An Introduction to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I’m about a week away from the beginning attempts of a wheat free month.  So before I go there I want you to know I love baking and eating bread.  A few years ago we found ourselves living out on a ranch an hour from the grocery store.  We couldn’t always predict when we would have company coming and so baking my own bread and other household basics like making my own tortillas became the normal for me and I’m so glad that it did.

 

Baking bread is intimidating and the perfect loaf is something even an experienced baker has to work for. But it helps me to remember that there was once a day when all families baked their own bread (in a wood burning stove at that), this is something anyone can do if they set out to do it and this book makes getting started super easy.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day is a great introduction for the new baker. Using it you will quickly get comfortable with the textures and smells of mixing dough and baking bread.  After using this book for a while I am now comfortable taking on almost any recipe and even inventing my own.
An Intoduction to artisan bread in five minutes per day. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

I figured rather than go through the whole process here I would just give you a link to their website and book.  This book is unique in that all the recipes are “no knead” making them faster, easier to clean up and less work . The book starts with a basic recipe, just water, salt, yeast and flour.  You mix the ingredients and let it rise. Then you can use the dough immediately or keep stored in the fridge for a week or two (depending on the recipe) and bake a small loaf every day if you want.  The recipes in this book make enough for 4 small loaves and are easily doubled or halved making them super flexible.

 

When you are ready to bake you form the dough into a ball, let it rise again and then bake (often with steam to make a thick chewy crust).  Once you get the hang of the basic recipe the rest of the book is simply variations (the challah fresh from the oven is to die for and the buttermilk has become my go-to especially when made into cinnamon bread).

 

This method makes bringing a loaf of bread over for a dinner party beyond simple.  People will ooh and ahh over your bread that you spent a total of about 10 minutes on (there is a lot more time involved, but it is just waiting for things to happen).

 

Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

Erica

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Beer Bread Aka what to do with all that left over pumpkin ale

It feels a bit odd to be posting about bread baking. Honestly I’m still jittery from the attacks this week as I am facing the the painful reality of raising a child in a broken world where violence and instability are inescapable.  At the same time we all need to eat and what is more unifying than sitting down to enjoy a nice slice of warm bread.

 

This is probably the easiest and most versatile quick bread recipe ever. It is hearty, cakey and buttery, just a little sweet and is always a crowd pleaser. Make it for supper and if you have left overs it makes great toast in the morning.

 

Beer Bread, Liturgy of Life, liturgyoflife.com

 

Ingredients:

3 cups sifted All purpose flour (don’t skip the sifting and don’t let it deter you, it just takes a minute, if you don’t have a sifter you can also use a fine strainer and fork)

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

(If you buy self rising flour it contains the baking powder and salt in the right proportion, so just use 3 cups of it, sifted, and  combine with the below ingredients)

1/4 cup sugar

12 oz beer

1/2-1 stick of butter, depending on taste (don’t mix this into the batter, you use it on top at the end)

 

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter a bread pan.
  3. Sift flour.
  4. Whisk flour with other dry ingredients.
  5. Mix dry ingredients with beer.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes.
  7. Open oven and place 1/2-1 stick of butter on top of the loaf (you can break it into smaller pieces if you want to, or melt it and pour it over).
  8. Bake another 15 minutes or so until crust is nice and golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven.
  10. Cool for a few few minutes then enjoy.

 

So simple and tasty, sorry no picture we ate it too fast!

Thanks for being here,

Erica

 

 

To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here, or join us in our reading group, where we are currently reading, The Art of The Commonplace by Wendell Berry. Feel free to comment here or join in the discussion on facebook.

 

 

The Best Basic Cheesecake An unbeatable recipe and way easier to make than you think it is going to be.

The best cheesecake. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

My husband does not like sweets. My cookies don’t even get a second look (and so of course I end up eating them all myself).  But this year for his birthday he once again requested this cheesecake.  I promise you that if you are looking for a basic cheesecake recipe you will not find one better than this. And it is oh so easy to make (sure I’ve messed it up on several occasions, over cooked it, under cooked it, added too much vanilla, forgotten the sugar etc.) but I promise you the technique here is simple.

 

This recipe comes from my friend and mentor Kate Beale who runs Isaiah 55 Deaf Ministries here on the border.  One of the perks of living nearby now means I get to pick her brain about recipes and enjoy her excellent cooking.   She pointed out that this actually isn’t her recipe, the original comes from an old church cookbook, St. John’s from Alabama, though I think she has made a few modifications.

 

You will need:

Spring form pan– I bought an inexpensive one at the grocery store (I think they keep them stocked for people like me who go to start a cake and realize they need a special pan and have no idea what it even is).  This is basically a pan with a flat bottom and sides that go straight up and that are hinged with a spring, so you can loosen the sides when it is done baking to remove the sides but keep the cake in place on the bottom.

 

Baking sheet–  Because the spring form pan has a crack along the bottom, butter and goo can leak out, keep it on a baking sheet so you don’t make  a mess in the oven.

 

Electric Mixer– I use a stand mixer but a hand mixer will work fine. It would be hard to get this cake whipped well enough without some sort of appliance though.

 

An extra day. This cake is best if you make it in the morning, or even the day before you plan on serving it.  It also freezes well.

