Archive for the ‘Grandmother Bread’ Category

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Jun
17

We just had two days of workshops here, with cheesemaking, soapmaking, and baking. One of the attendees at the baking day asked about homemade soft pretzels. I took up the challenge and here’s what I came up with–and they came out delicious!

Start with a batch of Grandmother Bread dough.

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How to make Grandmother Bread:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit five minutes. Stir in salt and first cup of flour with a heavy spoon. Add more flour a little at a time, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again.

Attendees at the baking workshop, playing with dough:
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Divide dough in half, then divide each half again. Keep dividing until you have eight to ten pieces, depending on size pretzels desired. Shape into pretzels.
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Set pretzels aside to rise slightly while bringing a pot of water to boil. Drop pretzels into pot, boiling several at a time, for about 30 seconds to a minute.
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Drain then place on greased baking sheets.
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Brush tops of pretzels with an egg wash. (Several egg whites and a little bit of water.) Sprinkle with coarse salt. (Or cinnamon sugar!)
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Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned–don’t overbake or they won’t be soft.
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These turned out delicious and tasted–really!–just like pretzels! We were so proud.

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.
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The Winter of Our Discontented Bread

Mar
6

I’ve gotten several emails recently about winter bread. The common problem with bread in the winter is that it won’t rise. It’s a bad time to be a first-time breadbaker because it’s discouraging. It can be discouraging even if you’re an experienced breadbaker!
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Yeast breads don’t rise well under certain atmospheric conditions. Heavy barometric pressure is a rise-killer! This can be true even on a warm day when a storm comes in, but on a cold day, it’s even worse. Yeast needs warmth to activate. When I’m making bread in the winter months, I automatically assume I’m going to have trouble getting the bread to rise so I use one of the tricks that can help overcome winter conditions. Here’s my top 10 list of bread rising tips:

1. Make bread when your kitchen is warm, heated up by other cooking.

2. Place the bread in a dehydrator like an Excalibur, with removable shelves, on the bread rising setting.

3. Put the bread in front of a fire! But be careful. Too close to your fire and you’ll kill it from too much heat. (Been there, done that.)

4. Set the bread on your stovetop while you’re cooking something else in the oven–the heat on the surface of the oven will help warm the dough.

5. Boil a small pot of water. Set the bread on the top oven rack and the pot of hot water below it and shut the oven door.

6. Turn on the oven, heat it up just slightly then turn it off. Place the bread inside the warm oven and shut the door.

7. Start bread early in the day–give yourself two or three or four times as long for the rise time.

8. Move to Cozumel. I bet bread rises there year-round.

9. Don’t make bread till spring.

10. DEFINITELY KIDDING ABOUT THAT LAST ONE. What is life without fresh homemade bread?

See, I knew I could come up with 10.

Good luck! Anybody got any more tips for raising bread in the winter? Let me hear ’em.

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Crusty Chipotle & Onion Bread

Aug
9


Hot summer? Hot bread!

This is a savory and spicy Grandmother Bread with reduced sugar and increased heat to form a crispy crust–using the sponge method for an airy texture.

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How to make Crusty Chipotle & Onion Bread:

To start the sponge–
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt

To finish the bread–
2 tablespoons dried chopped chipotle peppers
1 tablespoon dried flaked onion
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
approx. 2 cups flour

Combine water, yeast, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit 5 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup of flour and the garlic salt. Cover and let sit for 2 to 12 hours.

When you’re ready to finish the bread, add the chipotle peppers (seeds and all!) and onion then the vital wheat gluten. The gluten is for an extra airy texture with “holes” in the bread. Gradually mix in the remaining flour. Add flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. You want to go with a wetter dough here to keep the light texture. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before shaping into a loaf.

Place loaf on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Spray the inside of the oven and the top of the loaf with water. Bake loaf for approximately 25 minutes or until hot, browned, and crusty.

I haven’t made a new bread recipe in a while. That was fun! Where’s the butter?

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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Bread 911!

May
24

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I get more emails about breadbaking disasters than anything else. I’ve been making bread since I was a kid, so sometimes I wonder if I’m the best person to ask about making bread, but I do like to talk to people about bread and teach people to make bread. My main thing is making bread from scratch, by hand, not using a bread machine or stand mixer. I got this email yesterday, and it was of the most entertaining emails about bread I’ve gotten lately. I thought this email was hilarious–NOT in a bad way. In a cute way. I get a lot of email, so I really appreciated the humor here. I decided to share it because I’m not a big stand mixer bread baker and maybe some of you have better advice than I do.

Oh, CITR!

