Mexican Chocolate Bread, page 491 May 26, 2015

I am going to be getting together with some friends for a Latin-themed party this weekend, so I thought I would make this dessert bread to take along.  It contains flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, coffee and orange, sure to be a crowd-pleaser.FullSizeRender

My ingredients for this loaf are:  1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel, 1 tablespoon candied orange peel, 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 1/2 cups bread flour, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa, 1 tablespoon gluten, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

For this loaf, I set the crust on Light and am using the Sweet cycle.  I also made a few substitutions to the recipe in the cookbook, again I will have to see how it works out.  The recipe called for 1/2 cup orange juice.  I was out of OJ, and knew I needed to replace the full quantity of liquid, so I substituted the water, and included the dried and candied orange peel to maintain a hint of orange flavor in the bread.  When I think of Mexican chocolate, I associate that with cinnamon flavor more than orange anyway.

IMG_4069It is rising nicely, the sheen to the loaf makes me think of a cake, rather than a loaf of bread, though.  We shall see how it turns out.  (As expected, it smells incredible.)

The loaf finished and I removed it to a baking rack to cool before slicing.  I noticed that there seems to be a large collection of chocolate chips near the bottom corners of the loaf.  That could be because I got busy doing other things while it was mixing and kneading and never checked to see if I needed to scrape the sides of the pan.  Usually I do this.  Just remember to check a couple of times and use a rubber spatula to ensure everything gets mixed into the dough ball.

IMG_4073 I sliced this up now, even though I am not serving it until this weekend because I am running out of room for whole loaves in my freezer.  (Also, I get a chance to taste test it this way.)

The bread texture is tender and the crust is nice and soft.  You can see from the pictures that some of the chocolate chips did make it throughout the loaf.  You can also see the bits of candied orange peel.  This is just delicious, the cinnamon, chocolate and orange are all more evident to the taste buds than the coffee flavor. In using orange peel, instead of orange juice, the citrus flavor comes in nice little bits through the bread.  A bright  note every once in a while. I tried a piece plain and tried another with a spread of butter.  I preferred it with the butter as it is definitely bread and not cake, it is a little to dry to be eaten plain.  I still have some orange curd I may try with it as well.  I imagine orange marmalade would also be tasty.  I will have to let you know what the party-guests think of it.

Everyone seemed to like it.  After having been frozen, it was a little drier than when it was freshed-baked.  That is hardly a surprise though.

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Fresh Dill Bread, page 305, May 23, 2015

I decided I have time this evening to bake another “gifting loaf.”  This time it will be Fresh dill bread with onions and cream cheese.  I have started growing my own herbs on the back porch and thought this would be a good opportunity to harvest my dill.  I am really looking forward to the smell of this one, it is bound to be incredible.

I have also decided to mix and knead this in the machine, but I will bake it in 2 loaf pans in the oven.

Into the bread machine pan, I placed:  3/4 cup water, 1 large egg, 5 ounces of  cream cheese, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 4 1/3 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten, 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon dried dill (I didn’t have enough on my plant for 6 whole tablespoons of fresh,) 2 teaspoons salt and 2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast. Because this one will be oven-baked, I set the machine for the dough cycle and let it go. The author notes that the onion is added at the beginning of the cycle so that the “action of the mixing and kneading makes the pieces smaller and distributes them throughout the dough.”

(I will note now that the dough was looking really stiff, so I added another tablespoon of water.  This may work fine, or I may have shot myself in the foot.) I think it will be alright.

The dough cycle has finished.  I am making two different sized loaves.  After greasing my loaf pans, I shaped the dough, covered the pans and set a timerIMG_4060 for 1 hour.  In the original recipe, Ms. Hensperger states that this is a slow rising dough, so while the standard final rise usually takes about an hour, I figure this may take a little longer.  I will check it at 1 hour, and add on more rising time if necessary.

After the first hour, both loaves had risen well, but I decided to give them another 15 minutes and let the oven preheat to 375 degrees.  Once the oven was up to temperature, I put the larger loaf in to bake for 10 minutes.  While that was getting started, I kept the smaller loaf covered so it would stay nice and warm, and continue to rise.  After the time was up put the smaller loaf in with the larger and reset my timer for 20 minutes.

