Sunday, May 23, 2010

Making Bread

I love making and decorating cookies, but second to that is making bread. When I first starting experimenting with bread, I bought a bread maker. After a while I decided to try it the old fashioned way. What a difference! For me, the kneading by hand is almost primal.The mixing of those simple ingredients together to form a loaf of bread, is theraputic. Watching it rise ( well , I don't actually sit there watching it- at least for the whole time!), shaping it, and baking in the oven as the house fills with an unrivaled smell, is an amazing feeling. ( Little things excite me!)
I love to experiment with new kinds of bread. One thing I still haven't attempted is a sour dough starter. Another two weeks and school is out so that is on my to do list for the summer vacation. This time I made two kinds of bread- a "health " bread with spelt flour and flax seeds. Delicious- those are the rounds loaves above.

The whole grain bread recipe made 4 loaves(!) so I stuck them in the freezer. Took one out yesterday , warmed it in the oven for a bit, and it was just like fresh baked.

Whole Grain Bread ( for 4 loaves- you could halve it if you don't want so much bread)
* note: If you choose to include the cracked wheat in the recipe, it needs to soak in water overnight. I didn't happen to have any at the time, so did not use it, but have done so in the past and it adds a great crunch to the bread.

650 grams bread flour
200 grams whole wheat flour
220 grams spelt flour
20 grams gluten
35 grams dry yeast
40 grams sugar
750 ml. water
70 ml. olive oil
20 grams salt
3 grams fresh ground pepper
100 grams flax seeds
100 grams roasted sunflower seeds
100 grams cracked wheat, soaked in water overnight

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all the dry ingredients.
  2. Slowly add the wet ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough separates from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Transfer to a work surface and knead the dough by hand until smooth.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each one into an oval shape. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise again until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 230 C, lightly flour the top of the loaves and, using a sharp knife or razor, make diagonal slashes across the top.
  7. Bake 30 minutes, until the loaves brown and when the bottom is tapped, it sounds hollow.
  8. Cool on a rack. Be sure it is completely cool before slicing. (I can never wait that long!)

Flax Seed and Spelt Flour Bread( makes 2 round loaves)

250 grams sifted bread flour
180 grams spelt flour
100 grams whole wheat flour
10 grams gluten
15 grams dry yeast
30 grams sugar
10 grams salt
350 ml. warmish water
30 grams of wheat bran
50 grams flax seeds

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add all ingredients except for the water
  2. Mix thoroughly and slowly add the water while the mixer is running. Knead about 10 minutes until you get a soft and very flexible dough.
  3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
  4. Divide the dough in two and form each one into a round loaf. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise again until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 230 C, lightly flour the tops of the loaves and makes slashes with a scissors or sharp knife.
  6. Bake 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 200C for another 20 minutes until the bread browns.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
P.S. Gave my bread machine away to someone who wanted a more "instant" bread method. At least it went to good use!

An added note (5/28/10) this post is participating in "I'm Lovin It " party at TidyMom- jump over and take a look at everyone's entries.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pretty Cookies

Decorating cookies really does relax me. I spent Sunday morning home, all by my lonesome ( I love that "me" time) and decorated cookies. I try to have some in the freezer all the time, so whenever I get the urge to decorate, they're always there.
These are for no special occasion- just going to give them away to whoever I happen across. That's fun just in itself!


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