May
30

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Whole Wheat Apple Braid

If you make bread you quickly come to understand just how versatile a good standard dough, such as this whole wheat bread recipe, can be.

Whole Wheat Apple Braid

Whole Wheat Apple Braid

You can make bread of course, but we’ve also covered how you can turn it into standard buns, and fancy buns, cinnamon buns, bagels, pizza, and now fruit braids.

One of the reasons why this is such an attractive proposition in my mind is that I can produce a single batch of bread dough and split it to produce two very different products… usually something like buns and then something sweet, and fruit braids are a great option to keep in your baking pocket.

Apple Braid right out of the oven

Apple Braid right out of the oven

Really you roll out the dough divide it into thirds, and cut the outer two segments so that they can be braided over the fruit mounded in the center.

In my house the fruit filling often is apples and cinnamon with a bit of sugar in large part because I tend to harvest and process so many apples.

Give it a try when you next make a batch of bead dough.

 

 

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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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Simple Whole Wheat Pizza

Everybody loves a great pizza.  Making them at home can save you a ton of money.  I fill my freezer with mozzarella  when stores advertise it at a lost leader price – here it’s usually $4 for a half pound bar.  There’s always lots of pepperoni – home cured from the offcuts I accumulate from doing butcher work.  There’s even plenty of tomato sauce if fresh tomatoes aren’t available and our homemade sauce has run out.

Homemade whole wheat pizza slice

Homemade whole wheat pizza slice

While you can use a much simpler recipe for pizza dough especially if you are using high gluten durum flour, when I use full extraction whole wheat I often tend to default to my tried and true baler twine whole wheat bread dough – which allows me to make a full batch and split it for buns, cinnamon rolls or something similar for the next day if I only want a single pizza.

This dough gives a nice chewy crust.  Load it up with toppings and you’ll get the pizza you want at a fraction of the price of delivery or even store bought frozen product.

 

 

 

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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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Rhubarb Custard Pie

My rhubarb patch

My rhubarb patch

Rhubarb is a great plant to have in your garden and deserts made from it serve as an awesome culinary awakening for deserts to be offered up fresh from the new season. It’s such an easy perennial crop to have that you should be growing it.

There are so many great options for deserts and preserves using rhubarb but this has to be my favorite.  In fact it’s what I made with today’s first harvest of rhubarb.  The sweet richness of the custard combines so wonderfully with the bite from the rhubarb it’s an absolute delight.

Rhubarb custard pie components ready for assembly

Rhubarb custard pie components ready for assembly

I used whole wheat pie shells, but you could use shells made with white flour or purchased if necessary (but really, if you can bake something like this, and certainly if you grow some of your own food you should consider building a grain mill for yourself – it’s well within your capacity)

Even better this recipe can be whipped together in only a minute or two.  Click on the post title for the full recipe.


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Whole Wheat Pie Crusts

You might reject the idea of using whole wheat flour for pie shells and other sweet products.  That would be short sighted.  Whole grain flours add wonderful flavor that is missing from white flour where all the flavor has been removed.

A few amendments need to be made to account for the lesser ratio of gluten compared to recipes which feature white flour, but these are easily done.

Whole wheat pie crust rolled out on parchment paper

Whole wheat pie crust rolled out on parchment paper

I know a lot of folks are intimidated by the prospect of making pastry, and it can be a challenge to roll out and transfer the crust into the pie shell.  While you can chill the dough to make it easier to roll out an even easier way to get the job done is to roll out the crust on parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.  Then place a pie tin on top of the crust, slip a hand under the parchment or silicon sheet and flip everything over, then gently peel the parchment from the crust.

If you have any breaks fix those by pressing the crust together with your fingers and trim the crust that overhangs the pie tin.

This recipe yields about five 9″ pie shells – if you make a double crust pie you’ll use two crusts.


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Philly Cheese Steak on Whole Wheat

Whole Wheat Bread in French Loaf Pan

Whole Wheat Bread in French Loaf Pan

Some ingredients make wonderful combinations – steak and cheese is just one such marriage that yields dividends for the taste buds, combine roasted sweet peppers and caramelized onions on a hearty whole wheat loaf and you have a meal that will see you cooking extra steak just so that your next meal can be this great combo.

Toasted Whole Wheat Cheese Steak

Toasted Whole Wheat Cheese Steak

My favorite bread to support a sandwich of this scale is my standard whole wheat baler twine bread – but made as dough and then laid out in a double french loaf pan.  These pans are great – making it easy to get a great loaf.

