Category: yeast

No-knead rye bread.

Well, like I said, its getting closer and closer to feeling like full blown autumn. Yeah- it’s still warm, but it’s not hot. The breeze is awesome, and the humidity is low. But let’s be honest: even here in New York, you can have a Halloween that’s 80°+ degrees… with the trees turning orange and yellow. So “fall” comes no matter what the weather says. But the humidity has dropped drastically for the most part. The windows have been flung open, the curtains are blowing around and the A/C is no longer pumping 24 hours a day. At night, I need a robe or hoodie. And I love that. And the baking! Oh I’ve been baking like crazy. When I’m sad, frustrated, worried or stressed, I make things. I make crafts, cook, or can, or bake. And the fall is the perfect time to do it, since I won’t be sweating my ass off.  So really if I’m gonna be stressed, this is the time to do it. And bread is comforting, so hello? Bread it is.

I love baking bread. But the problem is I have no patience, and I border on being a lazy baker. I HATE waiting for things to rise, but it’s worth it if I don’t have to spend my entire day kneading dough. Which is why I love to make Levain and no-knead bread like this. They’re really, really easy. I promise.

No-knead rye bread.

If you’ve ever wanted to bake bread but were afraid, or thought a bread machine is the easiest route, listen to me: MAKE. THIS. BREAD. Seriously, guys. I know you’re probably reading this thinking, “Nope. Newp. Noperz. I do not have time for that.” But that’s NOT TRUE! You do have time!

There’s no KNEAD for special equipment to make this no-knead bread. Get it? Ha. Yuk, yuk, yuk. All you need is a heavy pot with a lid; i.e. a Dutch oven or French oven, like Le Creuset, Emile Henry, Lodge, Staub or whatever you have. I think cast iron or enameled cast iron is best but in theory any heavy pot will do, and in any size from 4 – 7 quart (mine is 7.25 quarts) depending on if you halve the below recipe or make the entire thing. You can even halve it and use a larger pot; I’ve done so in the past and it’s been fine. Better to have the pot a bit larger than one that’s too small, though!

This bread is a rye; if you prefer a plain bread, try this version.

No-knead rye bread.

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Hearty black pumpernickel bread for a freezing winter’s day.

It was so cold, that there was ice caked on the storm windows. It hadn’t snowed (although there was plenty of snow on the ground already), there was just ice. So cold that the heating system couldn’t keep up and the house temperature was about 10 degrees lower than what we set it on. In other words, IT SUCKS.

And here’s the deal: I know cold. I’ve gotten up and gone to school in knee socks and a skirt in cold weather (for 6 years). I’ve walked in cold weather (and in snow) with a portfolio and box of paints, from the train to school and back. I’ve dealt with it. I’ve waited in it. I’ve stood in it. I’ve shoveled snow in it. I know I live in NY and cold weather is part of the deal. But -8° is NOT normal NY weather. That’s some Minnesota/Wisconsin/ mid-western shit. So before anyone says, “OMG Northerner stop bitching, it gets cold up there” just remember that. This is abnormal. We haven’t had temps this low since 1994. Usually we have 30° temps, sometimes 20°, and occasionally- maybe a few days every winter- in the teens. But in the negatives? Uh, no. Understand? Good. Moving on…

Delicious pumpernickel bread.

Anyway Jay had to get up at 5:30 a.m. and be at work by 7, so I of course was awake early. No matter how quiet you are, you will always disturb your significant other when you wake up before them. So despite my efforts to go back to sleep in my warm, cozy bed piled with down comforters and Irish wool blankets with the blinds tightly shut, by 6:45 a.m. I was up, browsing Facebook on my phone, thinking about warming the place up. And by 7:30 I had opened the blinds to see… ice. Remember when I said that sometimes all I did was creep out of bed to bake (or eat) and then I crawled back in? Uh huh.

But I don’t give up easily and so I stayed in bed until almost 9, when I realized I was not falling back to sleep and it hadn’t gotten any warmer out. That’s when I decided to bake.

Baking is awesome in this weather because you can “preheat” your oven a long time in advance. Leave that shit on and have some coffee, watch TV, lazily make your way in to get the flour, the eggs, etc, etc. No rush. And because I have a gas oven, it gets so hot so quick it can warm pretty much the kitchen, dining room and living room (and some of the hallway) immediately. Which is a blessing now, in the summer it’s a different story.

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Cherry cardamom hot cross buns with a buttermilk icing.

SPRING!! YOU’RE FINALLY HERE! Oh, how we’ve missed you. You & your bright colors & beautiful flowers. All winter I’ve longed for a big bouquet of fresh buds on my table, and I can finally indulge. And indulge I have!

Besides after having such a rough few weeks I think we all deserve some brightness.


I think since early March, I’ve had a trillion vases & jars all over the house, filled with beautiful flowers. As soon as I started seeing blooms for sale, I bought ’em. Those gorgeous ones pictured are ranunculus; some of my absolute favorites. But daffodils were a big one recently, and of course tulips. It’s so nice to have the snow be gone & the greenery back!

