Roasted mashed and cooled seminole squash ready for bread making
I’ve covered before how much I like seminole squash – they taste great, and they store a incredibly long time, and as a plant they resist pretty much any pest… the one drawback is that they take a relatively long time to mature… but with each growing year I’m selecting for earlier maturity.
So to take advantage of that great taste one of our favorite recipes is this Seminole Pumpkin Bread. It’s reasonably sweetened rather than cakey sweet allowing the sweet flavour of the pumpkin to shine. As with much of our baking we’re using whole grain flours. My preference here leans towards whole barley flour, but whole wheat is also a nice flavour, ground of course on the homebuilt grain mill. Either of these flour options provide a complexity that goes miles beyond a pumpkin cake loaf served in some green logo coffee shop.
From time to time you’ll see the fast food chains advertise a special promotion featuring pretzel buns. They are great with hamburgers but where they shine in particular in my opinion with bbq chicken breast.
Pretzel buns formed ready to boil
Now, you’ll seldom if ever see pretzel buns in the grocery – they just don’t keep very well. The good news though is that they are really easy to make at home – and you can’t get fresher than that!
If you’ve make bagels at home – and you should – making pretzel buns is pretty much the same process.
The key for that great and characteristic crust is to boil the raised buns in a basic water solution before baking – an easy way to go is with baking soda – but I use wood ash (lye) because the wood fired pizza oven I have keeps me in loads of wood ash, and I need it around anyway for making massa for homemade tortillas.
So, easy, simple, quick – and since they are best consumed within a day or so after baking are ideally suited to making in your own kitchen. Of course, I’m making these with home ground whole wheat flour, but if you don’t yet have your own mill commercial flour will do.
Nothing quite says summer like burgers, sausages or hotdogs on the grill or roasted over a fire. But damn, if the food isn’t becoming pricey! It seems like only a couple of years ago hot dogs were 99 cents for a dozen nice ones. Now even the cheap ones are twice that when they come on sale.
If you want to skip right to the fantastic whole wheat hot dog recipe just click on the post title now.
Hot dog buns risen and ready to go in the oven
Anyway, to be perfectly honest commercial hot dogs are only an occasional feature in our home, with homemade sausages being a more common feature – but for roasting over an open fire nothing quite beats hot dogs – so they occasionally find a place in our grocery order.
It’s not only the dog themselves that have climbed in price – the buns too are getting silly expensive – like $2.99 for eight!
Bun pan and the results
We routinely bake our own buns – generally whole wheat with the flour we grind on our homebuilt mill – which produces higher quality product at a fraction of the price. So when I saw a New England style hot dog pan on the King Arthur website for $30 bucks US I picked it up. I mean that’s less than 15 uses to more than pay it off.
The thing is built incredibly solidly. The silicon coating may eventually fail but the underlying steel is heavy enough to last for a few generations if taken care of – now that’s the type of investment I like! It also cuts prep time even more – simply form the dough into the pan and let it do it’s second rise in the pan then slide into the oven and that’s it – perfectly sized buns for hot dogs (or sausages!)
Now the instructions on the KA website call for putting a cookie sheet over the top of the pan – I’ve never bothered, the buns are a bit taller but I prefer the less dense feel.
All in all this is a great kitchen tool – if you are short cash just form buns individually, but if you can afford the investment I think you’ll be very pleased with it.
It’s an old saying that pretty much everyone loves motherhood and apple pie, and I’d include myself in that list – particularly since there have been two back to back crop failures for the blueberry crop around our camp up north – otherwise as a good northern canadian lad I’d be endorsing motherhood and blueberry pie but definitely not turning down apple pie.
More realistically, in our home apple pie usually takes a back seat to apple crisp – which is so easy to throw together and is truly a great desert. But, Apple Kuchen also figures prominently among our favorite deserts because it’s a great desert in its own right and is almost as quick to prepare as apple crisp.
Partly devoured pan of whole barley base apple kuchen
For those who haven’t had it before it is an cake base topped with apples and a sugar and cinnamon topping. Since home ground whole grain flours are the principal ones that get used in our kitchen the base is usually whole barley or whole wheat – both of which work great and give more substance and flavour compared to white flours.
So next time you are looking for a great desert give Apple Kuchen a try.
Click on the post title to expand and see the recipe.
