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28 February 2010

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Lucy with the Pioneer Woman cookbook

Can you guess whose cookbook we cooked out of this week?

You can't? What, have you been hiding under a big old rock the past couple of months? That's Ree Drummon, the Pioneer Woman herself, force of nature, damned good writer, authentic being, hilarious hoot, and amazing woman. Her cookbook has been on the New York Times bestseller list. At her first reading, people waited in line five hours just to see her. She's the Beatles, people. She's bigger than us all.

She's cool, as Little Bean might say.

So, you probably don't need me to tell you about this cookbook, do you?

Well, let me tell you this part first.

I adore Ree Drummond. I've been reading her site since nearly the beginning, when her photographs were washed out and she shot straight from the heart in every sentence. My dear friend Tea alerted me to The Pioneer Woman. "You have to read her," she told me in an email. "She's a real writer. And she's a hell of a lot better than she wants people to believe." I've been reading, faithfully, since then. (And I especially love her multi-part series on how she met and fell in love with her husband. Look, I'm still dizzy-crazy in love with my husband. I'm a sucker for a good love story.) After all these years, like many of us do, I feel like I've been on that ranch, that I know those kids, that I can smell Charlie's breath. Meeting Ree at the BlogHer conference in San Francisco, and being astonished that she knows who I am, was one of the best parts of last year. No one was cheering for The Pioneer Woman more than me when her book came out.

(And I'm still mortified that one time, when she and I were writing a couple of emails back and forth, I asked her if she needed an agent, because she should really write a book. Yeah, this cookbook was coming out in about a month. She was so polite when she told me, though. She didn't call me an idiot at all. What can I say? My blog reading slowed down when Little Bean was born.)

As much as I love Pioneer Woman (and I have a hard time calling her anything but Pioneer Woman), I don't really love the layout of this book. Her vivid photographs of the step-by-step preparations of dishes deserved larger space, not tiny dime-sized pictures crammed together on a page. And am I the only one confused at first, because the steps read top to bottom, in columns, and then you skip to the next column to the right? I tried to read the recipe photographs left to right, the way our eyes naturally go, with reading. Every recipe felt entirely strange until I realized how I was supposed to read it. Even though I love Ree, and her writing, I didn't entirely feel called to cook out of this book, at first.

Silly me.

Edna mae's sour cream pancakes

It started last week with the pancakes, the thin-as-whisper Edna Mae sour cream pancakes. My friend Judy told me, "You really should make them. They only have 7 tablespoons of flour in the whole recipe." That did it. I made them. And loved them.

(That's sorghum syrup in that photograph above. Danny's pouring. We ended up drenching the pancakes in that slightly molasses, thicker and more bitter than maple syrup concoction. He didn't like the pancakes for that. I'm making them again soon so he can see the error of his ways.)

Seven tablespoons of flour? Easy. These were lacey and present, full of flavor yet delicate. (This is starting to sound like a feminine anti-perspirant ad, so I'll be quiet.) These are pancakes you can stack 12 high and not feel guilty as you slam your fork through them. Go ahead. Enjoy.

Mexican food from The Pioneer Woman

After those pancakes, I made a long list of all the dishes we should cook last week. It was longer than my hand could write. I stopped and started putting post-its in the book instead. The top of it now looks like the sidewalk filled with smashed flags, after a parade. I couldn't get to them all.

I'm going back.

The recipes in this book are homey. Do I intend that as an insult? Absolutely not. They're recipes you make in the home, not in a restaurant, not to impress, not at a party. They're family dinner food, recipes handed down from grandmothers and trusted friends. They're recipes that have been tested in the belly, many times before making it into print. This book is filled with comfort meatballs, chicken-fried steak, blackberry cobbler, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, and oatmeal crispies. This food is filled with butter, sugar, beef, cream, and breading. This is food intended to fill the stomachs of hungry cowboys and little kids both.

This food is good.

I had some funny reactions when I posted updates of our food adventures cooking from The Pioneer Woman Cooks this week on Twitter. A couple of people asked if this food wasn't "...beneath us," with Danny a chef and the two of us making such "complicated" recipes. Are you kidding me? Have you looked at these photos? Nothing in this cookbook is less delicious than what you might see in far more expensive books. (And frankly, I'd far rather eat those pancakes than anything that comes in foam form.) This is good food.

On our first date, Danny told me he is a chef because "...I like to give people joy in the belly."

When he came home from work the first night I was cooking from this cookbook, and handed him a plate full of roast chicken and crisp potato skins filled with bacon, cheddar cheese, and sour cream, with the promise of chocolate sheet cake after, he sat on the couch and munched and moaned. That man was happy, in this primal, important way. He felt well fed. He ate everything.

And then he asked me to marry him again.

Sometimes I think we all make too much a fuss over food. The only thing it's really good for is that joy in the belly. We had plenty of that this week.

We made pico de gallo from scratch(bought hothouse tomatoes for the occasion). Danny braised short ribs for the enchiladas. And the next morning we had leftovers.

Last night, we had nachos with homemade tortilla chips, the last of the braised short ribs, ripe avocado, the last of the pico de gallo, and sour cream. We lifted our chips into the air to thank Ree.

skillet cornbread, gluten-free

Look at this skillet cornbread. Gluten-free. It was twice as easy to make (one-pot meal, on the stove, then in the oven) than any other cornbread before it, for me.

Every single baked good I tried to convert from this book worked like the giant smile Little Bean flashes at us when she wants our attention. You know why? These recipes are family tested, belly tested. They work.

I could bake out of this book forever.

baking from the Pioneer Woman cookbook

So we had potato leek pizza (you cook the leeks in bacon grease) one night. I grew so excited about the buttermilk biscuits that I guessed at the weight of the flours (our scale broke) and made them by feel. I ate pineapple upside down cake, warm out of the oven, for the first time since I was wearing OP shorts and Vans shoes in Claremont, California in 1982.

Damn, that cake was good. Moist and soft with vanilla, the brown sugar sort of caramelized, the pineapples burrowed into the cake — we just couldn't get enough. (And the cake was almost like a pudding cake, like custard that had set well. Three days later, it still tasted good.) No one cared that these were gluten-free. This was good food.

