Thanksgiving Cooking Guide

November 25, 2015

Here is a summary of many of Chris Kimball’s Thanksgiving options. A few of the posts are not his recipes, but I’ve nevertheless included (for my convenience). I still am afraid to risk my Thanksgiving turkey using Chris Kimball’s November 2012 recipe for Grilled Turkey; if anyone has tried, please post a comment with your results.

The best turkey options are:

  1. Julia Child’s Deconstructed Turkey. While I was resistant to departing from the tradition of roasting the turkey whole, this recipe came out fantastic last year. This recipe elevates the dark meat to become the star of the dinner. Classic stuffing with sausage.
  2. Herb Roasted Turkey, which I’ve rated 5-stars in the past. It is brined in salt water for 4 to 6 hours, then air-dried, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours to get crisp skin. The herb paste adds great flavor, but the recipe calls for a relatively hot oven (400-degrees) so I doubt this will work on my big turkey.
  3. Old Fashioned Roast Turkey.  This is one of my favorite turkeys. It is draped with salt pork, which constantly bastes the turkey during baking. Also, it salts the turkey instead of a wet brine.
  4. Brined Roasted Turkey. For many years I brined my turkey to help keep the turkey from drying out. Chris Kimball’s formula is 1 cup salt per gallon cold water for 4-to 6-hour brine or 1/2 cup salt per gallon cold water for 12-to 14-hour brine. The hardest part is finding a stockpot or clean bucket large enough for the turkey.


  1. Traditional turkey gravy. This was part of Julia Child’s deconstructed turkey.
  2. Best Turkey Gravy. A classic recipe for turkey gravy.
  3. Make-Ahead Dripping-less Turkey Gravy. This recipe was developed by Cook Illustrated because it’s associated turkey recipe was cooked too hot to yield usable drippings. So if you don’t have drippings, here is the solution.

Cranberry Sauce:

  1. Cranberry-Orange Sauce. Don’t make a standard cranberry sauce, when a little bit of triple sec and orange zest make it so much more interesting.
  2. Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce. I made this recipe for years, which is 100 times better than canned cranberry sauce.


  1. Fluffy Mashed potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1″ chunks. Rinse, Steam for 10 minutes, Rinse again, Steam for 20 more minutes until done. It requires my Dutch Oven, but I’ve had dinner guest that raved more about these potatoes than the 5-star main course.
  2. Holiday Scalloped Potatoes. A nice 4-star alternative to standard mashed potatoes.
  3. Master Recipe for Mashed Potatoes. Requires boiling potatoes with their skins on, then peeling hot potatoes. For 15 years Chris Kimball has told us to make mashed potatoes this way.
  4. Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Peeled before cooking, then boiled in half-and-half normally added at the end of the recipe.

Pumpkin Pie:

  1. Matt’s Pumpkin Pie. Make the filling the night before for the best flavor. This recipe is based upon King Arthur Flour recipe. My son Matt took over the pumpkin pie baking responsibilities in 2011. For him, it’s a labor of love.
  2. Libby’s Pumpkin Pie. For a long time this was my “go to” pumpkin pie recipe, until I discovered the King Arthur recipe.
  3. Chris Kimball’s Pumpkin Pie. I could never bring myself to put yams into a pumpkin pie, so have never made it.

Colombian Arepes de Queso

November 23, 2015

Lately, I have been busy at work and only heard the sad news about Chris Kimball’s departure from ATK today. He has always been the driving force behind the magazine (and later the TV shows), and I remember appreciating his methodology the first time I saw Cook’s Illustrated in 1994. While I guess this has been brewing for a few months (since summer), I never imagined that it would come to this. I know companies like to think that nobody is indispensable, but that opinion is often more of a hope than a reality. I guess we have to wait for a few months to find out about Chris Kimball’s “future endeavors”. I hope it is just a change in venue, and that I will be able to continue to cook his recipes for many years to come. The news is sad.

I first ate Arepas 20 years ago while biking through Colombia, and loved their simple deliciousness. Years later I read about stuffed arepas (which tend to be from Venezuela). Today, after 20 years, was my first time making arepas on my own.  This morning’s recipe does not come from ATK or Chris Kimball at all. It is thanks to a recent trip to Miami that I was able to buy “Pre-Cooked Corn Meal”. My technique still needs honing, but they came out delicious for a first try.