I was beside myself to stumble across your website! I am a stay at home mom of two, plus we homeschool. I am always looking for ways to reduce our amount we spend at the grocery store! So you can imagine my sweet surprise when I saw you making everything from scratch! I was first interested in the Grandmother Bread recipe. My son is allergic to milk so I thought, “I’m a decent baker, I should be able to do this….plus I have a KA mixer…….This has not worked for me! First, my dough was very sticky, so I added more flour….well it didn’t rise all that well and tasted somewhat watered down. No big deal, nobody dies from the first batch not turning out right?….so next day, I mixed it all together with hook, and let it go for about 4 mins….well it went from not sticking to the bowl to being really sticky and back to being really wet…(almost as though I beat the gluten out) this loaf was awful tasting…..so today I tried again….(After I went to the grocery store and had to buy bread…..it was mocking me….so now it is ON!!!!) I haven’t gotten mine to rise as nicely as yours yet and I am desperate to do this for my family as well as others that have the same allergy issues!

Do you happen to have a video of you making a single loaf ?

I have made bread before, but always use the dare I say….bread machine….

Please help me……

I have every intention of coming to your farm for a workshop one day….hubs has already said that would be a great gift! I agree!

Thanks for your help

Angel
in Mississippi

How cute is that? I just want to take away her stand mixer and hand her a bowl and a spoon.

I wrote Angel back:

Hello, Angel. I don’t have a video (yet). First, you need to just get rid of all the machinery. Learn to make bread by hand then you can use a machine (if you insist). You can find all my bread posts on my Grandmother Bread page:

http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/archives/grandmother-bread/

Have you see the How to Make Bread post?
http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/how-to-make-bread/

I do have a post here about making bread with a stand mixer, though I don’t recommend it for starting out. You need to learn to feel dough and get to know it before you try to use a machine, which separates you too much from the breadmaking process.
http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/making-bread-with-a-dough-hook/

Any more/better advice out there? Help Angel!

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Honey Oats & Groats Bread

Feb
29


Buckwheat groats are very versatile. If you’ve never used them in your cooking, consider adding them for some variety. (They’re gluten-free.) You can use them in meatless (or even with meat) chilis, in place of rice in soups and stews, or just cook them up, add some milk, raisins, and cinnamon, and make a tasty breakfast. Groats have a nutty flavor, and what I used here are the raw buckwheat groats. Roasted groats are what is known as kasha, and you could use them in this recipe as well if you prefer them.

I’m always trying out different ideas using my Grandmother Bread recipe, and love to share them with you when I find one I like. I really love the chewiness of this bread, especially toasted.

How to make Honey Oats & Groats Bread:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup rolled oats*
4 cups all-purpose flour**

*The oats can be quick-cooking or regular.

**This is more flour than usual in a Grandmother Bread recipe because of the moisture in the groats after they’ve been softened. It’s also a very approximate measurement because the moisture in your groats will vary!

Bring a small pot of water, enough to cover groats, to a boil. Turn off heat. Add groats.

Let groats soften for about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Drain groats; add groats and oats to the bowl.

Stir in flour with a heavy spoon until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary, especially in this recipe as the amount of moisture left in your groats will vary. This is a sticky dough, because of the groats so beware of adding too much flour. Only add enough so that you can handle the dough.

Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, 30-60 minutes.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before shaping dough into a loaf. Place in a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle more oats on top and lightly press into the dough. This is just “for pretty” so you can skip this step if you like, but why?

Cover with greased wax paper or a wet paper towel. Let rise until loaf is tall and beautiful! (About an hour, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)

Bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven.

Note: You can use straight all-purpose flour as I did here, part whole wheat, or make it all whole wheat. (Use homemade dough enhancer if you’re making it with all whole wheat.)

Find this recipe on Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box:
Honey Oats & Groats Bread

And see the Grandmother Bread Cookbook page for all of my Grandmother Bread recipes in one place.


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A Basic Pastry Dough and Bear Claws

Dec
21

I got all hung up on bear claws recently when I found some lost recipes in my kitchen that belonged to previous owners of the house. I didn’t want to use that recipe, but I did want some bear claws. So I decided to create a Grandmother Bread recipe with a pastry effect. I like the challenge and simplicity of working with one easy-to-remember base recipe. Plus I’m a little crazy that way.

To create a pastry effect in my Grandmother Bread recipe, butter is used as an add-in at double strength. The repeat rolling technique with the dough also lends more flakiness. Whenever adding egg and/or oil to a Grandmother Bread recipe, you’ll need to use at least an additional half cup of flour. (See more about using egg, oil, and milk in Grandmother Bread recipes here.) In this case, with the doubled butter add-in, you may need as much as an extra cup. There is increased sugar in this recipe for a sweeter dough, but you can decrease the sugar if you prefer. I deliberately built this recipe without egg so it could be easily converted to vegan with margarine and soy milk (when I’m baking for my “other daughter”).

