Baking the Bread, Baking the Bread

In this age of gluten-free this and carb-free that, when wheat is the food equivalent of a whipping boy, I am here to tell you that there still is not much better than a warm piece of fresh-baked bread.  Here are some easy recipes to get you started.  Break out that stick of butter for slathering on the warm slice and get baking.

Apple Cheddar Quick Bread

  • 3 cups flour (I like using white whole wheat, you can use white, whole wheat, or a combination)
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs of a neutral oil (like sunflower or safflower)
  • 1 bottle hard cider
  • 2 cups grated apple
  • 1 cup grated cheddar (I suggest either sharp of smoked cheddar)

You can make this either in a Bundt pan or in loaf pans.  Grease your pan/s well.  Heat oven to 350 while making dough.  Mix first 4 ingredients together in a bowl.  Make a well in the middle and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix fully but don’t over-beat.  Put into pan/s, bang on the counter a couple of times to even the dough.  Bake 30-50 minutes (depending on pan).  Check with a knife in middle of the loaf to check if bread is done.  Cool slightly, remove from pan.  Cool a little more then slice and eat.

Multi-Grain Loaf with Root Vegetables

  • 1 cup hot water (a note on hot water below)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 cup grated root vegetables (beet, carrot, turnip, parsnip)
  • 1 Tbs neutral oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mixed grain cereal (I use Rob’s Red Mill 5-grain rolled cereal)
  • 1 cup red (dark) whole wheat flour
  • white whole wheat flour, 2-3 cups as needed

Follow sponge method for making the bread (put the hot water in a bowl big enough for making dough, sprinkle the yeast on the water then add honey and 1/2 cup of the white whole wheat flour and stir).  After a couple of minutes, mix in the oil, salt, cereal, and whole wheat flour.  Add white whole wheat, half a cup at a time, mixing well until you have a nice bread dough.  It should be elastic and slightly tacky.  It shouldn’t stick to your hands but will be slightly sticky feeling.  Knead it (I knead right in the bowl, you can do it as you prefer) adding a little bit of flour if needed.  Don’t add too much, it will be very dense and dry if you overdo it.  Put a little oil in the bowl, put the bread in and turn over to oil all the sides.  Cover the bowl and set aside in a place that is not too cold (on a kitchen counter is good) and allow to rise.  Every hour or two, punch down and knead the dough for a few minutes then cover the bowl again.  Do this for 4 or more hours (if you aren’t going to bake the bread within 6 or so put the dough in the fridge and bring to room temperature before shaping, baking) then shape the dough.  You can shape it into a rustic boule or put it in a bread pan.  Either way, either grease the pan or line it with parchment paper.  Brush the bread with water, allow to rise one more time (about 15-20 minutes) then bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when thumped on all sides (including the bottom).  Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, cut and eat.

Onion Dill Rolls

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbs dried dill
  • 1 heaping Tbs brown mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 5-7 cups flour (again, I like to use white whole wheat but you can use that, dark whole wheat, white, or a combination, as you like)
  • 1/4 cup oil or melted margarine (I like Earth Balance) for dipping rolls
  • extra dry dill and kosher salt for sprinkling

Put the water, onion, dill, and mustard in a blender and blend until onion is well pureed.  Put this mix in a small pot with the oil and heat until very warm but not boiling.  Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the salt, sugar, yeast, and 3 cups flour.  Mix the warm liquid into the dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get a dough that holds together well and can be kneaded.  Knead (either in the bowl or on a board) adding flour, a little at a time as needed, to make the dough elastic and not sticky.  It will be tacky, that’s fine.  Oil bowl and dough.  Cover and follow the rising, punching, kneading process above.  Grease a cake or Bundt pan.  Make rolls (pinch off pieces of the dough, pull dough over itself a few times to make the rolls in one smooth shape), roll in the oil or margarine, put in the pan.  When all the rolls are made sprinkle the tops with dill and salt.  Allow to rise one more time, 15-30 minutes.  Then bake at 350 until rolls are browned and sound hollow when tapped, ~20 minutes.

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