Tag Archives: Bread

100% Whole Wheat

I was just thinking…

For Valentine’s Day, I want a knife.

No evil plans lurking anywhere, I swear!

I just want a knife that doesn’t mush my daily bread.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? Maybe you can recommend me one? (don’t worry, you will not become my accomplice in crime)

I’ve made this bread many times. I wanted to post today because I acquired some new whole wheat flour. It is from a small mill in Quebec. It’s stone-milled until very fine, and it’s organic. And kind of expensive.

You know those little flakes of bran in every bag of whole wheat flour? (at least the bags here in Canada) They cut into the gluten of the dough and prevent a nice high rise. And here is a crumb shot of a previous loaf so you can see the bran flakes for yourself.

So I thought maybe if I get a specially milled (and expensive) flour, it would be better.

And so it was. The loaf rose beautifully and had the fine crumb of a white loaf. Exactly the texture I was looking for. But the taste? Hm, it lacked the heartiness of traditional whole wheat bread; and was it my imagination, or did this loaf stale faster?

I know some people don’t like the taste of whole wheat because it is slightly bitter, but I do! What to do? Taste or texture? To be or not to be?

What do you think? What do you look for in a loaf of whole wheat bread? Besides comfort and sustenance, that is

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

adapted from King Arthur Flour, I altered to taste

Note: When I came to school this year, I actually brought a 25lb bag of KA all purpose. If they sold KA here in Quebec, I’d definitely try that.

3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. warm milk
2 Tbps. honey
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil

1. Pour water and milk into a large bowl, sprinkle yeast into it.
2. Stir in 3 cups of flour and all the rest of the ingredients.
4. Mix to form a cohesive mass. Now, depends on where you are and which season it is, you may need more or less flour. Just work in the flour until you get a soft dough.
5. Knead for 5 minutes, adding extra flour as required but try not to add too much.
6. Let rest for 2 mnutes and knead again for 5 minutes.
7. Put into an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk; this can take from 1-2 hours, depending on temperature.
8. Degas and form into a sandwich loaf and place in a greased 9×5 loaf pan.
9. Let rise again until almost doubled, about half hour to one hour. Make a slash down the center, if you like.
10. Towards the end of the baking time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
11. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the interior is 190 degrees F, or about 90 degrees C.(for those in Canada)

Whole Wheat Bread on Foodista

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Ceiling Art

Let’s play 20 questions:

Q1. What happens when you try to blend chickpeas in a blender?
A. They get stuck on the sides of the blender.

Q2. What do you do to get them down so you can puree them?
A. You open the top of the blender while it’s running and you scrape down the sides with a metal spoon.

Q3. Does that work?
A. Yes, surprisingly, it does.

Q4. Doesn’t the chickpeas fly out?
A. No, they don’t. Not unless you accidentally poke the whirling blade with your spoon.

Q5. !!!
A. 😀 I’m ok.

Q6. So what happened?
A. My kitchen got a makeover…I got ceiling art!

Q7. Uh, so what do you do to prevent that?
A. Don’t touch the blade while it’s on! Or use a food processor.

No…that wasn’t me. I would never put hummus on the ceiling. That was somebody else. I did, however, have fresh, homemade pita and hummus yesterday. I love hummus…garlicky, creaming goodness.

And watching pitas puff like balloons in the oven is so much fun!

You should try one day. 🙂

Just use a food processor.

Hummus
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 1/2 c. canned chickpeas, drained, but reserve the liquid
2 Tbsp. tahini (substitute smooth peanutbutter in a pinch!)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil (available at most Asian groceries)
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
olive oil, to drizzle on top

1. Add all ingredients except for the olive oil to the food processor.
2. Puree until smooth.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with warm pitas.