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Grandmother Bread for Pastries:

1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup cold butter
4 – 4 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine warm milk, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Meanwhile, cut butter into one cup of the flour, using a pastry cutter or food processor until the flour/butter is like coarse crumbs.

Add to warm milk mixture, stirring with a spoon. (Do not beat with an electric mixer–you don’t want to pulverize the butter at this point.) Add more flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to continue stirring easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (about 20 inches by 10 inches). Fold dough into thirds, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours or overnight (or freeze for 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry). I just pack it up in the same piece of parchment paper I used for rolling.




Take dough out of refrigerator. Using a floured rolling pin again, roll dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle as described above. Fold, wrap, and chill dough again, this time for at least four hours or overnight–or longer. You can use the dough after four hours, refrigerate it for up to a week, or freeze it for later use. This is a great make-ahead special occasion dough, and can be used as the foundation of many different pastries. I’m going to have fun with this one!

While the recipe sounds time-consuming with the repeat rolling steps, this actually takes just a few minutes then you pop it back in the fridge and go on with your day.

If you want to make bear claws……

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How to make Bear Claws:

1 recipe Grandmother Bread for Pastries, ready for use
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
additional melted butter for brushing
slivered almonds*
powdered sugar icing

*You could use chopped pecans or walnuts as well, or no nuts at all.

Divide chilled Grandmother Bread for Pastries dough in half. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a 10-inch square. Brush each square with half of the melted butter. Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl; sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar filling on each pastry square.

Cut each square in half to make two strips.

Fold each strip together lengthwise; seal edges and ends.

Cut into three pieces and seal new cut edges. Make four cuts on each piece to within a half-inch to an inch of the folded edge. (Cut from the sealed edge, not the folded edge.)

Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled. Brush each piece with additional melted butter. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Bake at 350-degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing.

Powdered Sugar Icing:
Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, and enough milk (two to four teaspoons) for drizzling consistency.

Makes 1 dozen bear claws.

Get this pastry dough in the fridge now and you’ll be ready for a special holiday breakfast. You can cut and shape the bear claws and let them rise overnight in the fridge on Christmas Eve to make your Christmas morning even easier!

See these recipes at Farm Bell Recipes and save them to your recipe box:
Grandmother Bread for Pastries
Bear Claws

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Pizza Crust Yeast

Oct
6

I’m a sucker for anything cooking-related, especially when it comes to anything bread-related. If I’m ever in a store, and fortunately I’m rarely in a store, I love to browse all things cooking- and especially bread-related. I will even browse the baking aisle at the grocery store as if I were at Lehman’s, and I’ve never been to Lehman’s so that’s just fantasizing. Unfortunately, the baking aisle at the grocery store is not usually that fascinating, but I’m ever hopeful and will seize upon the slightest item of interest. Last week, I was at the store and saw pizza crust yeast. I don’t know if this is a brand new product, or if it just finally made it to my neck of the woods, but I was intrigued enough to pick up the package.

What is pizza crust yeast?

According to the package, it is “specially formulated for making easy pizza crust dough–no frustrating ‘snap back’ when rolling or pressing out dough.”

I had no idea snap back was such a problem! I had to ponder on this for a moment. When you roll out dough for pizza, or anything else, the dough does spring back a little bit. Then you roll some more and smack it around and get it how you want it. It doesn’t seem like a big problem to me. However, it was the best I was getting for something new and different in the baking aisle, and who was I to pass it up? The only other new product I saw in the baking aisle was muffins in a canister. I admit, I had to pick that one up, too, and read the directions. The muffin mix comes in a canister. You add water to the canister, put the lid back on, shake it up, and then pour the muffin batter into the muffin cups.

Are we to the point in the world today that not only can we not make our own muffin batter from scratch, but we also can’t get a bowl dirty? After we add water (!) to the prefabricated muffin mix, we can’t go on to the additional drudgery of washing the bowl? Okay, I guess I can see how this might be handy for camping, but you could make your own muffin mix and put it in a quart jar. Add non-fat dry milk to your mix and some shortening or lard instead of oil so that you can keep the mix long enough to go camping. You will have to break down and crack an egg in there, then add water and pour from the quart jar to bake. Wash the quart jar in the creek and take it home. (That is my tip of the day!)

I left the muffin mix in a canister on the shelf, but I did take home the pizza crust yeast, in spite of the fact that I buy yeast in bulk. I had to explore its mysteries and unlock its secrets. Would there really be no snap back? Did I care if there was no snap back? Would I miss the snap back?

