by The Culinistas
Something about isolation has turned us all into bakers. Or at least, those who crave baked goods. Our HQ team members have been finger-poke deep in focaccia, challah, sourdough, and Nordic style seed and nut bread over these past few weeks, which is why we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to up your bread baking game.
Follow A Blueprint
Once you have a solid bread recipe, you can begin to riff. We’ve been following Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread from NYT Cooking, this focaccia recipe from Bon Appetit, this challah recipe from La Boite, and the Tartine Sourdough Recipe. After trying your hand at one (or all) of these, you’ll build confidence in your bread baking abilities and the scientific processes behind what’s going on in your oven.
Spice Things Up
Spices are a game changer when it comes to an elegant loaf, which is why we highly recommend investing in some staples. With challah alone (see recipe link above!), we’ve experimented with a savory za’atar crust, and a sweet solstice blend + cinnamon raisin situation (which makes an excellent french toast). Urfa adds spice to a focaccia topped with caramelized onions and olives, and cayenne is cornbread’s best friend.
Take A Look In The Pantry and Fridge
Keep it varied by adding what you have on hand. Half a jar of olives? Use the brine and all to make a Medditerannean treat. Dried fruit and nuts? Throw them into a bran bread for sweetness and a crunch. With focaccia comes an endless array of toppings, from veg to herbs to flaky salt. Lately, we’ve been dreaming up a thinly sliced potato, rosemary, and pesto combination with lots of cracked black pepper.
Get Creative With Your Vessels
Not all of us have a loaf pan, and that’s no problem at all. We’ve been using our dutch ovens, muffin tins, and cake pans to make do (make dough?). Take into consideration the shape of your vessel before starting your bread project, for example, if you’re making banana bread muffins, perhaps coat the pan with nuts/seeds or sprinkle on top rather than mixing into the batter.
Honor Your Loaf
This could mean eating it with butter straight out of the oven, making a killer sandwich/bowl of soup, or using it for bread pudding on day 4 or 5. Another way to honor your loaf is to take notes in the margins of your recipe to customize the recipe to you & your kitchen. We’re huge proponents of recipe fluidity knowing that every kitchen and cook is different. The best way to master the art of bread baking is to observe and take record for your future self!
Thank you to Sylvie Rosokoff for the beautiful photo.