Saturday, October 29, 2011

Whole Wheat Cranberry Beet Muffins

Don't let the ingredients fool you these are delicious. I was skeptical but will be making more of these tomorrow.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cup oats, ground in a blender to make a powder
1 tbsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

1 cup canola oil
2 cups applesauce*
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup water

1 cup frozen cranberries
~2 cups finely shredded beets**

1. Heat oven to 350oF
2. Mix first 7 ingredients; in a separate bowl mix oil apple sauce sugar eggs and water.
3. Combine mixtures and add cranberries and beets.
4. Fill lined muffin cups and bake for 25-30 min until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

This makes about 24 very tender muffins.

*I didn't have this much apple sauce. Instead I blended 2 cups of apples about 8 small, (cored but skins on) with the water and some of the oil to make an uncooked version.
**I used all the beets I shredded using a grater. This was probably slightly more than 2 cups 6 small beets. Anywhere between 1-2 cups should work fine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Bread for novices and students

Making your own bread is both easy and cheap, and doesn't take a lot of hands on time.

1 cup water
2.25 tsp yeast
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
~4 cups all purpose flour (in the US use Bread flour)

1 big bowl
1 cup measure
1 tsp measure
1 tbsp measure
Spatula (or spoon for mixing, or hands work too)
baking tray/pan

Mixing the dough:
1.       Using water that is almost at body temperature (it should only feel slightly warm to the touch), combine 1 cup of water and yeast in your big bowl.
2.       Add sugar, salt, and oil and stir.
3.       (If you have old yeast, leave it for 5 min. If you start to see small bubbles or foam, your yeast is still fine. If you have new yeast that hasn't expired you can skip this step)
4.       Add about 2 cups of flour and mix until completely combined.
5.       Continue adding flour, about 1/4 cup at a time until it gets harder to combine with the spoon
6.       At this point use your hands and knead (see below) the dough until it stops sticking to your hands, but still feels moist (your goal is to use as little flour as possible to get a dough that is easy to work with and doesn't stick to your hands).

Rising (letting the dough double in size):
7.       Knead the dough for 5-10 min or until it starts to get an even texture. Then form a ball and put it back into the bowl.
8.       Rub a little oil over the outside of the ball to keep it from drying and cover with a clean tea towel or some cling wrap.
9.       Leave the dough in a warm place for about 45-60 min

Shaping the Dough:
10.   Once the dough is about twice its original size, cut it into 6 equal pieces and shape it into balls.
11.   Flatten the balls to about 1/2 in thick and place them evenly space on your tray.
12.   Rub them with a little more oil, then let them sit and rise again for about 30 min.

Baking the bread/buns:
13.   Bake buns at 400F for about 20 min or until the bottom of a bun sounds slightly hollow when tapped.
14.   For bread loaves, simply roll the entire batch of dough into a log and put it into a loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 30-40min until the bottom sounds hollow when you knock on it.

To knead your dough.
1. Flatten the fough ball slightly with the heal of your hand.
2. Fold the dough in half toward you and flatten again, pushing away from yourself to flatten the dough
3. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn. Fold the dough toward you, and flatten by pushing away with the heal of your hand.
4. Repeat the process, always rotating the bowl 1/4 turn until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.

·         If you forget about your dough and it rises so much that it collapses, try kneading it 4 or 5 times quickly and letting it rise again for 15-20 min.
·         Hot water kills the yeast. Cooler water just means the yeast will take longer to make the bread rise. Opt for cooler over too hot water.
·         If your home is not warm enough to rise bread, put the bowl into the microwave (DO NOT turn it on), and put a glass of very hot water into the microwave before closing the door. The water will heat the air in the microwave.
·         Add a little extra water if the dough is too dry, a little extra flour if it is too wet.
·         For whole wheat dough, try substituting about 2 cups of whole wheat or oat flour for 2 cups of the all purpose flour. (For 100% whole wheat you will need a different recipe)
·         The more moist the dough, the easier it is for the dough to rise, and the lighter the texture of the baked bread. A drier dough will take longer to rise and make a denser bread.