Pita
makes 6 small

3/4 c. warm water
1 tsp. yeast
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour (I sneaked in 1/4 c. whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Add yeast to warm water in a large bowl and let stand for a couple minutes.
2. Add the salt, sugar, oil, and 1 1/2 c. flour. Mix until smooth.
3. Gradually knead in the last 1/4 c. of flour until you get a smooth, elastic ball, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Divide the dough into 6 portions and form each into a ball. Let rest 10 minutes. Crank up your oven as high as it can go, mine’s 500 degrees F. Put a cookie sheet upside down in the middle.
6. Roll out each ball on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. If too thick, pitas won’t puff properly.
7. Bake each pita about 3-4 minutes, or until puffed and the very lightest brown.

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Sourdough English Muffins

I hate teeth.

Why must we have these 32 little “bones” in our mouths? Do we even need that many anyways?

Maybe I hate teeth because they ache sometimes.

My mom used to say that toothaches are the worst kind of pain. She’s probably right. After all, she had 3 of us little rascals.

Back to teeth…I was wondering, why can’t we have teeth like we have hair?

You know, no nerves, no blood vessels attached? They can just grow and grow and grow.

And we’ll get a “teethcut” every once in a while…

And we can even get “teethstyles”!!

Is that too crazy?

Ok, I’ll let you chew on that…in the mean time, let’s talk about something completely painless.

50% Whole wheat sourdough english muffins.

This recipe was adapted from a post by kjknits on The Fresh Loaf, who adapted from it from King Arthur Flour Baking Circle. It is my first time making English muffins, since like the 99.9 percent of people, I get my little rounds of holey-ness from supermarkets, but I have been meaning to make them for a while, ever since I got my own sourdough starter going a couple months ago.

What better time to have them than Saturday morning breakfast?

So I mixed the starter, milk, and flour together last night, and let it ferment to wonderful puffiness overnight. This morning while still in PJ’s and crusty-eyed I added sugar, salt, baking soda, and extra flour to finish the dough. Stamped them into rounds promptly and left them to rise for 45 minutes. During which I took a shower and had some coffee.

After that everything took its course very naturally…and here we are!

The taste is fairly close to store-bought, though I might add a touch less baking soda next time. No hint of sourness at all, thanks to the baking soda. After I dumped the soda in it dawned to me…wait a minute, acid plus base equals bye bye tangy-ness…oops. It’s ok, everything worked out in the end. I had faith.

As for the texture…is it all nooks and crannies? Well…not exactly. You get a bit of holey-ness, a couple were nice and holey, but mostly it’s more of a soft pillowy-ness. Not to worry, it still absorbed butter like a sponge.

All right, I’m going to let you decided what you think about them, along with “toothcuts” and  “toothstyles”, not to mention “toothdyes” and “tooth salons”…

Sourdough English Muffins

Makes about 12 (smallish, 2.5 inch in diameter)

1/2 C. starter (mine is a 100% hydration white starter)
1 C. milk
1 c. all purpsoe whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose white flour

3/4 c. all purpose white flour (use as much as needed to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough)
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting

1. Combine the first 4 ingredients, cover, and let rise for 8 hours or overnight.
2. Stir in the sugar, salt, and baking soda.
3. Work in enough flour to form a smooth dough, it’s ok if it’s slightly sticky.
4. Knead for 4-5 minutes, adding flour as required. (a dough scraper is helpful here)
5. Roll or pat into a round between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch thick.
6. Cut into rounds.
7. Let rise for 45 minutes on baking sheet dusted with semolina or cornmeal.
8. Heat a skillet or griddle on medium heat and spray lightly with oil.
9. Working in batches, cook the muffins about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until light brown. (I used a cast iron skillet and turned the heat lower to prevent burning)
10. As I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this: split and butter and devour.

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Flakey Buttery Croissants

One might say that I’m picky when it comes to croissants. I don’t like the regular super market vegetable shortening-laden pastries that they call croissants. They have no real butter taste and no real flakiness. The perfect croissant for me has a flakey exterior with a hint of crunch and a soft, chewy interior that isn’t too airy. And an overwhelming taste of butter, of course.

Croissants like that are readily available from any of the excellent bakeries in Montreal, and so I’ve never attempted to spend most of the day in the kitchen, laboring over homemade ones. Until now. After reading Shirley O. Corriher’s recipe in her wonderfully useful and scientific book Bakewise I decided, you know, I’ve got so much time on my hands, why not try it?

