Sweet Potato Brownies

Happy National Brownie Day!

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This yummy holiday also happens to fall right smack in the middle of final exams, so there was NO way I was going to miss celebrating this.

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This recipe for sweet potato brownies is truly one of my favorite recipes ever. Plus, I love the blogger that was the inspiration behind it! She has a ton of wonderful recipes, many of which I’ve tried, many of which are on my “to bake” list.

Since my obsession with healthy remakes of classic indulgences began, I really don’t enjoy the originals as much anymore. With sweet potato, dates, brown rice flour, almond meal, and raw cocoa, these brownies are not only insanely good for you, they taste absolutely incredible. There is so much nutritional goodness in these treats!

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Please enjoy the holiday with these brownies! You’ll feel happy, indulged, and amazing.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Recipe adapted from Deliciously Ella 

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup of ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup of buckwheat or brown rice flour
  • 14 medjool dates (no sugar added)
  • 5 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • Flaked sea salt to sprinkle on top
  • 1/2 cup semi or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional, though not, in my opinion)

Preparation:

If you haven’t cooked your sweet potatoes, obviously do that first. You can peel and steam them, or, do as I do, and throw them in the oven unpeeled at 400 for 45 minutes and scoop out the roasted potato and discard the skin.

For the brownies, set your oven to 350 degrees.

To a food processor, add the cooked sweet potato and the dates. Blend together until combined fully. This mix alone is truly delicious and can probably be made into breads, cookies, muffins … everything.

In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato-date mixture with the remaining ingredients.

Fold in the chocolate chips until combined. Note: if you cooked your potatoes right before making the brownies and your batter is warm as a result, you will need to chill it first so the chocolate chips don’t melt.

Line an 8×8 baking tin with parchment paper and spread the brownie batter evenly. Sprinkle salt over the top for a little extra pizazz. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted. Remove from oven and let cool for AT LEAST 10 minutes. This step is very important so the brownies can properly set up.

At this point, I like to cut myself a brownie to eat because, well, who could possibly resist a warm brownie? But then, I place the brownies in the fridge to chill so they cut more easily. This is especially important if you use chocolate chips because they will be very ooey gooey :)

Sweet Potato Brownies

Just look at that flaked Himalayan salt …

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Pack up and place in fridge for a healthy dessert anytime you want.

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These cookies have revolutionized my late-night sweet cravings. I have made a batch of these every week for (muffled sound) weeks now, and I don’t feel guilty at all because they are super healthful!

The original recipe I began with used pumpkin puree as the fruit base, which was good, but not nearly as sweet as bananas. The sweetness is important because I have omitted sugar from the recipe (except what’s contained within the dark chocolate chips). I have also tried sweet potatoes which work just as well as bananas. These little goodies are the perfect way to indulge in something sweet, but still get some nutrition in too.

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They’re also very forgiving. I have been sloppy with measurements more times than not and they always turn out perfect. It’s important to know though, that these cookies will be soft when you take them out of the oven, and remain soft even after they’re cooled. They definitely need a few minutes to set up on the baking sheet after they’re cooked, but will hold their shape just fine thereafter.

I am obsessed with these babies at the moment and no one can stop me. So soft, so yummy, and so decadently chocolately.

You’d be a fool not to make these immediately.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas (or cooked and mashed sweet potato)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more or less to preference)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional, but I like the spiced flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup oat flour (oats that have been blended)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli semi-sweet or bittersweet 60%)
  • Note: I’m usually heavy-handed with the chocolate chips :)

Preparation:

In a bowl, mix together the banana, honey, and egg. In another bowl, stir together the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and oat flour.

Note: Oat flour is made by blending old-fashioned or quick oats in a blender or food processor until they resemble a flour consistency.

Combine the wet and dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes and then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a cookie scooper, portion the dough out onto a cookie sheet. I usually get around a dozen cookies. Press the tops down to flatten slightly. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until set.

Devour and feel great about it!

Spaghetti-Squash Pizza Crust

Using vegetables as pizza crust might have changed my life forever.

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Here was the situation: it was two days before Fall break, no food in the fridge, no point in buying more food for the fridge, I had just cooked a spaghetti squash the day before, and had more squash than I knew what to do with.

A quick Google search of “new things to do with spaghetti squash” yielded me results which led to this tasty pizza.

