“I only have XX hours before dinner, what kind of bread can I make??” It’s a question most home cooks end up facing (for me, pretty frequently), and I’d often poke through different bread recipes, find one that sounded great, and then realize it would take twice the time I had.
So I’ve spent some time collecting my different bread recipes and grouping them based on the amount of time they take from start to finish. This way if you’re wondering what bread to make, you can decide what amount of time you have, what type of recipe you’re looking for, and choose accordingly.
I’ve grouped them into breads that can be ready in less than an hour (or a bit more), in 1-2 hours, in 3-5 hours, and ones that need an overnight rise. These are more “normal” or savory breads, ones you might eat with a meal rather than more dessert-y bread options (you can browse all of those here if you’re looking for them).
Tools that can help make great bread
Bread is strange in that, like baking in general, it can want a lot of precision. But yeast is sometimes unpredictable and requires some adaptability and going with your gut. And there are some good (not expensive) tools that can help make your bread better and more consistent.
- A thermometer is super helpful for knowing when bread is done (usually above 200 F, and you want it to cool to less than 80 F before cutting into it).
- A good kitchen scale is cheap but critical, as there’s an insane difference in the outcome when you weigh your ingredients vs. just measuring cups…particularly for bread.
- When it comes to kneading and shaping dough, I love this multi-purpose scraper tool and these French-style rolling pins.
- I also use giant plastic wrap to seal dough as it’s doing its first rise, and then a giant plastic bag for doing the final rise before baking.
- These silicone pastry brushes are a cinch to clean and are great for doing an egg wash. A lame is a bit more of an indulgence but it’s made a world of difference in how deep and clean I can slice dough prior to baking.
Bread that can be ready in less than an hour
I look at this photo and am like…MAN, did I really make that?? There is something just so satisfying and slightly impressive about a traditional challah recipe that’s been twisted into a beautiful and compact four-strand braided round
I definitely feel like my skill with—and comfort with—bread has increased over the last couple years. I’ve learned a lot more about the science behind certain things…for instance why I should avoid the temptation to add more flour and keep the dough sticky, which is how you get the amazing soft texture of a challah.
But really getting creative with shaping dough and expecting it to hold its shape is still very much a work-in-progress. I can usually manage a 3-strand braid or a twisty babka, but have been scared to try anything more complex.
I finally pulled up my big girl pants and decided to try this four-strand challah braid. Rather than a long braided loaf, I followed instructions a beautiful kind of braided round knot, and was super happy with the results!
In reading through a few different recipes and techniques, I came across the idea of brushing the loaves with egg wash twice before baking—once just after braiding (whole egg and a bit of water), and then right before they go in the oven (with egg yolk and sugar).
As you can see, this gives the final loaf a gorgeous rich color and glossy sheen. I’m a convert!
You don’t have to have any super special tools to make awesome bread, but there are a few kitchen gadgets that will help make your bread better and the process simpler.
I strongly recommend weighing ingredients with a digital kitchen scale rather than volume measurements. The scraper tool is a must (in my opinion) for dealing with dough, pastry brushes for the egg wash, and a thermometer for checking doneness.
So this is a departure from my normal cooking and baking content, and definitely just skip over if this doesn’t apply to you. However, I decided I needed to write this post because when I was preparing myself for my bunion surgery recovery (Tailor’s bunion, to be exact), I had the DARNEDEST time finding good detailed information on the interwebs.
First things first and a MAJOR caveat…I can only speak to what *my* Tailor’s bunion surgery recovery was like, and what *my* surgeon had me do. I’m assuming that there is some variance based on many factors so you shouldn’t consider this a “what to do” list, just me detailing my personal experience for your benefit.
Again, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I can’t guarantee that what worked for me is right for everyone, and you should consult your various health professionals (for me, that was my surgeon as well as my kinesiologist and chiropractor).
One key learning I’ll mention up front (and I’m sure mileage varies, depending on your doctor)…even when you’re allowed to start doing things, putting weight on your boot a bit, etc., I’d keep it super minimal. I ended up having to spend more time in the wrap, wait a little longer to get my sutures out, and had a setback later in the healing because I did too much too soon. So even once the doctor lets you do some things, be super conservative!
I hate white chocolate. HATE. It sits on a throne of lies because it is not even chocolate. I feel like that’s a confession I have to make at the outset of this journey together, because when I heard about this whole caramelized white chocolate trend (also known as “blonde chocolate”), I’ll admit I was intrigued.
