Fast and Easy Bread: Regular or Gluten-free

Want bread on the table in about half an hour? It’s magic!

I was watching some videos from Jacques Pepin’s “More Fast Food My Way” show, and was excited by the idea of the Tibetan-style flatbread in Episode 221. I’ve tried it several times now, making it plain, with herbs, and also gluten-free and sourdough versions. They were all great. The gluten-free version was nearly identical to the regular one! If someone didn’t know it was gluten-free, they might not be able to tell.

From the ingredients, I expected it to be like a baking-powder biscuit. But instead, I thought it was more like foccacia in both taste and texture. In fact, just add some appropriate herbs and seasonings, and it makes a great foccacia.

The most important thing about making this bread? LET IT COOL. Resist all temptation to cut into it right away. It’s hard, I know, but I guarantee that the bread will be very gummy in texture if you don’t. You don’t have to let it cool completely to room temperature, but you probably want to give it at least 10-15 minutes to rest. That lets the internal steam continue to cook the bread and then dissipate. Even with the cooling period, you can still be eating it in about half an hour, since it only takes about 20 minutes to make.

Magic Flatbread

Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s Flatbread in “More Fast Food My Way”

You will need a 10-11″ skillet (preferably non-stick) with a tight-fitting lid.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1 /2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I use Clabber Girl double-acting)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil     (enough to coat bottom of pan)
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, stir, then add 1 cup water and stir. It will be a very wet, gooey batter. You can review the video to see what the batter looks like. Add in any desired herbs or optional ingredients.
  2. Put the 2 Tablespoons of water in a small container and put it by the stove so it will be measured and handy when you need it.
  3. Place a non-stick 10″ skillet over medium to medium-high heat. I use 8 on our gas stove, and it’s perfect. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan, then immediately dump in the batter. (Don’t wait for the pan to heat.)
  4. Spread the dough into a flat layer with a spoon or spatula if necessary. If you have to use a pan larger than 10″, you may want to leave space around the edge of the batter, rather than spreading it all the way to the edges. I’ve made it in a 12″ pan, and just left about a 1″ space all the way around the outer edge.
  5. Pour the 2 tablespoons of water around the outside edge of the dough where it meets the pan. This will create steam. Cover the pan with a lid and cook about 10 minutes.
  6. After about 10 minutes, flip the bread. The first time you make the bread, you might want to check it a little early to make sure it isn’t burning on the bottom – reduce heat if it is. Replace the lid and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Gluten-Free version:

I make it exactly the same, just substituting 1 1/2 cups King Arthur gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour. Because of the difference in flour, the batter will be runny, like thin pancake batter. This is perfectly fine. (I tried reducing the water the second time I made it, and it wasn’t as good – so stick with the original amount of water.) I have not tried making this with any flour other than King Arthur, so you’re on your own if you use something else.

Sourdough version:

Got sourdough? Just substitute some of your sourdough starter (fed or unfed) for a portion of the flour and water. My starter is 100% hydration (equal weights of water and flour). If yours is different, you will have to adjust the ratios a bit. My starter weighs about 8.5 ounces (240 grams) per cup when stirred down.

I used 4 oz (by weight) of sourdough starter (this is a generous 1/2 cup by volume), 1 cup flour, and 3/4 cup water. I kept the salt and baking powder the same, but I might reduce the baking powder to 1 teaspoon next time and see how it works out, since the sourdough provides some leavening. I’ve only done this once so far, but it turned out great. I think this will be an excellent use for “discard” starter.

If you want to use 8 oz (by weight) of sourdough starter, I’d suggest using 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.


This is what it looks like right out of the skillet – the first photo shows the side that was down for the first part of the cooking:

The next photo is what it looks like after you flip it:

I like to cut it in long slices, then cut each strip in half:

 

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October

The summer has flown by, and fall is here. It’s been gorgeous weather, and I’m savoring every minute of it.

I was out taking a photo of my latest shawl (Light and Up), and couldn’t resist a few photos of the flowers still in bloom.

Salvia

Salvia

Dahlia

Dahlia

Scabiosa

Scabiosa

Light and Up Shawl

Light and Up Shawl

 

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Make a Wish (bone)

Ever since I first read Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac, I’ve wanted to make the “Hurry-Up Last Minute Sweater”, AKA the “Wishbone Sweater“. At first it was because I hadn’t knit many sweaters, and the idea of one that didn’t take a long time to make was appealing. Then as I made more of EZ’s patterns, I came to appreciate her genius and unique approach to pattern designs.

