Want Not, Waste Not

I’ve been wasteful with my bread lately.  Lately as in since my last nephew moved out.  I’m stuck on the idea that I need to make the big loaf of my bread machine because I am a big person, my mom is a bit fluffy as well and, well, wheat bread is good for you.  Right?  So, I’m rethinking my life and trying new ways to become healthy and then again, healthier.  So, here’s my thinking.  Instead of the two pound loaf that is impossible to cut to a normal size sandwich without loosing all the yummy crust I’m going to make 1 pound loaf.  I should be able to cut from the top down to the bottom and have normal sized slices to become a normal sized person.

I’ve considered getting a bread machine (Frankie and Charlie) as a blessing, and having the bread crest the pan was always fun to watch but baking more bread than I need is wasteful, harmful and in some ways an affront to the blessings of having a store of the needful things in your life.  We’re to gather food in, and use that food wisely not use it to amuse ourselves with.  So, from now on my recipes will be for the smaller loaves.  I will try to do the math for the larger loaves but always, always verify when it comes to math and me.  I’m a writer, not a calculator.

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Update: Her Dark Materials

Dinner is done.  We had hot roast beef sandwiches on hot bread. Yum.  Mom was able to detect the extra yeast but over all she didn’t not like it.  Yea me.  The mixture of the dark grains and molasses with the juices from the beef made a very substantial, complex event for the palate.  Okay, fancy words for a simple bread, but it was good.  I’ll try it tomorrow for pb&j.

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Her Dark Materials*

So, I put a roast in the slow cooker and thought about accompaniments for Sunday dinner.  I’m thinking a pear and balsamic salad with bread, but not the normal, happy, spongy bread but something heartier, something designed to sop up the juices and maybe even make a pb&j a little more interesting.

To make finding the general recipe easier in my house I took a sharpie and wrote it on the inside of the cabinet (don’t look at me like that, the wood is porous so I’ll be able to clean it off before I move out).  Instead of putting in the 2.5 cups of white wheat flour, honey and so on I did the following to give it a darker, deeper taste and texture.

Calls for/Changed

1.5 cups warm water/1.5 cups warm water

3 tbls honey/3 tbls brown sugar

1 tsp salt/1 tsp salt

none/1 tsp molasses

2.5 cups white wheat/1 cup coarse red wheat, 0.5 cup roasted red wheat, 1 cup rye

.33 cup gluten/0.5 cup gluten

1.5 baking flour/1.5 baking flour

1 tsp. breadmachine yeast/1.66 tsp. bread machine yeast

The course red wheat is the wheat my sister ground in her VitaMix Blender that I talked about in my blog a few months back called Vitamix vs. Grinders.  Though it wasn’t a total waste in grinding it the texture was more of a fine cream of wheat than the pastry flour consistency that I prefer.  But it does make good bread (and good cream of wheat), especially when you add gluten and regular flour.  The toasted red wheat and the rye flours were both pastry grade.  I added the extra gluten to off-set the gritty red wheat and the extra yeast because the red wheat I know is heavier than the white and I figured, eh, what the heck.  It’s not like it’s going to grow out of Charlie and take up the whole kitchen like in I Love Lucy. (If you don’t know the reference, shame on you.)  And if it does grow a little too big it means the top is still a little doughy, which I like.

I’ll let y’all know how it turns out and if I get adequate praise from the Alpha tester (Mom).  I’m just hoping it turns out, this has been my first experiment in a long, long time.

*Her Dark Materials is a nod toward the cover of a single volume trilogy which includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, not that I’m stirring up some sort of alchemists brew.

