"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: cracked wheat bread

cracked wheat bread today . . .

While I have been trying my hand at making plain white bread and oatmeal bread this week, I remembered a bakery in Concord, MA. where you can buy the best bread I’ve ever tasted: cracked wheat bread. The loaves are huge and the crumb is tender to the bite and crispy chewy when toasted. I love that bread!

So, I looked around for cracked wheat at the local market and there was none to be had. Amazon listed it for a hefty price and I found it on VitaCost website in the same brand at a fraction of the cost. It arrived yesterday and this morning, I’m starting a recipe for two loaves of cracked wheat bread.

The first step is to soak the cracked wheat in boiling water for an hour. Next comes proofing the yeast in water. The remaining wet ingredients include warm buttermilk (which I had in the fridge from making a yummy buttermilk bacon salad dressing,) honey and molasses. The dry ingredients include a 1 to 3 ratio of whole wheat flour and regular white flour.

As an aside, I’ve been borrowing bread baking books from the library down the street – including “Bouchon baking” by Thomas Keller, “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice,” “Flour, water, yeast, salt” and also reading bread recipes online. What I have taken away for myself is that a) I’m not going to become a perfectionist bread-maker; b) I’d like to make bread that’s delicious every so often; c) I don’t want to buy a mixer with a bread hook.

Even though I was ready to spring for a cute, red Mixmaster stand mixer with a dough hook for less than $100, it occurred to me this morning that I might be able to mix the dough similarly in my trusty Cuisinart! So, I did just that. I followed the recipe and pulsed it in my Cuisinart, especially running it for a couple of minutes once everything was incorporated. I could tell that the machine was okay but beginning to labor a little bit during the final mixing so I shut it off. Then, I scraped the dough out of it and kneaded it by hand, adding a sprinkle of white flour to make it less sticky and easier to handle. Oiled a bowl and set the ball of dough in it and covered it with plastic wrap. Then, I set it in a warmed oven (turned on and then off, leaving the oven light on) to rise for a couple of hours.

BTW, if you try the recipe that is highlighted above, I noticed that there was no mention of when to add the proofed yeast back in. I combined it with the warm buttermilk, molasses, honey, butter mixture before adding the rest of the white flour. I’m also curious to see if the molasses is overpowering because it’s pretty strong in the dough.

The kneaded and formed loaves rose again and were baked at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. I was relieved to see that this recipe’s photo showed a slightly deflated top similar to what my loaves have been looking like.

Footnote: Here’s a photo of the first slice from this loaf of bread. Apparently, my use of a Cuisinart to mix the dough worked out well – the crumb is exceptionally light and the bread has a uniform grain. It also tastes good too!

dinner plate with butter lettuce, avocado, honey crisp apple salad w/buttermilk bacon dressing – & cracked wheat bread



summer “lite” . . .

pea soup 1

Did you know that today (Friday, July 25, 2014) is supposed to be one of the “top ten most beautiful days of the summer?” When I heard that on the weather report last night before going to bed, I wondered to myself how they knew what other days (and how many?) might be coming along until September 22nd when Fall officially begins? Never mind, I thought, it’ll be nice just to know today is special, weather-wise that is.

peas and asparagus 1So, to take advantage of this sunny, dry, cool but warm day, I thought I’d use up the bag of shelled fresh peas that I’ve been saving in the fridge and make an asparagus-pea soup to have for supper tonight. I’ve also been wanting to make a zucchini bread ever since I stopped at the farmstand yesterday and they were sold out of zucchini bread although loaves of banana-nut and cranberry-nut breads were lined up in neat rows.

The last time I made a zucchini bread was a few years ago when we had a bunch of pianists over to play works in progress for each other. One of them, a twenty-something youth with acne on his face, ignored our protocol not to show off, and then tried to make up for his immodesty by complimenting me on how good the zucchini bread was. I’ve chatted with another pianist recently about the baffling phenomenon that pianists can’t seem to play for each other without becoming competitive. But that’s a post that I will hopefully avoid writing about.

zucchini bread 1In any case, music and cooking sometimes go well together and today, since it’s such a fine day, I might play some Bach and work on a Beethoven Rondo that Paul Lewis, an English pianist, has recorded. This afternoon, I’ll make the soup and let it chill. And if I have enough zucchini, I’ll bake a couple of loaves of zucchini bread–some to have with the soup for supper and some to give away next door to G.’s family and downstairs for our medical student before he goes away for the weekend. I like to make recipes that are classic, and zucchini bread 2while I’ve bought a couple of non-gluten flours and xanthum gum, I think I’ll use half regular flour and half blue cornmeal flour for the zucchini bread.

I’ve been thinking about keeping things simple and staying close to home in terms of what I’m thinking about these days. That is, to get the hardware removed from my ankle, a screw that goes through my tibia and fibula next week in outpatient surgery. I hope the bone/ankle will heal enough so that I can bear weight on it before going on a trip to Puget Sound in early September.

So, our summer meals are less fussy these days: last night, we had bean soup and BLT’s on cracked wheat bread that I brought back from a bakery in Concord. There’s nothing better than a ripe tomato, fresh lettuce leaves, bacon and this bread. Tonight, we’ll have cream of asparagus-pea soup and zucchini bread. This weekend, I might make fresh corn crepes to go with something on the grill.

So summer “lite” is here for awhile: less heavy meals, reading for fun and maybe even some serious goofing off (whatever that might happen to be.)