 

Ingredients:

The best cheesecake. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

Crust:

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/2 c sugar

1/2 melted butter (I used salted)

 

Filling:

3 packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

5 eggs

1 1/2 cup sugar (you can reduce this to 1 cup for a less sweet cake)

3 teaspoons vanilla

 

Topping:

2 cups sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

 

Directions:

 

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

 

To make the crust:

Crush the graham crackers (you can start by leaving them in package and smashing them with a rolling pin, they dump them onto the counter and smash up the bigger pieces again)

Mix crackers with sugar and butter.

Press mixture down onto the bottom of the pan. I usually press mine up the sides a half inch or so but you don’t have to)

Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.

 

The best cheesecake. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

The best cheesecake. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

To make the filling:

Place 3 packages of cream cheese in a bowl and beat until soft and whipped.

Add one egg at a time, between each addition scrape down the sides and then beat the mixture again until it is fluffy

Once all the eggs are added beat for a minute or two on high (or medium high is fine it high starts making it splash and makes a mess).

Add sugar and vanilla.

Beat one more time (having the mixture well mixed helps give it the right texture).

 

The best cheesecake. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

Pour the filling into the shell. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

While baking make your topping by mixing together vanilla, sugar and sour cream.

 

photo 5The best cheesecake. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

Check after one hour and see where you are and then check every 10 minutes or so, bake until the center is no longer jiggly, it make be longer or shorter depending on your pan and oven.

Once cake is baked, pour topping over top and bake for 7-10 more minutes.

 

Remove and cool.

Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

 

We recommend it as breakfast with a crispy slice of bacon.

 

Enjoy (sorry I always get to excited by the end and forget to take a picture of my finished product, I’ll update one next time)!

 

Thanks,

Erica

 

Related articles

The Basic Flour Tortilla From How to Cook Everything

The Basic Flour Tortilla, Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

What happens on taco night when you live an hour from the closest grocery store and you forgot to buy tortillas?

 

In my family it motivated us to learn to make them ourselves.

 

We lived for one year on ranch in  the Hill Country of central Texas and though I made it into town once a week, I often found myself wanting a loaf of bread or a bagel or in this case a tortilla and didn’t have the option to buy it. It is amazing how motivating it is to be without something you want.  Needless to say, during that year my baking skills improved significantly.

 

It happens that making tortillas is a simple process. Now granted there are those who have perfected this beyond perfection, we won’t all get there. But anyone can make a tasty simple tortilla that will easily please a crowd on taco night. And it doesn’t take as long as you might think.

 

Once you get a feel for this recipe you will find that mixing the dough takes less than ten minutes. You need to give it an hour (or longer if you want) to rest and then making them takes about 30 minutes. If you are having company you will need to double this recipe, but this is a process that your friends and family would most likely love to learn.

 

This is from my favorite cookbook,

 

You only need four ingredients and one of them is water:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of lard, butter or oil (I only ever bought lard for soap making, I never thought I’d use it to cook with, but on a whim I tried it and haven’t turned back. I can only vouch for this recipe made with lard, I’ve never tried the other fats.)

1/2 cup of warm water, more as needed.

 

I used to do this in the food processor but now I just mix it by hand. I’ll give directions for both.

 

If using a food processor:

  1. Combine flour and salt in container of food processor, use the dough blade (the dull one)
  2. Add fat and pulse a few times to mix in.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly add water and stop when the dough forms a ball.

If mixing by hand

  1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add fat, mix in with two knives or, if you are like me, mix it in with one hand, by pinching and dropping the flour until it is all greasy, it won’t be well mixed, but just make sure the big blobs of fat are stirred into the flour (this is very sticky if using your hands).
  3. Mix with one hand or with a spoon and slowly add water with the other hand, stir and add small splashes until dough holds together and forms a ball. If you accidentally add too much water and it gets too sticky just add a little sprinkle of flour.

Then:

  1. Knead 1 minute in food processor ( basically keep the machine running for one minute). Or turn dough out onto a floured surface and kneed by hand for 4-5 minutes (flatten the dough then fold it in half and flatten it out again, over and over until it is smooth and elastic, you can also just do this in the mixing bowl if you don’t want to dirty your counter yet.)
  2. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, store dough in the fridge for a few hours or on the counter for an hour.

 

The Basic Flour Tortilla, Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

To make tortillas:

  1. Let dough warm up to room temperature if it was in the fridge.
  2. Break dough into pieces, this recipe is technically for 6, I make smaller ones so it makes 8 for me plus a tablespoon or two for my daughter to play with. Form each section into a ball.
  3. Take a dough ball and flatten it on a lightly floured surface, then with a rolling pin roll it out until it is very thin, 1-2 millimeters thick.
  4. Heat skillet. A cast iron skillet works great here, but any one will do. Medium heat is best, but I usually end up turning mind down to low to keep from burning. These cook pretty fast so you have to watch them.
  5. One at a time lay the tortilla in the hot skillet, cook for about 2 minutes on each side (more or less depending on heat and thickness of your tortilla). You will see it puff up and get slightly brown, once it does this flip it over, cook the other side and then remove
  6. Lay them inside of a towel or special tortilla container. Lining either with a piece of plastic wrap will help keep them warm and prevent them from drying out.

The Basic Flour Tortilla, Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

Serve warm with whatever else you are cooking. Use them the next day in quesadillas.

Enjoy!