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Le Pain d’Ezéchiel (bis)

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I haven’t posted this recipe in a while, but it is still my favorite bread, and is in fact still the #1 reason people visit my little blog. To read my views on this bread, click here. For pictures of it being made and additional directions, click here.

Whole Wheat Ezekiel Bread
Makes 2 or 3 loaves
12 cups water
2 tablespoons white beans
2 tablespoons red beans
2 tablespoons spelt berries
2 tablespoons lentils
2 tablespoons barley
2 tablespoons millet
2 tablespoons bulgur wheat
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cooked beans and grains
½ cup cooking water
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
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4 cups whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 cups cooking liquid
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1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher
3 teaspoons instant yeast

Boil the grains in the water in logical succession according to cooking times: first the white and red beans (about 60 minutes), when they are soft add the, spelt berries, lentils, and barley (about 30 minutes); lastly, add the millet and bulgar (about 10 minutes). The key is that after each addition the previous grain must be soft enough so that when all of the grains are in the pot they will all be equally soft; undercooked grains (especially the beans) can really ruin this bread. And as the grains cook add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it’s evaporation). After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. After the grains are cooled drain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
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Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained grains with ½ cup of the cooking liquid, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 2 teaspoons instant yeast. Stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups whole wheat flour, 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups cooking liquid; stir it just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.
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After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Urban Simplicity.

The easiest but also one of the most decadent little cakes you’ll ever make…

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Okay. So first a couple things. This cake (or cakes) is likely the easiest you’ll make. It is also super decadent. But the reason I made this is that I became intrigued by a recipe for a 5 minute chocolate mug cake floating around the Internet. I was dubious, and rightly so. I made one of the cakes and have to say that I felt silly–being a professional cook–mixing a cupful of cake batter in a coffee cup and then microwaving it. The outcome was a doughy, sodden clump (I really have difficulty at the thought of microwaving a cake, no matter it’s size). Anyhow, the below recipe is an alteration of the five minute cake…it turns into a fifteen minute cake because it is baked rather than microwaved (it’s really a variation of chocolate molten cake). And rather than mixing everything in the cup(s) I mixed it like a professional cook in mixing bowls; two to be exact. I can understand a person’s desire not to dirty too many things while cooking, but this is a mere two bowls that can be washed while the cakes bake. And as far as difficulty goes, this is no more difficult than the microwaved version but way better. Melt the chocolate and butter in one bowl, mix the eggs in another, then combine everything together and bake it. The recipe makes two small cakes or one larger one (the bake time would be increased for a larger one). Two small cakes, I thought, are also way better than one for many reasons, but mostly because who wants to keep something this good to themselves.

Chocolate Molten Cake
2 servings

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons chocolate chips
2 eggs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons all-purpose flower

Preheat an oven to 425F. Melt the butter in a small bowl over a boil of simmering water. Using a wire whip, and in a separate bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder until slightly aerated. Add the melted butter and chocolate, along with the flour, to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined. Divide the batter between two lightly oiled ramekins or other small oven-proof bowls. Bake the cakes for about 10-15 minutes, or until the exterior is cooked but the very center is still slightly runny. Eat directly from the ramekins, or turn the cakes out onto plates.

Urban Simplicity.

Das Kuchen (rezept und fotos)…

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Like many Americans, ancestrally speaking I am a mixed breed. My dad’s family is Lebanese—straight from the “Old Country”—hence the Lebanese-inspired recipes on this blog. My mom’s family is German (with maybe a bit of French, too…my grandfather’s family was Alsatian); they’ve been in this country since about 1830 the best that I can tell. And this—I believe—is where I inherited my love of baking; from my mom’s good baking.

When I think of Thanksgiving and Christmastime as a child my mind’s eye sees these memories through rose colored glasses…it looks sort of like a Norman Rockwell painting. We were poor, that’s for sure (not that I realized it then), but there was always plenty of food…especially homemade baked goods.

My mother—like many Buffalonians of German decent—grew up on Buffalo’s east side. She took pride in her baking skills, and even though she had a houseful of kids and worked full time she still managed to bake mountains of cookies and trays of kuchen for the holidays. Kuchen (pronounced kooken) is the German word for cake, and is more closely related to coffee cake than they are traditional cake or flaky pastry. I’m sure there are as many variations as there are those who make them. But this is about the one I grew up with.

I made kuchen at work the other day, and whenever I make it—and especially when I eat it—memories come flooding back. I made them in straight logs so they were easy to slice, but those that my mom made were always in a ring shape.

What’s distinctly unique about kuchen to many other coffee cakes is that it’s made with yeast-leavened dough rather than a chemically-leavened batter (quick bread). And though the dough is rolled flat, filled, and rolled into a log or crescent, it’s not a strudel because strudel utilizes a buttery unleavened flaky dough that more close resembles phyllo.

I can still picture the brown terracotta bowls resting on the radiator with a towel shrouding the pillow-like dough. I was told not to touch the bowl or leave the kitchen door open too long, lest it become drafty and the dough fall. It was such a mystery, seeming almost magical, how the dough would grow. It may be then that my fascination with yeast dough was first planted.

