Category Archives: Bread Making

Bacon Fixes Everything

Flax Seed Gluten Free Bread

gluten free brown rice crust quiche

phlooomghssst.  I think that’s the sound that came out of my mouth.

My first attempt at baking gluten-free bread appeared to be successful at first.  The dough rose, the smell coming from the oven was all the deliciousness I’ve come to expect and the final loaf when cut looked like your average sandwich bread.  I will not give you a link to the recipe or to the blog that promised that this recipe was the best gluten-free recipe for bread ever.  If this is the best…well, lady who shall remain nameless…i’m calling bullshit.

i only wish i knew which of the ingredients made that loaf of bread so utterly unappetizing to my taste buds (Mr. Beardpants by the way enjoyed two slices of toast, plus what I couldn’t finish of mine…so it could just be me).  Brown rice flour…are you evil?  what about the starches?  if anyone has any suggestions for more appetizing flour combinations please let me know.

at one point i ran the risk of blogging too little and now i run the risk of driving you all bonkers with excessive gluten-free-whine-my-back-hurts-and-my-toes-turn-white posts, but don’t worry…soon i’ll drift away from circulation issues and dazzle you with posts about boxes and packing tape.

Tonight i’m making a little post-assault gift for my mouth.

Bacon does indeed fix everything.

A little cheddar bacon broccoli quiche (made with a brown rice crust…real rice though…not that weird flour crap).  I know that bacon is evil too, but I refuse to break our friendship.

We’ve had a good run and Bacon, you’ve always been there for me.

(side note:  my high school boyfriend named a pig after me.  Stacy lived a good well fed life and in the end she was absolutely delicious. But if you are thinking about naming a pig after your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day or any other occasion for that matter…ummm…well, just don’t.)

I adapted this recipe for Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche.  It’s absolutely nom-nom good.  Only thing I changed was adding in the bacon.

When in Doubt…Bake Bread

Whole Wheat Molasses BreadI needed to bake this Sunday to clear my head (ummm…plus we are still making all our own bread and had been out for days).  I have to say I have done very little of the bread baking lately. Mr. Beardpants has been fixed on these tasty potato bread loaves and I have happily indulged without getting my own hands involved.  But there is something therapeutic about kneading and punching down dough.  The ‘punching’ being my favourite part.

So this weekend, while I processed changes that have just happened along with changes to come…I baked (and later savoured a huge chunk of whole wheat molasses bread with homemade crabapple jelly…delish!).

This bread recipe turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.  I don’t know if you know how rare that is?  To bake bread is to accept imperfection, but I think the universe was trying to soothe me.  The density, the magic bubbles in the bread…that thing that makes it taste just perfect warm with a little slap of butter.  The hollow hard knock on the underside of the bread and cutting into a soft pillow interior.  yum.

So I thought I’d share.  I have a gazillion old cookbooks on a teetering shelf because I can’t say no the stacks in the second hand stores or lining the tables of a garage sale.  So this recipe comes from an old purity flour cookbook that I got for a $0.25 and that I remember my mom used to bake from.

This recipe makes 4 loaves

Whole Wheat Molasses Bread

Scald 1 1/2 cups milk
Pour into a large bowl and add

1/2 cup molasses
2 tbsp salt
1/2 cup shortening

Stir until shortening melts

2 1/4 cups water
cool to lukewarm

Meanwhile, dissolve
2 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
over this sprinkle,
2 envelopes active dry yeast
Let stand for 10 minutes.  Then stir briskly with a fork.  Add softened yeast to luke warm milk mixture.  Stir.

Beat in
6 cups whole wheat flour
beat vigorously by hand
Then gradually beat in with a spoon
6 to 6 1/2 all-purpose flour or white bread flour

I worked in the last of the flour while kneading as it became too hard to stir.  Flop the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.  Shape into smooth ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/4 hours).  Punch down and shape into 4 loaves.  Place in greased loaf pans and let rise again until doubled (about 1 hour)

Bake in preheated oven 400 F for 30 to 35 minutes.


The Importance of Kneading

potatoesOften, I rush the kneading part of making bread.  If the recipe calls for 10 minutes…I blast out an elastic shiny ball of dough in 4 minutes and consider the job done.  But today, I decided to push my forearms through all 10 minutes.  The kneading, you see, is actually a very important part of the bread making.  The kneading is what gives bread its texture.

Mr. beard-pants and I are learning to make bread together.  The goal, to start providing more and more of our food by our own hands.  And in the same line of lessons, we have also greatly expanded our garden this year.  This, in fact, wasn’t so much our expansion as a delightful surprise of available  garden space.  Last year we managed to scratch out some potatoes and very tiny onions from the small woodsy plot at the back of our cabin.  Plus we grew tomatoes and herbs in pots on the balcony of our old apartment.  Our landlord also graciously allowed us to dig out a small green onionsgarden patch in the backyard which we planted with some rather unsuccessful crops that were mostly enjoyed by the neighbourhood thug rabbits.  This year, our new home (and also where we work) has 5 large garden plots that we were given free reign to plant as we please.  What we’ve got growing this year is a huge leap from last year and a great lesson in weed management.  Plants this year:  kale, brussel sprouts, swiss chard, rhubarb, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, beets, red onions, spring green onions, cauliflower, salad greens, butternut squash, pickling cucumbers, zuchinni, carrots, accorn squash, peas, and a smattering of random herbs.  What we’ve picked or started to pick has included: asparagus (we’ve made ourselves sick of it), rhubarb, spring green onions, salad greens and kale.

