Archives for category: Baking

Jan 20 2014 035

Last year I started working for a new client and taking a job with this group was truly a game changing decision for me.

The definition of a game changer is:  an event, idea, or procedure that affects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.

Working with the Unreasonable Institute was a game changer for me because it caused a significant shift in my current manner of thinking about nearly everything and how I live my life.

How can catering for a group of people change me so much?

The people who are involved with the Unreasonable Institute are good people.  Like I always tell my kids, “who you hang out with is important.”

I have never been around such a committed and positive group of people in my life.

The people who work at the Unreasonable Institute are good people, doing good things and having great success at it.  They are supportive and encouraging people who work tirelessly at the things they believe in.   Good people.  I can go on but that statement pretty much says it all.

Now, I am a much better person than I was before.  I am happier and work harder and it is all because I responded to a Craig’s List posting that I was not sure I wanted to respond to.  I did not want to take on retreat catering clients but I am sure glad I did for this group.

Here is a bit from the Unreasonable Institute website.

What is the Unreasonable Institute?

We exist to give entrepreneurs tackling the world’s greatest challenges an “unreasonable advantage.” How do we do this? Each year, we match a dozen carefully vetted ventures from around the world with 50 mentors (including the Chairman of Whole Foods, a guy who’s helped over 20 million people out of poverty, and a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet) and 100+ funders at 5-week bootcamps.


After the five weeks, we provide entrepreneurs with pro-bono executive coaches, support in sustaining their relationships with relevant mentors and funders, guidance and connections from a dedicated team whose main job is to get these ventures funded, and access to our network of 250+ partners, 100+ mentors, 250+ funders, and 82 ventures from 37 countries. Our goal is to help each of these ventures scale up to meaningfully impact the lives of over 1 million people each.

I get to cook for these people and it is the best job I have ever had.  It is a privilege and an honor to work for the Unreasonable Institute.  I am cooking for my second summer for the amazing ventures, mentors, investors and Unreasonable staff and having a blast.

My granola is popular at the Unreasonable Institute so I decided to share the recipe.

Make your own granola.  It is super simple, tasty and cheaper than store bought granola.

Jan 20 2014 046

Make your own Tasty Granola


Unreasonably Easy and Tasty Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried fruit like raisins or cranberries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Mix everything in a big bowl.

It is that simple.

Spread it out on a large cookie sheet that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick spray and bake for about 1 hour at 250 degrees.

Turn your pan around, in oven, every 20 minutes.  Stir up the granola.

Finish baking.

Feel free to get creative with your ingredients.  Add chocolate chips or make it healthier by adding hemp harts, chia seeds or flax seeds.

Jan 20 2014 010

This picture was taken last year.  I will post some great pictures in my next post of some of the wonderful people at the Institute this year.

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frittata 4 lemon chicken 099My last blog post was titled “Self Hosting Fun”  and it was not fun at all.

This is why I have not been blogging.  I regret it.  I have blog posts swirling around in my brain all of the time.  I still have not been blogging.


Fear of failure.  It really is that simple.  I tried to jump over to self hosting with a new template and failed at being able to figure it out.   I have used many different types of templates and have been pretty successful at figuring  out how to work with templates, but not this time.  I have met my match and lost the fight.  The template I chose was not something I could figure out.  I failed.

I have a quote on my fridge that says, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”  -Winston Churchill

It is on my fridge! I see it everyday but I was not approaching this particular failure with enthusiasm.  Instead I was hiding from it.  My goal with the self hosting and new template was to create a more professional looking blog.  How could I go back to blogging until I succeeded?

My failure was not in being unable to figure out my new blog template but by not continuing to blog while I solved the problem.

I was talking on the phone to my lovely sister Shelley over the holidays and she said, “My mother in law, Doris and I love cooking the recipes from your blog.”

That was it.  That was all I needed to hear.  This is why I write this blog.  It has nothing to do with professionalism or how the blog looks.  It is about getting people to enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking healthy, scratch-made meals for family and friends.

