Thursday, December 17, 2015

Anadama Bread with the BBB

I just happened to catch this post and bake it on the day that the new recipe comes out.  I don't often get to do that, it's usually a last minute thing.  But I remember this bread.  I baked it over 20 years ago in high school for a harvest party.  I think I made squaw bread and colonial bread as well.  Actually, the colonial bread might have been the same as the anadama, the ingredients are extremely similar.  I seem to recall the title saying, "also known as Anadama bread", but it didn't have the history of the name.  It was a bread machine book so maybe they didn't want to use a swear word in their publication, who knows!  But the nostalgia was there when I saw the post and it really comes together fairly quickly.  The heady smell of the molasses makes this a joy to bake as it spreads through the house.  Perfect baking smells for dark winter days.  This version has lots of seeds in it, and though I love that now, I know I would have scorned it when I was younger.  Birdseed bread is what I called that stuff that my mom loved to buy.  More traditional recipes may not include the seeds and you may certainly add more or less to your own taste.  The other fun thing about this loaf is the mystery of how it got its name.  Stories generally have a consensus of a disgruntled husband being tired of the same old mush or plain bread every day and grumbling under his breath at his wife as he tried to do his own thing to break the monotony.  "Anna, damn her," he said as he combined the cornmeal for the mush with the flour for the bread in an attempt to come up with something new.  The many stories may be apocryphal, but they are similar enough to wonder if there isn't some basis in fact to the history.

For my loaf, I used a blend of flours, all purpose, spelt, and einkorn.  Because spelt and einkorn don't absorb liquid like regular flour, I ended up having to add a lot more, between ¾ and 1 cup of regular flour (to boost the gluten).  I still left the dough on the sticky side though because too much einkorn can give you a dry or dense loaf.  I must have hit it right because I got neither of those.  The loaf was hearty, for certain, but not heavy and still nicely moist.  I only figured out today that I used double the sugar as the original post, because I looked at another babe's post first which did the same.  Maybe that was why my loaf took so long to rise, the sugar inhibits the yeast.  I might use less next time but it was really good as it turned out!  And I still got fantastic oven spring.  I was worried because you don't want to overproof spelt or einkorn or your loaf will fall flat.  Eldest daughter tried out the heel of the loaf when it had cooled, with butter, and proclaimed it wonderful.  And that was with the disclaimer that it looked unsure to her because of the color and seeds.  Glad the flavor won her over!  My mom will love this bread.  I had it for toast this morning and it was delicious!  Not too sweet, and the millet gives it a delicate crisp and popcorn-y flavor and this just deliciously perfect with the butter.  Do go check out the original post at Feeding My Enthusiasms, and scroll down to see all the other loaves that the BBB made, they are just beautiful!

Anadama Bread
makes one loaf

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 envelope (¼ oz.) active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ tsp) I used instant
1 cup stone ground medium cornmeal I used medium ground millet for the corn allergy
¼ cup mild-flavored molasses or honey I used BOTH, oops
2 tbsp hemp seeds or white sesame seeds didn't have black, so I used 3 tbsp white
1 tbsp nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
2 tsp golden flaxseed golden flax meal
2 tsp brown flaxseed golden flax seeds
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 ¼ tsp sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading ¾ c all purpose, ¾ c white spelt, ½ cup einkorn, + another half cup each spelt and all purpose to reach proper consistency
1 large egg, beaten to blend omitted

Salted butter, for serving

Lightly butter an 8 x 4" loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang.

Place yeast in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add 1 cup warm water; stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the cornmeal, molasses, seeds, and salt. Stir to combine using a wooden spoon.  Continue stirring with a wooden spoon or the dough hook if using the stand mixer.  Add 2 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter and mix until no dry spots remain.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes OR mix in stand mixer on medium speed 8-10 minutes.

Lightly butter a medium bowl.  Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough to deflate.  Cover again and let rise until about doubled in size once more, about 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 375º F.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into and 8' x 4' rectangle. Starting at the short side furthest from you, roll up dough, pinching the seam as you go to create a tight roll. Pinch seam to close and tuck ends under, pinching to seal. Place seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic and let dough rise. Uncover before it crests the top of the pan and wait for it to spring back slightly when pressed, about 1 hour.

Brush top of dough with egg if desired.  Bake, rotating halfway through, until bread is baked through and the top is a deep golden brown, 45-50 minutes.  Let cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack before turning out.  Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing (if you can wait that long).  Serve with salted butter.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Russian Chrysanthemum Bread with the BBB

I'm so glad I was able to fit in this month's baking challenge for the BBB!  Quite often I miss out on the November and December bakes because I am just too busy making other things.  This time I actually whipped it up at the family house for day after Thanksgiving breakfast.  And, bonus, I was able to use up some of the extra cranberry sauce I made.  (Still leaving enough for leftovers of course!)  This was a lovely dough and bread and my folks had two servings each and kept the rest to eat for breakfasts later.  The original is a savory, meat filled loaf but yes, I usually go to the sweet side.  You've seen that T-shirt, "Come to the Dark Side... We have cookies."?  I love that because I am a feeder.  We ended up using a smaller pie plate since we had fewer people this year, and saving the rest of the dough for another project.  It's a great dough.  If you want to see the amazing flowering bread that the host kitchen baked, check it out at Notitie van Lien.  This sweet version was really easy to put together, the meat filling takes a bit more work, but you can also do things like a pizza flower or a pesto flower.  You can see those versions linked in the original post as well.  So here are the directions for the beautiful Chrysanthemum bread.  I used ¾ cup finely chopped pecans, ¾ cup cranberry sauce, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for my filling.  I also sprinkled the bread with coarse raw sugar after brushing with the egg glaze.  I think it would be wonderful with an icing drizzle after baking but as it was, it was lovely and not too sweet.

