Posted in baking

Fresh From the Oven Challenge: Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

whole wheat walnut bread
The nuts make it lumpy.

This month’s FFTO challenge was clearly chosen with health in mind, which is great, since I’m trying to eat better in between Daring Baker challenges ;).  Sarah from Simply Cooked chose this bread from Jill Van Cleave’s book The Neighborhood Bake Shop.

Here’s the recipe after going through my baker’s percentage calculator, with my (as always, shortened) version of the instructions:

62.7 B%        383.3 g        3 c bread flour, divided
37.3 B%        227.7 g        1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
0.5 B%        3.2 g        1 t active dry yeast, divided
77.4 B%        473.2 g        2 c lukewarm water (95 – 110F, 35 – 45C), divided
3.4 B%        20.7 g        1 T honey
2.2 B%        13.6 g        1 T olive or walnut oil
0.8 B%        5.0 g        1 t sea salt
175 g, 1 1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Mix 1/2 t yeast in 1 c (250 ml) lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Let proof until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 c (190 g) bread flour. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Use or refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before using.

Mix remaining 1/2 t yeast with 1 c (250 ml) lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let proof for about 5 minutes.
Mix with starter, honey, oil, whole wheat flour, and salt.
Add 1 1/4 c (160 g) of the remaining bread flour gradually to form a stiff dough.
Add the walnuts.
Knead for ten minutes until smooth and elastic, adding as much of the reserved flour as needed to keep it from being too sticky.
Grease, cover, and allow to rise until it is doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into two pieces and form into loaves. Place on a baking pan and let rise about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 F/205 C for 30 to 40 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack.

slices
It turned out soft, if not very tall.

The original had the option of using part semolina flour, but I didn’t have that on hand so I took it out of my recipe.  I also used agave syrup instead of honey, and I chose olive oil as the oil.  I didn’t add the reserved flour; after letting the flour absorb the water, it was a little sticky, but really just about how I think dough should be.  I think I used less walnuts than called for, too, because when I started adding them it just seemed like enough.  I left them in big chunks, mostly out of laziness, and they were breaking up the dough a lot so I didn’t want to overload it.

I actually tried to make half of the recipe since it says it makes two loaves and I have trouble going through one before it gets stale (then again, some of the best things you can make call for stale bread), but as I feared, I forgot that I was halving the measurements somewhere along the way, so I ended up making the full amount except with half the starter.

Lately I’ve had trouble where I have a great first rise and a bad second rise, so I thought that maybe I’ve been overrising my dough – it is higher than normal room temperature in my un-air conditioned apartment.  So I stopped the first rise after 1 1/2 hours, when it was clearly doubled in size.  I hoped this would help, but I’m not sure that it did.  The bread wasn’t dense at all, but it had no height.  Maybe I needed to shape it differently.  I also had no luck at slashing the top.  I’ll blame it on my dull knife.

Posted in dry heat

I’m now that person who makes her own granola

homemade granola
After I threw away the burnt part and ate a bowl of it, this much was left.

I never thought I’d make my own granola.  I’m a cereal for breakfast except on special occasions kind of person, and I didn’t want to have to do any work for breakfast.  But lately I’ve been paying more attention to eating healthy, and I found myself wanting to decide what was in my granola.  Or maybe it’s just the hippieness of Western Massachusetts rubbing off on me.  I’m going to a yoga class this weekend, too.

I estimated that I eat 3/4 cup of cereal in the morning.  So, per bowl, the recipe (made up by yours truly) is:

1/2 cup oats

2 Tbsp flaxseeds, ground

2 Tbsp almonds, blanched and chopped

2 Tbsp sweetener (I used a ratio of half honey, one fourth agave maple syrup blend, and one fourth sugar, simply because that was how much I had left of the honey and the syrup)

1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch salt

to be added after baking:

1 tsp candied ginger

Mix the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix them in, spread onto a baking sheet in a thin layer, and bake for 20 minutes at 325F, moving stuff around halfway through.  Cool and add the ginger.

I made four bowls’ worth, which seemed like the perfect amount for one baking sheet.  I did have one snag: it got a little too brown.  One edge got downright burnt, so I threw a little of it away, but the rest is ok…but just barely.  I don’t know if this is because 20 minutes at 325F is too much, or because my oven wasn’t really at 325F, but I suspect the latter.  I use an oven thermometer, but lately it says that the oven is at a lower temperature than it’s supposed to be at.  Maybe both my oven and my oven thermometer are off.  Alas.  I’ll check it again at 15 minutes next time.