Healthy Whole Wheat Challah, Page 111, November 20, 2017

Time for the final loaf before Thanksgiving, this one is a gift for my sister and her co-workers.  This loaf has an extra step I’ve not tried before and I am curious and hopeful about how it will turn out.

The cookbook notes that Challah is usually made with all white flour and this will be slightly more dense with the addition of whole wheat flour.

I added ingredients to the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup water

3 large eggs

1/4 cup pistachio oil (recipe calls for vegetable oil. After getting started, I realized I was out and went for the more flavorful pistachio.)

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups bread flour

2 tablespoons gluten

1 1/4 tablespoons instant potato flakes

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

There are options in the cookbook to use medium or dark crust setting (I chose medium) and Basic or Whole Wheat bread settings (I opted for Basic.)

This is not a loaf to “set it and forget it”, however. At the end of Rise 2, I needed to stop the machine and remove the warm dough from the pan.  The instructions are then to divide the dough into 2 equal portions, a roll each portion into a “fat oblong sausage” about 10 inches long. Next, Ms. Hensperger writes:

“Place the two pieces side by side.  Holding each end, wrap one around the other, twisting each one at the same time, to create a fat twist effect.  Tuck under the ends and replace in the pan in the machine.  The twist shape will bake in the machine.”

I am not sure if I did that correctly, I ended up with a twisty-looking circle.  We shall see how it turns out.  Once the loaf was back in the pan, I let it rise for 55 minutes and then bake for 60.  The loaf was then removed from the bread pan and placed on a rack to cool completely.

After it cooled, I wrapped the loaf tightly in cellophane and put it into the freezer.

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Because it spent time in the freezer, I knew I wanted to send some kind of topping to offset any dryness.   I included some whipped honey with the loaf.

I heard back from my sister today, she took the loaf in to be shared at Steamboat Animal Hospital in Olympia, Washington.  Here are the comments we received:

“Soo good! It tastes perfect”

“Very tasty”

“Soft, not dry, Tried with honey. Very good “cold weather” loaf.”

“Delicious! Yum – love the taste, what’s the recipe?”

“This is too good!  Had with some honey!  Need more.”

“Very very good!  If I have to give constructive criticism I would say a TINY bit dry – but mmm!”

Sounds like this recipe was a winner.  I think serving it without having frozen it might have helped avoid dryness.

Thanks again to the gang at Steamboat!

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Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls, page 356, November 19, 2017

I am ready to tackle recipe two in my Thanksgiving pregame lineup.  I’ve actually never made yeast rolls before, bread machine or otherwise, so this is totally a new experience for me.  We are having 8 for Thanksgiving dinner and this will provide 2 rolls per person.  I originally thought to make 2 batches, but have since changed my mind.

This recipe can be made using any winter squash you prefer.  You can use canned/pureed or cook and puree your own.  I am taking the slightly easier route of using canned pumpkin to save a little time.

Ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (again, any winter squash puree you enjoy can be used here)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar (I am using light)

1 Tablespoon dried orange peel

2 1/4 teaspoons SAF yeast

I programmed my machine for the dough cycle and let it begin. While the machine was working, I took the opportunity to grease 16 muffin cups and set them aside.

When the machine beeped at the end of the cycle, I removed the dough to a lightly floured work space.  The dough was then divided into 4 equal portions, with each of those 4 being again divided into 4.  (I now had 16 portions.)  To make the cloverleaf style roll, I then divided each of my 16 portions into 3 equal pieces, rolled each piece into a small walnut-sized ball and arranged each group of 3 into a muffin cup.  Once the muffin cups were filled, I loosely covered them with plastic wrap and set them aside to rise until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).

While the rolls were rising, I preheated my oven to 375 degrees, Fahrenheit.

Once the oven was heated and the rolls were sufficiently risen, I ended up baking them for 17 minutes (the recipe says 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.)  I then immediately removed the rolls from the pan and set them on a rack to cool completely.  Since I am making these ahead of time, once they are cooled, I put them into airtight containers in my freezer to be reheated on Thanksgiving day.

They baked up large and fluffy, and I will post photos and reviews after the holiday.

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Not a great photo, but I forgot to take pictures until this morning and these are the only leftovers.

