Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! The winter break is here at last—a time to relax and to get together with friends, a time to try out new recipes, a time to bake up some wonderful, homemade breads and special sweet treats. If you’re looking for ways to make bread-baking more efficient, an excellent resource is Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads (John Wiley & Sons).
For some scrumptious sweets, see: https://www.cjnews.com/living-jewish/the-shabbat-table-cooking-for-friends
Award-winning author and baker, Nancy Baggett, has loved making homemade yeast breads since her mom first let her “help” prepare cinnamon buns when she was five. Nancy was lulled by the peaceful, calming nature of the process and amazed and proud of the fresh, warm irresistible breads they were able to create from ordinary kitchen supplies. Her memories of those quiet times in their farmhouse kitchen are still vivid.
Once she was an adult, Nancy carried on her mother’s baking traditions, loving the feeling of tranquility and connectedness with her past, as well as the satisfaction of serving her family bread that came straight from their oven. Because of her busy food writing schedule (she’s authored nearly 20 cookbooks and is a food journalist and blogger), Nancy found it harder and harder to find the stretches of personal time that her mother’s old-fashioned yeast recipes required. She began researching and experimenting, eventually developing techniques for delectable yeast breads that could be adapted to a more flexible, no-knead, slow-rise approach.
In Kneadlessly Simple, Nancy Baggett shares nine easy steps to great bread, helpful information on basic know-how, ingredients, equipment, and troubleshooting tips. With nothing more than a bowl, a spoon and a few ingredients, you can bake amazing artisan-style breads like Rosemary Focaccia, English Muffin Loaves, Raisin Pumpernickel, Great Granola Breakfast Bread, Cronshi’s Challah, Cheddar and Chiles Bread, and Cherry and Chocolate Coffee Ring with Kirsch.
For more information about Nancy Baggett, her cookbooks, and recipes, visit www.kitchenlane.com
Are “cookie monsters” coming to visit? Here is a link to Nancy’s All-Purpose Sugar Cookie Dough Cut-Out Cookies: http://kitchenlane.com/2008/09/all-purpose-sugar-cookie-dough.html.
Here’s Nancy’s video on rolling out dough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eVybstMyjc
Happy Baking and Seasons Eating’s!
EASY WHITE BREAD LOAVES
Super Easy: A minimum of fuss-free, easily mixed ingredients. No hand-shaping.
If you love fresh, homemade yeast bread, but think of it as complicated or labor-intensive to prepare, please go to your kitchen and try this recipe! You’ll create light, attractive, classic-style white bread with excellent flavour, while skipping all the traditional work—no yeast proofing, kneading, hand shaping, or muss and fuss. And, like all the other recipes in Kneadlessly Simple, this one requires no bread machine, heavy-duty mixer, food processor or other special equipment.
Simply stir the ingredients together in a big bowl and slip it into the refrigerator to chill for a couple hours. Then, leave it on the counter to rise all day or all night. This long, slow rise is key: It develops superior flavour and “micro-kneads” the dough so you can skip this formerly essential step. Last, simply stir the dough again; turn it out into two loaf pans; let rise and bake.
Your reward? Two large, fine-textured loaves prefect for sandwiches, toast, or eating plain. Or, if you prefer, use half of this versatile dough for an everyday white loaf, and quickly turn the second half into a dozen large, lusciously decadent, yet easy sticky buns (see the recipe below).
6 1/2 cups (32.5 ounces) unbleached white bread flour, plus more as needed
3 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp table salt
1 tsp instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
1/3 cup corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil, plus extra for coating dough tops and baking pans
2 3/4 cups ice water (mix cold water with 1 cup ice cubes before measuring), plus more ice water if needed
FIRST RISE: In a very large bowl (6-quart or larger), thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, whisk the oil into the water. Thoroughly stir the mixture into the bowl with the flour, scraping down the sides until thoroughly blended. If the mixture is too dry to incorporate all the flour, a bit at a time, stir in just enough more water to blend the ingredients; don’t over-moisten, as the dough should be very stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to yield a hard-to-stir dough. Brush or spray the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. For best flavour or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature (about 70ºF) for 15 to 20 hours. If convenient, stir the dough about halfway through the rise.
SECOND RISE: Vigorously stir the dough, adding more flour if necessary to yield very stiff consistency. Using well-oiled kitchen shears or a serrated knife, cut it in half, placing the portions in two well-greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans. Smooth and press the dough into the pans using a well-oiled rubber spatula or your fingertips. Evenly brush or spray the dough tops with oil. Make a 1/2-inch deep slash lengthwise down the centre of each loaf. Tightly cover the pans with nonstick foil (or nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap).
