The Little Things

Lot’s of sunshine, seasonable temperatures, and the little things made today a perfect fall day in the Finger Lakes.  It was one of those days when I felt like a lot got done.   I baked homemade cinnamon pumpkin (yeast) bread, made an apple pie, AND whipped up a dish of coleslaw for dinner to boot.

Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like spending that much time in my kitchen!

Once I closed the kitchen down for the afternoon I headed out for some fresh air.  These little plants, or should I say weeds, were begging to have their pictures taken.  And so I obliged and I even gave them each a caption.

Sunny Fall Flowers
Sunny and Bright; Yellow and White
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More Pink Than Purple
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Pretty and Periwinkle

What kind of weekend did you have?  Busy, slow, productive, or not so much?

 

 

 

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread (Yeast)

Slathered in butter, made into a sandwich, or toasted; there is nothing better than homemade bread.  Many bakers are intimidated by the process of making homemade bread.  But I’m here to tell you there is no reason to be.  Especially, if you use this recipe. 

The canned pumpkin in this recipe helps make this bread super moist and practically no fail.  There is no fancy mixer needed either.  I simply use a wooden spoon and mix the dough by hand.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 1/4 c. for 1st kneading

1 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tbsp. instant yeast

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. olive oil

3/4 c. pureed pumpkin

1 c. water

Grease 1 large loaf pan.

In a large bowl; add flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt, , cinnamon,  oil,  and pumpkin puree. Lightly stir ingredients until blended. Pour in water and mix by hand until all ingredients are combined.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface (using the 1/4 cup of flour you set aside). Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball. Place ball in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set in draft free location, and rise until doubled.

On lightly floured surface; punch dough down and roll into one large loaf. Place in prepared pan; cover and let rise until nearly doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the loaf sound hollow when tapped. Turn onto cooling rack and brush with butter.

Do you make homemade bread?  If so, how frequently? 

Homemade Hearty Rye Oatmeal Bread

I usually make a lot of homemade bread during the winter months, but this year I have to admit that I’ve been a slacker. 

Today, I decided my slacker days are over. 

The thing I like most about homemade bread? Other than it’s deliciousness? There are zero preservatives in it. 

These loaves of bread didn’t rise particularly high, but the texture and flavor is exactly what I was looking for.  This recipe makes a moist, dense, and hearty stick to your ribs kind of bread.   I can’t wait to toast a slice and slather it with homemade jam!

Homemade Hearty Rye Oatmeal Bread

(Makes two loaves of bread)

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

2 cups boiling water

4 tsp. instant yeast

1/4 c. warm water

1/8 c.  honey

1/8 c. molasses

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 c. rye flour

2 c. all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, soak oatmeal in two cups of boiled water for about 20 minutes, or until it cools and is just warm.  Add  remaining ingredients in order; mix by hand.  The dough will be slightly sticky.  On a moderately floured surface, knead dough into a ball.  Place ball into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Let rise until doubled.

Knock dough down and cut in half.  Knead each half on lightly floured surface for about two minutes; shape into loaves.  Place loaves in greased bread pans and cover with towel.  Let rise until nearly doubled. 

Bake at 350 degrees about 20-25 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove from oven and lightly brush olive oil on top of each loaf.  Remove loaves from pans and allow to cool before cutting.

*Note – if the yeast is added to the oatmeal mixture before it has cooled sufficiently, it will hinder your bread from rising properly. 

How do you feel about preservatives? Do you read food labels when you shop?  If so, what is most important to you when you choose a product?

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Rustic Oat Bread

Rustic Oat Bread

It’s that time of the year here in the Northeast. Our ovens become our winter friends.  They heat our kitchens,  fill our homes with wonderful aromas, and help us produce delicious comfort foods that warm our souls.

I love making homemade bread, and a chilly day with snow in the air gives me just the reason to do it.

What could be better than a warm slice of bread without any preservatives, and topped with fresh butter?  Hmmm… maybe a piece of toast  slathered with homemade strawberry jam that was made with plump berries from Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg, NY.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Rustic Oat Bread

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. water

2 tbsp. butternut squash seed oil

3 tbsp. brown sugar

1 c. oatmeal, plus extra for topping

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for kneading

2 tbsp. honey

In a small saucepan, add milk, water, oil, and brown sugar.  Bring to boil; stirring constantly.  Once boiling, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour milk mixture over oatmeal; mix ingredients.  Let stand until lukewarm.

