Salted Caramels

I made you these for my one year party. And you know what you did? You ate all of them.

It wasn’t easy though. See I started off my screwing up the recipe. I rewrote it for you so you wont make the same mistake but I did have to pitch a whole bunch of sugar. It crystalized and I didn’t know how to bring it back from that. Sigh.

Salted caramels

BUT! The second attempt was perfect. I remember making the a while back and they turned out too hard so I checked the temp both my instant read meat thermometer and my candy thermometer. Sure enough the candy thermometer was reading 10 degrees cooler. So not ok when making candy.

So moral of that story is check your thermometer. I think there is a way to recalibrate my candy thermometer but I have no idea how… maybe I should sort that out.

Salted caramels

Anyways these make the loveliest gifts. I was impressed with how easily they wrapped up. They were delicious for over a week. Probably longer but I can’t say because they were all gone.

Yes in case you are wondering I did hide some from you so I had a few to enjoy in the days after the party. I do that sometimes. Still love me? Good. Thanks!

Salted caramels

One year ago today: Strawberry jam

Two years ago today: Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Salted Caramels (makes 1 8×8 pan)
From Ina Garten 

Vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 water
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.

In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir — just swirl the pan.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful — it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut into pieces and sprinkle the caramel with sea salt. It’s easier to cut the caramels if you brush the knife with flavorless oil like corn oil.

Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.

Salted Caramels

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Splurges. That is what this is about.

We have gone over all the basic alcohols already. We talked about vodka, rum, tequila, gin, whiskey, and bourbon.

Now I want to talk about two extras to keep in your cabinet on a regular basis- coffee liquor and vanilla vodka.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Confession- when we first started making these I used Kahlua and Smirnoff vanilla vodka. Not that there is anything wrong with that. They make decent drinks.

Then on a recent run to the liquor store (I do that a lot these days) the store clerk suggested Absolut instead of Smirnoff. I honestly thought there couldn’t be that big of a difference but he promised that Absolut was infused with vanilla instead of flavored and that I would love it. Sure. Ok. I’ll try it.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Um. There is no comparison between to the two. Hands down Absolut wins through and through.

Then I met Vivacity’s Turkish Coffee Liquor. Shut the front door. They use freshly roasted coffee and add cardamom, cinnamon, and cocoa nibs. Lordly is it good. Again, wins hands down compared to Kahlua. 

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

There really are a host of finer things in life and I believe these are both worth the splurge.

And with this one little splurge are two great drinks you can make with these two sweet spirits and a little bit of cream. Just adjusting the proportions makes two different, yet equally delicious, drinks.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Make em. Then enjoy them.

One year ago today: Ensalada Mixta

Two years ago today: Real food banana muffins and Tough day buttermilk and rosemary pound cake

White Russian

White Russian (makes 1 drink)

1 ounce coffee liquor
2 1/2 ounces vanilla vodka (plain vodka is traditional)
1 1/2 ounces cream

Pour the coffee liquor into a small glass filled with ice. Then pour in the vanilla (or plain) vodka, then the cream. Stir before sipping if you want.

Spiked Vanilla Latte

Spiked Vanilla Latte (makes 1 drink)

2 ounces coffee liquor
1 ounce vanilla vodka
3 ounces cream or milk (really just use cream)

Add all of the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 45 seconds to a minute (this creates the foam). Pour into a chilled martini glass and enjoy.

White Russians and Spiked Vanilla Lattes

Homemade Falafel with Tahini Sauce

Remember when I bought tahini for the first time the other day? And made pita bread? Best day ever.

So I did it again. Not the buying tahini part because I already had some but the making pita bread. Just a half batch this time. Lets not get crazy out of hand people. And then I made homemade falafel to fill it with.

Homemade Falafel and Tahini Sauce

Seriously. Made my own falafel. Who knew it was so easy? Sure you gotta stand over the stove and fry them but it is so worth it.

Precious little brings me as much pleasure as being able to make restaurant quality food at home. I love being able to make things I would otherwise have to pay someone to make for me. And for a fraction of the price plus there is the upside that I get to share it with you.

Homemade Falafel and Tahini Sauce

Speaking of sharing things what are you up to on May 31st? This sweet little blog turns two at the end of May and last year it was SO fun to see many of you at the first anniversary party. Wanna have another party? I’ll cook. It will be delicious. There will be drinks. But seriously. Please just come celebrate with me. I would be over the moon.