Russian Chrysanthemum bread
(1 large round loaf)

Filling: (this is an example, you can make up your own savory or sweet filling. If you want to go vegetarian, think mushroom, bean mash etc.)
500-600 g minced meat (beef, lamb etc.)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, chopped
140 g cheese, coarsely grated
30 g butter
100 ml cold water
salt and pepper to taste
spices, to taste*

(this is the filling the host kitchen used)
450 g beef mince
100 g smoked turkey, finely chopped
½ red pepper, seeds removed, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 shallots, chopped, glazed and cooled
1½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika powder
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
80 g grated emmental cheese
± 80 ml cold water

500 g strong flour (I used 125 g white whole wheat and 375g white spelt)
7 g dry instant yeast
125 ml milk, lukewarm
125 ml kefir or yogurt (I used my mom's fresh, thick kefir and wow did the dough love it!)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
90 ml olive oil

1 Tbsp milk
1 egg yolk

also needed:
1 round cookie cutter or glass (7.5 cm in diameter, or 3 inches)
large shallow pie dish 28 cm in diameter (I used a shallow 9")

Making the dough:
Mix the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm milk. Mix the kefir with the salt, egg and oil, then add the flour and yeast mixture. Knead into a supple dough. Shape into a ball and let rest in a lightly greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled.

Make the filling:
Glaze the chopped onion and garlic in a frying pan. Leave to cool.Mix the ingredients for the filling well (really knead it through). set aside.

Lightly grease your pie dish.

Work with about ⅓ of the dough at the time. Roll it out to a thickness of about 3 mm, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. This way the dough will be relaxed and won’t shrink when cutting the rounds.

Cut out rounds with a glass or cookie cutter. Place 1 Tbsp of filling on each round, spread it out, leaving about ½ cm free around the border and sprinkle with some cheese. Fold the circle in half, and fold the two point together. It now looks like a petal. Place in the pie dish, starting around the border with the point of the petal facing to the center. Repeat until there is just a little space left in the middle. Make three half circles, fill and place them in a line ⅓ overlapping and roll them up (flat side down) and place this in the middle. Cover with lightly greased plastic foil and leave to rest and rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

Whisk egg yolk and milk for the glaze and brush the bread with it. Place the bread in the oven on a rack and bake for 25 minutes. Lower the temperature to 170ºC (325º) and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden.

When the loaf is done, take it out of the oven and the tin, place on a wire rack and brush with some melted butter.  Let cool or eat lukewarm.

(adapted from:

*The spice mix in one of the recipes was “kmeli-suneli”, a spice mix from Georgia (not in the US, but a small land stuck between Turkey (not the bird) and Russia). I found a recipe that you could make yourself: all herbs/spices are dry:

2 tsp each of marjoram, dill, mint, parsley, coriander seeds, marigold flower petals and summer savory
1 tsp each of fenugreek leaves, black pepper, fenugreek seeds
2 laurel leaves 

Grind them all in a coffee/spice grinder, sieve and it’s ready to use.

But you can use any kind of ready spice mix or your own mixture!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An Einkorn experiment

I decided to combine this month's baking challenge with my new acquisition of all purpose einkorn flour.  The results were not what I was looking for, but still very interesting.  My hot dog buns were moist and tender with a fine crumb, but they didn't keep well and weren't strong enough to hold up to the actual dog and were better just toasted and eaten as a roll.  I think einkorn is just too delicate for use with the tangzhong method which was the challenge.  Tangzhong incorporates a flour starch gel or roux into a bread dough to give loft and springiness.  This water roux is a mixture of one part flour to five parts water by weight, that you stir and cook until the starches in the flour bind and the mixture thickens. It happens very quickly at right around 149-150°F, or 65°C.  After covering and cooling down to a warm temperature, you simply add the tangzhong to your recipe.  I calculated the proportion of flour and water that I could replace from the bun recipe I was using to be at most 7% for the roux.  I also used spelt for the tangzhong since it has the same amount of starch as regular flour where einkorn has less.  My dough ended up not nearly as sticky as it should and I added a couple tablespoons more water as well as forgetting the salt and adding it in much later.  Probably overworked that delicate einkorn gluten a bit.  The dough was actually very nice to work with and I will be trying out many more recipes with it, but I want to try the tangzhong again with regular flour so I don't have to worry about my loaf failing.  Do go and check out the results for a traditional use of tangzhong at the host kitchen's post.  And even though it wasn't perfect, look at the pretty crumb in my rolls!