My mother learned to make the dough from her mother, who likely learned it from her mother, and so on. The handwritten recipe that was given one of my sisters and then to me was simply titled “foundation dough,” because it’s a basic one that can be used for a number of other things including the famous German doughnut, fastnachts (click here for the recipe), which are eaten on Shrove Tuesday just before Lent. Fillings for kuchen are left up to the baker and can encompass a wide variety of sweet ingredients (fresh or dried fruits, nuts, chocolate) just as long as the dough is first layered with melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. The kuchen in the photos was made with dried dates, but my favorite is the one listed in the recipe below…cherry and walnut. Yum!

Cherry and Walnut Kuchen
Yield: 3 kuchen

For the dough:

1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

melted unsalted butter
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon
maraschino cherries, rinsed and chopped
chopped walnuts

Topping:

1 egg mixed with a little milk
poppy seeds
powdered sugar
milk

To make the dough, combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Preheat an oven to 350F. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large ovals about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle with cherries and walnuts. Roll into logs then shape into crescents. Transfer to baking sheets lined with oiled parchment. Brush the with the egg/milk mixture and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Make small slices about every two inches. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer pulls out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 15 minutes. Mix powdered sugar with just enough milk to make an icing the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle over the kuchen and let dry for 15 minutes before slicing.

Substitutions and Experimentation…there’s more that one way to make a cheesy cracker

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This recipe is the outcome of substitution and experimentation with ingredients to alter a recipe to fit my needs…and the outcome–if I do say so myself–is outstanding. But as usual I’m jumping ahead; let me begin again.

Next week I’ll be serving a cocktail party showcasing the heirloom tomatoes from Tom Towers Farm. He gave me a beautiful sample pack today of many of his incredibly lovely tomatoes and I plan on turning them into many delicious finger foods. Sure, I’ll do some of the obvious–gazpacho, BBQ sauce, pizzas, homemade ketchup for frites–but I also wanted do to something a bit different, in a kitschy sort of way…hence this recipe. This is based on the popular snack food, Cheez-It. There are plenty of recipes floating around the Internet for this tasty little cracker so I chose a few, combined them, changed the ingredients, and this is the outcome.

The basic recipe is really nothing more than a basic savory short dough that is loaded with cheese. But in this recipe I replaced the water (just a couple tablespoons) with fresh pureed tomato (about 3 times the amount of the water due to its pulp), and instead of dry mustard in the original recipe I spiked it with Cajun seasoning, giving the cracker a bit of a zip. The result was/is delicious…I couldn’t stop eating them. They’ll go great with cocktails (which of course is the intention). Anyhow, they are really easy to make; here’s a few photos and the recipe.

Spicy Tomato-Cheddar Crackers
Makes about 7 dozen small crackers
1 plum tomato (6-8 tablespoons pureed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Puree the tomato in a blender and set aside. Combine the flour, butter, cheese, Cajun seasoning, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a minute or two, until it resembles course cornmeal. Add 4-6 tablespoons of the tomato puree and run the processor for just about 15 seconds, or until the ingredients form a rough dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for about 30 seconds. Shape the dough into a square disc, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes. Preheat an oven to 350F, then roll the dough out until it is a square measuring approximately 10-inches by 10-inches and 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares, and using chopstick or other small dowel, poke an indentation in the center of each square. Place the crackers at least 1/2-inch apart on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Bake the crackers for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked throughout. Allow them to cool thoroughly before serving.

100% Whole-Wheat Wild Rice Bread

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I made this bread today because I happened to come across a package of wild rice I had in my freezer from at least a year ago. It’s similar to any of the whole wheat bread recipes on this blog–including the Ezekiel Bread recipe–with the exception that it contains wild rice. Delicious…anyhow, here’s the recipe.

Whole-Wheat Wild Rice Bread
Makes 3 loaves
1 cup (6.6oz/187g) wild rice
3 quarts (96floz/2.83L) water
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cooked rice
2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) cooking liquid
2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast
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4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons (.75oz/21g) vital wheat gluten
2 cups (16fl oz/.47L) cooking liquid
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1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) honey
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) olive oil
3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) instant yeast
3 teaspoons (.5oz/14.1g) kosher salt

Combine the rice and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the rice for about 50 minutes or until very soft. As the rice cooks add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe. After the rice is cooked allow it to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. Then drain it, squeezing it with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.

Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained rice with 2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) of the cooking liquid, 2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vital wheat gluten, and 2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast. Stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour and 1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid; stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.

After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains. Preheat an oven to 450f (232.2C).

Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

24 Hour Bread (or, how to control your dough)

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts many times (many, many times) how I feel about homemade bread…that it is not only good for the body but also the soul; having your hands in raw dough–and making something as beautiful as a loaf of bread out of such humble ingredients–can be, well…spiritual. If not awe inspiring, at least something to be really proud of. Anyhow, I really think that one of the things that hold people back is that some (many) think it is overly complicated and laborious to make your own bread (not so), the other is that the bread won’t rise or that you won’t be able to make a really good loaf (also not true). This post focuses on the former misconception…that it is really difficult, time consuming, and laborious to make your own bread. Sure, these loaves took 24 hours from start-to-finish, but that was my choice. I manipulated the dough so that I could go about my life without having to worry whether it was time to bake the bread or not. And an outcome of a long, slowly risen bread is that it has a richer, more complex flavor and crisper, chewier crust. But I’m getting ahead of myself, here’s the basic idea behind controlling your dough.

If I had to sum it up in one word the most important factor in controlling a yeast dough is–whether you are doing a long slow rise or not–it would be this: temperature. Yeast thrives in warmth and becomes dormant in the cold. If you want to speed the dough up place it in a warm place. I can remember when I was a child seeing my mother place her bowl of raw fastnacht dough on a towel resting on the kitchen radiator. Inversely, if you want to slow the dough down, put it in the refrigerator. This is what professional bakeries do; they have proof boxes (boxes with steam and warmth) to speed the dough up, and retarders (refrigerators) to slow it dough. And yes, the professional term (in English) to slow a dough down is to retard it…it’s an ugly term, I agree, but it is the one still used (likly carried over from a less-than-politically-correct time).

And just to reiterate, making bread is not difficult; and it gets easier the more you do it. After a while you will be able to control the dough so that it does not interrupt your daily activities. Just remember, after mixing, the bread is alive with activity (until it is baked)–it nearly makes itself–you simply guide it along.

As usual with this blog, the recipe I’ve included below is 100% whole wheat. If you’d like to read more about how to bake with whole wheat, click here. Anyhow, this is how I made a couple loaves over the last 24 hours.

Last night just after dinner I mixed two bowls: one contained the biga (pre-ferment) the other an autolyse…and I let them rest and ferment for a few hours at room temperature.

About an hour before bed I mixed the dough, placed it in a dough bucket, and put the bucket in the refrigerator to ferment overnight. Even though it was cold, it still doubled in size overnight (likely before the dough cooled).

In the morning while coffee was brewing I removed the bucket from the fridge, pushed the dough down, and let it rise a second time as I did things around the house (the second rise took nearly 3 hours because the dough was cold). Just before leaving the house to go Christmas shopping I portioned and shaped the dough and placed it in loaf pans. I also covered it in plastic wrap and returned it to the fridge. I was gone for about 4 hours and the dough rose beautifully; here’s the before-and-after photos.

After doing a couple things around the house, I removed the dough from the fridge and preheated the oven while  the dough warmed and rose a bit more. After getting a few things together, I baked the bread while I made dinner. Here’s the bread just before it went in the oven, and then while it was baking. Beautiful, isn’t it?

The bread was finished before dinner was, so I removed it from the oven and their pans and allowed it to cool at the back of the stove while I prepared Lebanese-Style Chicken and Rice for my son and I. The bread was ready just in time for dinner…nearly 24 hours after I had started it and it barely interrupted the rhythm of my day (but it became part of it). A recipe follows…

100%Whole Wheat Bread
Makes2 loaves
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
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4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 cups water
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1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons instant yeast
3 teaspoons kosher salt
Inone bowl make a preferment by combining 2 cups of whole wheat flourwith 2/3 cups water and 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. Begin theautolyse in another bowl by combining 4 cups of whole wheat flour,the gluten, and 1 ½ cups water. Stir each bowl just enough tocombine the ingredients, taking care not to get yeast into the bowlwith the autolyse. If the contents in either of the bowls need morewater, add a small amount. Cover both bowls and allow to rest andferment for 30-90 minutes, duringwhich time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast andfermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak the grain, swelling thegluten. After an hour or so, combinethe ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixerfitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of thebowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Placethe dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allowto ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the doughand allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes. Turnthe dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Looselycover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with afingertip an indentation remains. Bake the breads for about30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with icecubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes.The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow whentapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cookon a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

A Bevy of Swans (and how to build them)

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Before I talk about the above photo I have to mention how interesting I think it is the different names for groups of birds. A group of swans on the ground, for example is a bevy or a game, but if they are in flight they are refereed to as a wedge. The oddest one, I think, is what a group of crows are called: a murder of crows. Creepy. For a full list click here.

Anyhow, the above swans are some that were served at a brunch last week. They are so simple to make yet people are thrilled over them because of their swan apearance. They are made with a pastry, which refered to in its French name, is called pâte à choux, which translates loosely as “cabbage pastry” (or literally as cabbage paste). And no the dough does not have cabbage in it as an ingredient; the reason–I assume–that it is called such is that when the dough is baked in round balls (such as cream puffs) it comes out looking a bit like little cabbage balls.But what is truly unique about this dough is that it is a cooked dough, meaning it is made on the stove top and then baked.

