Sunday, March 15, 2009

When in Rome, Bake Bread

Have I mentioned my culinary feats lately?

Being in Japan means learning to live without certain staples from home. Back in Seattle we bought several loaves of "artisan" bread each week. When I couldn't reliably find good, crusty bread here in Japan, I knew I had to find a solution to the problem; living without good bread is just too much to bear! Since the ingredients are easy enough to find, I decided to make some. I heard about the 5 minute artisan bread and had to try it. The dough requires NO kneading. Kneading is just beyond me at this point in my life. I may learn how to do it and love it someday, but right now, leaving out the step that requires kneading is key.

Trust me, making bread this way is as easy as it sounds, and the crust is unbelievable. Did I mention that you can store the dough in your refrigerator for up to TWO weeks and it's only supposed to improve with age?! I haven't left it for quite that long, but after a few days in the refrigerator I can attest that it's still delicious.

I also made some orange marmalade recently. I used this very simple recipe which doesn't require any pectin or special directions for making homemade pectin before making the marmalade. I can't believe I haven't tried any on my homemade bread yet! Perhaps because Gboy loves the bread so much he eats an entire loaf (I make them fairly small) all in one sitting. He also insists that I use some of the dough to make calzones and suddenly, our dough is gone!

The marmalade was made from a mixture of the oranges that my FIL grows. We've got so many oranges that they can't make juice fast enough. I used less sugar than the recipe called for because we're not really going to "preserve" it or save it for long and I was concerned that too much sweetness would make it inedible for my in-laws. It turned out perfectly, sweet yet quite tart and it's disappearing fast.

Finally, I attempted a second banana cake the other day. The first banana cake was for Peanut's birthday. It was a little wetter and more dense than I would have liked and Peanut was too tired at the time to really enjoy her cake. Additionally, we had some very, very ripe bananas here at the house the other day and my MIL was going to toss them into the compost pile. Luckily Gboy rescued them and explained to her than when the bananas get spotty I bake with them. She was incredulous and surely thinks I'll give them all salmonella or botulism or whatever it is that might come from spoiled foods. However, I forged on. I found a yellow cake recipe that I tinkered with and after adding the bananas the consistency was sort of like wallpaper paste; I was concerned. After baking and taste testing though, I realized my fears were misplaced! It was not only lighter and more cake-like to my way of thinking (rather than banana bread-like) , it was delicious. Peanut ate some, my Japanese class students with whom I shared it also enjoyed it, and my MIL said it was delicious.

Next up: cannoli


  1. WOW, go YOU! Your banana cake sounds yummy! I made banana bread for the first time the other day and it was SO good! I can't wait to try that bread recipe, looks good. Keep up the good work!

  2. I am so impressed! I wish I was your neighbor so I could come beg for your leftovers. :)

  3. I love, love, LOVE the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day! I actually took a class with the author of the book. I really recommend the whole book - there are a ton of great variations and other recipes.

    That marmalade sounds amazing!

  4. tragic - I can't believe you took a class with the author! Lucky for me, my birthday is around the corner and the book will be one of my gifts! :)

    CJ- I would totally share - I LOVE to share.

    Beautiful - I love banana bread and was really excited to try a cake recipe. Let me know what you think if you bake the "5 minute" crusty bread.

  5. Darn... no pictures = ( I hope you'll post some of the conolli.. my fav dessert EVER.

  6. I love the bread shops here in Japan, they are everywhere, no? They remind me of being in France, I don't think you are that far in the inaka right?

    hehe "wink"

  7. Wow!!! Would love to be able to make bread- and will definitely have to start when we return to Japan because the bread there sucks, as we all know!

    The marmelade sounds amazing!!