Einkorn Buns
makes 6 (this is a half batch)

360 g einkorn flour (I used 335 g einkorn + 25 g spelt for tangzhong)
5 g (1 tsp) sea salt
1 1/8 tsp instant yeast
30 g olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
148 g water or milk (I used 22 g water + 126 g milk for tangzhong)

(Though I don't recommend the tangzhong for einkorn, I did bring it together by mixing the milk and spelt and stirring constantly over medium heat until it thickened at 150º.  Then I incorporated it into the dough.)
Combine water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and let stand for a few minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Add oil and eggs to yeast mixture and beat it well with a fork or whisk.  Pour the liquids into the flour and bring together with a wooden spoon.  Knead by hand in the bowl until rough and sticky, then rest for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto floured surface and do two folds with a 15 minute rest in between them.  Cover and proof for 2 hours.  Divide dough into 6 pieces and form into hot dog or hamburger buns.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover.  Proof for one hour, being careful not to over proof.  Bake in a 390ºF oven for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool before slicing open.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Making Conchas with the BBB

When I saw the challenge for this month, I knew I had to join in for this recipe.  (Hello, sweet tooth!)  I had made the Spanish ensaïmadas years ago and loved them, but this was my first Mexican bread.  These struck me more as a donut type texture than the super light and fluffy ensaïmadas, but then they are a sweet bread with twice as much sugar in the dough.  (And I forgot an egg.)  My eldest wanted to eat the whole batch and I had to quickly make them disappear though she heartily enjoyed another one for breakfast.  We decided on cinnamon for our sugar shell topping and loved it.  I added more cinnamon to taste with my eldest confirming it was good, but I might even double it next time because after baking it wasn't that strong and we love cinnamon!  

I added a handful of potato flakes to help keep the buns moist, since a heavily enriched dough like this will tend to dry out quickly and I knew it would take a while to eat up these sweet buns at a reasonable pace.  The fact that I forgot an egg didn't affect my buns as much because 1: I was using jumbo eggs already, and 2: I was using a large portion of spelt flour which requires less moisture than regular flour.  Dodged one there!  I meant to use half non-hydrogenated shortening and half butter for the shell, but the pantry was empty so all butter it was.  Do go and check out the host kitchen's post and also the links to all the other Babes' conchas at the bottom of the post.  You will want to eat these for breakfast lunch and dinner, but they do freeze and reheat beautifully.  The topping will not be as crisp depending on how you reheat but they are still delicious.  I recommend warming in a toaster oven to keep them like fresh baked.

Conchas, or Mexican Pan Dulce
makes 12 large or 16 medium buns

For the dough:
392g (14 oz) bread flour + more as needed  (I used 100g all purpose, 265g white spelt and 35g sprouted spelt, + a handful of potato flakes)
2 large eggs  (My eggs were jumbo so I only used one which turned out perfect for the spelt) (Actually, I just forgot one and it still worked. ☺)
1 large egg yolk
¼ tsp fine salt (Bumped that up to a generous ½ tsp, would not use less)
7 g (¼ oz / 1 packet) active dry yeast (2 tsp instant yeast, rise time was very long - 3 tsp next time or osmotolerant might be a good option)
½ cup water, lukewarm
102 g (4 oz / 8 tbsp / 1 stick) unsalted butter, at soft room temperature
140 g (5 oz) superfine sugar (I only used 100g regular evaporated cane sugar and might reduce further.  Plenty of sweet in that topping.)

For Sugar Shell Topping:
112 g (4 oz / 8 tbsp) vegetable shortening, at room temperature (I was out and used butter)
110 g (½ cup) superfine sugar
65 g (½ cup) powdered sugar
130 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
pinch of fine salt (again, generous pinches to offset the sugar)
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder, optional
1 ½ tsp cocoa powder, optional
(I used ½ tsp vanilla and 1½ tsp cinnamon)

Add flour, eggs, egg yolk, and salt to a mixer set with the dough hook. Start the mixer at low speed. Meanwhile, add yeast to water and stir until creamy and well dissolved. Pour into the flour mixture and let mixer continue to work, now over medium speed, for 3-4 minutes.

Add the butter, and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes. Lastly add the sugar, continue mixing for another 3 - 4 minutes or until the dough is gooey, sticky, elastic and very smooth.

Turn dough out of mixer, form into a slack ball and place in a greased bowl. (Mine certainly didn't need greasing with that nice buttery dough.)  Cover with plastic or a kitchen towel and let rise at a warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3-4 hours.  (5+ for a cold room!)

For the Sugar Topping: Cream the shortening (butter) and sugars together, then beat in the flour and salt; they will be crumbly. Use your hands to press the mixture together.  (I combined all the dry ingredients and then just cut in the butter with forks and then my fingers.)

