Sourdough Banana Nut Bread, page 288, August 13, 2015

I will be seeing my cousin, Mandy in a few days, so I gave her the choice of two different sourdough breads; whole wheat sourdough or orange sourdough with cranberries, pecans and golden raisins.  She said they both sounded good, but I later realized I was out of some ingredients for each of those. This one will come as a complete surprise.  (Well, unless she reads this post.)

Ms. Hensperger describes this as a “nice sweet and sour bread with lots of goodies in it.”  She also writes that it is good for PB&J, smoked turkey or black forest ham sandwiches, or just as toast.  I was also thinking this could make a good French toast.

I have been continually feeding my sourdough starter since the loaf I baked the other day, so it was ready to go.

Into the bread machine pan went: 1/2 cup sourdough starter, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cups sliced ripe bananas, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons of hazelnut oil, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 cups bread flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon dry buttermilk powder, 1/2 cup hazelnuts, 3 tablespoons chopped dried figs, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar and 1 3/4 teaspoons SAF yeast.  The machine was set for the 3 hour Basic Bread, Medium Crust cycle.

I know that sometimes sourdoughs take longer to rise, often requiring more time than standard yeast breads.  Because of this, I checked my bread machine manual and discovered that if I check the machine after 2 hours, I have the option of stopping the process to allow for additional rise time.  I can then use the bake only cycle to finish the bread when it has risen enough.  I set an alarm for 1 hour and 50 minutes and will check the bread at that point to see if more rise time is required.

I decided to let it rise a while longer, I gave it another hour and by that time it had risen sufficiently.  I then set the machine to the bake only cycle, which automatically times for 1 hour which is the same as the baking time for the basic bread cycle.

As this is baking, the banana scent is really coming through.  Along with the sourdough aroma, this is really nice.  Through the window on the top of the machine, the crust is smooth, light brown and speckled.

The bread is done.  The crust is a little dark, not burned black or anything, but darker than I am used to for one of my sourdough breads.  This could be from the ingredients, or from the baking.  Either way, it still looks and smells delicious.  I will try and post photos before I wrap it for delivery.  I will also ask Mandy and her husband, Rick to let me know what they think of it.

I just heard back from Mandy:

“The bread is amazing I just had some toasted with butter. I loved it.”

Sourdough Tomato Bread with Feta, page 295, August 10, 2015

After all the loaves I baked over the past couple of weeks, I decided another sourdough was in order.  I am imagining this bread served warm with melted garlic butter, or dipped in olive oil.

I took my sourdough starter out of the fridge last night to wake it up.  I made my sponge and let it rest, covered, at room temperature until this evening when it was bubbly and active.

This recipe calls for “3/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes with ‘some’ liquid.”  I really hate when something is vague like that.  I know the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients in bread is so important, so I will try to keep an eye on the dough, adding more liquid or flour if necessary.

Into the bread machine pan, I placed 3/4 cup sourdough starter, the (partially) drained tomatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 cups bread flour, 2/3 cup crumbled feta and 1 1/4 teaspoon SAF yeast.  This bread uses the basic cycle and dark crust settings on my bread machine.

The author mentions that you can substitute crumbled fresh goat cheese for the feta, if you prefer.  Feta is too strong for some people so that can be a deciding factor.  As far as health benefits, feta has slightly less saturated fat than soft goat cheese but twice the sodium.

Well, it looked fine while it was mixing, kneading and rising, so I didn’t add anything else to the dough.  It rose beautifully and now I am just waiting for it to finish baking and hoping it won’t crater on me again.  It smells lovely, I have always been a fan of tomatoes and feta, can’t wait to try this bread.

IMG_4591This is such a pretty loaf of bread.  It is a lovely pale orange color and has small bits of tomato throughout.  The smell is significantly more tomato than feta, but both flavors come through very well.  Tender and slightly chewy with a crispy crust, this bread reminds me a bit of tomato soup in aroma and flavor.  As such, I am guessing it would make an excellent toasted cheese sandwich.  The only downside is that there isn’t much “sour” flavor from the sourdough.  That is just a matter of personal taste, though.  I suppose if I used an older starter, that had more time to ferment, I would have found a more powerful sour flavor.

Carrot Bread, page 558, August 2015

This is the first “no-yeast quick bread” I have made out of this cookbook.  My bread machine at home doesn’t have a quick bread cycle, but mom’s does, so I decided to try a loaf while I was at her house.  We had gone to the store and I found some organic rainbow carrots (orange, yellow, white and purple.)  This recipe came to mind, so I picked them up.  The recipe describes this quick bread as cake-like and that it resembles a steamed pudding.

The ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:  4 large eggs, 1/2 cup walnut oil, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 cups lightly packed shredded raw carrots, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups bread flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt.  I started the quick bread cycle and let it go.