What was it Homer Simpson used to say…. MMMMMMMMMMMMMM Donuts. For me that is more likely to be MMMMMMMMMMM Apple Fritters, so it’s probably not surprising that I’ve played with dozens of recipes over the years – most yeast versions. But this quick one is the one I keep coming back to – it’s fantastic AND as a quick donut it’s a snap to produce. While I usually make them using fresh whole ground flour they work just as nicely with white flour.
The other nice thing is this recipe is that it scales wonderfully – from 1x to about 5x which is about the maximum I can manage to make with my deep fryer before it makes sense to do up another batch of batter – but given that takes all of five minutes it’s really no hardship. So get out your apples, heat up the oil and get ready to enjoy.
Click on the post title to expand for the whole recipe.
With a sister in law and friends who are celiac I tend to keep my eyes open for recipes that are both gluten free and great and easy (the latter meaning in part no crazy exotic gums and pastes and binders); That combination is fairly rare – certainly more rare than when one is not constrained to exclude gluten.
Blueberry Corn Cake – A great desert
There are winners though, and this is one of the nicest ones around – so much so that it graces our meals even when the table is filled with wheat eaters. Frankly the latter simply allows me to do the grinding of the cornmeal on the homemade grain mill from the couple of big sacks of feed corn we always have on hand. The mill does a great job and fresh meal can’t be beat, but since the mill often processes gluten containing grains I keep a bag of commercial meal for those occasions.
This corn cake makes a desert – moist (even if some lasts a couple of days), rich, flavorful and just the right amount of sweet to cap off a nice meal or accompany tea or coffee.
Pumpernickel bread is one of my favorite breads, rich and complex in flavour it’s a great accompaniment to sharp cheese, toasted and slathered with butter and a strong honey or as the foundation for a great sandwich.
Sourdough pumpernickel loaves formed and ready to double in bulk.
The overnight sponge takes a bit more time, but the long hydration period is a perfect match for whole grain baking, and while you can substitute dry yeast for the sourdough, the latter offers an additional complexity that is a great compliment to the other flavours.
I’ve been using a variety of sourdough starters for a couple of decades, it offers both great flavour for your breads – that particular sour tang, while also giving you a more resilient method of leavening bread compared to commercial yeast.
Those starters – some of which were home made, starting from commercial yeast, from airborne cultures, from those on grapes or rye, and others which were purchased both dry and liquid or shared from others – varied in quality. Compared to the King Arthur starter some were more sour but none matched the effectiveness at leavening bread.
Using sourdough is a great and low cost means to produce great beads at home, and the starter from King Arthur is probably the easiest way to boost your chances of success.
Many great styles of bread have fantastically chewy crusts which can seem difficult at first to replicate at home. The secret is steam. Commercial ovens use steam injection which home ovens lack.
But there is a cheap and easy way to get those chewy crusts at home – air charged plant misters. Unlike the hand pumped sprayers and misters the air charged ones see you pump the air/water bladder with air and then when the trigger is pressed releases a large volume of fine mist. Compared to the hand pumped versions you get more volume and a finer spray.
There are a number of variants on the style, but the one I use and Iike is the Spraymate which I also see marketed as the Eco-Sprayer. It comes as the spray unit alone and sees you use a soda bottle as the reservoir. I picked it up from Princess Auto (the Canadian version of Harbor Freight), but it’s also available from Amazon for $11 or Lapond though I see it’s priced there for $14 which is about three times what I paid for mine.
To make those great chewy crusts I preheat the oven to temperature, charge up the mister, quickly open the door and quickly mist the interior of the oven. Then I allow a minute or two for the oven to come back to temperature open the door again slide in the sheet with the bread and do a second misting of the interior of the oven. While you could open up the oven later and mist again I usually don’t bother.
The result, awesome chewy crusts on things like baguettes and sourdough loaves every bit as good as that which you’d get from a professional bakery but for a fraction of the price and without ever having to leave home.
A number of solid fats can be used for baking including lard, butter and shortening as well as tallow. The first three can all be handled in a fairly consistent manner – chill and then cut into the flour mix.
Pieces of tallow sliced off large block
Tallow though doesn’t respond well to this treatment – it’s simply too hard to effectively break up in this way.
The good news is that by altering your handling strategy from the more conventional fats you can easily produce great baking with tallow.
As with the softer fats you’ll want to chill the tallow first. Then instead of cutting it in the flour mix use a knife to shave the chunk of tallow into smaller pieces and then add these to the flour mix. It’s that simple to make use of tallow rendered from either beef or deer in your home baking, and the results are excellent.