Divide dough into thirds (~130 grams each third). If using matcha and cocoa, set one third aside (for white topping). Beat Matcha powder into another third (for green topping); set aside. Beat cocoa into final third (for brown/chocolate topping).  (Next time I would use a full tbsp cinnamon for one whole batch of topping.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease with shortening or butter.  Rub a bit of butter onto your hands to make for easy rolling.  (My dough was of a consistency that was just sticky enough to roll beautifully without extra butter.)  Divide dough into 12 (16) equal pieces and form into balls. Then, slightly press them flat, as in a thick disk. Leave about 2 inches of space between each of the conchas so they will have room to expand.
Divide your sugar topping into 12 (16) equal pieces (same number as dough balls). Form each into a ball and flatten into a thin disk. Place a disk on top of each dough ball and lightly press down. The sugar should cover basically the whole surface - it will pull away from the edges as the dough rises.

If you have a concha mold, press it on the sugar topping. If you don't have one, cut through the sugar topping with a knife or edge of a circle cutter, making shell-type lines.

Leave the prepared conchas in a warm area of your kitchen, uncovered, and let them rise again for about 2 hours, or until they've almost doubled in size.  (Mine did not rise or puff very much on the sheet, probably the spelt, but they spread and doubled in the oven to a nice, big palm sized bun.  I wouldn't want them any bigger!)
Preheat the oven to 350° F during last 15-20 minutes of rise time.  Slide the conchas into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the conchas are just golden around the edges and have puffed up.

Carefully remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.


You could leave the matcha and cocoa out and have all white sugar shells. You could also add food coloring, cinnamon, or finely ground freeze-dried fruit to the sugar shell to color and/or flavor it.

Butter or margarine can be used in place of the shortening.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Creamy Mango Ice Pops

"This is delicious!  Can I have another one?"  That's what I like to hear about a new treat.  I was looking for a creamy frozen treat that wasn't one of our normal flavors.  My eldest likes mango but the youngest usually turns up her nose at purchased frozen treats that are mango flavored.  So I was very pleased when the latter devoured this pop and immediately requested another.  These are flavors I really like as well.  I have become enamored with fresh nutmeg in the past few years and will probably never use jarred ground nutmeg again.  It is much more complex and appealing in its freshly grated state.  BTW, nutmeg and citrus grate and zest beautifully with a microplane grater.  I recommend having at least a little one around if you have room and budget for one.  Crystallized ginger is also another treat that we love in baked goods and blends perfectly with mango.  An altogether tropical and sunny treat.

I may try this mixture in a quick freeze zoku mold at some point but I am not sure if it is too creamy to release.  In a traditional mold these have  the creamy and icy combination of the slower freezing method.  One way to combat iciness is to use juice concentrate rather than fresh juice, though I would cut down on the amount by a third or more.  Another is to make sure the mixture is completely chilled before putting in the freezer.  S totally didn't care how the texture was and it didn't last long enough for me to inquire.  Depending on the sweetness of the mangoes, these pops could be taken back to only 1-2 tbsp sugar and still be plenty sweet.  Remember that the frozen product will taste less sweet than the liquid mixture when you are tasting.
Creamy Mango Ice Pops
makes about 10 3-oz. pops

1 cup Greek Honey flavored yogurt, measured generously
1 cup orange juice
1½ cups frozen mango, thawed (or fresh!)
3 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp crystallized ginger chips

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Pour into frozen pop molds of your choice.  If your mold does not have a cover to hold sticks, freeze the pops for an hour and then insert a popsicle stick into each mold.  Freeze until solid according to the mold directions, or overnight.  To remove pops, place mold briefly under warm running water.

Enjoy as a cooling summer treat, or a little bit of sunshine on a stick for the cooler months!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

L'Otto di Merano - an Italian Rye Bread with the BBB

I truly love a nice piece of buttered rye toast with jam for breakfast.  That's what I enjoyed this morning.  That firm chew of the rye, with just enough caraway for good flavor but not overpowering.  I probably could have used even a little more to no detriment.  I ended up with a lighter rye bread because light rye was the only flour I had, no dark.  Named for the figure eight form of the loaf, this was a nice little bread to make.

Now I don't know if I measured wrong at some point for the starter, but for the final dough I needed three times as much water as called for to get a workable dough.  And it was a nice firm dough.  Not too dry, but definitely more than 60g worth of water needed.  My starter hung out in the fridge for two days and then had fun perking on the counter all day before making the dough.  I think I am the only person in the house that loves rye so I will have to freeze it just for me or take some of it down to my folks in a while to share.  I think next time I will just make one round or a batard out of the dough, it looked very nice rising in the bowl, though the smaller loaves fit in the toaster better.  Here is the recipe with my changes in blue.  Check out the original post at blog from OUR kitchen!  Oh, looks like I won't have to freeze it, right now my girls are really enjoying this bread sliced with butter and with butter and jam. 

L'Otto di Merano

300g water at 100º F
1/8 tsp active dry or instant yeast
1 Tbsp (21g) barley malt syrup (Or 25g crushed malted rye berries)
75g dark rye flour (light rye)
100g unbleached all purpose flour

Final Dough
All of the starter
60g water, plus more if the dough is too dry (180g)
½ tsp active dry or instant yeast
27g (2 Tbsp) olive oil or lard
400g unbleached all purpose flour (100g all purpose, 100g sprouted spelt, 200g white spelt)
10g sea salt (12 g)
2.5g (1¼ tsp) caraway seeds (or fennel)

The night before baking the bread:
 In a medium bowl, mix the yeast and barley malt into the water, and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the starter ingredients and mix with a spoon until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature over night. 