I have not given up on making the change to a more professional looking blog but will continue to post while I approach the transition without fear and with lots of enthusiasm.

frittata 4 lemon chicken 082

Lemon Chicken Thighs with Thyme and Garlic

Simple and delicious, this entree is easy to make and tastes great.
Gluten Free and low carb as well as Paleo,  I love to make this dish on any night since it is quick and easy.

4-6 servings

10 minutes prep and 20 minutes cooking, but remember to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes after baking for the lovely juices to redistribute in the chicken for the most tender and moist results.

Start heating your oven to 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes before baking the chicken.

Total time:  40 minutes to delicious chicken.

6-12 Good quality Chicken Thighs with bones and skin.

4 large good-looking lemons, preferably organic as you will be using the whole lemon with skin and all.

1 generous handful of fresh thyme chopped lightly with the woody stems cut off or 1 tbs dried thyme (if I am using dried I like to use the French thyme from Savory Spice Shop)  Remember to save your fresh thyme stems for stock, just put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer for later use.

2 large cloves of fresh garlic minced.

2 tbs good quality unsalted butter softened. 

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

Cracked pepper to taste

Get your oven really hot.  Pre-heat to 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes while you are prepping your ingredients.

Smash together in a small bowl, the garlic, ½ tsp of kosher salt and ½ of your fresh thyme and your softened butter.  Use a fork to get it all mixed together by smashing it with the tines of the fork.  

Slice your lemons into thin circles.  Remove any seeds. 

Lay the chicken out on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  Give the thighs a little room for the heat to circulate around them and allow for the skin to get crispy.

Lift up the skin of the chicken thighs and insert a small amount of butter mixture and one slice of lemon.  If you are making 6 thighs you will put in more butter mixture than if you are make 12 thighs.  Just use you judgment on how much you should put in.  You can measure out the butter mixture ahead of time so that you can see how much to use on each thigh.  I usually use around ¼ tsp per thigh.

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Season the top of the chicken with the rest of your kosher salt and cracked pepper.  Liberally sprinkle the rest of the thyme over the top of the chicken and bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches around 170 degrees and the skin is crispy and browned.

Let chicken rest for about 10 minutes.

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Great served with roasted Brussels Sprouts or steamed fresh broccoli.

the winner is..

The winner of a darling apron from Lulu’s High Country Kitchen is Eliot the Cat!

Lulu apron

Please contact us for details on how to get your lovely hand-made Colorado apron from Lulu’s High Country Kitchen.

Here are some lovely bakery pictures for you to enjoy and I will be back blogging this week.  Working two jobs has made it difficult this last month but now things have slowed down a bit.  I cannot wait to get back to it.  Here are some of the things that I work on every morning…very early.  I am loving the bakery work.  Great to make 600 plus croissants each morning.  Really!

Spruce Forming train 053Spruce Forming train 083Spruce Forming train 070Spruce Forming train 001Spruce Forming train 125Spruce Forming train 123Spruce Forming train 113

March 28 2013 180I have made many flourless chocolate cakes in my career.  I love the ease of a flourless chocolate cake and when you use exceptional chocolate the result is a dense and flavorful cake that all of your guests will love.

I can finally say that I have developed the perfect flourless chocolate cake recipe.  I have made many recipes from Martha Stewart to Rose Levy Barenbaum and this recipe takes all of the best parts of those recipes to create not only a delicious cake but an easy cake.

This cake is so easy you would not say it was unreasonable at all.

The people who I served this cake were definitely unreasonable in the best possible way.

I was catering recently for a group from the Unreasonable Institute.  If you have not heard about this group, check them out.  Amazing….is all I have to say.  I spent at least 3 hours just looking at all of the entrepreneurs they have helped with their program the first time I went to their website.

