Tag Archives: baking

English Muffin Bread

I have an arsenal of bread recipes at my disposal, some are my own, others come from friends, books, and the interwebs.  The bread I am sharing with you today is from the 1977 edition of Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book.

I’ve made this bread several times and not once has it disappointed.  It’s a no frills, rustic loaf that is well suited for jam and toast or grilled sandwiches; my most recent favorite is tofurkey, leeks, and Daiya cheddar cheese.  When steam-baked it develops a wonderful crusty exterior and dense chewy interior.

English Muffin Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp active dry yeast

1 Tbsp raw sugar

1-1/4 cups warm water

3/4 Tsp salt

In a large bowl combine flour and yeast, set aside.  In a medium sauce pan heat water, sugar, and salt until warm (115-120°) stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add wet ingredients to dry mixture, stir until a soft dough forms.  Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Gently press dough down; cover and allow to rise for an additional 10 minutes.

Grease a 1-quart casserole dish and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Place dough in casserole and sprinkle top with cornmeal.  Cover, let rise ’til doubled in size  (40 minutes) and bake at 400°F for 40-45 minutes.  If the top begins to brown too quickly tent with aluminum foil.  Place loaf on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.  Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book

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Strawberry Maple Banana Bread

I’m always looking for new ways to use what I’ve preserved, especially when it comes to fruit spreads!  Cookies made with jam are nothing new for me, but bread-baked preserves were something I’ve yet to try!

Strawberry Maple Banana Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup strawberry jam

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 flax egg

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.  Over medium heat, toast walnuts ’til warm and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Be sure to keep the nuts moving so they do not burn.  Set walnuts aside.

In a large bowl, combine jam, butter, flax egg, maple syrup, and almond extract.  Add mashed bananas, stir thoroughly.

In a small bowl, sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly begin adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing well each time.  Stir in toasted walnuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.  Allow bread to sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from Food in Jars.

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Sun-dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Bread

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about sun-dried tomatoes.  I mentioned how they can be packed in oil and safely stored in the fridge.  Well, after several weeks of eying them up, ever-so-safely tucked away between the pickles and garden-fresh produce, the time had come for me to start putting those babies to good use!

Sun-dried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Bread - makes 2 small loaves or one large loaf. 

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s organic all-purpose)

1 cup sifted whole wheat bread flour (I use Daisy because they are organic and local!)

1 cup sifted oat flour (This one I picked up at my bulk foods store. Although not labeled, most of their flours are organic!)

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp salt

1-2/3 cups warm water

1-1/2 tsp sun-dried tomato oil

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

oat bran for sprinkling

Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl; add water, oil, olives, and tomatoes.  Gently mix ingredients until a sticky dough forms.  Turn dough out on a well-floured surface; knead until smooth and slightly elastic for about 10 minutes.  Wash and oil the bowl you mixed the dough in and return dough to bowl.  Cover and place in a warm, draft-free area, and allow dough to rise until doubled in size, 45-90 minutes.

Gently press your finger tips into the dough to deflate; place dough on a generously floured surface and knead again.  Place dough back in bowl and allow to rise another 30-60 minutes.  Repeat the knead and rise cycle up to four times; by doing so it will improve the texture and flavor.

After the final knead, divide dough into two equal pieces, or keep whole for one large loaf.  Sprinkle oat bran onto your work surface and shape dough into loaves, be sure to coat all sides of the dough.  Allow dough to rest, covered, for 10-15 minutes.  Place a baking stone on the middle oven rack and a large water-filled baking dish on the very bottom rack; heat oven to 500°F.

Place loaves on stone and bake for 10 minutes, then turn heat down to 400°F if the crust looks very pale, 350°F if the crust is browning, or 325°F if the crust is browning too quickly.  Bake until the loaves are crusty and brown and sound hollow when you tap them: in total, about 30-40 minutes.  Allow loaves to cool on a wire rack before slicing.  If you will be serving them with oil for dipping you can tear them when cool to the touch.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Cast Iron Cornbread

Last week/end I managed to escape the harvest and sneak in a much-needed vacation!  While on my travels I picked up a few treasures, one being a 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book.  What makes this vintage book a real gem are all the hand-written notes tucked within the pages!  The previous owner had the most beautiful penmanship!

The first recipe I tried was for cornbread.  While this is not my favorite cornbread, it was still quite good, and with all the jams I’ve been making, it’s nice to switch up my spreading surface!

Cast Iron Cornbread - from The Good housekeeping Cook Book

1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour  **A listed alternative to the a.p. was to use 2 cups minus 2 tbsp sifted cake flour, which is what I did.

