Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Warm in the Kitchen

The Winter 2011 Issue.
My quarterly issue of King Arthur Flour's The Baking Sheet arrived today in the mail - and that's always a good day.  I look forward to brewing a cup of tea and sitting at the kitchen table leafing through the slim volume.  I always see one or two recipes that I immediately want to try: drop everything, roll up my sleeves, grab the mixing bowls, pile the ingredients on the counter and get baking.  Most of the recipes are not exactly vegan-friendly - The Baking Sheet loves its dairy and meat - but they are mostly adaptable.  The Winter issue has a hearty white bean and sausage stew (vegetable broth and seitan sausage could be handily substituted), an intriguing yeasted gingerbread loaf and in the "must try immediately" category: tangzhong bread.  Huh?  Yeast rolls stuffed with cranberries and honey (agave nectar or maple syrup ought to make good substitutes).  I'm a pushover for anything combining bread and a sweet filling.

Sesame seed and poppy seed bagels.
Although I bake quite a lot throughout the year - we buy zero commercial baked goods (just try to find the words "whole grain" in my town) and both Kel and I are carb junkies, so you can see where the math gets you - but when the weather turns cold and cloudy, I love nothing more than to get into the kitchen, tie on a well-worn (stained) apron and bake.  It's the days when I don't have to bake anything,that are the most relaxing and enjoyable.  Considering the good smells and tastes emanating from kitchens, it's small wonder that they tend to be the congregation spots for family and friends.

Cornell Bread.
Although I do return to certain tried-and-true recipes (braided walnut bread, applesauce bread, bagels, pitas) I get restless repeating myself and since there are thousands, tens of thousands of wonderful-sounding, challenging recipes out there in the world for breads, cookies, cakes, bars and other baked goods, my inclination is to keep trying new things.  And if there is something a little bit different about the recipe - be it a pretty twist, knot or enticing ingredient - I'm even more intrigued.

Kaiser rolls.
One problem I run into during heavy bouts of bread making is that the freezer becomes filled from top to bottom.  The solution is that every once in a while we have to "eat out of the freezer" for a few weeks - and then the cycle repeats itself.  An enjoyable Sisyphean task.  Will there ever be enough time to try all of the tantalizing bready recipes out there?  No.  But I'll sure have fun trying.


  1. Everything you bake looks so beautiful and professional. You are a talented baker indeed.

  2. The key is learn from failures, but do not photograph them!

    An Unrefined Vegan

  3. wonderful bread is the reason I will never try the "carb free" diet, I don't care how much weight it promises I can lose...and why don't vegans eat honey? (I don't eat honey either, lol)
    - ourhometoyours

  4. Debbi, vegans don't eat any animal (or insect :-) ) products. Hence, no honey!

  5. i would love to make bread, but i hear it is rather difficult to do, i love your blog by the way

  6. Hey Nicole! Making bread is the most therapeutic and easy thing to do - provided you don't listen to those who don't make it! Whilst sounding difficult and fiddly, it really is not at all!

    I've been making it for 42 years, since my mother-on-law introduced herself as one who had made it for her sons ever since they were born (not quite true, because there was a World War on during part of the time - but near enough!)

    I'm not nearly so adventurous as Annie here, and I'm not a vegan either, but home-baked bread once made and tasted spoils you for anything else and it's amazingly helpful if one has an object one wants to knock the hell out of! Kneading bread is the only pastime I've come across where one can bash as hard as one feels like - and it doesn't complain!! And it's quite legal to boot!

    Have a go, sometime: you can fit it into your daily routine and your stock in the household rises several points!

    Happy New Year!

  7. Nicole, Isobel nailed it. Bread has a bad rap for being difficult to make, but it really isn't. It's SO worth it - the taste is incomparable to what you can buy in a store and the bonus is you get the lovely smell of it baking.

    I'd suggest starting out with a no-knead recipe. If you can stir together cake or cookie batter, you can make no-knead bread.


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