And I realized today that the photographs in this book (even if they are squinched together) are much more enticing than most styled shots. So many professional food photographs are gleaming and distant. When I see a cake book with the photograph of a mile-high chocolate cake with glossy ganache and frosting without any crumbs, I feel intimidated. It's good, in a way, because it kicks me in the butt. However, I've just realized this week that I usually set myself up to this impossible standard. When I convert baked goods recipes to gluten-free, it's not good enough for me that they look like they might be served on someone's dinner table. I want them to look like the baked goods at the best bakeries in Paris.

It's a little exhausting.

This week, however, I just flung flours into a bowl and baked with joy. When I looked at The Pioneer Woman's pineapple upside down cake, I felt comforted. It looked a little schlumpy. It looked delicious. So I just baked to feed my family.

This week tasted good.

Ree Drummond just wants you to get into the kitchen and have fun feeding people. I would love to be in her kitchen with her, cracking jokes while the onions start cooking down in a hot pan. That probably will never happen. This book is as close as we're all going to get.

I could not recommend this book more if I could write it in the sky. Buy it, people.

Then make yourself some pot roast.

We're giving away a copy of this book to one lucky reader. Tell us why you want it, in a story. We'll pick the winner at random next Monday night.

p.s. You want to know how cool Pioneer Woman is? When she read about this giveaway, she upped the ante. There are 10 signed copies of the cookbook to give away now. Thank you, Ree.

pioneer woman's chocolate sheet cake, gluten-free

Chocolate Sheet Cake, Gluten-Free
, Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

I have to admit, I was dubious about this recipe at first. How good could a cake only an inch high actually be? You pour the chocolate-rich batter into a rimmed sheet tray and bake it that way. I like my cakes fluffy and light, sky high if possible. A cake no taller than a sheet tray? I couldn't see it.

However, when I read Ree's headnote, I was convinced to at least try. "This is absolutely, without a doubt, the best chocolate sheet cake. Ever. It's moist beyond imagination, chocolatey and rich like no one's business, and 100% of the time it causes moans and groans from anyone who takes a bite."

So? Does it live up to its reputation?

Oh dear lord. This is the most addictive chocolate anything I have ever eaten. The moist, fudgy cake with the icing clinging to its top could stop men in their tracks. It did in this house. I had to hide it from myself for fear of eating it all in one night.

Turns out, too, it's pretty darned easy to convert to gluten-free goodness. Thank you, Ree.

10 ounces gluten-free flours (I used 3 ounces almond, 3 ounces super-fine brown rice, and 4 ounces potato starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

For the icing
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (16 ounces) powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I used cashews here)

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Pull out a rimmed baking sheet (also called a jelly roll pan or half-sheet tray). Set a pan of water on to boil.

Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the gluten-free flours of your choice, the xanthan and guar gums, the sugar, and the salt. Whisk them together.

Mixing the wet ingredients. Combine the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir well.

Making the chocolate concoction. Melt the butter, then add the cocoa powder. Whisk them together to combine. Pour 1 cup of the boiling water into the chocolate mixture and let it sit for a moment. Turn off the heat. Stir.

Making the batter. Pour the chocolate mixture into the flours. Stir for a moment to cool the chocolate, then pour in the egg mixture. Go to town stirring with a rubber spatula until it is smooth.

Baking the cake. Pour the cake batter into the rimmed baking sheet. Slide it in the oven and bake until the cake is firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: icing. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add cocoa powder. Stir. Add milk and vanilla. Stir. Add that pound of powdered sugar. Stir. Add the chopped nuts. Stir.

Finishing the cake with icing. Remove the cake from the oven. Immediately, pour the icing over the cake evenly, covering the top. Let it sit until it is cool enough to eat, about 20 minutes.

Dig in.

I happen to know this cake freezes well. After I ate the first bite of it, I knew I was in danger. So we ate our dessert portions, then I sliced up the whole thing and stuck them in ziploc bags and flung them in the back of the freezer. Somehow, some of those frozen pieces have ended up in our mouths as well. (Tip: the frozen ones are great with ice cream.)

24 February 2010

baked kale chips

baked kale

I don't know why I resisted making kale chips for so long.

For months, even years, I've been reading raves of this healthy snack from bloggers across the country, and the world. Maybe it's this stubborn quirk I have. If too many people extol the virtues of something, I resist it. This is why I didn't see Forrest Gump or Rain Man or The West Wing for years after they arrived on screens, large and small. (Actually, it was only the last one that made me curse this silly habit of mine.) It's churlish and childish, but there it is. If everyone loves it, I'm not going to try it.

Believe me, I know how infuriating this can be. My dear friend Gabe, who is a talented filmmaker, has spent almost twenty years resisting any film I recommend. He dallies in seeing the film that forces me to gesticulate and speak louder and louder as I recount the startling cinematography and the subtleties of dialogue that reveal character with the silences between words. He nods. I slow down. I've just grown too enthusiastic, I realize. Now he won't see it.

One night, years ago, we stayed up until nearly 4 in the morning, making a list of movies on stacks of paper napkins, the movies that made us remember how film can cut right through our hearts, urgently. (We had seen a film so bad we questioned the medium all over again.) At the end, I silently noted that at least 90% of the films were ones I had recommended, long before.

And so, I'm not going to rave about kale chips. I'm restraining myself. Perhaps you're just like me. I don't want you to wait years to make these.

I will share this: Little Bean loved them. See the olive oil and flecks of green on her fingers? She grabbed crisp leaves faster than I could photograph them. I wanted a full plate for the photograph. I have one with unexpected spaces instead. She ate half of them before we sat down at the table.

These kale chips have a strange, mesmerizing texture. Want to know what it is? Potato chips. When you cook them just long enough, before they brown and taste bitter, the leaves shatter between your teeth. You taste the grease of the olive oil, the crisp of the chip, and the slick of salt on the tongue. For a moment, you might think you are eating potato chips.

And then the last bite tastes like kale. These days, I prefer this to potato chips, any time.

