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Whole Wheat Hot Dog Buns

Out of the pan and just sliced.

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.

Click on the post title to expand the recipe.

 

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Apple Kuchen

Apple Kuchen

Base and apple chunks ready for topping

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.

Whole grain apple kuchen

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.

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Quick Apple Fritters – whole grain (or not)

Homemade Apple Fritters frying

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.

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Blueberry Corn Cake

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.

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Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread

A stand mixer makes for easy kneading.

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.

This is my favorite recipe striking the right balance between whole grain content and hollow white – I usually use triticale flour but unless you have a grain mill (and you can have one at low cost by building one for yourself) you’ll likely find rye flour to be more common.

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.

 

 

 

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King Arthur Flour Sourdough Starter Review

King Arthur Sourdough Starter in KA Crock

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.

https://youtu.be/zSKxpjbwuGY

 

 

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Cheap mister makes perfect chewy crusted bread easy

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.

Eco-mister

Eco-mister

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.

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Baking with Deer Tallow

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

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.

https://youtu.be/d2Tbc0oM3fg

 

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Whole Wheat Éclairs

Whole Wheat Chocolate Éclairs

Whole Wheat Chocolate Éclairs

Growing up I always loved when my mother would have chocolate éclairs bursting with fresh whipped cream for desert.  They seemed so decadent – or rather they were and still are, but now as a baker, having baked éclairs I wonder why they weren’t more commonly on the desert plate since they are really very easy to make (and that’s not overselling it).

For those that think whole grain translates into blah, well this is a great recipe to demonstrate that finely ground whole grain flour can and will wow.

Click on post title for full recipe.

 

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Quick ‘n Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits

Whole Wheat Biscuits hot out of the oven

Whole Wheat Biscuits hot out of the oven

There’s good reason why biscuits were an essential part of pioneer cooking fare – they are quick and easy to make, are incredibly versatile and especially when warm right from the oven – like most fresh baking – make any meal go from whatever to wow!  They were the perfect tool for the busy pioneer wife to pull together to make her meals special.  Not so surprisingly they fill that same role today just as well.  Between work and school and a myriad of other things that fill our modern lives the busyness while different is likely often just as much of an issue today as it was a hundred years ago – so any modern baker – male or female, hitched or not – should have a good basic biscuit recipe to turn to in times of need.   This happens to be a great and versatile one.

Click on post title for the full recipe.