How To Human: Roasted Kumquats With Homemade Ricotta And Fresh Basil On Toast

I may have eaten twelve of these.

Look, I know you’re busy.

You have places to go, people to see, and lots of stuff to do.

That’s cool.

But can you stop for just one minute? Maybe two, if you read slowly?

I just saw this on the interwebs, Purveyor of Many Things Great and Terrible, and I feel like maybe you (yes, YOU), need to read this today.

You will, of course, need a snack.

It is, as you may realize, the tail end of citrus season. When I was growing up, my parents would ship my brother and I off, solo, to family in Miami over the holidays. We would leave a cold, sleety, dark place and be discharged from an airplane into balmy, breezy air and a week of (often) unchaperoned adventures in either my grandparents’ development or my cousin’s apartment complex.

There was a kumquat tree in the front yard of my grandmother’s house.

Kumquats. Even the name is exotic and unusual and complex and way sunnier than this past week has been, and I’m not just talking about the weather.

They are the strangest citrus; you eat the whole thing. Nearly every website that talks about kumquats has a click-baity title like “The one astonishing thing about kumquats,” or “The strangely counterintuitive thing to do with kumquats,” as if kumquats are somehow built into our intuition about things in general.

But I digress.

Kumquats start out mouth-puckeringly tart, with less bitterness in the peel and pith (sweetness, even), and end up with a marvelous caramelly sweetness that spreads over your tongue and completely erases the initial tart flavor. even slightly unripe or slightly over-ripe the process of flavor is pretty much the same, with minor variations in intensity.

I don’t know that we gorged ourselves on these, but I do remember eating my fill whenever I felt like it, or just mindlessly reaching up and grabbing one as I passed by the tree. Kumquats were as much a part of my childhood as any other memory I have that was good and innocent and as sweet and beautiful as the nighttime Miami breeze on my bare shoulders in December, a thousand miles away from home.

I saw kumquats again in the grocery store this week and finally grabbed a few after years of passing them by. As my birthday fell on the snow day, and I happened to have the will, the time, and the ingredients, this lovely concoction came about and emerged, damn near perfect, on the very first try. So simple and complex and utterly delicious.

Today’s assigned reading is below the recipe. For those of you in tl;dr mode, there will not be a test on the reading, and maybe you don’t want to hear some of what I have to say (beyond the food). So if you take it upon yourself to skip the reading and just make the snack, that’s cool.

I know you’re busy.

Honey-Roasted Kumquats With Homemade Ricotta on Gluten-Free Whole-Grain Bread

Note: Hell, YES, I made all of this. Not. Hard. Full disclosure: I was trying to just link to the bread recipe from America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten-Free cookbook, but it’s not published online. Which sucks, because now, just for you, I have typed it all out. This took awhile. If you are gluten-free, you can send your appreciation in the form of good old American dollars because it was a royal PITA. If you are not gluten-free, you can skip the recipe and use any old crusty bread you like.

Unlike other recipes on this blog, each component is written out completely, and they are organized in the order in which they should be made.

Ingredients

GF-Whole Grain Bread (this takes awhile, so maybe start here)

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey

11 1/2 ounces (2 1/3 cups, plus 1/4 cup) gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used my own flour blend, but see recipe notes)

4 ounces (3/4 cup) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal

1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) nonfat dry milk powder (in the baking aisle)

3 tablespoons powdered psyllium husk

1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Optional: 2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds

Method

  1. Spray 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ (or 8″ x 4″) loaf pan with cooking spray. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil that will fit around the loaf pan. Fold it so it is double, lengthwise, then forma  collar around the top of the loaf pan so that a double thickness of aluminum foil rises at least one inch above the top of the loaf pan. Staple to keep collar in place and set aside.
  2. Whisk water, eggs, oil, and honey together in a bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix flour, hot cereal mix, milk powder, psyllium, yeast, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  4. Slowly add water and mix on low until dough comes together, about one minute. Increase speed to medium and beat until sticky and uniform, about six minutes. If using sunflower seeds, reduce speed to low and add them now, mixing until combined.
  5. Scrape dough into prepared pan and use wet fingertips to smooth dough into pan. Smooth the top of dough and spray with water. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise at least 90 minutes in a warm, non-drafty place.
  6. Adjust rack in oven to middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and spray loaf with water. Bake until top is golden brown, crust is firm, and sounds hollow when tapped (Side Note: I cannot tell when bread is done by tapping it. If you can, more power to you. But that’s the direction America’s Test Kitchen gives, so I am reporting for you. #YoureWelcome), about 1 1/2 hours, rotating pan halfway through (Side Note the Second: I forgot to rotate. Bread still fabulous.).
  7. Transfer to wire rack and let cool in pan for ten minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely for another two hours.
  8. Bread can be double-wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for 3 days, or you can slice it all up, wrap in plastic and store in a freezer bag in the freezer.

