Orange Sourdough Bread with Cranberries, Pecans and Golden Raisins

Baking another sourdough loaf before I put my starter back into hibernation.  This is another one I can’t eat, so I will be gifting it to either Oceanside Animal Hospital or the staff at Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park.

Last time I went to Trader Joe’s in Olympia, Washington, they had orange flavored dried cranberries, and I immediately thought of this recipe.  I really can’t wait to find out how this tastes.

I started putting 1/2 cup active sourdough starter into the bread machine pan.  I then added 3/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 1/4 cups bread flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1 3/4 teaspoons SAF yeast.  I set the Basic and medium cycles for my machine.  After the machine beeped between kneads 1 and 2, I added 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/3 cup golden raisins and 1/3 cup chopped pecans.  The dough looked a little dry, so I added a few more drops of orange juice.

The author does note in this recipe that you can add the fruit and nuts at the beginning if you don’t wish to wait.

As this is another sourdough, I have set myself an alarm to check the rise before baking begins.This one required another 90 minutes of rise time before I was comfortable enough to start baking it.

  
The loaf baked up to a lovely golden brown, studded with fruit and nuts. It smells great too; the orange scent is quite strong.

I stopped by today to pick up my plate and the comment sheet, but they couldn’t find the sheet. Not a problem, of course, the receptionist told me everyone loved it, especially the cranberry/raisin combo. I’m going to call this one a win. After all, 100% of the polled respondents (all 1 of them) told me how great it was.

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.

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.

Feta and Spinach Bread, page 384, June 10, 2015

I am making a loaf today for my friends, Nancy and Jim.   This Feta and Spinach loaf, known as spanakópsomo, in Greece, is traditionally made with wild greens and is supposed to be a delicate loaf, not suitable for sandwiches. I used to love to eat spanakopita, and I know the flavor must be similar.  I will be seeing Jim and Nancy at their son’s graduation celebration, and want to have this baked before I have to head up north for the weekend..

Before putting this recipe together in the bread machine, I first needed to defrost frozen chopped spinach and then squeeze it dry.  I hope I got enough liquid out of the spinach, otherwise we will be looking at another crater loaf.

The other ingredient to be aware of when baking this bread is feta cheese.  Sometimes, feta is stored in brine and must be rinsed in cold water before using.  Otherwise the bread can be too salty.  The feta I picked up at the store was not in brine, so I was able to skip this step. Another thing to note about feta is that it only has about 1/4 the fat found in a cheese like cheddar, making this loaf suitable for a lower fat diet.

Into the bread machine pan, I added 7/8 cup water, 3/4 cup spinach, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 cups bread flour. 4 oz crumbled feta cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 3/4 teaspoons SAF yeast.  I used the medium crust and basic bread cycle for this recipe.

It smells incredible as it is rising and baking.  I checked during the final rise and it was lovely, with a smooth rounded top and pieces of spinach throughout.  Then. . . it fell.

IMG_4173

Yes, I did not get enough liquid out of the spinach and we have another crater loaf.  I won’t waste this and start over, so Nancy and Jim’s bread will look interesting, and taste lovely.  (Of that I am sure.)

As usual, I will let you know what they have to say after they try it.  (My friends and family are such great guinea pigs.)

I ended up not being able to make it to Landon’s graduation party.  As I don’t want this loaf to be wasted, I will take it in, along with the Granola Bread, and give it to the staff at my Veterinarian’s office.  Next time I know I will see Nancy and Jim, I will bake something else for them.

Comments from the staff at the Vet:

“Feta was mild”

“Okay”

“Would have like to taste more Feta”

“Not my favorite”

“Very good!”

My thought is, this is a matter of taste.  If you like the flavor of spinach, try it.  But if you are looking for strong Feta, add more or adjust your expectations accordingly.

