Stirato Bread Recipe

by Heather on March 14, 2015

Hi, this is actually Alex, Heather’s husband, and I’m excited to be the first guest contributor to this blog! All I can say is, it’s about time :). My wife was kind enough to check out an awesome book from the library titled In Search of the Perfect Loaf, by Samuel Fromartz. Lately, I’ve been on a bread making kick and as I’ve searched the world wide web for the “best” bread recipe, I’ve definitely stumbled on many, many recipes that claim to be the best french bread or the best sourdough recipe, etc. I’ve noticed that they also claim to be able to reward you with a loaf in about two hours, a little more in some cases. While I think that it’s a great idea if you’re in a hurry to make bread or even love using a bread machine, my personal opinion is to make bread using longer fermentation rises that bring out the flavor that the yeast is intended to provide. I’m new to baking, so I expect some backlash from the community on that subject, which is why I let Heather answer all the emails :).

Anyway, as I’ve attempted various recipes, I only tried the ones that require the dough to rise at least twice, resulting in rise times of up to 9-12 hours depending on the temperature of our home! That’s hardly convenient for many people and I understand that. But, if you want to savor the flavor of what yeast can actually do, I highly recommend trying it out this way. I’ve heard many times from Heather and her friends that baking with yeast “scares” them. I can only assume from my own experience in trying this out, is that the dough can be under- or over fermented resulting in wide variations in texture and crumb. I’m not too technical of a guy, but I can definitely see where that can lead to frustration, especially if you’re trying to make this for a special occasion and you want it to turn out just right. Well, I can share with you a recent recipe from this book that I’ve modified slightly to fit our kitchen needs. Usually, I’m a by-the-book kind of guy and I don’t deviate from the written recipe, because I like to know if something turns out wrong, to minimize the variables. That’s how organic chemistry is helping me out today! Oh, I bet you never thought you’d use that course knowledge ever again! Anyway, Heather would also say that I’m long winded, so let’s get on with the recipe.

This is considered a good recipe for novice bakers and those who don’t want to use a sourdough starter.

You can do a search on the internet and find similar recipes that will recommend letting this rise for about 12-18 hours. I did it in 7, and it was awesome!


500 grams of unbleached all-purpose flour
375 grams of water @ 80F
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
10 grams salt


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, water and yeast. Mix this with a wooden spatula or your wet hands for about 1 minute.
  2. Once mixed, make an imprint in the top of the dough to form a well, then place the salt into this well and cover the salt with about 1 tablespoon of water
  3. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 20 minutes
  4. Stretch and fold the dough into the center while in the bowl for about 1 minute or approximately 12 times
  5. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 20 minutes
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 three more times.
  7. Cover the bowl and let it rise for about 6-7 hours or until the dough has tripled in size.
  8. Dust your counter with flour and scrape the dough out onto the counter in one piece
  9. Shape the dough into a rectangle about 10 x 16 inches and divide lengthwise into 4 loaves. Transfer the loaves onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Cover the loaves with a light towel and allow them to rise for another 30-45 minutes
  10. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat the oven to 470F for one hour prior to baking the loaves. Place a baking pan underneath the middle rack to hold the 1/2 cup of water that will be used to create the steam later on.
  11. Just before transferring the loaves onto the stone, stretch them out to the length of the baking stone (Stirato!) Then drag/transfer the loaves with the parchment paper onto the hot stone.
  12. Throw 1/2 cup of water onto the baking pan on the bottom to create steam (Be careful not to burn yourself during this action!)
  13. Close the door and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a golden brown
  14. Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!



Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

by Heather on March 17, 2013

Hello! Well, the kids and I are back in Northern California where we belong. Things are getting more routine around here, and I am reeeealllly getting my blogging itch back. It’s been so long I don’t know what to say.

Lizzie loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (surprise, surprise) and was begging me for “cake” after seeing Minnie bake one. As long as there’s chocolate chips in them, in her mind muffins make the perfect cake! As always, I had a bunch of aging bananas that we all forget to eat. I got this recipe from The Worldwide Ward Secret Recipes book, but I used whole wheat flour and chocolate chips instead of blueberries. In this house, we only seem to eat mini muffins so downsizing was necessary, too.