The images below are how to cut the bodies after they are baked; they can be filled with any number of custards or creams. The video will show you how to pipe the dough out into the shapes (video credit: Master Pastry). For a basic recipe for the dough visit Just Hungry, and if you’d like to see step-by-step of the dough being prepared, visit Michael Ruhlman

Urban Simplicity.

100% Whole Grain Bread (recipe, photos, info)

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As many of you know, I like bread. A lot. I enjoy making it, but more importantly I enjoy eating it…and I do not believe it makes you fat. I could easily be a poster boy for the high-carb diet…I eat bread, pasta, or rice at nearly every meal and am well within my proper body weight. The key, I believe, is whole grains…they are really good for you. I also believe that everyone should make their own bread (at least sometimes)…not only will it nourish your body, but also your emotions; there is something very primal about having your hands in raw dough and transforming ingredients so basic into something so complex. It is, in short, an alchemistic art-form. And breads you purchase–even though they may say “whole grain”–have a lot of other things in it besides the grain. Take a look at this label for “whole grain bread”…a paragraph long list of mostly unpronounceable ingredients is unnecessary.  In truth, to make a really good and wholesome loaf of whole wheat bread you need only these four ingredients. In the recipe pictured here–bedsides the seven-grain mix–I count eight other ingredients…all recognizable and pronounceable. If you don’t have a seven grain mix you can use whatever grain you have (brown rice works great). This is made in the same way that I make Ezekiel Bread, only it’s easier because you can boil the grain all at once (click here or here for Ezekiel Bread recipes). Anyhow, this recipe is way easier to make than it may seem at first look. I hope you try it…both your body and soul will be glad you did. If you’d like to read more about how to bake with whole wheat–it’s similarities and differences with white flour–follow this link.

Urban Simplicity.

Whole Grain Bread
Makes 2 loaves
1 cup (6.6oz/187g) 7-grain mix
3 quarts (96floz/2.83L) water
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fully cooked grains
2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) cookingliquid
2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheatflour
2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instantyeast
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4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheatflour
2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vitalwheat gluten
1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cookingliquid
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1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) honey
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) olive oil
3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) instantyeast
3 teaspoons (.5oz/14.1g) koshersalt
Combine the grain and water in a mediumpot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the ricefor about 45 minutes or until very soft. As the grain cooks add morewater to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which isfull of nutrients, will become part of the recipe. After the grainsare cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature,refrigerating if necessary. Then drain it, squeezing it with yourhands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
Place two bowlsside-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. Inone bowl combine the cooked and drained 7-grains with 2/3 cup (5.3oz/157ml) of the cooking liquid, 2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheatflour, and 2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast. Stir just untilcombined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vitalwheat gluten, and 1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid; stirjust until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not toget yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at roomtemperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment willbegin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and theautolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.
After an hour or so, combinethe ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixerfitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) of yeast (add the yeast and salt on oppositesides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover itloosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled inbulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30minutes. Turn the dough out onto afloured work surface and cut it into 2 pieces. Shape into loavesand place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves withplastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until doublein size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentationremains. Preheat an oven to 450f (232.2C). Bake the breads forabout 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (eitherwith ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every tenminutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and soundhollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allowthem to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

You’ve Got Mail…

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I just thought I’d pass a long a bit of info on a new update to this page (shameless self-promotion is no easy task for me). I’ve recently added a mail widget to this blog…if you enter your email address you will receive an any new posts from via email. And just to let you know, I personally do not receive your email address; you will stay anonymous (at least to me). For those of you reading this at my main blog–UrbanSimplicity.com–the mail widget is on the left hand side of the page, below the categories and just below the members area. If you are reading this from my mirror blog–UrbanSimplicty.wordpress.com–the widget is on the right hand side at the bottom of the info bar. Lastly, whether you are a repeat reader or just stumbled up this site via clicks or searches, thanks as always for reading, commenting, and following. Peace. Joe.

Urban Simplicity.

Ezekiel Bread (revisited)

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“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.”
Ezekiel 4:9 (NIV)

This is one of my favorite breads..it is not too difficult to make and it is super-nutritious. I’ve posted on this bread and variations of it in the past (click here, here, and here), and this is a revised version of those recipes. In this recipe I use 100% whole wheat flour (which I did in this recipe as well), but what is really different–and while this may seem insignificant, it is really not–is that I reduced the amount of liquid in the biga (pre-ferment) from 1 cup to 1/2 cup. This makes a somewhat dry starter but it keeps the subsequent dough from being too wet (which was a concern I’ve heard voiced by readers and bakers who tried the recipe). Another thing is that I added a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. Because whole wheat flour has less gluten than white flour, and the high concentration of grains, I felt this bread would benefit from a bit of added gluten…and it worked great. I had intended on offering metric measurements for this recipe for readers/bakers outside the US (purchased a digital scale recently), but alas time got away from me. I’ll do it in the future. Anyhow, if you enjoy baking, or even if you have never baked bread but want to, I hope you try this recipe…it is not as difficult as it may seem at first, but it is really delicious.

To learn more about my views of this bread, with more explicit directions and pictures, click here.

