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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Let me tell you about a little place called The Bunnery.

Two summers ago, when Roger and I were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we decided to grab breakfast at a local restaurant just off the Town Square called The Bunnery. The line spilled out onto sidewalk, but their breakfast came highly recommended, so I couldn’t pass it up. As we know, when it comes to breakfast, I don’t mess around.

When we finally snagged a table, I opened the menu and discovered I was in breakfast heaven. There was the Bunnery Benedict, the Teton Breakfast Burrito and, among other things, several items with the letters “OSM” in front of them: OSM pancakes, OSM waffles, OSM bread.

osm-bread

Come to find out, OSM stands for “oats, sunflower, millet,” a blend of grains that has become The Bunnery’s signature. I love whole grains; I love breakfast. As soon as I discovered what this OSM business was all about, all I could say was “Sign me up.”

I ordered the OSM pancakes, and they kiiiind of rocked my world. I also tried Roger’s OSM toast, which was pretty great too. Later, I discovered that aside from their pies and their breakfast, the rest of The Bunnery’s offerings were a little “feh,” but the OSM goodies placed me firmly in the pro-Bunnery camp.

At the checkout counter, I saw that The Bunnery sells an OSM pancake and waffle mix, but I figured I’d do one step better; I’d buy their cookbook and make some OSM treats of my own.

Unfortunately, the only OSM recipe in the whole cookbook is for their OSM bread, and the recipe is a little verkakte. However, determined to recreate the OSM bread at home, I fiddled with the recipe and think I’ve come up with a pretty excellent rendition. It’s soft, slightly sweet and wholesome, with a lovely crust.  It’s also a good keeper and will last on the counter top for a number of days — that is, if you don’t finish it in a single sitting.

osm-bread-2

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Pile of Muffins

*chirp, chirp*

*chirp, chirp*

Are those crickets I hear? Yes, the blog has been a little…how shall we say…”quiet” lately. Believe it or not, I have been cooking. But I’ve also been working and planning and traveling and…well, lots of other “-ings.” And all of those other th”ings” have thrown the proverbial wrench in my plans to blog. Drat.

I realize I may have entirely lost anyone who, at one point or another, read my blog. Alas, that would be very sad indeed. So in the hopes of recruiting people back to POTP, I give you…Homemade English Muffins.

English Muffin

Remember when I made that sourdough starter all those weeks ago? Well, I found an excellent use for the leftover starter, replete with Nooks and Crannies. Oh. Yes.

The recipe is super easy, as long as you have a starter going (and if you don’t, starting one is super easy too). I made my muffins with 1/3 whole wheat flour and 2/3 regular flour because, well, you know me. I likes me some whole grains.

So my apologies for my absence — both on this blog and all of yours. I assure you that once I’m a Mrs. in less than two months (!!), the nooks and crannies between my blog posts won’t be so large…

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I know, I know: I posted a recipe for banana bread about two months ago. But I subscribe to the belief that one can never have too many banana bread recipes in one’s arsenal.

slice-of-banana-bread.jpg

The great thing about banana bread is that all you really need is a bunch of old, mushy bananas. I like mine made with some buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt — but like with most things, I’m not picky. Then all you need are your “staples” and from there, it’s up to you. Toss in spices — cinnamon, cardamom, cloves — or goodies like nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit. Oats, whole wheat flour, candied ginger — the sky’s the limit.

I’ve found that you can make banana bread moist and deliciously decadent without using a cup of butter or oil. Bananas themselves provide a lot of moisture and sweetness in baked goods, and small amounts of acidic fats like yogurt and sour cream add tenderness without a lot of guilt.

This Plain Jane version of banana bread is nothing fancy — no coconut, no toasted nuts, no hunks of dark chocolate — but it’s delicious. Like many banana bread recipes, it’s the result of a bunch of black and mushy bananas that had to go and some ingredients lingering in my fridge that I needed to use up. In my experience, sour cream makes a mean banana bread, and in this case, you only need a 1/4 cup to create a tender and delicious loaf.

banana-bread.jpg

Feel free to make this banana bread your own — add chopped dark chocolate, or toasted walnuts, or poppy seeds. At the very least, this recipe might inspire you to whip out your own favorite banana bread recipe. You can never have too many.

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There are many wonderful benefits to living in our nation’s capital: free museums, cherry blossoms in the spring, two restaurants by Michel Richard.

But some days it feels like all of those pluses are offset by some of Washington’s big minuses: the constant presence of pompous politicians, the influx of protesters wreaking havoc for the sake of wreaking havoc, and — a personal peeve of mine — the lack of anything resembling what those of us who grew up in New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia call “bagels.”

Plain bagel

Let it be known: doughnut-shaped bread does not a bagel make. This fact seems to have escaped most of the chains and grocery stores in the District. You may be able to fool a few folks with your “French Toast Bagels,” but not this girl.

To be fair, I have found one bagel shop in the District of Columbia that makes a decent bagel, but it’s closing next year to make room for a new restaurant. So like I said, I got nothin’. And to all of those who refer me to bagel shops in Maryland and Virginia, I say thank you, but I really don’t feel like trekking across state lines for a bagel and some schmear.