Homemade Falafel and Tahini Sauce

Mark you calendar- My 31st. Be there or … I don’t know. I have no threats to make. Just come. It will make me happy. I might make you some pitas.

Homemade Falafel and Tahini Sauce

One year ago today: Baby bok choi and mushrooms and risotto primavera

Homemade Falafel with Tahini Sauce (makes XXX)
From Just a Taste

For the falafel:
2 cups roughly chopped white onion
6 garlic cloves
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for sauteing
Pita bread, for serving

For the tahini sauce:
1¼ cups plain yogurt (full fat or non-fat)
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Add the onion and garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are finely minced. Remove the mixture and set it aside.

Add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until they are roughly blended but not pureed.

Return the onion mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you pulse the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. (Note: Start by adding ¼ cup of flour, and then the remaining ¼ cup. You can add more if the mixture is still too wet.)

Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

While the falafel mixture is chilling, prepare the tahini sauce by whisking together the yogurt, tahini and lemon juice. Season it with salt and pepper, cover it and place it in the fridge.

Once the falafel mixture has chilled, use a small ice cream scoop or spoons to form the mixture into balls (roughly 3 Tablespoons per ball). (Note: You can also add additional flour at this point, if the mixture is too wet to scoop.)

Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add a liberal amount of canola oil so that the pan is well-coated. Let the pan pre-heat for 3 minutes then add the falafel one by one, browning them on the first side for 3 minutes, then flipping them once and browning the second side until the mixture is cooked throughout.

Transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined cooling wrack and immediately season them with salt. Repeat this process until you have cooked all of the falafel.

Place three or four falafel inside a halved, warmed pita and drizzle with the prepared tahini sauce.

Homemade Falafel and Tahini Sauce

Coconut Cream Pie Date Balls

A little over a year ago I found myself in the home of a lovely friend and she served me the most delicious date balls. I even shared them with you remember?

What I didn’t share with you was the funny interchange that happened when I asked for the recipe. She looked at me puzzled. A bit like I was lost. “A recipe?” she asked. “You just throw things together!”

Um. I had never had the privilege of making anything of the sort so she obliged and hunted down a recipe that resembled her fantastic creating. It was an instant hit around this house.

Coconut Cream Pie Date Balls

After the second or third time of making these date balls I realized why she looked at me so strangely. It really is just as easy as throwing things in the food processor and turning it on. Granted it has to be things that you like and that will go well together but seriously… just throw things in there and whir!

Date balls are a staple around here. So are Lara Bars when I am too lazy to make my own date balls. My absolute favorite Lara Bar flavor is coconut cream pie. Shorty after learning to make date balls I started reading the ingredients on the back of Lara Bars and crafting date balls with similar ingredients.

Coconut Cream Pie Date Balls

These are such a win. And so incredibly delicious. The toddler loves them. Nathan and I snack on a couple as a sweet after dinner treat. They come together in an instant and are so very forgiving of proportions or additions and subtractions when it comes to ingredients.

Make a batch. Then be brave and branch out. Use different nuts. Or add cocoa power. Maybe a different dried fruit like cranberries. Oh I bet apricots would be divine!

Coconut Cream Pie Date Balls

One year ago today: Rye caraway scones and peanut butter cookies 

Date Balls (makes about 30)
Mine

4 cups dates (pitted if they aren’t already)
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut plus more for rolling
1 cup cashew (or pieces as they are infinitely cheaper)
1/2 cup coconut oil

Add all of the ingredients (except the extra coconut for rolling) to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until it is finely ground and is paste like. Scoop out with a spoon and roll into balls. Drop the balls on the extra coconut in a bowl or a plate and roll around till well coated. Place on a tray. Chill in the fridge and enjoy.

Coconut Cream Pie Date Balls

Pita Bread

Hummus and pita go hand in hand. Right? Thanks for agreeing with me.

A good mama friend of mine made these a few weeks ago with her littles. I have seen them all over Pinterest for months dying to try them.

Homemade pita bread

For some reason they simply haven’t surfaced on the list of things I needed or wanted to make. Now you can add them to the list of things I will NEVER buy from a store again.

Pitas to me have always been these overly dry tasteless things that you get at the store in a bag. Occasionally at a restaurant you get really good soft and fluffy ones but they aren’t the pocket type pitas. I didn’t even know that pocket pita could be synonymous with soft and fluffy. Delicious.

