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Garlic Cheddar Beer Bread

So, getting rid of my leavening for the Days of Unleavened Bread is generally a very easy thing.  I get rid of my baking powder, baking soda, and yeast, and that’s pretty much all she wrote.  But this year at the last minute I found a brand-new bag of self-rising flour hiding under a pile of dry goods.

Garlic Cheddar Beer Bread done

Yes, I could have just thrown it away (it’s like $2), but that felt weird, so I looked up recipes that would use it in large quantities.  I saw several crazy easy recipes for beer bread, and was instantly sold.

Garlic Cheddar Beer Bread slice

It’s beer, sugar, and self-rising flour.  It literally doesn’t get easier than that.  I added garlic, parsley, and cheddar because—duh.

Garlic Cheddar Beer Bread

Throw some melted butter on the top in the last few minutes of cooking, and you have a yeasty, cheesy, moist, dense treat. [Read more…]

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Quick No-Knead Bread

One of these days I’m going to put together a whole list of bread recipes and how long they take from start to finish—that way, when you want to make bread but only have, say, two hours, you’ll know which ones you can choose from and which ones have to rise overnight and are out of the question. Because every time I’m browsing bread recipes, I fall in love with one, and then realize that it has to rise for 12 hours before baking. Baking fail.

This one falls somewhere in the middle, at about 4-5 hours.

no knead bread finished

I hadn’t tried a nice, simple artisan bread in a long time, only soda breads and the like. So it was nice to smell the yeast doing its thing, see it rise all puffy and wet, and get golden and crusty after baking. There’s a sense of accomplishment in that, not to mention how tasty it is!
[Read more…]

Brown Soda Oatmeal Bread

Last summer I tried making bread for the first time, and was shocked by how well it turned out (I’d been scared of baking with yeast for forever). That kicked off a veritable bread-baking spree, where I tried all manner of artisan yeast breads. But for some reason I’ve only made soda bread once before now, a traditional Irish soda bread which I wanted to try after we went to Ireland and ate it there.

And yet, when I tried this recipe, it made me wonder why I ever bother with the finicky-ness and waiting of yeast breads.

brown oatmeal soda bread finished butter

This bread is totally easy and delicious. Now, to be fair, this isn’t authentic Irish soda bread, which only has four ingredients and definitely doesn’t have any sweeteners. But it still is soda bread, and there’s something special about it versus its yeast-based counterparts. Something about the chemistry of the ingredients (maybe the soda and buttermilk?) makes it moist and soft, much more resistant to drying out in the open air. Soda bread in its modern form became popular in the U.S. during colonial times because it was cheap, fast, and easy, and that’s still the case today.

brown oatmeal soda bread finished jam

That’s right—best of all? There’s no rising time for soda bread, so that means you can have hot, fresh bread within an hour or so of deciding you’re craving it.

brown oatmeal soda bread finished

So we’ve got an hour til you have fresh bread in your hot little hands. Start your engines… [Read more…]

Amish Country Bread

It’s that time of the year when I’m trying to use up all my yeast, baking powder, and baking soda before Passover so I don’t have to throw much out. I hate waste. So I’m officially back on my bread-baking kick. I started last weekend with this delicious, soft, salty bread.

amish bread finished

This recipe was super easy to throw together, even though I had some trouble with the texture of the dough. Mine was much drier than I think it should have been (maybe weather-related too?). However, it didn’t seem to make any difference—the bread baked up soft and chewy, with a nice crisp crust on the outside.

amish bread finished2

I used my handy-dandy enameled cast-iron dutch oven, and the lid makes an awesome seal that traps the moisture in, which gives you that crusty outside and chewy inside. If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can bake on a castiron griddle (or pizza stone or some other oven-safe contraption), with some ice water in a separate pan to create steam. [Read more…]

Carbs o’the Irish (Traditional Irish Soda Bread)

“A cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle.” ~ Irish saying

Today we tackle that most basic, humble, and hearty of Irish foods—traditional Irish soda bread.

