Headed towards back to the basics living.


Baking Bread | Week 5

MMMM…..there is nothing quite like the smell of brown sugar and cinnamon in the morning. Nothing. Sorry, all you folks who drink coffee. Coffee smells wonderful but this morning I found something that beats it in my book. No joke. It actually smelled so good it brought me out of my foul mood. Okay maybe not foul, but grumpy. Let me just say I am sooooo glad that this weeks bread turned out!I I don’t think anything is more disappointing than working so hard on something to have it flop. Like my pinwheels did last weekend. Oh, they tasted okay but they were so sad looking. Really, I almost wanted to cry. I was so frustrated. The dough didn’t cooperate and major user error on my part resulted in pinwheels that were edible while warm from the oven but that’s about it. I tried to blame a bunch of it on the dough.

Uh, no. I used the exact same brioche dough (that I saved in the freezer for a couple of weeks) and this time it resulted in delicious warm cinnamon crescent rolls. DH and I decided they must be a cousin of the better known cinnamon rolls but with a twist (ha!). And then they were topped with a cream cheese icing. Oh my! These will be made again.

First I rolled out the dough to 1/8″ thick in a rectangular shape.

Then sprinkled with cinnamon, brown sugar and oil.

Then I cut the dough in to triangles.

Then rolled them up starting with the larger end first. Then let them rest for 30 minutes. Followed by 20-30 minutes in the oven. And then top with cream cheese icing. I highly suggest you eat them while warm. I did. (=

And did I introduce you to my assistant?

My cute kitchen helper! Who doesn't need one of these?!





Baking Bread | Week 4

Finally, I’m blogging on week 4. I’ve been running a bit behind. Actually I’ve been running on hardly any sleep. And when that happens, blogging doesn’t. I made bread, I just didn’t blog. It all started about 4 weeks ago when my little girl started noticing the world around her. And I mean she noticed everything. Which meant eating went down on the list of priorities for her. So…she ate at night. Almost every 2 hours. Sometimes even less. Now if I told you I got 8 hours of sleep everynight you’d think “wow!” but they were broken up into little chunks. Not exactly energy inducing cat naps, let me tell you. I counted on DH letting me catch up on the weekends. But he had to work last weekend. Which meant the days and nights went on and on. Then about 3 nights ago she suddenly started sleeping through the night again. I had only been asleep about 5 hours when my eyes popped open. I sat up automatically. And then realized it was quiete in the room. Too quiete. My feet hit the floor. I rushed over to DD and there she was snoozing away. I tried to lay back down but man after 5 hours I was feeling energetic. (not something I would had said a few months ago after only 5 hours.) It has been blissful sleeping ever since.

So all that to say I finally feel pulled together enough to share my sandwich bread experience with you. This recipe comes from HBin5 again. I know, I know, I need to try out some different recipes but I tell you. This dough is convenient. It works for a mom with a little baby. The basic directions for the dough are the same so it makes it quick and easy to put together.

I’ve made this bread a few times and every time it turns out fantastic, including this one.  I would claim it as my new go to bread but I really want to find a recipe that doesn’t call for 5 eggs. Yeah. I know. Not too bad when you had almost a dozen chickens. But this does mean dipping into the egg selling profits.

Here the goods needed to make this bread:

5 C. whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cupes unbleached  all-purpose flour

1 1/2 T.  granulated yeast, or 2 packets

1 T. Kosher Salet

1/4 c. vital wheat gluten

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup honey

5 Large Eggs

2/3 C. neutral flavored oil or unsalted butter

And here’s the Grind:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients.
  3. Combine using a heavy duty mixer. No kneading is necessary.
  4. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rise for approx. 2 hrs.
  5. Use immed. or regrigerate and use over the next 5 days.
  6. When ready to bake, lightly great a bread pan.
  7. Place a cantaloupe size piece of dough into the bread pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if using unrefrigerated dough).
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 30 minutes prior if you use a baking stone. Otherwise only about 5 min. preheat time is needed.
  9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

And I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about bread making so far in my experience:

  • Bread really needs a warm place to rise. Not just on the counter. My kitchen just isn’t warm enough. DH’s aunt told me she puts it on her heated massage table. (She is a massage therapist). Taking a cue from her, I started putting my rising dough about a foot away from the fire. Ever since my bread has started turning out sooo much better. Don’t have a fireplace? Consider a heating pad or maybe in the sun.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. The more I work with bread dough the more I become familiar with what works and what doesn’t for me. It seems that everybody has a different experience with the same bread. See this negative experience the author over at Kitchen Stewardship had with HBin5 with this same bread. Which brings me to my next point.
  • I’m beginning to think that a bread recipe chooses you, not the other way around. Every bread recipe I read has some positive and some negative reviews. So I’m beginning to think its the user that makes the difference in the outcome most of the time.
  • For me the crust has to be much darker than I used to think it did, in order to get the bread completely done all the way. You can also check the internal temperature of the bread using a meat thermometer. At 200 degrees its supposed to be done.
  • And for this particular bread, if you put it in a sealable bag and leave about an inch opening the bread will get a super soft crust without drying out the rest of the bread. A good mix for sandwiches!

I don’t claim to be a bread expert-at all-but I’m having a lot of fun learning as I go. And I just know that somewhere out there is the perfect sandwich staple bread for us so I’m going to keep on searching. Basically, I want it to be whole wheat, only requiring typical bread ingredients, simple directions and not requiring a bread machine. Know of a recipe that sounds like that????? Please email me with the recipe! I’m all ears-or eyes or something like that….


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Baking Bread | Week 3

This last week I realized that the beautiful organic pears we purchased the previous week were ripening much faster than I previously thought.  I needed some sort of recipe to use them up and hopefully avoid waste.  And thus the journey (and I do mean a long journey) of the pear tart began. To be fair, I did mess up the bread portion of the recipe from HB in Five by forgetting to add the water the first time I tried to make this so the journey was prolonged by my own mistake. But still this pear tart had way more steps than I like in a recipe. And to be honest, although the flavor was good I think I would have been more satisfied with putting all that effort into a homemade pie. Did I mention it really only seemed yummy when served warm a la’ mode? (Pie is just delicious when cold in my opinion.)

There were a few things I did like about this pear tart though. It was quiete pleasing to the eye and I got to use a cast iron skillet in a way I never had before. The pears are carmelized first in the skillet and then the dough placed on top. The skillet is then placed in the oven. Once done, the whole thing is inverted onto a plate- a bit like a pineapple upside down cake. Another good thing about this recipe was that the bread portion was whole wheat brioche. So at least it was probably healthier than a pie crust made from shortening would had been.

And in case you’re wondering, like I was…Brioche just means a highly enriched French bread. Typically with egg and butter. It is thought to have originated in Romania.

I have some leftover Brioche dough and with that I’m going to be trying some cream cheese stuffed pinwheels this week since the dough can be stored for 5 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer. Will keep you posted on the results-they sound easier and perhaps, just perhaps more yummy???

Oh, I’m going to be posting on the best sandwich bread I’ve tried so far. Stay tuned for more…