Cool Control Simplified

I was over at Mountain View farm this past Saturday sampling and teaching
folks about the incredible combo of fresh local grains combined with simple, 
yet sophisticated baking techniques and the response was resounding! 
Everyone loved the bread and could hardly believe when  I told them 
how easy, flexible and fail proof this method for making bread at home is. 
15 minutes. 3 easy steps. Gorgeous bread, that is versatile, incredibly tasty, 
and keeps extremely well. How can you go wrong? Only by not trying it out
...Do it!

This is the most basic form of Cool Control technique.

Cool Control Recipe handout web

It’s also a great version to print and pop on your fridge so the recipe is always on hand.

close french web

For more detailed instructions scroll down a little ways…


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Spring Focaccia…Asparagus, Spring Garlic, Red Onion, and Asiago!

focaccia 4 web

Focaccia is a fun and simple alternative to pizza. It’s a moister dough with olive oil inside and out and it does better with drier toppings since the dough has more moisture and is leavened more than pizza.

focaccia 2 web

If you start with the French Bread recipe from the last post, add 2 tbsp of olive oil, and a 1/4 cup of water and follow the “Cool Control” procedure you’ll have the perfect focaccia every time. You can make it thick or thin, round or square and have fun with the toppings. Other seasonal topping include fiddleheads, spinach, spring garlic, fresh herbs or whatever is coming up in your garden or at the markets, and csa shares.

Asparagus and red onion web

Brush the pan you are baking in with olive oil as well as the top of the dough before adding the toppings. And if you want you can sift the flour for a lighter texture like I did here.


For sifting just use your standard mesh pasta strainer!

focaccia 6 web

I baked these in two cast iron pans but a sheet pan or pie pan work fine too.

focaccia web

Slice your vegetables thin so they cook fast enough or saute them before adding to the pizza and watch out for wet ingredients as they will lead to a soggy bread. Once you roll your dough out into the pans and top it let it rise until puffy…30-60 minutes.

focaccia 5 web

Any cheese will do but of course Italian style cheese is excellent if you can pull that off. Bake at 450 degrees until golden and crispy and enjoy!

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Whole Wheat French Bread Made Easy with “Cool Control” Technique

This loaf is so simple, and delicious…fresh ground flour, water, salt, and yeast. The crumb is airy, supple and moist, and the crust is crackling chewy and caramelized.

This technique is the first part in a series designed to show you everything you need to know about fresh grains and flour from the Heritage Grain CSA.

I hope you will join me and benefit from the many years I’ve spent developing these techniques and recipes! This series will also have a video version for those who want to see it all in action! Stay tuned for the first episode….

Bread Crust Web

While making bread can strike fear into the hearts of many and challenge home bakers to no end(part of the fun) the purpose of this technique is to eliminate heartbreak and make your baking endeavors easy and delicious. Could this be? Let’s give it a go!

There are two elements of this technique that make it truly special.

  1. Is that it is hard to go wrong
  2. You never are stuck waiting for the bread to rise or proof. We’ve actually turned the tables and let the bread wait for us when we’re ready. That is the key to “Cool Control” bread making. Mix it when you want shape it when you want and bake it when you want. Never get stuck with late night bread baking again!

This french bread was made with Red Lammas but the Redeemer wheat has even stronger gluten if you want a “taller” loaf. Or try the spelt!

  • 1lb 6oz of whole wheat flour or 620g
  • 2 tsp salt or 12g
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast or 3g (always use instant…it is much more consistent and reliable than active or cake yeast!)
  • and 2  cups water warm water or 472g (90 degrees)

In the afternoon or evening mix your dough with a spoon or fork. It should take a little elbow grease but be mixed through by 20 seconds or so. If it comes together really fast or is taking a lot of work to incorporate all the flour your mix is respectively a bit wet or a bit dry. Adjust accordingly. This dough is moist and should be workable without turning it out and kneading. Just a bowl and spoon.

Once your dough is well mixed cover and put in your fridge. No kneading. No Mess. 5 minutes or less. It should be between 80 and 85 degrees.

Bread dough mix 1 Web

In the morning you will find your dough has risen. This is a high hydration dough so it is fairly sticky  and you will need to use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking to the table and your hands. Be generous but not excessive.

Turn out your dough onto your floured work surface, flour your hands and the dough, and give it a fold.