This is what it says on their website:  “We get world-changing ventures and entrepreneurs what they need to scale their impact. Each year, we unite 10-30 entrepreneurs (called “Unreasonable Fellows”) from every corner of the globe to live under the same roof for six weeks in Boulder, Colorado. These entrepreneurs receive customized training and support from 50 world-class mentors, ranging from a Time Magazine Hero of the Planet, to the head of user experience at Google X, to an entrepreneur who’s enabled over 20 million farmers to move out of poverty. In the process, they form relationships with corporations and international organizations, receive legal advice & design consulting, and get in front of hundreds of potential funders. Our goal is to bring all the resources to accelerate these ventures so they can scale to meet the needs of at least one million people each.”

How cool is that..

Here are a few of the ventures they have helped out:

Worms 4 Change

Replicable vermicomposting production and training model to promote health and development in rural and urban communities

Initiative for the Development of Former Child Soldiers (IDEFOCS)

Restoration of peace & security in West Africa through Former child soldiers’ rehabilitation & reintegration.

Lili Dairy

Empowering Women Through Dairy Farming

The list goes on and on.

I had the privilege to cater for this group and the one dish they raved about most was the flourless chocolate cake.  I agreed to share the recipe.

Very Simple Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 oz unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
8 oz 60% cacao chocolate chips (I used Costco Brand which I love..)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup very hot and very strong coffee
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons unsweetened organic cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli again)
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
 Pre heat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 10-cup Springform pan by lining the bottom with buttered parchment
Break up the unsweetened chocolate into pieces and put the chocolate into the bowl of the food processor or blender. Add the chocolate chips as well.  Pulse until the chocolate breaks up into small bits. Add the sugar. Pulse until the chocolate and sugar turns into a sandy grain.
Pour the hot water or coffee slowly into the feed tube as you pulse again. Pulse until the chocolate is melted.
Add the butter pieces and the cocoa powder, and pulse to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla, whisky and process till smooth. The batter will be liquid and creamy.
Pour the batter into the lined Springform pan. Wrap the outside of the whole pan with a big piece of foil. Bake at 350º  in the center of the oven, till puffed about 45-55 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove from pan and let cake cool on rack for 1 hour.  Best when refrigerated over night wrapped in plastic wrap.  Top with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar or berries.
March 28 2013 184

Farmers Market opening day 021

I love Boulder.  The farmers market is all local.  Everything.  Here are some pictures from opening day for you to enjoy.  I loved the tender spring greens.  All of the local meat and poultry farmers added this year was fantatastic.

Farmers Market opening day 031The people with this company, Zuke are truly food nerds.  The fresh and clean tastes of the pickled veggies they make are extrodinary.  Truly the best pickled foods I have ever had.Farmers Market opening day 039

Lovely Mushrooms.  Farmers Market opening day 145Something to do with your old crocs!

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Local and tasty granola.

Farmers Market opening day 072Windsor Dairy is a favorite of mine.  This high quality dairy keeps adding more tasty selections each year.  The eggs I bought from them had yokes so bright orange they looked un-real.  The taste was outstanding.

Farmers Market opening day 090These tender greens were delicious with a citrus ginger dressing.

Farmers Market opening day 280Sweet carrots.

Farmers Market opening day 355Beautiful babies.

Farmers Market opening day 007These perfect little darlings come from Street Fare.  This is a program by the Boulder Homeless Shelter that trains people in the baking industry.  I had to pick up a box of treats at this stand.

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March 14 2013 041

I believe that when teaching children to cook you can also teach them about the science of cooking.  How the different components of a recipe combine and change during baking make for a great science experiment.

I also stress the importance of paying attention to the details.  This is an important lesson for my twelve-year old son.  He is very meticulous in the kitchen and I see him take that skill and use it in other aspects of his life.  Like cleaning his room…very important.  I find it easy to get him involved when it is a dessert but he also like to cook chicken, pasta and rice.

He has also become interested in trying new foods when he is involved in the cooking process.

We decided to make a pound cake this week.  My family loves a simple and rich pound cake.

We weigh our ingredients to make sure they are the correct amount.

March 14 2013 002

All of the ingredients are readied before we begin.  Eggs are at room temperature and butter is soft.  Dry ingredients are in a bowl together and wet are in a liquid measuring cup.