(side note, apparently I’m incorrect on it not being chocolate but I stand by my hatred)
As the white chocolate slowly caramelizes, it loses some of its sickly sweet flavor (blech) and begins to give off some much more complex notes of toffee, butterscotch, and caramel…there’s a bit more acidity or bitterness that offsets the cloying nature of white chocolate.
Some people describe the tastes and smells as also having nutty notes (like toasted nuts) or almost shortbread-like scents, and I can definitely see how you get both of those as well.
And it’s SO easy! Plus, the overall process of the color changing and deepening is super pretty and kind of mesmerizing.
The colors in my photos below are all over the place due to lighting, but it shifts from the original cream to such a gorgeous butterscotch-like color. DREAMY.
The most important thing to know is that you MUST use high-quality eating (not baking) white chocolate. I used Valrhona 35% white chocolate (Valrhona actually invented this technique) and it was perfection. Some other good brands are Green & Black’s, Lindt, Cacao Barry, Fruition, and Guittard. Do not use white chocolate chips or baking white chocolate.
Yes, the Valrhona is a little pricey (though I bought 2 pounds and didn’t use nearly that much for my blonde chocolate adventures so have a ton left), but it’s worth it.
That picture might be true perfection. Golden grilled sourdough bread, creamy whipped ricotta, tart berries, and a drizzle of honey?? Sign me up!
Given that I’ve been almost entirely avoiding bread for the better part of nine months for some health reasons (issues with processing carbs) and the fact that I’m not really a bread person to begin with, I’m honestly not sure why this idea took hold in my brain so much.
But I started seeing different versions of ricotta toast, avocado toast, crostini, and more all over food blogs I follow and I was just like…YESSSSS. So my sister snagged me a loaf of quite good, thinly-sliced sourdough bread from the store and I played around with it.
So what I’m bringing you here today is less true recipe and more technique + toppings. It’s so versatile, and can be customized to your whims…what’s in season, sweet or savory, what happens to be in your fridge at this very moment…you get the picture.
Fresh pasta con pesto has long-been probably my favorite food in the entire world. Seriously.
If you visit the Liguria region of Italy, you’ll get the opportunity to experience pesto in its birthplace, and it will almost always be served with the traditional trofie pasta.
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
~ Federico Fellini
I’ve talked about this more in my post on the food of Cinque Terre (one of my favorite places in the world!) but every time I visit those tiny fishing villages I look forward to gorging myself on platter after platter of trofie pasta with pesto.
If you haven’t made your own pasta before, it might seem kind of fussy and intimidating. But this Ligurian trofie pasta is really very easy, without dealing with eggs or any special equipment. All you need is a couple ingredients and your two hands!
It would even be a great activity with kids, or just a few extra people since the work will go much quicker and you can easily chat while you work.
Ganache. It sound so fancy, but in reality is one of the easiest and versatile weapons a baker can have in their arsenal. So I’m going to share how to make ganache—in fact, two different methods—and specifically, my favorite dark chocolate ganache.
This is the pouring ganache that I use for my epic chocolate stout cake (and the gluten-free version), and it’s become my go-to any time I need this particular consistency. The key to chocolate ganache is in the proportions…more or less chocolate will impact how solid it gets once set.
For instance, this recipe is 6 ounces to 6 tablespoons for a pouring consistency to top cakes, while I used a more chocolate-heavy ratio of 2/3 cup chocolate to 1/2 cup cream for a filling solid enough to sit between cake layers (like in this peanut butter cake). You can see more on how the ratios work here.
If you’d told me a few months ago that cauliflower crust pizza would be making up like…25% of my diet, I’d have asked what you were smoking. And yet here we are.
This cauliflower crust only takes a few ingredients (most of which you have on hand). It’s is high in vitamins K and C, low-cal, high in fiber and antioxidants, and (like all cruciferous vegetables) good for detoxing the liver.
Your topping options are also really versatile, though I stay away from super wet/soggy ingredients. Here are a few things I typically throw on:
- I often keep cooked hamburger on hand to throw on any dish
- I use both shredded (parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella), and a soft cheese (there’s a sheep/goat one that’s AMAZING)
- I usually will throw a pan of roasted vegetables in the oven along with the cauliflower crust (brussels sprouts, peppers, and onions are my fave)
- You can use sauce, but I’m not a fan and it does make things soggy. Sometimes I will spread a bit of dijon mustard on though for extra flavor.
