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.
Fresh Oatmeal Barley Raisin cookies packed for a day of skiing
You know those cookies from the store, the “fresh like” ones that are soft and chewy and oh so good. I have a soft spot for the Oatmeal-Raisin ones. These ones trump those. They taste better, feature all whole grains, and can be whipped together in under ten minutes. They go together quickly, if you are doing it by hand try to grab a Danish Whisk – you won’t go back to a wooden soon after you’ve tried it – or they can be made with even less effort with a stand mixer if you have one.
I think cookies have an undeserved reputation in some folks mind that they are a hassle. I think a big part of that can be resolved by using silicon baking sheets. They pretty much guarantee that you won’t suffer from the burnt bottom syndrome and they are reusable for many years – my oldest ones have been around for about ten years and are just about at the point that they need to be retired.
This recipe uses whole barley flour milled in the Homestead Grain Mill but you could just as easily substitute whole wheat, rye, triticale or spelt flour.
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.
Try 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
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
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.
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.
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.
Kids and cookies – a great way to get them hooked on baking
The “Bigger is better” school of thought isn’t always true, but at least where cookies and kids are concerned it carries a pretty strong appeal.
While a lot of cookie recipes have difficulty scaling up from the average to the jumbo to the ginormous this one is perfect for building the bigger cookie – so big in fact that you should be using pizza pans to bake them in.
Wedges of the giant whole grain cookie – before gobbling
This basic cookies is great on its own – or toss in a cup or two of chocolate chips, smarties or chopped nuts.
If you’ve got kids who are baking with you this is an easy recipe to get them excited about playing around in the kitchen. If your junior baker has trouble mixing the batter with a wooden spoon consider picking up a danish whisk which speeds mixing while reducing the effort required to a fraction of that a wooden spoon.
Using either whole wheat or whole barley flour is a great option for these cookies. Give them a try with your junior baker or to satiate your own inner junior baker.
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!
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.
I grew up picking blueberries around our cottage in Northern Ontario… and not just picking a sour cream container worth to get enough to sprinkle on cereal in the morning but rather enough to fill freezers with blue bounty to last until the next season.
I still pick large amounts of blueberries, I’ve become pretty practiced and can usually out pick the other members of my family and now I have my kids along with me – learning to be comfortable in the bush, as well as gaining an understanding of the lasting reward that hard work can bring through a year of blueberries in baking.
These blueberry muffins call for whole barley flour – my preferred whole grain flour for sweet quick breads, I find the taste sweeter than whole wheat flour. Given I also like to diversify the grains in my diet this is also a good means of achieving that. But, if you don’t have access to whole barley flour substitute whole wheat.
Enjoy these, and if you can get out picking take some time to sit in the bush, let your hands do the work while your mind gets to ponder over the issues of the day.
Whole barley flour works wonderfully in a host of baked goods – in most cases I prefer it to whole wheat flour for cookies and sweet quick breads – and so does my junior baker.
You might have a bit of trouble finding whole barley flour unless you mill it yourself, but that is one of the advantages of having your own mill.
Barley flour peanut butter cookies ready for the oven
While I know that these could be scaled down to bite sized if you engage the junior baker the cookies are always going to be jumbo sized. It’s not every cookie that will scale up nicely – but these do just fine, and you can adjust the baking time to suit the level of chewiness you desire – from wonderfully chewy to crisp.
Cookies are probably the greatest reason to get and use silicon baking sheets – they practically banish cookies with burnt bottoms, so don’t waste your ingredients or effort by forgoing its acquisition.
So, whether you have a junior baker or not these are great PB cookies so make yourself a batch.