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!”

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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.

Carrot Bread with Crystallized Ginger, page 353 April 29, 2015

The other bread I am making for this weekend’s tea party is a carrot bread with crystallized ginger.  This one I will be making exclusively using the bread machine.  One nice thing about this bread is that there is no need to add sugar.  The carrots themselves are sweet enough and the bits of crystallized ginger will also add a hint of sweetness.  According to the recipe, the ginger will “melt into the bread and burst with flavor in your mouth.”  Sounds good, doesn’t it? Ingredients for this bread include fat free milk, pureed carrots, eggs, unsalted butter, bread flour, crystallized ginger, gluten, salt and yeast.  The recipe allows for the option of using baby food strained carrots, or pureeing your own.  Using a jar of baby food would be convenient, but because I can’t digest a lot of vegetables, I like to puree my own and keep them on hand for adding to soups, stews, sauces, meatloaves, and more.  I have no shortage of pureed vegetables on hand.  Because of that, this recipe has me thinking of other combinations I can try in the future, pureed broccoli and cheddar bread, spinach with bacon and nutmeg.  I am sure the possible combinations are endless and I will have plenty of time to come up with more. It looks like it is rising well, and what a pretty color! IMG_3799 Oh crumb (pun intended,) I’ve got another crater loaf.  It is still a really lovely color, though and smells just like fresh carrots. IMG_3800 IMG_3803 IMG_3804 As you can see from the pictures, even November thinks it is pretty in spite of the crater top.  (Please take note, she is on the windowsill behind the table, not ON the table.)  At least my friends at the tea party will appreciate the effort.  They love me for my sparkling wit and not my baking chops.  (Although I am certainly working on that.) Again, because I won’t be slicing into this until the party this weekend, I will have to update the post later with everyone’s opinion.

This was really delicious.  The carrot bread itself is tasty enough, but the sweet surprise bits of crystallized ginger put this one over the top.  One guest used “delicate” to describe it while another asked for the recipe.  (It’s coming, Melissa.)  This went well with our tea and a little butter.  I seem to remember seeing someone try it with the orange curd as well.