Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Make Your Own: Bread [No-knead, Artisan, Cranberry and Blood Orange Loaf)

Now that you know how to make your own butter, we've got to have something to slather it on. Today I want to share with you an easy and customizable artisan loaf. You can make it plain, or as I'm doing here today, customizing it. This is a great and tasty bread and takes hardly any effort. The one thing it does require is time. Letting it sit out on the countertop for 12-18 hours is essential to get that sourdough flavor. Let's dive right in.

Cranberry and Orange Zest Artisan Loaf 
3 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is good)
1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
zest from 1 orange
1 1/2 cups water

1. In a large bowl mix together everything except the water. Add  the water and mix that dough until it's shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and rest on the counter top for 12-18 hours. (This is absolutely necessary)

2. When you are ready to bake the bread, preheat your oven to 450F and put your dutch oven, lid included,  (or stainless steel soup pot, or really anything that's ovenproof) in the oven while it's preheating. Turn your dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic.

3. After 30 min. take the hot pot out of the oven and dump in your ball of dough. Bake for 30 min. with the lid on, then an additional 15 min. Dump the loaf onto a rack and cool. 

Cranberries and blood orange zest goes in with the dry ingredients.

After 18 hours, your dough will have risen. 

Enjoy your homemade goodness!

Friday, March 8, 2013

How To Make Your Own: Butter

Welcome to the first installment of the "Make Your Own" series!  I've been working on some great household staples to share with you and it just seemed right to have butter be first. Right off the bat, let's  be clear that butter is probably the easiest thing you can make - which is awesome, because most people will be completely impressed when you say you make your own butter. You only need 1 thing: heavy cream. A lot of organic websites will say it will only work with organic cream, however this is not the case. Even with ULTRA pasteurized cream it should work just fine. All of this leads to the question "why would I want to make my own butter?" Let me help with that.

1. Why would you NOT want to know how to make butter? I'm a strong believer that kids should know where their food comes from and how to make it. I don't want my kids to walk through a grocery store and see bread, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc. and not know what each of those things is made of. It's all about developing skills and integrating healthy living into our existence. I'm a big believer in the self-sufficient life. Even while living in a city.

2. Homemade butter is sweet, creamy, and amazingly spreadable. It may not sound like much but I hate wrestling with hard butter to spread on my toast and ending up with partially melted, partial chunks on my bread.

3. Homemade butter is extremely customizable. You can mix in rosemary and sea salt and you've got yourself some gourmet awesomeness. Or think about vanilla-bourbon butter to spread on your waffles or french toast. Or how about some pumpkin spice butter on a cinnamon bagel with a chai latte? Check out the links at the end of the post to see some recipes for customized flavors.

Homemade Butter (sweet cream, plain)

Heavy Cream

Electric mixer with the whip attachment  (if you don't have an electric mixer you can put the cream in a bottle and furiously shake it to get the same results. I'll warn you, your arm will get tired.)

{You can make this recipe with as little as 1/4 cup of cream, you'll just get a tiny pat of butter. One quart of cream = 1 pound of butter. I usually just use about 3/4 cup of cream at a time. You'll get butter and buttermilk from this recipe.}

1. Pour the cream into the bowl of your Kitchen Aid and secure the whip attachment. Secure the bowl down and turn on to medium speed.
2. 15-20 min later, you will have butter and buttermilk.
3. Pour out the white liquid (buttermilk) into a jar and store in fridge for use in coffee, pancakes, whatever.
4. Put the butter curds into a cheese cloth and wring out as much of the milk as you can. Transfer the blob of butter to a bowl and pour 1 cup of cold water over the butter. Fold and press the butter in the water to rid it of impurities. Repeat process until water runs clear. This process is called "washing." The secret to a good butter is to get all the water and milk out of it.
5. Store in fresh butter keeper or small cup overturned in a bowl of cold water. Be warned that if you refrigerate the butter it will not get soft again. Store it on the counter top and change water every other day.

This is what you'll see in your Kitchen Aid when your butter is ready to be taken out.

Put the butter curds in a cheesecloth and squeeze the buttermilk out. (by the way, the buttermilk that comes out of this is super sweet and delicious. great in hot drinks!)

My buttermilk

Once the liquid is all squeezed out, take your butter out and transfer it to a bowl for the washing. Washing will help keep your butter fresh and sweet for longer as well as rid it of impurities.

Wash the butter by pouring cold water over it and turning, pressing and folding the butter in it.

My fresh butter! It's being stored in a glass votive candle holder. Classy, I know, but I'm waiting to find a nice fresh butter keeper to invest in.

This is how you store the butter so it doesn't spoil. Pack the butter in a cup or glass and smooth over the top. Put cold water in a bowl and turn your butter upside down. The butter doesn't fall out and the water doesn't get absorbed, don't worry! The fat in the butter repels the water.

I really hope you join me in making your own butter! I 'd love to hear about it if you do!