Tag Archives: bread

The Best Sandwich Bread Ever

You’ve undoubtedly heard people say that one thing or another is “the best thing since sliced bread.” And while I understand the appeal of prepackaged, sliced bread, I don’t think people really know what they’re saying. Have those people had homemade sandwich bread? It’s infinitely better. This recipe makes chewy, soft-yet-sturdy wheat bread that you have to try to believe.

See, a long time ago, my (then) step-dad taught me something that was, at the time, a revelation: some people think of bread as just something to hold the insides of a sandwich. That completely explained why he ate sawdust-like bread with no substance or flavor. But my mom and I always went for wheat breads studded with nuts and seeds because we both figured, I’m eating this…it should taste good and have a great texture and be worth eating in the first place. Luckily for me, Deb from smittenkitchen completely agrees.

Thanks to her, I have this amazing loaf of bread in my freezer. She got it from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice which is on my cookbook wishlist.

There are a lot of books on my cookbook wishlist.

2 1/2 cups bread flour*
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)

I think the best way to do this (and most economical) is to buy the high-gluten additive and add a tablespoon for every cup of all-purpose flour. Of course, you don’t want to end up with extra flour, so I add a tablespoon of this to a one-cup measure and then top off the rest with the all-purpose flour. Or you can have a big ole bag of bread flour. Maybe you want to make bread a lot!

Mix the flours, salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the butter, honey, and water and stir. You can do this in a stand mixer but even though I have one, I prefer doing this by hand so I can be sure of an even consistency. Stir all ingredients together until the dough is soft and a bit sticky. Flour a counter or board (I use the whole wheat flour for this) and knead for about 10 minutes. When the dough is ready, it will be pliable and stretchy. You should be able to take a ping-pong sized ball and press and stretch it until it is translucent. When kneaded to that stage, lightly oil a bowl (you can wash and oil the same bowl as before if you want) and plop the dough in it. This needs to rise, covered with plastic wrap, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a warm place.

After the dough rises to double in bulk, flour the counter again and press/roll the dough into a rectangle that is as wide as your loaf pan and slightly longer than your loaf pan (mine was 11 by 7 inches because my loaf pan is 7 inches long and 4 1/2 inches wide). Roll the dough from one of the short ends, pinching with each rotation so that the inside of the bread will remain fused together during baking. Be sure to pinch the outside edge very well. Place the dough in a lightly buttered loaf pan and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise again (I know!) for 60-90 minutes in a warm place. I needed the whole 90 minutes but you might only need 60. Definitely check it. About midway through the rising time, start preheating your oven to 350. When the dough has risen above the top of the loaf pan, bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I only needed 45 minutes. Obviously there a bunch of factors here.

See that perfectly browned, stiff crust? So delicious and sturdy enough to keep the insides of your sandwiches in place. The inside is chewy and soft but still strong enough for a turkey and roast beef or a pastrami and corned beef sandwich (St. Patrick’s Day!). I keep toasting pieces and making half-size peanut butter sandwiches. I’m also a huge fan of smothering the toast with Chad’s mom’s homemade blackberry jam (my all-time favorite). This freezes well which is good because it goes stale quickly. That might sound like a negative thing, but it’s because there are no preservatives and you don’t want those anyway.

Sorry for the big delay in posting. It’s been a rough week. I found out my computer display is ruined, then was told that my computer did qualify for a free fix by apple (due to packaging defect). Then I found out today that  when my ex-roommate spilled a Dr. Pepper on a fancy dress I was making, a bit must have got on my keyboard and into my machine because it’s dried on there and stuck things together. Now it’s not eligible for a fix and I would have to pay $1425 to get it replaced. Better to just buy a new laptop (haha like I can afford that). Chad’s letting me commandeer his toshiba while I sulk and try to adjust to picasa. I’m trying not to be down about it. Chad and I went to play with pound puppies this afternoon and as I type this he’s hiding behind chairs and peeking out to try to make me laugh. It’s working. =)


