pan. Let it rise for 40 minutes if fresh (add an extra hour if the dough has been refrigerated). Bake in the loaf pan in the 450 degree oven, watching the time carefully – check after 20-22 minutes.

Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

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I’ve decided I should stop buying bananas. No, really. Hear me out.

Oh, Vermont. The land of the crazy weather. A week ago we had 2 inches of snow across our yard. No joke, May 26th we woke up to snow blanketing the lawn and weighing the freshly-popped leaves down. The green was having a serious “WTF, Mother Nature?!” moment.

Fast forward to this past weekend. June 2nd. It was a sunny, but far too hot day. As the husband and I toted the kid to the grocery store we were complaining about the 90* weather.

I’m getting to the banana part, really. Just hold on.

As the husband and I hauled the kid and our cart full of groceries from the store- sudden downpour. And by downpour, I mean the sky suddenly opened up and let an entire lake fall onto us. A severe storm ripped through and the 60 MPH straight line winds tore our part of Vermont to pieces. Trees and power lines down everywhere. Our middle-of-nowhere back road was blocked from both directions by massive, old maple trees and downed wires. We ended up having to stay with the in-laws for two days.

I’m finally home! Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-laws. I just love to be home. Brian does not like to be away from home either, so we had a seriously fussy boy on our hands for a few days. The grins I got when we got home!! He knew he was back to his place.

Now, to the part about the bananas. Last week I bought some bananas when I was shopping. I think we ate one of them before we forgot they existed. This happens regularly. We love bananas. They just always go from too-green to too-mushy too-fast.

We dragged ourselves into the house today to find a few too-mushy bananas sitting on the counter. Lucky for the husband, I know what to do with too-mushy bananas.

Banana Bread Muffins.

Or, because I want to eat it too, Vegan Banana Bread Muffins.

Brian began a nap in his swing shortly after getting home. I ran around and did some clean-up and laundry, then let myself get lost in the kitchen for a while. This vegan yumminess was invented during his dozy, constantly making me think he’s waking up nap. Can I get a boo-yah?

 

“I Ain’t Got No Time to Waste” Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins or 12 smaller muffins and one mini loaf

Preheat the oven to 400*muffin

2 Cups flour
½ Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Bananas, mashed+ 1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce+ ¼ cup water or fruit juice

Grease your muffin cups and loaf pan.
Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine your wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
Put the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Don’t over mix!

Channeling Bob Ross, now it’s time to make some big decisions. You can get fancy here and add some diced apples, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips- whatever you like! This is your masterpiece.

Once you’ve made your bread your own, fill your muffin cups 2/3 of the way.  If you’ve got the extra, fill your mini loaf pan.

Pop into your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool a bit before taking it out of the pan. You can serve it warm (my favorite!), or let it cool. Top it with some vegan butter substitute, or eat it plain. Or do whatever the heck you want with it. It’s tasty no matter how you shake it.

The muffins will keep for a few days, but I doubt it will last that long.

Happy Eating.