Saturday, March 27, 2010


I am so excited!  I actually got a loaf of bread, made with freshly milled flour, to raise well. (Doing the happy dance here!)  It turns out my problem may have been the wheat I have been using.  Although, wheat can be stored successfully for many years, older wheat may require kneading to develop its gluten.  At least that's my hypothesis at this point.  This loaf was made with white wheat that I just purchased this week.  (I plan to test this theory later by using my tried and true wheat bread recipe to see how it turns out with my stored wheat)
     Anyway, I am thrilled to finally have success with this method.  This carrot bread is a big hit around here.  It smelled so delicious as it was baking Hubby could hardly wait for it to cool enough to cut. The aroma just filled the house.  I used dried pineapple and Craisins for the dried fruit and pecans instead of walnuts. It is kind of a fun surprise- with the cinnamon and fruit you almost expect it to be a sweet bread, instead it is more like a flavorful raisin bread.  Although, I think it would make scrumptious cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese icing.  Think I will try that next time.  And, there will be a next time!  YUM

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pesto Sunflower Seed Bread

This bread is our favorite so far.  I did change it up a bit by substituting roasted sunflower seeds for the pine nuts simply because we happen to really like sunflower seeds and pine nuts are outrageously expensive right now.  Since I didn't have my own pesto, I used some that I found in a local farmer's market- It was an import from Italy and it looked and smelled divine.  (I did, however, plant 2 basil plants this weekend so I have big pesto making plans for later on this year.  And, I am on the hunt for a red basil plant too..  Yep, BIG plans!)
      Sadly, I am still fighting with this method trying to get it to raise properly.  My first loaf was an artisan type.  It did double in size but instead of rising vertically it simply spread out.  And, I didn't get the big 'oven spring' that I keep reading about. But the aroma was 'to die for' and hubby didn't seemed inclined to complain that it was flat.. his mouth was too full chewing!  LOL  This is one I know we will make often.
      Figuring if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I made the next two loaves in bread tins.  These came out so much better looking.  Someone suggested adding an extra cup of white flour.. think I may try that next time.  In the meantime, I will continue making these breads trying different things.. I love a good challenge!  Besides that they taste so good!!
      If you would like to see what others have done with this bread, I know Michelle would be delighted to have you visit our bread braid at Big Black Dog  Take some time to surf around her blog too- she has a site full of mouth-watering recipes!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Avocado/Guacamole Bread

This was the next recipe in our Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes bread group.  I would love to share the recipe, but can't, due to copyright issues.  Guess you'll just have to buy the book!  (Its a gem, I promise)  First of all, I have to say that this is really good tasting bread.  At least that's what Hubby tells me.  I made a few rolls with about 1/2 lb of this dough that he quickly devoured.  They had a great crumb and a nice chewy crust.  (You'll have to take my word for it, because they disappeared before I got a picture).  So.. that's the good news.
     The bad news is that I am still not getting a decent raise or oven spring.  I added a mashed potato to see if that would help and put in a little extra gluten.  My poor loaves still came out so flat they could pass for foccacia.  Rats!
     I've about decided it must be my oven because I gave some freshly milled flour to my daughter to try and she ended up with a beautiful loaf of Master Recipe bread.. So.. I will be testing my oven before I try the next recipe.
I refuse to get discouraged..I am going to figure this out if it kills me!  LOL
Anyway. since I have much better luck with my filled breads, I used up the last of my dough this morning to make a rolled bread (think cinnamon rolls) that I cut and baked in muffin tins.  The filling is something I just winged- pretty much just putting together things that sounded like they would go with avocados and tomatoes.
Mix together and spread over dough rolled out to a rectangle.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Pace Picante Sauce
Layer on top of sauce:
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1/2 onion, thinly sliced, and sauted in olive oil.
2/3 cup jalapeno Monterrey Jack cheese (reserve a little to put on top of rolls)
Roll tightly starting with the long side.  Cut roll in 12 pieces, place in thoroughly greased muffin tins. Sprinkle some more cheese on top of each roll. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.

These were a total hit for lunch.  Hubby loved them!
(By the way, please excuse the muffin tin.. it is a well used one I inherited from my mom.  Even though it looks dreadful, I have found the older, darkened tins cook more evenly.)  Looks aren't everything-!  :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I won!!

Michelle at Big Black Dogs sponsored a giveaway on her site this month for a five tray Nesco dehydrator.  She put all 350 names in a big bowl and pulled out.. MINE!

How cool is that??  Having never won anything before in my life, I'm so tickled to win something, but, especially, something this fun!  Many thanks to Michelle and Nesco.. Can hardly wait !

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love This Site!

I was surfing last night and stumbled across this fascinating site:  The Knead For Bread  I love the variety of breads... Every thing from Triple Onion and Bacon Buns to Carmelized Black Walnut Bread or Potato Sour Cream and Chive Bread plus some fun new ideas for forming dough.  The only sad thing is that the last entry was November of 2009 so its not an ongoing project.  Anyway, I had a grand time rummaging thru all the posts.. quite a few of their recipes went on my 'gotta try!' list.  Sigh.  So many recipes, so little time!