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Sorry for the absense

Just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgetting you.  I have still been baking bread, just not exploring new ways of doing it.  Life has been a practice in too much yeast and not enough bowl.  My mom has gone through a bit of a challenge but is starting to get better and with that the bowl is increasing so I’m getting a bit of a breather.  I’ve been thinking about fruited breads; apple sauce, raisin and spice, other dried fruits, well, you get the picture.  Bithell Farms is asking for orders again, so I might get some of the berries and see if would be an option as well….I hope the math to figure out the moisture, say in frozen raspberries, and water isn’t too difficult…me trying to do math would be a funny post, but this space isn’t for counting my fingers, toes and those digits of the people around me.  It’s about me using all the digits and math to help me make better bread for living.  And all that entails.

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Molasses…Not Just For Gingerbreadmen

Playing in the kitchen with sugar again, and I found the coolest thing.  I chose to use Splenda as my sugar and wondered if the thing in Sugar that makes me grow is the same thing that makes the yeast grow so I added a tablespoon of molasses.  To be extra sure, I added a little extra yeast.  I hate making adobe bricks, so I try to it off by adding anything I can to make it fluffy.

The Splenda worked well, but what blew me away was the hint of molasses.  It was subtle enough to where you couldn’t really tell what it was mixed in with the nutmeg and the wheat taste of the bread.  However, the texture was missing something with the Splenda so I marked it off my list of possible ingredients and moved forward.

So, brown sugar has always been one of Mom’s favorite ingredients for, well, anything.  So I swapped out the hone/white sugar for brown and added the molasses again.  OMB……it was AMAZING. Again, using the gluten, nutmeg and now molasses is going to be one of my standard ingredients in my breadmachine arsenal.  You should try it!  Just add a tablespoon of molasses to it and see if you like how it works for you.  Let me know!

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A Thought Before Bed….

With a big enough bread machine, I could feed the world!

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Every Needful Thing

Who am I kidding? Baking your daily bread in a bread machine is easy. It’s almost fool-proof. Almost….

I put all my ingredients in one day, just focusing on putting in the flour, the salt the
sugar or honey taking for granted the bucked would do what I am not able or willing to do. I set the bread type and crust type and walked away. Three hours later I looked into machine through the big picture window at the top of the machine and saw the top was rough and uneven. Not a good sign. I took the pan out of the machine and it slid out with only one jerk out of the bucket and plunked onto the cutting board. On the bottom was just this small hole instead of the imprint of the paddle. Looking down into the pan I saw the paddle, the little work horse of the whole unit, was gone and baked into my dense loaf of bread. In honestly the bread still tasted good but was completely useless for sandwiches and any other bread product and then sunk directly to the bottom of your stomach and laid there for most of the day.

It made me think how often I go about my day in such a mindless state. I’m either consumed by mistakes of the past or trying to stretch my consciousness out to the next
on-coming hurdle and forget how important it is to secure the necessary items to help me knead my way through the dough of everyday living. Prayer, reverence, obedience, a quiet moment to feel that He is with me and I am not alone are often flung off in the rush of the day. He is the leaven in our life to help us grow and reach our potential. Without Him, without our works in His name, we are nothing more than a flour brick, and like salt that has lost its savor, we are only good for trampling under foot.

So, in the morning, before you go out be sure your paddle is secured to the motor so you can be the bread that nourishes not only your soul but your neighbors as well.

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Mixing it up a bit

A while ago I did a post called “Sugar….ah Hone, Honey” because I didn’t understand why only sugar would work in Frankie and not Honey or Brown Sugar.  Well, Frankie has been recycled into a child’s toy by now so I’m hoping to reopen my original experiments in sugar since I’ve been using nothing but Honey in my wheat bread recipes since I got Charlie, as per the standard recipe for wheat bread.

Just to be clear as to what I do normally now is I measure the water, put in about a table-spoon of oil, hand measure the salt and then just dump in’ enough honey to cover the bottom of the bread pan.  Those of you who have actually measured honey would understand why, those of you who haven’t, trust me, this is easier than trying to clean off the sides of the tablespoon.  I’ve taken 1/4 of the wheat flour out to make the bread just a little lighter in the end and maybe a dash more of gluten.  The pies de resistance is the three shakes of nutmeg on the top (though this time it was into the water).  So, that’s my standard recipe for wheat bread.

