No Nothin’ Rustic Bread

I often make a no knead bread which uses the stretch and fold technique and is delicious, has a good crumb, crust and air holes.

I saw this recipe in my Facebook feed and I was skeptical it could compete with my usual recipe/method.. After a trial bake it was every bit as good as my go-to recipe with NO stretch and fold or kneading. Prep time was about 10 minutes. Total “hands-on” time was about 15 minutes.

We all know you don’t need to knead (I love saying that) to create gluten. Gluten development starts on hydration of the dough. Thorough mixing equals good hydration which enables gluten formation.

I mixed the three ingredients (plus water) with my danish dough whisk assuring all the dry ingredients were well hydrated before covering and placing in the fridge overnight.

In the morning I let the dough warm to room temperature and rise for about 3 hours. I placed it on a well floured parchment paper, folded it into a round boule, flipped it over so the folded side is down. Before placing in the Dutch oven I cut a deep X in the top.

No Knead Bread – 3 Ingredient


  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 2/3 cups water (100 degrees F


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon or Dutch dough whisk blend warm water into the dry ingredients. This dough will be wet and shaggy, also very forgiving. Mix until
    no dry flour is seen. Cover with plastic wrap and put a towel on top to proof for 8-10 hours at room temperature or for several days in the fridge.
  2. If refrigerated, take the dough out and place on parchment before heating the oven so it gets to room temperature, then preheat the oven to 450 F with the covered Dutch oven inside.
  3. Dust a large square of parchment paper with flour and turn out the dough carefully. (It will be sticky but try to preserve the proof.) Dust the top with flour and using a dough scraper gently
    fold the dough over and create a round boule. Use the sharp edge of the scraper to score lines in the dough. Cover with the plastic wrap and let rest until pot and oven are up to temperature.
  4. Remove the pot from the oven. Place the parchment paper and dough into the Dutch oven and replace lid. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Then, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes uncovered
    (this is a personal taste issue about the crispness of the crust). Let the bread rest 30 minutes. It will be hard, but you will wreck the loaf by cutting into it immediately.

In The Beginning…

was created for a post-wedding cake. Daniel and Frances were married in Sacramento, then honeymooned in Egypt. Upon returning to the States they stopped by South Florida for a second reception for our friends and family who couldn’t travel to California. I made my first “wedding” cake for that party. It shares the colors of Boston College and the University of Florida. I then continued making cakes for various occasions before expanding into pastries and entrees.

is my writer’s portal. Short stories and novellas are described and listed with links to Amazon and Kindle for purchase, or Kindle Unlimited Members to read for free. Backstreets, my collection of imaginary backstories of a number of my favorite songs will be available shortly.

2018 saw Fran and Dave’s Big Adventure as we took three weeks to drive across country, from Sacramento to Vermont. I blogged each day, pretending our Poodle/Havanese rescue Rosalita was with us. This turned into the book “Road Trip! Rosie Goes ‘There and Back Again.’” I wrote it primarily for the friends we visited on the trip and my family members. GhostsThatSellMemories contains my trip blog and additional travel adventures post Road Trip. I also used Ghosts to catalog our fall 2022 trip to Italy and France. I posted every day for about three weeks. A lot of fun, but a bit of a chore after a while. (Header photo of our hometown, Middlebury, Vermont by my life long friend David Griggs.

Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies

Recently I invited our new neighbors, John and Amy, to join my small cadre of baked goods tasters. As it turns our they have several orange trees (not that that had any influence on my asking them to join the group) and they offered me as many oranges as I liked. That is the very good news.

Here is the other side of the coin. QC’s Mah Jongg group (who I made the key lime tarts in the previous post for) cancelled Tuesday’s game, so I gave away most of the tarts I made for them. Then, they changed their minds and decided to play (with 6 tartlets and some of one of the 6” pies left.)

Then, they decided they would try to gather enough players for another game on Wednesday. As it turns out, for some reason, I had some extra oranges in my possession and no plans other than juicing, so… chocolate orange shortbread cookies for Wednesday’ game, and more samples for my tasting cadre.

I like to melt the chocolate in the microwave using short bursts (first is 1 minute, each other 30 seconds) while stirring between each burst. The white chocolate wasn’t tempered, nor was it quite fluid enough to pipe nicely. I made a second batch and it was much better.

I used my bench knife to act as an end block, lined up six cookies and spread dark chocolate over them all. While the dark chocolate was still liquid I piped the white in thin (occasionally straight) lines and ran a tooth pick across the top of the cookie to make the feathering.

