Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Healthy Breads!

I have completed my second group of breads in my HBin5 bake-a-long! First we made the Soft Whole Wheat sandwich bread. This one I baked in a loaf pan for a more traditional sandwich bread. I loved it toasted with a little butter and jam for breakfast. The addition of honey to the dough really made a big difference in flavor to me.

The second bread I made was the Apple Strudel Bread. Oh my, I could eat this one EVERY day! It is rolled out and covered with apples, raisins, cinnamon, walnuts and raw sugar, then rolled jelly-roll style into a loaf. You sprinkle raw sugar and cinnamon over the top of the loaf before baking for a crispy sweet crust. Here is a picture of when it came out of the oven.
And here is a cut slice of this yummy bread!
The third assignment was the Soft Whole Wheat Hamburger (or hot dog) buns. I shaped these into 6 mini boules and left them to rise... brushed them with some water and sprinkled with sesame seeds, and this is what came out of the oven -I thought they were very good, however, all of the sesame seeds fell off when you picked up your sandwich! I made mine into a Veggie Burger and Gary took some egg salad sandwiches to work. He reported back that he felt they were "too much", so I have two of these left in the freezer.
A good baking week I would say!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day!

I recently watched the movie "Julie and Julia", which I loved, and became motivated to attempt to bake every recipe in a cookbook. I couldn't use a general cookbook, because, quite honestly, I am a bit of a fussy eater. I would completely fail the chapters on seafood, meat, poultry, and even eggs. But I like bread. ALL breads! (Well, not wonder bread...) There is nothing I love more than a good marbled rye loaded with caraway, a luscious dark pumpernickel, or steaming fresh sourdough loaves straight from the oven. With breads, I am in my element. Yeast is in my blood. I have the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and have made many wonderful breads from that book. The techniques are easy, quick, and I only needed to purchase a pizza peel, an oven stone, and a large container for storing dough to make most of the recipes.
My New Year's resolution this year was to begin eating healthier, and part of that pledge to myself and my family is to eat more whole grain breads and use less white flours. So, I have joined an online group of bakers who have pledged to bake every recipe in the book "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It will take us almost 2 years to make all of the wonderful sounding breads in the book. There are challenges every 2 weeks to make 2 or 3 recipes/breads. I hope to blog about each of them!
As a December warm-up to the challenge, we started with a Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest which Jeff and Zoe gave to us as a freebie on their Artisan Bread blog. I made this bread to serve on Christmas morning. I purchased an orange zester to make the zest, and I was lucky to have recieved a box of fresh Florida oranges as an early Christmas gift. (Thank you Mom!!) The zester made the strips a little thicker than I would have liked so I ended up cutting them down with a knife. I also made orange sugar by running a few strips of zest through the mini-chopper with about a tablespoon of raw sugar and letting it air dry for a day or two. This made a great topping. I had no trouble with braiding the dough as I have made many bread braids in the past. Since it was Christmas time, I formed this bread into a wreath. This is my bread fresh from the oven (I wish I were a better photographer!)
Our January 15th challenge was to make the Master Whole Wheat Dough recipe and form a Boule, an Epi, and with the remaining dough a batch of Spicy Whole Grain Snack Crackers.
The Boule (round loaf) proved no problem, that's the way I normally shape my artisan breads. However, I did take a suggestion from the authors and made my own seed blend to dust the top of the loaf with before baking. I mixed several seeds I had on hand, including caraway, poppy, sesame (dark and light) and cumin. The lesson I learned was not to use 2 strongly flavored seeds in the same blend, the flavors will fight each other! The caraway and cumin seed did NOT taste good together. Next time I am buying flax seed to add, they have so many healthy benefits, and will not be using cumin seed.
Next, I didn't think the Epi (Wheat Sheaf loaf) would be difficult at all. I read the directions and thought I understood them. I just had one small problem, my oven stone is round so I had to shape the long dough into a horseshoe shape to fit onto the stone. There the trouble started! Once I made the clips into dough, I could not alternate the direction to turn each "leaf", and had to turn them all outward. I intend to try this shape again next time I make bread because I considered this a failure... Please don't laugh at my bad Epi! The taste was very good, we tore chunks off and ate it with a beef stew for supper.

The last assignment was intersesting. I have not made cracker in many many years. The challenge was to roll the dough EXTREMELY thin. Papery thin. Then I pricked it with a fork, brushed on a little olive oil, and dusted liberally with chili powder and salt. Then I cut them into squares with a pizza cutter and baked them on a sheet of parchment. They were really good! The thinnest ones were the crispiest. For a healthy lunch today I made a guacamole, sliced up an apple and some reduced-fat cheddar cheese and served them with my crackers. Delicious and healthy!