To say we look fondly back on the cinnamon-sugar toast of our youth would be an understatement. The easy combo of soft white bread smothered in too-much-butter then sprinkled with a mix of sugar and cinnamon always tasted beyond the sum of its parts. The easiest way to describe its prominence in young life is that French toast is for lazy Saturday mornings, while cinnamon-sugar toast is that special treat for running-late-for-school-get-your-a$$-on-the-bus-here’s-some-breakfast-NOW-GO!
Low and slow is a cooking method usually reserved for meat, and goes against every convention of bread baking.
But bread baked in a low oven for eight to fourteen hours is very, very delicious: a cross between brioche, a toasted croissant, and the best Hawaiian roll you’ve ever had. Cooked this way, yeasted dough becomes light and feathery, with the not-insignificant amount of butter dispersed without any arduous lamination. After hours in the oven, the crust and crumb become a deep gold, but take on totally different textures: the outside toasty, the inside soft. It’s wild.
It is, because foam, essentially, is air bubbles trapped in different phases. The foam on top of a beer—those are air bubbles surrounded by liquid. When you churn an ice cream mix, you are driving air bubbles into it. And then the mix freezes and you end up with a bunch of bubbles inside a solid matrix. The same is true of bread.
If you’re one of the 7 billion humans on this planet who enjoys getting pizza delivered to your door, you have a piece of plastic to thank. A piece of plastic? Yes, that circular plastic thing that goes in the middle of a pie to prevent the pizza from sticking to the top of the pizza box. It’s called a pizza saver. And it was invented 30 years ago on February 10, 1983 when Carmela Vitale got her patent issued for that piece of plastic.
Gluten, one of the most heavily consumed proteins on earth, is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact and form a bond. When bakers knead dough, that bond creates an elastic membrane, which is what gives bread its chewy texture and permits pizza chefs to toss and twirl the dough into the air. Gluten also traps carbon dioxide, which, as it ferments, adds volume to the loaf. Humans have been eating wheat, and the gluten in it, for at least ten thousand years. For people with celiac disease—about one per cent of the population—the briefest exposure to gluten can trigger an immune reaction powerful enough to severely damage the brushlike surfaces of the small intestine. People with celiac have to be alert around food at all times, learning to spot hidden hazards in common products, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein and malt vinegar. Eating in restaurants requires particular vigilance. Even reusing water in which wheat pasta has been cooked can be dangerous.
Until about a decade ago, the other ninety-nine per cent of Americans rarely seemed to give gluten much thought. But, led by people like William Davis, a cardiologist whose book “Wheat Belly” created an empire founded on the conviction that gluten is a poison, the protein has become a culinary villain. Davis believes that even “healthy” whole grains are destructive, and he has blamed gluten for everything from arthritis and asthma to multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and the author of another of the gluten-free movement’s foundational texts, “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers,” goes further still. Gluten sensitivity, he writes, “represents one of the greatest and most under-recognized health threats to humanity.’’
Those who eat a lot of salad probably swear by a salad spinner and use it often enough to justify the large amount of cabinet space it takes up. But there are those who need some more convincing to justify buying or keeping this bulky kitchen tool.
Here are 10 more ways to put a salad spinner to good use so it comes out of the uni-tasker pile and becomes a hardworking part of your kitchen!
“Bananas” – I know how to spell it, I just don’t know when to stop.
Everybody has a different preference for ripe bananas. I personally don’t tolerate mushy fruit, so brown spots to me are a turn off. I don’t want green ones, but a little green is just about right for me. Then there’s the over ripe you need for baking bread/etc…
The slow acting way to ripe bananas is like most other fruit – you put it near apples/tomatoes/pears/bananas, if not in a bag with them. Apples give off ethylene, which promotes ripening in other fruit. I’ve found this works, but you have to be vigilant about checking or you’ll suffer fruit more ripe than you’d like.
If you need bananas ripe enough for bread:
Heat the oven to 300 F
Line a pan/cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. NOT wax paper… This is because bananas might leak in the process
Place bananas on the paper/foil
Bake until black and very soft – 30-40 minutes, depending on size
Allow them to cool
While holding the stem in one hand, cut the banana from end to end*
Squish the contents out
* There can be banana juice/water inside the banana, and I’ve had peel give way while trying to squeeze the banana innards out a hole in one end of the banana. Learn from my pain…
Did you know: We peel bananas at the wrong end (the one with the stem). I use the stem for leverage, but often take a knife, pen or keys (whatever is handy) to break the surface at the base of the stem to make peeling easier.
To slow down ripening, stick bananas in the fridge.
Great as a snack, with chili or an alternative for dinner rolls. A good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folic acid, folates and vitamins A, B-6 and B-12. It also provides fiber, which not only help regulate bowel movements but also absorb cholesterol and lower blood sugars as they move through the digestive system.