Hearth Bread

I made an angry-looking bread.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

DANG IT ALL TO HECK. This is an old photo of when I made this bread, and NOT the version I made tonight, because that got burnt. I’m annoyed with myself.

Recipe from King Arthur’s Flour. It’s a good bread recipe. Don’t burn it.

Note: this recipe makes two loaves. I’ve made it as one large boule (see above photo), but I like it better in two baguettey shapes.

1 packet active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp table salt
2 cups lukewarm water
5 1/2 to 6 cups AP flour

Using 5 1/2 cups of flour, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn dough out onto floured surface. (I keep the remaining half cup of flour sitting to the side for dusting and extra integration if necessary.)

Knead dough for 5–7 minutes, sprinkling with tiny bits of the reserved half cup of flour when needed. Roll into a ball. Grease the bowl with some oil then use what’s left on your hands to grease the dough ball. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, one to two hours.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I just used one, but you run the risk of your loaves rising into one another). Turn dough out onto work surface and gently deflate. Cut in half. Shape each half in a sort of long oval. Place on baking sheet. Let rest 5 minutes. During this time, boil some water and adjust your oven racks to the lowest and middle positions.

Slash each top diagonally three times and pat with cold water.

Fill an 8-inch baking dish 1-inch deep with the boiling water. Place on the lowest rack (or if you don’t have a heating coil on the bottom of your oven, place on the floor of the oven).

Slide baking sheet into cold oven. Turn the oven to 450 and set the timer for 30 minutes. Check loaves at 30 minutes, crust should be well browned and the internal temperature at least 190F. May take up to 45 minutes.

Turn off oven, remove baking sheet and carefully remove very hot dish of very hot water. Take the loaves off the baking sheet and return to oven, placing directly on rack. Leave the door ajar and let oven and loaves slowly cool down together. This results in excellent crust (it also results in burnt crust if you close the door, so don’t do that). After about a half hour, remove loaves to a rack to finish cooling. Cool completely before storing.

Braisin’ Semi-Failure: Celery

[image: celery growing in a flowerpot]
[image: celery growing in a flowerpot]

Now that my celery is approximately two months old, I thought I’d post an update on how it’s doing. (Here is the first post about it, when it was a mere two or three weeks old.) As you can see, it’s thriving! And by “thriving,” I mean bolting. The other celery that I planted outside (which I fully expected to get eaten by rodents) is in much more of a traditional celery shape—one central nestled stalk formation, no wild shoots reaching for the stars.

I think I know why the squirrels aren’t going for the celery, though. I tried a bit. I was expecting it to be kind of bitter, but I wasn’t expecting quite how amazingly, overwhelmingly bitter it was. I had to spit it out. Commercial celery is covered up for its final few weeks, to tame the bitterness and sweeten the inner stalks and leaves. Mine has been sitting in the sun (the little we get these days) and the wrong pH of soil (I haven’t tested it, but I’m assuming that’s part of the problem).

HOWEVER, I am only counting this as a semi-failure, because both plants are still alive. And even if I can’t eat them, I’m enjoying the dark green foliage.

HOWEVER HOWEVER, what can be counted as a total failure is those wildflowers I tried planting at the beginning of November. A month has nearly passed and I have… a pot of dirt. I guess four and a half years was too long to wait to plant that little card.

Braisin’ Semi-Failure: Apple-Apple Pie

Basically: I saw this recipe floating around Tumblr, I had an apple languishing in the crisper, and I still had some leftover pie dough. So I thought I might as well take a stab at it. Unfortunately it turned out kind of a mess. Apparently Golden Delicious apples, while a fine variety to use in pie interiors, are not the sort whose outer walls will hold up particularly well for this application. You want to use a firmer apple, like a Granny Smith or Braeburn or Winesap.

It is also possible that my problem came from scooping the walls too thin. I used a grapefruit spoon to carve out the inside, which on the whole was kind of a pain in the ass. I put the apple in the oven and kept an eye on it as it baked. Good thing, too, because at the 25-minute mark the entire thing slumped down and fell over. I attempted to rescue and prop it back up with an aluminum foil snake for the rest of the baking time, but the damage was done. The pie crust got mangled (I tried to hide the worst of it at the back of the photos).

This wasn’t a total failure. I will try it again with a different apple variety. It definitely tasted good. I’m sure I can make it turn out prettier.

lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp AP flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
enough pie dough to make a 3-inch round at 1/4-inch thick
powdered sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 370. Cut off the top of the apple. With a grapefruit spoon or melon baller or really, really carefully with a knife and spoon, scoop out the interior of the apple. Try not to pierce the skin. Discard the core and dice the rest. Peel the top bit you cut off and dice that flesh as well. Mix diced apple with a few drops of lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt.

Place apple shells on a lipped baking pan lined with parchment. (If you are making a lot of these—like 12—I read a suggestion to nestle them in a muffin tin, which would totally counteract the slumping problem I had. Don’t cram them in there, just use the wells to sort of cradle their bottoms.) Fill the apple shell with the chopped apple mixture.

Roll out your pie dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out a circle (or use some kind of fun cookie cutter) and poke some holes in it with a straw (steam holes!). Place the dough lid on top of the apple. Don’t mold it down, just place it on top.

Bake for 40 minutes. The dough should be nicely golden on top. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar (optional).

Braisin’ Failure: Lasagna Muffins

[image: a muffin tin filled with good intentions]
[image: a muffin tin filled with good intentions]

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.

The backstory: when I was 7 or 8, my parents asked what we should have for for Christmas dinner. The young Hussy was a fan of Garfield at the time, so she answered “LASAGNA!” and a tradition was born. However, as the years have passed, and the family has grown, my brother has taken over Christmas dinner, and his choice is a rib roast. No more lasagna. 🙁

Another tradition is held on Christmas Eve, which we call “(Family-Last-Name) Eve.” It consists of massive amounts of hors-d’oeuvres. One year, in an attempt to blend the old with the new, I thought I would turn the 9×13 lasagna into bite-sized appetizers. I lined a muffin tin with lasagna noodles and filled them with meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan. I baked them up and proudly served them.

Big ol’ NOPE. The lasagna noodles were too thick, contact with the muffin tin made the outsides become tough and chewy, and on the whole they were just too big and messy to deal with as a finger food. Everyone gamely tried to struggle through, but yeah…

A Braisin’ Failure.