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.
Nothing quite says summer like burgers, sausages or hotdogs on the grill or roasted over a fire. But damn, if the food isn’t becoming pricey! It seems like only a couple of years ago hot dogs were 99 cents for a dozen nice ones. Now even the cheap ones are twice that when they come on sale.
If you want to skip right to the fantastic whole wheat hot dog recipe just click on the post title now.
Hot dog buns risen and ready to go in the oven
Anyway, to be perfectly honest commercial hot dogs are only an occasional feature in our home, with homemade sausages being a more common feature – but for roasting over an open fire nothing quite beats hot dogs – so they occasionally find a place in our grocery order.
It’s not only the dog themselves that have climbed in price – the buns too are getting silly expensive – like $2.99 for eight!
Bun pan and the results
We routinely bake our own buns – generally whole wheat with the flour we grind on our homebuilt mill – which produces higher quality product at a fraction of the price. So when I saw a New England style hot dog pan on the King Arthur website for $30 bucks US I picked it up. I mean that’s less than 15 uses to more than pay it off.
The thing is built incredibly solidly. The silicon coating may eventually fail but the underlying steel is heavy enough to last for a few generations if taken care of – now that’s the type of investment I like! It also cuts prep time even more – simply form the dough into the pan and let it do it’s second rise in the pan then slide into the oven and that’s it – perfectly sized buns for hot dogs (or sausages!)
Now the instructions on the KA website call for putting a cookie sheet over the top of the pan – I’ve never bothered, the buns are a bit taller but I prefer the less dense feel.
All in all this is a great kitchen tool – if you are short cash just form buns individually, but if you can afford the investment I think you’ll be very pleased with it.
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.
There’s good reason why biscuits were an essential part of pioneer cooking fare – they are quick and easy to make, are incredibly versatile and especially when warm right from the oven – like most fresh baking – make any meal go from whatever to wow! They were the perfect tool for the busy pioneer wife to pull together to make her meals special. Not so surprisingly they fill that same role today just as well. Between work and school and a myriad of other things that fill our modern lives the busyness while different is likely often just as much of an issue today as it was a hundred years ago – so any modern baker – male or female, hitched or not – should have a good basic biscuit recipe to turn to in times of need. This happens to be a great and versatile one.
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….
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.
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
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.
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
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.