I only recently became a Cook’s Illustrated fan. It just looked too intimidating for me. After buying one of their magazines I’ve been a fan of them. They let you know exactly what they’re trying to achieve and if something is too fussy, they’ll find a workaround for it. So while recipes might not taste as mind blowing as possible, the trade off is less effort and time. Great for when you don’t want to be chained to the stove all day long. And the taste is still really good.
More Best Recipes is a follow up to The New Best Recipe. The original has many more recipes and this is meant to compliment it. There are also two sections that are new: make ahead cooking and cooking for two.
I really like the recipes in this book and many are already being in regular rotation. The only recipe that I wouldn’t make again is the stir-fried portabello mushrooms. I have a pretty low sodium tolerance and with all the salt heavy products in it, we just couldn’t finish the dish and had to throw it out. This book also converted me into liking no knead bread. The added beer and easier handling techniques really improved the original recipe. The olive and parmesan no knead bread? Fantastic.
I also tried out the ciabatta bread. It’s formulated so that it doesn’t end up being so flat so you can split it in half for a sandwich.
The flavour was good and the dough was easy to handle where most ciabatta dough is a sticky mess. The only problem with this bread is that it disappears so fast!
I make bread frequently enough that I now have a small collection of books solely focused on bread alone. There’s something about the smell of bread baking in the oven and having a slice while still warm slathered with butter.
This isn’t the healthiest bread I’ve made, but it’s also one of the tastiest breads I’ve made (bread and cheese — can you even go wrong there?). This recipe is from Peter Reinhart’s new book Artisan Breads Every Day. It was nice to be able to mix the dough and have it sit in the fridge for a few days before baking. This makes it easy to fit into your schedule. There’s a lot of cheese involved so it’s a good way to use up any leftover cheeses. I did a mix of cheddar and cambozola and I think next time I’ll make one entirely of cambozola. My huge stand mixer had severe issues handling this dough. In the recipe it says to knead at medium-low which is a 4 on the KitchenAid. I can usually knead doughs at the speed required, but my mixer was struggling so much that I was afraid it’d break. Even at speed 2 it struggled.
After rolling up the dough and placing it in the loaf pans, I recommend having a baking sheet below to catch any cheese drippings. One of my loaves oozed cheese out onto my baking stone which was a terrible mess to clean.
I put one loaf in the freezer and one to eat. The one that wasn’t frozen was very fluffy and soft, the frozen one being more dense. I’m not sure if that had to do with me freezing it or how I rolled up the dough.
Despite some set backs, this bread is definitely repeat worthy. I scarfed almost a whole loaf of bread in no time.
When I bought my dutch oven, I really wanted it for no knead bread. In the end I used it for many things except for making no knead bread. I made the bread once. Confession: I wasn’t sold on the no knead bread craze. It ended up being way too chewy for me and staled so quickly I gave some to my dog and made the rest into breadcrumbs. My dog wasn’t too fond of it either — after he had a piece he drank his entire bowl of water.
So when I saw the Cook’s Illustrated almost no knead bread version I made it. And then made it again. And will make it again really soon, maybe tomorrow. This is all within a week by the way. I’ve consumed more carbs than normal and it’s all this bread’s fault.
What makes this bread so spectacular? 3 things: vinegar, beer, and a teeny tiny bit of kneading (10-15 times). The bread is good for 2 days, but is still excellent toasted after that. Really, the bread doesn’t last much longer than 2 days. I also appreciate this recipe’s ease of getting the dough into the dutch oven. Previously, you had a very wet dough and had to flour the crap out of tea towels to prevent the dough from sticking. Then, you flipped it into the hot dutch oven. It was a terrible mess. This version you let it rise in a skillet with parchment and then you lift the parchment with the dough on it and place it into the dutch oven. Less mess.
I’ve tried this with Canadian unbleached and bleached flour. I found that unbleached provides a much chewier bread than with bleached and I preferred the latter. Try both and see what works for you. Cook’s Illustrated also offers a few variations on it such as olive, rosemary, and parmesan, a rye bread and a whole wheat version. I can see myself doing a roasted garlic no knead bread — yum.
How does it compare to other breads I’ve made? I’m not about to abandon my bread making process, not kneading isn’t a top priority for me as I have a stand mixer, but it’s nice to have a simple recipe that you can get creative with and throw together in a minute. If you didn’t like the original no knead bread, you really should try this one.
With all the bread baking I do, I have never made a loaf of white bread. There are many more interesting breads to make than something so…plain.
My tastes have changed since I was a kid and would refuse to eat whole wheat bread. Rye, pumpernickel and whole wheat are one of my top bread choices nowadays. If I buy white bread it’s usually destined for breadcrumbs.
This is the Basic Soft Sandwich Loaf from The Bread Bible. If you do enjoy white bread, you’ll like this bread. It’s very buttery and when toasted it has a crumbly crisp nature to it. This would be a fabulous sandwich bread for tea sandwiches of the sort. I usually look for a heartier bread so I don’t think this recipe will make it on my routinely bread baking schedule.
Unfortunately I can’t find the recipe online. But if you’re a bread fan, you should get this book anyway. The only downside to this book is that there aren’t many whole grain breads.
My quest for getting a big muffin top is at an end. The secret to getting those bakery style muffins? A crown muffin pan is the easiest way as the mold allows you to add more batter. Don’t have a crown pan? Here are some other tips:
– Fill the batter right up to the top or very very close to it. The first time I used my crown muffin pan, I filled the liner 2/3 full which led to a regular sized muffin. Filling it to the top resulted in a puffy top.
– Use a thick batter. You can mound the batter real high without any worries of it spilling over.
– Try upping the temperature while the oven preheats. Crank your oven up to 425F and then when you pop the ovens in, lower the temperature to what the recipe calls for.
– I have found personally that when I fill the empty tins with water (to help prevent scorching) it also made the muffins rise more. I’m curious to see if the muffins will rise more when you have a baking pan on the lower rack preheating with the oven and then you throw in ice cubes once you put in the muffins to create steam.
For these muffins, I used the Lemon-Blueberry muffin recipe from The Mixer Bible. I omitted the lemon zest because I didn’t have any and I did a streusel topping as per hubby’s request. I also reduced the amount of baking powder because the recipe called for a full tablespoon and it seemed like a lot, so I used 1 teaspoon.
R has been wanting me to create these gargantuan sized muffins. I think it’s a side effect from shopping at Costco all the time when we pass by the massive muffin loaves. The recipe of 12 made 5 muffins. I realized today as I struggled to finish my muffin for breakfast (which could feed a family of 3) that I’ll have to limit my giant muffin baking, or make a few big ones for the hubby and small ones for me. I’d like my muffins to be more snack-like than a meal.