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No-Knead Bread: The Burnt Bottoms

No-knead bread with a beautiful crust.
I know, I know my recipe crush on the Lahey-Bittman no-knead bread is glaringly obvious. Hell, I’ve even gone as far as making a stop-motion video homage to it. But, this obsession goes beyond an appreciation for the concept that great bread can be made with very little effort; it’s something that I actually do two or three times a week.

A detailed description of the method probably isn’t necessary since: a.) the original youtube video has been played about 1.75 million views, so I’m guessing it’s fairly widely known; and b.) I’ve gone into some detail in previous posts. Today’s post has a special focus so let’s say that a sufficient summary of the recipe is: mix dough, ferment overnight, allow a second countertop rise while the over heats with a Dutch oven inside, bake inside the closed Dutch oven for 30 minutes, and then remove the lid and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more. (more…)

Julia Child’s Chocolate Almond Cake for JC100

Julia Child's Chocolate Almond Cake

As we make our way through the one hundred days of the JC100 programme I’m reminded how much more sophisticated recipes sound when presented under their French name. Last week it was vichyssoise–much better than the dreary-reading “potato leek soup”–and the pattern continues this week with Chocolate Almond Cake dressing itself up as reine de saba.

What I like best about baking from Julia Child’s recipes is that she doesn’t assume that every household will have a $500 piece of equipment (a stand mixer) that they use to mix $5 of ingredients together, three or four times a year.  We’re asked here to beat egg whites to stiff peaks and that could be done with whisk but a $50 hand mixer is all that’s really needed to make the process easy. (more…)

Banana Bread with Banana Cream

Banana bread with custard-like banana cream for breakfast.

February 23 is my Personal I Haven’t Had Banana Bread in a While Day. I’m not sure exactly why, but banana bread seems to be a summer thing for me. That doesn’t make much sense given that there are so many other fruits that are in season and lend themselves well to things like peach cobbler, cherry pan dowdy,  or blueberry grunt.

It seems more appropriate that banana bread is a winter recipe given that bananas seem to be equally available all year. (Do they still have a season or has the global banana conglomerate managed to plant them widely enough for that not to matter?)

Wanting to make my unique contribution to the science of banana bread I considered how I could improve on the standard classic. To reduce the number of concerned notes I get from my parents I’m trying to avoid filling everything with bacon so I skipped over that idea. Banana bread can always use a little insurance against being too dry so a pudding like sauce seems in order. (more…)

Tofu Spanakopita

Spanakopita stuffed with tofu, feta cheese, and eggs.

I’d like to say that I have a mixed history with tofu, but that’s just not true. I can’t think of a single time that I’ve thought “wow, I’m glad that was tofu.” From the weird chew when it’s grilled to the sacrum-shaking (not in a good way) wobble when it’s served in liquid, I can’t take tofu.

But it’s healthy and a complete protein and cheap and it was never a cuddly-wuddly animal. I know, I know. Those are all (in vastly varying degrees) why I keep giving tofu another shot. This recipe makes delicious spanakopita and the tofu bulk them out, add health benefits, and because you use less feta cut the saltiness.

You could use fresh spinach but generally any time spinach is stuffing I prefer to use frozen and let someone else do all of the early steps. If you use fresh cut the boiling time for that step by at least five minutes. (more…)

S’mores Doughnuts with Torched Marshmallow Topping

Eggs separated: yolks for the dough; whites for the marshmallow topping.

Now that winter has finally made an appearance I find my thoughts drifting to summer. S’mores made around a bonfire are the essential night time snack. Each entry in the recent proliferation of designer doughnut operations (like Toronto’s Glory Hole Doughnuts) seems to be offering a s’mores version and I thought I would give the idea a shot at home.

I have also been filling some free time by reading Helene Dujardin’s excellent guide to food photography, Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling. So, it was an odd moment of synchronisity when I came across the s’mores doughnuts post on her blog Tartelette.

Her post has the recipe reprinted from Lara Ferroni’s Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make At Home. That recipe is a great one but is written for those who have stand mixers. I thought I’d adapt it to a wooden spoon and bowl method.

Bottom halves of the doughnuts topped with chocolate and crumbled graham wafers.

Bottom halves of the doughnuts topped with chocolate and crumbled graham wafers.