Recipe Notes

  • Flour substitutions America’s Test Kitchen recommends (but that I did not test myself) include King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour and Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour, but King Arthur’s makes the crumb of the bread denser and Bob’s Red Mill is drier with a bean taste. Seriously, people. Just send me a note on the Let Me Cook For You page and I will give you a price for some of my flour.
  • Please, if you are a gluten-free baker, buy a scale. The best $20 you’ll spend.

Homemade Ricotta

1 cup whole milk (see Recipe Notes)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or any white vinegar)

Method

Bring milk, heavy cream, and salt to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Let sit until it begins to curdle, about 2 minutes, then pour into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Strain at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. For thicker cheese, twist the cheesecloth into a tight ball to get even more water out.

Recipe Notes

  • Milk can be pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized milk doesn’t work. #AskMeHowIKnow
  • You can discard the whey (the liquid that drains from the solid ricotta), use it to bake bread with, or give it to your dogs or chickens.

Honey-Roasted Kumquats

Kumquats, sliced in 1/4″ rounds, seeds removed (see Recipe Notes)

4 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Method

Slice kumquats and place in a bowl with vinegar and honey. Macerate for at least 30 minutes and up to four hours.

When you are ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.

Place kumquats on cooking spray and roast for about 20 minutes until honey begins to caramelize. I didn’t flip them over, but I suppose you could if you like.

Recipe Notes

  • I used  kumquats that are approximately the size of a ping-pong ball if that ping-pong ball was more of an oval. There are also smaller varieties with different variations of flavor. For this, I used about six kumquats, but honestly? I could have eaten eleventy million more. So there’s that.

ASSEMBLY

You need bread, ricotta, kumquats, fresh basil, freshly cracked black pepper, and maybe honey and fleur de sel.

Slice bread and toast lightly.

Slather ricotta on toast.

Place fresh basil leaves on ricotta, then top with roasted kumquats. Add a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper, and if you want a little more sweetness, just a wee drizzle of honey and a flake or two of salt.

Assemble your toasts, have a seat, and get to reading.

RULES FOR BEING HUMAN

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school, called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error – experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6. “There” is no better than “Here”. When your “There” has become a “Here”, you will simply obtain another “There” that will, again, look better than “Here.”

7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. Your answer to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will forget all this.

11. You can remember it whenever you want to.

These are not my rules; I am just reporting on them. What would you add?

Gratitude, Day 20: Easy Like Sunday Morning

NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?

These are a few of my favorite things.
These are a few of my favorite things.

There is pretty much nothing better than hot, fresh-baked goods on a cold Sunday morning, and today is no exception.

This day I am grateful for easy, always successful, super adaptable scones. This morning I made cherry ginger almond and ate two as soon as I pulled the pan from the oven.

It’s the little things.

Cherry Ginger Almond Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (regular works here, too)

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick of butter, frozen

1/2 cup plain, full-fat yogurt

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped unsweetened dried cherries

1/2 cup unsalted toasted almonds

1/4 cup chopped crystalized ginger

Turbinado sugar for the tops (optional)

Method

This can be done easily in a food processor, but I like to make these by hand.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 on convection).

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

In a smaller bowl. combine egg and yogurt and whisk to thoroughly incorporate egg with yogurt. Set aside.

Grate the full stick of butter into the dry ingredients and use your fingertips to crumble flour into butter. It should resemble cornmeal.

Stir in add-ins, then add wet ingredients to dry and stir until clumps begin to form. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until all of the crumbly bits are incorporated.

Shape into an 8″ disk then use a bench scraper or sharp knife to cut into 8 scones. Sprinkle each scone with turbinado sugar, then place on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until scones are golden brown. For a traditional scone, let them cool completely before eating, but I bet you don’t make it that long.

You can add pretty much anything you want to these: chocolate chips and walnuts, other dried fruits, coconut, different spices. I think cooked and crumbled bacon would pretty much through these over the top, specifically with the same dried cherries and maybe a little maple glaze.

What are you grateful for today?

Just Like Your Kid: Trouble But Worth It Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing gold can stay.
Nothing gold can stay.

Exactly five hours from now (or thereabouts, as these things go), I am taking my child to France.

Not France, exactly.