  1. Cook’s Illustrated has a description about the different types of Corn Meal here, The bottom-line is make sure that the bag says it is for arepas. Masa harina is a completely different product. The brand that I pictured is apparently the most popular.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $2.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 10:00 AM. End time: 11:00 PM.

Chris Kimball does not have a recipe for arepas. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

2 cups water
2 cups masarepa flour (12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted or softened butter
8 to 10 slices of Muenster cheese (Today I used grated mozzarella with a little shredded Parmesan)

  1. Soften butter in microwave for between 30 to 40 seconds.
  2. Add water to a large mixing bowl, mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Slowly add in arepa flour until just comes together. Stir butter into dough and knead until evenly combined. Cover masa (dough) with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Divide you dough into 8 equal parts. I used a scale and measured 3-1/2 ounces per arepa.
  4. Working with one arepa at a time, roll into a ball and gradually work into a flatten disk; fixing the edges as they break. Put between two sheets of plastic and use the curvature of your cupped hands to form perfect disks. Press a second small cutting down on top of arepa to evenly flatten to approximately 5-inches across. Use cupped hands to fix any of the edges. Set aside and put plastic wrap between the arepas as you stack them.
  5. Pre-heat your griddle or large skillet over medium-high burner. Flick water onto the griddle and it will be ready when the water “dances”
  6. Cook on dry griddle (without any oil whatsoever) for 12 to 15 minutes without moving until slightly browned on the first side (see photo). Flip and top with cheese (which will slowly melt). Cook the second side for between 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately, or keep in a warm (but turned off oven) if you need to make them in batches.

French-Style Pot Roast

November 21, 2015

I made this French pot roast for a group of my closest friends. While the original recipe called for a 4-to-5-pound roast, I bought a 6-1/2 pounder; following the general guideline of 1/2-pound per person. While the roast did stretch to feed all 13 people (a majority of whom where kids), I felt that I short-changed some of my guests. I assume I underestimated the loss and shrinkage during cooking.

Delicious, but slices came apart.

Delicious, but slices fell apart.

My biggest complaint was the texture was too “fall-apart-tender”. The picture on the Cooks Illustrated website made me think that I would get tender beef while still retaining enough cohesiveness to get nice, clean slices. The presentation suffered a bit.  Next time I will be careful to cook towards the shorter end of the cooking time; and make sure that I slice it with my sharpest knife. Fortunately, the flavor made up for the “pile of meat” presentation. The flavor of the beef and sauce was well-balanced, but the carrots were not very popular. While I thought enjoyed the carrots, it seemed most people didn’t appreciate them. Overall, 4-stars.

Rating: 4.
Cost: $40.
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 11:30 AM. End time: 5 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

1 boneless beef chuck (5-to-6 lbs)
1 Table kosher salt
1 bottle red wine (Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Noir)
10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 ounces thick cut bacon.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut on bias into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups frozen pearl onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup water, plus 1/4 cup cold water to bloom gelatin
10 ounces white mushrooms
Table salt
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