So does Little Bean. We're lucky, in this house. Because of my celiac, we don't keep a lot of packaged foods around. In fact, there are so few I could count them all on one hand. Sure, there are plenty of great gluten-free baked goods and crackers and cookies on the market now. Occasionally, I enjoy them, and I'm so grateful they're out there. Mostly, however, it's kale from the farmstand, flours in the cupboard, cheese and meats and ripe pears on the kitchen counter.

This makes feeding a toddler an all-day job. I never seem to stop cooking and cutting, doing the dishes and planning ahead for the next meal. However, I'm lucky enough to be at home with her, to write in the evening when she's asleep (like now). I can feed her every meal. Danny makes breakfast — this morning it was roasted potato slivers, leeks, bacon lardons, and scrambled eggs. I take lunch and dinner. Tonight, she and I shared warm brown rice, sautéed chard, a strawberry smoothie, and an apple. She lapped it all up, babbling all the while.

She's never had a Lunchables, a toddler meat stick, a lollipop, or a potato chip. As far as she is concerned, baked kale chips with smoked paprika garlic salt is a really exciting snack.

We're always looking for more snacks around here, though. Little Bean is going through a growth spurt and seems to never stop eating this week. What do you and your kids eat for snacks that makes them smack their lips and leaves you satisfied with what they're eating?

If you haven't made these kale chips yet? Well, let me say in a small, restrained voice: do.

Baked Kale Chips

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

3 large handfuls lacinato kale, torn into shreds
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the salt, smoked paprika, and garlic in a small bowl.

Wash the kale. Rinse the kale leaves, then put them in a salad spinner and spin until the green becomes a blur. Round and round, spinning and spinning — let the kale dry. After it comes out, dry it even more with paper towels. Those leaves should be bone dry.

Oiling the kale. Put the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Massage the oil into the leaves. You might need more. You might have larger hands than I do. Use your judgment.

Bake the chips. Arrange the kale chips onto the sheet try and slide it into the oven. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch but still a dark green. (When they turn brown, they turn bitter.) Check at the 12-minute mark, to be sure.

Remove them from the oven. Sprinkle with the garlic smoked paprika salt.

Let them cool a bit. Eat.

18 February 2010


baby Tuscan kale

Danny came home with a bag full of these baby lacinato kale bunches, and I immediately spilled them onto the black tray ($2.99 at Value Village) that I leave on our covered porch to take pictures. I was going to take a few more photos, looking at some of the leaves huddled into themselves, others cuddled into the next one, legs thrown over, sighing in their sleep.

But this was it. Slightly out of focus and not the angle I intended. Little Bean needed a nap, and she let us know that, in no uncertain terms.

I can't wait until she can tell us, in full sentences, exactly what she needs. She talks all day, gobbling up words and throwing her hands wide into the air, showing she means all of this. All of this blue-sky-scoured-of-clouds day, the playground with the big slide, the trees with the bare branches swaying in the wind, the wind on my face, the cold air, the hunger in my stomach rattled by the movement, the need for cheese for cereal for grapes for anything mama I'm hungry, and I need to sleep. I'm tired I'm tired and I don't want to go to sleep because I don't want to miss any of this, Mama. I don't want to miss any of this.

But she grows so frustrated when she can't say it all. She has a lot to say, that one. We have awhile to wait. So we live in gestures and guesses, pointing and saying words out loud, hoping we have it right, until we hand her the C book from the alphabet set so she can point to the cat and tell us all about the tortoiseshell she saw on our walk. And then I let out my breath.

(thank you to all of you who suggested baby signs for her. she knows them. plenty of them. we've been teaching her those for months. they help. but this kid would love to speak in sentences and describe everything. her hands are frustrating her. she's where she needs to be.)

Tell truth, I can only describe that kale up there in sleepy sentences. We're sleep deprived around here, again. Or still. Little Bean, the clear light of our lives, has not slept well since her surgery in May. They said this might happen. We're doing everything we can. Mostly, we stir our coffee with patient spoons, slowly, and then reach for another cup. We love her. We laugh most of the day, delighting in her company. We'll endure.

But my god, some days? Some days I am dragging, near tears, and trying hard to find the light. With Danny working again, it's me and this active toddler trying to tackle language, in the house. Thank goodness for early spring. We're walking in the sunlight whenever we can.

Thank goodness this kid loves food. As the light wanes outside, I scoop out some brown rice from the rice cooker, set a sauté pan on high heat, pour in some olive oil, throw in some chopped-up baby kale, some sliced garlic, a pinch of smoked paprika, salt and pepper, then dance it around in the pan. Little Bean's standing on a chair at the counter, near me, playing with spoons and measuring cups. We're singing something — she's starting to sing along. ("La la la?" she asks me, eyes wide, when she wants me to sing to her.) The green kale grows darker, and smaller, in the heat. I flip it in the pan, then land it on a saucer. A few moments to cool, and we're sitting down to eat, the two of us.

She points to books she wants me to read while we eat. I pretend to gobble up my rice, and she wants more of it too. We both raise a piece of kale in the air, dangling high above our mouths, then drop it in. Yum, she says, rubbing her stomach at the same time. We laugh about something. I read more books. She eats more kale.

When I grab the little book full of M words, she makes the sound, then says Mama in her tender, sleepy voice. And she reaches out of her chair to put her hand on my chest, pat the place over my heart, and says Mama again.

She may not sleep. But she's here.

We'd love to hear your stories about kale and how you cook it, who you share it with, and why.

15 February 2010

world peace cookies, gluten-free

world peace cookies IV

I love so much in this world.

I love the feeling of warming dirt underneath my bare feet, as I walk around our garden in February. (February!) I love seeing the first vivid unfurlings of the rhubarb plant emerging. I love the hope of spring, the anticipation of gardening, all that dark black soil waiting to take life soon.

I love this TED Prize talk by Jamie Oliver. (Please watch it.) I love this photo that my friend Lee took of the steam rising from our kitchen sink after cooking potatoes, as well as the Polaroid our friend Deborah took this summer of the apple crisp we shared under the cherry tree in our green backyard. (I also love this reminder of sunlight, this reminder of childhood summer, and essentially every photograph ever taken by Brian W. Ferry. Also, I adore these raspberry mascarpone macarons (gluten-free!) that my dear friend Helen created.)