Whole Wheat EzekielBread
Makes 2 or 3 loaves
12cups water
2 tablespoons white beans
2 tablespoons redbeans
2tablespoons spelt berries
2 tablespoons lentils
2tablespoons barley
2 tablespoons millet
2 tablespoonsbulgur wheat
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cooked beans and grains
½cup cooking water
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoonsinstant yeast
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4 cups whole wheatflour

3tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2cups cooking liquid
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1/4cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons kosher
3teaspoons instant yeast

Boil the grains in the water inlogical succession according to cooking times: first the white andred beans (about 60 minutes), when they are soft add the, speltberries, lentils, and barley (about 30 minutes); lastly, add themillet and bulgar (about 10 minutes). The key is that after eachaddition the previous grain must be soft enough so that when all ofthe grains are in the pot they will all be equally soft; undercookedgrains (especially the beans) can really ruin this bread. And as thegrains cook add more water to the pot as necessary because thecooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of therecipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it’s evaporation). Afterthe grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to roomtemperature, refrigerating if necessary. After the grains are cooleddrain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon,reserving the cooking liquid.

Placetwo bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the otherautolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained grains with ½cup of the cooking liquid, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 2 teaspoonsinstant yeast. Stir it just until combined then cover it with plasticwrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups whole wheat flour, 3tablespoons vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups cooking liquid; stir itjust until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not toget yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at roomtemperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment willbegin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and theautolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten.
Afteran hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowlof an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, oliveoil, salt, and 3 teaspoons of yeast (add the yeast and salt onopposite sides of the bowl. Knead the dough on medium speed for about8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover itloosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled inbulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface andcut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightlyoiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow toferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gentlytouched with a fingertip an indentation remains.

Bake thebreads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times(either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breadsevery ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown andsound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans andallow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes beforeslicing.

Of Weights and Measure (and the dough that almost took over my kitchen)

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This post is in response to a recent question by a reader; this wasn’t the first time this question was asked, just the most recent…and even after baking countless loaves of bread the same thing happens to me every so often, but it is completely fixable. What I am talking abut is the consistency of a bread dough. The reader asked why her Ezekiel dough was so wet, almost like a cake batter (even though she followed the directions and measurements exactly). The answer to this is twofold. Firstly, when making bread with any type of ingredient that is boiled first–grains, rice, beans, potatoes, etc–there are a lot of variables in the consistency because of the liquid concentration in the said ingredient…one person squeezes it dry while another leaves a bit more liquid. Or in the case that happened to me this past weekend when I was making a wild rice dough (pictured in this post). I received a phone call as I was preparing the recipe and drained the grain but did not squeeze it at all. I then proceeded to add it to the recipe as if I did squeeze out most of its moisture. This of course added a lot more liquid to the dough which was, to say the least, a soggy mess at first. Fixing this is as simple as adding more flour (before the dough is kneaded); if you have to add a great deal more flour, such as I did in this recipe, you may have to add more salt, yeast, etc.  Ultimately, though, you end up with more dough. You can do  as I did and make a pizza and two really large loaves, or make extra loves and give them away. The dough itself can also be frozen and used at a later date.

Keep in mind that it is better to have a dough that is a bit wet than one that is too dry. If a dough is on the soft and wet side it will produce a soft and light bread with a holey and airy interior (as pictured above), but if it is too dry the finished product can be heavy with a dense interior and low rise.

The other thing that affects measurements is how the flour is actually measured. And this is a common problem with whatever type of bread you may be making. The problem is that we Americans measure our flour by volume (by the cup) rather than by weight (on a scale) the way much of the rest of the world does. Let me illustrate this problem with a short scenario. If 3 people measure out 5oz (142g) of flour on a scale all three would undoubtedly end up with the same amount; 5oz (142g). But, on the other hand, if these same 3 people were to measure out a cup of flour and then weigh the contents of their cups I can almost guarantee that all three would weigh different. Why? Well this is simple if you think about it. One person may pack the flour in the cup while the other fills it loosely. One cup may have air pockets in the flour while another does not. And one person may level the top of the cup with a scraper while the other may use a rounded (or over-filled) cup of flour. On average a cup of bread flour weighs about 4.5oz (128g) but measurements, by volume, can vary by as much as an ounce (28g). Now multiply this by 3, 6, or 12 cups, and you can see the effect it may have on the total measurement. Add a wet grain, that may or may not be squeezed well, and  this throws in an entirely new curve-ball.

The bottom line is that recipes of all kinds should be used as guides not blueprints. An exception to this is if you are working in a professional environment–opposed to your home kitchen–and you want a certain recipe to be exactly the same each time (so when I customer comes back for something they liked on a previous visit it will be the same product each and every time). In that case I would most definitely use a scale for accurate measure and consistent outcome. But in the meantime, bake bread and have fun with it. The more you bake the easier it will be. After a while you will be able to tell what the loaf will be like by what the raw dough looks and feels like.

