Goth Panda

February 25, 2016

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

It has been a while since I have posted about bread baking. I still do it fairly often, and the easiest way I have found to maintain the habit is using this recipe. It makes three loaves at a time, and I bake all three and then freeze them until needed. Since we usually don’t eat more than a loaf a week, if that, I can bake once every three weeks and never run out of bread. Not to mention that the recipe itself is easy and not at all time-consuming, and the bread is delicious.

No Knead Bread

Look at that crumb!

This recipe comes from my old standby, King Arthur Flour, and the ratios are perfect. This is especially important for no-knead bread. If you are kneading, you can use experience and judgment to know when you have the right mix of bread and water in the dough, but for no-kneads this is not easy to know because the dough is so wet. It is especially important to weigh out the ingredients with a scale – I usually weigh down to the gram in order to get the balance right. But the upside is the bread is perfect every time.

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

680 g lukewarm water (24 oz)
907 g unbleached all-purpose flour (32 oz)
14 g (1 tbsp) salt
14 g (1-1/2 tbsp) instant yeast


Measure out all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. I use my largest dough-rising bucket.

Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. I do this with my dough whisk until it gets too tough to stir. At that point, I reach in and stir it with my hands, folding the dough over itself until there are no streaks of flour and everything is incorporated.

Cover the bowl or bucket (I just place the lid on the top but don’t snap it on), and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

After it’s been out for 2 hours, put the bowl or bucket in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. The longer it is refrigerated, the more it will taste like sourdough. I usually bake all the loaves at once, but you can bake them one at a time as long as you use all of the dough within seven days.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the bucket and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour to make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off a chunk of the dough. I like to make 3 loaves with this dough, and I weigh each dough ball in a greased bowl to be around 17 ounces each.

Roll the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball as best as you can. Do the same with the other two loaves.

Place parchment paper on a half sheet pan, and put the loaves on it. Sift a light coating of flour over the top to keep the dough moist.

Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450°F while the dough rests.

When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times.

The King Arthur Flour recipe has you add in a water tray for steaming the bread when you put it in the oven, but I usually skip that step. The steam tray will make the crust crispier, but I like it fine without.

Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown. I always check the internal temperature with my bread thermometer; you want it to be above 180 degrees.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Once it’s cool, I double-bag (bread bag and freezer bag) two loaves and put them in the freezer. The other loaf I leave out to eat, and put it in a plastic bag at room temperature.

June 6, 2013

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Believe it or not, this is the first layer cake I have ever attempted to make. I have been making cupcakes up until now, never a full-on layer cake. I was surprised to find that it was not all that much harder than cupcakes. I did get the layers a little too dark for my taste, so I shaved off the sides and tops until they were uniform. I also discovered that frosting hides a lot of cake sins. I chose a chocolate buttercream that we had made not too long ago for cupcakes.

This cake tastes lovely, and it is very moist and crumbly. Homemade cakes are very different from their mix-in-a-box counterparts, and I think I might need to check out more varieties. Now that I have conquered bread – for the most part – I might need to move on to a cake challenge.

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yellow Layer Cake recipe via Smitten Kitchen

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (17.5 oz) cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 c (14 oz) sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 c (16 oz) buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with spray oil and lightly flour.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Buttercream via Brown Eyed Baker

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.

June 3, 2013

Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits

I was a little bit disappointed in these biscuits. Although they rose prettily, they did not have as rich a taste as I am accustomed to in biscuits. I think this is because the recipe is light on butter, so there was less fat in these biscuits than in other biscuit recipes I have tried. They were still very good, and if you are looking for a lighter biscuit recipe, you might want to try this one.

Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits

From Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice and Better Homes & Gardens

2 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
1/2 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
2 rounded tbsp chives or green onions


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl stir together milk and sour cream until the mixture is almost smooth. Stir in the chives.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the milk mixture all at once. Using a wooden spoon stir just until the dough sticks together.
Push the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and knead gently 8 to 10 times just until dough holds together.
Pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut the dough with a bench knife or a biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1-inch space between each biscuit.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Brush with melted butter before serving, if desired.