I love my friends and what they create. If I start making a list, I'll be here all night. Just a glimpse.

I love how, before her bath, Little Bean's face is smeared in dirt from walking in the woods, blueberries, oatmeal, and kisses. I love the smell of her after a bath, tucked into her covers. I love the sound she makes when she imitates a train (Too! Too!) or says Elmo's name. I love the feeling when I hear her say Mama! and then she touches my arm. I love that child with all my heart.

I love curling into Danny's chest at the end of the evening, far too late for our tired heads to still be up. But he's home from the restaurant, and we talk in low voices, as we hope that Little Bean sleeps better tonight. Our plates from dinner are on the floor so I can snuggle in closer, and his hand on my shoulder is all I ever need to know about love.

I love these World Peace cookies, gluten-free.

World Peace cookies, ready to go in the oven

I love this community of people reading and writing here, who encourage each other, and learn from each other, and ask great questions and leave even better suggestions.

Last week, I showed you the disaster that was my first attempt at Dorie Greenspan's World Peace cookies. They melted and spread like the strange creatures in Dali's The Persistence of Memory. In years past, I might have stopped at that point. Now, however, I know enough about the flours and my own stubbornness to continue. In that first batch, I tried almond flour and teff, along with potato starch. Almond flour is wonderful, but it's full of fat. Teff is terrific, but it's so fine that it almost melts when you bake with it. In a quick bread or muffin? Wonderful. In those cookies? Not so much. So I wondered aloud — how would you make these cookies?

I knew you'd come through. I love this community.

Jenn at The Cinnamon Quill offered this gluten-free and vegan version of the cookies.

Emily offered this: "I found that subbing in Whole Foods 365 GF baking flour worked extremely well. I didn't have to measure out my own flours at all...the GF Pantry all-purpose flour is similar to the Whole Foods one, so you could probably use that in there as well. They were non-GF family ate most of them the first time around, which is usually how I judge success!" (For those of you new to this, or who don't want to work with individual flours, this is a great suggestion.)

CLRCassie suggested this: "I always use the Authentic Foods Multi Blend Gluten-Free Flour (Karen Robertson's recipe) and substitute it 3/4 cup for 1 cup flour and it always works really well. I also double the baking powder/soda."

(Have you seen Karen Roberton's book Cooking Gluten-Free! This was the best book I bought when I first found out I had to be gluten-free. I still turn to it. You would love it. (I'll do a formal recommendation soon.)

ML said: "I've adapted the World Peace cookies using Pamela's mix or Annelise Roberts' flour mix for a one-to-one swap with the flour in the recipe. Works perfectly! I would also recommend adding a pinch of espresso. For a peanut butter version, swap approximately 1/4 of the butter for peanut butter. Enjoy!"

Jeni suggested: For world peace cookies? I'd use 3.25 ounces sweet rice flour, 1.5 ounces each of tapioca and potato starch, and about 3/4 teaspoon xanathan gum. I might add in an egg or a little flaxseed powder in water into the wet ingredients to add a little more protein into the mix, depending on what my instincts told me about the quality of the dough. Finally, I'd mix in a scant 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder to bring some va-va-voom to the chocolate, and skimp on the salt in the dough in favor of dusting the cookies lightly with flakes of sea salt (I love the way a good flaky salt catches the light - much too pretty to hide in dough!)"

Deena at Mostly Food Stuffs outdid herself with this tinkering. She used hard-boiled eggs in the dough, something I'd never thought to do. After seeing her photos, I'm trying it soon.

I'm pretty sure that any of these methods would work. Clearly, no one was going hungry.

I love how much we can inspire each other, and move each other into the kitchen.

I doubly love that there is no one right way to bake these cookies. We don't think our cookies are the best for you. (In fact, I'm trying them again tomorrow, with the hard-boiled egg yolk trick. Hm. The recipe I'm posting today just might change again.) These are the ones that work best for our kitchen, in this moment.

I love getting a glimpse into your kitchens.

we love these cookies

I love that we've been graced with this early spring, the days warm enough that we had a picnic on the front porch this afternoon.

We took the cookies on a picnic. I wanted to photograph them. Danny wanted to eat them, now. Little Bean wanted to touch them.

The days are busy around here, with an active toddler, two blogs, a full-time job, a book coming out, another one I'm writing now, a house to clean (sometimes), mouths to feed. And no child care. I love our life, but sometimes it feels a little much. (Those moments are directly correlated to the nights that Little Bean doesn't sleep well.) Sometimes, it would be nice if it all slowed down for a moment.

This afternoon, it did.

Little Bean walked down the steps, holding Danny's hand, saying "Down." (Every stuffed animal has been thrust into the air and flung to the floor lately, while she says "Up! andown.") I took these photographs you see, in the sunlight. The air was warm. We had nowhere to go.

For a moment, everything stopped. I realized again how lucky I am.

Then Little Bean reached for a cookie, again, and we all cracked up.

Lu approves of these World Peace cookies

She loves these cookies. We think you will too.

You see, there is so much in this world to love. And so many ways to love.

I couldn't touch the blog on Valentine's Day. I generally stay away from that day now. After so many years of lonely longing, and feeling lousy about myself on the heart-smattered pink day, I find the day sort of repulsive. This was our Valentine's Day this year. So much more meaningful to me than the days of velvet boxes full of chocolates.

My dear friend Tea (whose book is out now, and you should buy it) wrote so eloquently about love this year. She expressed what I could not.

I love her too.

As Tea wrote: "Spread the love around, people. We need it."

Make someone you love (or a stranger you could love) these cookies today.

World Peace cookies I

World Peace cookies, gluten-free, adapted from Dorie Greenspan

This is our favorite version of these cookies, at the moment. You could use other flours, if you want to try. Just use 6 1/4 ounces, total.

I haven't translated these flours into cups this time. Tell truth, I want you to buy a kitchen scale and measure your flours by weight. It makes a HUGE difference. Soon, I'll write a post about this and give you a conversion chart. But for now? Here you are.

These cookies are darkly sweet, with a texture like sandy beach, with chocolate two ways, and a bit of salt. World peace, indeed. Thank you to Dorie, and everyone before her, and all the people reading here. Good eating to you all.

