Artisan Bread – Impossible to Ruin Recipes!

If you love those beautiful but expensive artisan breads that are all the rage these days, you are in for a treat. This bread recipe will change forever your vision of homemade bread. You will love the actual making of the bread as much as the irresistible deliciousness (my word) of the baked loaf. Count on it.

The best part? You cannot ruin this recipe.** It looks complicated but it’s not. You will be amazed at the simplicity of this recipe. Five-Minute Artisan Bread is exactly the right name.

A lovely loaf of Five-Minute Artisan Bread

I first saw this recipe in our newspaper (The Minneapolis Star Tribune) a lonnnng time ago. I clipped it out and put it in with dozens and dozens of other recipes that I have clipped from newspapers and magazines.

I recently hauled out my stash of recipe clippings and found this recipe. Now, if you can read the date on the top of the clipping (click on the photo to enlarge it), you’ll understand the scope of my stash of recipes. It’s not pretty.

So I thought it was a sign that I should try my hand at bread making 101. Good decision. Here’s the recipe from the newspaper clipping. Note that you can also make Sticky Buns!  My personal notes are in italics.

(Makes about 4 loaves)

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. (Both from Minneapolis!)

1-1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast (about 1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
6-1/2 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough


In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water, Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches.

Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container (well, not necessarily…mine was not so wet or loose, initially, but it didn’t seem to matter. It loosened up while it was rising).

Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours.

My second batch…see the baked loaf in the background?

(At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)

When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel (I do not have a pizza peel so I used one of my many wooden cutting boards.) Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes. (I didn’t have a baking stone for my first batch so I used a heavy cookie sheet. Have since purchased an inexpensive one which works fine.)

Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound or about 1/4th of the dough).

Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it’s not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom. (okay, my hands were quite sticky and my shaping of the dough was not as perfect as this description. Didn’t seem to matter, luckily.)

Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day’s storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.)

Dust dough with flour.*** Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, 1/4-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). (I just slashed it once…it was just great that way.)

Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

Well, I was immediately hooked on this wonderful bread baking adventure. Took me about five minutes to decide that I HAD to have this book. Bought it that very day. I was amazed at the variety of breads you can bake with this very same technique. You can add herbs to the recipes, too. You can make bagels, beignets, sticky buns, flat breads, pizzas and more.

Zoe has a blog called Zoe Bakes. Lots of good recipes, tales of her travels, etc.

You really need your very own copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You’ll first want to visit Zoe and Jeff’s Blog. Jeff is actually a physician. You can read about both of them if you click on the Authors and Books link. There’s also a page on that blog with the master recipe.

This is a picture of the “Light Whole Wheat Bread” recipe in the book. Same technique, slightly different ingredients. I just whipped this up a couple of days ago. Makes a delicious sandwich loaf.

You can bake this in a regular bread pan, too, but I like the freeform loaves.

Now, to interpret my asterisks:

** You cannot ruin this recipe. First try I didn’t used unbleached flour. I didn’t realize you needed it and only after re-reading the recipe did I notice that little rule. It was still very good but much better using the unbleached.

Another time I dropped my nice little formed loaf onto the hot oven door as I was trying to slide it onto the baking stone (a good reason to purchase a pizza peel). Aghast, I scraped it up, slapped it on the stone all disfigured (poor thing), actually took the time to try scraping the dough off the oven door…what a mess! Set off the smoke alarm, even. It STILL turned out great!

***If you want a chewier crust, brush the loaf lightly with water before slashing the top and sliding it into the oven.

Next bread book that I get is going to be their new one…Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. More whole grains and fruits and vegetables are used in the recipes.

This recipe is the perfect bread to serve when you entertain. Even if it’s just you, some cheese and a glass of wine. That’s entertaining, right?

How about making this for gifts? For someone new to the neighborhood, for example. Or to bring to a pot luck dinner. They’ll think you slaved away for hours!

Please let me know if you try this. I hope you do. Have fun. Be creative.

And now I’m headed to the kitchen for some cheese and to open a bottle of wine.

