Monday, July 30, 2012

Easy Artisian Bread {Really!}

Mid-summer in Upstate New York does not lead one to think about baking bread or baking anything else for that matter.  Our humidity and heat levels generally take us to the grill where we flame-broil everything.  I have, however, been wanting to bake bread for some time now.  I had a recipe I really wanted to try because I, to be honest, have not had much luck with bread baking.  I have no patience and hate waiting for it to rise and then kneading it and then waiting again, etc.  It makes me crazy and it takes way to long!  Besides, with our busy schedule, my timing is never right for punching it down and letting it raise again, etc. 

We have had a relative break in the humidity, at least in the mornings, so I decided to try this recipe.  Seriously, it is the best I have ever made.  Look at it!  AMAZING!  I even changed the recipe to meet my whole wheat needs and it came out perfectly.  The crust is crunchy and tough while the inside is fluffy and delicious and a little salty!  My rolled oats and sunflower seeds didn't stay on the top when I cut it though.  Not sure why... maybe someone can tell me?  Do I need to stick them on with something? 

The best part of all is that this bread is $.40 a loaf.  Really?  I pay $3 or more at our local grocery store for an Artisian bread.  There really is nothing like a loaf of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven at your own home.  It gives you such a feeling of accomplishment and my family gobbles it down as soon as it is cool enough.  The smell is awesome too.  If you have never baked bread, I suggest you try this recipe.  It is great for those who have never tried because the step-by-step shows pictures and the description covers everything you need to know to get it right.

So, the secret to this loaf being so easy is the lack of need for kneading and a quick-rising yeast!  You just mix it up in about 2 minutes, set it aside for 2 hours and then pull some out of the bowl and shape it, let it rise for 30 minutes or so, cut the hash marks on top, put it in the oven.  It is perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner. 

Anyway, the original source of this beautiful bread at The Italian Dish.   I changed the recipe a bit for my needs so I will just tell you what I did differently and you can visit The Italian Dish for the step-by-step tutorial.  She (he?) did a wonderful job showing you how the loose bread dough should look and explains everything beautifully.

For my version, I replaced half of the flour with whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of raw wheat germ and I used a yeast specifically made for whole wheat bread.  The packets of yeast had more yeast in them than the original recipe called for, so I used 1-1/2 packets.  I also added a bit more water because it didn't look as loose as her/his picture looked.  This worked perfectly. 

Another change I made was to half the dough between two containers because when it rises, it really rises. The first time I made it, it bubbled completely out of the container and onto the counter.  It was hilarious and the yeasty smell took over the entire kitchen!

I also added rolled 7-Grain mix and some sunflower seeds to the top.  Like I said though, they didn't stay on while I cut the bread.  Not sure why.  I will investigate.

For the coarse salt, I used French Grey Sea Salt.  It was nicely salty without being overly-salted.  I will definitely use that again.

Enjoy with butter or Homemade Strawberry Jam!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New Free Fourth (4th) of July Cupcake Wrappers

Happy 4th of July!  I hope you enjoy these free cupcake wrappers!  I am going to use them on my cupcakes!  I think they would look really cute with some flag toppers.  Hmmmm... Have I made any?  Perhaps I shall.  If so, I will share them here.  Here is how to use these printables. 
How fun is this little Amazon video tool?  I love seeing all of the products bouncing in the box.

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