These were really delicious; ever so slightly sweet with just a hint of orange flavor and the delightfully yeasty smell that only seems to come from homemade baking. My sister made black-eyed peas as part of our Thanksgiving feast and several  our cousin, Mike, really liked using these rolls to dunk in that yummy broth.

Yogurt Bread, page 54, November 13, 2017

I had my sister over for a visit not too long ago when I cooked Lebanese food one day.  (We try, every once in a while, to have a day where we have a meal from another country.)  That said, I was left with some plain yogurt now nearing its expiration date and I came across this recipe in the cookbook.  Ms. Hensperger recommends using this bread the day it is baked and that it is a “perfect sandwich bread”.

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I placed the ingredients into the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

3/4 cup water

2 tsp. salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 Tbl. gluten

2 tsp. SAF yeast

 

This loaf uses the basic bread and dark crust settings.  It is noted that the you should not use the delay timer when making this loaf.  Another thing worth mentioning is that your dough ball will look sticky.  There is no need to add additional flour, as the stickiness will correct itself during the kneading process.

As this was baking, the smell reminded me quite a lot of some sourdough breads I have baked in the past.

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This loaf is really lovely, the crust has a slight snap, but the interior of the loaf is moist, chewy and delicious.  I tried a slice with just butter and it was great, but I also made a grilled cheese sandwich later in the evening and a fried egg sandwich this morning, both of which were perfect on this bread.  I really can’t express just how much I like this loaf; it is very slightly sour and delightfully soft and chewy.

Beer Bread, page 67, November 11, 2017

Fall has fallen here; everything is gray, wet and windy, perfect weather  for homemade soup and bread.  I started a batch of split pea and ham soup in the slow cooker this morning and realized how good that will taste with some freshly baked bread.  Flipping through the cookbook, I came across this recipe and think it will be an ideal November supper.

Now, if you are an aficionado of beer, you can choose anything, dark or light, domestic or imported, and know that it will uniquely change the flavor of your bread.  I am not, however, a beer aficionado, I am not even a beer fan.  That said, I had an old can of Budweiser in my fridge left over from “heaven knows when” and that is what I am using.  (Hipsters and beer-snobs, scoff if you must.)

First step was opening the 12- oz. can of beer and pouring it into a bowl for a couple hours to go flat.

After the beer was sufficiently “flattened,” I poured it into the bread machine pan.  To that, I added 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 1/2 cups bread flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons of SAF yeast.

This loaf used the basic cycle and the dark crust setting.

Unlike most recipes in Ms. Hensperger’s book, this one doesn’t call for the addition of gluten.  My assumption is that the beer makes up for any deficiency.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence.” — M.F.K. Fisher

The yeasty beer smell while this was mixing, kneading and baking was really mouth-watering.   I tried a little slice warm with butter and it is a tasty loaf, slightly sweet with great crumb and crust. I didn’t really get a flavor that screamed “beer” to me, but that could change with a different, more flavorful brew.

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As you can see from the photo, this loaf definitely did NOT crater, which is nice, after the last several fails. I’m not sure to call what did happen here, but it isn’t a crater.

All in all, this tastes incredible and went so well with the homemade soup.  I will make this one again.  I might even buy a bottle of beer specially for it, instead of using some ancient can from the back of my fridge.

Pain D’Ail, page 343, August 3, 2017

“There are five elements: earth, water, air, fire and garlic.” — Louis Diat

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This recipe uses freshly peeled garlic, but if you prefer a more subdued flavor, you can used roasted garlic.  I had some fresh garlic I wanted to use and thought this loaf sounded delicious.  According to the cookbook, it is good served with roasted meats and rice casseroles.  I look forward to trying it with pasta as well.

The first step was to set 3 tablespoons unsalted butter aside to soften.  When the butter was ready, I peeled 4 garlic cloves and pressed them directly into the butter.  Then I mashed them together, well.

The prepared garlic butter went into the bread machine pan first, followed by 1 1/2 cups water and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt.

Next, I added 4 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.  I made a small well in the top of the dry ingredients, into which I added 2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

This loaf requires a “medium” crust setting and the “French” bread cycle.

WOW!

