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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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Whole Wheat Apple Fritters – Fall Fantastic

DSC06000Try these and it will forever ruin your experience with donut shop fritters, they are awesome.  Now, they aren’t quite as easy as just tossing the ingredients for bread into the bread machine and walking away, but if you have a handle on the processing steps they don’t take that much more time and the result at the end of the process is well worth it.

Start by making the whole wheat dough.  This is a rich sweet dough that is oh so sticky.  As such it’s best mixed in a stand mixer or in the bread machine on the dough cycle.

Apple fritter filing

Apple fritter filing

While the dough is going through the cycle – which takes about an hour and a half – prepare your apple filling.  If you can choose apples with a crisp firm flesh – those hold together best – but I find I’m often grabbing bags of softer fleshed apples we’ve gleaned and put down.  Irrespective of the type of apple don’t cook them into a mush – you just want to soften them and get them to absorb some of the cinnamon caramel greatness.

When rolling out the dough make sure your work surface is well floured to keep the dough from sticking.   Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick, and then put the apple mixture on one half and fold the other segment over the filling.

Cut up dough and filling ready for forming

Cut up dough and filling ready for forming

Now, in order to get that structure of dough and apple that fritters are known for you need to chop the material up cut on the diagonal about 3/4″ apart, and then cut the opposite diagonal in the other direction.  Then take a scoop of the cut up dough and apple mix and firm it into a solid ball about 1″ thick.

Allow the fritters to double in bulk and then fry them up.  When they are still warm dip one side in the glaze you can make up while the fritters are rising.

My favorite glaze is made using my homemade apple cider syrup which really punches up the apple flavor, but maple syrup or vanilla are also great options.


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Whole Wheat Potato Bread

I enjoy making this bread whenever I have leftover mashed potatoes that need to be used up.  BUT, I will make mashed potatoes specifically to be used in this bread when I’m going to be making toasted bacon and tomato sandwiches.

Toasted Bacon and Tomato Sandwich on Whole Wheat Potato Bread

Toasted Bacon and Tomato Sandwich on Whole Wheat Potato Bread

Fundamentally all we are doing is swapping a cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of mashed potatoes from our standard whole wheat bread recipe.

The mashed potatoes do a couple of things.  First off since they don’t contain gluten we get a somewhat denser bread.  I say somewhat because it is nowhere as dense as a rye, triticale, spelt or barley loaf.  The reduction in gluten is to some extent mitigated by the easily converted starches that give the yeast an extra boost.  At the same time we get a moister loaf.  The combination makes for a great toasting bread – and great toast is the foundation of a great bacon and tomato sandwich!

Originally potato bread was used to stretch more expensive wheat flour but today the bread merits being included in your baking rotation on its own merits alone.  That said,  it remains a great way to put that little bit of mashed potatoes remaining after some meals to good use in your daily bread!

Click on the post title for the full recipe.


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Whole wheat cinnamon buns

Bread Dough rolled out, oiled and spinkled with sugar and cinnamon and ready to be rolled up

Bread Dough rolled out, oiled and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and ready to be rolled up

It’s telling that a whole franchise – and a rather successful on at that – can be built on one very narrow product – cinnamon buns.  I guess, upon further reflection I guess that isn’t so unique, but it may be a bit telling as to how easily many of us part with cash that we’d be willing to pay such a premium for what is really a very simple bread product.

If you haven’t made cinnamon buns at home you should.  The process is really very simple – and the bread machine takes all of the real effort out of the process.

This is one more case where silicon bakeware really shines.  Cleanup of any sugary “leakage” from the buns is easily snacked on or washed up.

Cinnamon buns ready for second rise before going in the oven

Cinnamon buns ready for second rise before going in the oven

 

For soft sided buns put the dough into a pan so that when doubled in bulk the buns contact each other, if you want harder outer crusts place them on a baking sheet with separation between the buns.

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Whole Wheat Bagels Made Simple

I think one of the most common afflictions that touch our society is not obesity – though that is certainly a concern, but rather “over-complication-itis”.  OK, so maybe the medical community won’t be adding this affliction to their standard list of diagnoses but that doesn’t mean it isn’t prevalent, nor that it isn’t serious.   So, how would you diagnose someone suffering from “over-complication-itis” – well it’s simple…  or rather it is an individual who lacks the ability to see simplicity.  More precisely, an individual who lacks the ability to examine and break down processes that lead to final products into their simple components.

Brunch - fresh whole wheat bagels with smoked salmon accompanied by asparagus

Brunch – fresh whole wheat bagels with smoked salmon accompanied by asparagus

These bagels provide a case study.  Bagels are awesome, but I bet if you asked most folks who buy them – even those who purchase them from shops that make them right in front of the customer if they could make them – they’d balk at the suggestion.  The complexity exists only in their minds.

 

If you’ve been following these posts we’ve shown our favorite tried and true bread recipe,  we then showed how to take the same recipe and use the dough to make some awesome buns – by forming the dough and baking it in the oven, bagels just add one step to the buns – boiling the formed dough before baking.  That’s it.  Really, no need for a wood fired oven, no need for a food science degree or even to convert to Judaism.  Those things might help but if you make them personal prerequisites you might as well check yourself into an institution with “over-complication-itis” because you won’t be checking out all of the opportunities that exits out here in the real world.

