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Archive for the ‘Breads’ Category

banana bread no refined sugar

I pulled out my BH&G cookbook for the base recipe for banana bread, then put my spin on it.  An acquaintance once asked if I bake without refined sugar, well this is the first way I can implement coconut sugar successfully without the kids noticing.  It’s moist and has a tender crumb, exactly what good banana bread should be.  While I can’t ingest nuts, I’m sure they would make a swell addition.

 

  • 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Combine the dry ingredients, including the spices and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet into the dry bowl.  Stir and fold the mixture until the flour is incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-55 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Immediately remove from the pan and paper to a cooling rack.  Wrap leftovers in plastic, it should keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.

 

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There’s something to be said about tradition.

For one, I never thought my family recipes would share a common thread with friends in Texas, over 2000 miles away from where I’m from in Canada. Turns out at least one person here knows what Yorkshire Pudding is and how to serve it. That is to say, with a proper roast beef and brown gravy made from pan drippings.

I treated my friends to a Canadian dinner, including Yorkshire, roast beef with carrots and mushrooms, corn on the cob, a fresh cucumber salad, rye caraway bread, and rhubarb crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert! Sadly I didn’t take dish-by-dish photos, my guests were not the food blogger sort and probably would have looked at me funny, plus it kind of detracts from the ambiance of dinner (I can sympathize with some chefs who do not allow photos to be taken in their restaurants).
However, having the kids run around doesn’t affect dinner parties AT ALL. (Insert sarcastic grin here)

I did snag a couple photos, the table setting and dessert.

Rye caraway bread midnitechef.com

rhubarb crisp midnitechef.com

Rhubarb grew like weeds at my childhood home, a small farm outside of Westlock, AB. Tradition to me means meat and veggie dinners, growing enough produce to last several months into the harsh winter, canning tomatoes, baking bread, taking cookies to the wheat fields and flagging down my father for their delivery, stealing sips of his coffee from a thermos, Indian Summers, skating on the frozen dugout, and the absolute quiet of my soul knowing I was in a safe place with my family. It’s amazing what a few traditional recipes can conjure up inside of you. New traditions will be added and some of the old will be amended to fit this fast-paced modern life. But sometimes you have to take the time to do things right and pass along that knowledge and love. I’ve always wanted to cook for people, do I have the heart of a chef? Or a Grandmother who stuffs you to the brim with her traditional dishes and treats, with an extra serving for the road in case you didn’t get your fill (and you never did)?

I wish this dinner was shared with my family, tucked away in a quiet farm-house in the middle of nowhere. Instead, I opened my home and heart to friends who are becoming a part of the family. And I stuffed them to the brim. They were as happy to eat my food as I was to host them. It certainly won’t be the last time.

Rhubarb Crisp

This dessert is one that can be made by sight/feel/smell and doesn’t need much measuring, I’ll give you a guide:

In a baking dish mix the following:

  • 3 stalks fresh rhubarb, trimmed of all leaves, diced
  • 1 Green Apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, recommend freshly ground for Savory Spice Shop
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
  • 1 cup sugar

In a separate bowl combine:

  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons butter cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar

The oats should be distributed well with the other ingredients, it may be a bit clumpy and that’s perfect. It will bake on top like granola chunks.

Sprinkle the oat topping over the rhubarb and apple filling. Do not press flat. Bake at 350 F for at least 45 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy with the filling bubbling around the edge.

The crisp is best served the day you bake it as the oats absorb the juices of the rhubarb quite quickly. I recommend letting it cool to room temperature, maybe 90 degrees, then serving it with vanilla ice cream.

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What smells like roasted corn?

Umm, nothing dear!

It was a spur of the moment quick bread.  I didn’t note the size of pan required for the recipe, and I modified the original to include sour cream and a little olive oil since the last egg in the fridge mysteriously disappeared.  The roasted scent was from the globs of dough burning on the bottom of the oven.  More was on the way from the seething undersized loaf pan on the top rack.  A cookie sheet on the lower rack was pushed in as I grabbed the closest utensil to scrape the rapidly hardening expulsions.  My heart sunk, was the whole thing ruined?