The next day
 Dissolve the yeast into the rest of the water.  If you are using instant yeast, this step isn't necessary (just add it and the extra water to the starter without mixing).  Add the mixture to the starter and scrape the whole lot into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the lard or olive oil to the bowl.  Mix with the paddle attachment until blended.  Switch to the dough hook and add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the dough is smooth, about 4 minutes.  Add more water if necessary.  The dough should be soft and supple, but not sticky. 

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Divide dough in half and shape each half into a ball.  Place the shaped balls snugly next to each other on the parchment paper, and cover with a tea towel.  Let rise until doubled again, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.  Remove the tea towel and spray the dough lightly with water.  Place the baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack (use a baking stone if you have one) and bake the loaf for about 40 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Power Bread with the BBB

Shortcuts that work are a wonderful thing.  I wanted to make the BBB bread this month but it has been way too hot to use the oven.  So we had our first cool weekend in two months, I had company and then realized the bread usually takes 2-3 days to make.  Well it was going to be hot again the next day so I condensed that process down to one day with a few tweaks!  What follows is the recipe as posted on the host kitchen's blog.  And here are the changes I made and what I did to condense the timeline.  And really, everything got its 8-10 hours, just all at the same time!  The extra time would add more flavor and ease of digestion as well as some keeping quality.

I made the pre-soaker as listed only I used very hot water and let it soak for under an hour before blending with a stick blender. Then I added my soaker and biga ingredients at the same time. Here's how that worked: I used sprouted whole spelt and 20g whole grain emmer instead of the whole wheat and bran. To give a speed boost to the biga, I substituted sourdough starter, 300g, for the combination of flour and liquid, and I added another tbsp of milk as well. Mixed all those together for one giant starter and let it sit for most of the day. For the final dough I substituted sprouted millet ground into flour for the sunflower seeds, white spelt for the whole wheat, and coconut sugar for the sweetener. I also roughly ground the sesame seeds. Finally, to make the moisture appropriate for spelt, I added probably 1/3 cup more sprouted spelt while kneading. I only kneaded with a paddle for a few minutes, then did a good hand knead for 10-15 turns right before shaping. The gluten was ready for it then. The final rise was ready to bake in 35 minutes and I cut a deep slash down the center so it wouldn't shred too much in the oven as spelt tends to do for me. A final brush of butter on the warm loaf out of the oven gave it beautiful color. The next day, the loaf smells just amazing! It really reminds me of an old recipe called Squaw Bread I used to make in high school. The bread slices nice and thin but is very hearty. I think my favorite will be making toast with it. You can also make rolls out of this dough and I think they would make brilliant whole grain dinner rolls with rolled oats sprinkled on top.

Power bread
(adapted from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads")


71 g (or 2.5 oz or 6.5 Tbsp) raisins
14 g (or 0.5 oz or 1.5 Tbsp) flaxseeds
170 g (or 6 oz or 3/4 cup) water

Mix all pre-soaker ingredients together in a small bowl, cover, and let sit at room temp for 8-24 hours.

All of pre-soaker
170 g (or 6 oz or 1 1/3 cups) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
14 g (or 0.5 oz or 2 Tbsp) oat bran
4 g (or 0.14 oz or 1/2 tsp) salt

Puree the pre-soaker in a blender (or use a hand-held blender), and mix with the remaining soaker ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir for about a minute, until everything is thoroughly combined and it forms a ball. Cover the bowl and leave at room temp for 12-24 hours (or, refrigerate it for up to 3 days, but let sit at room temp for 2 hours before mixing the final dough). Go ahead and make the biga now.

170 g (or 6 oz or 1 1/3 cups) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
1 g (or 0.03 oz or 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
142 g (or 5 oz or 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp) milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk, or rice milk, at room temp

Mix all of the biga ingredients together in a large bowl. Wet your hands, and knead for 2 min. Then let it rest for 5 min and knead again for 1 min. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 8 hours to 3 days. Two hours before you're ready to mix the final dough, let the biga sit at room temp for 2 hours.

Final dough
All of soaker (at room temp)
All of biga (at room temp)
56.5 g (or 2 oz or 6 Tbsp) sunflower seeds, ground into a flour
56.5 g (or 2 oz or 7 Tbsp) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
28.5 g (or 1 oz or 3 Tbsp) sesame seeds, whole
4 g (or 0.14 oz or 1/2 tsp) salt
7 g (or 0.25 oz or 2.25 tsp) instant yeast
21 g (or 0.75 oz or 1.5 Tbsp) honey or agave nectar or sugar or brown sugar

Cut the soaker and the biga into 12 pieces each. (My starter was not firm enough to cut, but worked fine.)  Grind the sunflower seeds into flour in a blender, food processor, or spice grinder (gently pulse or it will turn into sunflower seed butter, not flour). Mix ground seeds with remaining ingredients, including the soaker and biga pieces. Knead the mixture with wet hands for 2 min, or until everything is thoroughly mixed. Dough should be slightly sticky; if it's very tacky, add more flour; if it's very dry and not sticky, add more water.

