Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread, page 171, July 28, 2015

I am attempting my first gluten-free loaf today.  My cousin, Michelle, and her daughter, Elaine can’t eat gluten. While they are here for a visit, I decided to bake them a loaf.

I drove up to my parents’ place this morning, so I was planning to use mom’s rather ancient bread machine.

Ingredients were introduced into the machine in the following manner:  1 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons walnut oil, and 3 large eggs, plus enough water to equal 3/4 cup.

In another bowl, I mixed together 3 cups gluten free baking flour, 1/4 cup dry buttermilk powder, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons xanthan  gum, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  After these dry ingredients were fully blended, I added them on top of my liquid ingredients. Using a spoon, I made a well in the center of the dry ingredients and added 2 3/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast. I set the cycle for basic bread and started the machine.

Nothing happened. That is actually not entirely true.  Instead of starting to mix the ingredients, the machine made odd noises, smelled bad, and started heating up. I tried shutting things down and trying again, even trying another cycle. Nothin’.  I was set to change plans and complete the bread using a mixer and the oven, but mom decided that we should run into town to buy a new machine.

I put the pan containing my ingredients into the fridge while we went shopping. First of all, this MAJOR retailer only had 1 bread machine in the store. It was stuck up on a top shelf.  Jeez, doesn’t anyone use these anymore?

We got back to the house and I got my ingredients back out of the fridge while we opened the new machine and I washed out the new pan.

Now I really have to make a decision. I am sure while we were gone, some of the dry and liquid ingredients blended. Also, if I pour the ingredients into the new pan, the liquid ingredients will no longer be on the bottom. Hmmmmm?

Rather than waste everything, I will try using this. I have plenty of time, if it fails, to make another loaf.

This new bread machine is all fancy-shmancy, it has an actual setting just for gluten free breads.   I started the machine (this one works) and when five minutes had passed, I added 3/4 cup of golden raisins.

Looks great and the cinnamon smells awesome.

I heard back from my cousin, here are her thoughts:

“The cinnamon bread was our favorite!  A lot of gluten free breads end up being chalking or incredibly dense. This bread was lovely! It did have a slight chalkiness, but toasting it took care of that. . .Perfect!”

Cinnamon-Apple-Pecan Bread, page 446, July 27, 2015

Onward and upward.  One more loaf before I head out in the morning, then I will bake a couple when I get to my mom’s.  This one is touted by the author as “the ultimate breakfast bread.”  From the ingredients, it sure sounds like that will be an apt description.

Ingredients for this loaf go into my bread machine in the following order:  1 1/8 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons walnut oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 3 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon (yeah, a whole tablespoon,) 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.  I have set the machine for a medium crust and the basic bread cycle.

While that gets going, I chop up 1/2 cup dried apples and 1/3 cup pecans.  They will be added when the machine signals between Kneads 1 and 2.

As I check the dough after the first mix, it seems really dry. I will add more buttermilk, a little at a time, until the consistency looks right.  I am concerned that the first knead won’t be enough to blend the buttermilk in completely.  Please don’t let me end my night with another brick.

It was looking really ugly, so before adding the apples and pecans, I tossed the dough and started over.  This time, I added 1 more tablespoon of buttermilk during the mixing phase and it already looks better.

IMG_4373

This loaf didn’t rise terribly high, but that is what I am expecting from the sweeter loaves anymore.  Still it looks significantly better than the Greek Currant Bread I did earlier today.  It smells really lovely, too.  The scent of apples and cinnamon is always a delight.

My cousin-in-law(?), Brian, comments on a lot of my bread recipes, so I sent him half a loaf of this.  Here’s what he had to say:

” Thank you Paula for the wonderful bread! Love it! Ate half but going to toast the rest cuz I am all about that toast. Much thanks.”

Greek Currant Bread, page 440, July 27, 2015

This smells great, and I haven’t even put anything in the bread machine yet.

This Greek bread, also known as stafidopsomo, is made using currants, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves, honey, allspice and orange-blossom water.  The first step I completed, the one that currently smells so great is to place 1 1/4 cups currants in a bowl with 1 stick of cinnamon, 2 whole cloves, a pinch of allspice and 3 tablespoons of orange juice.  This is covered and allowed to stand at room temperature for an hour while the currants get soft and plump. After the hour is up, I removed the cinnamon stick and cloves.  I then drained the currants and set them aside, reserving the remaining OJ.  To the juice, I added just a little water to equal 2 tablespoons.

Into the bread machine pan went the OJ/water blend, 1 cup of evaporated milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of orange-blossom water, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 teaspoons of SAF yeast.  The recipe does mention that while the orange-blossom water is a nice touch, it is optional and can be left out without affecting the bread.  I have some orange-blossom water on hand, otherwise I might have left it out myself.  It is not always an easy ingredient to find.

This loaf uses the medium crust and sweet bread settings on my machine.  After the beep between the first and second Kneads, I added the drained currants. Here is where I got to hovering a bit.  I used a rubber spatula to help incorporate the currants into the dough.  I am not sure this was at all necessary, I just thought it couldn’t hurt.

As I wait for the bread, I think I will make myself a cup of tea and use the cinnamon stick from the orange juice soak to flavor it.  I hate the thought of wasting a cinnamon stick but I don’t know if there is a way to salvage and store it after having been soaked in juice.  Ah well, this will certainly be a good cup of tea.

Uh oh, this loaf really has me worried.  It doesn’t seem to be rising well, at all.  It is reminding me of the Chocolate Pistachio loaf I did that never progressed beyond dough.  In an attempt to salvage it, I stopped the machine after the last rise, but before it started baking.  I then let the dough rise another hour (I checked it after 30 minutes, then decided to let it keep going.)  It rose a bit.  It at least has a nice rounded top now.  I then turned the machine back on to just the bake cycle.  Crossing my fingers now.

Yeah, so apparently crossing fingers doesn’t actually DO anything.  I have the Ben Folds Five song stuck on a loop in my head right now, “She’s a brick and I’m drowning, slowly.”  Ah well.  I will still take this one with me when I head out tomorrow, maybe I can salvage a slice from the oIMG_4370uter edge for one of my guinea pigs family members to taste.

You know what? Mom and I went ahead and tried a slice of this this morning. It isn’t doughy, just a very heavy, very dense loaf of bread.  I fried us each a slice in a little bit of butter, it was delicious. The flavors from the orange/currant/spice blend was great. Mom said it reminded her of a Pannetone. All in all, not a total fail. I still don’t like the sheer weight of it, and it may be more doughy at the center of the loaf, but the flavor is really nice.

Cracked Wheat Bread, page 129, July 26, 2015

Time to bake yet another high-fiber loaf to give away this next week.

This recipe uses molasses as the sweetening agent, so that will add an entirely different flavor profile to this grainy loaf.

An hour before I was to begin, I poured 3/4 cup boiling water over 1/2 cup cracked wheat in a bowl.  To that, I added 3 tablespoons molasses, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  That was then left to stand for 1 hour at room temperature to soften the grain.

After the hour was up, ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:  The cracked wheat mixture, 3/4 cup water, 2 2/3 cups bread flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast. (Depending on the instructions for your machine, just be sure to include the cracked wheat mixture as a liquid.)

The cookbook calls for this to be baked using the medium crust and basic bread cycle.  I really wavered about using the whole wheat cycle instead, but decided to follow the instructions.  Ms. Hensperger is the expert here.

I noticed as this was mixing and then kneading, that the dough ball looked really wet, so I sprinkled it with another tablespoon or so of flour and that seemed to help.  We shall see if that helped or hindered this loaf later on.

With just over an hour to go, the loaf looked beautiful through the window on the top of my bread machine.  Then, it cratered.  What a disappointment.  This could have been due to any number of things, the extra flour, the cycle I used, not adding enough extra flour, even my machine itself.  I will still use this as a loaf for someone else, just for someone who loves me enough to ignore a crater loaf.

No photos, you’ve seen one crater, you’ve seen them all.

Here are the results of the taste test:

“Good, I like the grains in it.  Needs butter.”

“Very good I put some mozz cheese on it and popped it in the toaster – I’m in love.”

“Chewy, I liked it with butter!”

Rosemary-Golden Raisin Bread, page 352, July 26, 2015

I was a little concerned when I saw the title of this, I imagined coming across rosemary leaves in a slice of bread and didn’t think I would like that.  After reading the recipe, those fears were laid to rest in the first step.

Magical step 1, in your food processor, combine 1 cup bread flour and 1 teaspoon dried rosemary.  Pulse to pulverize the rosemary. There, problem solved, the rosemary is so thoroughly chopped and blended with the flour, no needle like leaves will end up in the loaf. Other than the worry about large pieces of rosemary leaves, the flavor combination here sounds really good.  I can’t wait to get feedback on this loaf.

This is a loaf that starts in the bread machine, and then bakes in the oven. Into the pan of my bread machine, I added 2/3 cup water, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 large eggs,1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 cups bread flour, the bread flour/rosemary blend from the first step, 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.  (No added gluten for this recipe, either.)  I then set the machine for the dough cycle and let it go to work.