1 3/4 ounces brown rice flour
1 1/2 ounces sorghum flour
1 1/2 ounces sweet rice flour
1 1/2 ounces potato starch
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoons guar gum
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/3 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or 3/4 cup chocolate chips, smashed a bit)

Combining the dry ingredients. Sift the brown rice, sorghum, sweet rice, and potato starch into a bowl. Whisk in the xanthan and guar gums, as well as the cocoa powder and baking soda. Set them aside.

Creaming the butter and sugar. Using a stand mixer (if you have one) or your strength and a spoon, mix the softened butter and sugars together. Do not over-cream them. Mix until they are just combined. Add the egg yolk and mix. Mix in the sea salt and vanilla extract.

Making the dough. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the buttery mixture. Pulse the mixer a few times. Add 1/4 more, pulsing a few times between. When you have added all the flours, and they have all disappeared into the dark brown dough, stop. Pour in the chocolate bits and mix in quickly.

Forming the logs of dough. Gather the dough into your hands, smoosh it up, and divide it in half. From each half into a log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (The wider your log of dough, the wider your cookies will be.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put them into the refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight. (Really. They're much better after a night of waiting.)

Baking the cookies. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Cut the cookies into 1/2-inch rounds with a sharp knife. When you hit a bit of chocolate, the knife is bound to bobble a bit. No bother. Simply squeeze the rounds together with your fingers. Put 6 cookies-to-be on the baking sheet. Bake.

Now, here's where it's up to you. In our oven, 12 minutes of baking yielded a soft cookie, soft enough to droop in your fingers. 16 minutes of baking yielded a slightly crisp crust with a soft inside. I preferred the latter. You might like the former. Use your best judgment.

After the cookies are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them rest on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. You may eat now. Or, if you have the willpower, let them cool completely and eat when they are a touch more crisp. Up to you, of course.

Makes about 36 cookies.

09 February 2010

gluten-free baking

gluten-free baking

People, we love you.

Last week, when we posted a recipe for kalamata olive-rosemary bread, we asked you to share something you have learned about baking gluten-free.

That chorus of voices taught us, entertained us, and mostly reminded us of this: we are not alone.

When you are first diagnosed, it's easy to believe that no one else is struggling with the reading of labels, the relinquishment of favorite foods, and the failed baking attempts in the kitchen. The batches of bread that didn't work out feel huge, an indictment of you as a baker and what your eating life will be like from now on.

Believe us (all of us here, writing and reading) when we say: it's not just you. And believe us, it grows better and better.

"For me, the journey into and through gluten free baking has been about setting aside my attempts to recreate what we could eat before. Once I started to respect the ingredients for what they could bring, rather than how close to the "real thing" they could get me, my baking improved." — the newstead6

"There are a lot of failures in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it opens up a whole new baking arena. When there are so many different types of flour, you get to experiment forever!" — Iris

"I haven't learned much yet about how to bake GF except to let go of all I knew of gluten baking. It's like learning to walk all over again." – Susan

"Being able to share meals with great friends is something I treasure, so modifying/finding good recipes and turning them into great gluten-free fare means lots of research and experimentation...but it's well worth it." — Taverenus

"I've learned (and am still learning) to let go. To let go of the idea that everything has to be perfect (the first time, of course). To let go of the idea that the flours and breads and cakes are something to be rationed or hoarded. Some expensive things may need to be occasional indulgences 'cause they're pricey, but this is how I eat now - it's not some strange and unusual experiment to be kept off to the side." – Alice

We were so moved by what you wrote and how much you shared of yourselves that we're doing a little primer here, a community gathered together to help each other with gluten-free baking.

What we know (in part) about gluten-free baking.

apple rosemary bread, gluten-free

Don’t be afraid to fail.

"i've learned to experiment. i write down adjustments i make, the different flours i substitute and just bake. sometimes the bread comes out great, sometimes it's just ok. but it's all bread that my gf husband can eat and it's all more yummy than store bought." — babyjenks

"I have learned to be humble as not everything works out the first time. I have learned that you can recapture that moment of your youth when mom was making cinnamon buns on Christmas morning and you thought you would just die from wanting to eat them while they were cooking."

"GF bread baking has taught me one thing I usually have a severe shortage of...patience. I'm not the type to relax, follow instructions, and breathe. I at least have to some of the time while cooking gluten free." – Lily

"The most important thing I've learned about gluten free baking is that the failures do not make you a bad cook - the zillions of loaves of not-quite-right or horrendously-wrong gluten free bread that have ended up as breadcrumbs (or in the compost) are a testament to our unwillingness to give up. Perseverence is the most important thing for us glutenfreeders!" — Katie

"When I get discouraged about the failures in my gluten free baking, I remind myself that I know more today than I knew yesterday, and get back in the kitchen and try again." — gfpumpkins

"I've learned that gluten free baking takes risk-taking and the ability to try things and fail. While regular baking has a long history and precedent, those of us baking gluten-free are really breaking ground and forging the path to finding amazing recipes. It's pretty cool I think!"
-- Devon

I love Devon's point. How long have people been baking with gluten? Thousands of years. How long have people been trying to create authentic, memorable loaves of bread without gluten? Maybe 50 years?

We're pioneers, people. Pioneers.

You see that apple-rosemary bread up there? The one so moist and smacking of apples on the lips that we put it in our cookbook? That recipe took at least a dozen different creations before we found the ratio of flours to fats to eggs that worked, and tasted the way we imagined it. At least a dozen.

Nothing is a failure.

dough ready to chill

Some practical tips.

"I have found that if you are using eggs to separate them, beat the egg whites and fold them in last minute to get a "fluffier" product. I use this in muffins, angel food cake and pancakes (I know... pancakes are not really baking - but it is good)." — GF Crumpette

" One of my tricks is to remove the paddle from my bread machine..GF bread does not like to be kneaded too much, and I also give it an extra 30 min. rising time." — Ina

"I have learned that potato flour and potato starch are NOT the same thing." — Krysta

"Bring all ingredients to room temp...and take your time." — Aiti

"The best thing I have learned recently about gluten free baking is almond flour! I'm trying it in a bunch of things I could never get quite right before, and it's helping." — Jennigma

"One thing I've learned about gluten-free baking is that good gluten recipes can be converted successfully, but it takes several tries to get it right. I find that usually more liquids are needed. More eggs, more butter. To make things lighter, and to hold everything together.