March 14 2013 014Ben is careful to sift the dry ingredients together.

March 14 2013 012He will then cream together butter and sugar.

March 14 2013 018Next he adds the eggs one at a time and scraps down the sides of the bowl to make sure it is all well mixed.

March 14 2013 024The batter is then mixed well.

March 14 2013 028The batter is poured into a bundt pan that is  coated with butter and lightly floured.

March 14 2013 030Then Ben sets his timer and bakes his cake in a pre-heated oven.  Ben checks to see if the cake is done with a cake tester stick.

Perfect Pound Cake

March 14 2013 039

Ben’s Tasty Pound Cake Recipe

12 oz. butter

3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk, at room temperature

2 tsp. lemon juice 

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

Heat oven to 325°. Generously grease a bundt pan with butter. Add  flour; turn the pan to coat it evenly with flour, tap out any excess, and set aside.

Using a sieve set over a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Repeat 2 more times.

In a measuring container with a pourable spout, combine milk and the  lemon, and vanilla extracts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter at medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, 1⁄4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat until satiny smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 egg at a time to the butter mixture, beating for 15 seconds before adding another, and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down sides of the bowl; beat just until the batter is smooth and silky but no more.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and firmly tap on a counter to allow batter to settle evenly. Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out moist but clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; let cool completely before slicing.

March 5 2013 161

I happened to hear a conversation my daughter was having with one of her friends.  The girl who was visiting us said to Maddy, “You guys don’t have any snacks?”  They were looking for something to eat in the cabinet.  My cabinet is filled with foods to make snacks but nothing prepared.  Sure, we sometimes have chips or pretzels but not all of the snack foods most people have in their houses.

This statement made me laugh because I remember when I was about 14 and my friend Jenifer was over to visit.  We stood in our huge dry storage area of the converted farmhouse my family lived in.

This was my mother’s domain.  For those of you who do not know my mother she is a formidable force of nature.  We grew up on a 5 acre subsistence farm.  We grew or raised most of what we ate.  My mom did most of the work.!

Jenifer was saying, “your family does not have any snacks.”

Our dry storage contained big huge bags of flour, big bags of beans and beautiful canning jars full of produce from our garden.  I remember loving to see how the light played off of the different colors in the jars.  Red tomatoes, dark green beans, yellow summer squash and purple beets all lined the shelves.  There were no Doritos.

When I would go to Jenifer’s house I would feel as if I stepped into the Plaza Hotel.  They had individual slices of cheese in plastic, single yogurts and chips and crackers.  How very fancy it seemed to me.  Don’t get me wrong, Jenifer’s mom fed her great food but it just seemed so fancy to me to have snacks.  My family could not afford these things for all 5 of us kids.  Sliced deli meat was a luxury that only came once or twice a year.  Grapes from the grocery store were descended on like a fallen gazelle by a pack of lions when my mom dared to bring them home from the store.

My need to make snacks from scratch also arises from not wanting to pay the grocery store prices for snacks but also that I want my family to eat well.

Making chips from scratch is a breeze if you have a mandolin. This is the one that I have but there are much cheaper ones that work great as well. French Mandolin.   I use my constantly.  It makes things much easier.  If you hand cut chips or fries it takes too long!  At least for me as a chef I cannot stand tasks that are too laborious or slow.  I am usually moving in high-speed.  I will slice the potatoes and let rest in extra cold water for about an hour.

Then I will place a rack over my sink and let the potatoes drain for an hour or so.  I also do this for fries. March 5 2013 159

Then you do not need to pat the potatoes down with a bunch of paper towels and all of the water evaporates off.

I pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Oil a pan with coconut oil.  Do not use too much oil.  Coconut oil is great because you do not need to use much.  I only oil the bottom of a cookie sheet and do not toss the chips to coat.  When they are half way done I just flip the chips to crisp the top when the bottom is crisp.

This will take about 15 minutes.  When chips are hot out of the oven add garlic, shredded parmesan and salt or any other creative flavors you can think of but add when hot so it sticks.