Homemade pita bread

Easy peasy bread that you kinda throw together and then leave on the counter. Want to know a secret? I forgot about mine and what was supposed to be 1 hour rise turned into I think three. I can’t remember. The recipe called for throwing it in the fridge- I did none of that. Who has the patience?!

And I baked mine in the oven for only three minutes on my pizza stone. All an absolute utter breeze. Have I stressed the fact enough yet that these were delicious? Often homemade things are pretty good but store bought can be passable. This is not one of them. Two different worlds. Go make your own!

Homemade pita bread

One year ago today: Apple Cupcakes with Vegan Buttercream Frosting

Pita Bread (makes 8-12)
From Smitten Kitchen

3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed just until all the flour is moistened, about 20 seconds. Change to the dough hook, raise the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and be very soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.

Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Let rise for about an hour and a half. Proceed to shaping or place in the fridge for 4 to 12 hours.

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating. Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick.

Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. How well the pita will puff depends on how much moisture is in the dough. The more moist the better the puff. Allow to cool then enjoy.

Homemade pita bread

Hummus

WHy is it that the basics are elusive? How on earth do I know how to make my own butter but have never made my own hummus? We even keep a stash of dried garbanzo beans on hand at all times so would think it would be something that was n my repertoire.

Guess not.

However when requested I am more than happy to oblige. Particularly when it is something that has to be ridiculously simple and I just haven’t bothered to figure it out yet.

Which was the case here. A friend asked for it so I happily made it. And he happily ate over 2/3 of it in one sitting.

Homemade hummus in minutes

Who can blame him?

Also I thought I was going to take the cheater way out of this and use peanut butter instead of tahini. I had heard that you could do it and I didn’t want to bother with hunting some down (not like it is hard but I am L.A.Z.Y.). Nathan however was not amused so to acquiesce I got some. One of the local hippy stores (there are many) actually keeps tahini in bulk bins so I bought enough for two batches.

Totally worth it. Even better in pita sandwiches with tomatoes, shallots, and spinach. Seriously could make myself sick overeating on these. Oh and the pitas were homemade. Recipe to come. Also totally worth the effort.

Couple of notes- taste, taste, taste, and taste. Make sure you like the flavor! Also I had to add quite a bit of water to get it as loose as I wanted it to be. Don’t be afraid to keep adding water till it is right.

Homemade hummus in minutes

One year ago today: Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Scones and Ciabatta Bread

Hummus (makes about three cups)
From the Barefoot Contessa

4 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas

Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it’s minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Add more water if necessary to thin it out. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Homemade hummus in minutes

Cooking Beans

It has astounded me how many vegetarians I have talked to of late who mentioned they don’t make/don’t know how to make their own beans. From scratch.

I too used to be in the canned bean buying club. With my budget concious ways making my own beans was just a matter of time. At first I found it frustrating and confusing between the soaking and the rinsing and the simmering. And I always seemed to have too many or not enough when I was done making a batch.

Cooking Dried Beans

Then I learned you can freeze them after cooking. Freeze.them. What?!

World turned upside down.

Cooking Dried Beans

Now this is the only way I make beans. I keep all sorts of dried beans on hand at all times because I buy them in bulk from my co op. A pantry full. Many of them from the local valley too. I’m a lucky girl. Also I tend to keep at least 3-4 different containers full of different kinds of cooked beans in my freezer.

Cooking Dried Beans

Pretty much a kitchen full of beans. Not really but you get the idea. But seriously since I learned that you can make and freeze beans I haven’t bought a single can from the store. Mostly because I can’t bring myself to buy a can of beans when I know I have so many at home. Sure if I have to make a batch from dried its going to take an hour and half ish or if I need to thaw them it will take a while but I am more than happy to go this route.

Or I’m neurotic and just love making everything from scratch.

Anyways. It’s easy. It’s cheaper. You should do it. Join me.

Cooking Dried Beans

One year ago today: Orange poppyseed scones

Cooking Dried Beans (makes as much as you want)
Mine (ish)

Dried beans
Water

It is not necessary to pre-soak most beans but you can if you want. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) must be soaked overnight however.

Place your beans in a large pot, pick them over for any rocks and broken beans. Rinse a couple of times in cold water to get off any residual dirt. Drain the dirty water. Cover the beans with 2-3 inches of water and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Set a timer for one hour. Once the timer goes off taste test at least five beans from the pot (try to get them for different places) to see if they are done. Continue checking in 10 minute increments till they are perfect. Drain and allow to cool slightly. Use immediately or cover with fresh water, cover, and freeze till you want to use them. Enjoy!

