Category Archives: Breads/Rolls

Trail Mix Banana Bread

I wish I had anything interesting to say.  But I don’t.  Feel free to scan straight to the recipe because what follows will be riveting.

We’ve been doing some Christmas decorating.  And a lot of our lights don’t work.  And we bought them new just last year!  At Wal-Mart!  Because it was 10 PM and they were open!  And now they don’t work!  Oh, the drama.  We might have to buy some new ones if we want all the bushes out front to be done.  Also, we got a new tree stand.  Our pre-drilled stand broke last year and while we really enjoyed bickering about how crooked the tree was in the traditional stand, we opted to buy another pre-drilled one.   So far it hasn’t fallen over or anything exciting like that.  We didn’t even break any ornaments while decorating.  However, our Christmas village looks perfect because there are so many people with broken limbs from years past that it looks like a Tiny Tim convention.

I started my Christmas shopping yesterday.  The three week mark sort of hit me.  Actually, what will truly hit me are the shipping rates I will have to pay in order to make up for my procrastination.  I thought I was doing well by getting the kids’ Christmas photo done after Thanksgiving.  So the cards will be quality, but the gifts might suck.  And why is it so difficult to come up with a new coat/snow pants/accessories set for my daughter every year?  It seems like the same drill … cute coat, no matching snowpants.  Or nice matching set, one piece out of stock.  And confusing color schemes:  do the “buff” snowpants match the “ivory” coat?  Who the hell knows.  On the husband front, we have (of course) said we are getting each other nothing.  But now the boxes start showing up for me.  So I must figure out gifts for him.  Because we aren’t getting each other anything, you know?

I did a cool project on Jupiter the other day.  Did you know that you would weigh twice as much on Jupiter as you do on Earth?  I’m not sure if that would impact how tight my jeans are, but if I ever go, I’ll buy a size up.

Speaking of my jeans being tight, I decided after Thanksgiving that I was going to train for a half marathon.  Last week went well.  Today, I am already negotiating with myself about how I can avoid the longer mileage run that I was supposed to do yesterday.  The one that I should have done while I was having a few holiday beers.  I am a very disciplined runner, so this training thing should go really well.  I also don’t like the cold, so my running occurs only on the treadmill now.  If the race I ultimately select has episodes of Top Chef streaming throughout the course, I should be in good shape.

Also, if you made it this far (bless you), the other day I noticed that I had rotting fruit so I made some banana bread.  I mixed in some of our favorite trail mix ingredients and it was quite good.  We ate it quickly.  Then I did the dishes and went to bed.

The End.

Trail Mix Banana Bread

Makes one loaf

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a loaf pan with softened butter.

2.  Combine whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add in sugar and mix for 1-2 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then add in mashed bananas.

4.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in vanilla extract, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and chocolate chips into batter until just combined.

5.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until golden brown and just set.

Whole Grain English Muffin Bread

The popularity of backyard gardens, it seems, has skipped a generation.  I am now thrilled to drive around town and see so many vegetable gardens all over town (more this year than I have ever seen).  And I have been even more pleased to see how many young families are getting into gardening — from a small plot with some tomatoes and herbs to entire front yards devoted to beans, corn, broccoli, and peppers.   All of a sudden, it seems like the local food and community farms message is catching on.

But clearly this is not such an impressive feat.  My great grandparents’ generation saw the backyard garden as a necessity for feeding their families.  My grandparents’ generation had more luxuries when they were in young family mode (in the form of more easily available groceries and produce), but many of them continued with gardening for necessity or for hobby.  But somewhere in our search for convenience — and probably because of major prosperity — my parents’ generation never thought much about the idea of a vegetable garden.

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In my family, both sets of grandparents maintained beautiful gardens.  And my grandmother, at 95 years old, still asks me every time I see her what goodies were in our CSA box that week.  We  talk about what she was successful growing and what she remembers eating as a child — everything from clabbered raw milk to plum jam.  We have so much to learn about food from this generation.  I truly believe we have been wandering around like nomads buying processed groceries from all over the planet and avoiding eggs or carbs or butter or whatever the bad food of the year is.  Our grandparents knew that we needed to eat whole foods, with the seasons and, quite simply, not so much.  (I should add that my grandmother graduated from college with a degree in nutrition.  When eggs became unwelcome on our plates because of cholesterol, she protested QUITE loudly.  And she was correct in the end.)

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She has some wonderful recipes and what I am sharing with you today is one of them.  It’s a well-known recipe, but when a friend reminded me of it the other day,  I had to share because I haven’t heard it talked about in years.   I remember eating toasted english muffin bread at her house throughout my childhood.  With some butter and homemade strawberry jam, I couldn’t think of a better breakfast.  I have vivid memories of her toasting and buttering entire loaves to put on a platter — because we always had a seated breakfast in the dining room.