Let cool on a rack and enjoy.

March 5 2013 174

Feb 27 2013 044

I bought a couple of pounds of roma tomatoes at the store.  They were a wonderful color and looked yummy.  These tomatoes were not very yummy.  As a fresh tomato these little fruits were completely useless.

Being frugal I could not throw them out.  Oven drying was the only solution.  This way the sugars in the tomatoes would be concentrated and the flavor enhanced.  I do not like to waste food.

I had some fresh thyme that I had frozen when I realized I would not use it up by the time in turned.  Freezing thyme is a great way to preserve it when you are not going to use the whole bunch.

I tossed the tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Threw on some sea salt and pepper and tossed some garlic and fresh thyme on top.

Feb 23 2013 053I set my oven and 250 degrees and let the tomatoes roast for 3-4 hours.

Feb 23 2013 079I took out the thyme stems and saved them in a bag in the freezer for stock and packed the dried tomatoes and garlic in a jar with some olive oil.  The tomatoes last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or 2 months in the freezer.  Use the oil to coat veggies, for a tasty salad dressing or spread on some fresh-baked bread.  Do not throw out the oil after you have used the tomatoes as it has a great flavor for the herbs, garlic and sweet tomatoes.

Feb 27 2013 046

These sweet dried tomatoes are very versatile.

Here are 10 ways to use oven dried tomatoes:

1.  Pizza topping

2.  Toss with pasta, olive oil, garlic and a good cheese

3.  Antipasti

4.  Top a salad with bacon and blue cheese

5.  Add to mayo and it is great in a sandwich or as a dipping sauce with fresh veggies

6.  Add to your favorite pasta sauce to punch up the flavor

7.  Add to stew at the end of cooking for a sweet complexity

8.  Add to soup with kale, white beans and garlic

9.  Blend tomatoes, oil that you stored the tomatoes in, and more fresh herbs with some balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing

10. Toss with feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and grilled veggies

What do you use your oven dried tomatoes for?

Check out Lucys Friendly Foods for a great antipasti salad recipe.

Carmels 2 015

My kids love caramels.  When we go to the store they have caramels that cost about a dollar each by the register.  They are lovely and tasty and expensive.  I decided we needed to make our own.  Time consuming, this recipe is worth the work.  You don’t need to stand over the stove and stir the whole time but you do need to be in the kitchen for a few hours so you can make other things when the caramel are cooking.  I made some granola bars and some bread at the same time.

Some of my recipes call for corn syrup.  One of the DIY projects that I have undertaken recently is making “corn” syrup out of cane sugar.  Corn syrup is expensive and after reading “The omnivores Dilemma” by  Michael Pollen, I have been committed to reducing the amount of corn products my family consumes.  Not an easy task.

It is very easy to make your own “corn” syrup from cane sugar.  This will substitute in any recipe that calls for corn syrup.  For example, it works great in my granola bar recipe.

Here is the recipe I used to make “corn” syrup.  Cupcake Project, How to make corn syrup.

You should make these caramels because they are worth the work and this recipe yields 120 caramels which will last a long time if kept in the fridge.

Carmels 2 008


  •                                         4 cups heavy cream
  •                                         1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  •                                         4 cups home-made “corn” syrup
  •                                         4 cups sugar
  •                                         1 teaspoon salt
  •                                         1/2 pound unsalted butter
  •                                         1 tablespoon home-made vanilla extract
  •                                         Vegetable-oil cooking spray


  1.  Spray a cookie sheet or half sheet pan with vegetable-oil spray.
  2.  In medium saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.
  3.  In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine “corn” syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals if needed.
  4.  Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250  degrees (hard-ball stage).  You need to have a candy thermometer for this recipe because you cannot guess about the temperature.   This will take about 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil.
  6. When sugar reaches 250  degrees. slowly stir in butter cut into chunks added one at a time, and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times.  Take your time with this step as you do not want the mixture to stop boiling.  Add the butter very slowly.

