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.
From time to time you’ll see the fast food chains advertise a special promotion featuring pretzel buns. They are great with hamburgers but where they shine in particular in my opinion with bbq chicken breast.
Pretzel buns formed ready to boil
Now, you’ll seldom if ever see pretzel buns in the grocery – they just don’t keep very well. The good news though is that they are really easy to make at home – and you can’t get fresher than that!
If you’ve make bagels at home – and you should – making pretzel buns is pretty much the same process.
The key for that great and characteristic crust is to boil the raised buns in a basic water solution before baking – an easy way to go is with baking soda – but I use wood ash (lye) because the wood fired pizza oven I have keeps me in loads of wood ash, and I need it around anyway for making massa for homemade tortillas.
So, easy, simple, quick – and since they are best consumed within a day or so after baking are ideally suited to making in your own kitchen. Of course, I’m making these with home ground whole wheat flour, but if you don’t yet have your own mill commercial flour will do.
This has got to be one of my favorite loaves – great for sandwiches and just begging to be toasted and topped with some buckwheat honey.
One of the great things about having a grain mill is that it provides you with a big range of flour options for baking – wheat, corn, rye, barley, oat, triticale, spelt, and more can be purchased cheap from farm stores in 50# bags and stored for the long haul either in the bag themselves or in 45 gallon drums to be ground as you need. That makes producing “artisanal” loaves such as this light rye a breeze and a cheap one at that.
Sourdough rye bread ready for the oven
With a bit of tang from the sourdough and the full extraction rye flour cut with some white this loaf is an easy sell for most folks.
Even better, while it takes a bit more forethought the actual time required to work the loaf is minimal – especially if you have a stand mixer.
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.
Butter toffee has to be one of the best candies out there – growing up I had a mild addiction to Macintosh toffee – if I had the choice between a candy bar and one of the Mack tartan box I’d jump at the hard and chewy later option every time. Corporate consolidation saw the Canadian version I had in my childhood disappear a while ago, and while a modern version came back out after a few years it just doesn’t measure up in my view. Fortunately homemade butter toffee has to be one of the easiest candies to produce in your own kitchen. Simple ingredients, quick to produce and no pulling required.
So if you’ve missed that original tartan candy or never experienced it – give this recipe a try.
Marshmallows likely strike most folks today as some complex food that must contain several dozen compounds with long and complex names able to be made only in complex factories. The reality is exactly the opposite – marshmallows are simple and easy to produce at home. Moreover, you can make some great flavoured marshmallows – such as these peppermint ones that are the perfect accompaniment for hot chocolate.
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.
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.
Often things that appear intimidating the the uninitiated are a breeze to pull off for those that know a few tricks. It’s that way with so many things including many in the kitchen. Wonton wrappers are one of these.
I think most folks who’ve eaten spring rolls, pot stickers, egg rolls or wonton soup would dismiss the idea that they could produce so thin a dough at home.
Yet, it actually extremely easy to get great results – and do so quickly – using whole wheat flour to boot!
Rolling out wonton wrappers – it’s easy to get them thin if you are patient.
There are a couple of tricks to making the process easy. The first, as is the case with our whole wheat bread we want to add a bit of acid – in this case white vinegar – to make the gluten stretchier. Whole extraction flours have a lower ratio of gluten to the rest of the flour since we’ve got all of the germ and bran mixed in.
Now like the song lyrics you “can’t rush love” or was that “can’t buy love” you actually might be able to do both but you can’t rush making wonton wrappers. A good rest is required after the first kneed to allow the gluten to strengthen – I generally prefer to make the dough, bag it in a ziplock, place it in the fridge and come back to roll it out the next day.
Now you can do all the rolling out with only a stout rolling pin, but if you have a pasta machine – and you should – this will really speed up the process.
The final secret is corn starch and the liberal application of it when rolling out the dough. Forget flour, corn starch is it.
Now this recipe forms quite a few wrappers;about three dozen give or take, but the great news is that the wrappers refrigerate and freeze well, so you can make a big batch and freeze what you don’t need right away for another meal – and there will be many more meals featuring these as soon as folks try them. If you want to keep folks thinking you’re some kind of genius for mastering these I promise I won’t whisper to them how easy it really was, then again, maybe just being willing to try something new and seemingly daugnting qualifies you as a minor genius….
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.