Eventually I set aside the idea. I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear such a bulky sweater, thinking it would be hot and heavy. I hadn’t seen many pictures of finished projects, and wasn’t even sure it would be flattering on me. I thought it might be better suited for men, with their broader shoulders.

But I finally did make a few bulky sweaters, and they weren’t nearly as hot as I thought they’d be. When Garnstudio came out with some new DROPS aran– and bulky-weight “blown” yarns that are lighter in weight than conventional yarn of the same thickness, I thought they might be nice to try out. They’re mostly alpaca, with a bit of merino and nylon. I don’t normally like to wear alpaca, because I find it rather prickly. But for some reason, I don’t have that problem with the DROPS yarn – it just feels nice and soft. When all of their alpaca yarn went on sale last month for 35% off, I decided to buy some and try it out.

I purchased some of the super-bulky (Cloud) as well as aran-weight (Air), planning to use the Cloud for this sweater, as it is listed as the correct gauge. But after doing some swatching and looking at another project I wanted to make, I decided to use the Cloud for the second project. Fortunately, using Air doubled gave me the same gauge as Cloud, so I was good to go.

And the result? I love it. I’m sorry it took me so long to get around to making this pattern, but maybe it was just waiting for the right yarn. It’s soft, drapy, and cozy – the kind of sweater you can just live in. I love the wishbone yoke, and find it much more flattering on me than raglans, despite the similarity of the diagonal lines. Of course, the week I finished it we were having record-breaking heat, near 100. I’m sad that I won’t be able to wear it for months.

Hurry-Up Last Minute

While making the sweater, I re-discovered the genius of EZ. Aside from the wishbone shaping of the yoke, there are decreases at the shoulders that provide a more natural shoulder shape than you get with traditional raglan shaping. You can see the shoulders in the photo below. That’s not due to any blocking, it’s just the way the decreases make the shape.

Wishbone shaping

EZ said not to try to knit the sweater at a smaller gauge, because it doesn’t work, but only mentions stitch gauge and not row gauge. But row gauge is also critical in order to have the diagonal lines meet at the throat in the right amount of decreases. I estimated that it needs to be about 16 rows over 4″ (4 rows per inch). If you have fewer rows per inch, the yoke may be too tall by the time lines meet, and if you have more, the lines will meet too soon. But you can also do the decreases a little more quickly or slowly to make up for differences. Having too deep a yoke seemed to be more common a problem than not deep enough, maybe because some people were using such large needles, which would give them fewer rows per inch. If you need needles larger than 11 to get stitch gauge, consider that carefully.

Want more inspiration? Cheryl Oberle made a darling tunic version of it.

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A flurry of fleece

I’ve been a very bad blogger, and it’s been a long time since I posted anything about knitting.

So let’s catch up, shall we?

First there’s Mailin, made from some lovely, squishy merino. The cowl neck is optional, and I probably wouldn’t normally have made it, but I had plenty of yarn and it’s so soft that it’s delightful around the neck. I’d like to make this pattern again with the scoop neck option, and maybe even a short-sleeved version.

Mailin

Then there’s the Holey Square, which was made out of 100% silk. The pattern called for linen, but I think this made a nice substitute:

Holey Square

Next is Milana, a lovely design that I fell in love with when I first saw it. The cables don’t show up quite as well in the tweedy, slubby yarn as I’d like, but I’m still very happy with it.

Milana

Then there’s Ms. Moneybags, a totally impulsive knit. The little bunny pattern was so adorable I had to make it. Unfortunately my gauge was off and I had to full it to fit the frame, which makes the pattern a little blurry, but I don’t think my hands could have taken knitting it on smaller needles than I was using (US 0/2mm). I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, but it was fun to make.

Ms. Moneybags

That gets us caught up to this month. I have two more projects just off the needles coming up next.

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Triple-stranded yarn trick

I stumbled upon this tip for triple-stranding a single ball yarn for knitting. I haven’t ever needed to do that, but it seems like a good trick to keep in mind so I thought I’d share it here.

Spinners will recognize this as a chain ply, but since I don’t spin, it’s new to me.

 

 

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Make Do, Reuse, Recycle

For years, we’ve had this old lounge chair sitting in the back of the garage. It came with the house, so it’s at least 20 years old. The metal frame is in good condition, but the vinyl straps are broken. I kept it around with the vague idea of restrapping it – but when I finally got around to looking into it, I discovered that it’s a really difficult job, especially with the type of frame we have. And it certainly wouldn’t be cost-effective to take it anywhere to have it done. But I hated the idea of throwing it out, since the frame is much better than most of what you can buy today.

