Archive for the ‘bread recipes’ Category

Parmesan-cheddar-thyme gougeres

March 21, 2009



From Michael Nagrant (with much help from Thomas Keller)

[Says Michael: “After calling the French Laundry for three days and enduring endless busy signals (it was like I was trying to secure tickets to Pearl Jam in 1994 via Ticketmaster), I finally got through and secured a reservation two months from that call.  If you can believe it, two months later, the Laundry messed up. 

‘Well, not really.  Blame it on some long reveling folks overstaying their welcome through the beginning of the second seating, but we were left waiting for a table on the night of our res.  The Laundry isn’t McDonald’s and so they sat us at the bar and plied us with glasses of champagne and little snacks including my first experience with gougeres, aka hot savory cream puffs usually infused with gruyere, to compensate us for our “trouble”. 

“Maybe it was the bubbly talkin’, but the pungent cheese perfume and the salty pastry was a heady combo that I never forgot.  Though I have as much pastry acumen as a garden gnome, these are really easy to make, and I’ve been making them ever since according to this modified Thomas Keller recipe.”]
1 cup water
7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar
1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 to 5 large eggs
¾ cup grated aged cheddar
½ cup grated parm-reggiano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking matsor parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle (spray paddle with non-stick spray if you have it to avoid sticking) and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk.

Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the Cheddar and Parm mix, teaspoon of fresh thyme and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. If you don’t have a pastry bag, because other than say Jacques Torres, who does? Just use a plastic Ziplock and cut the tip off one corner.     Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets (use a butter knife to cut the batter off from the bag), leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking.

Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 18-22 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist.

Schoen’s sourdough

March 16, 2009



From Chris Schoen

[Chris provided several awesome baguettes way back on January 28. His recipe is adapted from The Village Baker.]

It’s time consuming (about 5-6 days) the first time you do it, since you are using only wild yeasts present in the air and on the surface of wheatberries, but once you have your first batch of dough you can pull off a lump to start your next batch, and the development process will go much faster (start to finish in about a day). You can also make yeasted dough and pull a lump from that, if you don’t want to wait a week for your first batch. The important thing is that there is nothing precious about heirloom sourdough starters. That’s just folklore. Anyone can get one going from scratch in just a few days.

The advantages to this method over the quicker yeasted dough method are many. Thicker crust, more developed flavor, better texture, and it doesn’t go stale as quickly either. It is well worth the extra effort and time. And it really is much simpler than it sounds, especially if you already have a good feel for baking bread.


1. Make a little ball of dough (the chef) about the size of a walnut or ping pong ball, by mixing 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 c. water. Put it in a covered container to keep from drying out, and leave out at room temp. The first time you do this it will take about 3 days to ferment, but subsequent chefs will ferment much more quickly (several hours) if you pull them from the dough right before adding the salt.

2. When the chef is active it will soften, and start to fill with bubbles. It will have a nice sour smell. Break it up into small pieces and mix it with 1.25 c. flour and 1/2 c. water, to make a ball of dough about the size of an orange (called the levain.). Let it sit covered at room temperature for about a day and half the first time (just a few hours if started from active dough).

3. When it’s active, mix it with 3 c. flour and 1.25 c. water to make dough for one loaf of bread. (You can modify this refreshment schedule to add more intermediate steps to vary the sourness, or to make larger batches.) Mix or knead dough until the gluten is developed, and the consistency starts to get satiny. Cover with a wet cloth to rise for about 6 hours (1-2 hours if you started with active chef).

4. Mix or knead in 2t salt. (If you want to pull a walnut sized lump as the chef for your next loaf, do it before you add the salt.) Shape your loaf and let rise covered with a flour-lined towel for another 8-10 hours (1-2 hours if you started with active chef). It’s ready to go in the oven when the dough doesn’t quickly spring back when you poke it. It won’t get quite as puffy as yeasted dough, but you’ll be able to tell that it’s gotten active.

