Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Basic "Riff" Yeast Dough

(Photo of this "basic recipe" doubled and formed into Italian Bread loaves.)

Back in college I learned a basic "pizza crust" recipe that has become the basis of many of my bread creations. That basic recipe is:
3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp (or envelope) active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
Sift the flour & salt. Separately mix water, yeast, & sugar and let bloom until bubbly. Whisk in the olive oil and then dump into the flour. Mix well and knead (either by hand or mixer dough hook). Let rise in a covered and oiled bowl 45-60 minutes, punch down to make one thick crust pizza or two thin crust pizzas. Add toppings of choice. Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes.

Now, morphing into more varieties.

Garlic herb bread:
Add granulated garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary about 1 tsp each) to flour. Add 3 tbsp vital wheat gluten. Set aside. Add an egg to the bloomed yeast & oil mixture and whisk to combine. Dump into flour/herb mixture, mix & knead. Allow to rise as before. You can firm the risen dough into a round peasant style loaf or roll into an oblong shape for an 8x4 buttered loaf pan. Allow to rise again for 30 minutes. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes.

Blueberry Oatmeal Scones Recipe

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup powdered sugar
Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Mix together butter, milk and egg in another bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Mix in blueberries. Scoop 1/2 cup balls of dough and place on cookie sheet a few inches apart.  Bake until light brown, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly on rack.
Mix powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to make a drizzle icing. Spoon a bit onto each baked scone while warm.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus - Why I am staying home

(...to those who come here for fun recipes, please allow me to take over this space for one entry that is on my mind and I need to share. I promise we'll return to yummy food very soon! Thanks!)

​I've heard comments that, "this coronavirus thing is all overblown" and, "we're healthy and can handle this". I've heard, "you don't have enough faith that God will protect you​."​ I’ve also heard implications of selfishness, faithlessness, and aloofness. So let me get this out there in the most succinct and unambiguous way I can: Bullshit

I am a Christian, a believer. I am also a self-identified Introvert. Nonetheless here’s where my ​God-given, science-educated mind is at:
  • Don't be foolish.
    I was young once and took lots of crazy chances. I was physically strong but often stupidly foolish. And I thought I had a long life ahead. Now it’s 30-40 years later and fortunately I'm still stronger than some but my health isn't as good as it used to be. I have several of the listed coronavirus risk conditions that make me more vulnerable. I’ve had pneumonia a few times. I’ve spent lots of long, fevered nights fighting for breath. So I have and will continue to choose to remain isolated. From a public health perspective, I can do the math. I know if I get sick in the midst of the epidemic (and IT IS an epidemic based on the rate of spread) while case loads are rising sharply, I will likely have to wait for a chance to get treatment should hospitalization become necessary. The longer I -- and I should insist WE, the public can defer infection, the better chance I and other at-risk populations like me have of getting care with the added benefit of a better chance of researchers finding more effective treatment strategies (like chloroquine or other hopeful medicinal interventions.) And before you say it -- we already know an effective vaccine is a long way off and won’t materially change the trajectory of the current crisis.
  • Be charitable.
    While I am totally committed to absolute isolation from communal gatherings (>3-4 people) for my own AND community health, if someone I know (family, friends, neighbors) needs my help, I will do what I can like make food, shop (leveraging online order/pickup where possible to minimize contact), watch a pet, fix some necessary household item, etc.
  • Make good use of my time at home.
    Some of that is doing my day job which thankfully is something I can do 100% online. But also, household maintenance, cooking (we gotta eat and it’s a great time to try that experimental recipe…), talking to my wife, catching up on movies, reading.
  • Slowing down the rush of life in general.
    Now’s the time to gain a good gauge on how hectic a pace we put ourselves in sometimes. Funny how all those “things we HAVE TO DO” don’t need to be done. Maybe we never HAD TO DO them in the first place? I’m taking a machete to a lot of that crap to let the good stuff have room.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Multigrain bread

This bread uses a whole grain mix (you can either use ground flour from any or all of these or grind your own in a food processor or sturdy blender). For this recipe you'll need a total of 3 cups (flour form) of any combination of these:
Flax seed
Garbanzo beans

3 cups of your multigrain flour mix
5 1/2 cups boiling water
8 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more to grease the loaf pans
2/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons instant yeast (see instructions below if using active dry yeast)
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

4 large eggs
9 cups all-purpose flour (I used 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flour)
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oats, for topping


This will take some time, so set aside most of a day. It makes four nice loaves (some for you, some to share!)