  1. Pull apart the roast into 2 pieces and trim away fat. Season meat with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Set on wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet, and allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. With 15 minutes to go, set a large sauce pan over medium-high burner and simmer the bottle of wine until it has reduced to 2 cups. Also tie your parsley sprigs and thyme sprigs together into a bundle using kitchen twine.
  3. Use paper towels to dry the beef and generously sprinkle with 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground pepper. Use 3 to 4 pieces of kitchen twine around each roast to prevent it from falling apart during the long cooking time.
  4. Set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 300-degrees.
  5. Cut bacon crosswise into 1/4″-wide match-sticks. Set a large Dutch oven over medium-high burner and cook bacon for 7 to 8 minutes until crispy. Remove bacon to a plate lines with paper-towels and reserve until Step 7.
  6. Empty and discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat; and return pot to medium-high burner. When the fat begins to smoke, brown the roasts on all four sides for a total of 8 to 10 minutes. While the beef browns, finely chop your onion. Remove beef to large plate and set aside.
  7. Turn down burner to medium, add chopped onions to pot and allow to soften for 2 to 4 minutes; using the moisture the onions give off to begin to de-glaze the pot. Add mined garlic, flour, and crispy bacon from Step 5. After 30 seconds add the reduced wine, 2 cups beef broth, the herb bundle and bay leaves. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Add browned roasts (and any accumulated juices) back to the pot. Bring up to a simmer over high burner, then put a large piece of aluminum foil over the pot and cover with lid.
  9. Bake for 2-1/2 to 3 hours until a fork easily slips into the meat. Use tongs to turn beef every hour, and add carrots to the pot after 2 hours.
  10. About the time you add the carrots, Put a large skillet over medium-high burner. Add pearl onions, butter, sugar, and 1/2 cup water, Bring up to a boil, then cover and reduce burner to medium. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the onions are tender, then uncover and increase burner to medium-high and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the liquid completely evaporates.
  11. While the pearl onions cook, wipe your mushrooms clean, trim away and discard the stems. Cut small mushrooms in half, and large mushrooms into quarters. After liquid evaporates and mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon table salt. Continue cooking for 8 to 12 minutes until everything becomes browned and glazed. As the beef is ready to come out of the pot (in step 13) use a little of the braising liquid to de-glaze the skillet.
  12. Separately, place 1/4 cup cold water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top to allow it to soften.
  13. Remove beef to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil. Allow braising liquid to settle for 5 minutes, then skim and fat off the surface. Fish out and discard herb bundle and bay leaves.
  14. Add in onion-mushroom and bring up to a simmer over medium-high burner. Reduce for 20 to 30 minutes until it measures 3-1/4 cups. Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper according to your taste. Stir in softened gelatin.
  15. Remove and discard kitchen twice. Carve into 1/2″-thick slices with a sharp, non-serrated knife. Serve beef slices with vegetables along side, sprinkled with minced parsley and sauce poured on-top of meat.
Tie your beef into two min-roasts

Tie your beef into two min-roasts

Asparagus with Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

November 8, 2015

I served this as a side-dish to a wonderful French meal (see Boeuf à la mode, Onion Soup). While the asparagus was naturally tasty, the sauce mostly fell off and left plain asparagus. As I think the recipe needs to be judged on whether or not it enhances it’s deliciousness, as written, I can give the recipe only 3-stars. However, you will not be unhappy with the end results.Who doesn’t love broiled asparagus?

More delicious than the 3-stars indicate

More delicious than the 3-stars indicate


  1. Over the years Chris Kimball has flip-flopped on calling for thick versus thin asparagus. This recipe dating from 2001 calls for thin asparagus. Later in 2012, Chris Kimball said that thick asparagus are better for the broiler. Way back in 1993 she said that steamed are better than boiled. In any case, I followed the recipe as it was written and used thin asparagus.
  2. You should always snap off the tough ends when cooking asparagus. Chris Kimball says to hold the asparagus halfway down the stalk; then with the other hand, holding the cut end between the thumb and index finger about 1″ from the bottom; bend the stalk until it snaps. Each stalk will break in a different place depending upon how tough the stalk is.

Rating: 3-stars.
Cost: $8.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Started: 5:40 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared the soup today are given below:

2 pounds thin asparagus spears (2 bunches)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Adjust oven rack so that it is 4 to 5″ from broiler element. Pre-heat broiler.
  2. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay out the asparagus and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until evenly coated and lay out into a single layer.
  3. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned; shaking the pan halfway through cooking so that they cook evenly.
  4. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and arrange on a serving platter.
  5. While the asparagus cools, add shallot, lemon juice and zest, thyme, mustard, and olive oil in small bowl. Whisk and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over asparagus and serve immediately.

Ultimate Charcoal-Grilled Steaks

October 27, 2015

I know I almost missed the boat (the S.S. grilling season). While this recipe came out at the beginning of summer (and despite its absolute simplicity), I was not able to make the recipe until now. I have always used wooden skewers, and this recipe requires metal skewers. I ordered the $7 Norpro 12″ skewers as recommended by Cook’s Illustrated.