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I didn’t follow the recipe to a T because, again, I had almost nothing else in my fridge. But the crust still turned out really yummy and crispy on the edges. This crust is not as sturdy as other vegetable crusts, and certainly not traditional pizza crusts, but it was a really fun experiment and delicious dinner.

I simply topped with olive oil, raw cheddar, and jalapeños, because that’s what I had. It turned out really well, but you can get really creative with the toppings. Think of what might go well with squash … fall herbs like rosemary and thyme, mushrooms, caramelized onions, chorizo, pesto …. the options are endless!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Recipe adapted from Shared Appetite 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked spaghetti squash
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used raw cheddar)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese (I didn’t use this)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Roast spaghetti squash and scoop out the flesh.
  3. Wrap measured-out squash in a cheesecloth, clean kitchen towel, or layers of paper towels and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. I just squeezed it plain over a strainer. The drier the squash, the crispier the crust.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the squash, garlic, olive oil, egg, cheeses, and season with oregano, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Press squash in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into an approximate 10-inch circle.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add desired toppings and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until done.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

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After a veryyyy long day, I needed to do some baking to clear my mind. Not having made as many pumpkin things as is my duty in the Fall time, I reached for the pumpkin puree I had in my cupboard and thought of what to do …

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I decided on muffins.

The website where I found this recipe insisted these were the “BEST pumpkin muffins” ever. With a claim like that I was skeptical at first, but they looked great, so I tried them out …

I withdraw any previous skepticism because these muffins are quite frankly, the bomb diggity.

The streusel really makes these muffins. It provides a buttery, flaky surprise on top that adds a nice complement to the hearty pumpkin cake below. The glaze is the icing on top, both because it is literally the icing on top, and because it makes the muffin soo much better. The browned butter in the icing provides an interesting savory element because it’s nutty and a little salted. Really works well with the pumpkin and spices.

Pumpkin Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze 

Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod 

Yield: 12 muffins 

Directions:

For the muffins:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the streusel topping:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the brown butter glaze:
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 or 4 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Pour butter into a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, browned butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter among the 12 lined muffin cups.

To make the streusel, in a small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Cut the butter into the mixture using your fingers until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Stir in the pecans and mix until combined. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over each unbaked muffin.

Bake muffins for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool to room temperature.

While the muffins are cooling, make the brown butter glaze. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Pour butter into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, browned butter, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of milk. If the glaze is too thick, add an additional tablespoon of milk.

Generously drizzle cooled muffins with glaze.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

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Gooey Blondies with Chocolate Chips

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What happens when you buy a can of sweetened condensed milk on a whim without a plan? Pinterest happens. Then things get crazyyyy …

Blondie Brownies

Everyone knows Halloween is the time for gluttony. You’re literally not doing it right if you don’t have at least 5 different types of candy in the course of the evening. And for some reason, Halloween candy just tastes better. Seriously, is it just my imagination that the pumpkin-shaped Reese’s taste better than the regular ones?

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These blondies aren’t exactly candy (feel free to throw some in though!) … but they’re as sweet and indulgent as a confectionary. The blondie itself is all sugar and butter, so obviously it’s awesome. The sweetened condensed milk on top gets all bubbly, caramelized and delicious.

These are rich and perfect for a group … don’t make when you have no one to share with, or bad things might happen.

On second thought, go ahead and make them when you’re alone. Just get to the gym on Monday.

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Gooey Blondies with Chocolate Chips

Recipe from Bakerita

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks butter), melted
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl combine the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk to combine, then add in the flour and salt. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing lightly with a spatula or offset knife.

Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The edges will be browned and slightly pulling away from sides of pan. The sweetened condensed milk should be bubbling and turning light brown. Allow bars to cool for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares. Refrigerating the bars help.

Banana Granola Bars

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This picture should tell you how good these bars are. I forgot to snap a pic before I started eating!

Banana Granola Bars cooked

These granola bars are my own creation and they are awesome. No sugar, no butter, no unhealthies.

At about 150 nutrient-dense calories each, these bars are nutritious, tasty, and filling. Perfect for an anytime snack. I love to slather one with natural peanut butter and devour. <3 Enjoy!

