Thursday, July 21, 2011

French Bread

The next bread I'm featuring is a recipe for French Bread.

A good French baguette will have a very crispy crust and chewy center, as well as long and thin in shape.

The French are known for their baking prowess and I have to admit I was very skeptical that I could bake and "edible" loaf. Surprisingly, it's quite simple. The biggest difference I found in preparing this versus other breads that I'm comfortable (like Challah), is that you have to roll the dough, jelly roll style, before it's second rise.

The recipe I used can be found here:

Flour (all purpose) and yeast in bowl of my stand mixer.

Honey I added.

At this point in the recipe I decided the dough needed more kneading. It was kneady! lol

A smooth, elastic dough.

Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to a bowl so that your dough won't stick to it.

A well kneaded, smooth dough.

After taking the dough out of the mixing bowl, I decided that it was still too sticky. I added flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, while kneading by hand to get the right consistency.

Your dough should be soft but not stick to your hands. This takes practice and experience to know how it should "feel." The recipe won't always be exact. The amounts of fluids and flour will depend on your brand of flour. Some flours soak up liquids while others don't.

Remember the bowl with the oil? I did a little dough gymnastics to get the ball covered with oil. Just plop your ball o' dough into the bowl on top of your drop of oil and flip it over. I turn it a couple times to ensure the dough is covered with oil. Believe me, this step is important!

Rolled dough into a rectangle-ish shape. I'm geometrically challenged here. :)

The rolling of the dough.

When you've rolled this much use your fingers or a pastry brush dipped in water and brush the loose end. Then finish rolling and seal.

Lay baguette (with ends folded/pinched under) on your baking sheet of choice. Grease the sheet. I forgot to do this. :)

Brush with egg wash.

Cut 4-5 diagonal slits in the top.

Unfortunately I have no more pictures. The ol' brain blipped and I forgot to take pics of the finished product.

I'd be fairly accurate in saying it looked like this:

Here's the full recipe with my adjustments:


6 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 cups warm water (120 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, butter and honey and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side.

Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on.

Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf.

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I love edamame and often use it to make hummus.

Just now after commenting on a related topic on facebook I was presented with information about the dangers of women consuming high levels of soy-based products.

Just a quick google search uncovered several pages of independent research on the topic and the health risks involved with a soy-centric diet.

If you consume lots of soy or give your infant soy-based formula then I implore you to read for yourself.

Dangers of soy


I've been on vacation for a few weeks. While I've got lots of great topics to post, I just haven't been in the spirit to do so! LOL

So, my dear friend and fellow blogger Farah Evers offers up a great recipe and some culture as a guest writer.


Lebanese Sahlab

Lebanese Sahlab is something of a cross between pudding and a very thick milkshake. You can drink it warm or eat it cool with a spoon. The texture and thickness all depends on how long you cook it, how much cornstarch you prefer and if you cool it in the fridge. If you’re eating it like a dessert you can sprinkle crushed pistachio nuts on top. YUM!

Sahlab is usually preferred during winter, but I love it year round. I used to drink it during the month of Ramadan. Think of it like eggnog in Christmas, minus the egg.
The key ingredients for that special Lebanese taste are Orange Blossom water and cinnamon. Some versions contain Rose Water and others just use vanilla. Actually you can use any flavoring you want, even chocolate! But if you want the authentic one go for Orange Blossom water.
Sahlab is available in ready to use powder form where you can just add warm milk to it. This is an example package. They come in individual sachets or even bulk sachets.

But I know it’s not the easiest thing to come across if you don’t live in the Middle East, so here’s a recipe I learned from my mom. It’s not as authentic but it’s pretty close.


Serves 4
4 cups of milk
½ cup of cornstarch (You can adjust this depending on the thickness you want)
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of Orange Blossom water or Rose water (Optional)
Sprinkle of cinnamon or crushed pistachios

1. Mix the Sahlab powder or cornstarch with a few tablespoons of cold milk and set aside.
2. Bring the remaining milk to a boil.
3. Pour in the starch mixture, stirring constantly. (It can get lumpy so make sure you keep stirring)
4. Cook over very low heat, stirring continuously, until the milk thickens.
5. Add in the sugar and the rose water or orange blossom water.
6. Remove from heat and pour into cups.
7. Finish it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
If you’re making it as a dessert to eat, pour into bowls and finish off with pistachios& cinnamon.
If you’re drinking it warm, go for the cinnamon.