LET RISE USING ANY OF THESE METHODS: For a 1 1/2-2 1/2 hour regular rise, let stand at warm (74-75ºF) room temperature; for a 1 to 2 hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, up to 48 hours, then set out at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough nears the foil. Remove the foil and continue until the dough reaches 3/4 inch above the pan rims. Dust each loaf evenly with 1 tablespoon flour.
BAKING PRELIMINARIES: Fifteen minutes before baking time, place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425ºF.
BAKING: Reduce the oven temperature to 400ºF. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. If necessary to prevent over-browning, cover the tops with foil. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes longer, until the tops are well browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until the centre registers 208ºF to 210ºF on an instant-read thermometer). Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out the loaves onto racks; cool thoroughly.
SERVING AND STORING: Cool thoroughly before slicing and storing. Store airtight in plastic bags or wrapped in aluminum foil. The bread will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.
Yield: 2 medium loaves, about 12-14 slices each.
EASY CINNAMON STICKY BUNS
Super Easy: Fuss-free ingredients, added all at once. Hand shaping required.
Most sticky buns are formed by rolling dough around a cinnamon-sugar mixture, but these deliver the same luscious taste while skipping all the fussy hand-shaping. The dough is simply studded with little pockets and swirls of a buttery, cinnamon-sugar streusel, and bathed in a gooey brown sugar sauce that forms on the bottom during baking. The buns are simultaneously shaped and baked in jumbo-size muffin cups (ones with a volume of about 1 cup each), then served inverted. So, the “tops” stay soft and the succulent sauce flows down the buns’ sides—yum-m-y!
These are glorious eaten right out of the oven, so the refrigerator rise option—which lets you hold the buns several days until ready for them—is particularly convenient. About 2 1/2 to 3 hours before baking, allow them to finish rising on the counter, then pop them into the oven, bake, sample, and swoon!
The following buns are made from half a batch of the of the Easy White Bread Loaves recipe (above). Use the other half to ready a loaf of bread as directed in the original recipe. Or, double the sticky bun sauce recipe below and make two dozen sticky buns.
1/2 batch Easy White Bread dough (above), stirred and ready for the second rise
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unbleached white bread flour or all-purpose white flour, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cool, firm unsalted butter, cut into 1/3-inch pieces, plus 1/3 cup more, melted, for muffin cups
1/2 cup dark, seedless raisins, rinsed under hot water, thoroughly drained and patted dry, or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
18 Tbsp (1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) dark corn syrup
SECOND RISE: Have on hand half a batch of Easy White Bread dough, ready for the second rise. Prepare the sticky bun streusel by briefly mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a food processor. Add the butter pieces. Using on/off pulses, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. (Alternatively, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, and cut in the butter using forks or a pastry blender until the consistency of coarse crumbs.)
Vigorously stir 1/2 cup of crumb mixture and the raisins or nuts (if using) into the dough until fairly evenly distributed; it’s all right is some patches of crumbs remain. Evenly coat 12 jumbo-size muffin cups with melted butter. Put 1 teaspoon melted butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup, then 1 tablespoon crumb mixture in each cup. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half equally among 6 cups; dust the dough with a little flour for ease of handling, if desired. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the cups, dividing it equally among them. Press down firmly on each with well-greased fingertips to imbed the crumbs. Drizzle any remaining butter over the tops. Tent the muffin tins with nonstick spray-coated foil.
LET RISE USING ANY OF THESE METHODS: For a 1 1/2–2 1/2 hour regular rise, let stand at warm (74ºF-75ºF) room temperature; for a 45 minute to 1 1/2 hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, 4 to 48 hours, then set out at room temperature. When the dough nears the foil, remove it and continue the rise until the dough doubles from the original size or extends almost to the cup rims.
BAKING PRELIMINARIES: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350ºF. Set the muffin tins on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any boil-overs of the sauce).
BAKING: Bake (lower rack) until nicely browned on top, 20–25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with only a few particles at the bottom (or the centers register 208–209 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove to a wire rack and immediately run a knife around the buns to loosen. Place a heat-proof cutting board flat against the muffin tin, then invert the tin and shake to remove the buns; the bottoms will become the tops. Transfer the buns to a serving plate. Scrape any sauce clinging to the cups out onto the buns; serve immediately.
SERVING AND STORING: These are best served hot and fresh. They will keep at cool room temperature for up to 2 days. Freeze, airtight, for longer storage. Reheat, wrapped in foil, in a low oven, (or under a plastic cover at low power in the microwave) before serving.
Yield: Makes 12 large buns.