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!


Michelle said...

Love your Circle Epi such a clever idea! And your loaf is simply
gorgeous. Well done!

I'm having problems posting a comment to your blog...hope this one is successful!

Bonnie said...

Darlene, I think your breads are beautiful. I am also doing HB in five. Your wonder bread comment made me laugh. I felt so deprived as a child. All my friends families ate Wonder bread. Oh how I wished that I could eat Wonder bread too. My mom made all our bread with freshly ground wheat, nothing like that cottony,soft, pillowy bread from the store. Once in a while, for a treat she bought some. Thankfully, I grew up.

iknithats said...


Your Wonder bread comment made me laugh. I was a deprived child. All my friends mothers bought that cottony, soft wonder bread and mine made us eat her homemade wheat bread. If we were lucky, she bought a loaf now and then. Thankfully, I grew up. I also like broccoli.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Beautiful mix of seeds on your bread! Your epi almost made it into a wreath :)

Megan said...

I loved the crackers too and thought what a great presentation they would make with some cheese. And I love your epi. I'm not laughing at all. :)

Zoe Francois said...

Hi Darlene,

I'm so excited to see all the breads you will bake. The loaves you have posted are gorgeous! The master loaf with the seeds is picture perfect!

Thanks, Zoƫ

Cristie said...

I love your boule- it's beautiful! And your crackers look wonderful too! I love the quilt at the top of your blog, I'm a quilter as well. I look forward to seeing many other creations of yours this year.

Michelle said...

The fruit, cheese, dip and crackers is one of my favorites for lunch!

Gorgeous loaf of bread and your slashing looks great! Love the Circle Epi.

Danielle said...

everything looks so good. I've done a combo of caraway and dill which is very good...but it was mixed in the dough, not as a topper. Your crackers look your lunch spread

Jen said...

great job with the crackers!! yum!

Kim said...

Your lunch of crackers, cheese, and apple is my idea of lunch :D Everything looks delicious and your boule is beautiful!

Tara said...

You did a great job on your breads. I really like the epi in the form of a circle. Very pretty.

Say, are you on Ravelry too? I'm "oregonknitter" if you want to stop over and say "hi".

Petra said...

what a great idea with that circle Epi, looking at this I could imagine forming a lizzard or something along that line by coiling it a little more for a kids party

Lynda said...

Your breads are beautiful, even the epi!! Your crackers turned out great. I've tried them twice - the last was better but not quite thin enough.

Hubby and I use a lot of flaxseed in and on bread and muffins. Yum!