The orange flavor comes through, but isn’t too strong. Next time, I may add some essence as the chocolate nearly overpowers the orange.

Orange Shortbread Cookies

• 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
• Zest from 2 large oranges
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 6 ounces finely chopped, dark or semisweet chocolate, your choice


  1. Combine the sugar and zest, blending with a fork until thoroughly mixed and fragrant.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar/zest mixture until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar/zest mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted
    with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  5. Roll the dough ¼ inch thick and cut to 3 by 1-inch with a pizza cutter. Place the cookies on an parchment paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (rotate pans after 10 minutes), until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Weigh 1% of the mycryo butter so it’s ready to add.
To calculate:
• 100g/3.5oz chocolate + 1/2 teaspoon (1g) mycryo cocoa butter
• 200g/7oz chocolate + 1 teaspoon (2g) mycryo cocoa butter
• 1kg/35.27oz chocolate + 5 tsp (10g) mycryo cocoa butter.


Melt the chocolate on a bain-marie (or use a microwave, melting in 30 second bursts, stirring well between each burst and checking the temperature, reducing to 3 or 5 second bursts when almost ready).

Make sure the chocolate reaches a temperature of 122º F (a few degrees higher is OK). Take it off the bain-marie as soon as it gets near and give it a good stir then if necessary return 5 seconds or so at a time, stir and check the temperature.

Once off the heat (and off the bain-marie) let the chocolate cool to 94ºF. Sprinkle on the mycryo cocoa butter and wait a few seconds as it melts then stir in to combine. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the chocolate off the sides and fold into the middle. Stir well and continue to stir well
fairly frequently. Keep the tempered chocolate in the sous vide, or Bain-marie at 90 F.

Key Lime Day

Today should be the last of a long line of rainy days. At least I hope so. I have two days of golf this week, something that hasn’t happened since December.

To celebrate the sun I decided to make some Key Lime Tartlets. I guessed how much tart dough I would need, and was pretty close.

I used all the prepared tart pans that I had and missed by two! Not bad.

I also guessed how much key lime filling would be required and missed it by a country mile. (Which makes me wonder, is a country mile longer that a city or suburb mile?)

If you know (or follow me) you know I am not one to throw away anything, so I made two 6” graham cracker pie crusts to use the excellent left over filling

Once the tart dough rested 30 minutes in the fridge I rolled it, and used a cookie cutter to cut circles about the diameter of each tart pan, plus twice the height. Once pressed into the pan I docked the bottoms with a knife then lined them with parchment paper. It’s easier to line them if you crumple the paper first.

I should have applied the egg was before filling the paper lined cups with beans. I had to unload, egg wash, and replace the paper and beans. Live and learn.

I used Italian merengue to counter the tartness of the key lime. I also added some lime zest to counter the sweetness of the merengue… a never ending wormhole.

The filling was sharp, the shell sweet and melt-in-your-mouth, and the merengue perfect. What more could you ask for?

Key Lime Tartlets


• 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
• 200 g all-purpose flour
• 60 g icing sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ¼ tsp salt
• 2 egg – 1 for the dough and the other 1 reserved for an egg wash

• zest (grated rind) of 1 lime
• 4 large egg yolks
• 14-ounce can (397g) sweetened condensed milk, (1 1/4 cups)
• 3/4 cup (170g) Key lime juice or lime juice
• 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon lime oil, optional



  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix butter with sugar
  3. Add salt then vanilla
  4. Add egg
  5. Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated
  6. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  7. Butter tartlet pans, or use non-stick pans
  8. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
  9. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
  10. Roll top to cut off excess
  11. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  12. Fill tarts with pastry weights (I put beans in a cupcake paper and remove 5 minutes before the end of the bake.)
  13. Paint edges of the tartlet with the egg wash.
  14. Bake in preheated oven 350 deg F (175 C) for 15 min
  15. Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack


  1. Whisk the lime zest and egg yolks at high speed of an electric mixer for about 4 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and thicken somewhat, appearing similar to Hollandaise sauce.
  2. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, mixing until smooth. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes; the filling will become slightly thicker and gain a bit of volume.
  3. Add the lime juice, stirring just to combine. The mixture will thicken again. Add lime oil to taste.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and return the tart (on the baking sheet) to the oven. Bake the tart for 18 to 22 minutes, until it appears set around the edges though still a bit wobbly in the center. The center should read about 145°F on a digital thermometer.
  5. Remove the tart from the oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
  6. Once chilled, serve the key lime pies cold with whipped cream and a lime slice if desired. Store leftover pies in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 1 week. If they last that long!

Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Up to 1 day in advance, you can prepare the crust ingredients and the filling ingredients separately. Store each covered tightly in the refrigerator until ready to assemble and bake. Likewise, as noted in set 4, you can bake the key lime pies and store in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving. Key lime pies freeze well, up to 2–3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.


• 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
• 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
• 60g (or ¼ cup) egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has
    dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the syrup to come to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, add the egg whites to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and mix (with a mixer fitted with the
    whisk attachment) until foamy and the whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
  3. Once the syrup is boiling, clip on a candy (or sugar) thermometer.
  4. Cook until the syrup reaches 116°C/240°F, then take the pan off the heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into
    the bowl with the foamy egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Don’t pour the
    syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl (or into your face!). Instead, aim
    for a spot close to the whisk.
  5. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the
    meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
  6. Use immediately or keep in the fridge (covered) until ready to use. It’s a very stable meringue, so it won’t start
    weeping, leaking or collapsing.

    Italian meringue can be made two days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed (covered with plastic wrap).

Cheese It’s Nasty Outside

We’ve had two days without rain since December 26, 2022. It’s now January 14, 2023. This leaves a lot of time for baking and little time for golf.

Today, I made a Cheese-It clone crackers. They are quick to make, create very little mess, such that the kitchen can be clean before they finish baking, and are a delicious game-day treat.

The one caution is be sure they are well baked. They should be turning brown to be sure they will have the proper crunch.

I rolled them to about 1/8” thick, maybe a little thicker. At this thickness they were easy to transfer to the silicone covered baking sheet. My straight edge is about 1.25” wide which baked down to just about 1”.

At this size the recipe made about 4 dozen crackers.

Cheez-Its Recipe

• 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup flour
• 2 Tablespoons ice water
• Coarse salt for sprinkling


  1. Combine cheese, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The mixture will be crumbly.
  2. Add flour in four aliquots and then the ice water. You may add a few more drops of water to help it come together but don’t to add too much. You don’t want a slack dough.
  3. Pat the dough into 2 discs, wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
  5. Using silicone mat roll each disc to 1/8 inch or less and sprinkle with coarse salt. I like to gently roll the salt into the dough.
  6. Cut into 1 inch squares (a pastry wheel or pizza wheel is easiest). Punch a hole into the center of each square. (I use a sharpened chopstick (that I use to pierce choux pastry.)
  7. If you have difficulty separating and transferring the crackers onto the baking sheet return the mat to the refrigerator for 10 minutes (while you roll out the 2nd dough disc).
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges. If they aren’t the crispness you want, return them
    to the oven for 2-3 more minutes. Keep checking every 2 minutes until they are done. I take one out of the oven and set it in the fridge for a minute to try them. Hey, someone has to do it.
  9. Move crackers to a cooling rack. Makes about 5-6 dozen crackers.

Black Chocolate Cookies

I made these cookies as the base for decorations for my NYE 2023 cake. They were so good I decided to post the recipe alone

The secret to these cookies is the black cocoa. I bought this for another project a year or so ago, but now use it regularly. If you want BLACK frosting, royal icing or other goodies, this should be your go to ingredient.

The recipe made about four dozen 2” cookies . No tricks or tips, just follow the recipe.

Black Chocolate Cookies

• 1 1/2 cups (195g) AP flour
• 3/4 cup (70g) unsweetened black cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
• 1 stick (110g) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 teaspoon molasses


  1. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, (2-3 min on medium.)
  3. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and molasses.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 additions. When well mixed, remove the dough from the mixer, and form it into a ball. It should have the consistency of soft clay. If it’s stiff and unmanageable, massage some water into it, a tablespoon at a time until easily pliable.
  5. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  6. When you are ready to roll-out the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F (175° C). Break off a chunk of dough from the ball of dough (about a quarter of it) and place it between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
  7. Use a cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass to cut out cookie shapes from the rolled out dough. Place on a parchment paper or silicone-lined baking sheet, allowing at least 1 inch between cookies on the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake at 350°F (175° C) in the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes, less or more, depending on the size and thickness of the cookies.
  9. The cookies should bounce back when you press on their centers and be a little dark around the edges. When cool, they should be crispy.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing the cookies from the tray to cool on a rack.