So I did.

As far as first attempts go, it isn’t bad. Shirley described her croissants and very flakey, and I thought to myself, flakey is good. I mean, flakey is good, and I would never think that a pastry could be too flakey. But that is what they turned out to be. Too flakey. Which in turn gave them too much crunch on the outside. The inside, however, is nice and moist and chewy.

Also, the croissants had oodles of butter and oozed and pooled when they were baking that I was reluctant to peek in the oven. Doing so made me feel too guilty. 😉

So, in the end, I reached these two conclusions about making my own croissants:

  1. VERY time consuming, not that I didn’t know that from the beginning.
  2. VERY guilt-inducing, more so than buying bakery croissants.

I think I will probably stick with bakeries, since they do such a good job and have the time that I don’t. That is not to say that I won’t give it another go if one day I get snowed in and want to add some padding in preparation for hibernation.

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“Best of 2000” Cinnamon Buns – End of July NaBloPoMo

First of all, thank you Ms. Kanis! You were always a wonderful, attentive, fair teacher who knew what she was doing!

This recipe came from a cooking class I took back in high school. No other cinnamon bun recipe, prior to, or post, this one, has impressed me as much. To me, these are truly the BEST. Not just from the year 2000 either.

Very few foods offer me the pleasure of wiping my brain clean, then flooding with the very taste and texture of it. I don’t often go, “WOW, this is GOOD.” Once was a pizza I ate in junior high, it tasted vaguely of butter. Don’t ask. Another time was during eighth period Culinary Arts, a single bite of cinnamon sugar encrusted brioche-tasting dough.

After I lost the recipe last year, I have searched up and down, in and out, for it. Finally, when I went back to Jersey earlier this summer I visited Ms. Kanis at my high school to get a copy. So so happy I have it again. It’s gem.

I think I can justify eating one for breakfast if it wasn’t glazed. Save the glazed ones for dessert, although the glazed ones are definitely better than the non-glazed. The taste of butter dominates in the glaze and adds an extra “oomph” to the bun. These are sticky, chewy, gooey. Everything you need in a cinnamon bun.

This remains one of the only recipes that I do not alter.

“Best of 2000” Cinnamon Buns
adapted from Ms. Kanis, WWPHSS, with much love and gratitude
makes 12 large buns

Dough:
1 package active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp.
1/2 c. warm water
1/3 c. plus 1/2 tsp. sugar, divided
1/2 c. warm milk
1/3 c. butter, unsalted, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 1/2 c. to 4 c. all-purpose flour or bread flour

Filling:
1/2 c. melted butter, unsalted, divided
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. chopped walnuts, I toasted mine first
3/4 c. raisins, optional, we didn’t use it in class, and I’ve never used it

Glaze:
1/3 c. melted butter, unsalted
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-4 Tbsp. hot water

To make the dough:

  1. Combine yeast, warm water, and 1/2 tsp. sugar in a measuring cup and stir, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix warmed milk, remaining 1/3 c. sugar, butter, salt, and egg; stir well and add yeast mixture.
  3. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Work in enough of the remaining flour to make a slightly stiff dough, it will be sticky.
  4. Turn out onto a well-floured counter. Knead 5-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour to the work surface as needed to keep it from sticking. As Ms. Kanis used to say, “As smooth as a baby’s bottom, or as smooth as my grandmother’s cheek.”
  5. Place in a well-buttered bowl, cover and let ruse until doubled in bulk. You can place it in the fridge overnight.

To make the filling:

  1. Punch down the dough and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll out on floured counter into a 15 by 20 inch rectangle.
  2. Spread dough with 1/4 c. melted butter.
  3. Mix together 3/4 c. sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle walnuts and raisins, if using.
  4. Roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting from the short side, so you end up with a 15 inch. log. Pinch edges to seal and cut into 12 slices
  5. Coat the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking pan (I used two 9 inch round pans) with remaining 1/4 c. melted butter. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar. Place slices close together in pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. Once again, you can refridgerate overnight. For a treat in the morning!
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 23-30 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let cool slightly, then spread with glaze.

