weekend baking blitz

I do most of my baking on the weekend, for obvious reasons (TIME!), usually one, maybe two different breads. But I cranked it up to high gear this past weekend and in between freelance work, a little bit of gardening (it just ain't happening this year) and a boatload of errands, I managed to squeeze in a whole mess of baked goods. Starting with…

No-Knead Oat Bread

A spur-of-the-moment thing on Friday night. I'm still behind on my Forkish project (haven't started that bleeping levain yet) and I was looking for a quick substitute. I found this one while adding bread recipes to my iPad with the Paprika app (the bestest EVAH! I have it synced on my iPad, iPhone and desktop). I had everything I needed so ten minutes later, I had it all mixed up in a Cambro ready to rise overnight. Next morning after Weight Watchers (I'm proof you can carb it up and still lose) I shaped it, put it into my oval cast-iron baker, into the oven it went and out came a beautiful, golden brown loaf, with a nice soft crust–great for sandwiches. I followed the recipe first time out and it's a bit too sweet for my taste so I'll adjust it next time, but this is definitely a keeper. And then there was…

Chocolate and Cacao Nib Braided Bread

I stumbled on this one while pinning things to my Bread board on Pinterest. Not that I'm a huge fan of chocolate–I can really take it or leave it (mostly leave it)–but it looked so darned pretty, I couldn't resist. The recipe comes from Artisan Bread in 5 and uses their brioche dough as a base. And luckily, once again, this one involved no trips to the store for oddball ingredients; I had them all, even the cacao nibs and bittersweet chocolate (left over from tricolor cookies I made a while ago). This was a bit tricky to braid because the dough is VERY soft and I may not have let it chill as long I could have. But I did end up with a nice looking braid and it baked up nicely. It's probably not something I'd bake again without a request, because chocolate anything just doesn't do it for me–even this one which isn't overly sweet. I'm sure choco-holics would love it though. Give me cheese instead. And then there was…

Salad Pizza

Which is basically salad. On pizza. (Duh.) Seriously. I've been making my own pizza for a couple of years now–I can't think of the last time we ordered it–and I've made all kinds, from your basic cheese pizza to ones with exotic (and freaking EXPENSIVE) ingredients. But this is the one that my daughter and I name as our favorite. It couldn't be easier. My go-to pizza dough comes from Peter Reinhart's free class on Craftsy, Perfect PIzza at Home (It's free, people. FREE! Gotta love it.) I'm always trying new doughs, but his American-Style Neapolitan Pizza Dough is the one I make in batches and keep in my freezer. So when the pizza bug bit, I pulled out a ball and let it defrost, shaped my dough into a 10" round, drizzled it with garlic olive oil and a shake or two of pizza seasoning from Penzey's, and spread some red sauce on top (I usually make my own but I had some San Marzano puree leftover so I used that instead. Bake it up to your desired doneness and then top it with the salad of your choice (mine was mixed greens, olives, tomatoes and a light vinaigrette). The heat of the crust wilts the salad just enough so that it's easy to eat. And there you have it. Thin, crispy crust and a nice fresh tang from the tomatoes and vinaigrette…and VEGGIES! A perfect light meal for a warm spring Saturday night. (This shows, by the way, that pizza is totally doable on Weight Watchers. This entire 10" pizza for one came to 14 points, at most. Of course, different ingredients will change the points value, but even then, it's workable, just not every day.) And then there was…

Maple Brown Sugar Cinnamon Apple Bread

By request. The guys at work love my brown sugar cinnamon bread but this time requested the addition of apples. Ask and ye shall receive. For this one, I DID have to run out to the store for some emergency brown sugar in the middle of everything (I had half of what I needed) so I stocked up. As it always does, the dough came together beautifully. After the usual sprinkling of the cinnamon sugar, I added the apples (meticulously diced in true anal-retentive fashion) and rolled up the loaves. I really had a hard time waiting for this one to cool enough so I could cut a slice. And I have to say, the apples take an already awesome bread totally over the top. A bit sticky, maybe, with all that gooey richness oozing out, but oh man, soooo good. The apples are going to be a regular addition from now on. Can't wait for the reviews on this one. (ETA: raves) And then there was…

Buttermilk Herb Biscuits

To go along with some sausage gravy. Breakfast for dinner, our favorite. This is one super-rich meal, even though I used 2% instead of full-fat milk, mainly because any benefit from the 2% was completely negated by the insane amount of butter in the gravy and the biscuits. But for a once-in-a-while indulgence? Yes, please. The biscuits may not have won any prizes for looks but they were still flaky and tender and full of herb-y goodness. And okay, I KNOW it looks like something the cat yacked up but the sausage gravy was to die for. Next time I make this, like maybe a year or so from now when my arteries have unclogged, I'm going to also going to make my own sausage. Which means I get to buy the grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid. Because you can never have enough stuff.