3/4 cup yellow corn meal

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1 egg, well-beaten

1 cup milk  **I used 1/3 cup dry milk reconstituted with 1 cup water.

1/4 cup shortening

Sift together flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Combine milk, egg, and shortening.  Turn liquid ingredients into dry ingredients all at once, stirring quickly and vigorously until mixture has a lumpy appearance, but no longer.  Pour into a well-seasoned 10″ cast iron skillet and bake at 425°F in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.  Serve warm.

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Rosemary Focaccia

This past May, I spent an evening with my friends, Bill and Lauren; they too share my enthusiasm for all things local, organic, and of course, homegrown!  Because I am a passionate advocate for healthy food, low-impact living, and organic gardening, it only seems natural that I end up being the go-to person for related questions and advice.

My friends were very interested in starting an organic garden, as well as purchasing their transplants from me.  We had decided to make a night of it.  I’d bring their plants, my hot artichoke dip, and a fresh-baked apple pie (they were in charge of the main course) and we would share an evening of delicious food and great conversation!  And that is exactly what we did.

For 4 hours I talked (pretty much non-stop) about food, the food system, and organic gardening.  Lauren had a pen and paper at the ready, while her hubby, Bill, absorbed every word I spoke.  I’m friends with a lot of like-minded individuals and in our shared idealistic world, we would all be homesteading, off-grid, in our own little community!  Ahhhh… the dream!

For that evening’s dinner, Lauren grilled California-style veggie sandwiches, which were served on warm-from-the-oven focaccia, paired with a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad.  Everything was delicious!

With the back-to-back-to-back, oppressive heat waves that have been taking place, I’ve been relying on my grill for dinner.  Two weekends ago I baked a double batch of focaccia to be paired with my evening meal of fresh-from-the-garden veggie sandwiches.

Rosemary Focaccia - adapted from the Pioneer Woman (I’m still trying to get Lauren’s recipe!)

1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1-1/2 cup warm water

4 cups King Arthur all-purpose organic flour

1 tsp  salt

1/3 cup olive oil

large sprig of fresh rosemary, minced

course alaea salt, for sprinkling

olive oil for drizzling

Sprinkle the yeast over warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.

Whisk flour and salt, then drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour.  Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.  Form the dough into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil.  Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, set it aside for 1-2 hours.  If you do not plan on using the dough right away it can stay in the fridge for several days.

Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half and roll out into a rectangle.  I reserved the second portion to be baked later that week.  If you are baking both sections, place each one on a separate cookie sheets and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Cover each one with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove the plastic wrap (dough will be puffy) and use your fingertips to gently press dimples into the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle with rosemary and coarse salt.  I baked each one separately, so 20 minutes was just the right amount of time to yield a golden brown surface.  If you are baking both, 30-40 minutes is recommended.

Cut into pieces with a pizza wheel.  Serve immediately.

Since I reserved some of the bread for the next day’s meal, it needed a bit of freshening up.  I placed two pieces on the top-level of the grill for 3 minutes and it worked like a charm!

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Hi Ho Cherry-O

With the end of one beloved red fruit begins the start of another!  As if the picture isn’t a dead giveaway, I’m talking about cherries!  The first to ripen are sweet cherries.  Sour cherries (my favorite) shortly follow.  Then just as quickly as they come they go!  Last week, I made two trips to Cherry Hill Orchards and managed to pick 23 pounds of sour cherries and fall out of a tree… technically I was knocked out of it by a New Yorker in his land-yacht of an SUV!  But fall from the tree I did!

You can see from the picture above that cars actually drive through the orchard; I’m guessing that must be where overflow parking is.  So I’m on one of the tall ladders all up in the tree and this guy comes barreling down the path.  I’m guessing his side view or tire caught the edge of my ladder because down I went!  Thankfully my cat-like reflexes kicked in and I landed on my feet.  Dude never stopped or slowed down…I’m guessing he had no idea what happened.  Seriously, YOU’RE IN AN ORCHARD, slow down!

Now, I’m sure you may (or may not) be asking yourself what ever does one do with 23 pounds of sour cherries?  Why one makes cherry pie filling, jams, ice cream, pie, turnovers, scones, salad dressing, and dehydrates them of course!   You can see I’ve been a very busy little bee!

Cherry Pie, the Fillingadapted from USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving

I tripled the quart instructions (which is allowed) and omitted the cinnamon and red food dye to make 6 pints.  In actuality, it ended up being more like 9 pints so I canned 6, froze 2, and baked turnovers and a pie, since I only had 6 sterilized jars at the ready!