If using a stand mixer, put the pre-dough pieces and all of the other ingredients except the extra flour into the mixer with the paddle attachment or dough hook. Mix on slow speed for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl, for 2-3 minutes, until the pre-doughs become cohesive and combined. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

Dust your counter (or whatever you're using) with flour, and roll the dough around in it. Knead it for 3-4 min. Let the dough rest for 5 min, and then knead for another minute. At this point your dough should pass the windowpane test. If not, knead more until it can pass the test. Then form your dough into a ball, place it into a lightly oiled bowl, roll it around in the oil, and let it sit covered at room temp for 45-60 min (until it's about 1.5 times its original size).

Lightly flour your counter again, and form your dough into either a loaf shape or rolls. Put the loaf-shaped dough into a lightly oiled 8.5" x 4" loaf pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temp for 45-60 min (until it's 1.5 times its original size). Or, if making rolls, place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Preheat the oven and a steam pan (an empty metal pan on the bottom oven rack) to 425º. Put bread in the oven, pour 1 cup hot water into steam pan, and reduce oven temp to 350º. Bake for 20 min. Then remove steam pan, rotate bread 180 degrees, and bake for another 20-30 min, or until loaf or rolls are brown, have an internal temp of at least 195º, and have a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely (at least 1 hour) before serving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Avocado Berry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Our lettuce is doing beautiful in the garden.  That means fresh picked salad for lunch.  Today I departed from the normal chopped salad and went with a more bistro type fare with a dressing I don't normally make.  I like poppy seed dressing, but I've been playing around to come up with a version that has enough tang to balance out the sweet, and not too sweet overall.  I am happy enough with this one not to fiddle anymore.  This is a very satisfying lunch salad because of the pecans and avocado, but it would make a fabulous dinner salad, just by adding some sliced, herb grilled chicken on top, or salmon.

Salad for One
increase servings as desired

2-3 leaves fresh butter lettuce
2-3 leave fresh red leaf lettuce
4 strawberries, sliced
small handful blueberries
small handful pecans
1-2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 green onion, chopped
½ ripe avocado, sliced
mandarin oranges for garnish

Layer ingredients as desired.  You can make a pretty presentation or toss it all together if time is of the essence.
Drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of dressing right before serving.

Poppy Seed Dressing
makes 1 cup

3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp honey
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried onion flakes
¾ tsp sea salt
½ cup oil - if you can find it, use ¼ cup lemon infused olive oil and ¼ cup regular olive oil or sunflower oil
pinch fresh lemon zest (optional)
1½-2 tsp poppy seeds

Add vinegar, juice, honey, mustard, onion, salt and lemon zest, if using, to a blender.  Blend until the onion is broken down to little pieces, about 30 seconds.  With the blender running, stream in the oil slowly and steadily.  Add poppy seeds and give a pulse to combine.  Transfer to a serving bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.  Keep in the refrigerator.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Epic Sticky Buns with Sourdough Starter

I have previously posted a recipe for sticky buns in tribute to an awesome lunch lady from my youth.  Today I tweaked her recipe just a bit, combining it with a KA recipe for sourdough buns.  The result was a sticky bun worthy of my memories!  Even better than the original batch.  They were light, fluffy, tender and perfectly flavored with just the right amount of sticky.  The kind of bun where you unwrap it slowly from the outside and savor each round closer to the center.  Sticky perfection.  Yes, I am super happy with this recipe.  Partly because it is yet another way to use my awesome new sourdough starter from the Gold Rush.

Sourdough Sticky Buns
makes 12

½ cup sourdough starter (fed or unfed)
3 cups light spelt flour
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt
1 egg
4 tbsp softened butter
½ cup water (use 2/3 c if using all purpose flour)

3 tbsp butter, very soft
2-3 tbsp sugar

Sticky layer:
6 tbsp butter
5 tbsp honey
¾ cup light brown muscovado sugar

Melt and stir together the ingredients for the sticky layer in a saucepan until mixture is fully incorporated together.  Pour into the bottom of a 9x13" pan and set aside.

Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl or mixer and knead to make a soft and slightly sticky dough.  Let rest for 5 minutes and knead one or two more times until smooth.  Allow to rise, covered, for 1½ - 2 hours until almost doubled in bulk.

Knead a couple times to deflate the dough and place on a lightly greased work surface.  Use your fingers to gently push and pat the dough into a rectangle about 12x16".  Spread the dough evenly with the very soft butter.  Then sprinkle with a light coating of sugar.

Roll up the dough from the long side into a log.  It will be soft, just work carefully.  Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and place, cut side down, onto the sticky layer in the pan.  Cover and allow to rise for about an hour.  The dough will be very soft and puffy and they will have expanded to touching.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF when they are almost ready.  The dough is forgiving, I had to pop mine in the fridge for 20 minutes to run up and get the kids from school so it wouldn't over rise.  It still had terrific oven rise as well.