Bread-making, in my opinion, should be a joy, not a chore. It is easily incorporated into the rhythm of your life; your day should not come to a halt and be dictated by the rising dough. I hope you bake and bake often. I know from personal experience that it is good for a person on  many levels, and that  it has the ability to feed more than just your stomach.

Fastnacht Kuecheles

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This is a recipe I received from one of my sisters, who received it from our mother, who learned it from our grandmother, who undoubtedly learned it from her mother, and so on. I can still vividly recall the image of my mother’s dough rising in a ceramic bowl covered in a towel on the radiator in our kitchen, and the yeasty aroma of rising sweet dough permeating the air (they are also tossed in powdered sugar just before you eat them…as these were later). It is a type of fried doughnut very similar to the French Beignet (but most nationalities have a version of this, I assume), and it’s traditionally eaten on this day each year, fastnacht (fast night), or the night before the beginning of Lent. Iy’s a day when Christians are supposed to use of all the fats and other rich foods in the house to prepare themselves to live lean and turn inward for the next 40 days. This is also why in some areas of the world this day is called Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) or Carnival (loosely, farewell to flesh); in English it’s of course a little more reserved (some may say boring) as Shrove Tuesday. These are simple to make and are a treat any time of the year, but not if you are trying to live lean, literally or metaphorically. To see previous posts and an article I wrote (with additional recipes), click here, here, or here.

Fastnacht Kuecheles
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar

Combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover, and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large circles about 1/4 inch thick, then cut the dough into diamonds 2-4 inches wide. Cover the diamonds with a cloth and let rest 10 minutes. Preheat a couple inches of vegetable oil to 350F in a heavy skillet. Carefully fry the fastnachts in batches, cooking them for a couple minutes on each side until they are puffed and golden-brown; drain on absorbent paper. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then toss a few at a time in a paper bag with confectionery sugar.

How to Bake a Really Good Loaf of Whole Wheat Bread

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This is a bit of shameless self-promotion on my part…I’ve been trying to get better at this, but being a natural introvert (an INFP or an IFNJ) this is not easy, but I’m trying. Anyhow, this post is actually a link to highlight an article I just published in Artvoice magazine. It’s an article on how to bake a really good loaf of bread using only whole wheat flour. Tons of info and three great recipes (tested by moi). Click here to go to the article.

Honey-Sweet Potato Bread (recipe & photos)

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I made this bread for our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday…it’s simple to make, subtly sweet, the dough is soft, and it is delicious. It’s basically like making any other bread, or more specifically like making a rich potato bread. First you peel, dice, and boil the sweet potato, reserving the cooking liquid because that will be part of the dough. I add the potato directly to the preferment for flavor. There’s a recipe included after the pictures, and the only differences in that recipe and the one prepared in these pictures is that the liquid in the recipe is plain water (I roasted the potato in that recipe…click here to see that batch being prepared), whereas in this recipe I boiled the potato and the liquid became part of the dough; the written recipe also adds the cooked potato to the preferment afterwords, in this recipe I add it in the beginning….either way it’s easy and delicious. 





Sweet Potato Sandwich Bread
Makes 2 or 3 loaves
   2 cups water                         
   2 packages active dry yeast
   2 cups whole wheat flour
   2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
1/4 cup honey
   2 large eggs
   3 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cups bread flour 
   3 teaspoons kosher salt

Combine the water, yeast, and 2 cups whole wheat flour; stir to form a batter. Allow to ferment for 1 hour. Add the sweet potatoes and mash them into the ferment with a spoon or fork. Stir in the honey, eggs and olive oil, then add 4 cups bread flour along with the salt. Mix then knead the dough for 10 minutes (if it is too soft add an additional cup flour). Place the dough in a bowl at room temperature, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to ferment for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Divide the risen dough into two pieces, shape them into loaves, and place them in oiled loaf pans. Allow the bread to rise for 45 minutes; meanwhile, preheat an oven to 425F. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, rotating it twice for even baking. Remove the loaves from their pans and place them on a wire rack or towel to cool before slicing.

They’re Not All Perfect…

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…but they’re still really good.

What I mean by this is that even when you have homemade “bread problems” the result is usually going to be better than something you’d buy at the supermarket. The above loaves are good examples of this. While I was preparing to make tomato sauce today I decided to purge my  teeny refrigerator to make room for the resulting bowl of sauce; I was also, coincidentally, preparing to make bread. In the cooler I found a cooked potato, a piece of slightly moldy Parmesan cheese, and a couple eggs that were outdated by 1 day. So I mashed the potato, cut the mold off the cheese and grated it, and cracked the eggs…all of which went into the bread dough. The problem was that I haphazardly oiled the bread-pans, and because of the cheese in the dough the bread stuck to the edges of the pan. You can see the torn bread in the above photo. Fortunately the bread (Whole Wheat Parmesan-Potato Bread Fortified with Egg) is still delicious, albeit a bit torn.

Bake your own bread…it’s as fun as riding a bike.

For more info on 100% whole wheat bread baking (recipe and pictures) click here and here.