Nice char on the outside; beautiful medium-rare on the inside

Nice char on the outside; beautiful medium-rare on the inside

The results were very-evenly-cooked, medium-rare steaks (in 2-1/2 hours). The intense heat from the chimney starter gave a beautiful char on the outside, and an even pink all the way through. No grey band. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the perfect evenness from top to bottom of the steak. Here are other people pictures of grey band, versus an even medium rare that you can expect with this recipe. 5-stars.


  1. My steaks took 2 full hours in the oven to come up to 120-degrees. Because the oven is so low, it is easy to perfectly cook the steaks. But if you want medium steaks; be prepared to wait up to an extra 30 minutes.
  2. Kosher salt is always recommended for when sprinkling on meat, because the flakes adhere better to the mean that the granules of regular granules of table salt. Also, because it is less dense it is easier to get an even coating of salt.
  3. As you can see from my photos; I made 3 sets of steaks instead of the 2 called for in the recipe. But because the grilling time is so quick; there are no adjustments necessary.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Compound Butter Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper

  1. Remove 1/2 cube of butter from refrigerator and allow to soften on counter-top for an hour; or microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the compound butter and refrigerate.

Steak Ingredients:
2 boneless strip steak, 1-3/4″ thick (about 2-pounds total)
Kosher salt and pepper
Chimney starter

  1. Cut away the fat cap from the steaks; to prevent flare-ups. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 200-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and set a wire rack on top.
  2. Cut each steak in half crosswise; creating four 8-ounce steaks. Cut 1/16″-deep slits on both sides of steaks every 1/4″; creating a crosshatch.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of each steak with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2 teaspoons total). Lay steak halves flat on counter and pass two 12″ metal skewers horizontally through the steaks; spacing them 1-1/2″ apart, Be sure to leave 1/4″ space between steak halves. Set the steaks on the rack you prepared is Step 1. Repeat skewering process with the remaining steaks.
  4. Put steaks in 200-degree oven for between 1h30m and 2h until the center of the steaks register 120-degrees; flip steaks half-way through cooking. If one set of steaks comes up to temperature before the other; remove it (And tent with aluminum foil)
  5. Tent the skewered steaks with aluminum foil (still on wire rack); allowing to rest while you light to coals in the next step.
  6. Ignite a large chimney starter halfway filled with charcoal briquettes (3 quarts). After about 15 minutes when the top-most coals are completely covered in fine grey ash. Reserve the foil and pat the steaks dry with paper towels.
  7. Use tongs to place one set of steaks directly over chimney; resting the skewers on rim of chimney; suspending the meat over the coals (see photo below). Cook for 1 minute per side until both sides are well browned. Return the first set of steaks to wire rack in sheet, season with pepper, and tent with reserved foil. Repeat the charring process with second set of skewered steaks.
  8. Remove skewers from steaks and serve with compound butter.

Best Ground Beef Chili

October 20, 2015

I never trust Chris Kimball when it comes to spicy food. His Yankee palate just doesn’t understand the flavors of southwestern cooking. True to form, today’s recipe is not nearly hot enough; zero-alarm chili. Also in the back of my mind is that Many of Chris Kimball’s chili recipes turn out to be very expensive (see this $26, 3-star chili). Plus my kids are just as happy with cheap, ground beef chili; So no reason to spend 3-times as much.

As unlikely as it seems; Chris Kimball reaches a happy medium with this recipe; rich flavor of freshly ground chiles, but easy to eat (just 1/4″-chunks ). Plus it uses $3/lb ground beef. Of course, while not hot enough (next time I will add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper), there is a lot of delicious complexity here. Definitely worth making; 4-stars, but I could easily see a hotter version almost reaching the maximum 5-stars.