Add yeast and flour; mix completely.  On lightly floured surface knead dough by hand for approximately 7 minutes.   Place in a large bowl greased lightly with squash seed oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Cut in half,  briefly knead each half into a ball.  Place each ball a distance apart from each other on a floured cookie.  Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush each ball of dough with honey, and sprinkle lightly with oatmeal.  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until bread is golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped.  Transfer to wire baking rack to cool.

*Baker’s note – I made this hearty bread with Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods Butternut Squash Seed Oil that’s produced in Geneva, NY. I like using squash seed oil because it gives food a deliciously light nutty flavor.  If you don’t have squash seed oil you can always substitute it with olive oil.

Homemade Rustic Oat Bread & Strawberry Jam

Here is a question for you local foodies.  Will Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods  and Silver Queen Farm be nominated for a Finger Lakes Foodie award this year?

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Hamming it up

I’m a fortunate girl.  My husband is an awesome cook and he actually enjoys cooking.  We share the cooking responsibilities in our house and we each have our own cooking style, favor certain herbs, and there are things I make that he typically doesn’t, and vice versa.

For example, while I am the exclusive mac and cheese maker in the house, he turns out the chicken wings.

For Easter we bought a Tavern Ham which he immediately took charge of.  He sliced the ham thin, piled it into a hotel pan and flavored it with a honey mustard sauce and a few of his secret ingredients.  As usual, it was a huge hit.

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With the baking of this ham we had leftovers.  And that’s where I came in.  I decided to make some homemade bread so we could make enjoy tasty ham sandwiches.

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I made my Soft White Bread recipe but substituted 2 cups of whole wheat flour for 2 of the cups of all-purpose flour. 

Without question, homemade bread takes some time to make but it is well worth the effort.

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I think you might be hard pressed to find a deli sandwich that could compare to this one.  But if you happen to know of a deli that serves up homemade sandwiches like these I’d love to hear about it!

Who does the cooking in your house?

No Knead Italian Cheese Bread

Any excuse to make homemade bread works for me.  Oh, we’re having pasta for dinner. What a perfect opportunity to make that new bread recipe I’d been waiting to try out. 

And what could be better than a warm bowl of pasta and Italian cheese bread?  My point exactly…

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I should probably attach a warning to this recipe.  This bread is so good you won’t be able to eat just one slice.  Hence, you’ve been warned!

This recipe came from the Pillbury’s  More Lovin’ From The Oven cookbook and it is considerably different than most bread recipes.  The first difference is there is no kneading required – yea!  The second, it only has to rise once, not twice – yea again!  And lastly, this bread is baked in a Bundt pan making it easy to slice and pretty to serve.

Quite often I modify recipes to suit my own tastes but the only modifications I made to this recipe was the reduction of salt by a half of teaspoon, and the exclusion of sesame seeds.

Ingredients:

Dough

2 tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

4 1/2 –  5 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 pkg. active dry yeast

1 c. water

1 c. milk

1/2 c. margarine or butter

2 eggs

Filling:

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 c. margarine or butter, softened

Directions:

Generously grease a 12-cup fluted tube, or 10” tube pan.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).

In large bowl, measure 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; mix well. 

In medium saucepan, add water, milk, and 1/2 cup of margarine; heat until very warm (120 – 130 degrees).

Add warm liquid and eggs to flour mixture.  Mix until moistened.  Stir in remaining flour and continue mixing until batter stiffens.

*Note – I found the batter was ready when it pulled from the sides of the bowl but was still sticky.  I would recommend using a stand mixer with dough attachment for this recipe – I did manage with a small hand held kitchen mixer, and by hand,  but I won’t encourage you to do the same.

In small bowl, make filling and mix all ingredients completely.

Spoon half of  batter into the prepared pan.  Carefully spoon filling over top of the batter. 

*Note – be sure to keep the cheese filling away from the edges of the pan. If too much cheese seeps out of the sides the bread will stick to the pan. I had a little trouble with my bread sticking to the center of the pan because of this.