Milanese Pot Roast

Scrumptious Milanese Pot Roast*

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a Taste section in the Thursday newspaper that reviews great restaurants in the Twin Cities (and I don’t think there’s another city in the USA with better restaurants).  That’s where they also print great recipes.  It’s the section I always pull out and save.

A few weeks ago there was an easy to do crock pot recipe perfect to put together when time is of the essence.  Time was not of the essence that particular day but I decided to make it, anyway!

It was so delicious that it seems only fair to share.

Milanese Pot Roast
Adapted from Star Tribune/Taste/Recipes

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 (3 to 4 lb.) boneless beef chuck roast
Salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot chopped
1 rib celery chopped
1 (14.5 oz.) can chopped tomatoes, drained
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided

1 c. dry white wine
2 bay leaves

3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon peel

1)  Heat the oil until hot in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat (I love my cast iron skillet for this).  Season the beef generously with the salt and pepper and sear in the oil, turning once or twice, until very browned on all sides.  This should take 10 or 15 minutes.

2)  Place the chopped vegetables (onion, carrot, celery and tonatoes) and just 3 of cloves of chopped garlic int he bottom of the crock pot.  Put the browned roast on top of the vegetables.

3) Deglaze the skillet with half of the wine by bringing it to a boil and scraping the skillet to dissolve any browned bits.

Pour this over the beef roast along with the reminder of the wine and top with the bay leaves.

Cover and cook 8 to 10 hours on the low heat setting or until beef is fork tender.  (I set my crock pot on high heat for a couple of hours and then turned it to low…took about 3 more hours).

Meanwhile, stir together the last clove of garlic (chopped), the parsley and the grated lemon peel.  You will have about 1/4 cup of gremolata.

Remove the beef to a large platter and cover with foil to keep it warm. Divide the pot roast into about 8 portions.

Purée about half of the sauce in a blender to thicken.  Stir it back into the crock pot along with about half of the parsley mixture.

(You could also use an immersion blender to puree the sauce right in the crock pot.  )

Stir about half the parsley mixture into the sauce and spoon the sauce over each portion.  Garnish with the remaining parsley mixture.

I served this with whipped potatoes but The Star Tribune also suggests serving this with polenta.  I’m sure that would be excellent and maybe one day I’ll do that.

Taste also suggests this:
“Mix any leftover parsley gremolata with mayo and slice the cold beef to make a memorable sandwich the next day.”   We’ll have to try that the next time I prepare this recipe.  And I WILL be preparing this recipe, again.

As an aside…I only had one bottle of white wine at the time.  It was a white table wine that was given to us by Jen’s partner, Doug Talalla, a very fine artist.  He’s a commercial artist and a fine artist.  (I’m a huge fan.)

Doug had a show at his art gallery and he and Jennie purchased lots of  “Two Buck Chuck” varieties to serve to the guests.  This was left over and since Jen and Doug don’t drink, they gave it all away!  

So Green Fin is what I used in this recipe.  I must admit that I served a little to myself, as well…not too bad, actually.  I don’t remember what varieties made up the blend but it was reminiscent of a Riesling, in my humble opinion.

I follow Jason’s Wine Blog  and he has a very fine review of Green Fin.  It’s made entirely of organic white grapes…read the post at his link for more info.

So there you have it…a fine recipe and a few useful links.  I am preparing this recipe again, tomorrow.  We’re at our daughter’s house in Kansas until Saturday.  I noticed a lovely pot roast in her refrigerator and offered to make dinner, tomorrow!

*Note:  I’ll be shooting a photo of the finished roast tomorrow, too.  Then I’ll replace the shot at the beginning of the post which happens to be courtesy of Flickr photographer Stu Spivack