5. Slash the top with a razor or sharp knife at a 45 degree angle (if you don’t give the loaf a place to expand it will tear randomly and erratically and this can keep it from rising properly). Bake at 450 for 20-50 minutes, depending on the shape of the loaf (less time for baguettes, more for batards or boules). The bread is done when you thump the bottom and it has a hollow sound.

6. Resist the urge to slice while hot. The inside of the bread will get gummy if you don’t let it cool for at least 30 minutes. Sorry.

Notes and Variations:

a) If you use a KitchenAid or similar mixer, try to use a slightly wetter dough. This will have dramatic results on the texture of the bread. Wetter doughs are harder to shape, but you can be liberal with flour during shaping if you are fast enough. Well worth the effort!

b) I often use a willow basket called a “banneton” to rise the dough, partly to get the cool concentric flour marks on the bread. You can use any kind of bowl to shape a boule. Line it liberally with flour. Wetter doughs tend to flatten out if you don’t put them to rise in some kind of supporting structure.

c) I usually pre-heat the oven to its highest setting for about 30 minutes and then turn it down to 450 when the bread goes in. (It helps that I don’t pay for cooking gas.) Whatever you bake on, a cookie sheet or baking stone (terra cotta tiles also work well), get it good and hot before putting the loaf on it.

d) If you are making a boule, I strongly recommend baking the loaf in some kind of covered container (Dutch oven, Le Crueset, clay pot, romertopf, etc.). The microenvironment preserves moisture which is critical for a thick, hard crust. Bake the same way you would bake a no-knead loaf.

e) When the bread is done, leave it in the oven for a few minutes with the gas off and the door open. This finishes the crust in a really awesome way.

f) This recipe works with any kind of flour, though too high a proportion of rye or other gluten-free flours will yield a much different kind of loaf. I recommend at least 75 percent wheat-based flours your first time.

g) You can add just about anything to this dough. Nuts and seeds, wheatberries/ryeberries, olives, garlic, onions, etc. etc.


No-knead bread (whole-wheat version*)

March 15, 2009



From Vince Lackowski

[Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery. In the photo above the NKB is the round at top right.]

Time: About 11/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising


2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 cup whole wheat flour**
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 500 mg Vitamin C tablet crushed into a powder (optional – helps w/ gluten
2 teaspoons salt (I used Kosher salt)
a few Tbsp oat bran, wheat bran, flax seeds, etc.
1. In a large bowl combine yeast and 1 5/8 cups warm water, stir and let it proof for a few minutes. Add flours, salt and vitamin C, mix with a wooden spoon until well blended, dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 65-70 degrees.     

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles and has significantly risen. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, or the wheat bran, oat bran, flax seeds ; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour or bran. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When it is ready, dough will have about doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up, trying to not deflate the dough too much; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cut a few slashes in the top, cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 11/2-pound loaf.

* For the white version just use three cups of the unbleached bread flour.
**Experiment with any other types of flours but use at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the unbleached.

Free-range bread

March 8, 2009




From Hugh Amano


To capture airborne yeast, combine a couple of tablespoons of flour with a couple of tablespoons of water. I use filtered water, incidentally–have you smelled tap water lately? There is so much chlorine in it, I fear it won’t give the tiny yeast a fighting chance to breed. So, knead the dough a bit, then put it in a bowl, cover it with a wet towel, and let it hang out. After a couple of days, there will be a bit of a crust on the dough; peel it off and discard it. There should be some evidence, however slight, of yeast production in the form of tiny bubbles or holes in the dough.

Refresh the starter by doubling the amount of flour and water used previously and repeat the process, again checking progress in a couple of days. Repeat again. By the third refreshment, there should be ample evidence of the yeast.