You might also like: 10 Tips For Surviving a Super Low-Carb Diet (e.g. Keto)
Why do I call this “traditional”? It’s because it involves manually squeezing all the liquid out before mixing and baking. I’ve recently found an alternative recipe that doesn’t require squeezing (due to a secret ingredient), which I’ve been loving as well.
The thing about making a traditional cauliflower crust is that it’s not super fast. Now, it’s not HARD, it just has a few different steps and ALL THAT SQUEEZING. What I’ve found helpful in how to make cauliflower crust is to break up into a few key phases or steps so I can plan my timing around it.
- Rice/food processor your cauliflower (if necessary) and cook it
- Squeeeeeeeze your cauliflower to get all the liquid out, then mix together the dough
- Bake the dough mixture by itself, then top and bake just long enough to melt the cheese
So I’ll often do the first step earlier in the day so it can cool, then just throw the cooked cauliflower in my nut milk bag and come back to it later. Then when I’m ready to actually make dinner, I turn my oven on and start the squeezing.
I’ll squeeze once, let it rest a couple minutes, come back and squeeze some more…you want to get as much liquid out as possible.
I am a massive fan of grilling, and actually run my grill almost every night, year-round. Why, you ask? Well, 1) it’s the best way I’ve found to consistently eat healthy, 2) it’s super fast and easy, and 3) it requires very little clean-up.
Did you need more reasons than that??
Since I moved into my house a few years ago and finally got a real gas grill, I’ve been working to become a grillmaster of sorts, testing all kinds of different recipes.
So I wanted to share some of my favorite grilling tips and recipes here, particularly for grilling newbies…and I’m always looking to up my game so feel free to send me YOUR best ones too!
(I feel like I need to caveat here, that I’m not one of those amazing obsessed grilling nerds…but that’s why this guide is perfect for newbies)
What this post covers
- Grilling tools for success
- General grilling tips
- Tips for grilling various meats
Tools you need
It goes without saying that a good grill is a good starting point. I use a gas grill, so all the tips here will be geared toward that, I can’t speak to charcoal. I upgraded to a Weber recently but had a Charbroil for a few years, they’re only a few hundred bucks, and it did great.READ THE POST
I am known for many things, but my cake decorating skills (or generally making desserts that are aesthetically pleasing) is NOT one of those things. I make delicious things, but they’re not always pretty and that’s okay. When I try cake decorating, it looks like a two-year-old did it.
And I still didn’t do an *amazing* job on this adorable onesie cake, but I’m PRETTY DARN PROUD OF IT and also think the idea/technique is awesome.
For this shower, the mom-to-be had requested her favorite cake—regular yellow box cake with chocolate frosting. And what mama wants, mama gets.
HOWEVER, this hurt my baker’s soul, so I tried to figure out some way to make it special. Well, and I also made a second (delicious) cake 🙂
While sifting through baby shower cake ideas, I stumbled upon this onesie-shaped cake, and it actually looked super easy so it felt I could tackle it. It’s mainly just some simple cutting or carving of a 9×13 cake and then doing the frosting and just a bit of piping.
Mine is definitely not perfect (definitely looks wonkus in the diaper region especially), but I’ll talk about a few of the techniques I used below.
I’m quite picky when it comes to pizza. But give me an amazing Naples-style traditional margherita pizza and I am in 100% of the time.
And make that a grilled margherita pizza?? ALL THE YES.
This pizza is perfect in its simplicity…it’s less of a standalone recipe than it is the sum of a few delicious components. The flavor and high heat from the grill help kind of approximate the crazy heat and fire of the traditional woodfire oven.
You can whip it up on any weeknight, something that always feels like a victory. The real problem for me is that…I’m one person. So I really can’t justify eating tons of pizza, but it’s not good as leftovers, so…
I guess what I’m saying is, my clothes are tight.
Not to brag or anything, but I make darn good grilled chicken breasts. Like, my-sister-requests-them-for-her-birthday-dinner good.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts often get a bad rap for being the iceberg lettuce of the protein world…a bland necessary evil but absolutely nothing to get excited about. However, I really struggle with the texture and flavor of chicken thighs or bone-in chicken, so I’ve made it my mission to crack the code on delicious chicken breasts.
My best friend (my Cheese) put me on to wet brining a few years ago, and it’s become an invaluable tool in my arsenal. I often forget to put chicken in to marinate in the morning before I leave for work, and so what I will often do when I get home at night is make up a brine, throw the chicken in, go for a run, and fire up the grill as soon as I’m back.