These muffins amazed me because there’s no butter or oil, yet they’re moist, sweet and addicting. They were outta here like THAT.

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, beat bananas, sugar, yogurt, egg and vanilla until just blended; stir into the dry flour fixture JUST until combined. Do not overmix!

Spoon batter into the mini muffin cups and bake about 12 minutes, or until the muffins are barely turning golden brown on up. Makes 24 mini muffins.


Lemon Butter Cookies- Secret Recipe Club

by Heather on September 3, 2012

Here we go again! Secret Recipe Club time. This month, I got Cookin’ Mimi! Micha has a great variety of recipes to choose from, and I especially like her weekly menus and link-ups. She’s never short on ideas. Since my life seems to revolve around making sweet stuff these days, I checked out her desserts and decided on her lemon iced butter cookies. A few weeks ago, I had the best lemon cupcake ever (from here) and since then, lemon flavored treats have been lingering in my mind.

These cookies are just what you’d expect a crumbly butter cookie to be-yum! If you like shortbread, these are perfect. I think the lemon addition is spot on and necessary. I added a little extra salt and it amped up the flavor just a tad. The icing adds a delicate touch, but these are also decent on their own. I can see this cookie being a hit at a tea party :)

Lemon Iced Butter Cookies, makes about 15 cookies
1 stick of butter or margarine, softened
1 cup all purpose flour
5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons or more lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and lemon juice and zest and mix until the dough comes together. Form heaping tablespoons into balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a glass that has been moistened . Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and beginning to brown around the edges.  Let cool completely.

For the icing:

Mix powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thick icing. Add the juice a tablespoon at a time. Frost cookies when totally cool.


Romney vs. Obama- the cookies

August 26, 2012

For the past 5 years or so Family Circle has had a cookie bake-off between the wives of the presidential candidates. I’d noticed it before, but never bothered to try any of the recipes. This year, however, my mom and I were totally on it! First off, and just in time for the *big* convention, […]

Read the full article →

Orange Berry Muffins- Secret Recipe Club

August 6, 2012

Hello, Secret Recipe Club! This month, my assigned blog was The Novice Housewife. If you’re wanting to learn about anything Indian food, Shumalia is the one to visit. Every Tuesday even, she has a new Indian specific post in her Garam Masala section- check it out! I’m bookmarking these recipes for the time I’m back […]

Read the full article →

Funfetti Rice Krispie Treats

July 17, 2012

Well, our sweet little Lizzie is now a rambunctious 2 year old. She is everything a 2 year old is known to be- loads and loads of fun, dramatic, choosy and spunky! Last month, we had a little birthday party for her at my parents’ home. She’s pretty much obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so […]

Read the full article →

Pantry Raid Cookies- Secret Recipe Club

June 4, 2012

Whew! It’s already time for another Secret Recipe Club treat- kinda snuck up on me this time. Bu,t I got lucky with a blog that made it super easy to pick a delicious cookie.  Susie, aka Sweetie Petitti, makes some of the cutest decorated sugar cookies I have ever seen, among many other mouth-watering choices. […]

Read the full article →

Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwiches

May 10, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day weekend! As I’ve mentioned many times before, I couldn’t ask for a better mom. My mother-in-law passed on suddenly 6 1/2 years ago, however. Although the time I spent with her was short, I have fond memories of her love. The reason I mention this is she introduced me to these simple, […]

Read the full article →

Best Cocoa Brownies- Secret Recipe Club

May 7, 2012

My assigned blog this month for Secret Recipe Club is Sweet As Sugar Cookies– a perfect fit! Lisa is a super cute girl who bakes and tries some of the tastiest treats. We seem to both have a special spot in our hearts for trying chocolate chip cookie recipes as well Her weekly Saturday Sweets […]

Read the full article →

Chocolate Chip Creamer Cookies

April 18, 2012

These cookies are my latest favorite chocolate cookie recipe, no doubt! Even though my search of new chocolate cookie recipes will never cease, I have a strong feeling these will always remain near, or at the top. I adapted the recipe just slightly from Cooking Classy. It immediately caught my attention because I have a […]

Read the full article →