Almond Triangles

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This recipe appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune a couple of years ago just before Christmas.  It was the grand prize winner in an annual contest the newspaper sponsors each year looking for unique holiday cookie recipes.  I wish I could think of the name of the winner…she deserves all the credit for this gem of a recipe.
I fully intended to make them as a Christmas cookie but through clever procrastination and getting ready to leave for our trip, I didn’t.   Clever procrastination because the recipe looks kinda time consuming…it’s not a recipe to throw together at the last minute.  It’s not a difficult recipe, though.  If it looked difficult I might have just thought, “Well, this looks yummy!” and that would have been the end of that.
So I tossed the newspaper page in with the recipe books I wanted to bring.  Thank goodness!  I made them a few days ago during a really, really rainy day.  Good decision!
I think they need a day to “cure” or whatever you want to call it.  They’re better the next day.  The winner of the contest said that they freeze well which is fortunate because if I don’t stick the rest of them in the freezer I will eat them all.
These buttery, rich cookies would be fabulous to give as a gift in a pretty tin or cookie box.  Not just for the holidays, either.  An any time gift.
NOTE:  I recommend reading the entire recipe before starting.  I almost beat all four sticks of the butter at once which would have been a disaster.  Also, when I added the almonds I was convinced that there were waaaay too many almonds and you could probably get by with a few less.  But, in the long run, there really weren’t too many.
Here’s the recipe:
Almond Triangles
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 lb. (about 5-1/4 cups) sliced almonds
Carefully line a 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan (or rimmed cookie sheet) with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
To prepare dough:  In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter until creamy, about 1 minute.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg, almond extract and salt, and beat until thoroughly combined.  Reduce speed to low, add flour and mix until just incorporated.
Press dough evenly into pan and push dough up sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using a fork, prick dough in 20 to 24 places all across the dough and bake 10 minues.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To prepare topping:  In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, remaining 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in cream.  Stir in almonds.
Spread almond mixture evenly over crust.  Return pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cool  While bars are still slightly warm, cut into triangles.

Gluten Free Caramel Corn

Gluten Free Caramel Corn – Yum!
Last year, I needed a recipe for a gluten free snack to take to a party and found this recipe at I’ve made a ton of it since then…makes a great gift if you scoop it into a cellophane bag and tie it closed with a ribbon.


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

5 quarts fresh popcorn
1/2 cup agave syrup OR light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250°

  1. Pop 5 quarts of popcorn and place in a large roasting pan.
  2. Put butter, sugar, agave syrup OR corn syrup and cream of tartar in a large pan. Over medium heat, melt the mixture, stirring to prevent burning.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  4. Add vanilla and baking soda and stir to mix.
  5. Carefully pour this mixture over the popcorn. Gently stir to thoroughly coat the popcorn.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove and pour on a large baking sheet to cool. Use a spatula to separate the warm clumps.

To freeze. Cool caramel corn completely. Seal tightly in freezer bags. Bring to room temperature to serve.

Gluten Free Reminder: Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans and tools are free of gluten. Always read product labels. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten.

Grandma K’s Homemade Salami

This recipe hails from my wonderful late mother-in-law (who would be 104 years old!).  No idea where she got the recipe but it’s probably at least 50 years old.  Just guessing.

It’s terrific for a couple of reasons…first of all, people are amazed that you can actually make salami from scratch.  It’s so good that you’d swear it’s from a high end deli.  And, it’s not difficult to put together.  Takes about three days but it freezes beautifully so you can make a couple of batches, freeze them and you’re good to go!
So without further ado…here’s the recipe:

5 lbs medium grade ground beef  (we use 85% lean)
2 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
5 rounded teaspoons Morton Tender Quick Salt*
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon hickory smoked salt
Combine all seasoning ingredients and sprinkle over the ground beef.   Mix very well with very clean hands!  Cover and refrigerate for two days mixing/kneading three times during this period.
Shape into five or six firm rolls (knead well).  
Cover a broiler rack with aluminum foil and punch holes in it.  Place rolls on the foil and bake for 8 hours at 170 degrees F.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  I gently wipe each roll with a paper towel to remove any grease but there’s really not much at all.  I wrap each roll in waxed paper and then in aluminum foil to freeze.
Everyone who has ever tasted this has requested the recipe.  It’s that good!

*NOTE:  For the hunters out there, you could make an outstanding venison salami using this recipe, don’t you think?  

*Here’s a link to Morton Tender Quick Salt on Amazon in case you need to order it. But it should be available at your local grocery store, too.