10 cups sour cherries, pits and stems removed

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup + 3 tbsp clear jell (use the cook type, not the instant)

4 cups cold water

4 tbsp bottled lemon juice

3/4 tsp almond extract

Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water.  I pinched mine the night before so I didn’t put them in water.  If you want to prevent them from browning where the stem was removed (I never do), you can treat them with some absorbic acid or Fruit Fresh.  Place the cherries in a gallon of boiling water 6 cups at a time and boil for one minute once water returns to a boil.  Drain but keep them heated in a covered bowl or dish.  For this step, I heated my enamel-covered cast iron dutch oven at 200° F for about 15 minutes, worked great!  Combine the sugar and clear jell with water in a large pot and add water and almond extract.  Stir the mixture and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill hot jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1″ headspace.  Adjust 2 piece lids to fingertip-tight and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes or your recommended altitude processing time.

Cherry Pie, the Crust - adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1943 edition

1-3/4 C pastry flour

1 C spelt flour

1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp spectrum shortening

2 tbsp butter

1/4 C ice water

In a large bowl, sift flours, salt, and baking powder; cut in butter and shortening with a pastry knife (or two forks) stopping when mixture resembles a course mix about the size of a pea.  Sprinkle 3 tbsp of ice water over the dough and blend it lightly.  If the dough can be gathered into a ball, don’t add any more water.  If not, continue sprinkling ice water one tablespoon at a time.  Try to not overwork your dough as this brings out the gluten and makes your pie crust tough.  Divide the dough into two balls, one being about 2/3 of the dough; this will be the bottom crust, the smaller one will be the top crust.  Place each ball of dough between two layers of wax paper and roll out into a disk.  Place the disks in the fridge for an hour.  After the dough has chilled, roll them out and place the large one into your pie plate, add pie filling, then add the top crust.  Pinch your edges together and cut several slits or X’s into the top to vent the steam.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450°F for 30 minutes.

I actually didn’t make my pie this way.  Instead, I made turnovers.  After about 8 turnovers, I got tired of messing with the dough so I used the rest to bake up a small pie.  Since my pie was so small, I only baked it for 15 minutes, like I did with the turnovers.

As you can tell by the picture, the pie was good.  Like, really, really good.  So good that I ate the entire pie without taking a picture.  In my gluttonous defense, this particular piece of pottery is rather small and quite shallow, it held about a jelly jars worth of filling… and I ate said pie in 2 days, not one.

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Strawberry Bread

I have a confession to make; I suffer from seasonal gluttony disorder, especially when it comes to strawberries!  I just can’t help myself, I have to put them in everything.  All the time!  I’m also guilty of squirreling them away, whether they’re frozen, in assorted jams, or dehydrated!

Sunday I noticed I had quite a few over-ripe bananas in my kitchen, so I thought banana nut bread.  Then my seasonal gluttony kicked in and I immediately switched gears from bananas to strawberries.

I used a basic bread recipe and gave it a complete overhaul; what I ended up with were two very dense, moist, almost dessert-like loaves of bread.   Then add a slathering of my strawberry-rhubarb jam and it was dessert!!

Strawberry Bread

2 C mashed strawberries, frozen or fresh

1/4 C oat bran

1/4 C flax seed meal

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 C whole wheat flour

1-1/3 C raw sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 C sunflower oil

1/4 C coconut oil

1/4 C apple sauce

2 Tbsp orange juice

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1 Tsp cinnamon

1 Tsp baking soda

1 Tsp salt

1 C chopped walnuts (which I totally spaced on and didn’t realize until the loaf pans were in the oven)

In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, orange juice, vanilla, and 1/3 C sugar; mix and set aside to allow the strawberries to release their juices.  In a large bowl, combine flours, flax meal, oat bran, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; whisk to incorporate.  Make a large well in dry ingredients and add strawberry mixture, oils, apple sauce, eggs, and remaining sugar; stir well, add walnuts, stir again.  Pour into two well-greased loaf pans (I use spectrum shortening) and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the loaf and comes out clean.  Remove bread from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

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18 Hour Bread

Yes, you read that right, this bread took 18 hours to make. Now before you get all “this chic is a crazy person” or “who in their right mind has that kind of time?” it was not an 18 hour labor-intensive bread. Honestly, I probably have about 45 minutes of total work time invested. For the most part it sat around doing its thing, while I went ahead and did mine!

I’m a bit intimidated by what really goes into making true artisan bread. I’ve been coveting this book for some time now. I mean the love, the commitment, the skill. It’s a bit overwhelming and don’t even get me started on the science behind it all!

