Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Multi-Grain Bread

Today Dylan and I made Multi Grain Bread, loosely based on a recipe in an out of print cookbook (The Book of Bread by Jones and Jones) .

Here's the recipe with our changes:
2 cups boiling water
1 cup stone-ground white corn meal
1 cup stone ground grits
1 cup oatmeal
2 T active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
at least 4 cups white flour, unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
1 cup sour cream or yogurt (we used about 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup buttermilk)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 T Kosher salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar
Pour the boiling water over corn meal, the grits, and the oatmeal and set aside to cool.
Add 1 cup of white flour and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat to the mixture and beat well.
Stir in the yeast, bran, sour cream/buttermilk mixture), milk, sugar, oil and salt.
Add the remaining white flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is stiff.

I then changed to a dough hook and kneaded the bread, adding flour as needed. How much flour you need varies with the humidity and with the types of oatmeal, corn meal and grits that you use.

Continue to knead either with the machine or by hand, ending with some on the counter kneading. When the dough is smooth, form it into a ball and put it in a greased bowl.

Dylan is putting the dough into the greased bowl in the pictures below. He was so proud that he could pick up the whole amount of the dough and throw it into the bowl.

We covered it in plastic and to tell the truth we left it for most of the day. After rising about three hours, we punched it down and left it until about 3 PM before we shaped the loaves.

I love about bread making that you can ignore the rising bread and get back to it whenever. With just a little attention (punch it down, turn it over), it keeps doing the rising process and doesn't seem to mind the neglect!

The three loaves at the beginning of this post are the result of our labors.

We had to taste it right out of the oven. Ummmmm, ummmmm, Good!
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Buttermilk Honey Bread - Part Two

As soon as I posted Part One, the timer went off and this bread was ready to come out of the oven. It makes great toast and sandwiches. Generally I am a fan of cooking with buttermilk.

I was sad to find out, as I set up the Part One post, that the Beth Hensperger book from which this recipe came is out of print. There are two copies on Amazon listed at over $144 and higher. You might also be able to find it on I searched and found a few softcover copies of the book (mine is hardbound) for much less money.
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Buttermilk Honey Bread - Part One

We spent Christmas in the North Georgia Mountains and came home today to a completely empty pantry. We needed bread but didn't have any oatmeal or any eggs or anything special, so we had to find a tried and true recipe that required nothing that wasn't in the pantry.

Dylan and I decided to make Buttermilk Honey Bread from my favorite Beth Hensperger cookbook, The Bread Bible. We had the buttermilk and I'm a beekeeper so we always have wonderful honey from my bees.

Often Dylan and I make bread and when he's asleep for nap, I shape the loaves and bake them. Today we started early enough that I was able to show him how to shape the loaves. We cut the dough into two parts for two 9X5 pans. We flattened the dough and Dylan is, in the first picture, using his fingertips to press out the air bubbles.

Then we began to roll up the loaf, sealing each roll by pressing the dough of the roll against the flat dough beneath.

Dylan loved that it got "fatter and fatter" as we rolled.

In the end we pinched the seam tight shut and used the side of our hands to flatten and seal the ends of the loaves.

Here are the ingredients:

3/4 cup warm water
1 T active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 T butter, melted
3 T honey
1 T salt
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour

Soften the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Warm the buttermilk and add the melted butter and honey. Add the yeast mixture after it has proofed for about 10 minutes. Then add the salt and 2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and continue mixing. I used a mixer and change to a dough hook after about 5 cups of flour. Knead the bread until it looks right and leave it to rise in a greased bowl, covered with plastic until doubled in bulk. Punch it down, form loaves and allow them to rise until they are doubled. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Every recipe in this cookbook is fabulous.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Scones

Making Christmas Scones seemed like a great idea this year. These are from King Arthur Flour and have craisins and pecans in them.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup Craisins
1 cup diced pecans
1 cup buttermilk
Sparkling sugar

I didn't exactly follow the recipe. I mixed the dry ingredients in the food processor. I put all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of the processor and pulsed about 12 times. Then I put the butter into the food processor and pulsed about 10 times. After the butter was mixed in, I poured the mix into a pottery mixing bowl and added the pecans and craisins.

I made a well of sorts in the center of the mix and then poured in the buttermilk. Like biscuits, scones don't like to be handled much. I barely mixed the liquid in, stirring with the rubber spatula above only about a couple of minutes.

I patted the dough into two 6 inch circles and sprinkled the top with sparkling sugar that I had bought to use to decorate a gingerbread house with my grandson. Like the recipe suggests, I cut the 8 segments with my bench knife. The sparkles made the scones look so festive. Below you can see them cooling on the rack before being packaged to give away.

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Cinnamon Orange Swirl Bread - Part Three

As you can see, the loaves came out beautifully. The recipe suggests that you frost the loaves with a mix of 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp grated orange peel and 4 tsp of orange juice. I like the bread just the way it is and never frost it.

Below you can see a mild version of what happens when you don't seal the loaf well. At the corner of this loaf you can see the cinnamon sugar mixtures that has leaked out all over the corner.