Let your steak cool to reabsorb the juices before you slice it.  I like to use the broiler to melt and brown the cheese, and of course make sure you’ve got loads of onions and sweet peppers.

 

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Whole wheat breads – dough moisture levels

So it’s probably pretty obvious that I grind a lot of whole grain flours and do a considerable volume of baking with them.  I’ve learned a couple of secrets over time.

1. You need fine flour to get something that is acceptable quality, you can do that on the home built grain mill or a good quality one you purchase.

2. You need a really good recipe to make a whole wheat breads that is something folks will be happy eating day after day.

3. You need to ensure there is adequate moisture in the dough at when it is just starting out to compensate for the slower

Desired moisture level in whole wheat dough at the start of the cycle

Desired moisture level in whole wheat dough at the start of the cycle

absorption of the liquid into the whole wheat flour.  This is something I always monitor at the start of the bread machine cycle and add water as necessary to achieve the consistency I am looking for.  While the consistency is always the same the amount of water can vary depending upon the moisture content in the flour and things like the size of the eggs.

You want the dough at the start of the cycle to look considerably more moist than you would want to achieve with a white dough.

I shot a video to give you a better idea of what you are looking to achieve.

 

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Egg ‘n Ham Breakfast Bagels – breakfast on the go done right

Let’s give credit where credit is due.  Fast food gets loads of flack including the blame for making folks fat.  But consider that McDonalds – the quintessential fast food chain has been around for decades – including a whack load of time during which folks were in pretty good shape.  No question the portion size has a bunch to do with it as well as the frequency of a patron’s visit – but those are in the full dominion of the patron.

Ham and Egg breakfast bagel - whole wheat

Ham and Egg breakfast bagel – whole wheat

OK, so  where am I going with this – well to some of the fast food breakfast offerings.  Not only did the introduction of these mark a capital utilization and financial breakthrough for the fast food joints but also in many respects created many new food  items in the form of breakfast sandwiches.  Moreover, those breakfast sandwiches are great!

But just like you can make a better burger at home you can also upgrade the breakfast sandwiches by making them chez vous.  In my home I know that whenever I make up a batch of whole wheat bagels (which are so simple that you need to try them now) I had better have cream cheese and a fillet of our home smoked salmon or trout as well as eggs so that I can make bagels with lox and then breakfast egg bagels if any last to the next morning.  Failure to properly plan ahead – or at least warn the other occupants of the house that some component is missing (usually we’ve eaten though all of the smoked salmon) – will trigger a cascade of complaints.  And this is for something that is whole grain and pretty healthy no less.

So what are you waiting for?  Take the food you love from out there and make it better at home – starting with whole wheat bagel breakfast sandwiches.

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Whole Wheat Bagels Made Simple

I think one of the most common afflictions that touch our society is not obesity – though that is certainly a concern, but rather “over-complication-itis”.  OK, so maybe the medical community won’t be adding this affliction to their standard list of diagnoses but that doesn’t mean it isn’t prevalent, nor that it isn’t serious.   So, how would you diagnose someone suffering from “over-complication-itis” – well it’s simple…  or rather it is an individual who lacks the ability to see simplicity.  More precisely, an individual who lacks the ability to examine and break down processes that lead to final products into their simple components.

Brunch - fresh whole wheat bagels with smoked salmon accompanied by asparagus

Brunch – fresh whole wheat bagels with smoked salmon accompanied by asparagus

These bagels provide a case study.  Bagels are awesome, but I bet if you asked most folks who buy them – even those who purchase them from shops that make them right in front of the customer if they could make them – they’d balk at the suggestion.  The complexity exists only in their minds.

 

If you’ve been following these posts we’ve shown our favorite tried and true bread recipe,  we then showed how to take the same recipe and use the dough to make some awesome buns – by forming the dough and baking it in the oven, bagels just add one step to the buns – boiling the formed dough before baking.  That’s it.  Really, no need for a wood fired oven, no need for a food science degree or even to convert to Judaism.  Those things might help but if you make them personal prerequisites you might as well check yourself into an institution with “over-complication-itis” because you won’t be checking out all of the opportunities that exits out here in the real world.

For those of you that haven’t dialed 911, click on the headline for the simple recipe instructions.

Oh, and the solution for obesity – eat reasonable amounts of good food – like these fresh whole wheat bagels and engage in physical activity.