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Banana Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour 
  • 1 tbsp flax meal 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup molasses (or honey, pure maple syrup, etc.), more or less to preference 
  • Scant 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, optional

Preparation:

Toast oats and pecans for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

In a large bowl mix the coconut flour, coconut, flax, cranberries/raisins, salt, and cinnamon. Add the toasted oats and nuts and mix all together.

Microwave bananas for 2 minutes until broken down and all sweet and liquidy. Add molasses (or other sweetener) to hot banana puree and stir to combine. Then add the peanut butter and vanilla to the banana mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour wet mix into the dry ingredients and incorporate completely.

Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if you so desire! Press mixture firmly into pan.

Bake in 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Let bars cool completely.

When completely cool, remove from pan by pulling up by the parchment paper.

Place parchment and bars on a cutting board and cut into bars or squares. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

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Banana Granola Bars 3

Banana Granola Bars

Banana Granola Bars cooked 2

Calorie count: 1,745

# of bars: 12

Calories per bar: 145 calories

Farmer’s Market Saturday

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Simple pleasures are the best. I love watching the produce at the Farmer’s Market change with the seasons. It’s all about squash, beets, and eggplant right now, and I’m not complaining.

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The beauty of beets. With matching fingernail polish <3

Farmers Market 10.18.14

Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

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It all started when I bought a massive tub of old-fashioned oats from Aldi’s yesterday.

Muesli

I wanted to make something with them so badly and I was feeling snacky, so I went for my go-to granola. That recipe typically takes at least 40 minutes. Well, within 15 minutes my granola was burnt to a crisp. My oven is a nightmare and my landlord will now get an earful about how her oven burnt my granola, among other deceased baked goods. May they rest in peace.

Muesli 6

(Crystallized Ginger. Mmmm)

I couldn’t eat my granola, but I wasn’t done with the oats. I wanted to DO somethinggggg with them. For whatever reason, I thought of muesli. I’ve never made muesli before. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten muesli before. In fact, I’m not even positive I have seen muesli before. But I was going to make it.

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(Coco-Cran-Almond-Ginger-Chia Muesli, to be exact.)

Muesli is like a less fancy granola. But seemingly boring things can surprise you sometimes.

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Muesli is super easy and surprisingly delicious! The preparation is easy peasy, but you do have to plan a little before you enjoy it. The oats have to soak up the milk for at least a couple of hours, or even overnight. It ends up super creamy, dreamy, soft and lovely. The cranberries get all plump and somehow the almonds maintain their crunch. Also, if you add frozen blueberries, everything turns a magical shade of lavender.

The whole thing is like cereal that’s gotten a little soggy in the milk too long, but you like it like that. You really, really do.

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Toasted Oats and Coconut Muesli

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted almonds (unsalted), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (low or no sugar)
  • 2 tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Almond milk
  • Optional: frozen fruit, honey, pure maple syrup, etc.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment and bake oats in an even layer for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Take out oats and dump in a large bowl. Pour coconut on same sheet with parchment paper and bake in an even layer for 3-5 minutes, or until toasted. Watch even more carefully! Take out and dump coconut into the same large bowl.

Toss the oats and coconut together, then add the dried cranberries, chia seeds, spices and salt. Mix until everything is combined.  … and, that’s it!

As I said, you need to plan a little before enjoying muesli, so once it’s all mixed together you can store in single-serve mason jars for an easy and portable breakfast. To prepare: the night before, or at the very least, about 2 hours before you want to eat it, take your cute jar of muesli and sprinkle some frozen blueberries on top. Pour almond milk over top just until the milk covers the blueberries. Place in the fridge and then, right before serving, drizzle with some maple syrup or honey. I found that the crystallized ginger provided plenty of sweetness, so I didn’t use anything extra.

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Muesli 2

Muesliafter

Spent Grain Banana Bread

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I recently came into possession of some “spent grains” from a fairly famous local brewer. :) Spent grains are basically “the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients.” They can be used for all sorts of things, but of course, I used them to bake something delicious.

Spent Grain Banana Bread 2

In researching different recipes to utilize the grains, I became somewhat disheartened, because so many comments to the recipes noted how dry the end product was. I decided to use a recipe I already had, and use a small amount of spent grains to add some toasty flavor. I sort of eased my way into using spent grains so I wouldn’t end up with a dry and bitter banana bread on my first try. To use spent grains in baking you typically have to dry it out in the oven for several hours, then grind it up into a flour consistency. I used the method found here to make my spent grain flour.