Cooking Dried Beans

Homemade Corn Dogs and Red Duck Ketchup

Proof we are not 100% healthy eaters around here.

I am not kidding about these corn dogs. These are genuine dipped in batter fried in oil deliciousness.

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

Sure. Ok. Fine. It is organic non gmo masa and cornmeal. And the hot dogs are locally made from ethically raised meat. And the oil is cold press canola. BUT it is still battered and fried food. A true scarcity around here.

What prompted this? Ketchup. Wonderful local craft ketchup.

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

Nathan has been working with a super cool founders group and Red Duck  just happens to be part of the same group. Red Duck is a brilliant group of entrepreneurs who tired of the boring ketchup fare offered locally. They took to their kitchen to create something delicious and over 30 flavor combinations later three tasty flavors emerged- classic, curry, and spicy.

I had the privilege of tasting all the flavors at a local expo. Who knew ketchup could be so good? I feel this is the point in time where I need to admit I don’t really like ketchup. Well  I guess I should say I don’t like commercially available ketchup. This stuff? This stuff I will eat by the spoonful.

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

And guess what!?! You will get to too! Red Duck gifted me with two jars to taste and cook with at home (I did promise I would tell you about it) and then has offered to ship a 3 pack gift set to one lucky lucky reader.

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

Can we talk about this ketchup for a second? First off it is organic. Secondly it has none of the odd ingredients found in mass market ketchup such as high fructose ketchup or stabilizers. Thirdly it is local to my area. Love me some local businesses.

I highly recommend if you do win this ketchup that you make these corn dogs to go with. Seriously easy as all your are doing is mixing up a batter, dipping, then frying. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool. Dipping them in cool ketchup helps. Trust me.

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

How to enter this give away:

There are three ways to get an entry.

1. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what’s your favorite thing to put ketchup on.

2. Go like Red Duck Ketchup on Facebook. Come back here and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.

3. Share this post on your Facebook. Come back here and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.

Entries close Friday, February 28th at 8 am. I will draw and and announce a winner on Friday.

Luck!

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

One year ago today: Brownie Cookie and Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Corn Dogs (we made them mini so it made 24)
From How to Cook With Vesna

Pack of hot dogs, the very best all-beef ones you can find
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup masa harina
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
Bamboo skewers
2-4 cups of oil for frying

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet indregients (start with 1/2 cup buttermilk) and stir well. You are looking for the consistency of thick pancake batter. Skewer a hot dog and test dip in the batter. If it coats easily then you are ready to go. If it is too think then add some more buttermilk. Pour the batter into a tall cup. Pour the oil in a heavy duty pan (cast iron is best) and bring to about 375 F. A small dap of batter dropped int he oil should sizzle nicely. Skewer the hot dogs (or in our case 1/4 of the hot dog pieces) then dip in the batter. Put immediately in the pan and cook till golden then flip. Once the second side is golden remove to a paper towel to drain. Allow to cool slightly then enjoy dipped in the very best ketchup around.

(And Red Duck does have a fan in this little picky eater. The curry one specifically. Who needs corn dogs when you can just eat it with your hands!?)

Homemade Corn Dogs and a Ketchup giveaway!

 

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

The healthy eating continues around here and it is so enjoyable. I have not really had sweets for nearly two weeks. Well until these cookies came along.

There are some grocery store cookies I still have an affinity for. Iced oatmeal cookies being one kind. Like alot. Oreos too.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

I refuse to buy these cookies in the store. Actually the list of foods I refuse to buy is quite long but processed cookies from the store is really really high up there. So as with the nutter butters I figured I could just make them myself.

At first I was sure this was going to wind up in the “sure that’s a great cookie but it is not quite right” pile. They taste like eggnog. Nathan disagree but seriously. Eggnog. Even after they were baked all I could taste was eggnog. I am not saying that was a bag thing I just wasn’t sure they were going to turn into the cookies I was hoping they would

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Enter the glaze. The glaze took these eggnogy oatmeal cookies and turned them in to the bigger badder better version of the store bought classic. So while yes it is work to get the glaze on the cookies I urge you to do it. So perfectly delicious.