And now, a spring-y, Easter-y recipe to usher in the season of eggs, bunnies & flowers: hot cross buns!

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns.

I had to change ’em around a bit, though. I made mine with cardamom and dried cherries, and the icing is a buttermilk icing. You, however, can use cinnamon instead of cardamom, and raisins instead of cherries, and milk or heavy cream instead of buttermilk for a  more traditional recipe.

Cherry cardamom hot cross buns!

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Hearty spent grain French bread.

Just a few days ago I posted about bagels, now it’s bread. I know, it’s crazy. But winter time is time to bake a lot of warming, comforting things. And bread is definitely one of those, don’t you think?

Back in August I told you all about my friend Pete, and his home-brew supply store, Homebrews & Handgrenades. I told you all about how he gave me a ton of spent brewing grain to bake with, and I made that bread.

Well things have been a bit busy around here since then. I remodeled almost the entire place, had no appliances, and then there was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. It hasn’t been conducive to insane recipe experimentation like is required when you get something brand new, like spent grain. So whatever I haven’t used yet is sitting in jars in my freezer, waiting for me to decide what to do.

What is spent grain?
Spent Grain is a byproduct from brewing process. The chemical composition of wet spent grains is given below:
– Water, 80%
– Protein, 5%
– N-free extract, 9%
– Fat, 2%
– Cellulose fibres, 4%
– Minerals, 1%


Spent brewing grain, drying in the oven (click through for cracker recipe).

First, I dried out a bunch of the grain by laying it out on a cookie sheet and baking it at my oven’s lowest setting (170° F) for 7 hours or so, basically “overnight.” This was important because the grain was wet when I got it, and I froze it immediately. That means there was a lot of moisture trapped in there!

Once it was dried (and a little toasted, ’cause I raised the temperature a bit for the last hour), I let it cool completely. Then I used my KitchenAid grain mill attachment to grind it into a flour. I used a somewhat medium grind, it wasn’t too fine but not too coarse. And then- voila- I had spent grain flour! Which, by the way, you can store in your pantry in sealed container for as long as you like.

Spent brewing grain French bread.

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Homemade bagels, part 2.

Homemade bagels in no time!

The last time I posted about homemade bagels was about 5 years ago. Maybe even 6. My photography was horrendous! Jeez. I was totally a newbie blogger, and it shows. But I’m older now, and wiser, and my photography has improved (I hope!) as well as my food-creation in general. Last time, my bagels weren’t quite as golden as they should have been, so since I love bagels and I love making things from scratch I decided to revisit this whole bagel idea. Especially since the photos will be have to be infinitely better.

Make easy homemade bagels & be eating them in no time!

This is an EASIER recipe than the last one. Seriously. The last one wasn’t even hard, just required a few different rising times, etc. This one doesn’t- one 2 hour rise & you’re all good.

So easy that I made it & was eating bagels in no time. And they are GOOD bagels!

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Spent grain bread: grain, keep us together.

When I was a kid, maybe 11, I spent an entire summer listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Every single day. In my room, in the backyard on a Walkman, at the beach on a Walkman, in the car, etc. For whatever reason that album just did it for me that summer. Because of that, it’s always a “summer album” to me; whenever I hear it I think of summertime. Or at least, that summer. Even when I saw Fleetwood Mac live a few years ago, every song from that album just made me think of summer.

So it’s only natural that when I sat down & started typing about grains as the summer is waning, I somehow inserted the word into a Fleetwood Mac song.

“Graiiiiiin, keep us together… Run in the shadows… Graiiiiin, keep us together…”

Baking bread with spent brewing grain.

Ahem. Anyway, yes, today I’m going to be talking about grains. Specifically the kind left after you make beer, called “spent grains,” which are pictured above.

Back a few months ago, Pete, (a friend of ours for ages- however he’s been Jay’s friend way longer than mine, admittedly), messaged me on Facebook & offered me some of his spent brewing grain to bake with. He’s a home brewer & makes a variety of beer, as well as a new business owner. He has a business in Baldwin, NY called Homebrews & Handgrenades where he sells all kinds of grains for home brewers like himself. Turns out, this grain is largely wasted after the brewing process, because it’s served it’s beer-making purpose. But it’s still perfectly good grain. Yes, some people do bake with it. And others use it as animal feed or as fertilizer. But I’m willing to bet a large portion of it is just a waste.

Brewer’s spent grain (also called spent grain, brewer’s grain or draff) consists of the residue of malt and grain which remains in the mash-kettle after the mashing and lautering process.[84] It consists primarily of grain husks, pericarp, and fragments of endosperm.[85] As it mainly consists of carbohydrates and proteins,[85] and is readily consumed by animals,[86] spent grain is used in animal feed.[86] Spent grains can also be used as fertilizer, whole grains in bread,[87] as well as in the production of biogas. Spent grain is also an ideal medium for growing mushrooms, such as shiitake, and already some breweries are either growing their own mushrooms or supplying spent grain to mushroom farms.[88] This, in turn, makes the grain more digestible by livestock.[89] Spent grains can be used in the production of red bricks, to improve the open porosity and reduce thermal conductivity of the ceramic mass.[90]

– Wikipedia

Beer-making is actually a fascinating thing, one I’d like to learn more about eventually.