Carmels 017

  1. Cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244  degrees (firm-ball stage), and this will take around 55 to 75 minutes.

Carmels 023

  1. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. If you scrape the bottom of the pot dark brown bits will end up in your candy.  Just leave the bottom of the pot alone and throw out what is left after you pour the candy into the pan.
  3. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
  4. After candy has hardened cut into 1 inch pieces and wrap with waxed paper.
  5. These will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.  Keep the candies in sealed bag or jar so that they do not pick up any odd flavors from the refrigerator.

Carmels 2 007

The smell of fresh bread baking at home is intoxicating.  Making it for your small food business will make your customers very happy and improve your bottom line.  What could be better than that?  If you bake your own bread at home it is one of the cheapest and tastiest ways to save money.

Oh no…you say!  That takes too much time and I am not a bread baker.  People often think bread baking is an art form or a science and too hard to learn.  This is not true.  Let me show you how easy and simple it can be.  You just need the right tools which you may already have in your kitchen or should have.

The inspiration for this post comes from one of my absolute favorite places to hang out.

When my husband and I discuss where we want to go and  hang out in the Boulder area it invariably ends up being the Jamestown Mercantile located about 20 minutes outside of Boulder in the foothills.  We started going to the Merc as it is called by the locals when we lived in Jamestown. This little restaurant and bar has live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  You can also see many of the talented locals playing on Monday for open mike night.  Jamestown is a small town populated with mostly artists and musicians so open mike night is a treat.  The food at the Jamestown Merc is mostly made from scratch with high quality ingredients and lots of talent and love.  If you do not get there early on Thursdays they are likely to run out of the special dinner they are serving.  The beer is cold and the wine list is surprisingly good.  Desserts are made from scratch.

My favorite thing about the Jamestown Merc is the people.  The locals who come there are always entertaining and interesting.  Let me tell you about Jovan.  This young man is a talented cook working at the Merc and also a talented musician who plays on Mondays.  I believe the locals call Monday at the Merc “Open Jovan” instead of open mike.  He is usually at the Merc even if he is not working.  His lovely girlfriend Jesse at his side and a smile on his face.  I often talk about food with him and am delighted by his enthusiasm for cooking.  This post is for Jovan since he is getting started making bread.  He is good at bread making and has really excelled at making scratch pizza dough for Friday night pizza night.

Here is a picture of my hubby hurrying into the Merc on a cold winter day.

Dec 18 11 050

This post is also for everyone else who reads this blog and had not ventured down the path of bread making or have tried and not gotten the results they expected.

Here are some pointers that will ensure your loaves are perfect each time.  These are not steps I find most home cooks take.  These are tools and tricks of professionals that should be employed at home for ease and consistency.

1.  Instant read thermometer also called an internal read thermometer.  Let me assure you a good instant read thermometer will become your favorite tool in the kitchen.  As a chef, one is always in my sleeve pocket and frankly I feel a bit naked without it.  I have 2 at home and carry one in my briefcase.  Yes, this is to ensure food is at proper temperature for the health department and to make sure people do not get sick from improperly cooked or held food but it is also to make sure food is perfectly cooked.  Perfect each time.  Consistency is king in a professional kitchen and you can achieve consistently great results with these tips and bake like a professional.  Check this page out for more info on internal read thermometers.

2.  Buy an oven thermometer or if you already have one use it.  A correctly calibrated oven is a rarity in a home kitchen as well as many professional kitchens.  Get one and check the temperature of your oven every time you bake.  You will be surprised at how your oven may be off by up to 25 degrees or more.

3.  You must weigh your ingredients instead of measuring.  Using a scale and weighing your ingredients is another technique used by professional chefs that is not often used at home.   It is very easy and much quicker to use a scale than to measure.  Check out this site for conversions from measuring to metic.  The Metric Kitchen.  Convert all your baking recipes to metric and you will be baking like a professional.  If you measure your results will be off most of the time, guaranteed.  I can also guarantee that your results will become consistently perfect with a scale.  It really is that easy.