Deliciously bold flavors, but easy peasy

Deliciously bold flavors, but easy peasy


  1. It can sometimes be hard to find whole chiles, so I recommend buying them beforehand so you don’t have to run to multiple supermarkets. This recipe calls for Ancho chiles (in California they are called Pasillo; which are dried poblano peppers), but you can substitute guajillo which are hotter.
  2. Chris Kimball says that this chili can be made up to 3 days in advance. I recommend re-heating on the stove-top rather than the microwave, for better flavor. Just add a little water to maintain the desired consistency.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $11. (not including garnishes).
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 3:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

2-lbs 85% lean ground beef
2 cups + 2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper
3/4-teaspoon baking soda
6 dried ancho chile
1 ounce tortilla chip, crushed (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
14-1/2-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
15-oz-can pinto bean
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 Lime, cut into wedges
Coarsely chopped cilantro
Chopped red onion
Additional garnishes: diced avocado, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and/or steamed white rice.

  1. Set a rack to lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 275-degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, add beef, 2 tablespoons water, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4-teaspoon baking soda. Toss until thoroughly combined, and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the stems for the chiles and tear then into 1″-sized pieces. Set a Dutch oven set over medium-high burner; Add chiles and toast for 4 to 6 minutes until they become fragrant, stirring frequently. If the chiles begin to smoke, then reduce the burner. Allow to cool in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Add tortilla chips, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, oregano, thyme, and 2 teaspoons pepper to bowl food processor. Process for 2 minutes until it becomes finely ground. Empty spices into a small bowl. Process the tomatoes with their juice in the food processor for 30 seconds until smooth.
  4. Dice your onion and peel your garlic.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the empty Dutch oven, set over medium-high burner. Add diced onion at cook for 4 to 6 minutes until softened; stir occasionally. Press garlic directly into pot and cook for just 1 minutes. Add beef mixture from Step 1. Cook beef for 12 to 14 minutes; breaking up meat into 1/4″-pieces as it cooks. The beef should begin to brown and a fond should begin to form on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add spice mixture from Step 3 and continue to cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes; to bloom the spices.
  6. Add 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons sugar, tomato puree, and pinto beans and their liquid. Bring up to a boil, and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Cover with lid, move to pre-heated  oven. Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender and chili has slightly thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking.
  7. Uncover chili and let it sit for 10-minutes. Meanwhile, prepare any of your garnishes.
  8. After 10 minutes stir to re-incorporate any fat that has risen to the top and add 2 tablespoons cider vinegar.
  9. Adjust seasoning with salt to taste. Serve, passing separately the lime wedges, cilantro, chopped onion and other garnishes.
A little extra effort; but big flavors

A little extra effort; but big flavors

American Sandwich Bread (medium-sized loaf) in 2-Hours

October 17, 2015

With my two sons back in school, I’ve dusted off my various Sandwich Breads recipe and I’ve updated it to reflect my ever-changing bread requirements. Happily, I now have new standing mixer, which lets me build gluten the old-fashioned way (by kneading). Kneading speeds the process of gluten development so much, that I can comfortable make a sturdy loaf in just 2 hours. Also, I replaced by broken kitchen scale with this cheap $12 scale. While I loved the functionality of my old $50 Oxo kitchen scale, I decided not to replace it because of it’s apparent fragility (it broke after a very small fall).

Hand-cut slices; I like to slice them a little thick

After many years of making sandwich bread, I have come love the process of baking bread. The smell of bread in the oven and the warmth of the kitchen are irresistible as the autumn temperatures begin to fall.  I have made and perfected many variations of this recipe, each year varying the recipe based upon my changing needs. The prior versions are:
Small 2-hour loaf without standing mixer,
Small 12-hour loaf without standing mixer.
Large 12-hour loaf with standing mixer.

The special equipment and supplies needed are best bought online. Here is what I’ve found:

  1. Bread Bags.  ($18 per 1,000 bags at Sam’s Club, but I got mine here (they have since raised price to $34), or $25 here)
  2. Laminated Twist Ties. ($3 per 2,000 here)
  3. Granulated Lecithin. ($14 per pound)
  4. Fruit Fresh. ($3 in Walmart)
  5. Bulk Instant (Rapid Rise) Yeast. ($3/lb here). Enough for 72 loaves of sandwich bread.


