Saturday, February 20, 2010

Early Spring Vegan Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

The wife was extra sweet this year and bought me a canoe full of candy so we could welcome St. Valentine's Day. It was terribly saddening as I came down with a nasty cold and had to avoid lots of the candy she had bought. As I tried to combat my yearning for chocolate covered everything (raisins, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds, and more) I turned to a less guilty treat. Hollin baked these up. They are superb and vegan. They are extra moist and great right out of the oven when the outside still has a little crunch. Pair with your favorite tea and you are ready to welcome in some early spring weather.

 1 1/2 Mashed Bananas
1/2 Cup of Applesauce
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
1 Cup of Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Dash of Salt
1 Dash Nutmeg / 1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Cup Dried Cranberries or Raisons
3/4 Cup of Oatmeal

1. Mix Bananas, Applesauce, Vanilla, and Brown Sugar
2. Mix in Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Nutmeg/Cinnamon, Raisons and Oatmeal (the remaining ingredients).
3. Spoon out balls of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet or bake mat. Slightly flatten (cookies will not spread out as much as conventional cookies, so slightly flattening will make them less round)
4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 - 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Multi-Grain Bread

Bread-making may conjure up plenty of unpleasant thoughts for some people. The vulnerability of yeast, the stickiness of dough, the strenuous task of kneading are some of the things that may come to mind.  And unlike most baked goods and cuisine, the French word for bread, 'pain', does not help the reputation of bread-making.  I'm sometimes deterred from what I feel will be a laborious process. In the past several months I have made bread on occasion in a bread machine after struggling with sprouted grain bread. With a bread machine there is absolutely no excuse to not make homemade bread.

I'm not sure if it has been the recipes that I've tried but I haven't been all that impressed with my bread-machine bread. Crust seems to be  too thick and the notch from the mixing blades at the bottom of the loaf has been annoying.

After making artisan type bread in the past, I was eager to try a basic bread-pan style loaf. Something I could actually use for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So after reading a simple recipe in Martha Stewart's magazine I got to work crafting a multi-grain loaf. The results are quite good. And really, a not-so-painful experience it was.

Ingredients, what you'll need. 

The Flours:
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of rye
3 cups of all purpose flour (white unbleached, all that good stuff)

The Grains:
1/3 cup bulgar
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds (shelled)
1/4 cup of flax seeds (whole or processed)

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees) FOR YEAST
1/2 cup warm water for Bulgur
1 1/2 cup warm water for mix

Other things that you'll need:
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce envelopes)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons honey FOR YEAST
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse salt (sea salt please)

Spray olive oil

Thermometer (digital is the way to go here)
4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. 
Plastic wrap

1. Prepare the bulgar by letting it soak and absorb water for 20 mins.

Get the yeast going:

1. Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup of warm water (watch the temperature with the thermometer you want to have water at 110 degrees F or whatever your yeast package recommends)

2. Add honey (2 teaspoons)

3. Whisk until all the yeast has dissolved. Then let sit for about 5 minutes. It should froth like crazy.

The mixing bowl:

1. Add yeast mixture
2. Add melted butter
3. Add 1 1/2 cup of remaining water.
4. Add 3 tablespoons of honey.

In another bowl:

1. Combine all flours.
2. Combine Salt
3. Dry mix thoroughly

Back to the mixing bowl:

1. Add two cups of flour/salt mix to the Yeast/honey/butter mix.

2. Attach dough hook and mix with stand mixer until smooth.

3. Add the remainder of the flour mix and the grains one cup at a time. Slowly over several minutes combine all ingredients while mixer is running.

4. Mix on low until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ragged and slightly sticky ball.

5. Knead dough on a floured surface (or baking mat) for 5 or so minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic but still slightly tacky.

6. Spray or apply a thin layer of butter to the mixing bowl or another large bowl.

7. Work the dough into a ball and transfer to the large bowl.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place. The dough should double in volume.  (And should not spring back when poked)

9.  Transfer dough back to work surface and punch down dough and divide in two (using a sharp knife to do this works best)

10. Grab half of the dough and work into a rectangle (nearly sqaure) about 8 1/2 inches in length.

11. Fold ends toward the center, slightly overlapping eachother.

12. Pinch together the seam.

13. Place dough seam down in the oiled/buttered loaf pan.

14. Sprinkle with flour and cover pan with plastic wrap. Set in warm place to rise, about 45 minutes or until dough is about 1 inch above the top of the pan.

15. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. And wait for dough to rise.

16. Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Remove plastic then bake bread. for about 45 mins or until tops are golden brown. Rotating pan after 20 mins.

17. Transfer to wire racks, Let cool slightly then turn out loafs and let them completely cool before slicing.