I may have met my version of ambrosia here.  This loaf is incredible.  Just enough garlic to be present but in no way overwhelming.  After tasting this, I may try making it again with roasted garlic, just to see how that turns out.  I can’t imagine it could be an improvement though.  This is really tasty.  The crust has a nice crunch to it and the bread itself is soft and just slightly chewy.  Great served warm with a little butter, but I plan on serving it for dinner tonight with some pasta bolognese.  This bread just cries out for sopping up the remaining sauce from a pasta bowl.

So, so good.   So, so garlicky.  So, so going to make this one again sometime.

Coconut Milk White Bread, page 60, July 13, 2017

I thought this sounded like an interesting twist on the standard milk bread, and one I will be able to enjoy myself.  However, I will be headed to my parents’ home in a few days so if any is left over (and if I remember) I will bring along the leftovers.

“The two basic items necessary to sustain life are sunshine and coconut milk.” – Dustin Hoffman

There are a few notes worth mentioning with this recipe.  First, be sure to use coconut milk and not canned cream of coconut.  Second, before opening your can of coconut milk, take a moment to shake it well since the solids may have settled toward the bottom of the can.

The coconut milk replaces the need for any additional fat or sugar in this recipe, since it naturally provides both.  According to the cookbook, this loaf is perfect with Thai, Caribbean and Creole foods.

I am making a 2-pound loaf and put the ingredients into the pan in the following order:

1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast  (if you are making this with bead machine yeast, use 1 tablespoon)

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

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Now, officially I was supposed to let this get to room temperature before slicing it, but it smelled so good, I couldn’t wait that long.  This loaf is tender, flavorful and soft.  There is no flavor of coconut at all, but that is not really surprising.  This one is definitely a keeper.

Tomato Bread, page 346, June 29, 2017

I have always been a tomato fan, and ate them like apples when I was little.  This recipe looks intriguing and thought it would be a nice summer-time loaf.   My mouth is already watering thinking of cheese or bacon and avocado sandwiches, or even croutons made using this bread.

This is a loaf that can be made using the machine’s delay timer, but I am opting to make it using the basic program.  I am also making a couple changes to the recipe, because it calls for a small amount of whole wheat flour which I don’t eat, and the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes I have on hand contain garlic and herbs.  (I think the garlic and herbs will only add to the loaf, so I am unworried about that change.  I know that whole wheat flour is slightly lower in protein than bread flour, so I hope that substitution in this small an amount won’t negatively affect the finished product.  In the recipe below, I will list what I put in the pan, with the actual recipe ingredients in parentheses.

I put the ingredients into my bread machine in the following order:

3 tablespoons imported Italian tomato paste (the cookbook states that you can use standard canned tomato paste if the Italian is unavailable, but that the Italian can sometimes be found “stashed at the deli counter.” I found mine online.)

854693000102-mutti-double-concentrated-tomato-paste-in-tube.jpg1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, with their oil (Here is where I used tomatoes with garlic and herbs.  I also realized, as I am typing this, that the recipe calls for 1/3 cueae59e68-092c-4053-8558-7f435da98265_1.cebd291101106a824433ed896ace135e.jpegp, not 1/2 cup.  Hmmm, I really need to get my act together here.)

 

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 1/4 cups bread flour (Here, the recipe calls for 2 3/4 cups bread flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)

1 1/2 tablespoons gluten

2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

I then set my crust on medium and started the “Basic” cycle on my bread machine.

Well then, I just snuck a peek at the dough and it is a lovely red color and smells like tomato soup.  Let’s just hope my changes (and accidents) don’t cause any problems.

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As you can see from the photo, this loaf is intensely red.  The tomato flavor is just as intense as the color (good if, like me, you love tomatoes.)  I do wonder if it would have been a little milder had I got the amount for the sun-dried tomatoes correct. The bread is moist and delicious with a crunchy crust and bright bites of sun-dried tomato throughout.

Just a note, and I know this will seem trivial based on the fact that I got the measurement wrong anyway, but the “with their oil” direction regarding those tomatoes drove me a little nuts.  How much oil from the jar was I supposed to include?  Did this just mean I was supposed to NOT rinse the tomatoes, but forgo  purposefully including the oil from the jar?  Should I have made sure to get a lot of oil?  I spooned tomatoes and oil into my measuring cup, but was unsure if I had the proportions correct.  As with most bread I bake, as long as it tastes good, which this does, I am calling it a win.