  1. Bread made without any preservatives goes stale relatively fast. I make this bread sans preservatives and is still good after 3 days; mostly my bread only needs to last 3 days. If you want it to last all week; e.g. to bake this bread on Sunday and have it stay fresh through Friday’s lunch. I found a list of natural preservatives that can use in sandwich bread. I sometimes use granulated lecithin (which I bought online).
  2. The keys to making bread without preservatives are: (1) Do not overcook. Bake only until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 200-to-205-degrees. (2) Allow loaf to fully cool prior to slicing, or you will allow moisture to escape and give your loaf a head-start on becoming stale. (3) Use some olive oil to keep the loaf from being too dry.
  3. Do not cut your loaf before it has cooled to room temperature (about 80-degrees). I recommend a full 3 hours of cooling time. I have sliced my bread after 2 hour, and the next morning woke to see condensation in the bag. If you ever see moister in the bag; put it into a new bag to prevent mold.
  4. Starting to bake the loaf at higher temperatures during the first 7 minutes (in Step 8) gives great “oven spring” so you don’t get a dense loaf.  But reducing the temperature after 7 minutes you will also ensure that the crust doesn’t get too dark by the time the loaf reached an internal temperature of 200-to-205-degrees.
  5. The use of milk in this recipe keeps the final crumb relatively tight.

My Quasimodo loaf:

I made two loaves this week because my Monday loaf turned out so lopsided; which my kids and I have dubbed Quasimodo. The loaf started out fine, but because the weather has been cold I let the loaf rise on my stove-top (while the oven pre-heated to 425-degrees).  Unfortunately, half the loaf was too close to the oven vent and the loaf rose unevenly. It didn’t look too bad, until the oven spring kicked in and ended up extremely lopsided (in person the loaf looked even more lopsided than the photo).

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: 60-cents
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time: 6:00 PM. Finish time: 7:30 PM. (But don’t slice for another 3 hours)

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared and baked the bread are given below:

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup water (4 ounces)
1-1/4 cup milk (10 ounces)
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
1 tablespoon granulated lecithin
3 tablespoons olive oil

Dry Ingredients:
4 cups bread flour (1-1/4 lb)
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 to 3/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid; fruit fresh or other powdered Vitamin C. (Alternatively mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar)

  1. Adjust an oven rack to low-middle position. and pre-heat oven to 200-degrees, then immediately turn it off. You will use the residual heat of the oven to speed the first rise in a cool kitchen.
  2. Add water and milk to a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity); heat in microwave for 1m until mixture reaches 105-degrees. Mix in yeast, sugar, granulated lecithin and olive oil; allow to hydrate for 5 minutes.
  3. While the yeast hydrates, add the dry ingredients to the bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
  4. Turn on standing mixer to lowest speed and slowly add liquid; use a rubber spatula to scrape out anything left at the bottom of the measuring cup. After the dough has come together, increase speed to 4 on KitchenAid mixer (medium-low on other models). Continue mixing for 10 minutes. The dough will become smooth, add a little more flour or water if necessary.
  5. Spray bowl with non-spick cooking spray, put dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm, but turned off, oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The dough will double in size. (Never allow dough to rise into a turned on oven)
  6. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a rectangle so that it corresponds to the length of your loaf pan. Spray top of dough with tap water and roll up into a tight log. Move dough into pan and softly press so that it touches all four sides of the pan. Spray top with dough with non-stick cooking spray to prevent the dough from deflating in Step 10.
  8. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (realizing that the loaf will grow above the top of the pan). Place it in a warm spot in your kitchen for between 20 minutes to 30 minutes; until the dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when you poke it with your finger.
  9. About 20 minutes prior to baking, begin pre-heating your oven to 425-degrees.
  10. Carefully remove plastic wrap, spray the loaf three times with tap water from a spray bottle, and place loaf pan in 425-degree oven. Set kitchen timer for 23 minutes corresponding to the total cooking time. After 7 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375-degrees and turn loaf 180-degrees. Bake uncovered for 8 additional minutes until the top crust reaches your desired color. Tent with aluminum foil to keep the loaf top from over browning; baking for remaining 8 to 10 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will reads 205-degrees when the loaf is done. Carefully remove bread from pan, and allow to cool on a wire rack for 3 hour before slicing (ensure that loaf is no warmer than 80-degrees).



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 416 other followers

%d bloggers like this: