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When I started planning “Meatfest”, I immediately knew that pulled pork had to be on the menu. I also knew that I needed the perfect roll to serve it on. Having missed baking bread while in India, [Seriously, who builds an apartment without an oven?] I was pretty excited about a bread baking endeavor.

For much of 2010, I refused to buy bread insisting on baking my own. Somehow life got in the way, imagine that, and I eventually mostly returned to bread buying, but I think this baking endeavor has reignited my excitement about baking bread. After all, there is probably nothing tastier than warm bread, fresh out of the oven, especially on a cold day.

Anyway, when I decided to make rolls for my pulled pork, I knew that I should check out Bridget’s blog. She is an excellent baker and I had no doubt that I would find the perfect recipe there. As usual, she did not let me down. Incidentally, not only did she provide a great bread recipe, she was also the source for the awesome dry rub on the pulled pork.

The verdict: Not only is her rendition of pulled pork awesome, but these rolls are the perfect compliment to it. Thank you Bridget for making Meatfest a huge success!

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From Bridget at The Way the Cookie Crumbles.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water (approx 120 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk for brushing the rolls

Directions:

  • Combine dry ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • Slowly mix in warm water and olive oil.
  • Allow dough hook to kneed dough for about 8 minutes.
  • Place dough in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place to rise for about two hours or until doubled.
  • When dough has doubled, flatten and fold it over on itself twice.
  • Return dough to the oiled bowl, replace plastic wrap covering, and allow dough to rise again to double in size, about one more hour.
  • Divide dough into 12 equal pieces.
  • Working with the first piece of dough, pull the edges back to the center, pinching into a pouch. This will form the smooth face of your roll. Flatten the pinched edges and place, pinched edges down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  • Cover the baking sheet lightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise again for about 40 more minutes.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Brush the tops of the rolls with milk, then bake them for about 12 minutes until they are golden brown.

Servings ~ 12
Calories ~ 181, Fat ~ 2.7 g, Carbohydrates ~ 34.1 g, Protein ~ 4.4 g

So I think I am supposed to talk about bagels here.

The bagels that took three batches to perfect. The bagels that Chris, at first, turned his nose up at. And finally, the bagels you see below that Duke’s Household King of Bagels declared way better than store bought.

I was ecstatic when, after making and eating twenty not so great bagels, I finally nailed it, but, I was way more ecstatic after my run last night.

I didn’t feel like running yesterday. I promised myself that I wouldn’t look at my Garmin so I could run as slow as I wanted. Just get in the junk miles. It is a fall back week this week. You know the drill.

Somehow, I managed to avoid looking at Garmin until the fourth mile clicked by. 

8:14…Huh?          I decided to pick it up. 7:51. 7:59.

Ok, who cares. What does this mean?

Those last three miles were at a faster pace than my best 5K. Too bad I didn’t tack on another 0.1!

I’m thinking 5K during my next fall back week.

Oh yeah, and here are some kick butt bagels. (Says the girl from New Jersey.)

Inspired by Baking Bites.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water (100 – 110 degrees)
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, active dry yeast, and sugar.
  • Stir in warm water, then let sit, covered with plastic wrap, for 40 minutes for batter to rise.
  • Stir in honey and salt, then stir in the remaining 2 cups of whole wheat flour. It may take some kneading to fully combine the flour.
  • When dough comes together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
  • Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Dissolve baking soda in warm water.
  • Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangular shape.
  • Divide, dough into 10 even pieces.
  • Working with one piece at a time (leaving the others covered with a towel or plastic wrap), roll each piece of dough into a 7-9″ long cylinder.
  • Form a bagel shape by pressing the two ends together. They may need to be pressed with some force to join them seamlessly.
  • Dip each bagel into baking soda mixture, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 1-2 inches between bagels to allow for further rise.
  • Bake bagels for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then cool on a wire rack.

Servings ~ 10
Calories ~ 200, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 44 g, Protein ~ 8 g

Last weekend while I was grocery shopping I got a call from Chris.

“Can you get some Wheat Thins?”

He was smoking some meat at our neighbor’s house and he wanted a snack to hold him over until dinner was ready. I brought home some generic “Thin Wheat Crisps”. Fail.

While he was thankful, I got the impression that they didn’t quite hit the spot. Wheat Thins? Thin Wheat Crisps? What’s the difference?

From Chris’ perspective, the Thin Wheat Crisps just don’t have the same wheaty, crunchy goodness. Not being much of a cracker eater, the only difference I can discern is about $1.50.

I quickly got to work trying to create a homemade version his favorite crackers.