May 31, 2013

Cheddar Cheese Bread

Cheese Bread

I am always on the lookout for a good cheese bread recipe. This one is a moist, delicious, savory quick bread. It is easy to make and delicious to eat. It disappeared quickly in my house.

Cheddar Cheese Bread

From the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook via The Quixotic Table

3 oz (1 c) Parmesan cheese grated on large holes of box grater (I used finely shredded Parm and that was probably a mistake, but it was still delicious.)
3 c AP flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) extra-sharp cheddar cut into 1/2″ cubes
1-1/4 c whole milk
3/4 c sour cream
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 with a rack in the middle position. Spritz a 9 by 5″ loaf pan with vegetable oil spray and sprinkle half of the Parmesan evenly over the bottom.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and peppers together in a large bowl. Add the cubed cheese and toss in the flour to ensure it is well coated. Whisk milk, sour cream, butter, and egg in a separate bowl. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry with a rubber spatula until it is just combined, with no streaks of flour. The batter will be very thick, but do not over mix.

Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with rubber spatula. Evenly sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Bake 45 – 50 minutes until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Allow the loaf to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan onto a cooling rack. Let the bread cool completely, for at least 1 hour.

May 29, 2013

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble

I wanted a new dessert recipe for our Memorial Day party last weekend. I decided on this one because I like fruit tarts, but I am not a big fan of pastry cream. So I thought the substitution of sweetened cream cheese would be more appealing. Also three of Mike’s favorite things are tart crust, strawberries, and crumble topping, so I thought he would probably like it, too.

It turned out even better than I had hoped, crunchy, buttery, and sweet all at once. The recipe is not difficult, but you do have to prepare it in advance. I did it in two stages: made the tart dough and baked the crust and crumble on Friday, then made the filling and assembled it on Sunday.

I highly recommend it, and I think it will be my go-to fruit tart recipe in the future. I’d like to try a raspberry version next. I am pretty sure you could substitute almost any berry out there, and many other kinds of fruit, too.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

From Nick Malgieri’s Bake! via Brown-Eyed Baker

Cookie Dough Tart Crust:
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond Crumb Topping:
1-1/4 c (150 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 c (75 g) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c (1-1/2 oz or 40 g) slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling:
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c (115 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved (quartered if large)

Make the Tart Crust: Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain. Add the yolk and vanilla and continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, shape into a thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften at a cool room temperature for about 20 minutes, just until it is soft enough to roll without cracking, but still firm. Unwrap it and place it on a floured surface. Use the palm of your hand to press it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Flour the work surface and the dough and gently roll the dough into a 13-inch disk, adding pinches of flour under and on top of the dough as needed. Transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan. Evenly fit the dough into the pan, making sure it’s flat against both the bottom and side of the pan. Trim away any excess dough at the rim of the pan by rolling over with a rolling pin or scraping it away with the back of a paring knife. Slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight before baking.

When ready to bake, arrange the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil; set aside.

Make the Crumb Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the chopped almonds. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the butter until all of the dry ingredients have been evenly moistened. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, then use your fingertips to break the mixture into crumbs. Scatter the crumbs on the prepared pan.

Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap. Line with a piece of parchment paper and fill the pan with pie weights. Bake the tart crust in the lower third of the oven and the crumb topping in the upper third. After 10 minutes, remove the paper and pie weights from the tart shell and place it on the upper rack, and move the crumbs to the lower rack. Continue baking the tart shell until it is dry and light golden, 15 to 20 additional minutes.
Bake the crumb topping until it is deep golden and firm, 10 to 15 additional minutes. Cool the crust and the topping on wire racks.

Make the Cream Cheese Filling: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed just until it is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until lightened, about 1 minute.

Assemble the Tart: Spread half the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the tart crust and arrange the sliced strawberries on it, cut side down. Spread the remaining filling over the strawberries. Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the filling. Right before serving, lightly dust the topping with powdered sugar and garnish with additional strawberries, if desired. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers.