This past weekend was my first weekend being mostly healthy in a while, and it was awesome. I’m even better today – no coughing or sneezing or trouble breathing. As long as I avoid this scary flu that’s going around, I’ll be good to go! Kramer and I tried to get out of the house after being stuck inside with one illness after another. On Friday night, we went out to dinner with our friends Matt and Amanda to Samurai Mama in Williamsburg. Kramer and I fell in love with the night’s special, which was a piece of salmon sushi topped with a generous portion of sea urchin roe and wrapped in crispy seaweed paper. I could have just ordered a few more of those and been completely happy. I wish uni were more widely available in the US – I’d keep it in my fridge and spread it on toast, I swear. After dinner, we made the mistake of going to see Gangster Squad. I had long been looking forward to this movie. I love a good shoot ‘em up, I love the whole “why I oughta” thing, and I thought that this would be the best of both worlds, what with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone rounding out the cast. Sadly, it was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in recent memory. It was just boring and felt like a four hour movie even though it was just under two. They can’t all be winners, I guess. We immediately watched the most recent episode of Elementary when we got home to lighten our moods, and damn, what a good episode! If you’re not watching Elementary, do yourself a favor and start because it is excellent. On Saturday, we enjoyed a lazy morning, eating pancakes and watching movies, until that evening when we met up with our friends Morgan and Hannah for dinner at Cantina Royal (where we all almost burned our face off eating awesomely spicy salsas), then after a failed attempt to go bowling at Gutter, grabbed drinks with Kramer’s sister Rachel at Spritzenhaus, which I initially thought would be lame but I really loved. I want to go back to try some of their rabbit bratwurst; we did get to try their big, warm, delicious pretzels. Afterward, we finished the night up at our favorite spot, Burnside. On Sunday, Matt came by again to corral/direct/etc. Kramer and I in making a second cooking video. We already did one and it’s almost ready to post, so you’ll get to see that next week. I’m really proud of it (even though all I did was make cookies while Kramer and Matt wrangled the camera and tried to figure out how to squeeze a bit more light out of our kitchen) and I think that you will like it, too. Can you feel the excitement?
Until recently, I wasn’t a bread maker. I hated dealing with yeast. I was always afraid that I’d overknead my dough, that the bread would be tough, or that it wouldn’t rise properly. My husband is also so good at making bread, that I’ll be honest, I was a bit intimidated. He’s made danishes and sourdough boules and pizza…I just figured I’d leave the bread to him and I’d stick with cooking and the occasional baking. However, when I was home sick, I was getting antsy. I was stuck inside all day, I didn’t have the energy to even go for a walk, but I needed to do something after day two of laying around on the couch watching action movies from the 90s (which are guaranteed to improve your health). I decided to start with the basics: white bread. Everyone loves a soft, thick slice of Wonderbread, and that’s exactly what this bread tastes like, only fresh and without all the preservatives. Just flour, water, yeast, eggs, milk, and butter. You’ll love slathering a some unsalted butter on top of this as toast, making sandwiches or even using the ends to make bread pudding. Kramer did help me a bit with this, in that he suggested that I shape the bread into three loaves in the same pan. This not only looked pretty, but it allowed me to use the bread at my leisure without having to worry about any stale pieces of bread – the interior remained soft and tender, and therefore the bread stayed fresh tasting for an entire week. Kramer does it again, people. If you’re afraid of yeast, give this bread a try! You’ll thank me (and Kramer) later.
Step 1: Combine the warm water and yeast. You need to be sure that you give the yeast enough time to proof, or foam up, otherwise the bread won’t come out right. This can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes, so just be patient!
Now just bring your dough together by combining the foamy yeast and water mixture with your warm milk, sugar, salt, and oil, followed by the flour. Knead until mostly smooth. It may look a little tough; that’s alright.
- ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) water
- 2¼ teaspoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) milk or buttermilk (full fat, please)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
- Combine the warm water and yeast in your mixing bowl and allow it to sit and get foamy, about 8-12 minutes. If the yeast doesn’t foam, it is old – get another packet and try again!
- Once the yeast is foamy, add in the warm milk, stir to combine, followed by the oil owl, sugar, and salt. Mix well, then add in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until well incorporated. Knead with your dough hook or your hands for 6-8 minutes, until the dough is mostly smooth. Oil a large bowl, gather the dough up into a ball, and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and/or a cloth towel and allow to rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Once the dough has finished rising, punch it down and lightly flour a 5×10-inch loaf pan. Form the dough into three equal sized balls, and place them inside the pan, touching one another. Cover again with a cloth towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Melt your 2 tablespoons of butter, and lightly brush the tops of your bread (you can also brush the sides, but don’t brush between the crevices of the bread too much or else they won’t stick together when baked). Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the bread is a light, golden brown and is set. Allow the bread to cool in the pan before removing and slicing. This bread will keep well in an airtight container or sealable bag at room temperature for 1 week.