No Knead Bread

April 27: Feast Day of St. Zita

Today’s blog post is dedicated to Islander’s baptismal godmother whose name is Zita. Apparently she was named after her patron saint, Zita of Lucca, Italy (1218-1272), whose feast day is on April 27.

The patroness of domestic servants, poor Zita worked for the Fatinelli family who owned a prosperous wool and silk weaving business in Tuscany. She was sometimes beaten or insulted by them and her jealous co-workers because of her faith. But with patience as a virtue, everyone realized just how valuable she was to the household and eventually her employers changed their attitude and converted to Christianity.

Legend has it that she was late to work on baking day because she stayed a little longer at daily mass or was donating bread to the poor. But there were angels in the kitchen preparing the loaves for Zita to help her catch up with her chores. Today people bake bread in her honor as they celebrate her feast day.

We have done the same by making a no-knead bread. With only four ingredients—and also virtuous patience to let the dough rise—this bread is delicious when dipped in flavored olive oil, toasted and buttered or eaten plain when it is still warm.

Follow the tradition of the Tuscans and bake no-knead bread for the feast day of St. Zita.

Recipe

Adapted from Sol S.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour (plus extra)
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups water (plus 1-2 tablespoons if needed)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, yeast and salt. Stir in the water until a sticky dough forms.

Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature or in a dark oven overnight. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface (we use parchment paper for easy cleanup). Use a bench scraper to fold over the dough about 4-5 times.

Pick up the parchment paper and place it all in a large bowl. Cover with a cotton (not terry cloth) towel and let rise at room temperature for two more hours. At least 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a Dutch oven, covered with lid, into the oven to heat it up. Use gloves to remove the Dutch oven and carefully open the lid. Pick up the whole parchment paper with the dough and dump it in the Dutch oven. Cover and return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the lid and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes to let the top brown. Take the Dutch oven out. Carefully dump the bread onto a wire rack to cool for another 20-30 minutes, discarding the parchment paper. Cool the bread. Slice and serve with butter, jam/jelly or flavored olive oil dipping sauce.

Notes

  • Zita passed away at age 60 at the Fatinelli house where she worked since she was 12 years old (48 years!). Her body lies incorrupt encased in glass where she is venerated at the Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.
  • Search our blog for other bread or Italian-inspired recipes.

Smoky Almond Bread

November 17: National Homemade Bread Day

A bread machine was one of the first appliances we bought as newlyweds with our wedding gift money. This favorite kitchen “toy” allowed us to indulge in homemade bread once in a while without too much work. And it made our tiny one-bedroom apartment smell like a bakery! More than two decades—and five homes and moves later (so far)—we still use that bread machine, along with an old cookbook that provided a variety of recipes for us to try over the years. As Highlander had an extra snack pack of smoky almonds, he decided to use them in one of the recipes in the book. Making smoky almond bread in our bread machine is an easy way to celebrate National Homemade Bread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from More Electric Bread)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup water, lukewarm
  • 2 1/3 cups white bread flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½ cup smoked almonds, crushed or chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (fast rise) OR 1 ¾ teaspoon yeast (active dry)

Directions

In the well of the bread machine, place the water, flour, sugar and salt.

Add the butter, almonds, extract and yeast.

Next add the liquid smoke. Place the well into the bread machine. Set it for regular size loaf and medium crust setting. Press start and allow the machine to knead, rise and bake the bread. When the cycle is done, carefully remove the hot well from the machine. Take the bread out of the well. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve fresh or toasted with butter.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

December 30: National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

Irish soda bread is mostly associated with St. Patrick’s Day instead of the second to the last day of the year. Traditionally, it is made with but a few simple ingredients: buttermilk, flour, salt and soda (which helps the dough rise). But raisins, caraway seeds and yeast have been added to the recipe—and the celebratory soda bread has evolved into the stereotypical Irish loaf.

We bucked tradition even more by using our bread machine’s “dough-only cycle” as we are not much into the kneading process. But we do finish baking the soda bread in the oven and even slash a cross design on top as a nod to our spirituality and to St. Patrick’s saltire.

We offer both the classic and contemporary recipe versions of Irish soda bread as a double feature for National Bicarbonate of Soda Day. Bain taitneamh as do bhéil!

Recipe

(Adapted from More Electric Bread)

For the bread machine version

  • ¾ cup water, lukewarm
  • 2 cups flour (white bread flour recommended)
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter (we used Kerrygold brand Irish unsalted butter), softened
  • 1 ½ tablespoons milk powder (dried buttermilk recommended)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tablespoon caraway seeds
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yeast, active dry

Directions

In the container of the bread machine, place the water, flour, sugar, salt, butter, milk powder, baking soda, caraway seeds, golden raisins and yeast. Set the machine to “dough only” cycle. Press start and let the cycle complete in a few hours.

Irish Soda Bread

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently make a ball. Place the ball in a lightly greased bowl that is large enough for the dough to rise. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap.

Irish Soda Bread

Put the dough in a warm, draft-free place, such as an oven. Let it rise until doubled in size. Remove from the bowl and transfer the dough to a lightly greased baking sheeet lined with foil.  Slash a cross design on top of the dough with a sharp knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Slice when completely cool.

Irish Soda Bread

Bonus Recipe

Irish Soda Bread

For the traditional version

(Adapted from Soda Bread)

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually pour in the buttermilk and mix gently until a rough dough forms. Shape into a ball. Place on a foil-lined lightly greased baking pan. Cut a 1-inch deep “X” (St. Patrick’s cross) on top of the dough.

Irish Soda Bread

Cover with a larger and lightly greased baking pan (we covered ours with an 8×3-inch round cake pan). Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the top baking pan and finish browning the bread in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The bread should make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Slice and serve with Irish butter.

Irish Soda Bread

Notes

  • Golden raisins yield a light loaf while regular raisins make it a darker and heavier bread.
  • If not baking the first version of this bread in the oven, continue with the normal bread machine cycle but set it on a lighter crust option.
  • Instead of placing the traditional Irish soda bread dough on a baking sheet, put it in a round cake pan. Then cover it with the baking sheet. This is reverse of what we did above. Either way, make sure that round pan is deep enough (at least 3 inches) for the bread to rise and expand.

Poi (Taro) Bread

Poi (Taro) Bread

November 17: National Homemade Bread Day

We took a drive down to the “Southernmost Bakery in the USA” when we went to the Big Island of Hawaii with Islander’s ohana (family). Punaluu Bake Shop was where we all stopped for snacks and stocked up on sweet breads. We loved all of their light, fresh-baked fluffy loaves—traditional Portuguese and guava and taro flavors.

Having made “mainland” poi for an earlier blog recipe post, Islander decided to use up the leftovers and bake bread inspired by the one from Punaluu Bake Shop. It turned out to be a tasty taro bread with a pretty purple hue!

Prepare poi (taro) bread in a machine for a sweet and simple loaf with a tropical touch. It is a unique and onolicious way to observe National Homemade Bread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from the Polynesian Cultural Center via Food.com)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup poi (or mashed taro paste)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon purple food coloring
  • 3 ¼ cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

In the container of the bread machine, place the water, yeast, sugar, butter and egg. Spoon in the poi. Add the purple food coloring, if desired. Top with flour and salt. Place the container in the bread machine.

Poi (Taro) Bread

Set the bread machine to a large (2 pound) loaf, as this bread rises high. Select the cycles for sweet or white bread with a light crust. Press to start. Notice that the purple color blends nicely into the dough. Let the bread machine continue kneading, rising and baking. Remove the baked bread from the container. Cool completely before slicing.

Poi (Taro) Bread

Notes