Bake the buns for 22-25 minutes until lightly browned.  They won't brown quite as much as regular buns because of the sourdough, but still a bit more than other sourdough recipes because of the extra sugar in the dough.

Remove pan from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then invert them onto a platter or lined board.  While they are amazing slightly warm, don't give yourself a sugar burn digging in to them too fast!  Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BBB - Romanian Easter Buns

This month the Bread Baking Babes went with an Easter themed bread, although it can also be found at other special occasions.  The original recipe was for a filled braid but I was struck by how much the dough reminded me of a previous BBB recipe: Ensaïmadas.  Those were such a treat that I decided to try to combine the two ideas and recipes, ending up with a filled, coiled bun instead of a braid.  And then I saw in the host kitchen's post that the Romanian version is sometimes shaped as a large coil.  Perfect.  I used only part spelt this time to ensure my dough could handle being rolled out so thin with filling.  Here is the recipe with my changes in red.

Romanian Easter Bread
makes 1 loaf or 12 large buns

3½-4 cups flour (500 g half all purpose, half white spelt + ¼ cup to make workable + 1 spoonful sourdough starter)
1½ tsp active dry yeast (2 tsp instant)
½ tsp grated fresh lemon zest
2/3 cup milk (200 ml milk, scalded)
4 tbsp unsalted butter (2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil)
¼ cup sugar (50 g)
½ tsp salt (1 tsp salt - and I would recommend that amount)
2 eggs

1/3 cup water (105 g water)
1/3 cup sugar (195 g light brown muscovado sugar)
1 cup finely ground almonds (or walnuts, poppy seeds, etc) (300 g ground pecans)
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (or use orange zest) (¾ tsp fresh lemon zest)
½ teaspoon cinnamon (1½ tsp cinnamon)

1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk (omitted - used a powdered sugar drizzle instead)

Combine flour and yeast in a bowl or stand mixer.  Scald the milk and add in the butter, sugar, salt and zest.  Mix until butter is melted and let cool to lukewarm.  Add cooled milk mixture and eggs to flour to combine.  Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth.  (Spelt requires less time.)  Cover dough and allow to rise until double, about an hour.  Punch dough down and divide into three (12) pieces.  Roll each into a 7x16" rectangle.  Spread each with a third of the filling, leaving a margin around the edges and roll up as for cinnamon rolls on the long side.  Seal edges and ends and braid the rolls together.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.

For buns, shape each of the 12 pieces into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes.  Flatten them and then proceed to rolling.

Roll each ball into a long, flat oval and spread with filling.  I used 2½ tbsp per roll and spread each with ½ tsp softened butter before the filling as well.

Roll up from the long side so the rope will be long enough to coil around.

Pinch the edges to seal.

Set aside as you continue to fill and roll.

Coil and place the buns on two parchment lined baking sheets.

Preheat oven to 365ºF.

Allow buns to rise until puffy and almost double.  Brush on glaze before baking if using a glaze.

Bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown.  (Bake braided loaf for 40 minutes)

Cool on wire rack.

Make a simple powdered sugar glaze with a cup of powdered sugar and 1-2 tbsp of milk to thin to desired consistency.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins - Quickbread Style

I already had a recipe for blueberry muffins that the family loved.  But I just came into possession of a new sourdough starter with roots going back to the gold rush.  And it is already doing wonderful!  I really wanted to keep it happy since it perked up so quickly after I received it.  It hadn't been fed for two months and still was doing amazingly great.  So I have been on a mission to use it and keep it happy.  We did a batch of our favorite chocolate waffles, added a bit to a loaf of granary bread to get the consistency perfect, and then I decided to try a muffin recipe.  Now while my kids love sourdough, I don't really prefer noticeable sour flavor in certain baked goods.  Since this recipe only made a few muffins, I thought it was a perfect trial.  I was very pleased with it, even before baking them.  I used tall muffin cups and got 6 huge muffins.  For standard baking cups or an unlined tin, I would suggest making 8 muffins.  There is no sour flavor since the sourdough just acts as the acidic activator for the leavening.  It's just like a quick bread.  They have great texture and an awesome crust.  Sublime with butter spread inside but delicious plain as well.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins
makes 6-8 muffins

1 cup sourdough starter (fed somewhat recently)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup light spelt flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup sugar
½ cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Combine the sourdough starter, egg, vanilla and butter until fully mixed.  In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, then toss in the blueberries.  Mix the dry ingredients with blueberries quickly and carefully into the wet mixture, taking care not to over mix.  Scoop batter into lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown and done.

Eat them warm, eat them cool, add butter or not.  Just enjoy!  And keep your starter happy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Brown eggs and natural dyes? Yes you can!

A couple years ago I did a post about natural Easter egg dyes.  They turned out great and only took a few hours of prep and soaking combined.  This week, a friend asked if the technique would work with brown eggs.  Good question.  I thought it would and since we always get pastured brown eggs from the farmer I figured I would try it out.  So here are my notes for doing brown eggs.