While the machine was working on my dough, I prepared a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.  After the dough cycle completed, I used my dough scraper to turn the dough out onto my clean board.  (Now, the recipe doesn’t say anything about flouring the surface of the board to prevent sticking, but I did anyway.) I then patted the dough out and sprinkled the raisins on top.  Next I folded the dough over and kneaded the ball by hand to incorporate the raisins.  The dough was then shaped into a ball, brushed with a light coating of olive oil, and covered loosely with plastic wrap.    I left the dough to rise for 1 hour (until it was doubled in size.)

Twenty minutes before the rising time was up, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough had fully risen, I transferred it to my parchment lined baking sheet  and, using a sharp knife, slashed an X on the top.  I then put it on the center rack of my oven for 30 minutes. IMG_4367 I feel almost guilty trying to tell you all how good this smells.  Then I remember, I can’t eat it either, so I am torturing myself as well.  It just came out of the oven, and while it is not terribly pretty, it does smell fantastic.  The sweet raisin and savory rosemary blend nicely.  I will let you know what the tasters think later.

I cheated and shared a slice with mom, it was so good.  I picked out the raisins, and had a slice toasted with a bit of cottage cheese.  Yum.  Here are the comments from Becky’s co-workers:

“My favorite so far! Love it as is, but would be good with honey or jelly.”

“This bread would be amazing with honey”

“Really good!  Smells amazing would be good cooked like French toast.”

And from the staff at Oceanside Animal Hospital:

“Yum!”

“Would be great toast!”

“Good toast with butter and coffee in the AM!”

“I loved the hint of sweetness with Rosemary.  Would be lovely breakfast with jam.”

“Loved it! Very delicious”

“The best!  Wouldn’t change a thing.  My only complaint is I only got on piece.”

Alright then, this one is definitely a winner.

Flax Seed Whole Wheat Bread, page 118, July 25, 2015

According to webmd.com, the following is believed about Flax Seed:

“Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.”

With those kinds of benefits, I feel like I should bake loaves and loaves of this bread for all my loved ones.  This loaf will be shared with family later this week, so I will write this post solely about the baking of it for now.

According to the author, this is a great bread for sandwiches, or for serving with soups and stews.

Ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:  1 1/8 cups water, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk, 2 tablespoons flax seed, 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.  This recipe recommends the medium crust and whole wheat cycle settings on my machine.

I just finished baking my last loaf with starting this one, so after washing out the pan, and adding the ingredients, the machine was still not quite cool enough to start again.  I didn’t realize that it neIMG_4364eded to cool, but when I tried to start this loaf, it beeped and gave me an error code.  I waited a total of 10 minutes and tried again, this time the cycle started, but now I know to let the machine cool a bit between loaves.

This loaf baked up nice and high with a lovely brown crust; it smells delightful.  It smells so good, I wish it was something I could try for myself.  I will come back to this post and add my taste testers’ thoughts later.

Thanks to the staff at Steamboat Animal Hospital, for taste-testing for me.

“Very good, would make great sandwiches.”

“a little plain but healthy good for a sandwich or with honey and butter.”

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Walnuts*, page 444, July 25, 2015

* This recipe actually calls for macadamia nuts, but I am using what I have on hand.  Waste not want not.

I am on a mission, I am trying to get 6 loaves of bread baked this weekend.  I will be going to see family next week and need more guinea pigs taste testers for the loaves I cannot eat myself.  So this will be a largely high fiber baking weekend.

The first loaf is in the Sweet Loaves chapter of the cookbook. I had some bananas that needed to be used up, so this sounded like a good loaf.  The directions state that this is definitely a loaf for toasting, so I will be sure to share that with the recipient.

The ingredients I used went into the bread machine in the following order: 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, 7/8 cup sliced banana, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 cups bread flour, 1 cut whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup rolled oats, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 1/4 teaspoons SAF yeast.  I set the machine for a medium crust and sweet bread and let it start.  When the machine beeped between Kneads 1 and 2, I added 1/3 cup chopped walnuts.

As the baking began, the smell of banana was quite intense.  As time went on, it either lessened, or I became used to it.  It still smells lovely, but it smells more like a whole wheat bread than a banana bread.  I know most banana breads I have eaten were quick breads which are usually far sweeter, denser and moister than yeast breadsIMG_4357 so I am very curious to see what my taste tester thinks of this.

The loaf didn’t bake up very high, it has a nicely browned, and nubby exterior, a result of the nuts and oats, to be sure.  It feels rather heavy for its size, so that will be something to bear in mind when the tasting results come back.

My sister shared the bread with her co-workers and this is what they had to say;

“Good!  A little dry but I love how dense it is.”

“Good – Would like to taste a bit more banana & is a bit dry.”

“Yummy! Though it’s a little dry, it’s delicious!  Would be great with yogurt.”

So tasty, but dry. All in all, a good result though.