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by Sarah Steimer

This bread was a spur-of-the-moment baking decision. I expected it to be a lot more involved, not entirely sure how the magical pockets worked out, but it was pretty simple and required hardly any baking time (mostly just needed rising time).

This bread was a spur-of-the-moment baking decision. I expected it to be a lot more involved, because I wasn’t entirely sure how the magical pockets were created. It ended up being a pretty simple process and required hardly any baking time (mostly just needed rising time).


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by Sarah Steimer

Focaccia bread is so simple and so easy to tweak once you find a base recipe you like. You could even simplify it down to just Parmesan on the top and use it primarily for paninis.

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by Sarah Steimer

My baguettes didn't wind up looking quite as sexy as the photos from the original recipe - but they taste and texture was pretty near spot-on for a baguette. I had to make a few tweaks because I don't have a bread stone, but I think the baguettes turned out pretty darn well overall.

My baguettes didn’t wind up looking quite as sexy as the photos from the original recipe — but the taste and texture was pretty darn near spot-on for a baguette. I had to make a few tweaks to the recipe overall: I used an upside-down baking sheet in place of a bread stone and a Dutch oven with ice to create steam instead of a cast iron skillet. I don’t think my tweaks made a huge difference, but learning to bake your own bread involves a lot of trial and error. It takes some time to learn how to knead the dough just right or to figure out the perfect amount of time the bread needs to bake, but you won’t get too many complaints from those who benefit from your experiments.

  • 1 1/2 cups tap water, heated to 115 degrees
  • 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • oil
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

Whisk together the yeast and water in a large bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy. Stir the flour in with a fork until dough forms and all the flour is absorbed. Let the dough sit for about 20 minutes so the flour may fully hydrate.

Add the salt to the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. I needed to add additional flour to my surface pretty regularly because the dough was fairly sticky. Just try not to add TOO much flour!

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a cold oven and let rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Working on a lightly floured surface, form the dough into an 8-inch-by-6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle so the edges meet. Next, fold the 6-inch sides toward the center so those edges meet. Return to the bowl, seam side down, and place in the oven for 1 hour.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Place a piece of lightly floured parchment paper on an upside-down baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the parchment. Lift and crease the paper between the ropes to form long pleats. Place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under the long edges of the paper to support the loaves. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes.

While the dough is rising, place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking stone on the rack above the skillet. I do not have a baking stone, so I used an upside-down baking sheet instead. Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees.

Once the oven is ready, remove the plastic wrap and towels from the dough. Flatten out the paper so the loaves are spaced out. Use a sharp knife or razor to slash the top of each loaf at a 30-degree angle in four spots, with each slash about 4 inches long. Use the edges of the parchment to carefully guide the loaves onto the hot baking stone (this is a good time to have a friend help). Place the ice cubes in the skillet so steam forms, thus allowing the loaves to rise fully before a crust forms.

Bake until the loaves are dark brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Cool before serving.

Makes three, 14-inch baguettes.

Recipe adapted from: Saveur

*We’re loving the smell of fresh bread wafting from our ovens in February. See all of our On the Rise bread recipes here.

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by Sarah Steimer

The texture of this pasta turned out beautifully. I served it with marinara sauce and tomato-basil sausage, but it would also be perfect just with sauteed garlic, olive oil and Parmesan.

The texture of this pasta turned out beautifully. I served it with marinara sauce and tomato-basil sausage, but it would also be perfect just with sauteed garlic, olive oil and Parmesan.

  • 3 cups packed spinach, steamed until just wilted then squeezed dry
  • 1 pound all-purpose flour (a little more than 3 1/2 cups)

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    The spinach will turn the flour only a pale green. Once the liquids are added, you’ll have a better idea of the pasta’s true color.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • water

Combine the spinach, flour and salt in a food processor using the sharp blade attachment (not the dough blade). Combine until there are no full pieces of spinach.

Add the full egg and egg yolks. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add enough water (I may have added around 1/4 cup) until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. You may need to stop the machine occasionally to scrape the sides. DO NOT add so much water that the dough is wet. It should only be very slightly sticky.