The method is the same.  Four cups of foodstuff chopped up (I used my food processor) into a quart of water, 3 tbsp for the turmeric which is dried spice.  Onion skins go a long way so you might even get away with 2 cups especially with the brown eggs.
Red/Pink:  Beets
Orange:  Yellow Onion skins
Yellow:  Turmeric
Green:  Red Cabbage + Turmeric
Blue:  Red Cabbage (For more navy blue tones, add blueberries)
Violet:  Red Cabbage + Beets

To make the dyes, use 4 cups of chopped or grated (beets, cabbage, onion skins) with one quart of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  Turmeric is 3 tbsp powdered spice per quart.  Bring to a boil, then cover and keep at a hard simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain the dye into a bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of salt.  Let cool until not steaming, then soak your hard boiled eggs for 30 minutes in the dye.  For all colors except red, rinse and set on a napkin to dry.  The colors will intensify somewhat when dry.
One thing I added this year, mostly because they were freezer burned because R left them uncovered in a bowl in there for weeks, was ¾ cup frozen blueberries to the red cabbage mixture.  I wanted to boost the blue a bit for brown egg dying.

Big Tip #1:  Heated dye works better.

Big Tip #2:  Multiple coats are your friend for the reds.

So for the red/pink, I did the normal 30 minute soak and then took them out carefully to set on a napkin to dry.  Really, additional coats after that can just be dipped in to get the best coverage and set to dry again.  There will be a prettier side and a not so pretty side.  I reheated the dye when it cooled off and did a few more coats.  I think there were at least 10 dunks to get what you see in the picture, but it only takes a second to dunk and set out.  Remember not to rinse the reds or purples.

For the orange, I had enough dry onion skins to fill a 2 Qt pan.  Those eggs I only soaked for 10-15 minutes since the dye looked very concentrated.  You will want to check on them every 5 minutes or so after 10 minutes.

The yellow also only soaked for about 15 minutes.  These eggs you will want to rinse since the turmeric leaves a powdery residue.  Be careful!  Turmeric stains big time.

The green turned out a little different because I didn't mix the dyes like last time, I did a double soak.  First in blue, then in yellow.  I think I like the mix better, but I still got some nice mossy greens.  Those two eggs were different browns, the one in front a very light brown.  The one in back really took the blue dye more.

Blue was an easy and straight forward soak.  I gave it another 15 minutes with reheated dye to get them nice and saturated with color.

Lastly were the purples.  Starting with a nice saturated blue soak, then a shorter soak in the red and a few extra coats of red added on to dry.  Same technique as for the plain red.  No rinsing when done.

I think the brown eggs turned out great and actually look almost the same as the white eggs with natural dyes.  Perhaps a smidge darker and more of a saturated color effect.  They did take a little bit more time to get the results I wanted.  But I didn't have to worry about getting eggs I wouldn't normally buy.  So there you go.  If you want to try brown eggs for dying, it works just fine!

Oh yes, here are the eggs straight from the farm.  Occasionally there are some that are a bit lighter and I tried to choose the lightest ones for the green.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding - No cook

The search continues for a cooked, corn starch free pudding.  But in the mean time, I found this amazing recipe in Danielle Walker's Against All Grain meals made simple cookbook.  It is a beautiful cookbook with large glossy photos and appealing recipes, not to mention make ahead options, nutrition facts and grocery lists.  She also has some great chocolate custard style pudding and fudgesicle recipes on her website that are cooked egg custard style.  S and I loved them but they were too rich and dark for R.  But this recipe, this uncooked, almost sugar free recipe is fantastic.  I can say yes to this treat any time without feeling like I am giving the kids something unhealthful.  It is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  Heads up, you really need a high speed blender to get this super silky smooth like regular pudding.  Otherwise the chia seeds can leave a little bit of gritty texture.  In the original recipe, the only sweetening is from pitted dates.  And it is great just that way too, but I found that I liked the roundness that just a tablespoon of maple syrup gave to the flavor.  Even my picky hubby thought the taste and texture was just about perfect.  Now that is a win!

Healthful No Cook Chocolate Pudding
serves 4-6

1 can (13.66 oz) coconut milk 
½ cup hot water
4.5 oz pitted dates (I used Medjool; Deglet Noor, which are smaller, would be around 18 dates)
½ cup raw cacao powder (I used fair trade cocoa powder)
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tbsp melted coconut oil (the mix gets hot enough you don't have to have it melted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional addition not in original recipe)
¼ tsp sea salt
dark chocolate shavings, coconut flakes or berries for garnish

Put everything in a high speed blender and process at high speed until completely smooth.  Danielle says for about 45 seconds but I let it go a couple minutes to get ultra smooth.

Pour/scoop into serving dishes, cover and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

 This is straight out of the blender and still warm and you can see how thick it is already.

Garnish with chocolate shavings or berries if desired.

Or get fancy and pipe it into a fancy serving goblet.  Garnish optional.

This mixture also makes fabulous fudgesicles!

Freeze overnight in dixie cups or a popsicle mold and enjoy!  My kids like peeling off the dixie cup paper.