The recipe states that when the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, I needed to press stop and program the bake only cycle for another 15 minutes to finish baking.  The bread is supposed to be done when it shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan, the sides are dark brown and the top is firm when touched with a finger.  I really overthought this one.  I started with 10 minutes.  It still looked too damp, so I added another 5.  Then another 10, then ANOTHER 15.  I finally threw up my hands and declared the loaf a lost cause, swearing that I had wasted my time and ingredients (including those lovely carrots.)  Wise women, my mom and cousin, Michelle, encouraged me to have us each try a little before I tossed it out.

Thank goodness they did.  I somehow expected this to look and act like a loaf of yeast bread, forgetting that the author had already described it as akin to a steamed pudding.  It was fantastic.  We didn’t eat it in slices, rather in small dessert dishes with spoons.  It was like a warm carrot cake.  So tasty.  Thank you ladies for helping me rein in a totally needless panic attack.  Definitely a keeper.

Hot Jalapeño Bread with Longhorn Cheese, page 380, August 2015

I wanted to bake this loaf for my dad, and since he will be home soon, I got it ready and put it in the freezer for him.  I am not a fan of really spicy foods.  I own my wimphood.  When I go out to a Thai restaurant and they ask, “How spicy, 1 to 4?”  I always answer, “zero.”  I think Dad will appreciate this one, though.

The author notes in the cookbook that the jalapeños, being added at the beginning of the cycle, get well incorporated into the dough, but to be prepared for “a little burst of heat on your tongue after each bite.”

Before beginning this loaf, I drained and dried (using a paper towel), a 4 ounce can of diced jalapeños, removing as many seeds as possible.  I also shredded 4 ounces of longhorn cheddar cheese.

Once the jalapeños were dried, I added my ingredients to the bread machine.  In order, I placed 1 cup water, the jalapeños, the cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons dried buttermilk, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast into the pan.  I set the crust for medium and the bread cycle for basic.

This smelled great while it was baking.  I may not be able to eat spicy, but I can appreciate the smell.  Longhorn cheese is known to meld well with Tex-Mex flavors and the if the smell is any indicator, this is going to be a tasty loaf of bread.  I will have to let you know more after he gives me his taste test results.

Country Pancetta-Cheese Bread, page 378, August 2015

I really went off-recipe with this loaf, but I had some of the ingredients that are hard to find here at home, so I went ahead and used them.  The actual recipe called for a few different ingredients, and for the loaf to be shaped by hand and finished in the oven.  Here is what I did:

Before I started baking, I cooked 4 ounces of pancetta in a skillet until crisp.  After that finished cooking, I placed it on paper toweling to cool.

Ingredients were added to the bread machine as follows:  1 1/8 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 3/4 cups bread flour, 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 tablespoon gluten, a pinch of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.  I used the French bread setting and the medium crust options.

When the machine beeped between kneads 1 and 2, I added the pancetta along with 4 ounces of fresh, whole milk mozzarella, cut into small cubes.

I believe I made a mistake choosing the French Bread setting for this loaf.  The extra rise cause the loaf to touch the top of the bread machine, and then crater.

It was a very tasty loaf, though.  We sliced some and served with with fruit and cheese we had picked up at the farmer’s market in Olympia.  Not the prettiest loaf I have made, but very tasty.

Buttermilk Cheese Bread, page 372, August, 2015

The recipe for this loaf recommends serving it alongside a thick beef and barley soup, fresh ham, or simply using it to make an outstanding sandwich.

Into the bread machine, went:  1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 1/2 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.

This loaf uses the medium and basic cycle settings on the machine.

Nearly every recipe in this cookbook recommends letting the completed loaf cool to room temperature before slicing.  As this was baking, though, it smelled so incredible that mom and I knew that we wouldn’t wait.

This loaf rose too high and touched the top of the bread machine, then it cratered.  Not badly, but it didn’t bake to that rounded top I would have preferred.  It is a lovely golden brown with noticeable flecks of cheese on the crust.  Soft, chewy and delicious, I am glad we didn’t wait.  There is something intoxicating about eating fresh, hot bread, dripping with butter.

Herb Bread, page 304, August 2015

This one just sounded so good, I had to make it.  I had mom’s kitchen smelling like delicious fresh bread for days and days.

Ingredients went into the bread machine in the following order:  1 1/8 cups water, 1 1/2 tablespoons walnut oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon gluten, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.  This loaf can be made using the medium or dark crust settings (I used medium) and the basic cycle.

This smelled really great; it rose very well, with a high, rounded top.  As it baked, we kept coming up with ideas on how to best use it, deciding that toasted cheese sandwiches dipped into tomato soup would be best.

I really do wish I had remembered to take pictures.  The loaf was a beautiful white bread with herbs throughout the loaf.  It was really pretty.  We made our grilled cheese sandwiches with a blend of sharp cheddar cheese and a white cheddar-Italian truffle cheese I picked up the other day.  It was really good.