Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Artisan Bread

I love making bread on principle, but I'm still vaguely intimdated. So far my "mastery" only extends to focaccia, bagels and slider buns.  A few weeks ago, however, my friend Nettie shared a recipe for "5 minute bread" on Facebook.  How could this not be easy and fun and probably tasty?
So it's not actually 5 minute bread.  But it does only take about 5 minutes of work.  With a wooden spoon. No intensive kneading, no bread maker, no randomly finding flour on the side of your fridge the next week (ok maybe that one).

This recipe makes between 3 and 5 loaves of bread, depending on the size of loaf you make.  I'm also told it makes good pizza rolls, or you could mix in some garlic or olives to add some flavour. But here is the base, it is delicious and easy to make!

Artisan Bread
from http://www.foodess.com/2009/03/artisan-bread-in-five-minutes/
1 1/2 T yeast (dry, active yeast)
3/4 T fine salt (or 1 1/2 T coarse salt - kosher or sea salt) *SEE NOTE
3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups sifted all purpose/plain flour (plus extra for dusting)

Dough preparation (do ahead of time, at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together yeast, salt and warm water.
  2. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  You could also use a blender with a dough attachment or even your hands, but the wooden spoon worked just fine for me.  This is your five minute step. It's really this easy.
  3. Set dough aside (uncovered) in a warm dry place.  Let rise for at least two hours, up to overnight. Dough will rise and then collapse.
  4. Set dough in fridge and partially cover (I used a dishcloth).  Do not cover complete as there are gases that need to escape from the active yeast.

Hungry? It's time to bake that bread!

  1. Using a serrated knife, pull of a ball of dough to bake.  A piece around the size of a grapefruit makes a 1-lb loaf, according to the recipe source. I used this as my guide to make a "small bread".
  2. Turn ball of dough out onto a floured surface.  Stretch the dough and tuck the edges underneath, top surface of dough will be smooth.  If you want to make a flatbread or pizza roll, shape it accordingly at this stage.
  3. Using a baking sheet or pizza sheet, roll the dough in a light dusting of cornflour for a crunchy crust.  Let sit for ~40 minutes to rest the dough.
  4. 20 minutes before baking, place a pizza stone or upturned baking tray* on the middle rack of your oven (or bottom).  On the top shelf, place a shallow oven proof dish.
  5. Preheat oven to 450F.
  6. Working quickly to keep heat in the oven, place dough on pre-heated pizza stone or etc and 1-2 cups of water in the shallow dish to create steam.  Close the door to the oven to keep the steam in.
  7. Bake for ~30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Exact cooking time will depend on the size of your loaf.  The bread is done when it sounds "hollow" if you knock on it.
  8. Store any leftover bread wrapped in paper.

I had this with butternut pumpkin soup last night for Meat Free Monday.  And it was really great today as well for lunch.

* The recipe calls for 1 1/2 Tbsp coarse salt (e.g. sea salt). I didn't have any coarse salt, so I used a much smaller portion of fine salt.  If you have a coarse salt, I recommend using that and using the larger amount.  I actually used a 1/2 Tbsp of fine salt, and it turned out OK, great if you're going low sodium, but it didn't rise as much as it could have.  Next time I'm going to use the larger portion of salt (or find some coarse salt because it's better anyway).

** So this is something that I would not have known -- using the upturned baking sheet keeps the edges from affecting heat distribution so that you get a crusty bottom to your bread.  Makes sense but I never would have thought of that.

Happy baking!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vegetarian Egg Casserole

So it's Meat Free Monday again! And again I dropped the ball on being prepared.  I was planning to make quiche, but then I found out that the puff pastry that was in the freezer needs two hours to defrost, and I didn't think that far ahead.  So, improvisation abounds! I decided to take the ingredients and make an egg casserole.

Fun fact, do you know that in Canada milk comes in bags?  Apparently this is only a Canadian thing. Oh, and I moved to Canada (which is at least part of the excuse I'm using for not updating for months).

Vegetarian Egg Casserole
Adapted from: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/quick-easy-egg-casserole-66050.aspx
1/3 of a baguette (or 3-4 slices of bread), cubed
4 eggs
1 1/3 cup milk
~1 cup grated cheese (marble cheese is delicious)*
3 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large field mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mustard seeds
a splash of balsamic vinegar
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
  2. Using cooking spray or oil, lightly grease a 9x9" casserole dish
  3. Spread cubed bread in an even layer across the bottom of the casserole dish
  4. Meanwhile, heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Add onions and fry until starting to clear, add mushrooms and soften.  
  6. Throw in tomatoes and add a splash of balsamic and a pinch of salt.  Let cook 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Spread sauteed vegetables on top of bread, top with cheese. 
  8. Add as much cheese as you like.  The best cheese for egg casseroles or quiches is gruyere, in my opinion, but I used marble cheese instead because it's much cheaper, and I had it on hand.
  9. In a medium size bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1 1/3 cup milk and spices.  You can use any spices you like, these are just a guideline.
  10. Pour egg mixture over bread/vegetable/cheese mixture.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden on top (or cooked through).
  12. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then enjoy!

Serve with your preferences of ketchup, bbq sauce or chili sauce.

Substitutions -- you could add ham, bacon or sausage meat if you crave meat.  Other vegetable choices could include spinach (cook for 30 seconds or so), cooked pumpkin/squash, garlic, broccoli, etc.