My kitchen comes with several rules. Some are generally pretty easy to follow:
- The flour and sugar containers belong in the cabinet above the stove.
- The person responsible for taking the garbage out to the garage is always Eric. (This one is really, really easy for me to follow. For Eric….mmmm….takes some gentle coaxing every now and then but overall he’s pretty good.)
- At the kitchen table, I sit in the chair with my back to the window. Eric faces the window.
Some rules are not as easy to follow. For example:
- Always washing my pots and pans (and other hand-washables) immediately following the meal instead of leaving them in the sink until the next day. (I do PRETTY well with this one. I’d say I have about an 85% success rate following this rule most of the time – a nice, solid B average. In the words of George Costanza: “not showin’ off…not fallin’ behind.” Ha. )
- Finding ways to sneak vegetables into my husband’s mouth. Sometimes it’s easier to just give up….and eat my own broccoli raw on the side instead of cooking it and adding it our meal.
- Only baking once a week.
Oooo. Number 3 is extra hard, isn’t it? I always have the urge to take flour, sugar and butter and turn it into something golden brown and delicious. The other problem is I have the urge to EAT all things flour, sugar and butter-laden pretty much all the time. If I gave in to every urge I had to bake, I’d eat everything in sight and then, well….let’s just say these cute skinny jeans I’ve been rockin’ lately would have to be retired.
And so I created the Bake Only Once a Week rule. This means I pick out one baked good a week and make enough for Eric and I to share (example: 12 cupcakes – not 30. 2 dozen cookies, not 5) The item is reserved specifically for after dinner and is not packed in lunches or eaten as snacks. If someone (ahem – me.) goes overboard and decimates said baked good in three days, well, then that’s it…it’s gone and there’s no more homemade goodness until the weekend rolls around again. The incentive is there to make it last. Oh yes. Because if I don’t have my little fix of something sweet after dinner…I go a little loony and start doing crazy things. Like eating these nasty orange slice candy things Eric brings home from Farm & Fleet that I DON’T EVEN LIKE! If I’m going to waste calories on sweets, which, please, is a total given – I would much rather it be on something I’m really going to enjoy. Yes. I’m pretty good at making it last.
Where I run into trouble with this rule is when it comes to bread. If I make bread, does that count as my once a week baking or not? Well, if I made a healthy whole grain bread, I would probably say no and go ahead and whip up a batch of cookies after that. The problem is…when I get the urge to make bread it is never of the whole grain variety. It’s of the white and packed with cheese variety. Dang!
See, this why I rarely make bread. I’m not intimidated, I don’t think it’s hard – I would just rather have the cookies or brownies or whatever. Every so often, I’ll forgo my sweet treat for a week in favor of white bread. It’s rare, but it does happen.
A couple weeks ago, I was browsing the King Arthur Flour website. The actual reason I was there was because I am interested in getting started in using more whole grain in baking. Really! King Arthur has great offering of whole grain flours and fun recipes that use them so I was perusing what’s out there. I admit I haven’t ventured into this realm much yet but since I’ve already decided I’m not going to be able to quit it with the stupid cookies or whatever, the very least I can do is add a tiny bit of nutritional value to each one. Like whole wheat flour totally negates butter. And sugar. And eggs. Mmm hmm. Right. All of us sugar addicts will just keep telling ourselves that.
Anyway, I got totally sidetracked and stumbled upon this recipe for No-Fuss Foccacia. It looked so simple and yummy, I skipped my usual sweet baking that weekend and made this instead. It could not be easier. In less than two hours with no kneading and no mess, I had hot, fresh, cheesy bread with a nice thin crust and a light and fluffy interior. Mmmmm. Empty, white bread calories. Worth forgoing the cookies for a week.
Now, the more I look at this recipe the more I think rapid-rise yeast does not equal instant yeast. Am I correct in this assumption? Instant yeast sounds like a specialty product. At any rate, the rapid-rise yeast I used worked like a charm. After 60 minutes of resting, I did in fact have a nice puffy dough, so I assumed all was well and tossed it in the oven. Came out great! My only other note about this recipe is that you don’t need 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the bottom of your baking dish. That’s way too much. About half a tablespoon will work just fine – just spread it around evenly with a pastry brush.
I’m sure you’re wondering what I did for my sweet fix since I didn’t do any other baking when I made this bread. That’s what open bags of chocolate chips are for. 🙂
NO-FUSS FOCACCIA (Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast (I used quick rise yeast and it worked fine)
- Dried herbs of your choice or pizza seasoning, optional (I used Italian seasoning)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese, optional (I used Parmesan cheese)
- Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom. (I used about 1/2 tablespoon, spread evenly with a pastry brush.)
- Combine all the ingredients, and beat on high with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.
- Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, or until dough becomes puffy.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Gently poke the dough all over with your finger.
- Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with dried herbs, pizza seasoning or cheese, if desired.
- Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes
- Remove from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
One Year Ago: Potato Chip Cookies – My grandma’s recipe! An old family favorite