Saturday, October 26, 2013

California Walnut Bread

This is by far the most unique bread I have ever eaten. It was somewhat of an "acquired taste" for me. I didn't really like the first bite, but by the third bite I was really impressed with the depth of flavors it had. And by the time I finished the slice I really liked it! I would definitely call this a gourmet bread. It also made a delicious bread pudding!
To make the sponge.
In a large bowl add the following ingredients:
2 tablespoons (or two packets) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
3 tablespoons honey or sugar (agave nectar also works well)
and 2 cups of whole milk at room temperature.
Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature about an hour.

If you have children this is a great time to get them excited about baking! My two year old loves to stir.
Chop 1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F about 3 minutes.

To the sponge add:
1/2 cup walnut oil (or canola works fine)
1 tablespoon of salt (I prefer kosher)
1 cup of flour .
Stir to combine.
Then add the nuts, and the remaining two cups of flour about half a cup at a time.
Knead on a lightly floured surface, about 4 minutes. Then place in a greased container, turning to coat. Let raise about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough. Shape and place in two greased 8 by 4 inch pans. (You can also do 2-3 round free form loaves).
Cover loosely and let rise about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F. 20 minutes in advance. Bake 35-40 minutes. Until loaves sound hollow when tapped.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Indian Fry Bread

Have a hankering for some Navaho tacos? These were perfect for ours!
In a mixing bowl:
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
To the flour mixture add 4 tablespoons shortening or lard.
I prefer to mix this in with my hands. You can also use two knives, or a pastry cutter would also work well. The shortening should be about the size of peas when you are done.
Add 1 1/2 cups hot water and mix well. Knead briefly, no more then 10 times. The dough should be smooth and soft. But not sticky.

Cover with plastic wrap (or a kitchen towel!) and let rest about 30 minutes.

Pull off knobs of dough, about 2-3 inches in diameter, enough to make 15-20 pieces. Roll out with a rolling pin (or shape by hand) and place on a pan (or counter top) cover with plastic and let rest about 20 minutes.
In the pan of your choice (I prefer the cast iron, but you can also use a wok, heavy kettle or deep fryer), heat 2 inches of oil. (I would also add salt, about 1/4 a teaspoon).
Cook two minutes each side.
Place on a stack of paper towels. You can serve these with honey-butter, plain honey, or some delicious tacos!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sesame Whole-Wheat Long Rolls

We decided to try these for Father's day with our grilled bratwurst. I really like the author's description. She said: "Whether used for blanketing hot meats at barbecue time or as a cold sandwich roll, there is nothing ordinary about them. " Yes I definitely agree! Another thing I love about this recipe is the sesame seeds. They are amazing healthy and when you add them to bread you really can't even tell they are there. So if you have children that complain about "those little seeds" it's a good way to be sneaky!!
Go HERE for interesting facts on sesame seeds!

Into a small bowl: 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast and a pinch of brown sugar sprinkled over 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let sit for a few minutes until foamy.
In a large bowl:
3/4 cup warm milk
4 tablespoons (half a stick) of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2  tablespoons raw sesame seeds
Beat hard until smooth

Add the yeast mixture and 4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour  (half a cup at a time). Mix well. (Switch to a wooden/plastic spoon when the whisk no longer works)
When the dough stays in a nice ball and isn't to sticky move to a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes.
Then place in a greased container and turn to coat. Cover with plastic and  let raise until doubled. 45 minutes to an hour.
Gently deflate, then divide into 16 equal portions. (I use a food scale, you can also press the dough into a long rectangle and cut with a pizza cutter)
On a greased (or parchment lined) baking sheet: Place each portion that has been shaped into an oblong oval. They should be about 2 inches apart.
 (or you can shape them like mini french bread loaves, by rolling them and pinching along the bottom, if you want a nicer look) I personally like my bread to look kinda rustic!
If desired you can brush the buns with egg wash. (1 egg, a couple tablespoons of water)
Let raise about 30 minutes.
20 minutes before baking preheat oven to 375 F.  Bake for 20-25 minutes. Place on cooling racks.