Worse: taking her to Boston to hand her over to a group of (hopefully kindly) strangers who will then shuffle her off to Anglet by way of Paris/Normandy in a mere 48 hours. She will be gone for ten months, and as these things sometimes go, I may not actually see her for any of those ten months.

If ever there was a time for comfort food, this is it.

This is when I start hunkering down, loading up the pantry with staples and filling the ‘fridge with things that are substantial and too much of them.

If we weren’t busy with frantic, last-minute packing, I would make these cinnamon rolls.

I call them Just Like Your Kid Cinnamon Rolls. They are a pain in the ass, but in the end oh so very worth it.

When I made these the first time, I held my breath. I have made gluten-free cinnamon rolls before, and they were tough, dry, awful things that were saved only by copious amounts of cinnamon and overly-sweet cream cheese icing and a burning need for a cinnamon roll.

These cinnamon rolls. Zoiks.

They are everything they should be. Soft and yielding and hot and sweet and pungent with the sharp smell and taste of cinnamon. They melt in your mouth. These cinnamon rolls are the thick, fluffy blanket I want to wrap myself in when I think of food that is comforting.

Bonus: they are gluten-free. My god. Could it get any better?

Side note: of course you can make them with regular flour. Whatever comforts you most.

If I had time on this morning where I am trying not to think too hard about sending my baby off to another country for nearly a year, I would go ahead and make a big batch of these. I would wake her up with one of these and a cup of coffee (with cream and just a little sugar but not too much anymore because she is using less these days) on a tray to her room.

I would spoil her in the way I do, with food delivered to her in the morning and the simple grace of allowing her to rise into this new day gently.

But since I can’t do that, and we don’t have anymore time, you’ll just have to make these and let me know how they work out.

Just Like Your Kid Cinnamon Rolls

Note: Read the recipe through first. This is not a complicated recipe, but the butter that needs to be softened needs to be very, very soft for spreading.

Ingredients

Dough

2 tablespoons butter
1⁄4 cup white sugar
2⁄3 cup milk, warmed (80 to 100 degrees)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 large egg (room temperature is best)
1⁄4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1⁄2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1⁄2 tablespoons cinnamon
1⁄3 cup butter, very softened (spreadable)
Icing

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar
1⁄4 cup cream cheese, softened
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
Method

Wake your yeast as you would your teen: gently. Place warmed milk into a large bowl and allow to bubble for a few minutes.

Add sugar, butter, oil, and vanilla to milk/yeast mixture. Stir gently until completely combined.

Add egg and stir to combine.

In a smaller bowl, combine salt, gluten-free flour, baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

Add flour mixture to mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. This dough is somewhat sticky, but if it seems unworkable, add a little more flour, just a tablespoon at a time. You don’t want it too dry.

Place dough in a greased container and put in a warm place to rise for 45-60 minutes. I like to preheat my oven to 200 degrees and then turn it off. If you are using gluten-free flour, the dough will not double in size, but it will rise just a bit.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a square glass baking dish. 8″x8″ works great.

Get ready to roll.

Tear off a piece of plastic wrap, about 18″ long or so and lay it on your counter. Place the dough on this plastic wrap, then cover the dough with another piece of plastic wrap.

If you skip this and act like a teenager and think you just know everything (#RollsEyes) then you will wind up with a sticky mess and no cinnamon rolls and YOU SHOULD ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER (or, in this case, this recipe. #Trust).

Roll dough to 1/4″ thick rectangle between the plastic wrap. I use a wine bottle if I don’t feel like digging out my rolling pin, and I have also used floured parchment paper instead of plastic wrap (when I am feeling uptown) or plain old waxed paper.

Your rectangle should be about 13″ or so long and nearly as wide as the plastic wrap.

Spread very softened butter on the dough.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle liberally onto the dough, leaving a 1″ edge clean (the long edge farthest away from you).

Now here’s the tricky part – rolling the dough into cinnamon rolls.

Use the bottom piece of plastic wrap to begin to roll the dough away from you. You are going for a tight log shape. The tighter, the better, but don’t sweat it. When you get to the naked part of the dough, the part with no filling, then you’re done and that naked edge will help seal the log shape.

Use a serrated knife to cut the log into eight pieces. Tranfer these pieces to your greased baking dish. Leave a little breathing room between each roll.

You could let them rise a little longer here if you’d like. OR you could make them up to this point the night before, put them in the ‘fridge, and then bring them to room temperature in the morning before baking.

Bake for about 2o minutes until tops are golden brown. To check for sure that they are done, run a butter knife into the very center rolls. If dough sticks, bake a little longer.

