Jan
24

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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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Steamed Whole Wheat Chinese Buns

whole wheat buns in steamer

whole wheat buns in steamer

Sometimes it can be a challenge to get light and airy buns when baking with whole extraction whole wheat flour – but steaming makes it a breeze.  These buns are the perfect thing to stuff with slow cooked pulled pork or other meat filling.  Give them a try and you’ll be sure to add them to your baking repertoire on a regular basis.

Try to get the freshest whole wheat flour you can manage.  Home ground is best but otherwise look for a supplier that can ensure the flour hasn’t been sitting around for a while.  But, if you can pull off this recipe (and you can) you can build your own grain mill using these instructions.


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The Best Slow-cooker Butter Chicken

Chicken and onions cut up

Chicken and onions cut up

Ok, so “the best” is a pretty high standard given I’ve been able to have a lot of butter chicken over the years – but this is it.  What’s even better is it is dead simple to prepare and it’s a slow-cooker recipe so you’ll be able to walk away in the morning knowing you’ll return at meal time to a fantastic meal ready to serve in the 20 minutes or so that it takes to prep the rice and naan.

I usually do the little prep work that is required the night before put everything into the slow-cooker crock and then slide that into the fridge.  Before I leave in the morning it’s as simple as putting the crock into the slow-cooker and turning it on low.  That’s it, and that’s part of why I love it.

Butter chicken ingredients in the slow cooker

Butter chicken ingredients in the slow cooker

The prep the evening before is easy enough – and usually gets done while a show or video plays in the background.  Cut up your chicken and onions and fry them up on medium heat until the onions are translucent.  While you are doing this you can put the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker and mix and stir in the chicken, onions and butter when those are ready.  If this is a night before prep then the whole slowcooker pot gets put into the fridge overnight – and pulled out in the morning to be put on low for the eight to ten hours that you are off working or living.   It can also be prepared faster on the high setting which cuts the time just over half – to 5 to 6 hours.

The work is little but the results won’t betray that.  Even picky eaters will be salivating at the prospect of this meal – and the leftovers the next day will make your classroom or office mates jealous.

Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed!

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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Whole Grain Waffles – Barley Flour

Waffles are decidedly the high class alternative to the pedestrian pancakes.  Sure,  they are slower to produce but they are a great treat for a breakfast or brunch.

Breakfast fixings, barley flour waffles, strawberries, bacon and maple syrup

Breakfast fixings, barley flour waffles, strawberries, bacon and maple syrup

While a variety of whole grain flours can be used to pull these healthy waffles together my favorite is unquestionably barley.  There’s a sweetness to barley that plays perfectly in this recipe – and by that I mean you’ll be hard pressed to make enough to satisfy the crowd at your table.

You may be hard pressed to find barley flour in your local grocery store – it will probably take a trip to a specialty retailer if you don’t have your own grain mill.  If that’s the case why not consider building a grain mill  – it isn’t much more complex than the baking you are already doing,  just in a different domain.

That said,  like all whole grain products it will fill you up and keep you going – you won’t be getting hunger pangs mid-morning after a hearty breakfast where these are featured.

So oil up your waffle iron, get it heated up and get ready to wow with these whole barley flour waffles.

Click on the post title for the full recipe.


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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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Barley flour super fudgey brownies

Super chocolaty brownies  made with whole barley flour

Super chocolaty brownies made with whole barley flour

These brownies are crazy awesome good.  Frankly they are soooo chocolaty that it masks most (but not all) of the sweet nuttiness that I love from the whole barley flour.  These are really really good, and so quick to prepare that you’ll be able to whip them up and have them in the oven in under five minutes – washing your bowl will take as long as the prep.

This recipe is also a great one to hand to new bakers (of all ages).  Unlike cookies which are fun but can be a bit time consuming these brownies are pretty close to instant gratification and there is really little chance of it being screwed up.

If you have younger bakers you might find the mixing a bit of a challenge with a wooden spoon.  Pick up some Danish Whisks and the kids will be able to do all of the mixing themselves.  Once you’ve got them in your kitchen drawer they will end up being your default mixing tool they are that good.

Give these a go.


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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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Easy Whole Wheat English Muffins

English muffins rising in homemade rings

English muffins rising in homemade rings

I always find it cool how changing even a single variable can significantly change the outcome.  That is as true in baking as it is in many other domains.

English muffins are a great example of this.  They are just regular bread dough that is cooked on the griddle rather than baked in the oven… simple enough right – but would you have guessed how easy their preparation was before now?

Certainly they are sold in stores at a premium – but you can turn them out easily at home.

Whole wheat English Muffins in the frypan

Whole wheat English Muffins in the frypan

English muffin rings are certainly not necessary, and personally I would never have purchased them.  Rather I have two dozen that I made up from salvaged stainless steel sheets.  They are nice in that they give uniform muffins, but the real reason I enjoy using them is that I get a kick out of having fabricated them myself from scrap.

 

Click on the title post for the instructions.

 

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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.