Baking · Breads · Vegetarian

Whole Wheat Bread

I recently brought a few loaves of homemade wheat bread to a friend of mine who lives on the other side of town.  That night he made a point to tell me how addictive it was.  I think he was telling the truth, because it was completely gone within a week.  That’s not too shabby, if you ask me. I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten around to blogging it until now, but here it is for your homemaking bliss! The best part is that it is (nearly) whole wheat and 100% guilt free.

Made with Love. My husband happens to be equally good at making bread, if not better. Oftentimes, he will force me out of the kitchen so he can have time with his special recipe. In fact, this is one that he found and I adapted for our family needs. This picture features some of the lovely loaves that my husband recently made.

Even better, it freezes well, I’m planning to make a bunch of loaves of bread in one weekend and we will be all set when school starts in a few weeks.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is pre-sliced before freezing or not.  I’ve tried it both ways and they’re both great.  If you do freeze it, be sure to let the loaves cool completely before slicing.  Wrap up in a regular bread bag, and then put into a freezer bag.  They should last up to 4 months in the freezer.

I love this recipe because it doesn’t fall apart when sliced, and it handles well for toast or sandwiches.  It is heavenly when sliced while still warm from the oven and slathered with soft butter and raw honey.

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat bread perfect for sandwiches or on the side of a hearty stew.  It holds together with minimal crumbs and doesn’t taste too heavy.  If freezing, cool completely before packaging.  Will last in the freezer for up to 4 months.  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active, dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered nonfat milk
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • additional flour for kneading

Instructions

  1. Liberally butter one 2lb bread loaf pan. 
  2. Combine warm water (around 105°F) with granulated sugar and yeast.  Allow to get frothy for 5 minutes while assembling other ingredients.
  3.  In a large mixing bowl, add yeast mixture, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, the all purpose flour, powdered milk, butter, and egg.  Mix this for two minutes.  Gradually add another 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour to encourage dough to pull off of the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn out dough and knead by hand for approximately 50 more turns.  
  5. Cover and allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn out dough.  Shape dough into your loaf pan, cover it, and allow it to rise in the bread pan for 35 minutes.
  7. While dough rises, preheat oven to 375°F.
  8. Bake bread for 30 minutes or until inside reaches approximately 200°.  If bread is at risk of browning too quickly, add a foil tent halfway through baking.  
  9. Turn out immediately onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely before slicing.

 

 

Breads · Brunch · Uncategorized

Going Bananas!

I’ve been spending the summer determined to relax and rest with the kids as much as possible. Even though we have been doing occasional outdoor activities, it is so darn hot and we don’t feel the need to keep up with the sun-scorched Jones. We are natural home bodies, and it is wonderful to do nice projects with them around the home or yard. We’ve been doing a fair amount of cooking and testing recipes for the freezer too. The reason this is so important to us is because during the school year, and when sports come back into season for our family, it feels like we have an activity nearly every night. This gets taxing on me since I have an infant and still fight on a daily basis to keep my thyroid energy levels optimal. As a result, I love doing as many things as I can in advance to lighten our burdens once it is the busy season.

I’ve been going bananas! Literally, bananas are constantly on my mind lately. Hah. It’s officially summer time in the valley, and for Las Vegas that means HOT. We like to eat as much fresh produce as possible this time of year to keep our bodies hydrated and not overheated. Sadly, one of the fruits that gets passed over is the overripe bananas. My family isn’t terribly picky. We all love bananas, but once one of them gets a bruise, my kids think it is ruined. That means I had to come up with a way to not let them go to waste. This was particularly difficult as I’ve never actually found a banana bread recipe which I absolutely loved. I mean, they’re all good, but none of them are outstanding.

I think I finally found the perfect banana bread recipe. It is adapted from Nigel Slater’s black banana cake. Instead, I decreased the amount of sugar because bananas are already sweet enough without help, and I increased the volume of the recipe to make it more practical for a large family. The best part? These beautiful loaves freeze wonderfully!! It will last up to 4 months in the freezer when packaged properly. Just take it, parchment paper and all, and wrap it up in a bread bag, and a freezer bag after that. When you’re ready to use it, pull it out of the freezer 8 hours in advance or the night before.

Golden Banana Bread

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 medium, ripe bananas

1 (half cup) stick room temperature butter

2 ounces brown sugar

2 ounces granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:  10 oz. of your favorite chocolate chunks (I prefer 70% soy-free chocolate chunks)
and/or 8 oz. of chopped walnuts or pecans.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and line with parchment one 2lb bread tin.

Mash bananas with a fork in a small mixing bowl and set to the side.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add bananas, mix.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth.  Gently stir in the flour and baking powder.  Do not over mix or it will make the bread tough.  Fold in optional chocolate chunks and nuts.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.

Tip: A plain toothpick should be able to come out clean when inserted into the center of the banana bread.

Baking · Cookies

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking, Day 4: Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Breakfast Cookies

Every autumn, as a personal rule, I greedily hoard fresh pumpkins of every size, and I carefully tuck away a few bags of fresh cranberries into my freezer. I find a guiltless satisfaction knowing I have such beautiful ingredients to add to any recipe on a whim. And who could blame me? In these cooler months it is vital to our health to boost our meals with as much extra nutrition as possible, to ward off any threats to our immune system. I’m not necessarily calling pumpkins a super food by any stretch of the imagination (although I do adore them in all forms), but cranberries definitely possess enough antioxidants and vitamins to speak for themselves.

As these are two of my favorite flavors in the world, I couldn’t help but come up with a recipe which embraces the pleasures of both ingredients harmoniously. This was, surprisingly, much simpler than I anticipated. Instead of channeling a traditional pumpkin spice cookie vein, I immediately reflected on a beautiful breakfast cookie that my grandmother used to make when I was a child. Instead of the simple, charming flavors she used to use, I turned it seasonal and rich with warming spices.

The texture is a cross between a muffin and a cookie in its density. Since word combining seems to be all the rage with recipe hybrids lately, would we call it a muffie or a coofin? (Would anyone care for a cronut or a merookie?). It matters not. A cookie by any other name would taste as sweet.

Continuing on the antioxidants topic, I shamelessly added dark chocolate, too. I like a LOT of comforting spices in my recipe. It’s not adequate unless the aroma fills your home with warm holiday cheer. Normally one would not expect chocolate and the combination of spices to play nicely together, but this is a pleasant exception.

Tuck in with a plate of these cookies, a cup of your favorite tea and some good morning literature on a cool, quiet morning. You’ll be glad you did.

20171216_072421512235835.jpg

Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Breakfast Cookies

1 cup butter (room temperature)

2.5 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cups finely ground oat flour

2 cups chocolate chips

2 cups cranberries (dried or frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, then pumpkin and vanilla. Sift together all dry ingredients and spices. Slowly add dry to wet ingredients a few scoops at a time to combine. (Do not over mix.) Gently fold in the chocolate chips and cranberries. Scoop quarter cup portions onto a parchment lined baking sheet. (I usually do 5 per tray so they don’t run together.) Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom and the centers spring back. Cool before serving.

In my original recipe I used dried cranberries. Recently I did not have anything on hand except my cheerful bags of frozen cranberries. This was a delightful shift in not only the texture, but also taste. While it truly comes down to personal preference, I happily sacrificed the chewy dried cranberry pieces in exchange for the tart jewels which brightened every bite. I leave it up to a vote amongst my readers which choice of cranberries you believe is better.

20171216_072521787315923.jpg

Look how those gorgeous rubies bleed their sweet juices into the cookie. Heaven!