Easy Baguettes

As much as I love complex meals, a good sandwich is truly one of life’s joys. My favorite everyday lunch is ham or prosciutto on good bread with avocado, tomato, spinach and aioli (a dip made from egg yolks that is absolutely delicious). 

Of course, important as the filling is, it’s the bread that makes the sandwich. We’ve found that store bread is often dry and flavorless, and prefer to make our own. At my dad’s restaurant, bread is baked fresh on a daily basis, and we lucky Chackalackals get to eat the leftover buns or focaccia.  Otherwise my mom and I provide, making either no-knead bread or baguette.

I have two favorite baguette recipes: one that requires a starter (or poolish) and one that does not. This is my starterless, quick and easy baguette recipe. It makes three loaves, each of which could make about three sandwiches.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 5 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • Oil for coating bowl

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Once the yeast begins to foam, add it to the flour and stir. Knead until dough comes together, then coat the bottom of the bowl with oil and place the dough upon it. Cover with a wet towel and allow to rest at room temperature for two hours.

   

Now form the ball into thirds and roll and stretch each third into a baguette shape. If you have a baguette pan place the dough on this to rest; otherwise use a cookie pan. Rest for another hour, then bake for ten to fifteen minutes at 425 degrees. Enjoy!

   

Forming lines on top of the bread with a knife will allow heat to escape. 
 

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Tortillas

Back when I posted my recipe for pita, I raved about how easy it was to make, and how quick.  But tortillas are even more simple, and just as delicious. The dough is wonderful to work with and perfect for rolling out.  Like pita, I like to make tortillas in bulk, freeze what I don’t eat, and then pull out tortillas to use for quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, even Indian food (tortillas are extremely similar to chapati, a south Indian flatbread)!

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water

In a large bowl, combine the flour and oil, working with your fingers.  Dissolve the salt in the water, then pour this into the bowl and begin to knead.  When the dough has come together, divide it into twelve balls, then cover the bowl with a damp rag and let it rest for 25 to 30 minutes (longer is okay, but unnecessary).

Dust a work surface with flour (I like to use a cutting board), making sure to keep flour on hand.  Turn the stove to medium heat and place a pan on it.  Roll out the dough into circular shapes roughly seven inches in diameter.  Once the pan is hot, place the rolled out tortillas on it one at a time.  Flip the tortilla when the dough starts to puff up and allow the other side to cook.  This should take very little time, so be watching constantly.  For a richer flavor, brush the tortillas with oil or butter once they are finished.  Enjoy!

Pita

Pita, a traditional Middle-Eastern and Greek flatbread, is an amazingly useful bread.  It takes little time and hardly any kneading, and it can be used a multitude of ways: with curries, hummus, gyros, paninis, sandwiches, etc. The flavor and texture of homemade pita totally eclipses that of the flavorless stuff you can buy at the grocery store–this pita is the sort of thing you will want to eat plain! 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (stick it in the microwave for ten seconds)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Set aside until bubbly. In a large bowl mix the salt and flour with a fork. When the yeast mixture is bubbling, add to the flour mix and add oil. Mix with a fork and then begin to knead by hand until it comes together in a large ball. Cover with damp cloth and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.

Separate the dough into 6-10 smaller balls. Place a pan over the stove on low heat. On a floured surface, roll out the balls of dough until they are at least six inches in diameter. Place on pan, flipping when they begin to puff up and brushing with oil. Enjoy!

  
   

  

Apple Bread

 

This bread tastes like autumn. Made from the apples we picked at our local orchard, its warm, homey flavor perfectly exemplifies the season. It’s a wonderful breakfast to wake up to, but also makes an excellent dessert.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar plus 1 teaspoon for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 cups chopped apple
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until smooth.  Add apples and nuts.  Pour into a greased and floured pan.  In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, then dust over the top of the bread.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  Allow to cool before slicing.


  

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Japanese Milk Bread

This is one of my favorite breads in the world, and that’s saying something. Not only does it bring a sandwich to a whole new level, it is also delicious on its own. I like to make it on Sundays and use it for lunch during the week–it certainly gives me something to look forward to! Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the starter

  • 1/3 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

For the dough

  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, sliced (room temperature)

Directions

Make the starter–whisk ingredients and bring to a simmer over low heat. Transfer to small bowl and set aside to cool.

Make the dough– mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add egg, milk and half of the starter (the other half must be discarded unless you are doubling the recipe). Knead. Add the butter and knead until it is incorporated, then cover with a wet towel and allow to rise for one hour.

Split the dough into two balls and roll each one out into a square. Roll each square into a log and place them side by side into a buttered bread pan. Allow to rise for another half hour before putting them in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees until top turns golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.