I left the darn thing in the oven to finish baking, hoping my late night dessert would survive.  Every door and window was open in an attempt to evacuate the billows of smoke coming from the oven floor.   With all the commotion in the kitchen I was surprised no one came out to investigate!

Happily, the loaf finished baking.  It’s not the prettiest lemon poppy seed cake/loaf but it could be one of the tastiest.

 

I shared the first slice with Hubby.  And saved the rest for breakfast.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

Adapted from The Great Holiday Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

This original recipe was a cranberry nut quick bread.  I changed the flavour using lemon zest, juice, and poppy seeds.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 Tbsp poppy seeds

Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, adding the poppy seeds to the wet bowl.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients.  Mix by hand until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moist.  It will look dry and clumpy, that’s OK!

Spoon the batter into two 5 x 4 inch loaf pans or into muffin tins.  Be sure that the pans or tins are half full or your oven will end up like mine.

Bake at 350ºF for about 50 – 60 minutes.

You might want a cookie sheet under that.  You can thank me later.

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For a long time, I’ve missed my Grandma.  I’ve replayed the last moments we shared together over and over when her birthday approaches.  Shortly after I moved away to begin a new career, she celebrated her 90th birthday.  I returned to attend the family gathering in a tiny Bahá’í hall in Edmonton and was carrying my first child.  Those pregnancy hormones filled me with tears, uncontrollable tears.  They just overflowed while we watched a slide show of old photographs portraying Grandma’s life.  She had reached Great Grandma status even before that day, as some of my cousins had small children and mine was next.

I have fond memories of her two-story house in Mayfield.  Her old cats and Shih tzu who kept her company.  The old candies stowed away in a wood side board table with sliding doors on the front.  Her tea and ginger snap cookies and dark heavy bread.  That was not her first home though.  She lived on the calm quiet shores of Sylvan Lake in a cabin like structure.  Her husband, my Grandfather, was a carpenter and inventor.  I’m sure he built the last standing building I saw at the lake many years ago with grandma.  I could tell she missed him, his handiwork.  Grandma didn’t speak of him much, I cannot recall a conversation that included him.  He is a mystery to me.  We spent many cool summers at the lake with Grandma.

In the city, Grandma never drove a car.  She would have her children and grandchildren taxi her to fetch groceries or reach appointments, or to go to the Pacific Coast.  Of course buses and real taxis served her well while she was mobile enough to use them.  While I lived with her, in the second house which was a bungalow, I offered her rides to Safeway.  Or I would go pick up what she needed.  We went shopping together before I moved away, she insisted on buying me a pair of sandals.  “It’s gonna be pretty warm down there in Texas, you need something comfortable.”  I still have those white leather sandals, they remind me of her each time I wear them.

Besides the shoes, I have her bread recipe.  It’s been hiding.  Or rather, I’ve kept it tucked away in my recipe binder since her passing.  I still get upset every now and then but I know she only wished for my happiness and catch myself before darkness sets in.  My solemn mood requires a quiet reprieve from busy business, time to reflect and honour those who brought us here.

The recipe has several different types of flours and grains.  It calls for seeds and raisins but I left them out for this batch.  I added my twist with quinoa flakes to use up the bulk bin purchase from earlier in the week.  Who knows if the “cup” used was a proper measuring cup or a tea cup, or there could have been no cup at all.  This was her bread, after a while why would a recipe be necessary?  All I figured out was the large quantity of flour that was left out of what was transcribed, about 10 cups.  I will consult with my aunt on the accuracy of the recipe, maybe there’s another version.

Luckily, I had a full bag of bread flour so the unexpected 10 cups were easily accommodated.

I left out the third addition of water because I had a very soupy mixture in my bowl to contend with.  I split the resulting slurry between two large bowls and started adding flour.  And adding more.  Suddenly it came together and I had something to knead.  Five minutes for each ball of dough from each large bowl.  They proofed beautifully, aromatic and sweet from the molasses.  Still looked like a blond version of Grandma’s bread, at least it smelled and felt like bread now.