When the loaves were finished baking, I immediately removed them from the pans and set them on racks to cool completely before tightly wrapping them and putting them in the freezer.  IMG_4061

They really do smell incredible and you can see the bits of dill and onion on the surface of the bread.

My freezer is nearly full of bread now.  I should hold off baking any more “gift” loaves until I see my friends next weekend.

I sent one of these loaves with my sister, Becky and another with my friend, Nancy.  Becky hasn’t tried her’s yet, but here is what Nancy had to say,

“The dill cream cheese we had toasted with butter like a garlic bread, was delicious”

Applesauce Bread page 355, May 23, 2015

After baking two loaves yesterday that were not for me, I needed to get something going that I am able to enjoy.  The thought of applesauce bread just makes me happy, so I am hoping the finished product will as well.

I have always loved apples, my Grandpa Ted and Grandma Helen used to keep bushels of apples on their porch and the smell of apples always brings me back there.  We also had several apple trees while growing up and in addition to being great for climbing, we were able to enjoy the fruit as well.  They weren’t the best eating apples, a little too sour for my taste, but the deer liked them, so we always got to watch the wildlife.  My sister, Becky, and I even “invented” a game we called Appleball.  One of us would pitch an apple at the other one, who would hit it with a baseball bat.  It seems like such a waste now, but we had fun on those spring and summer days, beating apples into applesauce all over ourselves and the orchard.

Back to the recipe.  Ingredients for this bread included:  1/4 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup unsweetened cinnamon applesauce, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons of butter (cut into pieces), 3 cups of bread flour, 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon gluten, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/3 teaspoon baking soda and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine flour.

The brown sugar can be omitted for a more savory loaf and apple pie spice can be substituted for the cinnamon.  The recipe itself just calls for unsweetened apIMG_4024plesauce, but cinnamon applesauce is what I had on hand, so this will be a bread heavy on that spice. The author mentions also that you can add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the dough, if desired, and that addition  makes for very good toast.  However, I want a bread I can eat, so no nuts. For this loaf, I am using the “Sweet” and “Light” cycles on my machine.

This one even smells good at the dough stage.  At this point, I am smelling more cinnamon than apple.  The scent reminds me a bit of cinnamon rolls.

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The loaf came out a lovely golden brown, the apple smell is more prominent now that it has finished baking.  The top, as you can see is smooth and nicely rounded.

This is a soft loaf, so I should have let it cool completely before slicing into it, but that wasn’t going to happen with this yummy smell in the house.

IMG_4058This is a slightly-sweet and tender bread with a chewy crust.  The apple and cinnamon flavors are apparent, but not overwhelming.  I am thinking it will make excellent toast at breakfast with a cup of tea, but I may also try making a grilled cheese sandwich with it.  This one is a keeper.

WALNUTS! May 22, 2015

walnutI baked 2 different loaves today; Toasted Walnut Bread (page 322) and Fig and Walnut Bread (page 340.) I am combining the two and just doing one post.

I can’t eat nuts, myself, so both of these loaves will be “gifted” to others and I will have to get their reviews added to this blog post later.

Early this morning, I started the Toasted Walnut Bread.  According to the cookbook, this recipe was a clipping from a Fleischmann’s Yeast Ad in a magazine.  The first step in making this bread was to toast 1 cup of walnuts.  In a 350 degree oven, this took only 4 minutes.  Then I set them aside to cool while measuring my other ingredients and starting my bread.

Into the bread machine, I added 1 1/3 cups water, 2 lightly beaten egg whites, 2 tablespoons of butter (cut into pieces), 4 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.  (The walnuts were added later.)  I used the basic cycle and medium crust settings.  Between the 1st and 2nd knead, my machine beeps, and that is when I added the, now fully cooled, walnuts.

