Saturday, July 29, 2017

Easy Crusty Bread and Summer Fun

I've been MIA while my granddaughters were visiting for almost three weeks.  Lots of fun, but as you all know with grands, there's little time for getting to the computer!

Yesterday, quietly watching as the skies darkened, I knew we were in for some rain and decided to make bread.  It's "comforting" to make bread; the kneading and shaping gives me great satisfaction.  I made a recipe by King Arthur Flour for Crusty Bread made in a Cloche.  However, you could also use a cast iron Dutch Oven to achieve this.

Bread is one of the most basic of baked goods.  You simply need, flour, yeast, salt and water; a very inexpensive way to create something to eat...and oh, so satisfying.  The girls and I made Kentish Hufkins, among other goodies...
...and they have learned how easy it is to make and accomplish something really good.
A Tea Party after making my Mom's favorite Chocolate Cake recipe!

Maddie also started a quilt and both girls had fun making 3-dimensional flowers for cards for their mom's upcoming birthday in August.

And ice cream on Mimi's swing to watch the Hummingbirds, butterflies, and Gold Finches comes to my garden!

Crusty Bread
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz) King Arthur All-Purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) lukewarm water
2 tsp. SAF Red Instant Yeast
1 1/4 tsp. Salt
2 T Olive Oil

Place all dry ingredients in a stand mixer and use the dough hook to mix.  Slowly add the warm water and olive oil and mix until a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours until almost doubled.

I placed it on my screened-in porch, with the temperatures in the 90's, it doesn't take long to rise!

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured bread board, gently deflate the dough and shape it into a ball. Place the dough on the bottom of the Cloche and cover with the lid.  Allow the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until almost doubled in size.

Uncover the loaf and slashed several times.  Put the lid back on and place into a cold oven.  Set the oven temperature to 400F-degrees and bake the bread for 35 minutes.
Remove the lid of the lid of the Cloche and return the bread to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Mine took the full 10 minutes.
Take the bread out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.  I was imagining I was in Paris at a little cafe enjoying some cheese and bread...maybe a glass of wine.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summertime Chocolate Chip Cookies & July's Give-Away Apron

It's hot!  I guess after living in the South for four years I shouldn't be surprised by this week of high temperatures, humidity, and the occasional thunder storm, but it still slows me down.  Even with air conditioning, I find my baking has taken a vacation.  However, yesterday I decided to whip up some chocolate chip cookies and sit down and enjoy a new book I just got.

I first started reading Elon Hilderbrand's books several years ago when I picked up one of her first novels at an airport bookstore.  I had a long trip to Tokyo and wanted to make sure I had enough to read.  Well, it captivated me and I read it in less than three hours.  When I returned home, I purchased all she had out!  Also, a few years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through treatment for this disease.  I couldn't help but feel a kindred spirit when I read her stories.

Her stories take place on Nantucket Island; one of my favorite places to go when we lived in Massachusetts.  It's about 30 miles from Cape Cod and we took the ferry, although there is a small airport that you can fly in to.  The name, Nantucket, is from Algonquian Indians for "far away land or island" and it's mostly a tourist destination with only a little over 10,000 people residing there year round. The town is small, but exploring the island is a wonderful day of viewing wildlife, especially birds, and then finding yourself back in a B & B for a good night's rest.

What are you reading this summer?

Summertime Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cups + 2T granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans (or you can use walnuts)
1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat to combine.  Add the vanilla and beat again.

Remove bowl from the stand mixer and stir in, by hand, the dry ingredients until combined.  Add the nuts and chocolate chips.  Use a tablespoon-size scoop for the cookie size.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool on the pan while you put the next pan of cookies in the oven.  Remove to a rack to cool completely.  Now grab a couple, pour yourself some Sweet Tea or Lemonade and head to a comfy place to read.  Enjoy!

July's Apron is one of my favorite flowers--Poppies!  If you want a chance to win this colorful apron, just comment on the posts this month and you could be wearing this to do some baking in August! Good luck:-)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June's Give-Away Apron!

Congratulations to "Piecrust." You have won June's Give Away Apron!  Please email me your mailing address and I will send your apron to you.

Tomorrow, I will have July's Apron up!