When I decided to try soda bread, I visited several sites to make sure I got a good, authentic recipe. What I learned along the way was that soda bread is inherently simple, literally just flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk or sour milk. If it has eggs, raisins, butter, sugar, shortening, or baking powder, it may be delicious but it isn’t Irish soda bread.

Soda bread didn’t actually originate in Ireland. But just as pizza now is thoroughly owned by the Italians, soda bread is as Irish as Guinness and colcannon. It became popular in the early and mid-1800s for a couple reasons, largely boiling down to the poverty conditions that existed and what the average person could most easily put on the table. Yeast was expensive, unpredictable, and time-consuming, but baking soda (or the various forms they used back then) could be procured easily (as could the sour milk to react with it) and produced fairly consistent results.

So the recipe I tried was very simple, and thus very easy. The benefit of soda bread is that there’s no rising time, so it pays off immediately. Stir together your ingredients, bake, and you’re eating hot, fresh bread within the hour. I didn’t eat it right away, but brought it into work the next morning and it made a great breakfast—topped with homemade jam, of course!

[Read more…]

Amuse Bouche: I inadvertently made the world’s largest loaf of French bread

So, if you’ll remember, I tried out a 1-Hour French Bread recipe a couple weeks ago for my family, and it was awesome. This morning was my breakfast day at work (we take turns bringing in breakfast for our department), so I decided to make the Kale, Bacon, & Egg Breakfast Casserole and (given time restraints) the French bread and also some fresh strawberry jam. I also ended up having unannounced company last night, so I was a little distracted when I was making everything.

Funny story…I forgot that I’d halved the recipe last time I made it, because I didn’t need two loaves of bread. When I rolled the loaf out, I was thinking, “man, this is huge!” (that’s what she said…). But then it just kept expanding as it baked. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I set a record for the world’s largest loaf of French bread.

Just meant I could feed half the office, not just my department…

Same taste, fraction of the time (Quick 1-Hour French Bread)

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
~ James Beard

When my family was in town last weekend, we cooked and baked our faces off. For dinner Friday night we made delicious chicken, sweet potato fries, and sauteed kale, plus some double-chocolate zucchini bread and awesome rosemary, lemon, cheese bread for munching on later. It was fairly prolific, if I do say so myself.

The problem with that is that—as previously mentioned—I have a very small kitchen. We started to run into trouble with number of burners in use, how many items could be in the oven and at what temperature. It got to be 2-3 hours from dinner time and I realized none of my bread possibilities would be ready for dinner. And that wasn’t going to work, because my mom LOVES bread.

So I dove back into my Pinterest board and came up with this gem—1-hour French bread. I was skeptical, because good things take time, particularly when they involve yeast. But I decided to give it a try and it was great. Probably as good as the artisan bread I made a few weeks ago that had to rise several hours before baking.

The recipe seriously took about an hour and a half start-to-finish, and that’s partly because I was making several other things at the same time. It was warm, yeasty, and delicious.

Note, I halved the recipe because we only needed one loaf for dinner, so that’s why the dough looks small.

[Read more…]

Woo them with carbs (5-Minute Artisan French Bread)

I have always had a rocky relationship with yeast. Like, you know when you see a couple making fun of each other in public in a way that’s not cute teasing but legitimately uncomfortable and you just kind of stand there and think, “man, am I uncomfortable!”? That’s my relationship with yeast in a nutshell.  The few times I’ve tried to make something with yeast, it’s made me feel like a failure in public, and made me skittish about going out with it again.

But fear no more!

When I saw some recipes for five-minute a day artisan bread, easy homemade french bread, etc., I was really skeptical. Bread, in my experience, is anything but easy and fast. But this stuff is the real deal, and I can see myself making it over and over. Full disclosure—five minutes refers to the actual hands-on time per day, but it’s still really easy overall.

[Read more…]

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