The Hubs and I are recipe testers for America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) and our particular task in this instance was to make the no-knead bread as directed and then fill out a survey. The drawback was, we couldn’t post the recipe until it appeared in their upcoming Everyday Bread book. Well now many months later, it is widely available in a multitude of stores.
ATK’s mission was to take baking all kinds of breads out of the once-in-a-while category and make it easy and accessible for your unique timetable. I’m not so sure I would categorize it as “easy” due to so many steps before you have a finished product. However, the results were fantastic!
The loaf is so superlatively hearty, yet it still maintains the moist texture and appropriate chew of a proper rustic loaf. I’m not a big bread eater so when I do occasionally indulge, I want it to have some healthy attributes, and this loaf delivers!
The flavor that the beer adds is preferred, but you can substitute an equal amount of water if desired. Be sure to score the dough ½-inch deep in step 9, and don’t be afraid to go back and slash the loaf again if the score isn’t deep enough.
½ cup (4 oz.) boiling water plus 3/4 cup (6 oz.) room temperature water
½ cup (4 z.) mild lager, room temperature
1 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
2 cups (11 oz.) bread flour
⅔ cup (3 ⅔ oz.) whole-wheat flour
1½ tsp. table salt
¼ tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and caraway seeds in bowl. Measure out 6 tablespoons seed mixture, spreading into even layer on rimmed baking sheet, and roast until seeds are lightly golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Reserve remaining untoasted seed mixture.
Meanwhile, combine oats and boiling water in medium bowl; let sit until water is absorbed and oats have cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Stir in room temperature water, beer, and vinegar.
Whisk bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, yeast, and cooled, toasted seed mixture together in large bowl. Using rubber spatula, fold oat-water mixture into flour mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl and pressing dough until cohesive and shaggy and all flour is incorporated. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.
Using greased bowl scraper or your wet fingertips, fold dough over itself by lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle and pressing to seal. Turn bowl 90 degrees and fold dough again; repeat turning bowl and folding dough 6 more times (total of 8 folds). Flip dough seam side down in bowl, cover with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Lay 18 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and spray lightly with vegetable oil spray. Turn out dough (seam side up) onto lightly floured counter and pat into rough 9-inch circle using lightly floured hands. Using bowl scraper or your floured fingertips, lift and fold edge of dough toward center, pressing to seal. Repeat 6 more times (for a total of 7 folds), evenly spacing folds around circumference of dough. Press down on dough to seal then use bench scraper to gently flip dough seam side down.
Using both hands, cup side of dough furthest away from you and pull dough towards you, keeping pinky fingers and side of palm in contact with counter and applying slight pressure to dough as it drags to create tension. (If dough slides across surface of counter without rolling remove excess flour. If dough sticks to counter or hands, lightly sprinkle counter or hands with flour.) Rotate dough ball 90 degrees, reposition dough ball at top of counter, and repeat pulling dough until taut round ball forms, at least 4 more times.
Transfer dough seam side down to center of prepared parchment then spray or gently brush loaf with water. Sprinkle reserved untoasted seed mixture over top and use your hands to gently press seeds onto sides of loaf. Cover with inverted large bowl and let rise until dough has doubled in volume and springs back minimally when poked gently with your finger, 1 to 2 hours.
Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position, place Dutch oven with lid on rack, and heat oven to 475 degrees.
Using sharp knife or single-edge razor blade, make one 6-inch-long, ½-inch-deep slash with swift, fluid motion along top of loaf. Carefully remove hot pot from oven and, using parchment as a sling, gently transfer dough and parchment to hot pot. Working quickly, reinforce scoring in top of loaf if needed, cover pot, and return to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake loaf in covered pot for 30 minutes.
Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep golden brown and registers at least 205 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. Using parchment sling, carefully remove loaf from hot pot and transfer to wire rack; discard parchment. Let cool completely, about 3 hours, before slicing.
On a recent super-rainy, windy fall afternoon I made the comment that it would be a good day to bake bread. Russ immediately ran with that thought and mentioned he had just seen a pumpkin bread recipe from The New York Times.
“Yeah, but we don’t have any canned pumpkin,” was my reply. (When I was actuallythinking more along the lines of a crusty whole grain loaf.) “I am capable of driving to the grocery store you know,” he bantered—and so he did just that.
But the only pumpkin purée The Hubs could find at the grocery store was a 29-ounce can which is almost double the amount required. We considered freezing the remainder, but then thought better of it and decided to make two loaves, and either freeze the second loaf or gift it.
We are both fans of pumpkin seeds and happened to have a bag of sprouted seeds on hand which I used as a topping. It is totally optional, but adds a nice little crunch to the velvety soft bread—the BEST pumpkin bread we’ve ever had, BTW.
As an artist, master gardener and avid cook, I was intensely curious the first time I saw some focaccia art because it bundles those three passions into one—a trifecta if you will. Then pictures started popping up all over social media, especially Pinterest. I knew I had to jump on that bandwagon. And I did, finally…
This classic focaccia bread recipe* is compliments of Bon Appétit. Their focaccia has a moist but airy crumb sandwiched between thin but ultra-crunchy top and bottom crusts, thanks to a generous amount of olive oil in the pan and on top of the dough. It’s a bit of a messy process, and a long one, but worth it if you’re looking for a WOW factor.