Roquefort Cheese Bread with Walnuts, page 374, June 5, 2015

I have company coming this weekend and have promised to send them each home with a fresh loaf of bread.  This first one is for my sister, Becky.  Of the two loaves I am baking for my guests, this one is less delicate and will stay nice in the freezer. I live in a fairly small town on the Washington coast and finding Roquefort was no small task.  I had to do some grocery shopping yesterday and thought I would check, again.  Low and behold, there it was!  (Thank you, Okies Thriftway in Ocean Park.) This ought to make my sissy happy. Wait, hold the presses.  I started putting the bread together and realized I grabbed Gorgonzola.  After a little online research, I found the following on myrecipes.com.

Roquefort and Gorgonzola are two kinds of blue cheese. Roquefort is a French sheep’s milk cheese and Gorgonzola is Italian and made from cow’s milk. Roquefort has a sharper flavor, but is not as strongly flavored as robust and aromatic Gorgonzola.

So, this will be a more “robust” and “aromatic” Gorgonzola Cheese Bread with Walnuts.  I didn’t want to change today’s blog title, because that is the actual title of the recipe.  Becky will still love it.  I will still bake it. I placed my ingredients into the machine:  1 cup water, 2 tablespoons sherry, 5 oz crumbled Gorgonzola (the recipe calls for 4 oz, but it is a 5 oz package and I am going to gamble on “more cheese is always better”,) 1 tablespoon walnut oil, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 3/4 cup bread flour, 1/4 cup medium rye flour, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon gluten, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.IMG_4144 Before the first knead, I was sure to scrape down the sides of the bread pan to ensure all the ingredients were incorporated into the dough ball. As you can see, the loaf rose nicely and the blade action of the machine broke the walnuts into very small bits. During the last hour in the machine, the loaf started to crater.  I thought I wIMG_4152as careful when measuring my ingredients, but mistakes happen.  It will still eat the same.  The loaf smells good, just enough pungent Gorgonzola aroma to let you know it is in there.  I will be sending the loaf home with Becky, tomorrow, and she will let me know how it turned out, so I can share the results with you.

Well, I heard from Becky and It is good and bad.  In her own words:

“Just tried the bread.  Nice and moist.  Good tang from the Gorgonzola.  Walnuts add a nice crunch every once in a while to break up the cheese flavor. Strong after taste that is not 100% pleasant.”

Oh dear.  She was so nice, the way she said that.  She told me that she is planning to take some into work tomorrow to get opinions from her co workers again.  I told her to warn them about the aftertaste and she said she would rather they form their own opinions, in case the aftertaste is something that only she would notice.  If not, and everyone at Steamboat Animal Hospital gets stuck with nasty Gorgonzola aftertaste, please know I apologize and tried to get you warned.  I will let you know what her co workers have to say.

June 9, 2015 – I heard back from Becky again.  She sent the following:

“I think it may have just been me because so far all the reviews from work are stellar.”

That makes me feel a little better about it.  Gorgonzola and walnut is a robust flavor combination, so it certainly wouldn’t be for everyone.  I am just sorry she didn’t like it.

Here are the comments from her coworkers at Steamboat Animal Hospital.

“Very good! Don’t usually like walnuts in bread but would definitely like to try this toasted as a BLT!. . .or as a grilled cheese. . .or as a toasted turkey. . . I just love sandwiches, okay?”

“Yummmmy!!”

“Yum! Awesome, Fluffy, Light Texture, Love the smell.”

“This is so nummy! We had salmon, artichokes & asparagus last nigh.  This is what was missing.  Nice Work!”

“I don’t like Gorgonzola so I prob wouldn’t have another piece BUT this bread is very good if you like Gorgonzola! Perfect texture, cheese flavor isn’t overwhelming. ”

“Delicious and I do not like walnuts.”

“Two thumbs up from a non-gorgonzola fan.”

“Was very good! I don’t like walnuts, or nuts in bread really, so I kind of picked around them after at least trying one.  But good news is there wasn’t an overwhelming amount. I think this would be super nummy toasted with some sliced tomato and herbs on top, maybe even more cheese!  Mmmmmm. . .cheese.”

I am definitely feeling better about this loaf now.