Pique-Nique Planning

September 2011

I had this idea brewing for a while:  a Pique-nique at Fleatique, a monthly outdoor flea market/antique show fusion that happens at an old, coal mine site, outside Pittsburgh.  “Coal mine site” might seem like a horrible picnic location idea, but the grounds are grassy and tree lined and lovely.  The previous month, the skies were too threatening to my picnic basket plans, so we lunched inside instead, but the September skies were promising!  We proceeded with the picnic plans!

Pique-Nique Planning

Kneadless bread has been all over the baking blogosphere.  I am way behind on this trend, and after my own experiment, I’m not fully convinced that kneading is the enemy.  I did like the crumb and crust of my little loaves, but I wanted more flavor.  If I try this method again, I am going to add more complexity via honey, toasted grains or maybe a nut of some sort.  That being said, this bread served us nicely on a sunny Sunday, on a red checkered tablecloth, under shade trees.

See what you think.

No Knead French Bread

3 cups lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
3 1/2 cups local unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast, and salt.  Set aside for a few minutes to allow the yeast to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, and then add them all at once to the yeast mixture.  Use a wooden spoon to stir.  You do not need to form a dough ball, but stir until no flour streaks remain and everything is well mixed.

Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp, lint-free towel.  Set aside for a few hours to rise.

After the dough has risen and deflated slightly, dust your hands with flour, and remove a portion of dough approximately the size of a grapefruit.  At this point, you could also refrigerate the dough if you’re not ready to use it or any remaining dough.

Pull the sides of the dough toward the bottom to form a loaf shape and a smooth surface.

Dust a surface with a cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes (longer if you have refrigerated the dough).

Put it on a cutting board that’s been dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let it rest for at least 40 minutes (longer if the dough has been refrigerated).

Twenty minutes prior to baking, put a pizza stone in the middle rack of the oven.  Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

After the remaining twenty minutes and oven preheating, dust the loaves with flour and slash the surfaces with a sharp knife.

Slide the loaf (or loaves) onto the baking stone.  Quickly pour 1 cup of water into the broiler pan, and shut the oven door promptly to trap the steam inside the oven.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until you get a nice brown crust.

Remove and let cool completely.

Pique-niquing ladies cannot live by bread alone…

Porquetta (recommended by the friendly Italian at Penn Mac), honey crisp apples, Danish Blue, speck, sardo cheese and local pears.

and chevre!

Of course there needed to be a dessert to extend the afternoon lazing!

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies & Cookie Cups


1 ¾ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 Tablespoons local unsalted butter (1 ¾ sticks)
½ cup organic Agave syrup
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg*
1 large egg yolk*
12 oz (1 pacakge) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped


Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Insert cupcake liners into a cupcake pan.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 Tablespoons butter 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Use a heatproof spatula to transfer the browned butter to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 Tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add the agave syrup, brown sugar, salt and vanilla to the bowl with the butter, and whisk until fully incorporated.

Add egg and egg yolk, and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining.

Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.

Use a spatula or wooden spoon to fully incorporate the flour mixture.

Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ of the way full.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges are golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

(Quality Control:  check!)

Stay tuned for the FleaTique and Pique-nique photos!

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