May
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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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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Loaf

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Loaf

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Loaf

This loaf will blow your socks off it is awesome good.  Yet like any other quick bread this is a breeze to whip up taking only moments worth of prep work.  In addition to the whole grain it features an abundance of pumpkin – pumpkin is strangely in short supply in many loaves, that’s not the case here.  As well, the sugar content isn’t as high as other loaves – and with the richness of the pumpkin and spice flavor you don’t miss the lesser amount of sugar.  In my case I use my home canned pumpkin cubes which only need to be mashed up with a fork.

If you like pumpkin and do whole grain baking this is a recipe you need to try.  I am sure it will become one of your favorites.

Click on the post 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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Spiced Peach Jam

A bowl full of peaches - try to resist snacking.

A bowl full of peaches – try to resist snacking.

There is just something special about this jam – capturing that rich summer flavor with the hint of spice that melds so nicely with the sweet peach.  It is the next best thing to biting into a perfectly ripe summer peach – with the advantage you can enjoy it year round.

I often find peaches come on sale for a crazy low price towards the end of the season.  They arrive in store as hard as baseballs but in a day or two they will have all softened up with some even skipped juicy and gone straight to rotting.  Toss those ones into the compost pile and get ready to work like crazy to process the remainder.

Homemade Pectin for jam

Homemade Pectin for jam making

As jam is able to be processed in a boiling water bath you aren’t going to need expensive kit to put this bounty away, a rack that can fit in the bottom of a pot deep enough to submerge your resealable jars and a canning jar gripper will suffice – but you won’t regret spending a few extra dollars to pick up a canning funnel at the same time.  The latter will cut down on mess and by helping to keep the rim of the jar clean will reduce the incidences of failure to seal.

Mason Jars of Peach Jam

Mason Jars of Peach Jam

The first step is to remove the skins of the peaches – I like to put the peach in a pot of boiling water, then using a slotted spoon remove it and put it in cold water for a few seconds to cool.  Get the timing right and with a slit from a paring knife the skin will be quickly removed, and you can cut the now skinless peach into slices.

Since I usually have a lot of peaches to peel, I tend to peel them into a diluted lemon juice solution before removing them to either start processing right away or if time is limiting for refrigeration to process the next day.

 

 

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Easy Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

Once you’ve had homemade Graham Crackers you’ll have a hard time ever buying a box of commercial ones.  Now,  graham flour is just a particular coarseness of whole wheat flour so you’ll find the fine whole wheat flour you can grind on your own mill a perfect match with this recipe.

You’ll find loads of recipes for graham crackers that date to your grandmother’s time – and the resources she had in her kitchen.  They take a few extra steps that you can bypass making the production of these graham crackers faster and easier.

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Rolling graham crackers between silicon baking sheets speeds production

The key here is using silicon baking sheets.  The old way of rolling out the dough called for mixing and then chilling the dough for a half hour.  This hardens the butter which makes it less sticky when rolled out between the two sheets of parchment paper.  But,  silicon baking sheets are so much better that if you are using them you can skip the chilling step completely.  Simply roll out the dough between two of the sheets and then peel of the upper sheet.  At this point you can score the dough to lay out the cracker shapes, slide it onto a baking sheet and put it in the oven.

This recipe is enough to make about two dozen full graham crackers with a bunch of not quite full sized squared for crushing for use in pie crusts, and can be fitted on two baking sheets.  I usually double this, but then I’m usually into mass production.  That double recipe takes about a total of four sheets, which can be accomplished in two goes.

Click on the post title for the full recipe.

 

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Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies – Mini Baker Approved

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

These whole wheat sugar cookies can be whipped up in a few minutes, no fuss no muss – and they are great cookies.  The combination of the nutmeg with the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour makes for a great combination.  In fact, because of this no-nut nuttiness flavor they add great variety to the school lunchbox – and I’m assuming that if you have kids their schools is likely a nut free zone too.

Junior Baker engaged in cookie fabrication!

Junior Baker engaged in cookie fabrication!

Quick easy recipes like this are an awesome way to introduce the younger members of the family to the joys of cooking.  Get them hooked on this and other skills and you’ll probably give them a better foundation for a happy life than those “nut free” schools.

Combined with letting the kids go from whole grain to whole grain flours on the home built grain mill – that they can take apart and adjust – to cookies that go into their lunches and get offered up to friends and family with pride is such a cool way to demystify food.

 

 

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Apple spice loaf – with whole grain flour

Apple see a lot of use in my home.  Our fall harvests from the neighborhood trees in a good year can be substantial.  The best of these are kept for fresh eating, seconds are peeled, sliced and dried or  frozen for pies, apple braids and the like, those that are a bit softer get transformed into apple sauce that we can, and finally the really bruised ones get turned into apple cider on the homestead press.

Apple Spice Loaf with Barley Flour

Apple Spice Loaf with Barley Flour

So we end up using a lot of apple sauce through the season, and this apple spice loaf is one of my favorite recipes. It’s a quick loaf – so it honestly doesn’t take more than five minutes to mix the ingredients, put it into a silicon loaf pan (which means I don’t even need to take the time to butter and flour the pan) making it a cinch to pull together.  In spite of being so easy – it is a lovely loaf the blend of apple and spices is lovely.  While the loaf is a great accompaniment for a nice cup of tea or coffee it most often serves as a bread substitute in our lunches, adding variety to our brown bags.  Made with whole grain flour – and I usually use whole barley flour for quick breads – it fills you up and keeps you satiated.

I think this is a pretty good example of better living today – you get a great rich filling and wholesome loaf, add diversity to your meals that sees you content to skip the cafeteria line for lunches and uses some of the bounty around us.  It is also a great example of how easily all this can be pulled together.  It honestly takes more time to wash the bowl than it does to prepare the batter and slide it into the oven.

Of course, you don’t need to use your own apple sauce or even flour you’ve produced at home to get a very nice product.  So take five minutes to make this apple spice loaf and add some great baking to your lunches.


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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