I served these as dessert at a dinner party over the weekend I think only one glazed cookies survived the ordeal. Even I, who was avoiding sugar and gluten, ate three. Three. I don’t regret it.

Mercifully they are all gone now. So I am back to a stunning vegetarian dinner and maybe some fruit for dessert.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

One year ago today: Vanilla Ice Cream and Farro and Cauliflower Risotto

Iced Oatmeal Cookies (makes 3 dozen)
From Mother Thyme

Cookies:
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside. Place rolled oats in a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds until coarse. Mix oats with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Using an electric mixer cream butter and sugars. Add in eggs one at a time then vanilla extract. Gradually add in flour mixture until combined. Roll dough into 2 tablespoon size balls and place on baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Glaze
Mix confectioners sugar and milk together in a medium bowl. Dip the tops of cookies into glaze and let excess drip off. Place back on wire rack until glaze sets.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Rye Caraway Bread

I am in the love love love rye bread camp.

And caraway. Love me some caraway.

Rye Caraway bread

But you know that already from the rye caraway scones.

So when my sister offers to bring over bacon, tomatoes, and lettuce for BLTs if I provide the bread I gotta bring my A game.

Rye Caraway bread

Well that and I am weird. Really good bakery bread can be pretty spendy ($4-5 a loaf or more). We don’t eat sandwich bread unless it is Dave’s Killer Bread and that isn’t cheap either. The artisan bread I have been making lately is delicious but I wanted something just a bit better for this go around.

And we already had rye flour. That’s normal right? To just have rye flour on hand? Thanks for making me feel normal about it.

Rye Caraway bread

So off I went to try and find a good recipe. I feel like recipe picking is something I am pretty good at. Rarely do I get a recipe that is a complete and utter failure and I ascribe that to my ability to know what a recipe will turn out like by reading it. Oh and by knowing that Smitten Kitchen is almost always a sure bet.

I don’t pretend that making this bread is quick. It is ridiculously easy but takes a while. I think I started around 8 am and pulled the bread out of the oven around 2. There is a ferment, kneed, rise, punch down, rise, shape, rise, and lastly bake. None of it takes particularly long but you are required to be around and baby sit the bread off and on.

Rye Caraway bread

Perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. Or when you get snowed in. Or when you really really want rye bread.

Totally worth it though. I baked it on a pizza stone and threw some ice cubes onto a sheet pan in the oven before I shut the door to create some steam. The bread is light, flavorful, chewy, and has a slightly crisp crust.

Rye Caraway bread

Beyond perfect for BLTs. I used some the leftover bread for an egg sandwich the next morning and then a cheese sandwich that afternoon. Then it was sadly gone. I have been obsessing over it ever since and fully intend on making another loaf this weekend.

Rye Caraway bread

One year ago today: The very best pizza dough

Rye Caraway Bread (makes 1 large loaf)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sponge
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature

Flour Mixture
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt

Dough and Baking
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
cornmeal for sprinkling

Make the sponge
Combine sponge ingredients in a large or mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth, to intentionally incorporate air — this will yield a thick batter. Set it aside.

Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 2-3 hours at room temperature. (The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture in places.)

Mix the dough
Add the oil and mix with the dough hook on low speed for about 1 minute, until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. then raise the speed to medium and mix it for 10 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic, and it should jump back when pressed with a fingertip; if it is sticky, turn it out on a counter and knead in a little extra flour.

Let the dough rise
Place the dough in a large container or bowl, lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough as well (spray oil works great). Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Flip the bowl over and let the dough fall out on to a lightly floured counter, press it down gently, fold or form it back into a ball and allow it to rise a second time, back in the (re-oiled) bowl covered with plastic wrap for about 45 minutes.

Shape it and wait out the final rise
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it down again. Round it into a ball and set it on a cornmeal sprinkled pizza peel (or baking sheet). Cover it with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. While it is rising preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven
Place your pizza stone (or upside down baking sheet) in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F as early as you can tolerate. On a shelf below the pizza stone place a cast iron skillet or sheet pan.

Slash and bake the bread
With a sharp knife or singled-edged razor blade, make 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the top of the dough in a square pattern. Quickly but gently slide the bread on the hot stone or hot baking sheet. Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath and immediately shut the door. Bake for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400°F, place an instant read thermometer in the bread and continue baking till it registers 190F or for 10-20 minutes and the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack.

Rye Caraway bread