Steamed Brown Bread

February 3, 2009

When you need something to warm your heart and bones, try my sister’s brown bread. Yes, you can steam it in a soup can, and, yes, it is deliciously rich and wonderfully good for you. Slather on some cream cheese and you’ll have a sumptuous breakfast.

PS Soup-can brown bread makes a delightful gift-from-the-kitchen.

1 ½ cups white cornmeal
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup dark molasses
2 cups dark raisins
2 cups buttermilk

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, white flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the molasses, raisins, and buttermilk. Spray one 1-quart mold and two to three 10 ¾-ounce soup cans with cooking spray. Fill all containers two-thirds full of batter. With kitchen twine, tie aluminum foil tightly around the tops. Place the mold and cans on racks in Dutch ovens. Fill the Dutch ovens with water halfway up the sides of the containers. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours 30 minutes. Add water as needed.

Carefully remove the mold and cans from the Dutch ovens. Remove the foil tops. If the bread is still wet, bake at 250 degrees F for 15 to 30 minutes. Turn out the bread to cool on a wire rack.
Makes one 1-quart mold and 2 to 3 soup cans.

From All-American Comfort Food

Beer Bread

July 30, 2007


Remember Last-Minute Dinner Rolls? Here’s a quick bread you can have on the table in 40 minutes, start to finish. Slather it with sweet butter or Pimiento Cheese, or dip it into a rich, beefy chili. SAM

3 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon caraway seed
12 ounces dark beer
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Combine the flour, caraway seed, beer, and honey and pour into the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
Makes 12 slices.

Camembert Salad

June 9, 2007

The only tricky part of this salad is remembering to marinate the cheese. Stick a note on the coffee pot so you won’t forget to do it first thing in the morning. That way, when you get home, everything’s ready for a light summer supper. Maybe serve it with a cold cucumber soup. All you need then is a fresh baguette—or, hey, you could make Last-Minute Dinner Rolls—and best of all there’s plenty of room for dessert! Hmmmm … is there any Carrot Cake left? SAM

PS If all you have in the fridge is brie, go for it. It’ll do just fine.

8 ounces Camembert
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, divided
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn
1 head frisée, stripped of stalks

Cut the Camembert into 4 wedges and split each in half horizontally. Place in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Pour the olive oil over the wedges, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, cover, and marinate for 4 to 12 hours. Drain the oil and reserve. Bake the cheese at 350 degrees F until softened, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and cube. In a salad bowl, combine the Romaine lettuce, frisée, and cheese. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme, vinegar, pepper, and reserved olive oil and pour over the salad, tossing to coat.
Makes 4 servings.

French Baguette

June 4, 2007



To make chewy French bread with big bubbles you need two things: high moisture content and good sea salt. Use a high-gluten, hard-wheat, bread flour like King Arthur. The dough will be very soupy. You can knead it by hand, but it’s far easier to use an electric mixer with a dough hook. Your loaves will have a fuller, higher profile, if you bake the dough in a shallow baguette pan, although you can bake it on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. This is not exactly like bread you can buy fresh anywhere in France every four hours, but it’s close. And life will be the better for it. SAM

1 cup warm water
2 cups unbleached, high-gluten, bread flour
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together the water, flour, yeast, and salt until just mixed. The dough will be very thin. Let it rest for 5 minutes, so the molecules can combine. Knead on low speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl in rope-like strands, about 15 minutes. It will still be very sticky. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. When the top collapses slightly, turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Cut in half, and roll each half into a snake the length of a lightly greased double baguette pan. Lift each snake gently into the pan. Cover with a thin dishtowel and let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

With a razor or very sharp knife, make three slashes across the top of each loaf, just breaking the surface. Mist the loaves with water and place in the oven, misting the oven before you close the door. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, misting occasionally, until baguettes are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2 baguettes.

NOTE: You might want to check the bread at 40 minutes. Some ovens cook faster than others. See Harold’s comment.