Magic Number 5

Our friends Mike and Kristi were in town recently, when Mike was telling me a story about his brother’s visit home.

His brother had apparently gone through his mom’s kitchen cabinet’s and trashed anything with more than 5 ingredients.

Holy Cow.

His brother has a wonderful food blog, The Passion Fruits, where he talks about this experience.

But I have to say though, I think with all of the condiments, sauces, and Quinn’s Mac and Cheese I have, this guy would have a hay day in my home. But really, he is on to something.

The great husband and I were just wondering why the dressing I buy has 1 million ingredients listed on it. Why ingest something we cannot even pronounce when I can make a fabulous vinaigrette with just olive oil, Dijon mustard, and balsamic vinegar?

Well, time is sometimes an issue. But really, if I take the time to cup up veggies for a salad (my very least favorite task to do in the kitchen,) then I can take 2 minutes to whip up a vinaigrette.

It is actually pretty darn satisfying to know that every ingredient of your meal is recognizable.
What is most satisfying is sitting down to a meal with a steaming hot loaf of bread on the table that I made with my own two hands. 4 ingredients. That’s it. Water. Flour. Yeast. Salt.

Warning: I am going to brag here in a second.


Let me tell you, it is SUPER easy.
I know I covered the No-Knead Bread before. That too is easy, but takes the course of a 24 hours from start to finish. I wanted bread, and I wanted it today.

I got this recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s new book RATIO. A fabulous little book that simplifies cooking and baking down to a ratio.

This bread: 5 parts flour: 3 parts water (plus yeast and salt)

Here is his actual recipe for


adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio

20 oz bread flour (about 4 c)

12 oz water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp active or instant yeast

If you have a mixer with a dough attachment, this recipe moves a lot quicker with less hands-on kneading. If not, warm up your muscles and get ready to knead.

Place flour into mixer.Add water. Add salt. Add yeast, sprinkling it over the water so it can dissolve.

Place dough hook on mixer and turn on medium speed, pushing down dough stuck to the sides so it can all come together.

Continue to mix until dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. If you do not have a mixer, lightly flour a surface and start kneading.

Remove dough and dough hook. Spray cooking spray into bowl and place dough back in the bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the dough. In a warm place, let rise until double in size.

Preheat oven to 450F. Place a cast iron pot into the oven. If you do not have one, place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack.

Turn dough out on a flour surface and knead for a couple of minutes to let out gas and air. Form a smooth ball with the dough. Place a dish towel over dough and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Remove dish towel and slice an large, shallow X in the dough with a sharp knife, so dough can expand when it bakes.

Using a cast iron pot: remove from oven and drizzle 1 Tb olive oil onto the bottom to prevent sticking. Carefully place dough into the pot and place a lid on top. Bake for 30 minutes with lid on, then remove lid, baking an additional 15-25 minutes.

Using a cookie sheet: Place dough on a separate cookie sheet, leaving the one in the oven. Open oven door and place cookie sheet on middle rack. Throw 1 cup of water on the bottom cookie sheet and quickly close the oven door. This creates a steam that will give the bread a nice crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat to 375F. Continue baking for 45-50 minutes.

2 thoughts on “Magic Number 5

  1. librarianjen

    While I do enjoy baking, the prospect of baking bread terrifies me. I think I’ve had poor experiences in the past with yeast, and that coupled with the fact that I’m impatient always ends in disaster. I also don’t have a stand mixer. I always mean to try the no knead bread recipe you posted. Any other suggestions to help me defeat my fear of bread? 🙂

  2. Erin

    There, there, Jen. Don’t be afraid. If at first you don’t succeed…well, you know how it goes.
    Try the no knead bread this weekend. You do next to nothing. Buy some new yeast, don’t use old.
    May the Schwartz be With You!
    I missed you last weekend!


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