I've also learned how absolutely crucial it is NOT to accidentally forget xanthan or guar gum. If people think it's some gimmicky additive, just try making a batch of cookies without it and you'll see that you have just made cookies that are simultaneously a pile of goo and crumbly."
— Allison the Meep

"I've learned that a stand mixer and plastic wrap are life savers!" — Michelle

"I just hate altering recipes so your suggestion to do things by weight was a real light bulb. I now have a scale." — Elle

"I have learned that you have to make sure yeast is alive before you use it. That gluten free dough puts up a battle against a hand held mixer. " – Katya Kosiv

"I do have a few tips. Pick your favorite gf flour blend and keep a lot of it (pre-mixed) on hand. Then you can whip something up really quickly.
Always use xanthan gum (or a substitute) to help your flours/starches stick together.
Rice milk is an excellent substitute if you have to avoid dairy and soy.
If you are also baking without eggs, try adding 1 tsp lemon juice in 1 C. cold water (substitute for some of your liquid ~ adjust quantity if your recipe calls for less liquid) and be sure your recipe calls for baking SODA (or add 1 tsp). The lemon juice and baking soda will react and it will help your baked goods rise and be fluffier.
If you are at high altitude you can also increase your baking powder."

— Allergy Mom

"One of my favourite GF-baking-breakthroughs: use buttermilk in place of milk. Creates a tender, moist crumb and a ridiculously gluten-y mouthfeel. (Especially in cakes.)" – kemenloth

"I have learned that if a recipe has 1/2 cup or less of flour (as the amazing cocoa brownies on Smitten Kitchen do), I can substitute the same amount of Gluten Free Pantry all purpose flour, and the final product is indistinguishable from a gluten-filled baked good! So I can have brownies again. A small thing, but a triumph." – sam carter

"i have also learned that garbanzo bean flour is usually not my favorite." —Janaya

“I bake in the high desert, so there are some challenges in dealing with both the altitude and the dry climate. Here's what I've learned:

1) You almost always need to add more liquid than the recipe calls to ensure a moist cake/bread/cookie/etc. I sometimes add an extra egg, more oil, or more liquid, depending on the item and the desired consistency/texture.

2) Baked items take longer to cook at altitude, so they often need to be cooked higher up in the oven so the edges don't burn while the center finishes cooking. (Or, depending on the item, covered in tin foil. i.e. Pies with a gluten-free pie crust must be covered in tin foil or you end up with a very burnt crust!)" — Codabelle

"A 9x5 inch loaf pan REALLY IS double the volume of an 8x4 inch pan! 8 cups vs 4 cups. If any of you are struggling with getting a BIG/big rise loaf in a 9x5 out of a 3 cup recipe, well... either double it or try a smaller pan!(There may be others out there! Maybe... How to measure your pan: inside to inside. Seemingly across the top, though if you measure across the bottom, a 9x5 will often measure 8x4! The key if you forget this is measure the DEPTH: 8x4= 2" deep, 9x5= 3" deep.) — Mel’s Kitchen

"One thing I've learned over 10 years of GF baking is that when I find a recipe I like, I set up a row of zip-lok baggies and measure out all the dry ingredients at once. Then I zip and store. When I want to make that item again, I grab a bag and proceed with the recipe. Saves a lot of time getting out all the different flours and gums....... And quite easy to vary the final product with different herbs, nuts, seeds, etc." — Mary

"i've learned to appreciate croutons and bread crumbs--- why waste a good failed bread?
i made up a huge batch of delicious meatballs last week that transformed past bread disappointments into tasty treats." — Valerie

I love all of these, and learned from them too. (Buttermilk, eh? I'm going to try that soon.) We could write an entire book together of these helpful tips. Keep them coming.

banana bread, spontaneously

Following recipes and finding joy.

"I'm new to GF baking, but I've learned that I have to keep doing it over, and over, and over to get it right. I made the pie crust recipe 4 times before I felt like it turned out."
— Heather Shea

"The one thing I have learned about gluten-free baking is to try, try, try. It is so rare that I try out a new recipe and it works. I can't imagine if I quit trying after one failure. Bread would never be in my life again, pies would be out of the question, and cookies would be gone forever if I did not keep at it. Gluten-free baking has taught me to never give up and to accept that everything is not perfect." — playfood

"I've learned to take endless notes! I was never a recipe follower until I started baking GF - then I quickly realized that not only do I need a recipie, but I MUST actually follow it at least once and take careful notes of any later changes, otherwise madness and tasty crumbs are the result, instead of whatever yummy concoction I was going for." — Dorian

"I have learned that a kitchen covered in a dozen types of flour and two friend covered in dough eating a fabulous new gluten free, sulfate free creation is worth more than anything in the whole wide world." – Krysta

"Make gluten free baking fun by embracing gluten-free baking as a new challenge. Cooking with limitations is, I think, actually more exciting because it takes some backbone, dedication, and willingness to fail. When something turns out, and you are able to exceed your own and others expectations, it's all the more gratifying and tastes just that much better." – Mish Piece

"I think the main thing I've learned cooking GF is that even the failures aren't failures. They're a way to learn how the different flours work together. I love that GF baking is a challenge and I know more about different ingredients and techniques than I did with gluten filled baking."
– Cindy


lemon cake

And finally, it's clear we do all this for more than just the baked goods.