At this point, you should have a small bit of starter, weighing roughly half a pound or so, depending on how much crust had to be thrown out. Add about 8 ounces of flour, and enough water to make a firm dough that is slightly tacky to the touch, but not sticky. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes. Let rise until about double in size. Knead in about 2 tsp. of salt, and shape bread as desired. When doubled in size, bake in a 425 degree oven until done, maybe 20-25 minutes–it’ll sound hollow when tapped, or the internal temperature will be around 190-200 degrees.

Pain a la Ancienne

February 21, 2009


From Daniel Shumski

[Says Daniel: “So I made two types of bread. Here’s the recipe for the better and more popular one. It is essentially the Pain a l’Ancienne recipe from Peter Reinhart‘s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

“Better bread can be made, and less effort can be expended. But to my mind this is the bread with the best effort-to-quality relationship.”]

Yields 6 baguettes

Time required:
Day 1 – 10 to 15 minutes
Day 2 – 2 to 3 hours fermentation, shaping and panning, plus about 1 hour of baking


6 cups (27 ounces) unbleached bread flour*
2.25 teaspoons salt
1.75 teaspoons instant yeast (this is not rapid rise or active dry)
2.25 cups plus 2 Tablespoons water, ice cold (about 40 F)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Spray bottle filled with water

* I typically substitute a few ounces of cornmeal for just a bit of the flour, which lends a bit of sweetness and texture to the bread. Adding a tablespoon or two of gluten is nice if you have it on hand.

1. I usually make this bread in the food processor. Combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the ice-cold water. ICE. COLD. (Fill a pitcher with water and ice, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then pour off the needed amount). Give the mixture a whirl until it combines then let it rest a few minutes so that the flour hydrates a bit. Process for another minute or so until you’re left with a very sticky dough. (If you make this in a stand mixer, it will take about 6 minutes.)

2. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

3. Immediately place the bowl in the refrigerator and let rest overnight.

4. The next day, check to see if it has risen. It will probably have risen a bit, without doubling in size. Let stand at room temperature for a few hours while it loses its chill and continues to ferment.

5. When the dough has doubled from its original size, liberally sprinkle the counter with flour. With a wet plastic scraper or spatula, gently transfer the dough onto the counter, deflating it as little as possible. If the dough is very wet, sprinkle flour on top of it as well as under it. Roll the dough gently in the sprinkled flour to coat it, while stretching it into a 8-by-6-inch rectangle.
6. With a metal bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough in half widthwise. Don’t saw the dough – push through it with the sharp edge so that it breaks cleanly. Let the dough relax 5 minutes.

7. Place a cast-iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

8. Cover two sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat and dust with semolina or cornmeal.

9. Take one of the dough pieces and cut into 3 equal lengths, using your blade to pinch off the dough rather than sawing. Do the same with the remaining half. You now have six lengths of dough. Flour your hands and lift a length of dough carefully onto the pan, gently pulling it to the length of the pan. Place two more strips on the first pan. Use the other pan for the remaining three strips.

10. Onto the top shelf of the blazing hot oven goes the first pan. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the cast iron pan on the bottom shelf, taking care not to burn yourself because the oven is at FIVE HUNDRED freaking degrees and there will be a lot of steam. Close the door immediately after pouring the water. After 30 seconds, open the door and give the oven walls a few spritzes of water from the spray bottle. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. After the final spray, lower the oven temperature to 475.

11. Meanwhile, cover the second sheet pan of bread with plastic wrap. These baguettes can rise at room temperature for another hour or so, if you’d like. Or you can refrigerate the covered pan and bake them the next day.

12. The loaves will need about 18-25 minutes in the oven. Check midway to make sure they are baking evenly and rotate the pan 180 degrees if they are not. The bread should be a rich golden brown.

13. The finished loaves should feel very light. Cool on a rack.

This bread freezes beautifully. If you’re ambitious, you can wrap each loaf in aluminum foil and then place in a plastic freezer bag. But I always skip the foil. The frozen bread can be thawed on the counter for a few hours, or in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes.