A few weeks ago, I pulled a cookbook off my shelf, searching for a bread recipe. I’ve been baking up bread at least once a week to feed my kiddos and the bachelor who lives downstairs.
I love bread-baking, in case I haven’t mentioned that a time or twenty. I love the smell of the yeast, the ingredients learning to cling together. The rising dough. A soft, brown crust.
I’ve mostly been making white bread lately, with a cup or two of whole-wheat flour thrown in. Even though it makes me cringe, it’s just so much easier than fussing with whole-wheat bread. The whole-wheat recipe I’d fallen back on time and time again required soaking of grains, 10-20 minutes with my mixer, and a bread that tasted like honey to me. (I’m just not a huge fan of most honeys, and although I use it I don’t want the taste to be overwhelming.)
So anyway, I made a recipe for simple bread loaves from Food That Says Welcome, a great little paperback cookbook from Barbara Smith—Michael W. Smith’s mom! It was the puffiest, softest bread I’d ever made. I lovingly called it “pillow bread” and gave the recipe a big star. But … I wanted to make it a whole-wheat bread, since white flour has basically no nutritional value.
I’ve decided the key to this puffy bread is triple rising. Yep, you heard me. Yes, that adds additional time to bread-baking, which is already a lengthy process. But it’s totally worth it. And, as this recipe shows, it can even make 100% whole wheat bread soft and puffy. I’ve NEVER had a 100% whole wheat bread that wasn’t dense.
So, whole foodies, your problems are solved. Make this bread. Listen to the rave reviews. Smile because you know the secret. And if you’re feeling generous, share the recipe.
This recipe can be made either in a stand mixer with dough hooks or mixed by hand. Because there is not a lot of kneading, it’s not too bad to do by hand.
Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over it. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat. Add honey and sugar and stir together. Let cool slightly – it’s OK if it’s warm, but not hot.
Add butter mixture, salt, and remaining 2 cups water to the yeast and water in the bowl and stir well to combine.
One cup at a time, add in flour and stir until it’s combined. When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until all the flour is worked into the dough. [Or, use speed 2 on your mixer with dough hooks.]
Cover bowl with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and then let rise again, about another 45 minutes to an hour.
Separate dough into two equal balls. Press each ball into a rectangle with floured hands, roll up lengthwise, and then tuck ends under. Place loaves in greased loaf pans.
Cover pans and let rise again 30 minutes, until dough is to the top of the pans.
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown and sound a little hollow when you tap on them. Let loaves cool completely before slicing and serving.
I hate buying something for one recipe and having a lot left over. I recently bought some ricotta cheese to make these turkey burgers, but they only need 1/2 a cup. Ricotta is not something I use often, but it only comes in 2-cup containers. And thus, there was 1 1/2 cups of ricotta taking up room in my refrigerator.
Good-bye to the days of ingredient searches on AllRecipes; instead, I typed “blueberry ricotta” into Pinterest and decided to see what popped up.
I found this Blueberry Lime Ricotta Cake from Eat Good 4 Life. Doing my normal recipe dance, I swapped out lime for lemon since I didn’t have any limes and I love the taste of blueberry and lemon together. I also decided to make it into muffins so we could take them to friends.
Because the batter is so moist and the blueberries pop, you should probably use muffin papers to line your tins. Do as I say … not as I do.
about 1 c. fresh blueberries, tossed with 1 T flour
Mix together ricotta, sugar, eggs, milk, and lemon juice until well combined. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin tins lined with muffin papers. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick to determine if done. If your muffin tins are a little larger, you’ll probably need more time. Remove from tins and cool on a wire rack.
If you’re feeling especially decadent, I wouldn’t blame you if you topped them with some cream cheese frosting and called it a cupcake.
Do you have as much trouble with breakfast as I do?
Usually in the mornings I am trying to check my e-mail, nurse the baby, feed Libbie, get us all dressed, and maybe manage some coffee. (Reheated! No time to make fresh!) A lot of days it gets to be 10 a.m. and I haven’t actually eaten anything myself.
I was excited when The Motherhood asked me to help facilitate their chat on healthy breakfast options! I love breakfast food and I am interested in what everyone has to say. Maybe I’ll learn something about how to eat breakfast before it’s lunchtime. Here is their blurb on the chat:
Join Sarah Woodside, registered dietitian for Kellogg, and Liz Ward, registered dietitian, author and one of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Council members, to discuss the nutrients a good breakfast should provide, options for healthy breakfasts on the go, recent research findings on nutrition, and more. Sarah and Liz will speak to us via live streaming video, while we chat and ask questions through a real-time, text-based conversation.
I’ve participated in several of the chats at The Motherhood and have found them to be a wealth of knowledge and a lot of fun conversation. (Check out the synopsis on “Creating an Efficient Kitchen”!) I hope you’ll join me this Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11 a.m. Eastern time to watch the video and chat.
Meanwhile, you can start working on healthy breakfasts with this recipe I’ve been tweaking. I’m still not convinced that it’s perfect, but this recipe for Banana Bread Muffins has been healthified and has the VW stamp of approval.
Tuesday morning I woke up with a yen for muffins. Muffins are not regular guests in our household, although I enjoy them. I don’t have great muffin pans and (as you will tell in the pictures) I am a messy muffin-maker. Also, a lot of times my muffins mold before they get eaten, because Mr. V is not a big Muffin Man.
I do enjoy muffins when we have them, though, and there was no way around it: Baby Boy was craving muffins.
I was inspired by Amy’s peaches-and-cream muffins but limited to what I had in our pantry and fridge. I started with a blueberry muffin recipe, subbed peaches, made my own more-whole-food adjustments, and then thought a sprinkle of granola on top might add some crunch and interest.
Drain potato, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Mash the potato in a small bowl and let cool slightly.
Cream butter, sugar, salt, and egg in an electric mixer. Add potato and mix well.
Dissolve yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water. Add to potato mixture.
Change beaters to dough hooks, if you have them. Set mixer to 2. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour alternately with the 1 cup cooking liquid, mixing well after each addition. Gradually add in the remaining flour until the dough starts to clean the side of the bowl. When that happens, let mixer go an additional 2 minutes.
If your dough looks a little shiny, great! You’re ready. If not, you may need to knead it for a few additional minutes. (I have a Sunbeam Mixer, which is not quite as hardcore as a KitchenAid and sometimes I think it’s going to explode before the bread is really ready.)
Place the dough in a greased bowl and put somewhere warm. Cover with a damp towel. Let rise for an hour or until dough is doubled.
Punch dough down; divide in half. Shape into loaves. (I sort of push it into a rectangle, roll it up, and then tuck in the ends.) Place in two greased loaf pans. Cover with the towel again and let rise another 30-45 minutes or until doubled again.
Brush dough with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack.
And then, in your best Julia Child voice, say, “Bon Appetit!”