I used the ingredient amounts for a 2 pound loaf instead of a 1 1/2 pound loaf this time.  I probably should not have done that.  My machine isn’t quite big enough for a 2 pound loaf.  (Or this bread just rose like mad.)  I noticed during the final rise, that the dough was already touching the top window of the machine.  I removed some dough with a spoon and discarded it.  I still ended up with a large loaf of bread, but the top wasn’t as smooth as it might have been.

Since I made two loaves today, I am going to take the time to mention now how to best clean the pan and blade of your bread machine.  Always try to hand wash the parts of your bread machine.  The coating on the pan will stay nicer, much longer, if you don’t use the dishwasher.

The second loaf is a Fig and Walnut bread.  This recipe is in a special section of the cookbook that delves into using boxed bread machine mixes and creating specialty breads from them.  I purchased a Krusteaz Country White Bread Mix.  Along with the mix, I put 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of gluten, and the yeast from the box into my bread machine and set the cycle for basic and dark.  While the dough was starting, I chopped 1/4 cup of walnuts and 3/4 cup dried figs.  When the machine beeped between the kneads, I added the fruit and nuts.

I am really wishing I had taken photos today, I will have to get back on that with my next loaf.  I checked the dough regularly, just to make sure I wasn’t getting another crazy big rise.  As the figs were kneaded into the dough, the seeds spread throughout the loaf and it looked so pretty in the pan.  I am looking forward to hearing how the bread looks after it has been sliced.

As I said before, I can’t eat these loaves. So once they were fully cooled, I wrapped them well and put them in the freezer.  I will be seeing some friends this next weekend and asking them to take a loaf home and let me know what they think.  When I get the taste test results, I will add more to this post.

I sent the toasted walnut loaf home with my friend, Jennifer to share with her family.  The results?

“We all loved the bread! We ate almost half of it the first day. . .yum! Thanks for sharing”PART951433203356172952015060195170033

My sister got the fig and walnut loaf because I know how much she loves figs. We were lucky enough to take a trip to Dubai a few years ago and got to try fresh figs for the first time.  Becky is now a fan of the fig.  In addition to trying it herself, she took it in to work and asked for people’s opinions.  Before that, she made herself a toasted cheese sandwich and took a couple pictures for this post.

PART_1433204498509_20150601_172117My sister’s comments included,

” Smells wonderful.  Looks nice and dense.  The fig has a nice little kick of sweet you aren’t expecting.

Comments from her coworkers:

“Good flavor, a little dry. Would be better as toast.  Should be more moist.”

“Good flavor, crunchy bits in it. Prefer no nuts. Agree – bit dry – maybe great as french toast.”

“Rustic, fruity and delicious!”

“Yummy!”

“Reminds me of fig newtons but crunchier. Not bad, a bit dry though.”

“Tasty, sweet flavor, would be awesome toasted with cream cheese, pretty dry.”

So the consensus, tasty, but dry.  I can either attribute the dry texture to having frozen it after baking or the fact that this recipe called for a boxed bread machine loaf instead of making it from scratch.  I may try adding the fig and walnut to a from scratch white or whole wheat loaf at some point to see if it is any better.

Sourdough English Muffins, page 297 May 18, 2015

IMG_3996 I decided to use more of my sourdough starter today, before allowing it to hibernate in the fridge.  I have never made English Muffins at home, so I thought this would be a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.  (I also have some lemon curd that needs a purpose.)

Into the bread machine, went 1 cup of my sourdough starter, 1/2 cup fat free milk, 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 1 large egg, 3 1/4 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast. I set the machine for dough, and found a way to kill and hour and a half.

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The dough raised nicely in the machine.  I rolled out my dough ball on a board sprinkled with a little corn meal.  I have some English Muffin rings I bought after a particularly inspiring episode of Good Eats, so I was able to break them in today.  English muffins aren’t baked in the oven, but rather, pan baked.  The recipe recommends using an electric skillet and keeping the extra muffins covered in a clean tea towel, or in the fridge, so they don’t rise too much while the rest are baking.  Luckily, I have 2 large electric skillets, so I was able to bake them all at the same time.  After about 10 minutes on each side, the muffins were done and I transferred them to a rack to cool.