Like most people, I don't own a pasta-drying rack. Instead, I just used clean plastic hangers.

Like most people, I don’t own a pasta-drying rack. Instead, I just used clean plastic hangers.

Remove the dough from the machine and form into palm-sized, imperfect balls. Be careful not to work the dough too much, which can make it tough.

Follow your pasta maker’s instructions to flatten the dough and then cut into pasta. I went with (what I believe is) the fettuccine setting on my pasta maker.

Cook the pasta is boiling water for only about 3-4 minutes. If you are not using all or some of your pasta at once, hang it to dry and then store in an air-tight container in the pantry.

Makes about 4 servings of pasta.

My dried pasta - ready and waiting for the next time I can use it.

My dried pasta – ready and waiting for the next time I can use it.

Recipe adapted from: Korean American Mommy

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by Sarah Steimer

I love gnocchi, but it can be pretty heavy in its traditional potato-flour form. This ricotta version is a lighter alternative for summer.

  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • Pasta sauce
  • Parmesan

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg and 1 cup of the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything begins to stick. Begin kneading the dough with your hands and add the rest of the flour little by little, only until there is enough so the dough is smooth and elastic but not overly sticky.

Some gnocchi recipes call for you to roll each piece with the tongs of a fork to give it ridges. That’s a big, fat waste of time, if you ask me. Gnocchi does not need to be difficult! Especially not this recipe (three ingredients? Yes, please).

Roll the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Separate the dough into eight pieces. Roll out each piece into a long, even rope. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch segments and set aside. Repeat until all the dough is rolled and cut.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi all at once. Stir often and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the pieces float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with the pasta sauce of your choice and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Recipe adapted from : Katherine Martinelli

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by Sarah Steimer

OK – I’ll admit it, these were supposed to be corn fritters — I even saved the photos of this dish under the name “cornflop.” But this was one of those rare and wonderful moments when the recipe still held up, even if its shape did not. If you can keep it in a fritter form, then good for you! But I urge you to try this recipe no matter what. The smoky corn, cheddar and arugula flavors are like a perfect Midwest summer salad.

  • 3 ears of corn, enough to yield  1 1/2 cups
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 scallions, including 1 inch of the greens, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat parsley
  • 1 tablespoons shredded basil
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • butter or oil
  • 2 handfuls arugula

Slice the kernels off the corn. Mix the corn with the eggs, scallions, herbs, cheese and as much flour as can easily be absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt enough butter or heat enough oil to cover a medium skillet generously. Divide the batter roughly into fourths and drop into the skillet. Fry over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes, then turn and brown on the other side. <– this part did not work for me. At all. I tried to flip and ended up with corn piles. So I just sautéed everything until browned! I promise the flavors are worth the semi-failure.

Place the fritters on top of the arugula leaves and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

Recipe adapted from: Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

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by Sarah Steimer

This was my first time making yellow cake from scratch – although I’ve made plenty of chocolate cakes (using this stand-by recipe). The walnut topping is totally optional, I just thought it needed a little flourish.

For the yellow cake:

Makes enough for one, 8-inch round cake, single-layer.

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter softened, plus more for parchment
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour sifted, plus more for parchment OR 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

    I’ll admit that if I’m going to foray into unknown baking territory, I always head for Martha Stewart’s website.

Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Cut a circle out of parchment paper, using the pan as a guide, and place the circle at the bottom of the pan. Butter the top of the paper and lightly flour the pan, tapping off the excess.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and then beat in the eggs one at a time. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture, alternating with the milk. Martha Stewart’s recipe said to start and end with the flour additions, but I didn’t do this and everyone survived.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan (don’t forget to take the parchment paper off) and cool on a rack completely. Do not ice the cake while it is still warm.

My cake, which I made with all-purpose flour, was maybe a little more dense than it would have been with cake flour. But it was still moist.

For the chocolate icing:

Cut this recipe in half if you only make one layer of cake.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk (again, used skim)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.

Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating with an electric mixer as you go. Can add additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Use immediately.

Cake recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart

Icing recipe from: Hershey’s (right on the side of the cocoa box)

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