• Cooking Tips

    What I learned from 7 straight days of Bread Baking

    It’s been a few days since the end of Bread Week, and I’ve had some time to decompress from my bread-baking frenzy. I’ve also had some time to gather some tips and tricks I picked up along the way that I think any beginning baker could benefit from. So here they are—the things I wish I’d known before I started this crazy endeavor: When kneading, use the windowpane or finger poke test to ensure the dough is ready. For the windowpane test, the dough should be able to stretch to the point of being opaque without breaking. For the finger-poke test, poke the dough with your finger. If the indent…

  • Recipes

    Last day of bread week: French baguette

    Well my friends, today is officially the last day of bread week, and as I type, I still have dough underneath my fingernails and a fine dusting of flour covering every square inch of my kitchen. I’m not going to lie: This was a lot harder and more time consuming then I thought it would be. My mixer is on the verge of suicide (it was literally walking itself off the table with a loud thumping noise on that last large batch of dough), and I am in a carb-induced coma. But I’ve learned a lot and gained some serious patience along the way. And I can’t tell you how rewarding…

  • Recipes

    Bread week, day 4: Challah

    Something about bread week would be amiss without at least one recipe to celebrate my (half) Jewish heritage (and just in time for Shabbat!). Thanks to Heather at Chick n’ Pastry for the inspiration. This challah is my first real loaf of the week—a braided one at that!—so it took some major chutzpah. Especially during my first few attempts to braid the dough. I was schvitzing like a whore in synagogue, I tell you. Oy vey. Challah Adapted from A Blessing of Bread You’ll need 2 teaspoons instant yeast 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/8 cup warm water (add a little more if the dough isn’t moist enough) 3 large…

  • Recipes

    Bread week, day 3: I say Lavosh, you say Lavash

    Lavosh/lavash. Know aliases: cracker bread, lawaash, paraki, Armenian cracker bread, lahvosh, lawasha, naan-e-lavaash. But it’s moniker isn’t important. In the words of William Shakespeare, this cracker by any other name would taste as good. Joelen at What’s Cookin’ Chicago recently made Lavosh, and after finding out that the recipe is included in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (and in fancy restaurant bread baskets everywhere), I decided that it counts towards day three of bread week. Rosemary  and Parmesan Garlic Lavosh Crackers (adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice) You’ll need: 1 1/2 cups bread flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast 1 tablespoon honey (I substituted corn syrup) 1 tablespoon vegetable…

  • Recipes

    Bread week begins. Day 1: Bagels

    Hello all. Happy belated Labor Day and welcome back to reality. I woke up this morning ravenous for bagels. I also had a very random and nostalgic craving for Monti’s Roman Bread. I waited tables there in college and have been known to eat entire baskets of the stuff in one sitting. This train of thought led me to reflect on my general obsession with breads of all shapes, sizes and flavors. For example … Dave’s warnings about filling up on the bread basket when we eat out are futile. Don’t think I won’t buy a baguette and eat it with butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My last Trader Joe’s…