All in all I was very pleased with this bread and am excited to give it away. Every year at my office we draw names and I always give the same present: a collection of holiday baked goods - usually two kinds of bread or a loaf of bread and sweet rolls, honey from my beehives, apple butter that I made from local apples, and Christmas placemats and napkins.
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Cinnamon Orange Swirl Bread: Part Two

Rolling the cinnamon bread is always a challenge. If you don't seal the bread well, it will "leak" cinnamon sugar. This takes away from the appearance of the bread, causes difficulty (sometimes) in getting the bread out of the pan, and wastes all that delicious taste that isn't any longer part of the loaf by virtue of leaking out!

The demo loaf is a small bread pan sized loaf (about a 6 inch by 2 1/2 inch pan). With each turn of the roll, put pressure at the seam to help seal the loaf.

When you have complete the roll, pinch the seam closed from end to end. Then using the side of your hand, press down as if chopping but moving slowly to completely seal the ends of the loaf.

Below you can see the bread rising. I made several pan sizes of this recipe - some are 8 1/2, some are 7 inch pans and one is a 6 inch pan.
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For Christmas: Cinnamon Orange Swirl Bread: Part one

This year I decided to make Cinnamon Orange Swirl Bread for gifts this year. The recipe I used is from The Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book published in 1963. I've had this cookbook forever.... one of my first cookbooks. Obviously the book isn't in print any more but you can probably find a copy here. At least at the time of this posting there were several copies available for $4.00!

Here's the recipe (my changes are in blue):

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup scalded milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 T grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 egg
6 - 7 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T cinnamon

Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Mix the next 6 ingredients together. Cool to lukewarm.

Stir in 2 cups flour and beat until smooth. Stir in the yeast and 1 slightly beaten egg. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth - I used the dough hook on the mixer and then kneaded on the counter. Place in a greased bowl and turn over. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down. Divide in half and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 15 X 7 inch rectangle, 1/2 inch thick.

Wisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Spread each rectangle with half the sugar mix. Sprinkle with 1 tsp water and smooth with spatula.

Roll. Seal edge well. Place sealed edge down in greased 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

I love to grate oranges with the microplane. It makes perfect grated peel.

Above the orange juice is being poured into the mixing bowl that already contains orange peel, butter and scalded milk.

Here the dough has been rolled out and sprinkled with the cinnamon sugar mix. I used smaller pans so I made the dough into 3 sections and baked it in smaller pans.

Although I sprinkled the cinnamon with the 1 tsp of water, I didn't achieve success with the spatula and simply rolled it up. The water distributed itself as I rolled it.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread - Part Three

Shape the bread into two loaves - I'll have pictures of shaping the loaves in another post. I cut the risen dough into two parts with a bench knife and form the two loaves. This recipe calls for two 9" bread pans. I usually bake in smaller pans, but since I was at my daughter's house and these are what she had, we baked in 9" pans.

When the loaves rise to the top of the pans, bake them in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. I almost overbaked these loaves - you can see the dark corner in the fartherest loaf. Cool the bread on a rack.

Slice and enjoy!

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Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread - Part Two

Stir in the cold buttermilk, the salt and the brown sugar. Allow the mixture to cool to 115 degrees, although using cold buttermilk usually does the job. I like Sparkman's Buttermilk for it's natural treatment of the cows and its freshness.

Stir in 2 cups of bread flour and mix. Add the proofed yeast and beat until smooth. Continue to add flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
At this point, I switch my mixer to the dough hook and continue to mix in flour.At the end of the mixing when the dough forms a ball around the dough hook, it's time to knead the bread.
My grandson is my "chief kneader." Here he is at work:

Knead well until the dough becomes pliable and elastic. Add flour to the board as needed. You should knead about 8 - 10 minutes if you do it entirely by hand. If you have used the dough hook on the mixer, counter kneading can be for about 5 minutes.

Grease a bowl in which the bread dough can rise. Put the dough in the bowl and turn it over to allow the top to get greased. Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel or plastic wrap. Put in a warm place until doubled in size.
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Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread - Part One

I love to bake bread. I try to bake every Friday. My grandson and I baked every Friday of his first two years until he moved to Virginia. When I visit him we still bake together.

In my family growing up, my mother would always appear to "follow the recipe," but I discovered that in actuality, she made many improvements to the recipe. We all call that "mothering" the recipe. She bakes bread as well but mostly she bakes the same kind - why change a winning recipe?

I will report here any "mothering" that I do to recipes that I find and I'll share the recipes I've found and use with you. I'm not an invent-your-own-recipe baker - one of my daughters says that baking is a science; cooking is an art. I am much more of an artist than a scientist, so I generally follow the scientific approach (the recipe) to bake bread.

I visited my daughter's family in Virginia for Thanksgiving where my grandson Dylan and I baked Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread. We found the recipe here.

Ingredients (varied from the original recipe as indicated below with blue type):
2 cups water
1 cup regular oatmeal
2 T butter
1/2 tsp white sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup buttermilk
1 T salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 - 6 cups bread flour

Put 1/2 cup of warm water into a small bowl that has been warmed by filling it with warm water and then pouring the water out and drying the bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp of white sugar and the yeast. Allow to proof for about 10 minutes. The mixture looks like this as it proofs:

Put 1 1/2 cups of water and the oatmeal in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. (This allows the oatmeal to get really tender and makes the pan much easier to wash than if you bring the water to a boil and then add the oatmeal.) When oatmeal thickens, remove from heat, stir in butter and pour into your mixing bowl.

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