This is a super easy bread that combines both yeast and baking soda which gives you a slight “nook and cranny” texture when sliced and toasted.  It’s an easy stir together recipe with only one rise and no kneading.  My kids absolutely LOVED it.  And it freezes beautifully after it is baked.  My version uses white whole wheat flour (either all WW or half WW/half all purpose flour), but feel free to make it with entirely all purpose flour if you want the original.

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I’m going to make a batch with all purpose flour sometime soon to see if I can replicate my exact memories, but I think I will fail because I can’t replicate the surroundings that made it all so wonderful.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to take my kids back to those places — to those houses with barns and cousins and berry patches and rows of corn, all begging to be eaten and explored.

Whole Grain English Muffin Bread

Makes two loaves

2 1/2 cups of white/all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 T sugar
2 t fine sea salt
1/4 t baking powder
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup of water

1.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups of white AP flour, 1 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

2.  Heat milk and water in a small saucepan until very warm (about 120-130 degrees F).

3.  Stir liquids into flour mixture with a whisk.

4.  Add one additional cup of white AP flour and one additional cup of white whole wheat flour and stir in well with a wooden spoon.  You will end up with a very thick batter (or a loose dough, however you want to look at it). (Alternatively, you can use all white whole wheat flour or all white AP flour if you like — 5 cups total.  If you use all white AP flour, you may need an additional 1/2 cup).

5.  Butter two metal loaf pans and sprinkle all over with cornmeal.  Tap out excess.  Divide dough into two equal portions and pat into prepared pans.  Sprinkle tops of loaves with additional cornmeal.

6.  Cover pans with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place. (I use the proofing setting on my oven).

7.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake loaves for 20 minutes until golden.

8.  Loosen loaves from pans and remove immediately to cool on racks.  Slice and serve toasted.  (Loaves can be tightly wrapped and frozen.)

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Honey Whole Grain and Spelt Rolls

As I have mentioned repeatedly, I am very lazy about going to the grocery store.   If we decide to have burgers on a Saturday afternoon and I don’t have rolls, I’d rather make them than get into the car and trudge to the store.  There are just certain times I refuse to go the grocery store — and the weekends are at the top of that list.

This is a great recipe for a mostly whole grain roll that is made using the breadmaker.  It has evolved from my interest in replacing our bread with whole grain counterparts — and my husband and kids’ interest in bread/rolls that have the consistency of Wonder Bread.  So this is a decidedly very “American” roll — super soft, light and fluffy, a little sweet, and with a slight crust after it is baked.  It is definitely NOT a hard or crusty roll.  But for typical American summer fare like burgers or hot dogs, these rolls are great and very traditional.  You can toast or grill them slightly if you like, but I think you’ll love their softness when fresh.

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They are greatly improved over typical rolls by the addition of whole wheat flour, sprouted spelt flour, and honey.  But the key to the recipe is the vital wheat gluten — it gives the rolls their super soft consistency, regardless of the large quantity of whole grain flours.  You should be able to get it in the baking section of your grocery store — or at a natural food store.  These are definitely worth a try if you are looking for a soft, whole grain roll.  We love them for cheesesteaks or burgers, but I think they would also be great for a soft dinner roll too.

Honey Whole Grain and Spelt Rolls

(Adapted from Green Ninja)

Makes about 8 large hamburger rolls

1 cup of white whole wheat flour
1 cup of sprouted spelt flour (can just use another cup of whole wheat if you prefer)
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 t salt
3 T vital wheat gluten
1 egg
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of honey
1 cup of very hot water
1 package of dry yeast (make sure it is not expired!)

1.  In the breadmaker mixing pan, combine the flours (3 cups total), the salt, and vital wheat gluten.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil, and honey.    Whisk in the hot water and stir in the yeast.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes until it begins to get a little frothy.

3.  Pour egg/yeast mixture into flour mixture in breadmaker pan.  Put in breadmaker and set to “Dough” cycle — which takes 1 hour and 30 minutes on my machine.  (I have had trouble with this dough not getting completely mixed in my breadmaker because of the high liquid content.  When it is mixing, check it a few times and stir it up with a spoon to make sure it is mixing in with the flour completely.)  Alternatively, I’m sure you can do this by hand — with at least two kneading and rising cycles.

4.  When dough cycle is complete (the dough should be a soft ball and nicely risen), remove and divide into 8 balls.  Line a 9×13 baking pan (preferably metal) with parchment and line four dough balls on each side (2 columns of 4 balls– 8 total).  Let rise until doubled in a very warm place.  I used the quick proofing cycle on my oven and it only took about 20 more minutes.

5.  Preheat oven to 400 F.  Bake rolls for about 15 minutes until golden brown on top.  Remove to a rack to cool slightly before serving.

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