The two bowls became four loaves.  None of my bread pans are the same size or material so this was an interesting way to find out which ones will work best for dark breads.  My rye breads are rounds on sheet pans, so I haven’t seen the loaf pans in action for this sort of bread.  I topped two loaves with a dusting of flour, the other with honey and poppy seeds.

Pidä huolta itsestäsi, Isoäiti.

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I’m a little late for the hysteria surrounding The Hunger Games novel and the trilogy, but hey, better late than never eh?

I’ve just finished reading the book in time for the theatrical debut in the US (tomorrow).  You would assume there is little to do with food in this tale by the title.  Well, there is.  And I was inspired by the book to create this menu.  It helped to have started my garden early this year thanks to the very mild winter and spring rain.  The garden is my forest, where we begin.

Wild Tame Green Salad

Picked from the yard, the delicate baby greens are the only bit of color a starving family sees at times.  Spring gives strawberries, a sweet relief after a bitter cold winter.

  • garden sprouts of rocket, dandelion buds and leaves, chives, cilantro, mint, pea tendrils, and radish leaves
  • goat cheese
  • pansy petals, geranium bud and petals
  • strawberry

Lamb Stew over Potatoes

Part of the lavish spread for the Tributes in preparation for the Games.

Tender meat and aromatic gravy over fluffy potatoes.

Fruit Bread

To include a hint of the baker’s son, a bread made with dried apricot and currants (sans nuts due to allergies).

The next two books are on my list, I’m sure they will be just as good as the first in the trilogy.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

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From The Great Holiday Baking Book (Ojakangas) comes the first cinnamon bun that wasn’t too dry.  I’ve had rough times with the rolled up buns, usually too dry or over baked.  I did tweak the recipe to refrain from pecans and increased the butter a little, I think that was the ticket for a moist cake-like roll. Those in accredited online culinary colleges would agree that this was the key.

Adapted from Giant Cinnamon-Pecan Rolls by B. Ojakangas

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tpo salt
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Filling

  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.  Prepare a baking dish with brown sugar and butter, about 2 Tbsp in small pieces scattered over the sugar.

Warm the milk and melt the butter.  Mix the dry ingredients and add the milk and butter.  Stir until a ball forms then leave it covered for 10 minutes.  Turn out on a floured surface and roll out the dough.  Smear with butter.  Sprinkle with filling.  Roll and cut even size pieces.  Snuggle the rolls into the pan and cover to rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.  Bake for 25-35 minutes.  Test that the center is cooked with a skewer.  The texture of this roll is a hybrid of yeast bread and cake, I might of let it rest too long in the initial stage that made it more like cake than bread.  But hey, it’s goooood!

Optional icing as shown was from a can, you can leave it off if you like.

This recipe was added to the Sweet As Sugar Cookie link party here!

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You stumble upon the best ideas while surfing sometimes.  I was looking for a video on making orange marmalade, wanted to give it a try so that I knew I would know how to make it if the question ever came up in conversation, a conversation with whom I’m not sure.  I found several posts on YouTube and watched a couple of them.  The second how-to came from fiveeurofoods.  I left a comment on the website and the author/star of the show responded immediately with a suggestion of a bread recipe after I noted a fresh loaf would be needed to eat with the marmalade.

They used semolina (fine corn flour) and wheat flour in the recipe, claiming it stays soft twice as long.  There is a canister of semolina ready to be called to duty in the pantry, so I gave it a shot.

This is merely a substitution of a bread-machine recipe for regular old white bread.  Use half semolina and half bread flour.  That’s all.  There was also a lonely partial Poblano pepper becoming mummified in the fridge, it was diced and added to the flours destined for the machine.

The bread was delicious!  And true to the claims of its alchemist, it was soft longer than my other white breads (made by machine or oven), even the last piece had pliability left in it.  Semolina is not just for pasta anymore.

The orange marmalade was not as successful.