Creamy Morel Mushroom Toasts

Before I tell you how to make this decadent appetizer, I have to tell you a story. I can’t stand onions. I don’t hate them as much as cilantro or bell peppers, but I’m not a fan. I typically replace them with shallots whenever possible because they’re milder and sweeter. So I buy a lot of shallots and I go through them quickly. On my latest trip to the big, crazy grocery store far away, I went to the spot where they regularly keep shallots and found morel mushrooms in their place. Because it’s morel mushroom season! Shroomers are going nuts right now but I wasn’t in the market for morels and I was let down about the shallots. I looked all over and finally asked a sweet produce lady where I could find them. She searched around and finally went to the back room to ask. When she returned she told me they were out of stock since they had to make room for the morels. I must have looked really disappointed because she told me that if I wanted, she could give me half off of the morels. What?! Half-off morels? They are, in all the seriousness I can muster, $49.99 per pound. I didn’t want to look like I was taking advantage of her unnecessary and unrequested discount so I only bought a few. But honestly, discounted fresh morels are a big deal and I had never even had them (did you read the part where they are $49.99/pound?) so I looked for a recipe that would feature them and celebrate their expensive awesomeness.

I came across a recipe on epicurious (<3 everything epicurious) for Morels in Cream on Brioche. I didn’t have brioche or intend on making some since I already had some pane bello for the mussels I was making for dinner. I figured pane bello would work just as well and it did.

This recipe is simple and scrumptious. Adapted from Epicurious:

4 medium morel mushrooms
3/4 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp white truffle oil (if you don’t have this, use truffle salt or omit entirely)
1 Tbsp flour
sprinkle ground pepper
2 slices thick bread, toasted
1/2 C grated gruyère cheese

Heat up the cream in a small saucepan or a cup in the microwave until just warmed through. Meanwhile heat the butter in a separate saucepan. Add the butter and whisk to combine. Chop the morels into pea-size pieces (a rough chop is fine) and after a minute or so, add them to the saucepan. After they have sautéed for a few minutes, add the warm cream and continue whisking. Let the mixture cook on very low heat for 15 minutes and stir occasionally. Meanwhile, toast the bread. When they are nearly done toasting, add the grated gruyère so that it melts. You can do this in the oven or a toaster oven. When the mushroom sauce is done, turn the heat off and add the truffle oil (if not using truffle oil, add the truffle salt after the mixture is on the toasts) and spoon the mixture onto the toasts.

Oh my goodness. This is so delicious. I think, though I’m not an expert on morels, that this is a great way to feature them and appreciate them. You really taste the nutty flavor and the gruyère compliments the whole experience. I almost omitted the cheese entirely for fear it would overpower the taste of the mushrooms, but it really worked. If you mushroom lovers can spare a few dollars on these, it only takes a few to make this dish and it’s completely worth it.

Bacon Flatbread

Chad and I were watching the Food Network when we saw a bacon flatbread and immediately thought it sounded like the best idea since…bacon. So I promptly sent him to the store and got working on the bread and compote.

Flatbread recipe adapted from Smittenkitchen rosemary flatbread recipe and inspired by the House Smoked Bacon Flatbread at Nopa Restaurant (560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, 415-864-8643) as featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Foodnetwork

8 strips of thick-cut pepper bacon

Garlic and Shallot Compote
8 Strips of thick, pepper bacon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium shallot, minced
2 Tbsp butter
big pinch of salt
big heaping Tbsp brown sugar
big glug white wine
2/3 tsp finely chopped rosemary

1 3/4 C AP flour
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 C water
1/3 C olive oil

2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder

sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a small saucepan and add garlic and the shallot. Add a pinch of salt, a big tablespoon of brown sugar, a glug of white wine, and the chopped rosemary. Stir well and let bubble over medium heat. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a rack on a baking sheet and lay the bacon strips on it. Cook 15 minutes before cutting into pieces. Really, really, really try not to eat it all up while you…

Turn the oven up to 450°F. Stir the flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Make a small well in the center and add water and olive oil. Stir together until the dough combines. Knead well on a floured surface. Line a baking sheet with parchment and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle salt on the surface before spreading out the flatbread dough. Use a spoon to spread the garlic compote over the dough, covering evenly. Place the bacon pieces over the dough and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until crispy. When flatbread is removed from the oven, immediately drizzle with the garlic crema and top with parmesan cheese. Slice into pieces and eat with anything. This flatbread is good with soup, morning, salad, or more bacon flatbread.