Baking: White Bread

I felt like it was time to try something new.  And challenging. And not chocolate.  Because, well, I would eat it all and not share.

So I made white bread.  Like without a mix.  Or a bread maker.

Are you impressed?  Because I am.  I’m totally proud of myself.

I won’t lie to you.  This recipe is not hard, but it is time consuming.  Really time consuming.  An exhausting.  But delicious. and totally worth it.  Do my thoughts seem disjointed today?  Maybe because I was up til 11:00 making bread.  And my daughter is teething.  My. brain. is. too. tired. today. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (I used buttermilk and it worked great too!)
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 package rapid rising dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites, divided and slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (unless you’re my best friend!)

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter melts.  (Or in my case forget to turn the stove on, and wonder why it is taking so long to melt. lol. )  Combine the butter mixture with the yeast to proof.  Add sugar and stir gently to dissolve.  Let stand 3 minutes until foam appaears.  Turn the mixer on low and gradually add the flour.

This is where it kinda gets tricky exspecially if you have a hand mixture.  Mine was just getting pulled up into the machine.  But I kept at it, and eventually it got mixed well.  So be patient. 

When the dough starts to come together increase the speed to medium and add the salt and 1 egg white.  Mix until no longer sticky.   

 Then you get to turn the dough onto the work surface and knead for a minute or so by hand.  Gets the frustration out from fighting with a hand mixer.  lol.  Then form the dough into a ball, place in a oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place, until double in size. 

While you’re waiting, it’s best to have some entertainment.  Especially Marcys. And plastic storage containers.  As hats.  Perfect distraction.

Once the dough is doubled, turn it out onto the counter.  Gently pat the dough into a rectangle and place in a greased 9×5 loaf pan.   Make sure dough touches all sides of pans.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise a second time for 20 minutes or until dough is nearly level with top of the loaf pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a large pan on the bottom rack of the oven.  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil on the stove, then pour the hot water into the preheated pan to create a steam bath for the bread. (to make a crisp crust).

Slash dough down the middle of the loaf wiht a sharp knife to allow steam to escape while cooking.    Brush the top with remaining beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes until crust is golden.  Internal temperature should read 195 degerees.  Immediately remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a rack. 

Voila.  Bread. 

Voila.  Delicious buttery goodness.  Sandwich.  🙂

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Wordless Wednesdays : Homemade vanilla Ice Cream

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ravens fan.

A Flacco jersey.  Cheering loudly for the team. And she’s mirroring my husband’s responses.  It’s so fun to watch her grow.

Baking: Boston Creme Cupcakes – Attempt 1

I stole this recipe from a magazine in a doctor’s office once.  I mean, it was so enticing.  I discovered boston creme cake in college and became enamored with it.  Even the crappy cafeteria style kind.  Still delicious.

Either way, I finally got to attempting these.  I say attempt because I don’t want you to assume it was successful, because it was not.  Sad but true.

So, I was so excited about these, and while they look pretty darn cute on the photo, they were not the right texture.  The cupcake was too crumbly.  The chocolate glaze – too gritty & sugary.  And the filling, well, you can’t really mess it up because it was instant pudding. 

Despite this flop, I still haven’t given up.  I might start by using a box cupcake next time and reducing the amount of sugar in the icing.   I still have hope.  But for now, I’m going to focus on some other recipes, which will hopefully be more successful.

Wordless Wednesday: Silly Faces

Cooking: Baked Ziti

While cleaning this weekend I found I had been hoarding recipes.  You know those ones you pull out of magazines and say, “I’m definitely going to make that this week.”  but then you don’t have all the ingredients, the time, or the energy to make it?  Well, I decided to tackle the mound of recipes I’d like to try. 

Yesterday I started with a simple baked ziti.  I mean, how can you go wrong with cheese, noodles, and basil?  Answer: you can’t!

So I made this delicious rendition of a classic and baked them in my new (and free) ramekins from Pier 1 Imports.  It’s scrumptious and the flavors are so fresh!  Happy Cooking! 🙂

Container Store Adventures

For those who don’t know, I am a junkie for organization.  I dream of rooms that are neatly organized, where everything has its place.  Minimalist, well designed, efficient storage.  That is my dream….

So one day I got it in my head that I needed to organize my kitchen.  I don’t know where I got that idea.  Maybe it was the brushes with death on kitchen stools trying to reach the appliances on top of the cabinets.  Or the fact that anytime I opened the drawer above the microwave, the plastic storage containers fell on my head.  Or the shelf in the pantry that seems to be bowing to the pressure of holding up 8 cans.  Or maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t find any of my measuring cups (and I have 3 sets).  Or that I always seem to be buying flour, but I can never find it (I had about 5 – 5lb bags!). 

Either way, I scoured Real Simple‘s website looking at dream kitchens and organizing tips.  I finally decided that I’d spend the weekend going through each cabinet/closet individually, get rid of what I don’t need, dust, clean, then decide which organizational stuff to get. 

So I cleaned.  I dusted.  I was grossed out by the top of my kitchen cabinets.  And I conquered.  (And I got to shop at Container Store! Woot!)

So I bought shelves for my pantry drawer, a pot/pan lid organizer that pulls out,  extra shelves for the cabinets, wood to make an extra shelf in a cabinet, and dove in.  I started out with a general plan, but then found that it kinda changed and evolved to fit my needs and what was available at the Container Store. 

Baby & Baking Cabinet | Cabinet Door Storage | Dishes & Cups

Adding storage to the pantry door | Cleaning Supplies | Lid organizer

So here are some of the results.  We still have a couple more things to do, like add one or two more shelves to the pantry (and fix the one that is bowed), and adding shelf and drawer liners, and investing in some Oxo-like storage containers for food/cereal/sugar but I am so proud of the work we did.  The kitchen flows better now.  Everything is where I need it and I’m a happy lady.  Now I can get back to cooking! 🙂

But if you’re organizing your kitchen, here are three tips that really helped me. 

  1. Maximize your vertical space in your cabinets by using cheap shelves.  It allows you to free up a lot of space when you are able to stack things on top of each other.  But make sure you can still access everything you need.
  2. Rank your items by what you use the most.  They should be in the bottom two shelves of your cabinet, or in a very easy to access spot.
  3. Group things together that make sense.  For me, when I’m grabbing a plate, I’m usually grabbing a cup.  So I moved my cups, plates and bowls to the same cabinet.  Also, I put coffee and coffee cups together, right above the coffee maker!  So convenient.