For those of you that haven’t dialed 911, click on the headline for the simple recipe instructions.

Oh, and the solution for obesity – eat reasonable amounts of good food – like these fresh whole wheat bagels and engage in physical activity.

 

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The Best Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

Shifting from producing loaves of bread with a tried and true recipe to hamburger buns (or dinner rolls for that matter) is as simple as can be.  Fundamentally we are only reshaping the dough and then baking it in the oven rather than allowing the bread machine pan to define the shape and the machine to do the baking for us.

The taste of summer -  a burger with all the fixings piled high on a toasted whole wheat bun

The taste of summer – a burger with all the fixings piled high on a toasted whole wheat bun

Whole wheat buns are a great combination with burgers – instead of squishing into thin disk of wheat paste they hold their shape without being too dense and add a heartiness to a burger that just isn’t there with store bought fare.  Baking your own not only provides unrivaled freshness but also allows you to determine the size of the buns… Baby buns for the wee folks, mama buns or even the papa buns that hold the largest burgers.

The process is so easy that you can’t go wrong and after you’ve had these you won’t want to return to store bought fare so get some fresh whole wheat flour and get baking.

Here we are using the standard Baler-Twine bread recipe, but setting the machine on the dough cycle instead of the bread cycle.  If your machine’s dough cycle stops after the first rise reset it to the dough cycle and let the machine kneed the dough again before shutting it off and removing the dough.

Click title post for the full recipe.


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“Baler-twine” whole wheat bread

Some items are inherently useful and end up serving all manner of roles, duct tape is one and for those closer to farm operations baler twine is another.

The whole wheat bread recipe is just that in my household  – the go-to staple that forms the basis of so many other yeast risen baked goods.  Given how versatile this recipe is, and in homage to the farmers that produce so much of our food I’ve named it my “baler-twine whole wheat bread”.

Sliced "baler twine" whole wheat bread

Sliced “baler twine” whole wheat bread

The reason it’s become so popular in our household is that you give nothing up in comparison to commercial breads.  It rises just as nicely as white bread which I am sure is one of the features which has made it so popular with everyone.

The effective leavening I am sure is attributable to a few factors, including the inclusion of eggs and vinegar, the reduction in salt and the increase in sugar – which both encourage yeast production and make up for the reduction in the relative proportion of gluten in the whole extraction flour compared to white flours.

The other factor here is without a doubt the fineness of the flour grind.  As discussed previously if you want to produce fine grade baking you can’t start by using coarse flour.  So make sure that whether you are using a Homestead grain mill you’ve built for yourself or a mill you’ve purchased you put the extra effort and time into ensuring the flour you are baking with is ground exceptionally fine.

Closeup of "baler twine" whole wheat bread - note the fine structure

Closeup of “baler twine” whole wheat bread – note the fine structure

While you can certainly use this recipe to make bread by hand I always use a bread machine.  The only other item – beyond the fineness of the flour grind to take note of is the need to have the dough achieve a comparatively moist consistency at the beginning of the cycle relative to white breads since the whole grain flour takes longer to absorb the moisture.

Give this recipe a whirl and I think you’ll find that not only will you not feel the need to go back to store bought or homemade white breads but that your family and friends won’t want you to either.

Click on the post title for the recipe.

 

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Whole Wheat Hot Crossed Buns

Like so many seasonal or holiday baked goods hot crossed buns can be prepared any time of the year.  It’s not like the bakery gremlins are going to jump out from behind the wheat barrel and confiscate “unseasonal” baking.  But, all the same, there is something to be said about allowing traditions and the flow of the seasons to prompt us to mix up our culinary repertoire.

Let Easter (or now) serve as the reason to mix up your baking by preparing a batch of hot crossed buns.  If you can make buns you can make hot crossed buns – the only difference is the addition of a few spices to our standard whole wheat yeast bread recipe along with a cup of raisins added just before the dough is kneaded for the second time.  When the buns have cooled they get a tiny bit of icing.  That’s it.  Simple, easy, fast and a delicious difference.   Make a batch and the bakery gremlins who make these disappear will end up being your family members.

Click on the title for the recipe details


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Simple whole grain whole wheat bread recipe

This has been my pretty much my standard do it all whole wheat bread recipe for years.  While this bread has all the health benefits of fresh 100% extraction whole wheat flour you don’t need to sell it on that basis – it tastes good.

I don’t think many folks would accuse me of being too caught up with sticking to recipes.  In fact when developing and trialing ones to relay here I have to force myself to measure and record.  That is due in part to my experience that most baking is fairly forgiving.  The most critical element usually is ensuring the moisture level is correct.

If you are new to baking with whole grain flours be aware that they take longer to absorb liquid, and depending upon the moisture level in the grain you may need to adjust the volume of liquid in your recipe.   I always look to achieve what would for white flour be considered a bit too wet (but not soupy) a dough when the dough ball is first formed by the machine.  This seems to end up being just about the right amount of liquid to make a nice loaf.

Click on the title to get the full recipe.