Easy Scandinavian-Style Bread

bread loaf

I really like the dense, hearty whole grain loaves which are popular in Germany and Scandinavia and other points north, but which are difficult to find in the U.S.  I’ve come to like these better than the airy kind of bread, as a matter of fact. Fluffy bread doesn’t really seem like real food to me anymore, and white fluffy bread tastes like cotton candy.

Of course, I’m spoiled because Erik is a baker, so he makes me delicious, black hole-dense loaves of sourdough rye. Or at least, he used to. Now he’s on crutches, trying to recover from a bad case of Plantar fasciitis. This means he’s not doing anything in the kitchen anymore, and my bread supply is gone.

Sure, I could wake up his sourdough starter, take on the mantle (or apron?) of Household Baker, and start making these loaves myself, but I’m already taking on extra chores with him off his feet, so I’m not inclined to take up this one as well. Yet we can’t live two months without good bread. What to do?

Fortunately, I’ve found a solution to our bread crisis: a perfectly good yeasted recipe which makes a dense whole grain loaf with minimal effort. No starter. No kneading. No rise time, even. It’s a quick bread, essentially. It takes 5 minutes to mix up, then you plop it into a loaf pan and put it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. That’s it.

It lacks the sour flavor and chewiness you get from developed loaves, true, as well as the health benefits/improved digestibility that comes from the fermentation process. But you know, it’s still very good. And it’s 100% whole grain and packed with healthful seeds. And for a yeasted bread, it keeps well. Our loaves have been lasting at least three days on the counter top, unwrapped.

This isn’t a bread for soaking up sauce, or making fancy sandwiches, because it’s not springy. Instead, it’s a bread for layering with cheese or lox or slices of cucumber and salt. It’s also great toasted. But mostly I’ve just been eating it slathered with that fancy cultured butter that Trader Joe’s has started selling lately.

Now that I’ve got you all excited, I’m not going to write the recipe here, because I’m using it exactly as I found it on The Transplanted Baker. I have nothing to add or change, or any excuse at all to claim it as my own. She calls her version of this recipe (which originated with Nigella Lawson) “Lazy Man’s Bread.” I’ll have to call this blog entry “Lazy Man’s Post.”

See: Lazy Man’s Bread at The Transplanted Baker

Heirloom Expo in Photos

IMG_0049

I highly recommend making the trip next year to Santa Rosa to see the National Heirloom Exposition put on by the folks at Baker Creek Seeds.  The centerpiece of the expo is the massive display of hundreds of different varieties of squash, melons, tomatoes and other edibles. It’s inspiring and frustrating all at once since, unless you have your own garden, you’ll never see such diversity at the supermarket. I came back with the will to improve our dismal vegetable gardening efforts and with a bunch of interviews you’ll hear on our podcast this week. For those of you who didn’t make it this year, here’s some of what you missed:

IMG_0001 IMG_0006 IMG_0009 IMG_0013 IMG_0025 IMG_0032 IMG_0040 IMG_0050 IMG_0051 IMG_0052 IMG_0055 IMG_0056

060 Eric of Garden Fork Returns

jpg95

Kelly has jury duty this week and I had no guest. Coincidentally, Eric Rochow of the Garden Fork Podcast also had no guest or host this week so we both agreed to be guests on each other’s podcasts. This is the second time we’ve had Eric on and in this episode he discusses tapping maple trees and making syrup, grilling steaks on coals, crowd funding, pie crusts and meditation apps. Here’s the rundown:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

The Best Way to Bake Pizza in a Home Oven

IMG_0099

This trick works so well I thought I’d repeat/revise an earlier blog post, this time with pictures.

Our cob oven makes great pizzas. Why? High temperatures. You just can’t make good pizza in a home oven. Or so I used to think.

One evening I invited some friends over for an outdoor pizza party but rain put a wrinkle in those plans. I remembered that Josey Baker had some instructions in his book Josey Baker Bread on how to make pizza in a home oven, so I decided to give it a try. Baker credits this home oven technique to a San Francisco street pizza maverick who goes by the name PizzaHacker. I’m happy to report that it works so well that I wonder why I should bother to spend three hours tending a fire to prep the outdoor oven. Is pizza out of a wood fired oven better? Perhaps, but not by much.

The PizzaHacker’s method is simple. Here’s what you do:

IMG_0094

1. Preheat an oven oven safe skillet (I like cast iron) over high heat on a burner. Put a little oil in the pan.

IMG_0096

IMG_00982. Plop your shaped dough into the skillet. Top your pizza while it cooks in the skillet for three minutes.

IMG_0107

3. After three minutes stick it under the broiler for another three more minutes or until done. That’s it. This method works much better than trying to bake pizza on a pizza stone.

4. Take the pizza out and let it cool down for a minute. Then slice and enjoy.

I wish I had known about this technique before I bought an expensive pizza stone as this method works much, much better.