4.  Make sure your ingredients are fresh.  Good flour and fresh yeast are very important in bread making.

If you use these tools and follow the recipe you will consistently produce a great loaf of bread.  I will not post the measurements on this recipe because I need everyone who tries it to weigh their ingredients.  Your bread will come out of the oven with a crisp and slightly chewy exterior, perfect crumb and complex flavor.  I may even venture to say you will never buy another loaf of bread again.

whole wheat bread 006

Whole Wheat Loaf Bread

The recipe will make two loaves. 

770 grams of all-purpose flour

80 grams of whole wheat flour (not whole wheat pastry flour)

10 grams of wheat bran (not wheat germ)

690 grams or 24 oz of water at room temperature

15 grams of honey or agave nectar

16 grams of salt or 2 1/2 tsp

2 grams or 1/2 tsp  yeast

Olive oil for oiling the bowl.

Start your dough the night before you will be baking it.  I usually end my evening by mixing together my bread for the next day.

Weigh your flours and wheat bran out and put in a large bowl.  Add salt and yeast.  Mix together.

Add water and honey or agave nectar.

Mix together well.  When the dough comes together spray your hands with non-stick spray and knead it a few times to make sure all of the dry ingredients are mixed well into the wet.  I usually knead the douh in the bowl about 5-10 times.  This should only take about 1 minute.

Drizzle a small amount of oil around your dough and move the dough around the bowl to distribute the oil.

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap.  Many bread recipes call for covering your bowl with a damp towel.  Do not do this.  Cover your bowl with plastic wrap.  Then you can cover the plastic wrapped bowl with a dry towel if your kitchen tends to get a cold at night.  I always do this since I live in Colorado and my kitchen is chilly at night.

Let dough ferment for at least 10 and up to 24 hours.  I like the flavor of wheat bread with a 10-12 hour ferment.  The flavor is complex but not too strong.

After the bread has fermented for your desired time uncover your dough.  It will look bubbly and wet.  This is good.  You want it to look that way.

No knead bread after 12 hours

Put about 1/4 cup flour on a clean table or large cutting board.  Spread the flour out lightly.

Divide your dough into two pieces.  Loosely form a ball and roll it to coat in flour.  This is called a gluten cloak and will insulate the dough and help with the second rise.

Form your loaves and place them in 2 loaf pans sprayed lightly with non-stick spray.  Spray the inside of a large plastic bag (a plastic bread bag works well for this application and is available at most grocery stores) with non-stick spay and put the loaf pan inside.  Blow into the bag to inflate it and tie it closed with a bag tie or rubber band.  This will protect the dough from drying and will allow for room for the dough to expand.  You can also cover it with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray.  This method will not allow the loaf to rise much over the loaf pan but will work as well.  In this picture I have used a large loaf pan so I could cover it with plastic wrap and still have rising room.

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Let dough rise until doubled.  I cannot estimate the time this will take as the temperature of your kitchen will dictate the rising time.  My kitchen is usually colder than most in the morning so this step can take up to 2 hours.  If your kitchen is warm it can take as little as 45 minutes.  Do not put the dough on your stove top as it will get too hot.

Adjust your oven racks to the middle of the oven put an empty pan on the bottom of the oven. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.  Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature.  Check it with your oven thermometer. Before you put your bread in the oven pour 1-2 cups of water in the pan at the bottom of your oven.  Be careful and use oven mitts as steam will immediately rise up from the hot pan.   The steam will help develop a crispy and chewy crust.

Put your bread in the oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes.  To make sure your bread is done use your instant read thermometer.  The bread will be perfectly baked at between 190-210 degrees.

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Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Turn the loaf out of the pan with a kitchen towel protecting your hand.

Let cool for at least 1 hour on a rack.  The flavor developes during this time and your bread will not be as flavorful if you cut it too soon.  It will also lose steam and dry out quicker if you do not let it cool completely before cutting.  I know…this is hard to do when the bread looks and smells so lovely but have a little self-control and you will be delighted with the results.

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