Combine frosting ingredients while the cinnamon rolls bake, and frost the cinnamon rolls while they are piping hot. Don’t expect these to last long, but if you manage to have leftovers, cover and keep in the ‘fridge.

What’s your comfort food?

At Home In The Muddy Water…With Muffins

The present moment.
The present moment.

The Universe, she is a fickle bitch.

I suppose the same could be said for many of us. One moment we are sunshine, light, and warmth…the next we are woe-is-meing and at the bottom of the very darkest well.

And by “we” I mean “me,” and sometimes just that quickly.

Not five hours after the last blog post in which I expounded on deep places of stillness and grace, I discovered I actually owe the IRS about five grand, received a $52 parking ticket when I went to go pick up a useless, destroyed purse of mine that was stolen six weeks ago, and found out that there is a distinct possibility that my mobile phone company (who shall hereafter be referred to as “Fucking T-Mobile”) will not cover the cost of a new phone, even though A) I have insurance, and B) the old phone is well and truly broken through no fault of my own.

Well played, Universe.

It’s like a test.

I am pretty sure I failed it just a little bit when I stormed into the house, railing against bills and screaming at The Teenager to clean up her mess and you left a towel in my bathroom and for chrissakes I am sick of cleaning up dog shit so clean up the backyard.

It’s a bit much to take, all at once.

And then, in a brief moment of clarity, I remembered this:

May we exist like a lotus,

At home in the muddy water.

Thus we bow to life as it is.

I found this little verse in the book At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace Within Everyday Chaos by Ezra Bayda. In it, he talks about how we constantly accept life’s blessings as our birthright, then suddenly turn to the universe and moan, “Why me?” when things don’t go our way.

To this, Bayda replies, “Why not you?”

Why not, indeed.

Should someone else owe taxes instead of me? Get a ticket? Have a 15-year-old?

It’s not a test. It’s just life. One day after another, one trauma and triumph and minor insult and lovely moment at a time.

The test is not in the events. The test is in what you do with them. Much of this is mindset, meeting what happens as it happens.

I have not been good at this in the past, this being in the moment, calm acceptance type of person. I think if maybe these woe-ful events were carefully spaced, then perhaps I might be better at it, but turns out the universe and its attendant whims is not necessarily a Day-Timer kind of entity.

In these times, and in all times, actually, because once a quote speaks to me and I interact with it in my brain it is forever burned there, and I will use it over and over, the Department of Redundancy Department, I am reminded of the distinction between anxiety and depression:

Anxiety looks to the future.

Depression looks to the past.

Present is always exceptionally hard for me because in addition to death and taxes and dogs and teenagers there are a myriad other things to worry about and reflect upon. Things that pull me out of what is now.

Things that may happen soon or have already happened but are not the reality of this moment.

Present, for me, requires a nudge. Something to tether me to what is in currently in my face. Something that will help me turn my phone face down, leave the ringer off, or just “forget” that I left it on the counter at home.

Present today? Well, present at my house today makes muffins. Gluten-free, sweet, barely-considered-breakfast muffins with fat blueberries taking up most of the cake.

Present at my house wants these muffins right now, dammit, so this recipe takes 30 minutes, from the first scoop of flour to taking fresh, hot muffins out of the oven and shoving them in your face.

I’d say that’s a pretty good way to live in the moment.

Blueberry Muffins

Double-plus bonus: These are so simple that you could actually make them while your first cup of coffee is brewing. Seriously. Regular AP flour works here, too. #InstantLove

Ingredients

Dry:

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar

Wet:

2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Crumb topping:

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
3 T light brown sugar
2 T sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 T melted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a muffin tin (butter, oil, or cooking spray. #ItsNotRocketScience #PlusYouAreSleepy)

In a large-ish bowl whisk together dry ingredients.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (I used a 2-cup measuring cup, adding the eggs last and beating them in).

In an even smaller bowl, whisk together crumb topping ingredients while you melt the butter.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add blueberries and stir to combine.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.

Use a fork to add crumble ingredients to melted butter and mix to combine. It should be somewhat clumpy, which is what you want. Spoon/pour/use your hands to distribute crumble on top of your muffins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out fairly clean or with maybe a crumb or two clinging to it.

Eat many of the muffins and go about your day.

Voila. The present moment, only with fresh, hot muffins. #Om

Breaking Bread

Simple.
Simple.

Bread is elemental. Flour, water, salt, yeast: that’s it.

And yet.

Some of my best memories are wrapped around these four ingredients. The details are, as always, blurry-edged and cloudy, but the fragrance of baking bread is sharp and distinct in my mind. Something inside me unclenches every time  I gather bread-making ingredients and tools.