Spoon in remaining batter over filling.

Cover batter with the plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Let rise in warm place until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove bread from pan immediately after removing from oven.  Serve warm or cool.  This recipe serves 24.

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So what’s your excuse going to be?

Mashed Potato Bread

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There is nothing more inviting than fresh bread baking in the oven.  Since I started this blog I’ve made rye, wheat, pumpkin cheese, soft white, and now mashed potato bread. Pick my favorite?  Impossible.  They all are good, have their own unique qualities, and make a mean sandwich.

The more I make homemade bread the easier it gets and the less I like buying store bought bread. There are no preservatives in homemade bread and it’s very economical to produce.

Homemade jam and homemade bread toasted are a match made in heaven.

What more can I say? 

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 tsp. yeast

1 1/2 c. mashed potatoes

1 cup water

3/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. milk

1/4 c. margarine

1 egg

5 3/4 c. flour, plus 1 cup for kneading

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, salt, yeast, and 1 cup of flour.  In a separate bowl measure out remaining flour.

In a medium saucepan, add mashed potatoes, water, heavy cream, milk, and margarine.  Heat to about 120 degrees.

Add 1 cup of liquid to yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed (with mixer) or thoroughly by hand until well blended.  Alternate remaining flour and liquid to yeast mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl often.  Beat in egg.  When dough starts to pull from the sides of the bowl remove and place on floured surface.

Knead dough for approximately 5 – 8 minutes.  Form into a ball and place in a large greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Once dough has doubled, remove from the bowl, punch down and  turn on lightly floured surface.  Cut and and shape into desired sized loaves.

Place dough into greased pans.  Let rise until nearly doubled.  Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until bread is hollow when tapped and light golden brown.  Brush with margarine after removing from oven.  Cool slightly in pans before removing.

*Tip – I cooked 4 medium potatoes which yielded 1 1/2 cups mashed.  In a pinch you can use instant mashed potatoes. 

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Soft White Bread

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Ever since I made Pumpkin Cheese Bread that turned out so light and moist I have been on a quest to find a soft white bread recipe. 

When I found this bread recipe in an older Betty Crocker Cookbook I decided to give it a try although I’m not sure that the recipe is as important at technique when it comes to bread making.  I defied the recipes instructions and made the bread based on a few techniques that have worked well for me in the past.

1.) I used as little flour as I possibly could.  I prefer the dough be a little sticky prior to, and during the first kneading.

2.)  I tried to avoid overworking the dough.  I mixed by hand, and didn’t knead bread for an extended period of time.  This recipe advised to knead it for 10 minutes (prior to the first rising) – I kneaded it for about 5 minutes.

3.) When I punched the dough down (after the first rising) I briefly kneaded the dough to get the air bubbles out and then formed into loaves.  This recipe called for dividing the dough into halves and rolling each half into a 18×9 inch rectangle.

4.)  I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  Not a 425 degree oven for 30-35 as this recipe called for.

Recipe

2 tbsp. yeast

3/4 c. warm water (105 – 115 degrees)

2 2/3 c. warm water

1/4 c. sugar

1 tbsp. salt

3 tbsp. margarine, melted

6 1/2 c. flour – plus additional flour for kneading

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 c. of warm water.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Add the 6 1/2 cups of flour to stiffen the dough but leave it slightly sticky. Mix thoroughly.  If you feel it’s necessary to add more flour, do so gradually.

On a lightly floured surface knead bread until it forms a nice round ball and is no longer sticky (about 3-4 minutes).  Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled – about 1 hr. 

Punch down and knead briefly to remove air bubbles (about 2 minutes), shape into loaves.  In this case I split the dough so I could make an 8×8 inch pan of cinnamon rolls and got one large and one medium-sized loaf of bread.

Let the loaves rise until doubled – about 1 hr. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Brush with the tops with softened margarine or butter.

This bread turned out super soft and moist just as I had hoped for. 

Do you like making bread?  Do you have any bread making tips?