I decided the time had come for me to take this challenge on. I wanted to start out slow instead of diving into the deep end, getting way in over my head and failing miserably. That is how I ended up finding this no-knead recipe. I was a bit skeptical that these four little ingredients would result in such a beautiful outcome, but I was ready to give it a whirl.

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread {via}

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (I used 1 1/2 cups of each)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed. (I used oat bran)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

I could not have asked for better results. The crust was crispy and beautifully browned; the inside had a light and chewy texture with perfect little pockets of air!

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Homemade Pop-Tarts (and a mini rant)

Yes, you heard me right, homemade pop-tarts. Trust me, they are ridiculously awesome and the reason I’ve turned into a gym rat for the past several days. Having to run an extra 4 miles per workout just to counterbalance the ultra-buttery light and flaky crust is totally worth it and why I will probably never make them again. Who am I kidding, I’m gonna whip up another batch this weekend and then sign up for a triathlon!

Looking on the positive side of these tasty pastries, they are smaller than their chemically sweetened, preservative laden, store-bought cousins. I filled mine with nutella and an assortment of my low-sugar homemade jams. Which by the way, low-sugar (in my opinion) does not produce a less sweet jam, it just allows the natural sweetness and flavor of the fruit to shine through. For the dough I used clarified butter. I love butter, but not its artery clogging capabilities, that is why I’ve been clarifying my own butter for the past 4+ years.

**WARNING**Soapbox Speech straight ahead. You can skip to the recipe if you prefer to stay in blissful ignorance. Trust me, I’ve been there, the view wasn’t bad…for a while anyways.

My only shameful addition to this recipe is I used shortening. Crisco’s claim is that their product is “all natural” because it is derived from vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oil is on the ingredient list (so not natural!). This does not sit well with me AT ALL! Hydrogenated oils are oils where the essential fatty acids have been chemically converted into a more shelf-stable version. This is done by forcing hydrogen gas into the oil at high pressure. What this does is change unsaturated fat (a healthy form of fat) into trans fat (a very unhealthy form of fat).

To my knowledge, this application of Crisco is the only form of hydrogenated oil I’ve ingested in a very long time. Hydrogenated oils are running amuck on grocery store shelves! I am a “make it from scratch” kinda gal. I do not purchase or consume processed prepackaged junk. Is it a lot of work? Sometimes, yes, but in more of a planning and education kind of way. Is it worth it? Absolutely! There are times when I come home from work and have nothing ready-made to eat. That sucks, especially when hunger pangs are in full force! What I do have is an assortment of dried beans in mason jars, a vast array of flours and grains, a canning closet and freezer stocked full of my homegrown organic veggies along with the determination to step back in time to a world not saturated in plastic convenience. Okay, I’m done. My rant is over.

I will be trying out an amended version of my dough over the weekend and hopefully it will yield the same flaky crust! I’ll be sure to let you know! Soooooo without further adieu, here is the recipe for homemade pop-tarts.

Homemade Pop-Tarts

1 1/2 c Pastry flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c shortening, cubed

1/4 c butter, cubed

2-3 Tbsp cold water

jam, nutella, or your desired filling.

In a large bowl mix flour and salt; cut in shortening and butter until a crumbly mixture is formed.

Next add cold water (one tablespoon at a time) and mix until a slightly sticky dough forms. Separate into two equal sections. On a well floured surface roll the dough out until it is about 1/8″ thick. Cut out a strip of dough approximately 3×6 and spread 1 Tbsp of jam, or nutella on the one end. Trust me, this is enough filling.

Fold the dough over and crimp the edges closed, I used a fork. Bake at 425 for 9 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow pop-tarts to cool completely before removing. Try to not eat them all in one sitting!

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When Baking is for the Birds

Last month, as a solstice gift for my feathered friends, I baked up a batch of bird muffins. I’ve been wanting to make these for years but seeing as how one of the ingredients is bacon drippings, something I never have since I rarely eat meat,  the recipe has been hanging out on my fridge every winter for as long as I can remember.

When I first placed the muffins on my holly tree, the birds favorite hangout, they weren’t sure what to think. After realizing my gift was food, they were all a twitter with excitement! If you don’t have a tree to hang the muffins on you can always place them on a tray.

Bird Muffins

(from Birds & Blooms Aug/Sept 2001)

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup plain bread crumbs

3/4 c raisins

1/2 cup bacon drippings

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sand

1 cup water

Combine cornmeal, flour, bread crumbs and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add raisins and sand and mix thoroughly. Then add the bacon drippings and water. Stir well.

Spoon the dough into muffin tins and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool the muffins to room temperature before serving (to the birds). Store leftover muffins in the refrigerator until it’s time for a refill.

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