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I’ve recently become enamored with a new recipe for hamburger/sandwich buns. The taste is great, they are incredibly soft and have a nice open crumb, and they freeze and thaw really well. I’ve made them twice now, and they’ve been easy and a success both times. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
15 oz. flour
8 oz. water
1 large egg
4T softened butter
2T honey
1/4 c. dry milk
1/4 c. mashed potato
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 tsp instant yeast

Directions
Mix everything but flour together, then added the flour gradually–you may use all 15 ounces, and you may not. You want the dough a bit “shaggy” and it should be fairly sticky at this point. Once it’s mixed pretty well, cover it with a damp towel and let it rest 25 minutes. Then come back and knead a bit to develop the gluten matrix. Again, it may be more sticky than you’re used to, but avoid adding too much flour because that will make the dough more dense and tough. Put back in the bowl and cover.

Let the bulk rise go about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stretching and folding it once or twice during that time. It should double in size. Then, divide into 3-ounce balls and place on a cookie sheet that is either lightly oiled or covered with baking parchment. Let rise until they are the nearly the size you want them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Humidify the oven by pouring water into a broiler pan or brownie pan in the bottom of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned nicely. Remove and brush with softened butter.

Yield: about 10 3-ounce rolls

If you try this recipe, let me know!

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Several people have asked me for the recipe for my basic sandwich loaf, so I’m going to post it here. This is the bread that I’ve baked every week for my family for over a year. The girls enjoy it–Ellie especially want the heels because she likes the crust–and I think it’s great for toast and grilled sandwiches because it’s robust enough to get crispy in the skillet and it really holds in the melted cheese and fillings.

This isn’t an artisan loaf or a the product of some complicated process. It doesn’t require expensive ingredients or specialized equipment. After the first two times you’ll make it, you’ll stop needing to refer to the recipe. I’ve tried a lot of other breads, but I keep coming back to this one. Give it a try, especially if you’re just breaking into the world of bread.
Ingredients:
3 cups water
6-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 T instant yeast
1-1/2 T salt
Optional: 3 T flaxmeal
Directions:
Throw the flour, yeast, salt (and maybe flaxmeal) into a big mixing bowl and stir it around a bit. Let the tap water run until it’s a little warmer than body temperature (about 100 degrees) and add it into the bowl. Mix it up well. If you have a stand mixer, you can use that; if you don’t (like me) stir it until it forms a big ball and then knead it around a bit to mix all the ingredients. Shape it into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel or plastic wrap. Let it sit and rise anywhere between 90 minutes and 5 hours, preferably in a warm place.
Come back and divide the dough in half (a digital scale helps here, but it’s not critical). Spray some oil in your bread pans and then shape each half of the dough into a log that will fit into the pan. Move the dough into the pans and cover with a damp towel. Let this rise about an hour or so, depending on how it looks. You can slash the tops or brush them with butter or milk or something, but I don’t do either. It rises plenty and has a great crust without it.
Warm the oven to 350 degrees and put both loaves in the oven for 50 minutes. I check for done-ness and make sure it’s at least 180 degrees inside. Turn them out of the bread pans onto wire racks to cool.
Yield: 2 loaves
That’s it. It’s a really forgiving recipe, and it has FOUR (maybe five) ingredients. If you want to remember the recipe (and be able to scale it and impress your friends), remember the 6-3-3-13 rule: 6 c. water, 3 T yeast, 3 T salt, 13 c. flour. That makes four loaves. The dough, by the way, will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, after the initial rising time.
Anyway, if you try this out and like it, let me know. If you try and don’t like it, whisper it quietly down a well somewhere.

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Eureka

I think I’ve found the recipe for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread:

1 c. warm water
1/3 c. sugar
2 1/2 t. instant yeast

2 T canola oil
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
3 c (12 3/4 oz) whole wheat flour
3/4 t. salt

Combine the water, sugar and yeast; stir and let it sit a bit until it becomes foamy. Mix the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture. Stir until dough is formed then knead a fair amount: about 15 minutes or more. The dough should be slightly tacky, but not overly sticky, and shouldn’t tear easily when you stretch it. Form it into a boule and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a wet cloth or oiled plastic wrap and let rise 90 min to 2 hrs. To develop the flavor a bit more, you can place the dough in the refrigerator. This will make the rise time longer, perhaps 3 hrs, but will deepen the flavor.

Gently transfer from bowl to shaping surface, and shape a batard loaf, then gently place in an oiled baking pan. Let rise again for an hour or so, until the top of the dough peaks somewhat over the rim of the pan. Just before baking, brush the top with butter and slash in your preferred design.

Bake in a preheated 350-deg over for 40-50 min, or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190-200 degrees.

Here’s what my loaf looked like:


I have to say, this is one of the best sandwich loafs I’ve ever made. It is incredibly soft–even more soft than my regular white sandwich bread–and so tasty you can eat a slice without any adornment. The flavor of the whole wheat is wonderful: warm and nutty and delicious.

I’m a happy boy, especially if I can reproduce this loaf week after week.

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Because my 4-year-old had a craving, I made granola bars again today. Since every single commenter on this blog so far (OK, only 1 to date) has asked me to share recipes that I like, I will do so. These granola bars can be made quickly, taste great, are more filling than most store-bought varieties, and can probably be made with stuff you have around the kitchen.

(One is missing because Eleanor couldn’t wait until they were fully hardened)

Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup peanuts, crushed
3/4 cup wheat germ

4 Tbsp. Butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Salt

1-1/4 cups dried fruit of your choice.

Directions:
1. Mix together oats, peanuts, and wheat germ and spread in a baking dish or a jelly roll pan.

2. Turn oven to 350 and place dry mixture inside to toast for 10-12 minutes, stirring twice during the toasting process.

3. While the mix is toasting, dump the butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt into a medium saucepan. Heat thoroughly (but do not boil), until the butter melts and the brown sugar carmelizes.

4. Pull the dry mix from the oven, and dump into a bowl. Add raisins, dried cranberries, or your preferred dried fruit (chocolate chips work, too). Stir to mix. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry and stir completely. The liquid is the “glue” of the bars, so make sure all of the dry mix gets coated or it won’t stick together later.

5. Dump the sticky mass into a 9×13 glass dish lined with wax paper. Spread the granola out to fill the dish evenly. Top with another layer of waxed paper.

6. Press down HARD with a flat tool (I use the edge of a wooden butcher’s block). It is important to compress the granola firmly and evenly so it won’t crumble when you cut it.

7. Let the granola harden for a couple of hours, then remove the top wax papers and cut into bars. It is easiest to use a knife like a French chef’s knife (or an Ulu) that allows you to cut by pressing down, rather than cut by sawing.

8. Wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap, and enjoy!

Yield: about 12 6.5-inch bars or 18 4-inch ones.

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it went!

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