Brown Rice Bread Recipe

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This is yet another example and variation of how you can add healthy ingredients to bread to make them not only more nutritious but also have a longer shelf life. Unless you are using a natural leaven (sourdough starter) homemade breads can go stale pretty quickly. But with the addition of beans and grains the bread stays moister longer and is in fact healthier…it’s like a meal in itself. This is another example of a variation of one of my favorite breads, which is Ezekiel Bread. Click here and here for earlier posts with pictures and recipes. Click here for a recipe for Turmeric Chickpea bread. Key factors in this style bread are making sure that the grain is cooked sufficiently and using the cooked grain and the cooking liquid in the preferment, which then becomes the dough. Also the slower the bread rises the better. It is a misconception that bread has to rise “in a warm place.”  A slowly risen bread will have more flavor, character, and will stay fresh longer. The below recipe is a basic formula, but somewhat different from how I actually made it (the method not ingredients or amounts). When I made it I allowed the preferment to rest in my refrigerator overnight, made the dough in the morning (carried the raw dough with me to work on my bike), and after a slow four-hour rise, I baked it about 18 hours after it was started. Delicious. The following recipe is simple and straightforward. Post a comment or email if you have questions. Pictures follow the recipe; click any one for a larger view.

Brown Rice Bread
Makes 5 (1 lb.) loaves

   1 cup brown rice
   3 quarts water
____________

      cooked rice
   2 cups cooking liquid
   2 cups whole wheat flour
   1 tablespoon instant yeast
____________

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
   1 tablespoon instant yeast
4-5 cups bread flour
   1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine the rice and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the rice for about 45 minutes or until very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the rice to cool in the cooking liquid. Strain the rice, squeezing out excess moisture and reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Make a pre-ferment by combining the cooked rice and 2 cups of cooking liquid with 2 cups whole wheat flour and a tablespoon yeast. Allow the pre-ferment to ferment for 1-12 hours. Transfer the pre-ferment to an upright mixer that is fitted with a dough hook. Stir in the honey, olive oil, additional tablespoon of yeast, 4 cups of the bread flour, and kosher salt. Mix on low speed until it begins to form a dough. If it seems too sticky add the remaining cup of flour. Mix on medium speed for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to dough to a lightly oiled bowl or bucket and allow to rise for about 90 minutes, or until doubled in size. Transfer the dough top a work surface and cut it into 5 pieces, approximately 18 ounces each. Gently shape the dough into loaves, place them into lightly oiled pans and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F. Bake the loaves for about 1/2 hour, or until golden brown. Turn the loaves halfway through their baking. They are done when they sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before slicing.  


                               
 


Sweet Potato Sandwich Bread Recipe with Photos

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This is a variation of classic potato bread…the difference is that I substituted sweet potatoes for the white potatoes, used olive oil instead of butter, honey instead of sugar, and incorporated some whole wheat flour to give it a little flavor and texture. I’ve made this bread in the past (or at least some variation of it) and it is truly delicious: soft and flavorful, and makes great toast. It’s also very simple to make. Below are photos of it being made (with brief explanations), and at the bottom of this post is a traditional written recipe.

I started with a two day old starter made with whole wheat flour, but this can ferment for as little as an hour or up to three or four days refrigerated.

Then I cooked and peeled a couple sweet potatoes.

I then transferred the starter to the bowl of my mixer and added the cooked sweet potato along with a couple eggs, a bit of honey, and olive oil, and I mashed and stirred it with a spoon.

After adding bread flour and kosher salt I kneaded it to a soft dough. The potato emulsifies into and becomes part of the dough.

I transferred the dough to a rising bucket and refrigerated it while I went out to run some errands and make a brief stop at the health club. Here it is initially, then fully risen after three hours in the fridge

 

After cutting it into two pieces I shaped it and placed them into two loaf pans, which I then placed in a square plastic contains to rise (this acts as a sort of incubator and alleviates plastic wrap). Here they are initially, then fully risen after an hour at room temperature.

After preheating an I oven the breads were baked for about 30 minutes.

And yes…it is as good as it looks.

Here’s the recipe:


Sweet Potato Sandwich Bread
Makes 2 loaves
   2 cups water                         
   2 packages active dry yeast
   2 cups whole wheat flour
   2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
1/4 cup honey
   2 large eggs
   3 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cups bread flour 
   3 teaspoons kosher salt
Combine the water, yeast, and 1 cup of flour; stir to form a batter. Allow to ferment for 1 hour. Add the sweet potatoes and mash them into the ferment with a spoon or fork. Stir in the honey, eggs and olive oil, then add 4 cups bread flour along with the salt. Mix then knead the dough for 10 minutes (if it is too soft add an additional cup flour). Place the dough in a bowl at room temperature, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to ferment for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Divide the risen dough into two pieces, shape them into loaves, and place them in oiled loaf pans. Allow the bread to rise for 45 minutes; meanwhile, preheat an oven to 425F. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, rotating it twice for even baking. Remove the loaves from their pans and place them on a wire rack or towel to cool before slicing.