I whipped up a batch of pizza dough using my lovely new dough whisk.

I rolled out the pizza dough and I am here to report that there was absolutely NO snap back. None. That dough was deader than a doornail.

It made a perfectly fine pizza. The crust tasted just like any other pizza crust. But the dough was like zombie dough. It had no personality, no spring in its step, no light in its eye, no joie de vivre.

I didn’t like it. Give me snap back or give me death!

The End.

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Pepperoni, Sausage, Ricotta, and Mozzarella Roll

Aug
22

A couple of days ago, I posted about this delicious meat roll I had eaten for lunch in Morgantown.

Pepperoni, Sausage, Ricotta, and Mozzarella Roll, served with marinara sauce.

It was so good, that despite how tired I was by the time I got home, the first thing I did was make a bowl of dough and attempt to recreate this divine roll. It turned out maybe even more delicious than what I had at the restaurant! Morgan loved it and begged for more. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant except that it meant something like “place of friends” in Italian. I spent a little time Googling and found it. The restaurant is on High Street in Morgantown, West Virginia, and it’s called Casa D’Amici. Check out the menu page and the very last item, under Baked Rolls, is the Pepperoni, Sausage, Ricotta, and Mozzarella roll. ($4.25) Notice the other combinations offered: Sausage, Roasted Peppers, and Onions; Pepperoni, Mozzarella, and Onions; Sauteed Broccoli and Mozzarella; Sauteed Spinach and Mozzarella; Chicken Parmesan; and Buffalo Chicken.

If the pepperoni, sausage, ricotta, and mozzarella combination doesn’t rock your world, try one of the others–or make up your own combination! It can all be done using this same basic process.

Of course, they didn’t hand over the recipe, so I had to make it up, but it works! And anyway, the menu titles are fairly self-explanatory, so not pretending to be a genius here. For the dough, I turned to my trusty Grandmother Bread, with oil. I sensed with my mafioso baking radar that the Italian bread used in the roll included oil.

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Dough for the Rolls:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in oil then flour a cup at a time with a heavy spoon. Continue adding flour a little at a time as needed, stirring until dough becomes too stiff to stir easily. Add a little more flour and begin kneading. The amount of flour is approximate–your mileage may vary! Continue adding flour and kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled. (Usually, about an hour.) Uncover bowl; sprinkle in a little more flour and knead again before dividing in half.

Prepare a well-floured surface. Roll half the dough into a 9 x 12 rectangle. Cut into 3-inch sections (from the 12-inch side) to make 4 sections.

Filling:

8 ounces ricotta (or other soft cheese)
6 ounces shredded mozzarella
8 ounces sausage, cooked, crumbled
4 ounces sliced pepperoni

Note: These filling quantities are approximate, depending on how much you want to pile on. You can use more or less of any ingredient and make substitutions at will! Also, I didn’t have any ricotta. I used lactic cheese the first time I made it. The second time, I used fromagina. (Yes, this is so good, I’ve already made it twice since Friday.) For the mozzarella, I used homemade mozzarella.

Using filling ingredients in the order listed, layer them on down the center of the strips.

The first time I tried this, I had some trouble figuring out the twist technique with so much filling and such long strips. By the second time, I’d figured it out. Don’t try to twist the entire strip from one end. Twist half the strip from one end.

Then half the strip from the other end (and push it together in the middle).

Results in a much nicer-looking roll. Transfer to greased baking sheets.

You will have eight rolls. I used two large pizza pans with curved edges, four per pan. The curved edges contain any extra olive oil that may drain off the rolls, preventing oven mess. I don’t recommend using a flat baking sheet.

Topping:

olive oil
coarse ground salt
mixed Italian herbs
crushed red pepper*

*Leave out the crushed red pepper if you don’t like it hot!

Drizzle or brush on olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, herbs, and crushed red pepper, if using. Let rolls rise about 20-30 minutes.

Bake at 375-degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes. Your time will vary depending on the size of your rolls, so keep an eye on ’em. I put both pans in the oven at the same time, one on the top rack, one on the bottom, then switching halfway through the baking time.

Serve with nothing, marinara sauce, pizza sauce, Ranch dressing, or whatever you adore.

These rolls are FABULOUS. Serve as an accompaniment to a meal (cut in half), or a meal unto itself. Make it vegetarian, or vegan, if you like. (For vegans, use soy cheese, or no cheese at all, and a combination of sauteed vegetables.) Thank you, Casa D’Amici (even though you have no idea who I am) for the inspiration!


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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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