Nov
1

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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.

 

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Whole Wheat Naan – bread machine makes it simple

Homemade Whole Wheat Naan

Homemade Whole Wheat Naan

When I first started making homemade naan several years ago I did the mixing and kneading by hand.  It’s a bit of work to say the least.  But, now I let the bread machine do the work.  You’ll need to “trick it” to get the job done but it does an excellent job.  A stand mixer would perform equally well not doubt – as long as it can handle making heavy bread dough.

So, what’s the “trick”?  Well, a standard bread machine cycle won’t kneed the dough well enough – so you need to put it through the initial mixing and kneading cycle a few times.  I usually find it’s three cycles on my double paddle machine – but your mileage may vary.  But the result you want to achieve is the same slightly shiny stretchy dough.

Whole wheat naan on baking sheet

Whole wheat naan on baking sheet

Apart from the need to put the bread machine on the dough cycle and reset it twice – allowing it to continue with the full dough cycle on the third go – making awesome whole wheat naan is easy and fast.  It’s a great way to accompany Indian food such as the slow-cooker butter chicken we posted.  Like the butter chicken you can prepare your naan dough the day before and if you don’t bake it right away you can put it in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator until you roll it out and bake it the next evening, so the two make a great pair – folks won’t believe you didn’t take the day off to slave in the kitchen when you put a meal like this in-front of them.

Finally, there are a bunch of ways to bake your naan.   You can do it on a skillet or frypan on the stove top – flipping it over to finish both sides,  you can make it in the pizza oven, or you can bake it on an overturned cookie sheet either in the oven or on the gas bbq.  I usually favor the oven method since it allows me to bake the half dozen naan all at once, rather than doing one or two at a time.  You still will need to flip them over halfway thorough the baking process even in the oven.   The actual baking time is under ten minutes total.

In the time that it takes me to roll out the naan, the oven to heat up to temperature and the naan to then bake is just about what it takes for the rice to finish cooking and the table to be prepped – a pretty efficient meal plan all told.

Give it a try and you’ll be all smiles.  Click on the show title for the full recipe.

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Building a Grain Mill – Easy as Pie

Build a grain mill

Build a grain mill

As easy as pie – just a bit longer to realize the result.  Seriously. Really.  You just need the right tools (which are reasonably priced) and to gain some insight into how to pull everything together with smart techniques.

Not really much different than baking a pie – and there are lots of folks who are seriously intimidated by the thought of pulling together a great pie crust and that perfect filling.

But, that’s why cookbooks and cooking shows are so popular – they provide both guidance and the insight into the techniques needed to effectively convert the ingredients into the finished product.  Once you’ve done it once that initial hurdle of getting those techniques down is breached and going from making an apple pie to a peach torte is comparatively a breeze.  That’s no different with metal working – get a handle on how to pull one project off and you’ll be well on your way to having the skills and confidence to pull off much more complex projects.

In terms of how high that bar to entry is – with modern power tools it really isn’t much more difficult than baking that pie in a home oven.  Wire feed welders are not only easy to master but also low cost – as I write this Harbor Freight has their welders on for $110 for the smaller unit to $180 for the midsized one that I adore.  Their angle grinders start at $20 for a 4 1/2″ “heavy duty” one that will do for the work you have to carry out on the project to $45 for a versatile 7″ unit all the way to $65 for a top of the line 9″ unit – but those prices are all before you apply the 20% off coupons that always seem to be floating around.  Another $20 will get you the needed drill.

Homebuilt Grain Mill, Tortilla Press and the required tools

Homebuilt Grain Mill, Tortilla Press and the required tools

Add in the consumables and hand tools and even if you are starting your shop from scratch you’ll be able to buy the tools and the materials needed for the grain mill build and have money left over compared to buying a comparable mill with 6″ diameter burrs.

Now the economics of building your own tortilla press isn’t nearly as compelling – but if you’ve got the tools… well then building it is a breeze.

Of course, the prime advantage in my opinion isn’t the grain mill, or the tortilla press, ore even the nicely equipped shop – but the change in perspective that you’ll gain once you’ve seen how achievable these metal working projects are.  That shift will see you empower your independence, and that

is really cool – especially with a slice of pie.