"What have I learned about GF baking? It is one of the greatest expressions of love I can show my gluten-intolerant husband. I have never been a baker, so I want to learn so that he can have delicious breads and sweets."
— Anne

"I have learned so many things since my kids and I have needed to eat gluten and dairy free. I think one of the best things to happen though is the need to make the food my kids and I eat ourselves. We can't just grab a package of cookies at the market. We must take the time to make them. I think it is also teaching us some patience in that we can't always immediately fulfill every food desire we have immediately. I am also enjoying the time teaching my kids to be able to provide themselves with food. — Jenni

"once i got over being really p-oed that i couldn't eat bread and started opening my mind more and more to the possibilities that there might just maybe be some decent gf alternatives,
i started realizing more and more just how lucky i was to not be able to eat wheat/gluten!
the gf world is full of healthier, more tasty and just plain more interesting alternatives. grains and nice things i don't think i ever would have tried if i was still a gluten girl." — spilling beauty

"I've learned it's worth all the effort of mixing flours and then baking to keep my kid healthy, happy, and feeling un-deprived. You really just need a good recipe and a little practice."
— Tiffany

"Back before I was gluten-free, I used to rush through a recipe, tossing ingredients together in anticipation of the end result. No more. Now I bake slowly and more mindfully, playing with substitutions, enjoying the journey as much as the destination." — rkdelaney

"I have learned that if I keep in my mind what I ate before I knew about food allergies as the gold standard then I am missing out on a whole other experience. I don't try to REcreate any more, just create. Eat my food and know that the ingredients are good and nourishing for what they are, not what they are not. In short, I do not set myself up to fail anymore." – e.e. spenner

"What have I learned about gluten free baking? Probably the same thing everybody else has had to learn: you have to change your expectations a little. Gluten free baking can be so delicious (especially now that we have all these fabulous people working so diligently on new and improved recipes), but it won't have the exact same structure and flavor as foods made from wheat flour. Accepting that and moving in with an open mind to explore these new flavors is everything...and so much more satisfying." — Kate

It's the look on my brother's face when he eats a slice of the gluten-free lemon cake I made for his birthday, and it's much better than he ever expected. It's the moment I wake up in the morning, after Danny got up early with Little Bean and let me sleep until 7:30, and I smell warm banana bread in the kitchen. It's the hours spent baking at the kitchen counter with my daughter, who is now so familiar with the routine that she stands at the opening to the kitchen, points, and shouts "BAA!" when she wants to start again. (And puts the KitchenAid bowl on her head.)

It's the moments together, the feeding each other.

Gluten schmuten. That's all that matters.

gluten-free baking fail
World Peace cookies, gluten-free (a collaborative recipe)

Even with all that, sometimes the failures are still spectacular.

This is the batch of World Peace cookies I pulled out of the oven the other day. Full of hopes of dark chocolate circles with fleur de sel, I opened the oven and found this monstrosity of a mess instead.

Luckily, I started laughing right away. Then took this picture.

These were meant to be wonderful. They were going to be the recipe I shared in this spot this week. Instead, I decided to share your voices. (I'm glad I did.)

And ask for your help.

Listen to this. How could you not want to make these cookies?

These butter-rich, sandy-textured slice-and-bake cookies are members of the sablé family. But, unlike classic sablés, they are midnight dark — there's cocoa in the dough — and packed with chunks of hand-chopped bittersweet chocolate. Perhaps most memorably, they're salty. Not just a little salty, but remarkably and sensationally salty. It's the salt — Pierre uses fleur de sel, a moist, off-white sea salt — that surprises, delights and makes the chocolate flavors in the cookies seem preternaturally profound."

Let's adapt a recipe together. How would you make sandy chocolate perfect cookie from Dorie Greenspan into a gluten-free wonder?

Leave your comments and suggestions here. If you make it without dairy or eggs of anything else that might be an allergen, let us know. If you make the cookie of your dreams, write down how you did it, and let us know.

Next week, I'll publish the best recipes and give everyone credit.

Come on, everyone. We can do it.

06 February 2010

BlogAid Cookbook

After the earthquake in Haiti, many of us felt sick at the heart, unable to move. Dear Julie Van Rosendaal started doing something.

Only a couple of days after the devastation, I received an email from Julie, as many of us did. "Frustrated that I couldn't do much to help, it occurred to me to do what I know, and use the resources I know, to make a bigger difference than I otherwise could. I know food, and recipes, and cookbooks - I know fantastic food writers and bloggers all over the world, I know food media, I have a wonderful, supportive audience. I could mobilize a larger group to make a bigger impact."

She asked us to help. Of course, we said yes.

Less than three weeks later, Julie made miracles happen.

* * *

With the help of a talented artist, printing partners West Canadian Graphics and Blurb, and mostly the indefatigable efforts of Julie Van Rosendaal, BlogAid the cookbook, was born.

Julie gathered 27 food writers from around the world to offer recipes, photographs, and stories. We all felt helpless in the face of Haiti's disaster. We gave the best we know how.

Besides a chocolate chip cookie recipe from me and Danny, this gorgeous cookbook also includes recipes from Chef Michael Smith, Dana McCauley, Emily Richards, Catharine from Weelicious, Cheryl from Backseat Gourmet, Jeannette of Everybody Likes Sandwiches, Nishta from Blue Jean Gourmet, Lauren of Celiac Teen, Charmian from Christie's Corner, Shaina from Food for my Family, Marisa of Food in Jars, Lauren from Healthy Delicious, Alice from Savory Sweet Life, Tara from Seven Spoons, Jess of Sweet Amandine, Helen from Tartelette, Gail from The Pink Peppercorn, Pierre of Kitchen Scraps, Tim from Lottie and Doof, Tea from Tea & Cookies, Jamie from My Baking Addiction, Lori from Recipe Girl, Melissa from The Traveler's Lunchbox, Brooke of Tongue-n-Cheeky and Aimee of Under the High Chair.

This beautiful 110-page cookbook came together so quickly that it makes my head spin. You might think, therefore, that it would be a little wonky. Well-intentioned but mimeographed and stapled crookedly like a PTA cookbook. Nope.

It's a stunning book.

If you click on this link, you can see a preview of the book. (Choose hardcover or softcover. Either one will offer you a preview.) It's such a beautiful book.

There's more. This is almost even more stunning.

The good folks at West Canadian Graphics and Blurb are so moved by this project that they are matching the dollar amount of the proceeds raised up to $10,000. On top of that, the Canadian government will match the total amount of money raised until February 12th.

All profits for the book will help the Haiti relief fund via the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders.

That means you need to buy a book now, if you can.

We all do what we can.

By Various

01 February 2010

gluten-free crusty boule

the latest gluten-free bread

If you don't want to eat this bread, I'm going to have to check your pulse.