To make the glaze:

  1. Mix melted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 Tbsp. at a time until glaze is of desired consistency.
  2. Stir again before using.

If there is anything that makes me happy, even when I’m down, it’s these cinnamon buns. It fills your house with the comforting scent of cinnamon and sugar and your heart with happiness. Enjoy. 🙂

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Comfort Food, Pastries

Accidental Rice Cake (Persimmon and Pecan Batter Bread)

What happens when your bread goes Ka-Ka-POO  in the oven? Here. This happens.

Chewy crust, soft and gooey interior. Doesn’t that sound like Chinese rice cakes? The kind that is eaten around Chinese New Year, that is steamed, baked, or fried. It  is often flavoured with brown sugar, red bean paste, or lotus paste. It is also made of rice. Which is not the case of my fallen loaf. I remember a friend’s mom used to make a baked rice cake that she would bring to church. It was filled with red bean paste and had a crust that was just like my unfortunate sweet bread.

So what happened?

I am not 100% sure. But I am certain that this happened once before. I suppose it is the danger of batter breads. Batter breads are your friend. They require little effort to mix, rise, and bake. The result is soft and buttery. Like the Cloud Nine Bread, found here. The last failure on batter bread I attributed to too much liquid and a too slack dough. So I amended that this time. The dough was of the right consistency and everything looked all right while rising and even in the oven. I take it out. I turn the pan upside down. The poor thing collapses.

I cut it open a little while later and find an unexpected treasure. Chinese “rice” cake. One studded with dried persimmon and pecans that is.

The other thing I changed from the basic white batter bread is the addition of a little extra sugar to make a sweeter loaf and added a bit of extras, like the chopped fruit and nuts. Maybe the dough can’t stand the extra burden from the fruits and nuts? Also, I switched flours. When batter bread still worked for me I had been using King Arthur’s Unbleached White Flour. These past two times I’d used a new bread flour that we bought. Maybe it’s the flour? I’m going to make another Cloud Nine Bread next week with the new flour and see what happens with a straight batter.

I still don’t quite understand. What do you think happened?

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Green Onion Pancakes

This is yet another dish I seldom order when eating out at a Chinese restaurant. Not that they don’t get it right. Most places make acceptable pancakes. It’s hard to totally botch them. They are pretty easy to make. However, a lot of restaurants fry them in a ton of oil and the appetizer end up greasy. Not good. So I make it at home. Usually though, I make it with leftover dough, such as from making dumplings. There are many things that can be done with a piece of leftover dough. It’s a marvelous thing.

Dumpling dough is very lean, made with simply water and flour. It makes a good, chewy base for the pancakes. Use plenty of fresh green onions. Take care not to over salt and add too much oil, or you’d have hell with the rolling process.

I find these addictive and will nimble on it all day. It is best when it’s warm and crisp. Nimble nimble…there goes my waistline.

Green Onion Pancakes

Leftover lean dough, unleavened, if that is unavailable:
Mix 2 cups of flour with about 2/3 cup of cold water slowly, adding more flour or water as needed to make a malleable, slightly sticky dough. Knead 2-3 minutes. Let rest for at least 20 minutes.
1/2 cup chopped green onions, use more if you wish
2 Tbsp. oil
salt to taste
oil for frying (3-4 Tbsp.)

Roll out the dough into a large circle 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with oil, salt, and green onions. Roll up like you would cinnamon bun dough. Seal both sides. Cut into 2 inch segments. Twist and pinch to close each open end of each piece. Make sure it’s closed well. Roll out each piece. Flour your work space as needed. If the green onions burst out of the dough, it’s okay, just keep rolling.

Heat a frying pan with 1 Tbsp. oil until hot. Maintain the heat at medium. Fry each pancake 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add more oil as needed, one tablespoon at a time. Nibble away!

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