The greatest lesson I think I will gather from all of this is ‘patience’.  I’m sometimes very short on patience.  Okay, not sometimes…almost all the time.  Hence, rushing the kneading of the bread.  And I also don’t like things out of my control.  (I know, what a delight I must be to live with).  And yet, although we’ve had great success with our bread making and gardens so far, the entire thing lies just at an arms reach from our control.  The little black beetles that are sharing delight in the collard greens and salad…they giggle when I try to shoo them away with home-made eco-sprays.  The bread…even when we aim for perfection…seems to have a mind of its own.  One week, for no reason that we could understand, every loaf of bread we tried…utterly failed.  And I’ve decided that all these things have a rhythm of their own.  Some things in the garden will not survive.  Others will garden plotsflourish. (The kale is gorgeous…the beets refuse to shine).  And bread…perhaps bread is sensitive to moods, to weather, to changing from this bowl to that.  I will simply have to learn to accept that some truths are not only beyond my control, but also without explanation.

I know I’m not the only one who can strive fruitlessly for perfection in a beautiful imperfect world.  Yes, it’s Sunday June 24th, 2012…and I am just now starting to see the beauty in having things go whatever way they will go.

Dear Beetles…if you do, perhaps…maybe want to consider attacking the asparagus patch instead…by all means, go ahead.  But if you choose to continue eating the collards, just leave us a little bit of kale please.

Multigrain braided bread

A Marathon of Baking

Multigrain braided breadRight around the time I decided that I wanted to try training for a sprint level triathlon (500 m swim, 20 km bike and a 5 km run), I simultaneously dove right into a marathon of sunday baking.  We are still pushing along with making all of our breads and baked goodies.  So while the loaves and muffins and pitas baked away, I sketched out a rough plan for my new 10 week training program.  The first step will be to have my bike fixed.   It had two tune ups last year and somehow still woke up this spring in the worst shape ever.  In reality…I kinda need a new bike, but that’s for another budget year.  Right after I pear upside down muffinsput the pear upside-down muffins in the oven, I also gathered all the information I will need in order to plan my weekly swimming sessions at the local pool.  Unfortunately, the schedule at the pool here is less than ideal and most of the lane swimming times happen during my work day.  However, there are a few times throughout the week where I can catch a swim before work or later in the evening.  So this week I will get my bike off to the shop and start off with a mix of swim and run training.

Perhaps thinking about a triathlon is what spurred the excessive baking this sunday.   My lovely took care of making our bread for the week (one loaf of multigrain and a beautiful braided loaf that looks so so wonderful).  But while I was thinking of extra runs, long distance bike rides and swimming laps…I also thought about all that my body has to do in a week.  I have a very physically demanding job which should make all this training an extra challenge.

pita breadI’m finding it really hard these days to stay motivated with work-outs, crafting, creating and writing.  I think in part due to isolation…a lack of community to share and grow with.  Yesterday we went to Toronto for the day and it was so refreshing (for a rural girl) to spend the day surrounded by so many people.  Although I hate to admit it, some part of me is still a city girl.  I was raised in both settings and always feel like I hover somewhere in the middle.  Loving the silence and beauty of where I am, but craving the hustle of a more active social life.  So far my weekend has been in both worlds.  Saturday we visited the Royal Ontario Museum, ate delicious vietnamese food on Spadina and snooped around the second hand delights of Kensington Market.   Sunday, nestled in our country life, I’ve been baking, running and digging up wild leeks out on the trails.

What we baked this week:  2 loaves multigrain bread, Rosemary and Parmesan Foccacia (a gift for our rosemary parmesan foccacianeighbour), Pear Upside Down Muffins and a dozen pita breads.   What I picked up in Kensington Market:  a fantastic red floral vintage smock apron and a cotton batik wrap skirt for summer.  What I loved at the ROM:  beautiful displays of butterflies from their specimen collection and inspiration perhaps for a future embroidery project.


Our Daily Bread

Oatmeal Wheat and RyeWe are now making all of the bread that we consume.  This was a recent decision, spurred by our shared desire to one day grow, bake and create as much of our food as possible.  It can seem like such a daunting thing, especially when there is so much other work to do.  So instead of diving right in and getting completely overwhelmed, we decided to chip away at it one piece at a time.  Our new home has blessed us with more garden space than we have had in previous years.  The potatoes are planted, the seedlings in waiting and the seed packets lined up anxiously. Already there is a bounty of asparagus spears sticking up out of the ground and rhubarb coming out of our ears.

The first piece of our food plan was to learn how to bake bread and to completely Ryeeliminate all store bought bread from our shopping list.  We looked up a few recipes, grabbed up a jumbo bag of flour and some yeast…and away we went.  In hindsight, with only one loaf pan and one tiny wee little cookie sheet…we likely should have stocked up on some extra bakeware.  And almost as if it heard us discuss this plan…the breadmachine that I got second hand…finally decided to call it quits.

The results so far have been great.  The first Sunday we made a small loaf of rye and a large loaf of Oatmeal Wheat Bread.  This Sunday we decided to go all the way Rye Bread and PB&J Cookieswith the rye and made a small free form loaf and one loaf in the bread pan.  Check out my Pinterest “Bread” board for recipes and notes on the loafs we have tried so far and recipes we have lined up for our next Sunday Bread Adventures.  I’m studying up now on sourdough and will share the results of our first starter soon.

Oh and the cookies next to the Rye Bread were a little extra treat I whipped together:  Peanut Butter & Jam Drop Cookies!