I'm still waiting for that avocado to ripen.. Oh, wait.  I just checked it again.  Its perfect!  I'm off to mix up some Avacodo-Guacamole Bread.. (doesn't that sound good??)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rosemary Grissini

Ok, so this Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil dough only lasts for 7 days in the fridge.  Today was day 7. I knew I had enough for another Foccacia and, since I still had some sauce and goat cheese left- that was a no brainer. Hubby LOVED that Southwest Foccacia!

But, I still had 1/2 pound left.  What to do, what to do... I know..  Make some Grissini!  (Isn't that a lovely name for skinny bread sticks?).  Actually, some Rosemary Grissini with fresh rosemary right out of my back yard. The directions say to roll the dough into a rectangle, 1/8" thick, then cut strips 1/8" wide, brush w/ olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and Kosher salt. I decided to brush with oil and sprinkle with rosemary before cutting..Just seemed to make more sense to me.  And, it worked fine.  The tricky part was transferring the dough to the parchment.. it was thin to start with, but it s-t-r-e-c-h-e-d as you moved it over.  Talk about a challenge getting those little critters moved before they stretched too far and broke!  You quickly get the idea that you have to move fast. (obviously, I should have rolled out the dough on the parchment in the first place.) My mom always said if there was a hard way to do it I would find it. LOL  Anyway, I finally got them situated on the parchment, sprinkled the salt on, and, into the oven they went.  Ohhh, the aroma!  My whole house smells divine! I think I may not have cooked them quite long enough though.  The recipe said they would crisp as they cooled and mine are still a little bendy in places.  But, they taste good (according to Hubby) so that's the important thing.  I will be really glad when this diet is over and I can taste these wonderful things coming out of my oven!  (I have a little cache of slices from the last 2 recipes frozen and waiting for me)  In the meantime, I will just enjoy the experience of making all these fun things and feast on the sights and smells.  YUM

I can hardly wait to try the Avocado Guacamole Bread that's coming up next!  In fact, I have an avocado ripening on my counter right now...

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Mixed Bag

I have an electric wheat grinder/bread mixer that I love. Its called a Mill and Mix and, sadly, they don't make them anymore.  For many years I made bread weekly with this handy friend.  However, when we moved overseas it didn't make the cut of things to take.. just too heavy.  So, it has been in storage for 10 years.  Now that we are back home it is good to have it cleaned up and functioning again. ( Have I mentioned before I LOVE wheat bread?  LOL)  Anyway, I find I'm having kind of a struggle figuring out how home-ground wheat flour works with HBin5.  Last week I made Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread and weighed the ingredients instead of measuring them.  The dough was WAY too wet.  (sorry, bad blogger- I forgot to take a picture)  The bread didn't raise very well and was kind of crumbly.  Soo....  this week our assignment was Whole Wheat Bread With Olive Oil.  I decided I would just measure the ingredients and see what happened.  Well, this time the dough was way too dry.  I got no raise at all during the initial 2 hours.  Okay.  I added water.  A cup and a half of water... maybe a bit more. A little improvement after another 2 hours. So, I put it in the fridge overnight.  Next morning, I decided I would try a loaf to see what would  happen.  Well, the results were disappointing, to say the least.  The heavy, 2" high brick I pulled out of the oven went straight into the garbage!! ERG!   I then decided to add some all purpose flour and about a teaspoon of yeast in a 1/2 cup of water with some agave mixed in. Finally, I got a decent raise!  Back in the fridge it went for another night's rest.  The dough looked and felt so much better, I began to think I just might pull this off.  Not willing to try a loaf again, I pulled out an old favorite recipe for pocket bread.
Broccoli Spinach Turnovers. 
10 oz frozen spinach
10 oz frozen broccoli
1 cup fresh mushrooms
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup Swiss cheese- grated
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack with jalapenos- grated
1 or two cups cooked chicken
2 loaves Rhodes Frozen Bread

-Cook the spinach and broccoli.  (I just throw them into the microwave for abt 3 minutes.) Drain well.
-Chop, then saute the mushrooms in 1 Tbsp butter. Cool.
- Combine all ingredients except bread dough.
-Thaw bread.  Cut each loaf into 6 portions.  Roll each piece into a circle about 1/8" thick.. Spoon 2 Tblsp of filling onto 1/2 of circle.  Pull the other half of dough over the filling to make a half moon shape.  Pinch edges to seal.  Cut 2 slashes in each piece.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake 10-20 minutes at 350.

Success!  They turned out great.  Hubby, who is not a big fan of whole wheat bread, ate 3!  I think next time I will weigh the flour and then just keep adding a little flour till it is of the right consistency.  Hopefully, I am slowly getting the 'feel' of what this dough should be like.
The next bread for this time was a Southwestern Focaccia.  With many people in our group finding great success making this dough into flat bread, I decided to make this recipe exactly as it is written. Hubby is a big fan of Mexican food and with the topping ingredients of tomato, onion, poblano pepper, cumin, chili powder and goat cheese, this one seemed right down his alley.  And, sure enough, he loved it!
Right before I put it in the oven..
Ready to eat.
So, all in all, this assignment was a mixed bag for me.  Some bad, some good.  But, always learning!  Who knows?  I just may end up a HBin5 bread baker after all..  (I'm sure having a grand time trying!)  Check out what all the others are doing with this recipe at Big Black Dog