Have a large bowl for rising handy. Coat the inside of the bowl with melted butter. Set aside. Also butter four 8x4 loaf pans. Set aside.
  • In your stand mixer bowl, add the multigrain flour mixture and boiling water. Stir until it forms a thick paste. Let it cool completely (about 20 minutes). I used a thermometer to ensure the temp was about 105 degrees F.
  • Melt the butter in a microwave. Heat just until the honey is liquid and most of the butter is melted. Add to the mixer and knead into the grain mixture.
  • Next blend in the yeast and the vital wheat gluten. Use the mixer to knead well. Let sit for 20 minutes. (if you have active dry yeast, dissolve in 1/2 c warm water first).
  • Now blend in the four eggs. You should notice the mixture has risen. Let sit again for about 20 minutes.
  • Now start adding the flour alternating white and wheat, one cup at a time, and knead until smooth, about 10-15 minutes. The dough will be sticky, so sprinkle over some flour to make it easy to handle. Form the dough into a ball, pulling it into a smooth ball. Roll the ball in the buttered large bowl to coat the outside then flip over. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • After that hour, cut the dough in half, , then half again to form four pieces. Roll each piece into a loaf shape, and place into the greased pans. Sprinkle with the oats and press them lightly into the dough. Cover and allow to rise for the another hour before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the loaves for 35 minutes or so, until golden brown. Your house will smell amazing (is there any better smell than fresh bread baking?). Take the loaves out of the pans and let them cool on a rack. Usually, a few slices get eaten well before they’re cooled. Who can resist fresh baked bread with butter? Good thing you made two.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Crusty Herbed Peasant Loaf

Dry ingredients:
3 c flour
1/4 c vital wheat gluten
1 t salt
1 T dry basil
1 T dry oregano
1 t onion powder
1/2T granulated garlic

Wet ingredients:
1 c warm water
1 T sugar
1 T yeast
2 T olive oil
1 lg egg

Blend Dry Ingredients in a mixer bowl fitted with a.fough hook.
In a separate container mix water sugar and yeast. Let sit until foamy. Add oil and egg. Whisk until well blended.
Add to mixer with dry ingredients. Mix well scraping often. Continue kneading in the mixer. If dough is sticky, add small amounts of flour and mix just until the dough pulls away from the bowl.
Coat the bottom of a large bowl with olive oil. Remove the dough from the mixer to a lightly floured surface to knead by hand briefly and form into a ball, stretching the top rolling the dough under and into the center of the ball. Roll the ball in the oil in the bowl then flip. Cover and let ride until doubled. Dump out dough on the floured surface again and knead briefly reforming a ball.
Place dough on a square sheet of parchment, place both in a round Dutch oven (parchment on the bottom). Cover and allow to double again.
With a sharp knife make one 1/2" deep slice across the dough. Cover and bake in a COLD OVEN set to 450° F for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue baking for 20-30 additional minutes until internal temperature reached at least 160°F. Remove to a cooling rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Steak House Brown Bread

2 tablespoon yeast
2 cup lukewarm water
3/4 c molasses
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 c vital wheat gluten
2/3 cup cornmeal
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cup rye flour
4 - 5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 50/50 all-purpose and reg whole wheat)

Stir yeast and molasses into water in a medium mixing bowl until dissolved and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Mix in salt, oil, cornmeal, eggs, vital wheat gluten and cocoa powder. Add rye flour, then whole wheat flour and stir until combined. Allow dough to rest for about 10 minutes to let the flours absorb some the liquid.

Turn out onto to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if needed so that it does not stick to your fingers. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel then place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours because of the heavier flour.

Grease two loaf pans and roll dough out into a roughly shaped log. Cut the log in half and form into two equal sized logs the length of the pans. Place dough into pan and allow to rise for about 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 375 degrees F and let the loaf finish rising while oven heats.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until hollow sounding when knocked. Remove and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Note: Increase molasses to add some sweetness

Wheat Nut Pumpernickel Bread

3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
5 cups Rye Flour
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups hydrated wheat berries (aka cracked wheat)
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups warm water

Rehydrate the wheat berries: 
Place 2 cups dry wheat berries in a mixing bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water. Mix and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Make the bread:
1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add the hydrated wheat berries, molasses and most of the water. Knead and add more water or flour if needed. Roll the dough into a ball and oil it.
2. Oil a large bowl ready for the dough and cover with a wet cloth.
3. Let the dough sit for at least 2 hours to rise, preferably in a warm place.
4. After it has clearly risen (it will not double but will visibly rise), punch the dough down and knead it again, then let it rise for at least 2 more hours.
5. After the second rise, section the dough to make small loaves or bread rolls. (Longer baguette- shaped loaves work really well; the middle of the loaf cooks through without overdoing the crust, so it’s just perfect.)
6. Let the loaves sit again, but this time for only about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
7. Place a large pan in the oven and fill it with water to create steam while the bread bakes. The bread will take about 30 minutes to bake. Bake check: The bread should feel firm and crusty, but still spring back when you press it, a bit like a heavy cake. You can also flick and tap the bottom and if it sounds sort of hollow, it’s ready for the cooling rack.