Spent Grain

Spent Grains pre-drying in the oven.

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Dried spent grains being ground into flour.

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Alas! Spent grain flour.

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My god is this banana bread good. I’m fairly certain I semi-collapsed when I took my first bite, fresh out of the oven. It helps that I had an amazing base recipe to start with, but I am definitely patting myself on the back for this one. The recipe comes from Dominique Ansel, a very famous New York pastry chef. I used to work mere blocks from his bakery, so I am verrryyyy familiar (embarrassingly so) with his talents. One variation in technique I always make to my banana breads, is to microwave the ripe bananas before mixing them with everything else. This draws out a lot of the sugars and gives them a sort of roasted flavor. I’d like to think Dominique himself would be interested in this technique. It really adds something special in my humble opinion.

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This recipe is perfect (seriously you should just stop what you’re doing, go buy some “Manager’s Special,” overripe bananas, and get down to work on this right now), but next time I work with spent grain, I think I will make a hearty, savory bread to really highlight the toasted flavor of the grains. And then perhaps pair that hearty bread with a complementary brew. Excuse me now while I go look into that …

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Banana Bread with Spent Grain

Recipe from Dominique Ansel 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (or 2 cups flour if you’re not using spent grains)
  • 1/2 cup spent grain flour (omit if you’re only using regular flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preparation:

Note: This recipe is for 1 regular sized loaf. If you’re making mini loaves like I did, do everything the same except only bake for about 25 minutes. It could take less or more time, but that was how long mine took.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place peeled bananas in a medium bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. This will draw out some of the natural sugar and juices.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, spent grain flour (if using), baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the mashed bananas. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Fold in the melted butter until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (or mini loaf pans) and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Mini loaves will take about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

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Spent Grain Banana Bread 4

Spent Grain Banana Bread

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Peasant Bread

Peasant Bread 2

There is really nothing like homemade bread. I’ve made bread and rolls from scratch several times, but it’s often a bit of a pain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always worth it – it just takes time, patience, and practice.

THIS recipe however, takes none of those things. Well, a little time, but not nearly as much as other recipes. This bread is incredibly easy to make and surprisingly flavorful! It’s sort of baffling really, because it’s comprised of only 4 ingredients + water. This is the second time I’ve made this and I think it will become like second nature to me pretty soon.

This recipe is also fun because you bake the bread in a bowl so it has an adorable round shape to it. You could probably bake it in a loaf pan, but how boring is that? As a variation, you could press this dough into a small, greased sheet pan to make focaccia. Just make dimples in the dough with your fingertips, then sprinkle with whatever focaccia toppings you like!

If you have an inkling for fresh made bread, try this. It’s delicious, practically fool-proof, and gives you total kitchen cred for not doing that much.

Peasant Bread

Peasant Bread

Recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen

Note: I halved the recipe this time, so the bread you see pictured is half the size of the what you will get if you follow the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp room temperature butter

Preparation:

  1. Mixing the dough:
    In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over top. There is no need to stir it up. Let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and/or bubbling just a bit — this step will ensure that the yeast is active. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. When the yeast-water-sugar mixture is foamy, stir it up, and add it to the flour bowl. Mix until the flour is absorbed.
  2. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for at least 1 hour, but preferably closer to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Grease two oven-safe bowls with 1/2 tablespoon of butter each. Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. As you scrape it down try to turn the dough up onto itself. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve punched it down. Take your two forks and divide the dough into two equal portions — eye the center of the mass of dough, and starting from the center and working out, pull the dough apart with the two forks. Then scoop up each half and place into your prepared bowls. This part can be a little messy — the dough is very wet and will slip all over the place. It’s best to scoop it up fast and plop it in the bowl in one fell swoop. Let the dough rise for 20 to 30 minutes on the countertop near the oven (or near a warm spot) or until it has risen to just below or above (depending on what size bowl you are using) the top of the bowls.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375º and make for 15 to 17 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks. If you’ve greased the bowls well, the loaves should fall right out onto the cooling racks. If the loaves look a little pale and soft when you’ve turned them out onto your cooling racks, place the loaves into the oven (outside of their bowls) and let them bake for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

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Peasant Bread 4

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