Sunday, September 23, 2012

BBB - Molasses Fennel Rye Bread

This month's BBB buddy challenge was a versatile brown bread.  I, fully admitting my sweeter side leanings, took it to a slightly sweeter interpretation.  I know at least one of the BBB bakers left out the sugar entirely, excepting the molasses of course!  So it works very well on the savoury less sweet side too.  I went the spelt route with my loaf and I'm still working out how much kneading it will tolerate, so my loaf was a little flat and the dough quite slack.  I should have under hydrated with the spelt.  Still it turned out very yummy with awesome aroma and great flavour.  The dough definitely liked to rise in a warmer location.  It sat for three hours in a cold kitchen not doing much.  When I turned on the oven to warm things up, it perked up quite a bit and readily rose for me.  I plumped my raisins with hot water and I added some cinnamon and an extra couple teaspoons of coconut sugar sprinkle when I shaped the loaf.  It reminds me of my childhood memories of the brown bread (shhhh, in a can) we used to have as a rare treat.  This was excellent and I am tempted to try it steamed myself to see just how close to that memory I can get.  It was excellent toasted.  I am so a toast person.  Here is the recipe as adapted by one of the babes for a mixer, with my changes in red.  I can attest that even my slightly sweeter version is excellent with a hearty fall stew. 

Molasses Fennel Rye Bread  
based on Jack Francis' recipe for Molasses-Fennel Bread served at "Clark's by the Bay" restaurant in Collins Bay, Ontario (near Kingston)
makes two  loaves

    1 c (103gm) rye flour (dark rye)
    1 c (122 gm) whole wheat flour (whole spelt)
    ½ c (59gm) wheat germ (I used a bit less golden flax seed meal)
    2 c (254gm) unbleached all purpose flour (light spelt)
    1½ tsp ( 6  5gm) active dry instant yeast (I used ¾ tsp instant for a half batch)
    4 tsp (17gm) sugar (coconut sugar)
    1 Tbsp (6gm) fennel seeds (I crushed mine a bit)
    ½ tsp (1gm) ground dried ginger
    1 Tbsp (18gm) salt
    4 Tbsp (85gm) molasses
    1½ c water, room temperature
    ¼ c or so (36gm) Thompson raisins (plumped with hot water and drained)
    unbleached all purpose flour for kneading, if necessary

In your mixer, combine all dry ingredients, then add the wet (not the raisins yet) and mix with your dough hook for about 5 minutes, until the dough is cleaning the bowl. Adjust the water/flour if necessary. Add in the raisins and mix until thoroughly combined.   (I saved the raisins until I formed the loaf.)
 Oil the bowl lightly and roll dough in it to cover. Cover bowl and let rise until doubled.
Punch down and let rise until doubled again.
Divide dough in half and shape as desired.
(I formed my loaf cinnamon bread style, sprinkling a little coconut sugar and cinnamon followed by the raisins, and then rolled up and placed in a small bread pan for my half batch.)
Let rise 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F
Coat with egg wash, if desired.
Slash and put in oven.
Reduce heat to 375°F
Bake until you get an internal temperature of over 200°F
25-35 minutes, depending on shape of bread
Let cool on racks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Streusel Bread

I love fall, I can turn on the oven without making the house unbearable!  We are having a lovely Indian summer though and I think we set a record for the driest August in Seattle in while.  For the first time since at least 1891, the city of Seattle was bone-dry for the whole month of August.  And except for a 14 minute shower on September 10th that just barely measured 0.01" at Seatac (enough to stop us breaking the dry streak record), there has been no rain since July 22nd.  (In our neighborhood, that shower consisted of a number of splats I could count on two hands.)  Maybe if we all go out and wash our cars this weekend...  Anyway, I am starting to see pumpkin posts and people are anticipating all the pumpkin lattes and goodies at the coffee shops.  So I decided to thaw out some pumpkin puree I had collected from last year's pie pumpkins and try out a yummy looking quick bread.  I am sure you can use canned pumpkin for this and I did cook some of the moisture out of my puree to make it closer to canned consistency.  I used whole spelt for this batch and it is wonderful the next day; moist and mild.  If using a light spelt or a refined flour along with homemade pumpkin puree, you'll probably end up with a beautiful orange tinted loaf.  I'm tempted to turn this into muffins on the next batch...