Funny thing about memory, though. Bread may have only four ingredients, but the success is in the practice/process. Time. Temperature. Precision (or not). In my memories of bread, as in all my memories, there is very little true understanding, in this case of what exactly it takes to make a perfect loaf of whatever I am making. I remember flat bread that shouldn’t have been and gummy, underbaked insides when the knocking technique just doesn’t quite work.

I come to bake bread when my brain won’t settle. When there is too much of something troubling, or happy-making, or any other too much of something floating around, making all other thinking impossible. When I need to get my hands into something that feels grounding and real and practical and not up-in-the-clouds where I usually reside.

Flour, water, salt, yeast. Hands in dough. Meditation. Kneading. Resting. Baking.

But as I am usually distracted and elsewhere in the brain when I settle into the practice of bread, my bread always seems to not…quite…work. Close. But not quite.

This seems to be the rule when it comes to distraction for me (maybe you, too). A temporary relief from whatever needs to be put away for a time, good or bad, but then whenever that distraction – bread, shopping, TV, whateverthefuck – is done, the thing you avoid comes roaring back.

“[People] can starve from a lack of self-realization as they can from lack of bread.” ~Richard Wright~

So the solution seems to be to focus as much on the bread as The Thing, not just as a distraction from The Other Thing. Not as an escape. #WhereeverYouGoThereYouAre

This morning I woke with Paris and chocolate and cafe au lait and love and baguettes on my mind. I give in, Universe. I give in to allofthethings, and I have made you bread.

Baguettes

NOTE: These are, as ever, gluten-free. Gluten-filled recipes for bread abound on the interwebs, and because it’s bread it is highly unlikely that merely swapping out regular AP or bread flours will work. 

Ingredients

250 grams (about 2 cups) gluten-free all purpose flour (or another one, but note that the recipe may not quite work. Avoid bean flours, as usual)

25 grams (about 1/4 cup) almond meal

3 T. powdered milk

1 T. xanthan gum

1 t. salt

2 room-temperature egg whites

2 T. olive oil

1/2 t. apple cider vinegar

3/4 c. warm (80 – 100 degrees) water

2 1/4 t. rapid-rise yeast (one packet)

egg wash (use the leftover egg yolks with a little water, an egg white with water, or skip this step)

spray bottle with water

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, powdered milk, xanthan gum, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment (or in a big bowl), combine egg whites, olive oil, vinegar, and water. Add flour mixture in and mix to combine, then add yeast and mix for two more minutes.

If you are not using a stand mixer, beat the crap out of the dough for as long as you possibly can. It will be stiff and sticky. #ThatsWhatSheSaid

At this point, you can prepare one of two types of pans:

  1. Fancypants baguette pan lined with parchment, which is really how it ought to be done except most people don’t have those and don’t want to get those because they are really only good for one thing (baguettes) and ain’t nobody got time for that.
  2. Plain old cookie sheet lined with lightly greased parchment paper. Errbody got time for that.

“Shaping” this dough is less like shaping and more like piping. There is no kneading because there is no gluten to develop, and the dough will be like very thick cake batter. Pour a splash of olive oil into a large freezer bag, then scoop the dough into the bag. Seal, then cut off one corner of the bag and pipe the baguettes into the pan you have prepared. This makes one big baguette or two thinner, smaller baguettes. Obvi, the size of the hole you cut out will determine the width of your baguettes and the cooking time. #KeepThatInMind

Brush the top of the loaves with egg wash if using, then use a very sharp knife to cut two or three diagonal slashes on the top of the bread. Place the loaves in the preheated-turned off oven for 30 minutes to rise.

Clean up your kitchen, surf the interwebs, navel gaze, meditate, write a letter to someone and mail it, call your mom, take a shower…whatever. There is nothing that really needs to be done while the bread is rising.

Remove bread and preheat oven to 375 degrees (regular oven) or 350 degrees (convection oven). Put bread back in the oven, spraying it with water as you close the door.

Baking times? Meh. They vary. 

I bake mine for ten minutes, spray, bake for ten minutes, spray, bake for ten minutes, spray, then let it go until it is beautifully brown. I have also been known to stick a toothpick in this bread, or use my beautiful new instant-read thermometer to make sure it is cooked in the middle (an issue for all bread but especially for gluten-free varieties).

Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Serve warm with tons of butter or Brie. Consider bringing this and a cup of hot chocolate to your darling child who is STILL SLEEPING, or maybe your lover if you are A) lucky enough to have one who will appreciate it, and B) they are within arm’s reach.

“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” ~Omar Khayyam~

What is elemental for you?