I never thought bread baking was for me. You all know that I love to cook, and I love that you can fly by the seat of your pants a bit in cooking. Whereas baking takes more precision, and you have to actually carefully follow the recipe. Baking bread has always intimidated me. The yeast, and leavening, and kneading… it just always seemed like a lot of work. Plus, it takes so long to bake a loaf that if it doesn’t work out, it seems like a waste of time and ingredients! But breadmaking in my blood. My paternal grandmother made sourdough bread daily, sold it, gave it away, and baked plenty for when we would come for vacations. Every time we’d visit them in Virigina, it was a treat to have some of Nannie’s sourdough bread with a (thick) smear of butter. And we’d eat our fair share! I have always loved the idea of homemade bread, just as I love the idea of just about any and everything else homemade! But bread just always seemed like a lot of work. But as we continue our Covid-19 quarantine, I (along with half the women in America, it seems, ha!) decided there was no better time than now to learn how to bake some bread. And y’all, I wish so much that I had not waited so long!!
I started with the extremely internet-popular recipe, Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread. And it’s SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS. My first loaf, I mixed in Italian Seasoning and Parmesan which I thought was AMAZING, but the rest of the family just prefers salt and pepper. I have been making a loaf almost every day- we eat it for breakfast, lunch, multiple snacks, and dinner. And let me just tell you that a sandwich with homemade pimiento cheese on homemade bread is life changing. It’s my new go-to bread, but it has made me brave enough to start trying other bread recipes!
I made sub sandwich rolls the other day, and they were good, but I need to work a bit on the recipe to make them softer and less dense. But I’m excited to try it out again because there is nothing more satisfying after a little bit of work and several hours of waiting than to let food chemistry do its work and this beautiful bread come out of the oven!
And I made homemade naan a few days ago too, which was to die for. From start to finish, it was only about 2 hours, which I can totally do when we have Greek salads, curries, or Greek chicken bowls.
I know everyone is doing it, and it’s pretty cliche to be baking homemade bread right now, but it’s a wholesome and comforting project that the kids have helped me with and that everyone enjoys. And it tastes freaking amazing. What could we need more than that right now?!
I have been making my homemade pimiento cheese for a long time. I am very particular about pimiento cheese- I like it like my mom makes it, and I don’t like store bought (except Palmetto Pimento Cheese is prettttty darn good). I’ve been making double batches lately so that we can have it for sandwiches or just on crackers for snacks. It’s perfect for cheese boards, and screams summer picnics to me. Here’s my recipe if you’d like to try it out! Leave out the green chilies if you are sensitive to spice, but I think it adds just enough without being spicy hot.
- 8oz block of Pepper Jack Cheese, Shredded Don’t buy pre-shredded! Trust me! Buy the block and grate it yourself.
- 16oz block Sharp Cheddar, Shredded
- 1 Jar, Pimientos
- 4oz Can Green Chilies
- Enough Mayonnaise to make everything stick together. About a cup? A 3/4 cup? I add it by the 1/4 cup until I’m happy with the consistency.
- Salt and Pepper
Stir with a spatula to fully combine everything together, divide into containers, and refrigerate. All done! So easy, and there’s nothing better. So simple and delicious, and better than store bought! I’ve heard of some people adding a bit of cream cheese to the recipe to make it more like a spread, which I think sounds good too, but this basic recipe is just hands-down my fave.
What are you doing during this quarantine that you haven’t done before? Are you baking? I’d love to know your go-to recipes! Homemade cinnamon rolls are next on my list!