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Streusel Bread
makes 1 loaf

1½ cups whole spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup light brown muscovado sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/3 cup neutral flavor coconut oil, melted

Streusel topping:
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup butter, chilled
¼ cup pecans, chopped

Butter a loaf pan, 8 or 9" will both work, I used an 8".  This is a delicate loaf, so I might be helpful to line the pan with parchment to facilitate the removal of the loaf without cracking it.  

Preheat the oven to 370º.  

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, muscovado sugar, maple syrup, egg and oil.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

To make the streusel topping, combine the flour, sugar and spice.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until there are coarse chunks about the size of peas.  Toss with the pecans.  Sprinkle the topping over the batter.  (My butter warmed up and so I ended up with a more cohesive mixture which I spread in pieces over the batter.)

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the center is set and a wooden skewer comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.  Let it cool completely before trying to cut into it.  It will have even better flavor the next day, especially when using a whole grain flour.  

Adapted from Believing Boldly 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Messy Kitchen Stove Top Solution

I hate cleaning.  I really hate cleaning my stove.  I did post a picture once before admitting how nasty my stovetop tends to get before I attack it.  Now granted, that was after a jam making boil over so it was particularly nasty.  But long story short, I have never been able to get the cooked on, crusty, black, charred coating completely off my burner grates or my drip pans.  Not even close.  I scrub my fingers to the bone, I soak, I soap, I scrub some more, I try baking soda and vinegar; nothing helps.  So when I saw a method on pinterest to get the charcoal and grease off enameled stove tops without working your scrubbies through your finger tips, I jumped at it.  I already had the ammonia up on a high shelf and it's super cheap anyway.

Now fair warning, ammonia is potent stuff, it will knock you on your butt if you stick your nose in it.  Do this outside and seal it well.  And NEVER EVER mix ammonia with any bleach containing products.  Ammonia + bleach = potential chlorine gas = you dead or seriously injured.  Ammonia on its own however, is a very effective cleaner.  And it is the fumes that do most of the work here.

So what you do is stick your grates and drip pan if you have one, in either a gallon zip if you want to do them separately, or in a garbage bag.  Add a few tablespoons of ammonia for a ziploc bag and a quarter cup or so for the garbage bag and twist it off very tightly.  You don't want those fumes to escape.

I added closer to a cup since I was doing so many seriously crusted pieces.  There was only a quarter cup left in the morning.  Now let it all sit (outside) overnight to let those fumes loosen up all the junk.  Next morning or so, take out a piece at a time and go at it with a nylon scrubbie.  What the scrubber doesn't easily slough off, a finger nail will quickly dislodge.

So.  Did it work?

Well, I can definitely say I'm happy.  This was only one treatment.  And the stuff came off so easily, my fingers looked at me sideways as if to ask why I hadn't done it this way all the other times.  I did the worst side first, the dirty side you see there is currently taking its turn in the fume bath.  So if you are tired of burned on food incrustations that won't come clean and you are up to braving a little ammonia fumes, try this method for your enameled stove tops and grates.  I understand for the actual top, you can wet a rag with a little ammonia and leave it on a stubborn spot for 30 minutes to loosen it up.  I have one spot I may have to try that on.  I'm just so stoked to get my drip pans all clean!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crystallized, (Candied) and Glazed Nuts

When I was little, I remember my mom making crystallized (candied) nuts.  They were a once a year super special treat and we always had to stand back when she dumped them out onto the tray and carefully and quickly broke them apart.  I particularly like the crystallized kind but R surprisingly seems to prefer the glazed.  (Which is awesome since they have less sugar.)  I whipped up both of these batches in about 15 minutes, so it's a quick and easy snack or salad add-in too.  If you can keep them in a sealed glass jar, they should last a week or so before they're gobbled up.  These are fairly simple, just nuts, water and sugar, but it's super easy to add flavors like cinnamon or cayenne to kick it up a notch.  They'd make a great addition to a Holiday candy tray (and none of the additives in the flavored, corn syrup laden store bought versions available).  You can use raw nuts in these recipes but I prefer to use crispy nuts (nuts that have been soaked and dehydrated) since they are easier to digest and I prefer the taste.  (I make a whole bag of Costco pecans, walnuts or almonds at a time.)  