2016-04-l1

Then I had the bright idea to put wood slats on it. (Well, to have DH do it.) I have a cushion for it, so it wouldn’t really matter if it looked a little odd, as long as it was functional. And if it was a failure, it could just go out with the annual neighborhood cleanup next month. He had some scrap cedar fencing in the garage, so tried attaching a couple of pieces to see how it worked.

2016-04-l2

Not bad! So he picked up a couple more pieces of wood, and ta-da!

2016-04-l3

We have a fully functional lounge chair! And it’s already gotten a good bit of use in the past few days. Quirky, yes, but it goes with the house.

The other yard project I worked on today was the periodic painting of the metal chairs. These chairs are even older than the lounge chair – close to 30 years old. Every 2 or 3 years when they start showing some rust spots, I spray them with a new coat of paint and they’re good to go.

2016-04-chairs

I’d hate to think how many coats of paint these chairs have on them after all these years, but they’ve certainly earned their keep.

Now we’re all set to enjoy the beautiful warm days.

 

 

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Orchids Ahoy

Life has been hectic and, uh, “interesting” lately. I feel like I’m running on empty, but my windowsill orchids are doing their best to add a bit of brightness. I was watering them today, and it gave me a moment to stop and enjoy a little bit of pretty.

Orchids

They’re mostly grocery-store orchids that I’ve had for several years, and they re-bloom pretty reliably, without much fuss or attention.

2016-orchids2

Outdoors, the daffodils, early tulips, and other early spring bulbs are putting on a good show, so there’s some brightness to be found both indoors and out.

 

 

 

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February is for…

Inversion. Blech.

It’s been gray and dismal outside with our inversion and smog, but at least I’ve had more bright colors to play with.

crocheted birds

I had a burning desire to work up some of these colorful little birdies. They keep making me smile when I look at them. Especially with their little button eyes.

crocheted birds closeup

 

 

 

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Chasing Away the Winter Doldrums

I needed something bright and cheery to chase away the Winter blues, especially when my main knitting projects are not exactly colorful.

Some quick and colorful coasters to the rescue!

Grandma’s Knickknacks Coasters

They even make the snow seem cheery! I used mostly Lily Sugar n Cream cotton, but also some Lion Brand cotton. It’s a great way to use up assorted scraps of yarn.

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Stash busting and organizing

A couple of years ago, I decided that I really needed to rein in my stash and pare it down. Since then, I’ve tried to knit mostly from my stash. Lately I’ve been choosing a yarn, and then figuring out what I can do with it.

Occasionally there’s a particular pattern I want to make, and have to see if there’s something in my stash to suit it – which worked well for me when I made the “Bird and Vine” mitts, since the Jamieson & Smith I had was perfect for it.

I do occasionally buy yarn, but I’ve been trying not to do that unless there’s a specific pattern I really want to make right away and I don’t have suitable yarn for it. (Then it doesn’t actually go into my stash, so I figure it doesn’t count, right?) I was recently on the verge of buying some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter for a sweater, but decided to hold off – I don’t really have the right pattern in mind for it yet.

Between knitting from my stash and giving away a bunch of yarn that I would probably never use, I’m definitely making headway!

I keep my yarn in large plastic stacking drawer-type bins. I went through the bins the other day to reorganize and consolidate them – managing to go down from 10 bins to 7. Although that doesn’t include the boxes of remnants I have stored in the basement, it does include a lot of worsted- and fingering-weight wool yarns that aren’t really enough to do much with individually – but will be great for stranded knitting projects. Those take up a bin by themselves. So that means it’s really only 6 bins of stash yarn, right? My goal is to get down to 5 (not including leftovers/remnants/samples), and keep it at no more than that.

I have a nice little cubby space that is perfect for 4 bins. (I have no idea what it was originally used for – maybe a TV and/or stereo equipment?) I was sad that it’s about 2″ too short to allow for 6 bins, but it occurred to me that I had a large unused under-bed storage bag that could go on top of it, and should hold a bin’s worth of yarn:

Storage Bins

The cubby is off the floor, and gets some light, but no direct sunlight, and it’s in an area that could become a nice craft space. I think this will be much better than the guest room closet that they were in before – less likely to be attractive to any beetles or moths than a dark, undisturbed area. Now my goal is to get my stash down to only what fits in this space, and keep it at no more than that.

While going through the yarn, I ran across a few things that I didn’t know/remember that I had, including this cone of laceweight linen, that’s sort of a silver-gray-green:

Linen yarn

I don’t remember buying it at all, when I bought it, or what I had in mind. The only thing I can think of is that I might have wanted to use it for the Holey Square Shawl, which I’m currently making in silk. Oops.

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