After they cooled, I split one with a fork and popped it in the toaster.  I spread butter on one half and lemon curd on the other. They have more sourdough taste than the bread I baked just yesterday.  What a difference a day makes to a starter.

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These are denser and heavier than the English Muffins I usually buy at the store, but the flavor is so much better. I also think these will stand up better for dishes like Eggs Benedict, because the base will be more sturdy. Hmmm, I guess I need to learn how to make a Hollandaise.

White Sourdough Bread, page 274 May 17, 2015

I am making my first bread machine sourdough today.  In her book, Ms. Hensperger has included recipes for sourdough starters as well as sourdough breads, I am only using the bread recipe and have made another starter.  I purchased an organic “San Francisco Sourdough Starter” from seller SourdoughBreads on Amazon.  I began my starter 2 days ago.  At some point, I will go into more detail on starters, and try making my own from the recipes in the book, but for my first foray, I am going this way.  I was able to find a lot of information online regarding starters, what to expect and how to deal with it.  If you are interested in learning more about starters, I recommend www.culturesforhealth.com and www.sourdough.com.

I have always loved the taste of a good sourdough bread.  Unfortunately, it has been hard to find a loaf at the grocery store.  The sourdough loaves I have tried from the bread aisle have little to no sourdough flavor.  I can occasionally find a good sourdough in the bakery section, but not always, and if I can make one myself, that is so much better.

One thing I noted about the sourdough bread recipes in the cookbook are that, unlike most other recipes, they do not call for added gluten.  That is not to say that they are in any way gluten free or even low gluten, just that additional is not added.  Bread flour is already higher in gluten than All-Purpose flour.

Into the bread machine pan, I added 3/4 cup sourdough starter, 1/2 cup fat free milk, 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons honey, 3 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.

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The author recommended using the basic, and dark settings for this recipe.  I am glad I took her advice, and didn’t balk at the use of the dark setting.  This was a stiff dough, but it rose well and baked up beautifully.  The tantalizing, and slightly tangy aroma of sourdough is still filling the house.

This loaf is lovely, tender and soft, while slightly chewy.  It has a nice crunch to the crust and a delightful flavor.  It is not terribly sour, though.  I imagine, as my sourdough starter ages, the tangy flavor in my baking will be more pronounced.

FullSizeRender  IMG_3993It developed very nice air pockets and a great rise as well. As a first foray into bread machine sourdough, I am pleased with the results.  I do wish I had held out for a more “sour” starter, but I was out of bread and beggars can’t be choosers.  This one is a keeper, though.  Tasty and great texture, I think this will be a good loaf for sandwiches.

Maple Buttermilk Bread, page 58, May 9, 2015

I wanted another simple bread today that would be good for sandwiches.  I came upon this recipe and it sounded perfect.  I decided late last night to make it, and because I was able to use buttermilk powder, it was a perfect loaf for my delay timer.

I loaded the liquid ingredients into my machine first: 1 cup plus 1 Tb water, 1 1/2 Tb melted unsalted butter, and 3 Tb maple syrup.  On top of the liquid ingredients, I added, 3 cups of bread flour, 1 Tb gluten, and 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Since I wanted to be sure to keep the buttermilk powder and yeast from mixing with the wet ingredients too early, I added them last.  1/3 cup dry buttermilk powder and 2 1/4 tsp bread machine yeast rounded out the ingredients.  I set my delay timer to have a fresh loaf for lunch today, and headed to bed.

This loaf has risen nicely and is baking now.  The tangy smells of buttermilk and yeast are filling the house and I am itching to get a slice.  IMG_3949

Ooooh, it just finished and I removed it from the pan to a rack to cool.  I haven’t mentioned it before, but be sure to remove your loaf from the pan promptly to keep it from getting moist and soggy.

After cooling to room temperature, the bread is ready for slicing.

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The bread is soft, with a nice, golden brown and flaky crust.  The maple flavor isn’t prevalent, which may be because I used a grade A maple syrup.  The buttermilk, however, has created a delightfully tangy and moist loaf.  This is a recipe I will certainly make again.

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