Candied walnuts are great in salads!  I do recommend making the glazed on an as needed basis since they like to pull moisture and get just slightly sticky.  The crystallized are the way to go for longer term storage.

Glazed Nuts
makes 1 cup (double as needed)

¼ cup water (scant)
3 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
pinch sea salt
1 cup nuts (crispy nuts are great for this)

Combine sugar and water in a skillet.  Cook over medium heat until boiling, swirling to mix.  Add the nuts and stir to coat.  Cook for another minute or so until they start to look sticky and start sticking together slightly.  Turn out onto a parchment lined sheet in a single layer to cool.  Store in an airtight container.  (They may get sticky on humid days.)

Crystallized Nuts
makes 2 cups

¼ cup water
¾ cup evaporated cane sugar
pinch sea salt
2 cups nuts (crispy nuts are great for this)

Combine sugar and water in a skillet.  Cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring to mix.  Boil for a minute until bubbles start getting larger.  Add nuts and cook and stir for 3-5 minutes until the syrup starts to solidify.  Keep stirring and quickly move off the heat.  Pour out onto a parchment lined sheet and break apart any clumps with a wooden spoon.  Wait for the nuts to cool and discard any extra sugar left on the sheet after packing the nuts in an airtight container.

(I probably ended up with between a quarter and a third of a cup of leftover sugar crystals on the sheet and pan from the candied batch so the actual nuts really only have a little more sugar than the glazed variety.  ☺)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grain Free Cinnamon Pancakes

I've mentioned before that I'm so thankful wheat was not one of R's allergies.  Still, sometimes it's nice to go grain free just for a change and break from gluten.  These pancakes are great for that purpose, not to mention being heart healthy with the almonds and the omega-3's from the flax.  Everyone in the family likes them.  As a matter of fact, little sis devours these willingly while regular flour pancakes usually require some coercion for her to eat them.  With cinnamon and vanilla in them, they have a nice sweet flavor even with the small amount of sugar in the batter so they could also be considered low carb depending on the topping of choice.  (Coconut sugar is low glycemic by the way.)  Only a tiny drizzle of syrup is needed to make them perfectly sweet.  A couple teaspoons per stack.  We tried some regular pancakes with a pile of chopped strawberries macerated in just the barest sprinkle of sugar and a teaspoon of maple and they were wonderful.  These pancakes are very filling since they are high in protein and fiber, so don't expect to eat a whole stack.  Two will suffice.  Even for my hubby.  ☺

(These can be made dairy free by using coconut milk or just water instead of the milk.)

Grain Free Almond Flour Cinnamon Pancakes
Serves 3-4

2 large pastured eggs
¼ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup blanched almond flour
¼ cup golden flax seed meal
2 tbsp granulated coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a glass measure with a pour spout.  (Or just a bowl, the spout just makes it easier.)  Stir together until well blended.  The batter should be fairly thick: if it is too thin the cakes will be hard to flip.

This batch could probably have used a tiny bit less milk.  
You can see the batter spread a bit, but it was still easy to flip.

This next batch is just about perfect.
You'll get the feel for the perfect consistency once they're cooked.

 Add a little milk or almond flour to adjust the consistency.  (The initial thickness will depend on how you measure your flour.  I usually don't pack mine but also heap it up a bit in the measuring cup.)  Cook on a griddle over medium-low heat, a couple minutes a side.  (Making ~4" pancakes should yield enough for four people.)  This batter browns quickly so a slower cook will help prevent burnt cakes.  If using an electric griddle, I'd cook about 50º lower than normal pancakes.  Serve with a little pastured butter and a tiny drizzle of real maple syrup or a pile of fresh berries.

These cakes freeze wonderfully and reheat in the toaster or toaster oven perfectly for quick breakfasts on school mornings.

Nutrition for a quarter recipe (if you get 8 pancakes, 2 would be a serving):

¼ of total pancakes