Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Artisan Bread in Minutes

I often post photos to my Facebook page of the bread I make and I often get questions about it so I decided to do a blog post about it so I can make it simple and just link people to it.

I love fresh bread but I'm a bit impatient and I really hate kneading. I own a bread machine and that's fine but it doesn't really give me the crusty type of bread I most enjoy. I also have to get the water temp just right and that is really annoying. I usually make my husband do it.

Back in October of 2015, the website Craftsy had a super deal going on.. pay them $10 and you can watch as many of their classes as you want for the month of October. The classes range in price from $15 and up on sale so this was a great deal. I made a huge list of all the classes I wanted to take and most of them were food related. I spent hours every day watching these classes and I learned a lot.. I mean, a lot.

I've really upped my cooking and baking games and we are enjoying it with fresh salsas, fresh tortillas, fresh bread, stir fry and the list goes on.

One class I came across and took was Zoe Francois Artisan Bread in Minutes. That sounded like my kind of bread.. no kneading! So, I took her class and loved it, I highly recommend it if you're interested. I found out she had a book that covered what was in the class, plus a ton more so I got it. The book is big and beautiful and full of recipes and instruction. It's worth every penny.

Here is the basic bread recipe.

Before I take you down this rabbit hole... do you need to buy all of the things I talk about in this blog post? No. Of course not. People have been making bread for centuries so you can do it with flour, water, yeast, salt and an oven.. but these things I mention do make it easier. I'm all for easy. So.. if you can afford to invest it all or some of it, great.. if not.. no biggie. A cookie sheet and some parchment paper is fine too.

 If you can't do the class, get the book.. I'm happy I did the class and bought the book.

The basic point of this bread is that you mix it up in a bucket, let it rise and then stick it in the fridge for later use. Once it's proofed you have fresh dough available for immediate use. Fresh bread with a couple rises in a couple hours, pizza can be ready to go in half an hour. You can get multiple loaves out of each bucket.

I mostly make baguettes and pizza with this dough but it does so much more. It's really an all purpose dough and having it pre-made and ready to go is pretty amazing.. it's nice to be able to have fresh bread in a couple hours. You can make cinnamon rolls, boule (larger round loaves), naan, focaccia, rolls, and fancy breads.

The first thing I'll talk about is ingredients. Normally I'd use whole grains but in this I use simple all-purpose white flour. The book has more recipes if you want to expand into using different flours, including gluten free. I use yeast that I buy in big blocks and store in the freezer. I use kosher salt.

The next thing.. tools.

Kitchen Scale 

Zoe recommends weighing the flour for an accurate amount of flour. I've linked to a basic one that I don't own so I can't speak to how good or bad it is. You want one that weighs in grams. Do your research. You should just have a scale if you cook. Seriously.

Dough Bucket and Lid

This is one of those things that makes it easier. You can pour the water in, add in the yeast and whisk to dissolve and then stir in the flour and salt. Then you can do your first rise and your refrigeration all in one container. You just need to make sure you have room in the fridge for it.

Dough Whisk

You may think a regular spoon will work... it won't.. at least not as easily as this will.

Steel Pizza Stone

I've owned the stoneware kind and they always break. It's annoying. This time I decided I'd invest in one that would never break. This thing is heavy. We use it for pizza and baking the boules.

Pizza Peel 

If you're going to buy a stone, but the peel. This is what you use to put the raw pizza onto the hot stone and to remove the cooked pizza from the hot stone. I linked to an inexpensive one but research this to find one that meets your needs. Use flour or cornmeal to make sure it doesn't stick and will move freely from the peel to the stone.

Baguette Pan 

I love baguettes so I invested in this special pan. I use this with parchment paper. I'm sure other brands are available but I will always choose Chicago Metallic over another brand so that is what I linked to. I put this on top of a jelly roll pan and into the oven.

Water Pan

Another thing Zoe recommends is using a larger pan underneath the stone or pan that you will toss ice cubes into in order to bake the bread. This helps you get a nice crumb and crust. I use a large lasagna type baking pan. I couldn't even fnd one in order to link it for you. It has to be metal because you will be adding cold ice into a hot pan and glass will break. You also need it deep enough to hold the melted ice. I don't use the water method when I make pizza.

So.. there ya have it. I know it seems overly involved but it really isn't. I've been making this bread since October and I've even given it as gifts.. it's delicious. I don't think I'll ever make bread any other way now.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

McDougall Big Cup VS. Maruchan Instant Lunch

I think all of us have eaten ramen at some point in our lives. Some of us had to eat it because it was cheap and easy to get but I also think some of us just enjoyed it. However, I think most of us have come to terms with the fact that the cheap ones are a sodium nightmare and shouldn't be consumed at all. 


Well, I have good news! There exists a good ramen! It's full of fiber and protein. It has half the sodium of the cheap kind. It has organic noodles and it doesn't have any of the yucky ingredients like MSG. It is also vegan, fat free, oil free, dairy free and cholesterol free!

They also taste good! 

The other good news is that McDougall's has a variety of flavors and they even have soups that all fit into the healthy slot and come in the single cups. You'll also find gluten free options and oatmeal. I love the Black Bean with Lime soup. 

Now, I suppose if there is any bad news, it is that they aren't as cheap as the Maruchan cups. I can find them online in 6 packs for around $10 to $12, so they average anywhere from $1.40 to $2 a piece depending on where you get them and what sort of discounts you can get but it's still affordable and your health is worth paying for better ingredients. They can be made with boiling water or in the microwave and are perfect to take to work.

Check out, and McDougall's own website, but also research to find other places. Many local supermarkets will carry them as well in their health sections but you'll pay a closer to retail price. McDougall's has a variety of foods that you might want to check out!

Here is a run down of their ingredients and a chart comparing their nutritional details. 

McDougall Vegan Chicken Soup with Organic Ramen Noodles Big Cup

Organic Baked Ramen Noodles (Organic Wheat Flour, Brine, Salt), Yeast Extract, Vegetables* (Carrots, Garlic, Onion, Corn, Spinach), Organic Potato Starch, Organic Cane Sugar, Spices, Lime. *Dried.

Maruchan Instant Lunch, Chicken Flavor 

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following: Canola, Cottonseed, Palm) Preserved by TBHQ, Dehydrated Vegetables (Carrot, Corn, Green Peas, Onion, Garlic, Celery Stalk), Salt, Powdered Cooked Chicken, Chicken Fat, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Corn, Wheat and Soy Protein, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Dehydrated Soy Sauce (Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Spices, Yeast Extract, Chicken Broth, Soya Lecithin, Potassium Carbonate, Sodium (Mono, Hexameta, and/or Tripoly) Phosphate, Sodium Carbonate, Turmeric, Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking Agent), Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Lactose.

How do they compare?

The Instant Lunch cups are listed as one serving while the McDougall's Big Cups are listed as two so I posted the McDougall's as one serving and adjusted the numbers so it's a fair comparison. Let's be honest.. we're gonna eat the whole cup. Keep in mind, your total sodium intake for the day should be kept under 2,300 mg. 

Serving size
  50 gr   64 gr
  180   290
  580 mg   1,190 mg
  8 g   7 gr
  1 gr   12 gr
Saturated Fat
  0 gr   6 gr
  4 gr   2 gr
Organic Ramen?
  Yes   No
  Yes   No