More Experiments in Fermentation (Cinnamon-Raisin Bread)

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I made a bread recipe that is slightly different but at the same time just a variation on a theme. I made cinnamon-raisin bread using a traditional recipe but including the raisins in the preferment. It was interesting because the raisins, though not entirely disintegrated, became so soft that when I mixed the dough they sort of melted into it…becoming part of the dough. It was as if they were predigested, which is not too far off from what fermentation does. They gave the dough a brownish color that looked like I used whole wheat flour (I didn’t) and they also gave the dough an interesting flavor and suppleness. Anyhow, here’s how I made it.

I mixed together white bread flour, water, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins and let it rest at room temperature. Here it is after 18 hours.

Then I poured the preferment into a mixing bowl and added a few eggs, more flour, a little more yeast, and kosher salt. After kneading it for about 5 minutes i added melted butter and kneaded it for another few minutes. You can still see some of the raisins in the dough at this point.

Then I put it in a bowl, let it rise twice, cut it into 18oz pieces, rolled them into loaves, put them in pans, and let them rise again. Just before baking them I brushed them with an egg wash.

They didn’t seem to rise that much but when the went into the oven they had probably a 20-30% oven spring. The aroma of the breads baking was intoxicating to say the least. The resulting loaves are delicious…soft, sweet, full flavored. (Note the lack of whole raisins in the sliced loaf.)

Whole Wheat Sun Dried Tomato Bread with Cheddar and Parmesan (step-by-step photos and instructions)

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 Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, turn it off, then add 8 ounces (about 2 cups) of sun dried tomatoes to the hot water. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.

 Combine the tomato-water mixture with 3 cups of whole wheat flour and a tablespoon of instant yeast. Place it in a container with a lid and allow this to ferment for 1 to 12 hours. I allowed it to ferment overnight. The first photo is when it was just mixed; the second was in the morning, when it was fully ripe (click to see larger images).

Pour the starter into the bowl of an upright electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 6 cups unbleached bread flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 cup virgin olive oil, and another tablespoon of instant yeast. Mix the dough on medium for about 6 minutes. If the dough seems dry, add a little water (the tomatoes tend to absorb water). Then add about 4 ounces of shredded cheddar and a couple ounces of grated parmesan. Mix it for another couple of minutes.

This is what the dough will look like when it is fully mixed. It will have passed the windowpane test and will have s light sheen to it. There will pieces of tomato easily apparent; there will also be specks of cheddar and Parmesan visible.


Remove the dough from the mixer, knead it for a minute or two on the counter, then place it in a lightly oiled bowl or rising bucket. Allow the dough to ferment for about 90 minute, or until doubled in size.

 
 Pour the dough onto a work surface, cut it into 4 equal pieces (or two pieces if using larger loaf pans), shape the dough into loaves, and roll them in Parmesan cheese.

 
Place the loaves into lightly oiled pans. Preheat an oven to 400F. Allow the bread to rise for about 60 minute.

Bake the bread for about 30 minute. Mist the oven every ten minutes with water, and rotate the breads halfway through the baking process. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
 

The Day Before Lent

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 The cartoon was found here…click it to read it.
As most know, this Tuesday is the day before Lent. In some parts of the country and other parts of the world this day is known as Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday…the the day Christians are expected to use up any sweets, meats, and other rich foods (hence the word fat) and to welcome the next forty days as a “lean time,” or more specifically one of introspection. Another, less popular name (I believe) for this day is Shrove Tuesday. This is the name I had grown up knowing it as. And one of the popular foods that we ate (and I continue to eat) on this day are fastnacht kuecheles, or fast-night doughnuts. I assume that this is the original German name for the evening before Ash Wednesday; fast-night or fastnacht. They use up many traditional fats in the pantry…sugar, butter, eggs, and to top it off they are deep-fried, and yes they are delicious. Interestingly, they are basically the same doughnut that in New Orleans you would call a beignet. To read a previous post on this subject, or an article that was published in ArtVoice last year at this time, click here and here. The following recipe was given to me by my sister, who recieved it from our mother, who learned to make them at the hands of her mother. They’re simple to make (fun, too)…but the best part is how good they taste.
Fastnacht Kuecheles
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup water (room temperature)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons yeast
6-7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar

Combine the water, milk, sugar, yeast, and two cups of flour in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 1 hour, or until the yeast is fully active. Transfer to an upright mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add the eggs, melted butter, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Run the mixer on low for 1 minute (if the dough seems too sticky add the remaining cup flour) then turn to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour, or until double in size. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut into three pieces. Shape into balls, cover, and let rest 20 minutes. Roll into large circles about 1/4 inch thick, then cut the dough into diamonds 2-4 inches wide. Cover the diamonds with a cloth and let rest 10 minutes. Preheat a couple inches of vegetable oil to 350F in a heavy skillet. Carefully fry the fastnachts in batches, cooking them for a couple minutes on each side until they are puffed and golden-brown; drain on absorbent paper. Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then toss a few at a time in a paper bag with confectionery sugar.


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