We’re going to talk about both wet brine and dry brine methods here, as both are great (but I’ll tell you my new favorite at the end).
Ever since I got a proper gas grill, I’ve been working on becoming a total grillmaster. That means all the usual things like learning how to make moist and flavorful chicken, steak, fish, and vegetables…but one of my favorite things to experiment with has been grilled pizza.
So I wanted to share what I’ve learned and provide my best tips for how to grill pizza dough (along with some of my favorite grilled pizza recipes).
The beauty of grilled pizza is how versatile it is…you can seriously top it with just about anything, as long as it’s already cooked or mostly cooked. From veggies to protein to fruit to cheese to chocolate, you can’t go wrong.
I’m sharing two different techniques for how to make grilled pizza, both of which I’ve used extensively, are easy, and work well. Part of it depends on what you prefer, and also what kind of end result you’re looking for…technique #1 has a little more of a flatbread feel and #2 is more traditional style with a puffy outer crust.
Marinated feta where have you been all my life?!
That was basically what my brain was yelling the first time I made this. It was meant to be just an ingredient in garlicky farfalle with marinated feta and arugula (now a fave of mine), but I pinched a little bite while I was cooking the pasta, and my mind was blown.
Since then I’ve made it on its own, either for tossing in a salad, for eating on crackers, or for just obsessively snacking on by itself. The key to making it especially amazing is to use a really good block feta (not the pre-crumbled stuff). Any block will do—and don’t go fat-free, bring on that fat—but I recently fell in love with the Pastures of Eden feta at Trader Joe’s (and wherever else you can find it). Amazeballs.
The cooking and baking world has long been obsessed with brown butter. Very charmingly called “beurre noisette” (or hazelnut butter…and it’s actually delicious *with* hazelnuts), it’s basically butter that’s been gently boiled until the milk solids evaporate, leaving you with a clarified, brown, nutty pool of YUM.
It’s useful everything from baking to simple, rich pasta sauces, and is actually super simple to make as long as you know what to look for. So today we’re going to talk about how to brown butter.
It’s fall, so you know what that means…
No, I’m not talking about festive Starbucks cups and new fall TV shows. It means that hundreds of butternut squash recipes are flooding Pinterest. You’re probably getting seduced by them as we speak. And then you remember that getting a butternut squash from whole into bite-sized pieces is THE WORST.
Until you know how to do it well. So that’s where I come in. I’ve found and refined a way to dismember butternut squash that doesn’t take long, doesn’t kill your hands, and will get you perfect little cubes every time. Sure, you can sometimes buy it pre-cut (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but you can’t always find it that way plus it gets kind of slimy fairly fast. Better to have a good back-up.
So let’s dive in, shall we? There are two main pieces of equipment that you need, and one of them is an actual decent Y-peeler. I’m in love with my OXO peeler, got it a few years back and now no longer accidentally take off layers of skin when I’m peeling veggies. It gives you so much more leverage and stability than a regular vertical-bladed peeler.
Begin peeling long, deep strips out of the squash. You’ll need to overlap your stripes, because it will likely take two tries to get it deep enough. Butternut squash peel is not messing around.READ THE POST
I’ve been buying natural peanut butter for years, because it’s generally healthier, to avoid trans fats, and overall just tastes good. But I’ve always been frustrated by the whole “stir in the oil” aspect of it, because I am apparently not capable of doing that. I start trying to stir it, splash oil everywhere, get the entire knife messy, and finally give up and put it in the fridge—where the next time I pull it out, there’s a congealed oil slick on top. So I eat half a jar of really oily peanut butter and half a jar of dry-as-a-bone peanut butter.
Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of the oil slick component. But I’d never really considered making my own, because that sounded like too much work. Plus, my grandma makes her own and just puts peanuts in the grinder attachment on her mixer, but that just ends up being dry peanut crumblies.
But behold—amazing creamy homemade peanut butter!
Enter Pinterest. Someone had pinned instructions for making your own homemade peanut butter with just the peanuts and a food processor, no additives. They said that if you just kept the food processor running past the crumbly stage and past the “dry ball of peanut goop” stage, magically the oils break down and it becomes creamy and delicious all on its own. No added salt, sugar, oil, etc. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. And, miracle of miracles, it works! So now I’m hooked.
I bought roasted & salted peanuts. Considered using honey roasted, but wasn’t sure of the additional sugar. You can use any type you like, or use mixed nuts, another type of nut, whatever floats your boat.