Hand Knead


There was Paul Hollywood before the GBBO. I’ve got his 2004 100 Great Breads cookbook to prove it. And, yes, most of the recipe instructions do include a proving step.  The step that really stood out to me today was the kneading, though. Recently, I’ve been using a wet, big-batch dough that doesn’t require kneading, so when I felt the flour-yeast mixture transform from sticky-tacky to smooth and pliable in the course of five minutes of hand kneading, it felt especially nice.

For the loaf I baked this evening, I followed Hollywood’s method for a Cypriot loaf, but I substituted several filling ingredients. Capers and sun-dried tomato strips took the place of black Greek olives and fresh cilantro.  I was careful to strain the capers and to blot most of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes so that extra moisture wouldn’t interfere with the proving time.

One hour for the plain dough to prove. One additional hour for the filled and shaped loaf to prove. Thirty minutes for the bread to bake. Five minutes for the bread to cool enough to be cut. Minutes before the warm slices to disappear.

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 package yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water

capers & sun-dried tomatoes

minced onion


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Pop On Over

If you didn’t smell the bacon sizzling, you certainly couldn’t have missed the sound of the smoke alarm announcing that our apartment kitchen oven doesn’t have a built-in exhaust fan. Not to mention that bacon fat has a low smoke point.

I whisked together some batter, but we weren’t thinking about pancakes. Yorkshire puddings, my dear. Saturdays are the day I usually go overboard baking, and this weekend was no exception.

The GBBO is available on DVD at the local library, so we’ve been re-watching some of the episodes. The finalists were instructed to prepare a picnic for their showstopper, and the asparagus and salmon quiche caught my interest. Fresh asparagus is on sale at our grocery stores this weekend, so the timing seemed right to experiment.

Storm Riley suprised us not only with snow and winds strong enough to knock any loose twigs, branches, limbs, and even whole trees, but also strong enough to knock out the power in surrounding neighborhoods. This morning the closest grocery store didn’t have electricity, so I didn’t push my way in to demand a bunch of asparagus.

But the storm only made our apartment’s power blink on and off for a few seconds, so I was still able to make pie dough for quiche, properly chilling it before rolling it out. Bacon and (Oh no! I just realized that I should have used Swiss!) Parmesan with green onion would have to do instead of salmon and asparagus tips.

While blind baking the crusts, the thought came to mind that I might as well take advantage of a preheated oven. So I looked up a recipe for Yorkshire puddings in my British Bouquet and halved the quantities, since I only had a little bit of bacon fat and juices to work with.  The ingredients are basically the same as for pancakes. You just pour the batter into partially-filled (with meat drippings) muffin tins that have been warming in a hot oven. Twenty minutes later, you have puffy and delicious Yorkshire puddings.

On another episode of the GBBO, the contestants prepared these, but they also had to make fillings. The puddings do make a nice container for the pretty fillings, but they taste delicious on their own.

Maybe next time I’ll pop over to your place to bake instead of alarming the neighbors.

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Cold weather welcomes hot ovens. Not only can one create tasty foods but also a cozy place to shelter from the winter storms and single-digit temperatures.

This month, we’ve changed from our bacon or sausage, eggs, and hash brown potatoes over to fresh bread & butter with cheese and fruit.   Although I have been baking using a no-knead, wet dough made from scratch, this morning I made things even easier and baked some cheese buns that I had purchased from the frozen section of one of our grocery stores.

When we lived in Bogota pandebono was standard fare at the Colombian bakeries you could find on any corner . Since the rolls are made from tapioca starch instead of wheat flour, you can please your friends that are trying to avoid gluten. The buttery cheese flavor should please your friends that love gluten as well!

The novelty of freshly baked bread may soon wear off, but that’s okay since the weather man is predicting warmer days.


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