Tag Archives: baking with children

You Need No-Knead Bread Dough in Your Fridge!

9 Apr

500th POST!!!! 500th POST!!!! Thanks to all of you for following, commenting, liking, and cooking with Hot, Cheap & Easy these past few years. I appreciate your support and love having your company on this food and life journey…Don”t forget to sign up for email alerts if you haven’t already! xoxoxo

As we were learning about yeast for my first-grader’s Science Fair Project, it was obvious that blowing up balloons with anaerobic respiration, while cool, was not enough to fully demonstrate the wonders of this delightful fungus.

The best way to appreciate how useful and all around terrific these little creatures are is to tear into a loaf of steaming, fresh-from-the-oven, homemade bread. Yeast lifts flour from its one-dimensional powder form into the sublime airy, nutty, soft, comforting cloud of tasty goodness that is bread. Add a slab of good butter, and you know that manna from heaven must’ve been a yeast bread.

Basic ingredients

Basic ingredients

The problem is, bread is a pain in the ass to make. You knead, you wait, you punch down. You do it again. Or you have a standing mixer with the right paddles and let the machine do much of the work. And you still have to wait.

Sticky dough

Sticky dough

I don’t have a standing mixer. I don’t have the space for it. I don’t have the money for it. I don’t have the time to read all the reviews to find the best standing mixer with the best ratings and the best price that I anyway have no room for and no money for…so usually I don’t make bread. This is why bakeries exist.

After a bit more than an hour

After a bit more than an hour

But a bit of digging around the internet found me a fabulous recipe on Jezebel called Foolproof Refrigerator Bread by Jenna Sauers. It required no kneading, no standing mixer, and very little waiting and one batch is enough for three loaves that you can make one at a time when you get the urge. SOLD!

Slash the top for good looks

Slash the top for good looks

Here is our version, which doesn’t really stray much from the original. The measurements and instructions are easy enough for a little kid to follow. We shamelessly took a fresh loaf to the Science Fair and offered still-warm slices to the judges and voila! Leandro won the Creativity Prize (the K-4 category was otherwise non-juried except for a few special recognitions). Talk about fostering a sense of pride and joy in a little boy who loves science and food.

No sense skimping on the butter.

No sense skimping on the butter.

And ever since we have been keeping dough on hand to pop in the oven when we need a snack. It’s done in a half-hour….what could be better for a dinner side or something to wow impromptu guests? Continue reading to get the ever-so-simple recipe. Continue reading

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Blueberry-lingonberry muffins (or mix and match berries and jam)

14 Jun

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Nothing makes people happier than a fresh baked treat, except a fresh-baked treat that isn’t too sinful and comes in small enough portions to make sense rather than create guilt.

Such are these blueberry-lingonberry mini-muffins that I adapted from a Stonyfield Farms strawberry muffin recipe. This recipe I first started doing with my beloved niece, The Incomparable Sofía, when she was just little (she is now a gorgeous and grown-up six-and-three-quarter-years-old). Whenever she comes home for a visit, we bake them up too. I miss her goofy little concentrated self and her beautiful long fingers in the kitchen. It is now Leandro’s favorite thing to bake. It is slightly more complicated than my banana bread or banana muffins; just make sure to lay out all your ingredients, measuring spoons and cups, and bowls before calling the kids to the work table and you can easily do it with a three-year-old maniac (or two!)

We prefer blueberries to strawberries (although to be honest, blueberries do lend a greenish tinge to the final product that is a bit weird, though no one ever, ever complains) as I think they have a punchier flavor when baked. I’ve done it with mixed berries, but early on some kids objected to the seed bits in blackberries and raspberries, so I fell out of the habit of using them.

The real key to good berry flavor, though, I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, which suggests adding berry jam. Blueberry jam might be the obvious choice for blueberry muffins, but as a non-jam eater, I just used what I had in the fridge the first time out, which happened to be lingonberry (shout-out to Sofía’s mom, Annika from Sweden; you’ll find it at IKEA) and we liked the tart sweetness so much, we’ve stuck with it. If you are not familiar with them, think red currant or a softer, gentler version of cranberries.

I prefer mini-muffins, because they allow me to divide and share them more easily and because you can feel good about popping just one or two. Leandro’s caregivers really appreciate getting a batch, and it makes a perfect element to a good fika (Swedish coffee break hang out session – coffee klatch to New Yorkers!).

Blueberry-lingonberry/Any-berry muffins (makes 48 mini-muffins or 12 standard)

1 Cup all purpose flour

1 Cup whole wheat flour

½ Cup sugar (white or light brown)

1.5 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 Cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat, lowfat is also fine)

¼ Cup butter (unsalted preferred, but salted is okay) melted and cooled

1 tsp vanilla

1 Cup chopped/mashed blueberries or berries of your choice (frozen are very convenient. Thaw first)

1-2 Heaping Tbs berry jam (I use lingonberry, but use whatever red/blue/purple berry jam you’ve got)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease your muffin tins ahead (especially if baking with children – Be prepared!)

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

In another bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla (if your butter is still very hot, you may get crusty bits when it comes in contact with the cold yogurt. Just break them up as you mix and don’t worry).

Fold berries into the dry mixture. Fold wet mixture into the dry mixture. Swirl in the jam. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling about 2/3 up. Bake for 12 minutes (mini-muffins) or 20-25 minutes (standard size). Cool for a minute, then remove from tins and let cool completely on wire racks (if you’ve got; otherwise any cool, clean surface will do). These keep well tightly covered in the fridge for a week.


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