This week I have been on a mission to make homemade versions of two of Chris’ carby staples, Wheat Thins and whole wheat bagels. The homemade Wheat Thins were a win. Far better than Thin Wheat Crisps. I’m still trying to replicate his favorite whole wheat bagels.

I have finally duplicated the texture of his bagels. Now I just need to improve my bagel sealing technique, but that will have to wait. We have a backlog of twenty or so bagels from my practice runs. With his two bagel a day habit it will be a little while before I have an excuse to make more.

From Oh She Glows.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (5 oz) 100% whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling on
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons butter (I used yogurt butter.)
  • 3 oz water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 F. 
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • With a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly.
  • Mix the water and vanilla and then pour them into the flour mixture.
  • Use the pastry cutter to combine the  water/vanilla and the flour mixture, adding a bit more water as necessary if it appears to be too dry.
  • Split the dough in half.
  • On a floured surface roll out one half of the dough to about 1/16 inch thickness, then cut into pieces using a pizza cutter.
  • Use a spatula to transfer the crackers to the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with more salt and sesame seeds if desired.
  • Repeat as necessary with the second half of the dough.
  • Bake for ~10 minutes, watching closely.
  • Cool completely on a cooling rack then store in an air-tight container.
  • I ended up with about 70 crackers.

Servings ~  10
Calories ~ 110, Fat ~ 3.3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 18 g, Protein ~ 3

These pretzels may be even more dangerous than store-bought frozen pretzels. Yes, they are whole wheat. Yes, they have much better nutrition stats than your typical frozen pretzel. But no, you will not be able to stop eating them. Hence the danger.

Thank you to Branny for suggesting vital wheat gluten as an ingredient in whole wheat pretzels. A quick search turned up several whole wheat pretzel recipes, and this recipe from Baking Bites was the one of the few that met both criteria that I was looking for: all whole wheat and contains vital wheat gluten.

(Notice, I made pretzels and ran fast yesterday.)

The whole wheat flour makes the pretzels quite filling and gives them a great texture. To my surprise, I also found the whole wheat pretzel dough to be much easier to make and to work with than the white pretzel dough. Win. Win. Win.

Next time I will definitely double the recipe because these will not last long at all at Duke’s House.

As an aside, if you are shying away from this recipe because of the vital wheat gluten, don’t. You can find it in the baking aisle of most grocery stores and it is not a “scary” ingredient to work with.

From Baking Bites.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water (100 – 110 degrees)
  • 3 1/2-4 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • coarse salt, for topping

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, active dry yeast, and sugar.
  • Stir in warm water, then let sit, covered with plastic wrap, for 40 minutes for batter to rise.
  • Stir in honey, salt and 1 1/2 cups more whole wheat flour.
  • When dough comes together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gradually work in the remaining flour 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough is moist, but not sticky, and elastic (about 5 minutes).
  • Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 additional hour.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Dissolve baking soda in warm water.
  • Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangular shape.
  • Divide, dough into 10-20 even pieces depending on the size of pretzels you desire.
  • Working with one piece at a time (leaving the others covered with a towel or plastic wrap), roll each piece of dough into a long rope (longer means thinner pretzels, shorter leads to breadier pretzels) and make an “X” with the loose ends and turn “X” down to meet the center of the dough rope, forming a pretzel shape.
  • Dip each shaped pretzel into baking soda mixture and place shaped pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased, leaving 1-2 inches between pretzels to allow for further rise.
  • Sprinkle each with coarse salt, to taste. (For pretzels with a glossy finish, beat one egg and brush pretzels with egg before salting.)
  • Bake pretzels for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown, then cool on a wire rack.

Servings ~ 10
Calories ~ 200, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 44 g, Protein ~ 8 g

Servings ~ 20 (I made my pretzels into 20 servings which yielded similar size pretzels to the white flour pretzel recipe that I tried.)
Calories ~ 100, Fat ~ 0.5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 22 g, Protein ~ 4 g

When I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to try it. I have always had a “thing” for soft pretzels.

Unfortunately, I have mostly stopped eating them in the past few years. For a long time, I bought frozen, pre-made soft pretzels and enjoyed the salty, bready treats, probably more than I should have.

One sad day, my pretzel-filled utopia came completely unraveled.

One of my favorite, salty, chewy, golden brown pretzels was two servings. No big deal, right? Eh, sort of a big deal because they descended from their glorious snack status to simply being meal-calorie-sized hunks of bread.

Who eats half of a soft pretzel anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I love meal-size hunks of bread, but I just don’t end up feeling meal-satisfied from eating them.

Major bummer. I stopped buying my favorite carby treats and moved on to other snacks that never quite lived up to the soft pretzel. I thought soft pretzels had been written off for good, but things have changed.