So what is a girl to do? Make her own bagels? Well, as it turns out, yes. I had seen a recipe in Sherry Yard’s “Desserts by the Yard” for New York bagels, which requires little more than whirring the dough in a food processor, letting it rest overnight and boiling and baking the bagels the next morning. That sounded perfectly doable on a Friday night, in preparation for fresh bagels Saturday morning.

2 bagels

Were the bagels Bronx-worthy? Mmmm…not quite, but close. And they were certainly better than the imposters being sold as bagels in these parts. In the future, I think I would add malt syrup instead of the brown sugar I had on hand, which would give them more of that characteristic bagel flavor.

But details, details… Bottom line — with minimal prep and little cleanup, I had fresh, hot, crusty bagels an hour after I’d woken up Saturday morning, about the same amount of time it would have taken me to get dressed, drive out to Bethesda, buy some bagels and get back home.

So now that I can make fuss-free bagels on my own, it looks like I can cross that off my “Washington peeves” list. Now, if only I could do something about those politicians…

Poppy and sesame

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Yes, I know: The phrase “seasonally appropriate” evokes images of Miss Manners telling you not to wear white after Labor Day. But this banana bread is a seasonally appropriate recipe if I ever saw one.

January tends to be “make up for December” month. A bunch of people who feel really bad about celebrating Santa with a little to much zeal make a whole bunch of promises they probably won’t keep. Suddenly that second helping of roast beef and extra slice of banana cream pie seem a little overindulgent (come on, we’ve all been there…and if you say you haven’t, you’re just lying).

Banana bread 1

So for starters, this banana bread would be fair game on most “resolutions” lists. It uses molasses in place of some of the sugar, along with whole wheat flour and oats for some added fiber.

And here’s the kicker: with some spices thrown in, the bread has a subtle gingerbread-like flavor that works perfectly this time of year. The holidays may be over, but winter is just getting started. I wouldn’t call this my “go to” banana bread recipe, but somehow it just tastes right this time of year.

So there you have it: healthy and wintery. Does it get more “seasonally appropriate” than that? I’m sure Miss Manners would approve.

Banana bread 2

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No Knead 2.0

Baggett No Knead above

Edited to add: Okay, I didn’t realize Cook’s Illustrated *also* dubbed their version of no-knead “No Knead 2.0.” Whoops! FYI, this post does not describe the CI recipe, but rather the one printed in the Washington Post.

By now, most home cooks are familiar with “No Knead Bread,” at least in name or concept if not in practice. Mark Bittman’s 2006 article on Jim Lahey’s novel technique sent curious bakers and novice knead-a-phobes running to their kitchens to master the art of crusty, delicious, homemade bread, sans fuss.

I may be the only enthusiastic baker in America who has yet to try Mr. Lahey’s technique. I know, I know, what have I been doing, right? Well first I didn’t have the right pot…then I did…and then life sort of got in the way.

But then a few weeks back, two different articles appeared — one in the New York Times, one in the Washington Post — that attempted to best the original No Knead recipe, making the process even simpler, even “no kneadier.” Luisa at Wednesday Chef had iffy results with the Times recipe, so I ditched that one.

But Nancy Baggett’s recipe in the Post looked promising. Whereas the latest Times recipe claimed “No Knead” results could be accomplished in half the time, Baggett’s recipe didn’t cut the time much at all, but it cut out the need to touch the dough entirely. Even Jim Lahey’s recipe required a little futzing, just gently shaping the dough before the final rise. But the Post recipe required no kneading at all — none. I think she should have called it, “No Knead, for Reals.”

Baggett No Knead

Does that make it more clinical and sterile? Yes. Admittedly, sometimes I really like kneading dough. Rough week at work? Family giving you a hard time? Take it out on the dough. I also consider it a workout, justifying the copious quantities of bread I will soon eat.

But sometimes, you just want delicious bread without the cleanup. Although I’ve never made Lahey’s recipe (I will, I will, I promise!), his method does require a special pot and just a touch more “cleanup” than Baggett’s recipe. That said, Baggett’s method yields a rectangular loaf, not the rustic boule shape that makes the original No Knead Bread so beautiful. The Post recipe yields more of a sandwich bread or loaf for morning toast than something you’d make for guests.

So, compelled by my guilt for not trying this method the first time around, I gave Baggett’s whole wheat loaf a try for breakfast this weekend. The verdict? Very, very tasty, and I’ve been enjoying the loaf for breakfast all week. The texture is soft and the exterior has a wonderful crunch. Sadly I cannot compare it to the Lahey bread (the shame!), but I suspect it’s a very different type of bread prepared using a similar method.

Next time I have a dinner party, I will give Lahey’s method a try. And I have a delicious, old-fashioned, knead-to-your-heart’s-content bread recipe I will be sharing soon. But for an average morning after a tiring work week, this recipe does the trick.

Baggett No Knead Slice

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