My garden was brimming with fresh herbs, with the chives in full bloom of stunning light purple globular flowers. What I did learn however, even though they were brushed with oil, they still did burn in 450° hot oven. Not to be dissuaded, I just snipped a few more fresh blooms, made a hole in the dough with a thick toothpick, and stuck them in afterward. The burnt ones look like they are in the background, with the fresh blooms coming forward, adding depth to the visuals.
You might consider using any of the following: parsley leaves and flowers, thyme, rosemary, chives and their flowers, capers, bell pepper rings, sliced or chopped olives, grape tomatoes. The list is endless so get your creative juices flowing…
A word to the wise, it’s best to measure your flour by weight instead of by cup because you’ll get a more exact measurement.
Since the world has been locked down these past several months due to COVID-19, there seems to be a shortage of specific grocery items—other than toilet paper. Apparently a lot of folks are baking because it’s almost impossible to get bread flour and yeast at your local supermarket. So we just used all-purpose flour which we had on hand, and scored online with the yeast—even though it was Italian!
A little more dense than expected, next time I hope to use bread flour which has a higher percentage of protein. Apparently the higher protein is what helps you get those deliciously chewy air pockets.
*Equipment-wise, you’ll need a stand mixer with a dough hook and an 18″ x 13″ rimmed sheet pan for this recipe.
Do Ahead: Focaccia can be baked 1 day ahead. Tightly wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.
2 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. Morton kosher salt
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for greasing and drizzling
Fresh herbs and vegetables for decoration
Flaky sea salt
Combine flour and 2½ cups room-temperature water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed, scraping down sides and hook as needed to incorporate any dry flour, until a shaggy dough forms. Remove dough hook and cover bowl with plastic. Let sit while you prepare the yeast (you can leave the dough in this state up to 2 hours).
Stir yeast, sugar, and ½ cup warm water with a fork in a small bowl to dissolve. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Pour yeast mixture into stand mixer bowl and mix on low speed until dough absorbs all additional water, about 1 minute (pulse mixer on and off a couple of times at very beginning to prevent liquid from splashing over the sides). Add kosher salt and continue to mix, increasing speed to medium, until dough is extremely elastic and very sticky (it will look more like a thick batter and will stick to sides of bowl), about 5 minutes.
Pour 3 Tbsp. oil into a large (preferably glass) bowl and swirl to coat sides. Scrape in dough with a large spatula or flexible bench scraper. Cover and place in a warm spot until dough is doubled in volume, 2–3 hours. If using a glass bowl, it’s helpful to mark the position of the dough at the beginning so you can accurately assess the rise (a dry-erase marker or piece of tape works).
Drizzle 2 Tbsp. oil over a 18 x 13″ sheet pan and use fingertips to rub all over bottom and sides. Using large spatula or flexible bench scraper, fold dough inside bowl a couple of times to deflate, then scrape onto prepared baking sheet. Using oiled hands, lift up dough and fold over onto itself in half, then rotate baking sheet 90° and fold in half again. Cover dough with a piece of well-oiled plastic and let rest 10 minutes to let gluten relax.
Uncover and go back in with oiled hands, gently stretching dough (to avoid tearing) across length and width of baking sheet in an even layer, working all the way to edges and into corners. If dough starts to spring back, let sit 5–10 minutes and start again. Cover again with same piece of oiled plastic and chill at least 8 hours and up to 24.
Let sheet pan sit in a warm spot until dough is puffed and bubbly and nearly doubled in height, 45–65 minutes (if you’re using a standard half sheet pan, it will have risen to the very top of the sides). Meanwhile, place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450°.
Remove plastic and drizzle dough generously with more oil. Oil hands again and press fingertips firmly into dough, pushing down all the way to bottom of pan to dimple all over. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.
Decorate the top with whatever you desire. It helps to Google focaccia art and/or look it up on Pinterest to get some ideas. After you’ve arranged everything, brush them with olive oil to help prevent burning (although delicate flowers you may want to add after baking).
Bake focaccia until surface is deep golden brown all over, 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Slide a thin metal spatula underneath focaccia to loosen from sheet pan (it may stick in a couple of places, so use some elbow grease to get underneath) and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before cutting as desired.
Here’s a change of pace to start your day, Apple Oatmeal Bread. One slice of this easy breakfast bread packs just as much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal. The two starring ingredients, old fashioned oats and apple, pack about 8 grams and 3 grams of fiber, respectively.
Apple Oatmeal Bread
The Hubs couldn’t wait until I made this. In fact, for two weeks I kept saying I would make it the next day, before I finally buckled down and actually did so. As I was preparing the ingredients, he just happened to walk into the kitchen and noticed the egg and coconut oil mixture had lumps and questioned whether I had melted the coconut oil first (it comes in solid form). I replied “the directions didn’t say to”, which of course he immediately scanned the recipe and pointed out the directions did indeed say “coconut oil, melted”—busted!
In lieu of throwing out the wet mixture, he brilliantly thought of putting that bowl into another container of hot water (not boiling, which would cook the eggs) for several minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid was smooth. It worked. Just giving you a heads up not to forget this important step…
Another word to the wise. Madison’s original recipe indicates to use two large apples, about two cups. Well, our two large apples, once peeled and diced equaled nearly four cups, so that affects the baking time. Make sure to use a large loaf pan, 5 1/2″ x 9 1/2″, and start checking doneness after 45 minutes. Ours took the full hour.
Basically, this loaf features all of the nutritional wins of oatmeal in the form of a thick slice of bread. To make it even more hearty and mouth-watering, why not slather a slice with your choice of nut butter, fruit, or a combination of both?