Tag Archives: bread


Matthew:  I’ve made many loaves of bread and one of the hardest parts for me is to get the crust to turn out.  I had resigned myself to the fact that  I wouldn’t be able to get the perfect rustic loaf with a tough and crispy crust in my oven.  But then I tried a new recipe in my Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook.  The crocodile-like loaves are flour-dusted and rough and surprisingly easy to make.  The sponge, which is put together the night before, left my apartment with a wonderful smell of yeast and beer.  I used Makeweight by Furthermore Beer for the bread.  And, not only is this bread easy to make, but you get two good-sized loaves which is perfect if you have a new neighbor who just moved in.  Here’s the recipe:

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup dark beer at room temperature
3 cups cool water
1 cup semolina flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina or whole-wheat flour (I used semolina)
1 tablespoon sea salt
about 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour for work surface and pan
To make the sponge, in a large bowl, combine the yeast, beer, water, and the semolina and all-purpose flours and whisk until well combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.
To make the dough, add the all-purpose and semolina flours and the salt to the sponge and stir with your hand or a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a shaggy mass.  Using a plastic pastry scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting the work surface with only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, 5-7 minutes.  The dough will be soft.
Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.
Dust the work surface with 1 cup of the all-purpose flour.  Heavily dust a half-sheet pan or rimless baking sheet with all-purpose flour.  Punch down the dough and, using the pastry scraper, scrape it out onto the floured surface.  Bounce the dough around on the flour, shaping it into a large, round loaf.  Do not be daunted by the softness of the dough.
Place the round loaf on the prepared pan, cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, 30-45 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees F.  Liberally sprinkle the top of the loaf with all-purpose flour.  Using a sharp knife or a bench scraper, cut straight through the middle of the loaf crosswise, separating it into two loaves.  Flour your hands and turn the loaves so that they sit cut side up on the pan, spacing them generously apart.  Bake the breads until they are brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35-45 minutes.  Turn off the oven, leave the door closed, and let the breads sit in the oven for 10 minutes to set the crusts.  Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely before slicing.


Sunflower Millet Bread

Katie:  Ever since discovering millet, I’ve looked for different ways to use it, cooked or dry.  It’s great to use in breads as a way of adding some texture and a nutty flavor.  After enjoying seed bread with millet from a bakery, I decided to try to make some myself.  I found this recipe on Bread from a Novice Baker.  I substituted half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour for the whole wheat flour.  I also toasted the sunflower seeds and let the bread rise longer than called for.  It turned out really good!  The honey was a sweet addition, and the bread was really moist.

Sunflower Millet Bread (slightly adapted from Pamela on The Fresh Loaf found via Bread from a Novice Baker)

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole hulled millet
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  1. Add the sunflower seeds to a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Toast seeds, stirring occasionally until they turn light brown.  Remove from pan and let cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast and water, stirring until dissolved. Blend in the honey, seeds, and millet. Mix in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour until blended. Cover the bowl with a towel and let proof about 30 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, bubbly sponge.
  3. Stir down the sponge and blend in the oil and salt. Gradually add remaining flour to make a soft, workable dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and resilient. Cover with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease two 8 1/2-inch loaf pans. Divide dough in half, shape into loaves, and place in the pans. Cover an let rise 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the loaves about 35 mintues, or until golden brown. Remove the pans and let cool and wire racks.
    Makes 2 loaves.

Irish Soda Bread with Thyme

Matthew:  I was perusing the new book section at the library and happened upon a large cookbook called The Country Cooking of Ireland.  I didn’t really know much about Irish cooking, so I thought it would be interesting.  This cookbook is a serious study of the dishes made throughout Ireland and dispels the idea that Irish cooking is boring or bad.  I decided to first try one of the soda bread recipes and although I couldn’t find the Irish flour the recipe called for, the bread turned out great.  I’m used to sweet soda breads with raisins, so it was a nice change to try one flavored with thyme.  Making the bread was simple too, with just a few ingredients.  I’ll probably try a few of the other soda bread recipes in the cookbook soon.  Here’s the recipe:

3 1/2 cups/350g flour

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 to 2 cups/360 to 475 ml buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450F/230C.  Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl.  Mix in the thyme.  Form a well in middle of flour mixture and pour at least 13oz/385ml of buttermilk into the well.  Form your hand into a rigid claw and stir the buttermilk into the flour slowly but steadily in a spiral motion, starting in the middle and working outwards.  Add more of the buttermilk if necessary.  The dough should be soft but not too wet or sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead lightly; then flour your hands and shape the dough into a flat round about 1 1/2 in thick.  Cut a deep cross in the top of the loaf with a wet or floured knife, then put on a lightly floured baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 400F/200C and bake for 20 minutes more, or until nicely browned and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Squash, Sweet Potato, and Carrot Soup

Katie:  I hesitated in posting this meal, since my pictures don’t really do it justice.  (Click on the following link to the recipe source for better pictures!)  I’ve tried a few winter squash soup recipes before, but they were all kind of bland.  This recipe for Squash, Sweet Potato, and Carrot Soup had the perfect combination of orange vegetables, cooked with onions and cumin.  I couldn’t find urfa pepper, but smoked paprika was a good substitute, and honey added just the right amount of sweetness to the soup.   I used a pretty big squash, so I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly.  I served it with Whole Wheat Bread, which I changed a little by substituted honey for sugar.  It was a good meal for a cold and rainy fall day!