Soft pretzels and I have blissfully reunited. Now to learn how to make them whole wheat!

Thank you Nicole for a reasonably sized soft pretzel!

From Nicole at PreventionRD.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp baking soda

Directions:

  • Combine sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110 F) in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Mix in 1 tbsp salt and 3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour until a dough forms. 
  • Using a dough hook attachment, “knead” for 8 minutes.
  • Briefly remove dough to lightly coat bowl with olive oil spray.
  • Return dough to bowl, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 16 equal pieces.
  • Using your hands, roll 1 piece back and forth into a rope about 14-16 inches long.
  • Twist dough into a pretzel shape, then transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet.
  • Form the rest of the pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
  • Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes.
  • Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add heaping tablespoon of baking soda.
  • Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
  • Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes.
  • Transfer boiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet.
  • Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 20-22 minutes.
  • Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.

Servings ~ 16
Calories ~ 99 calories, Fat ~ 0.1 g,  Carbohydrates ~ 21.4 g, Protein ~ 3 g



 I have been making quite a bit of soup lately which has left me longing for good, crusty bread. French bread makes really good soup dunking bread, my initial thought was to bake some.

After Chris heard that chili with French bread was on the menu for this week, he scolded me. “Brit, French bread does not go with chili. Cornbread does.”

But I longed for dunking. One of the best parts about eating bread is soaking up the sauces and juices, or in this case chili, from your meal. Traditional cornbread doesn’t have the same sponge-like quality of crusty French bread.

Simply put: Cornbread is not for dunking.

Until now. The cornbread rules have changed.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (~105 degrees)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups corn ( if frozen defrost to room temperature)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  • Slowly stir in about 2/3 of the flour/cornmeal mixture.
  • Next, add the olive oil, honey, eggs, and corn and begin to mix with the dough hook attachment at low-speed.
  • As the dough starts to come together, continue to add more of the flour/cornmeal mixture a bit at a time.
  • Keep adding until you achieve a dough that is tacky, clears the sides of the bowl, but continues to stick to the bottom of the bowl.
  • If the dough is too wet and doesn’t come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, add a teaspoon or two of water. Do not feel pressured to use all of the flour/cornmeal mixture.
  • Turn the mixer speed up to medium and keep mixing for an additional seven minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop, knead it a few times, then gather it into a ball.
  • Place the dough ball in a large, bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.
  • Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until the size of the dough has doubled (~ one hour).
  • When the dough has doubled, divide it into two equal pieces, knead each briefly, before shaping two free-form loaves. Place the shaped loaves on parchment, cover, and allow to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Place a baking stone in the oven and pre-heat it to 375 degrees.
  • Bake the loaves on a baking stone for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  • When it is done, the bread should have a hollow sound when you tap on it.
  • Place the loaves on cooling racks.
  • After cooling, bread can be frozen for future use.

Servings ~ 2 loaves, approximately 16 slices each
Calories (per 1/16 loaf) ~ 104, Fat ~ 2 g, Carbohydrates ~ 20 g, Protein ~ 3 g

Saturday night I did something totally out of the ordinary for me. I made muffins.

Wild Saturday night, I know.

Other than the occasional loaf of bread, I don’t make very many baked goods because I lack the self-control necessary to have them in my house. Chris can walk past a dozen muffins all day long and not even give them a second thought.

I, on the other hand, will sneak a sliver of muffin each time I pass through the kitchen, during most commercial breaks if I am watching TV, and at pretty much any other opportunity. I’m sure that I am not the only one out there who knows this drill.

Fortunately, I am proud to say, I ate these muffins responsibly. Well, five and a half of them anyway. (Yes, Chris tried 1/2 of a fresh out of the oven muffin, then hands off for the next few days!) The other six are in my freezer for a rainy day.

I made up a lot of this recipe, just trying to keep typical wet and dry ratios in mind, so I wasn’t sure how these muffins would turn out. I was afraid that they might end up too chewy or soggy, or who knows? But they were just right. I think they would be pretty tasty with a cream cheese frosting. Maybe next time.

Ingredients:

  •  olive oil spray
  • 1 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup  white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tsp  baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4  tsp  salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup  fat-free milk
  • 6 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin butter
  • 1/3  cup  dried cranberries
  • 1/4  cup  walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, agave nectar, and pumpkin butter.
  • Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  • Gently mix in cranberries and walnuts.
  • Coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with olive oil spray.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups, then bake for 15-18 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned and they pass the toothpick test.
  • Cool muffins in the pan for several minutes before removing.

Servings ~ 12
Calories ~ 140, Fat ~ 2.5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 27, Protein ~ 4 g

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