Instead of doing the honey I put in six 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  I say it like that because I’m not totally sure I put in just six.  It might be seven.  It would have been three tablespoons except the tablespoon on my ring seems to have run away.  Maybe it ran away with the carving fork, I dunno.  What I realized is one mustn’t be chatting with people when one is trying to do a proper experiment in ones kitchen.  I packed in the sugar and then pried it out of the spoon and watched as it melted into the warm water below.

I set it for the standard setting for wheat bread (#3 on Charlie) and set the crust as medium (#b on Charlie).  And I waited the 3 hrs. and 45 minutes for the mix, rise, knead, rise, knead, rise, bake cycles to compete.  I pulled the bread out about five minutes after it finished because I saw the bread had raised to Charlie’s dome and the very top of the bread was very white.  However, the sides where the standard bread should rise to was a nice dark brown.  Darker than it is with honey.  Maybe because of the molasses in the brown sugar made it that way.

I cut off the very top as quickly as I could so I wouldn’t burn my fingers and tasted it, and honesty I didn’t seem much of a difference in taste.  As I put the nutmeg in the water it seems to have muted but it seemed just as sweet and pliable as it ever is.

My conclusion from this experiment? If you run out of honey (Or can’t afford the honey because bees don’t work for free, you know), brown sugar works just as well and you’ll get a browner yet still chew-able crust.

Have you had any fun experiences of mixing things up in your bread machine?  Let me know!

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High Praise

I’ve settled into making regular wheat bread for a while now.  Nothing really to blog about.  However, I just wanted to post the highest praise that I’ve received so far.  “This is perfect.  You got the right amount of salt and everything.  Are you finally following a recipe?”   Sigh.  I don’t measure, per se, but I always use a recipe for the normal bread.  So, I guess it’s time to play around, will report back with results.

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Toast of the Town

I was trolling around the internet trying to find wheat and bread recipes that I could pirate and use for my blog when I came across a recipe for “Toasted Wheat Berry Salad”.  That got my attention fast.  I’ve ground enough wheat to know that the little berries (I swear that’s what they’re called) aren’t soft enough to eat straight.  Not unless you *like* seeing the dentist on a weekly basis.  Me, not so much.  So, I read on.  Apparently, if you toast them long enough they get soft and you can use them as sprinkles on anything!  I had to try it.

So, I pulled a can of red and white wheat out of storage and pulled out one of my small baking sheets.  You want to start small so you can keep a handle on things, or so is my motto for experiments that deal with heat and could possibly hurt me.  Better a small burn than a big one.  So, you spread out a single row of wheat onto the pan, leaving a little room for rolling around.

Pre-Heat the oven (very important for timing purposes) to 325.

Slide in tray and wait for about 2.5-3 minutes.

Shake tray so the wheat gets the other side toasted as well.

Close the over and wait another 2.5-3 minutes.

You need to use your sense of smell and hearing to tell when it’s done.  For me, red wheat smells like chocolate-chip cookies with walnuts just before you start hearing it pop.  If you don’t mind that it might be popping into your oven, let it set for another 10-30 seconds.  The darker you can get the wheat the easier it is to eat and better it tastes.

White wheat, to me, smells like a cross between a beef-roast and long dried grass on a blistering hot summers day.  Not as pleasing as hot chocolate-chop cookies with walnuts, which might be why I only toast red wheat now.

Let it cool and try it.  It’s still hard, but it cracks easily when you eat it and it has a nutty flavor.

If you are intending on using it for your bread, wait for it to cool before you grind it.  Depending upon your tastes you will want to put 1/4 to 1/3 of your wheat ingredient as the toasted red wheat.  The bread comes out tasting a bit nuttier and, if you can quantify a feeling, comfier.  When you toast the bread and the white wheat gets a little toasted and the toasted red wheat is double toasted you have a breakfast worth celebrating.

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