I bought navel oranges (first mistake) and washed them thoroughly.  Five oranges were zested to avoid the bitter pith, I removed all the bits of white and chopped up the flesh, really the membranes were the only structural parts left.  I put the chopped orange, all the zest (second mistake) and a little water into my pot to slowly boil.  Once it resembled hot mush I added sugar, and more sugar (third mistake), then added a gelatin packet (may or may not have knocked against these efforts).  It cooked, I tasted.  More sugar, it’s too bitter.

Darn zest.  Why didn’t you tell me you were going to ruin my batch of marmalade?  Hmm?  It couldn’t answer me, but I tried anyways to interrogate.

The type of orange you use is VERY important.  It’s the same with berries, the initial quality of the fruit will only be amplified in the jam.  That’s why I make strawberry jam only when local berries are available.  Force-ripened and half-frozen trucked-in strawberries will not do.  I would grow them myself if I could.

The next batch of marmalade will need better oranges.

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I’ve been reading The Great Holiday Baking Book  by a woman named Beatrice Ojakangas.  I absolutely love this cook book.  It sits inside my bedside table, waiting for me to continue drooling over recipes each night.

image from Amazon - click to view Amazon page

I know Mrs. Ojakangas lives in Minnesota somewhere with her husband.  She’s been on several television shows, including Martha Stewart Living where I first found out there was a Scandanavian chef out there.  Being half Finnish myself, I was instantly curious.  That curiosity from my late teens did not disappear.  In the last year since I began this blog I have aquired three of Beatrice’s cook books.  The Great Holiday Baking Book is the second one to be poured over with much enthusiasm.  Every chapter has a gem, a recipe that looks too good not to try, and last night I came across the caraway rye bread in the Father’s Day chapter.  She explains in the book that the bread-machine recipes were tested on different brands of machine, and they all turned out great.  My bread machine baked this delicious loaf with ease.

Starting the batch after dinner in my ADD time of night wasn’t the best idea.  I made a bold move to lay down in bed and listen for the timer on the machine to wake me up.  Why not leave the loaf in the machine?  Well, there’s a lot of heat built up that will continue to bake your bread, it may be a dry brick by morning.  I didn’t want to chance it.  I set the timer on the microwave to go off a few minutes later than the bread machine as a back up.  I’m sure Hubby was not impressed, he fell asleep while the bread was baking and I caught a squinting eye upon my return from dumping out the baked loaf onto the cooling rack.  Everyone was back to dreaming about puffy clouds and wooly sheep in no time.

Finnish Caraway Rye Bread

Adapted from The Great Holiday Baking Book by B. Ojakangas

The modifications I made to the original recipe are noted below.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter 2 Tbsp salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 cup dark rye flour, stone ground is what I used
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast  1 Tbsp dry active yeast

I found out through Nancy on her blog that I could must use salted butter in my breads to yield a better flavour, I keep the salt measurements the same from the recipe.  This has been the best trick in baking bread since I’ve started making my own bread.  So go ahead, you’ll be glad you did too!

If you own a bread machine, put the ingredients in the canister in the order shown above.  If your manufacturer insists on liquids being on top, reverse the whole list.  Otherwise, read your manual.  I did mix the two flours in a bowl first to get the rye bits distributed evenly.

That’s the hardest part.  All you have to do is set the machine to 1.5 LB and medium crust on its regular cycle.  Push START.  Now try to stay awake to let the little loaf out when it’s done!

Try this bread with some Salmon with Leeks as a sandwich the next day.  All you need to do is mash up the salmon, add some mayo, pinch of salt and pepper… smear it on toasted slices of the rye bread and voilà!  You are set for lunch.

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Caraway Rye Bread

This one has caraway seeds.

This one did not.  And it had this tear along the top, I guess I was too rough with it.  It does have personality though!

Caraway Rye Bread is one of the homemade breads you can buy locally from me.

Check out Cardamom Finnish Cottage Bakery!

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If you are a local Austin reader, this is the contest for you!

Be the 100th fan on Facebook

& win a free loaf of Finnish Pulla Bread!

* Must live in the Round Rock / Austin area to win this giveaway*

Go to http://www.facebook.com/CardamomFinnishCottageBakery and click Like

Good Luck!

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