Thursday, February 17, 2011

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

I've been so busy at work that I have had no time to make bread! We completely depleted our massive supply in the freezer.
I made myself leave at decent hour last night so I could do a little cooking and baking. I knew I needed to make something simple and versatile because I'm not sure when I'm going to get 4 hrs of awake time at home next. This is a great all-around bread. It slices well, has a nice soft texture, and is made with healthy whole grains. It works great for everything from pb&j to tuna. I've made it before, so I felt comfortable making a few substitutions. Here is the original recipe.
I divided the recipe in half, but this bread making me consider investing in a second loaf pan. When I've made it before, I've pre-sliced and frozen it. Then, I pull out slices for toast or sandwiches as needed. (I hate when food goes bad, so I freeze everything.)

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread
The version of the recipe I made last night.

1 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, plus additional for topping
1/4 cup warm water (105-115°F)
1 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 T honey
2 T maple syrup (ran out of honey, note to self: buy more)
2 T unsalted butter
2 cups white whole-wheat flour (King Arthur Brand. Its lighter than typical whole wheat so I felt comfortable upping the proportion of wheat to all-purpose.)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
Milk for sticking oats to the top (I did this instead of a whole egg because I wouldn't have used it all.)

Heat milk in a saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Add 2 T of butter so it can melt. (I did this to save myself from dirtying another bowl when melting it separately.) Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.
Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.

Mine got super foamy, probably because I forgot to halve the amount of
honey in this part. But it came out great and had no trouble rising!

Stir yeast mixture and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal mix.
Stir white whole-wheat flour and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of the unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). 

Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Mine was doubled in about 45 min!)

I like using this little bowl for the rising process with single loaves of bread.
I can tell when it has doubled because when it reaches the top edge,
you can just begin to see the shape of the bread under the towel.

Lightly butter loaf pan. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Shape into a loaf, then place loaf in the buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with milk and sprinkle with oats, then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. 
Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. (I skipped this last step, sliced some up, and enjoyed it with some peach rosemary jam.)  Delish. So excited we have bread in the house again!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Super Bowl Soft Pretzels

I made these pretzels last year for the superbowl. Its a pretty simple recipe from Alton Brown on the foodnetwork. They were a big hit so I decided to bring them to the party we were invited to this year.
They were just as good. I was able to make the dough in advance, and pack it up in a ziplock. I brought along the baking soda, salt, egg wash to assemble and bake on site.
Side note, I love Alton Brown.

He might be my celebrity crush. I love the way he dissects recipes, explains the science behind things in an easy to understand way, and tells you the best methods and equipment to use.
And I love that his recipes actually work.
Here is the link for these delicious soft pretzels.
Dough ball, before rising, at my apartment.

Pretzels after being formed in my friend's fancy kitchen.

After boiling in the water/baking soda, brushed with egg, and sprinkled with coarse salt.

The finished pretzels with the rest of the delicious feast in the background.

I made, but forgot to photograph, a spicy honey mustard dipping sauce for them. It was a mix of some chipotle sauce, dijon mustard, mayo, and honey.
Soft pretzels, two years running now, are destine to be a super bowl classic for me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Banana Bread

My first quick bread on the blog! I've stayed away from them because I'm trying to learn more about yeast breads, but this banana bread holds a special place in my heart and stomach. It is the most versatile, fail-proof, delicious banana bread I have ever made. And I make it quite often. You wouldn't know it from the taste, but it's pretty healthy too.
I typically sub in half whole wheat flour and half all purpose. I add 4 bananas or 5 if they are small, about 2 cups. It can take the extra bananas, and they help keep it moist if you happen to have extra on hand. If not, it works fine with the 3 bananas the recipe calls for. I've subbed cottage cheese and milk for the yogurt and had success. I've added flax seeds and walnuts. I didn't this time, but I often add a cup of chocolate chips because chocolate has good antioxidants and mood enhancing powers. Or at least I tell myself that, because I love anything with chocolate ;) If I'm adding the chocolate or using vanilla yogurt vs plain, I'll cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup. I've done it will all whole wheat flour, but its a bit denser that I like. I've found you can play around with the recipe alot and still have great success.
If you have alot of extra bananas, the recipe doubles easily. When I double it, I make a loaf and a dozen muffins. They cook in about 25 min if I remember correctly. I just test them with a toothpick. Then, I freeze the muffins and pull them out when needed for breakfast. The bread never seems to last that long...

The recipe follows the pattern of your standard quick bread.

Mix the dry ingredients.

Cream the butter and the sugar.

Add in the eggs.

Mash up your super ripe bananas. Mine are frozen and defrosted.
I peel bananas when they reach peak ripeness (black skin) and put them in a
ziplock in the freezer. Once I get 4 or 5 in the bag, I'll make the bread.

Stir in bananas, yogurt, and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture.

Bake for 1 hr in a loaf pan, then hide it from anyone who might steal this deliciousness.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Finnish Pulla Bread

Here is the recipe link.
This was a delicious and easy bread. It reminded me alot of challah, but with a bit of spice, which I liked. This was our last day house sitting so I took advatage of the stand mixer. Now it is back to reality/old fashioned mixing. I do enjoy using a wooden spoon. I think you get a better feel for the dough, but the process is much faster with the mixer.
Anyways, I divided the recipe by 3 so I could make one loaf. See below for pictures of the process.

The wet mixture, before all the flour went in.

Dough, on floured surface, soon to be kneaded.

Dough, after first rise. There were two additional rises.

Dough, after second rise, divided in thirds to be braided.

A beautiful braid!

The finnish-ed (pun intended) product!