On Baking Bread

Bread Baking (Fall 2017)

I baked bread again last weekend. That’s not all that unusual; I don’t think I’ve bought bread since March or April. It kind of came up on Instagram and Facebook because my long time friend and colleague (and fellow baker/cook-type) Bill Hart-Davidson commented that I should post some pictures. So I did. More than necessary. And now here I am writing about baking bread, also more than necessary.

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Because more than one person asked: Squash Ravioli

This is based closely on a recipe for pumpkin tortellini from the cookbook The Silver Spoon, which is sort of The Joy of Cooking of Italy:  it’s one of those books that’s been around forever and it has recipes for everything.  I mean everything: this book has a section of recipes for cooking Ostrich.  Well worth the purchase.  This is a double recipe; I figure if you’re going to go through the trouble of making these, you might as well make plenty.


  • About 8 cups or so of squash (roughly speaking, this is about two small to medium-sized butternut squash), peeled, seeded, and cut up into chunks
  • 3 to 5 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • two or three cups of bread crumbs
  • about a half teaspoon or so of grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 3 and a 1/2 cups of flour, with extra for dusting
  • 4 or 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • a pinch of salt

Cook the squash (butternut, pumpkin, something like that) on some cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes, or until tender.   Cool, and then pass it through either a food mill or a ricer (I use a ricer; I would think a food processor would be a bad idea as it would turn this mixture into something too gummy).  Mix all the other filling stuff in with it.  The mix should be fairly dry, so if it’s still mushy, add more bread crumbs.

There’s a lot of ways to make fresh pasta, but I tend to use the classic “well method.”  Pour the flour out onto a clean surface and make a well in the middle of the pile.  Beat up the eggs– four if they are large eggs and it’s kind of damp outside, otherwise five– and pour them into the well.  Use a fork and begin incorporating the egg with the flour.  When it is all mixed in, start kneading it.  This will seem to be a hopeless process at first, but if you put some weight into it and a little time, you’ll eventually get a nice ball of a stiff dough.  Put this in a ziplock bag and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Get out your pasta maker, roll it out, and make ravioli.   Did I mention you need a pasta roller to do this? Yep, pretty much.  If you don’t have one and/or you want to skip the whole rig-a-ma-roll of making your own pasta sheets, I suppose you could buy some pre-made pasta sheets or some won-ton wrappers.  I’d also recommend doing this as a group activity.  Making ravioli is the sort of thing that works well as small group entertainment, either with a child and his friend visiting for a sleep-over or for some sort of dinner party.  There are lots of ways to make ravioli; the most common method I see in cookbooks is to roll the dough out, put small mounds (about a half tablespoon at most) of stuffing in regular intervals on the sheet, fold it over, press the edges firmly, and cut it into little squares.  We have this press thing which will make a dozen nicely sized ravioli at a time.

As you make them, lay the ravioli out on a cookie sheet, separating layers of pasta with wax paper or plastic wrap.  Put the ravioli in the freezer until harden, and then “bag ’em and tag ’em.”  They’ll keep for months, and this recipe is enough for at least a dozen servings.

How to serve?  Well, they cook up fast:  five minutes or less fresh, about seven or eight minutes frozen.  When they float to the top of a large pot of boiling water, they are done.

The best and classic sauce is with browned butter and fresh sage– just melt half a stick of butter, add some fresh chopped sage, and when the ravioli are done, scoop them out of the water and toss them around a bit in the butter.

Also nice and not near as rich and fatty:  finely dice some vegetables like onion, carrot, and celery, and sweat them for a few minutes in a bit of olive oil.  Add about 2 cups chicken broth, and reduce the mixture to about a cup or less.  Pour this over cooked ravioli.  Or add more chicken stock and other soup stuff and keep the whole thing a soup.  Add the ravioli right to the broth about 10 minutes before serving.

Speedy no-knead bread

As much as anything, I’m posting/linking this here so I can find it later:

“Speedy No-Knead Bread,” which is a recipe/article from Mark Bittman in the New York Times last week. I tried this over the weekend and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I might have to give the previously published longer version of this recipe this weekend, if I get the time.

Recipe: My Version of Martha Stewart’s Apple Raspberry Crumble ala Steve

(The original entry edited a bit in 2020…).


3 big or 4 medium-sized granny smith apples
1 10 or 12 oz bag of frozen raspberries or other mixed fruit, slightly defrosted
1 cup plus a few tablespoons of flour
2 tsp (or to taste) of cinnamon
1/2 tsp (or to taste) of nutmeg (fresh, of course)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold

1. Core, peel, and cut up the apples. Cut each apple into about 10 or 12 slices, depending on the size of the apples. Put the apples into the bottom of a buttered baking dish– something 8 x 8 or so.

2. Sprinkle the apples with two or three tablespoons of flour, around a tablespoon of sugar (it kind of depends on how sweet your apples are and how sweet you want it to be), and about a teaspoon of cinnamon and toss them up a bit.

3. Drain and discard whatever liquid is in the slightly defrosted frozen raspberries and dump the berries onto the apples. It’s no big deal if the raspberries are still frozen, but it will take longer to cook. I suppose you could use fresh berries for this, but honestly, I’d just eat the berries if they’re fresh, so….

4. In another bowl, mix together the cup of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, , 1/3 cup oatmeal, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon,  more freshly graded nutmeg, and pinch of salt. Cut up the butter into itty-bitty pieces, put it in to the bowl with the other ingredients, and use your fingers (washed, of course) to cut the butter into dry ingredients by mixing and squishing it all together until the mixture is crumbly. Seriously, use your fingers for this– it’s the easiest and best way to do it. Spread this mixture out evenly over the raspberries.

5. Bake it at 350 or 375 until it’s just barely golden brown and a bit bubbly– about 30 minutes, depending on how frozen the raspberries were. If it sits in the oven a little longer than that, don’t worry, it’ll be fine. Eat it hot, warm, or cold, with or without whipped cream or ice cream. And it makes an excellent breakfast the next day.