Whole Wheat Bread

My mother will never know this because unfortunately she’s no longer with us but she really taught me the art of baking.  She was an excellent baker, as well as an excellent cook.  Me, I’ve always steered more toward baking than cooking.  From a young age I was whipping up cake batters, cookies, and strawberry shortcakes.

I truly can’t remember one thing that mom baked that didn’t turn out perfect.  She made making pies look like the easiest thing on earth, never having to piece together a crust like I’ve had to do on more than one occasion.   Her sugar cookies were the sweetest and softest I’ve ever brought to my lips.  Sweet enough to risk getting caught stealing them out of the freezer where she kept them for “safe keeping” before Christmas. I will never make rice pudding like she did, even following her recipe.

The other day I decided that with the cold weather setting in I’d make a couple of loaves of  whole wheat bread.  I love the fall for this reason.  Everything seems to slow down a bit and I can focus more on cooking and baking.   While I was making the bread I wondered what mom would think if she were sitting at my counter watching me. I decided she’d probably be very glad that I enjoy baking like I do, maybe she would give me some helpful tips, but she would probably wonder why I couldn’t make bread without making my kitchen such a mess.  It doesn’t matter how careful I am not to get flour all over the place, it still happens and sometimes I swear the more careful I am, the bigger mess I make.

This recipe for the whole wheat bread came from one of my favorite Williams-Sonoma cookbooks called Baking.  The recipe gave me the option of mixing by hand, or with a mixer and a dough hook.  I opted for the dough hook, so out came the mixer

I have never used the mixer to make bread before. I’ve always made my bread by hand or cheated and used my bread maker.  I have to say it was nice letting the mixer do the work for me.  It was also nice getting more than one loaf of bread, not an option when I use the bread maker.

The recipe is as follows, with a few adaptations.

In a bowl, whisk the whole wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups of bread flour (I used all-purpose flour in place of the bread flour). In a large bowl, or bowl of  the electric mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour mixture, salt, and yeast. In a saucepan over low heat, combine 1 cup of water, the milk, molasses, and butter. Heat to lukewarm (110 degrees). Stir this liquid mixture into the yeast mixture and beat until hard and smooth. Add the remaining flour, mix and knead. If  kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes. If using a mixer with dough hook  the dough should pull cleanly from the sides of your bowl (about 6-7 minutes.) *Note the dough will be heavy.

Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled. ( About 1 -1 1/2 hours).

Grease two loaf pans. Turn the dough onto lightly floured surface and cut in half. (The recipe tells you to roll flat, and then roll up tightly and pinch the seams to seal.) I formed each half into an oval loaf, and place in the greased pans. Cover the pans with a clean towel, and let rise until doubled. (About 45-60 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the loaves with egg yolk (I skipped this stage, and brushed the loaf with butter when it came out of the oven for a softer crust.) Bake until golden brown, and the loaves sound hollow when you tap them. (About 30-40 minutes).  Transfer to a wire rack and cool. When the pans are cool enough to touch take the bread out of them.

I figure if my mom was here to taste my bread she would have overlooked the mess I made of my kitchen and said it was all worth it in the end.  The bread sure tastes good toasted with the homemade peach jam I made this summer.

Do you prefer to bake, or cook?  Did someone teach you the art?  If so, who was it?

The baking buzz

 

You know how you feel when you’ve had too much caffeine?  That’s how I felt Saturday afternoon after I got a new cookbook.  As I flipped through the pages from one recipe to the next I became more and more inspired.  Suddenly, I had my second wind and was ready to bake.    It was either that, or mow the lawn.  What would you rather do?

Rye bread is one of the things I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. We bought caraway seeds and rye flour some time ago.  However, it seems like I haven’t had the energy, time, or the right recipe to make bread.  Typically, if I’m craving homemade bread I get out the old bread machine and let it do the work for me.   It hasn’t always been that way.  It’s something that I discovered started happening after I received the bread maker as a gift. 

Saturday was different though.  I knew it was all or nothing….  The dough went together quite quickly, the recipe was straight forward.  During the bread making process I also found the time to make chocolate chip cookie bars and watermelon ice (see my previous posts) and my time  was well spent.

The bread turned out wonderful.  We’ve eaten nearly a whole loaf, and froze the other for a day when I just don’t have the baking buzz.   

And here is the finished product!