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Rainy Days

March 16th, 2011

I don’t know what it is about rainy days, but they always make me want to bake, especially this time of year when rainy days feel really cold. We’re having company this weekend so I wanted to get a few things baked and ready. I spent my day yesterday baking some whole grain cinnamon raisin bread from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads. It’s super delicious. This bread will be made into French toast and smothered in our home made maple syrup. A batch of hamburger buns also came out of the oven, I used my tried and true recipe.

I also make some tart cherry cobbler with some cherries Mr Chiots picked this past summer and we stowed away in the freezer. During the summer it can be tough to take the time to freeze fruit, but it’s so worth it when you dig your spoon into a steaming bowl of cobbler. This recipe was from the newest cookbook added to my collection titled Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More

Rainy days aren’t just spent baking, I also spend long hours working in the office to get all of my work that pays the bills done. That’s one of the benefits of working from home, I can work extra hard on rainy days so I can spend a few extra hours outside on the nice warm days, like Thursday when it’s supposed to be sunny and in the high 50’s. I also need to get my broccoli & kale seeds started (now’s the time if you’re a zone 5 gardener).

Do rainy days make you feel like baking, cooking, napping, drinking coffee, reading or something else?

Bread for Every Occasion

November 16th, 2010

Most of the bread the comes out of my oven is sourdough, baked into boules and eaten by the slice. I occasionally make traditional yeasted loaves in pans, but not very often. I’m really partial to the crusty artisan type bread, it’s my preferred type of bread for almost every instance.

There are occasions however when you want a soft roll, for holiday meals, for hamburgers and hotdogs and for the occasional egg sandwich. On these occasions I make a soft dough enhanced with buttermilk, butter, eggs and a little sugar then I shape it according to it’s final purpose. I always get rave reviews with this dough whatever I make with it.

This is a very versatile recipe, you can use milk or buttermilk (I always use buttermilk since I have lots from making butter) you can add whole wheat flour to make wheat rolls and you can shape them any way you like. I use it for hamburger buns, hot dog buns, mini burgers, as rolls for holidays, for cinnamon rolls and other sweet breads. You can even use this dough to make pigs in a blanket.

1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
4 1/4 -4 43/4 cups of flour
1 packet of yeast

In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of flour and yeast. In medium saucepan, heat buttermilk, sugar, butter and salt just till butter starts to melt (120-130 degrees). Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with eggs. Mix until flour is incorporated, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Mix in as much remaining flour as possible, but you want the dough to be a fairly soft. Knead for 4-5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in oiled bowl. Let raise in warm place till double, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto counter and divide into the size of dough balls needed for whatever final bread you’re making. Shape dough into desired rolls and place on baking sheets or pans. Cover and let rise in warm place till nearly double in size, about 45 minutes to one hour.

Bake in 375 degree oven until golden on top, will be about 12-15 minutes for rolls, 15-20 minutes for cinnamon rolls, 15-17 minutes for hamburger buns, etc.

I’ll be making a lot of this dough during this holiday season. Mr Chiots can hardly wait for holiday bread stuffed with cranberries and apples.

Do you have a special roll recipe that you use for a variety of breads?

Quote of the Day: M.F.K. Fisher

August 15th, 2010

“The smell of good bread baking,
like the sound of lightly flowing water,
is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight”

— M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

We’ve certainly been enjoying a lot of freshly baked ciabatta bread, made with freshly ground flour. I think this is my favorite kind of bread, great any way you want to eat it crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside – MMMMMM.

What’s your favorite kind of bread?

Freshly Ground Flour

July 13th, 2010

I’ve been grinding my own flour for several years now. Up until last week I was using a hand-me-down KitchenAid Grain Mill Attachment. It’s a oldie, and has been passed around through many hands. My dad’s cousin bought it back a long time ago and after she quit using it she gave it to my mom who used it for a while. My sister borrowed it and used it until she bought a NutriMill Grain Mill. Back to my mom it went. She used it for grinding up lentils and other grains to make her own dog food, but never used it for homemade flour. When I bought some grain with my sister, I borrowed it from my mom and started using it to make flour for baking. I had an old Kitchenaid that I attached it to and that one finally died, so it was time to upgrade to a real mill.

After doing a lot of research, I decided to purchase a Komo Grain mill, or a Tribest Grain Mill. I chose this one because of it’s quality, it’s made in Germany, has a powerful motor and ceramic grinding stones. It’s housed in a beautiful beech wood case, not plastic like most grain mills. It’s powerful, quiet and very quick.

After making a few loaves of bread, a few batch of pancakes and a few batches of scones, I must say I’m very impressed with the quality of flour this mill creates. It’s very fine and very evenly ground, unlike the Kitchenaid grinder which produced a very uneven grind that contained fine flour with lots of large flakes of bran in it. My scones are so delicious, you can’t even tell they’re made with 100% whole grain flour. Grinding the flour fresh means that there’s no bitterness with the whole grain as there often is with preground whole grains.

I’m quite excited, especially since I also just received my copy of Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor. I made the basic bread yesterday and was very impressed with the texture and flavor of the bread. I have never been able to get the right level of gluten development with my 100% whole grain bread to get the kind of crumb I wanted. Yesterday my dough passed the windowpane test perfectly and it baked up into the most beautiful loaf of 100% whole grain sourdough sandwich bread!
Baking 100% whole grain bread from Peter Reinhart's Whoel Grain Bread Cookbook.
I’ve been using three different kinds of wheat for my baked goods, soft white, hard red winter, and white winter wheat. I’m looking forward to experimenting with other kinds of grains as well, like barley, spelt, buckwheat, millet and more. I found a local farm that grows wheat and a few other grains, hopefully it’s good for bread. I’m looking forward to making my diet a little more local and healthy with my new grain mill!

Are you a whole grain bread person, or do you prefer white?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.