Dough Fold Web

Gently shape your dough into a round and place in a floured banneton or a bowl fitted with a kitchen towel that is not terry cloth and that is heavily dusted in flour otherwise your dough will get stuck.

rounding web

Place back into the fridge and it will be ready to bake by the afternoon having risen a second time. You could also leave it on the counter to rise and it will be ready to bake in about 1.5 hours.

Notice what we’ve done by rising the dough in the cold refrigerator. We have made it ferment so slowly that the windows for rising and baking have become very wide. This in turn make it very flexible to your schedule and hard to go wrong because it is all moving so slow.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake and put a sheet pan in the bottom of the oven to preheat as well.  You must preheat for at least a half hour but not more than an hour for a good steamy bake and excellent oven spring for your bread.

Turn oven down to 450 degrees. Turn your risen loaf onto a sheet pan or peel if you are going to bake on a stone or in a cast iron pan, slash the loaf if you like and load into the oven.

Here is the most key part to a good bake: Steam…!

You will need a 1 cup of warm water to pour into the pan you preheated in the bottom of the oven. carefully pour the water in and close the door immediately to trap the steam. This will give your bread that caramelized chewy crust and help it to rise unhindered by early crust formation.

Bread crumb

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is the color you like it and the internal temperature is 200 degrees.  This bread has a moist and supple interior and a chewy caramel crust that makes french bread irresistible and super versatile! Enjoy!!

loaf close web




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Full Belly Dance Party, The New Mill, and Authentic Mexican Beans!


In honor of the Farmer’s Pantry Launch we are co-sponsoring this years Full Belly Dance Party in Amherst!


mahi beans and jalepeno web

Fresh Heirloom Dry Beans are simple, delicious and super versatile. Cooked with a Beautiful  piece of Kelp the beans become smooth and creamy without loosing their shape and go through a chemical change that make them more nutritious and easier to digest.  The kelp and onions melt into a creamy sauce surrounding the beans. For really authentic Mexican style beans  the other key ingredient is an herb called epazote. Some onions, a touch of cumin, Chipotle, black pepper and salt and you’ve got the base to any number of meals. At this meal I grabbed a piece of mahi mahi from the freezer and some pickled jalepenos from my garden, some lime a voila an amazing meal in 15 minutes(the beans were cooked at an earlier meal). I coated the fish in curry leaf powder, pasilla chili, and salt to blacken with the fish. The recipe for the  Mexican beans follows!


  • 3 cups Soldier, Yellow eye, or kidney
  • two medium onions
  • 1 piece kelp
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • epazote
  • bay leaves
  • chipotle
  • curry leaf powder
  • pasilla chili powder


  • Soak your beans overnight covered by several inches of water(or use boiling hot water to soak 1-2 hours before cooking).The pre-soaking isn’t strictly necessary but will help the beans cook more evenly.
  • Put the soaked beans in their soaking liquid on to boil still covered by a couple inches of water.
  • bring to a full boil and then reduce to a very gentle simmer.
  • add 5-6 inch piece of Kelp, a tbs of epazote and a bay leaf or two.
  • Don’t add cold water to the pot as they cook but heat some extra water in case you need some more liquid to keep them mostly covered.
  • While the beans cook saute your onions and garlic until translucent in your preferred or most handy fat(butter, bacon drippings, olive oil etc…)and add spices.
  • The beans will take around forty minutes to fully cook but just keep checking them to arrive a a perfectly creamy bean.
  • Try to allow the cooking liquid to concentrate as the beans get close to done. Pour off any excess cooking liquid if necessary.
  • after about 30 minutes of cooking you can add the sauteed onions etc to the bean pot and begin to salt to taste and reduce the cooking liquid to a creamy sauce.
  • cook enough for the week and have fun with all the possibilities i.e. bean tacos, huevos rancheros, refried, served with pork, chicken or fish alongside rice, salads or make into  a bean soup whole bean or pureed!

The New Mill

This past January out in Hardwick, MA I went to Stan White’s Farm to help setup Stan’s new Ostiroller Getreidemulen mill from east Germany. We spent sevarl hours making sure the mill stones were aligned properly and that and microscopic bumps or ridges were smoothed before running any grain through.

Ben and Stan Mill


Heads together web

Once things were in proper order and Alan Zuchowski showed up with the Nothstine Dent corn and Red Lammas Wheat we began the 25 hour grind to get the flour for the share all milled up. Things went very smoothly and the flour for the share was all bagged up in plenty of time for the distribution. Having this mill available in state is a really nice step forward in making local grains easier to use although of course nothing beats a home mill for your grains. Thanks to Stan and his son Simon for making this happen!

mill web close up


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