This is gluten-free.

my life the last few days

I wrote the sentences for this piece in my head, long before today. However, they have all disappeared in a haze of too-much coffee, too-little sleep, notes scrawled in orange marker, and a darling toddler interrupting it all (thank goodness).

The final copyedits for our cookbook were due today. We made the deadline, panting as we passed them over. (Well, metaphorically. We just pressed the send button together.) This photograph above? That has been my life the last few days. (Including the fact that I made recipe notes with Little Bean's crayons one afternoon.)

For the record, we're beaming. We really love our book. We think you will too.

However, the sentences I sang for days, celebrating the fact I could show you this bread? They've all disappeared.

And you are probably thinking: Shauna, that's okay. Just tell me how to make this bread.

lovely sandwich bread

Well okay, then.

This bread recipe comes from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the wonderful new book from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois. Don't know their names? You know their other book, I'm sure: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Almost everyone I know who can eat gluten makes bread out of that book. They all rave. The rest of us were left to feel sad, shunted off to the side again.

No more. Jeff and Zoë have published a second book, intended to be more healthy (whole grains, dried fruits, etc.). There's one chapter that makes the price of this book worth it for everyone reading who has to eat gluten-free: "Gluten-Free Bread and Pastries."

Jeff and Zoë are professionals, bakers who understand bread. And they gave their attention to us gluten-free folks.

That's right. Gluten-free olive oil bread. Gluten-free pizza. Gluten-free sesame baguette. Gluten-free cheddar and sesame bread. Crackers. Bread sticks. And brioche.

Plus, with the brioche recipe, you can make most of the pastries in the last chapter. That means apple strudel bread, doughnuts, sticky buns, cinnamon crescent rolls, and fruit-filled pinwheels.

Do you need me to write anything at all before you buy this book? Oh, just this.

They're good. May I direct your attention to the photo on top of this post again? That's the gluten-free boule from the book. Exactly as written.

It makes a lovely sandwich bread too.

And we made gluten-free naan the other day, with our friends Matt and Danika, and we all loved the way they puffed up and tasted.

Really, do you need more?

crusty loaf III

Does the fact that you can bake this bread as an enormous rosemary-kalamata olive loaf persuade you at all?

Look deep into the space between the two halves of the crust (I cut my pre-baking slices too deep. Normally, you don't get a crevasse like that). See those elastic strands, pulling as though in slow motion? Those look like gluten strands in bread.

Yep. This bread tastes like the real thing too.

crusty loaf with a bite

See that crumb? Do you want a bite? You can have one, soon.

The recipe is right below this next photo.

Now, normally, I don't publish a recipe as it's written in a book, or even close to it. Danny and I both respect and adore the people who work hard to create cookbooks. We think you should buy the cookbook itself to get the best recipes.

But here, we'll make an exception. You see, Jeff and Zoë already have the recipe published on their website, so we don't think they'll mind. Besides, there are at least a dozen other gluten-free recipes in the book that you will want to make. Giving you this one won't ruin your purchase.

And finally, we actually helped Jeff and Zoë develop this bread. We were honored to test their original recipe for them. We were nervous about telling them it wasn't very good. We were happy to offer a dozen suggestions about flours and techniques to make the recipe great. And we are thrilled with the final bread.

(You'll see that the bread recipe in our book has a similar structure, but other flours and different ingredients. Start making this recipe now and you'll be prepared for the next loaf by fall.)

So, since we had a hand in this recipe, we think it's fitting to offer it to you here.

Bread, people. It's real bread.

And, we're giving away a free copy of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day to one commenter on this post. Just tell us something you have learned about gluten-free baking through your experiences. I know we can all learn from each other.

crusty rosemary-kalamata olive bread

Gluten-Free Crusty Rosemary and Kalamata Olive Bread, adapted from
Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois

I loved the rosemary loaf made by Essential Bakery in Seattle. My dear friend Gabe and I both loved it so much we used to leave it in each other's mailboxes as a present when the other was having a bad day. And I seemed to live on the olive loaf from Macrina Bakery in Seattle, just before I found out I had celiac.

I've missed both those breads. So I put them together and made this.

Now, go forth and bake.

1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 tablespoon granulated active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water (heated to 110°F)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 handfuls kalamata olives, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, taken off the stem and finely chopped
olive oil
coarse sea salt

Mixing the flours. Mix together the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, yeast, salt, and xanthan gum in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl, if you are doing this by hand).

Making the dough. Add the water, eggs, oil, and honey to the dry ingredients. Mix with the paddle attachment (or with a large spoon if you are mixing by hand) for a few moments until the dough has fully come together. It will be soft. It will sort of slump off the paddle. Don't worry. That's the right texture. Add the olives and rosemary and mix one more time.

Letting the dough rise. Put the dough in a large, clean bowl and cover it with a clean towel. Put the dough in a warm place in your kitchen, then leave it alone to rise about 2 hours.

You can now use the dough. Or, you can refrigerate it in a large container with a lid. The dough stays good for a week. Refrigeration overnight does seem to improve the flavor, as well.

Baking the bread. Shape 1 pound of the dough into a squat oval shape or small ball. Sometimes, wetting your hands helps if the dough feels too sticky. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes. (If you are pulling the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours before baking it.)

Half an hour before you will put the bread into the oven to bake, turn on the oven to 450°.

(Now we slide a Dutch oven in there to heat up. Jeff and Zoë recommend a pizza stone in the oven and a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal for resting the bread. Please make sure both are never before used, if you are gluten-free.)

Before baking, make 1/4-inch-deep cuts with a serrated knife to the top of the dough. Pour on a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Put the dough into the Dutch oven, cover, and return it to the hot oven. (Or, slide the loaf from the pizza peel onto the hot baking stone.) Close the oven door and bake the bread until the top has lightly browned and the bread feels firm, about 35 minutes. (Also, the internal temperature of the bread should be at least 180°.)

You can put a large sauté pan filled with ice cubes on the rack below the one that holds the baking bread. This will create steam in the oven and help to form that golden crust.

Take the bread out of the oven and let it cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. (I know. But really, you have to do this.)

Eat. Enjoy.

Makes 2, 1-pound loaves.