Anyway it sounded like an awesome opportunity for me to try something new, so I of course said yes. And I promptly ended up with around 10 lbs. of frozen spent brewing grain in my possession. After defrosting it overnight, I put it into different containers & jars so it would be easier to store.

Spent brewing grain, ready for storage. If you've got some, why not make an easy yeasty bread with it?

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A literal “coffee cake.”

Really, I’m not sure if there’s a more literal interpretation of “coffee cake” than this one… except for maybe a cake made with coffee. Seriously. You see a lot of coffee cakes, and they’re all meant to be served with coffee, hence the name… but this one is truly a coffee cake. Or rather a coffee can cake.


It’s a coffee cake baked in a coffee can.

How cool is that? Pretty friggin’ cool.

I saw this during my travels on the inter webs & I thought, “That’s so cute!” Yes, I had heard of bread or fruitcake being baked in coffee cans before, and my mom used to do it. But I thought making a coffee cake in a coffee can was super adorable. And interesting. Something I’d never done before.

Only problem is: I don’t have any coffee cans. I have a Keurig, and when I do buy coffee it’s bagged. The only can I have is one from Cafe Du Monde & I’m not using that for baking. So I had to enlist my father to see if he had any of his trusty Chock-Full-O-Nuts cans laying around, which thankfully he did, and tons of them at that (although I’m still not sure why). Unfortunately, your average coffee cans have gotten smaller lately… from one pound to 11.3 ounces. It doesn’t really make much of a difference to this recipe, however, so if you’ve only got 11-ounce coffee cans, don’t freak. It worked out just fine for me! Yeah, there was some overflow. But not enough to really matter.

If you’ve got one of those really big coffee cans, maybe you can make the entire recipe in one can? Not sure, but I don’t see why not, as long as the large can is at least double the size of a regular one.

CARDAMOM COFFEE CAN CAKE (adapted from iVillage)


  • 2 coffee cans (1 pound size is preferable, I had to use 11.3 oz. cans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (for coating the cans)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cool but not chilled, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (*OPTIONAL)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1.  Soak the coffee cans in hot soapy water to clean them and remove any labels and/or glue. Please do not attempt to make these with the labels still on the cans. Dry the cans thoroughly in a warm oven. Heavily coat the interior of the cans with the soft butter (3 tablespoons) once they have cooled.
  2. To make the dough, combine the buttermilk and butter slices (1/2 cup or 1 stick) in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture until the butter slices start to melt. Set the pan aside. Combine the warm water, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measure and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set the mixture aside.
  3. Put the flour and the cardamom (1/4 teaspoon) in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade or the steel chopping blade. Pulse the machine on and off three times. Add the brown sugar, salt, eggs, and yeast mixture to the flour mixture and process for 1 full minute. With the machine still running, slowly pour the buttermilk mixture through the feed tube, then immediately turn off the processor. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl and add the raisins. Pulse the processor on and off several times or until the raisins are distributed throughout the dough. Divide the batter between the two prepared coffee cans.
  4. Cover the cans with a tea towel and set them in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 45 minutes, or until the dough has risen to within 1 inch of the can tops. When the dough has finished rising, remove all but the lowest rack from the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. To make the topping, melt the 1/3 cup of butter and brush it over the top of each coffee cake. Combine the granulated sugar (5 tablespoons) and spices (1 teaspoon cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon) and liberally sprinkle each cake with half of the mixture.
  6. Bake the cakes in their cans for 35 minutes, or until the tops are a dark golden brown. Thump the tops as you would a melon and listen for a hollow sound, like a ripe melon. If you do not hear a hollow sound, bake the cakes for another 8 minutes and test again. Cool the cans for 1 hour on a rack, then unmold them.

Next time I would make a streusel for the topping, instead of what’s given in the recipe. It tasted good, but it didn’t look that great. I just think it’s better suited to a chunky, spicy, sugary streusel instead. Oh, if only. Hindsight is 20/20! I also didn’t use the raisins. I just don’t like raisins. But if you do, then throw those suckers in.

See? Not a very… well… flattering photo.

By the way- speaking of what I didn’t use… I didn’t use a food processor, I used my stand mixer with the dough hook, and it worked out just fine. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a food processor and vice versa. And you might have some trouble getting the cake out of the cans. I had some trouble myself, but I just finagled it by cutting the tops off first, then taking the rest out. Then I just sliced them all up right away for serving. But eating them right out of the can with a couple of forks isn’t the worst thing to ever happen, is it?

And of course, they’re served with COFFEE. And it’d be perfect with some of that Swedish style homemade flavored milk.

(If you want to give them as a hostess gift, iVillage says to do the following: wash and dry the interiors of the cans. Roll each cooled coffee cake in a strip of parchment paper and put the cakes back in the cans once the cans are dry. The finished cakes should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to assemble and deliver the gift. You can also tie ribbons around the cans if you like.)