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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Time is a funny thing. It stands still. It flies by. Yet when it is gone… it is gone. 006I had to dust off the keyboard since I haven’t been on the computer in a while. Geez. I know I missed a letter in the alphabet this past Sunday. I will try to make it up to you all, ’cause I know you all sitting on pins and needles just wondering what I will come up with H. Ha (oooooh, that is an “H”)

I am enjoying the cooler weather that winter has brought to South Texas. I am just so much more comfortable right now, and it feels better when I turn up the stove to bake or cook something too. Rosemary-Lemon cookiesOn Wednesday, I did just that. I made some Rosemary Lemon Cookies for the Annual Cookie Exchange with the culinary group I am in. I have posted about these cookies before, but I forget how wonderful they are until I make them again, and drool.

Unfortunately, I was only able to sample one. ONE! The batch made up exactly what I needed for the exchange plus 2 extra (one for me, one for my husband!)

I returned home with six different types of cookies and that will make my husband happy for a while. Once the sugar buzz has worn off, I will make some more of the Rosemary Lemon Cookies for us.

There are a few things that I love about these cookies; I can walk right outside and pick fresh rosemary to use, they don’t have a lot of sugar in them, they are crispy, and they remind me of shortbread.

What are you baking right now?

Sincerely, Emily

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3 Cheers for flour!

Hi All from narf7 from Serendipity Farm

Today’s post was brought to you by the concept of flour through the ages. I have a very sketchy ability to recall my own history let alone the history of the rest of the world but somewhere in the back of my mind I remember a history lesson regarding how important the growing of cereal crops was to the history of mankind. It meant that we would no longer need to be nomadic and that there would be a degree of surety regarding our food supply that was previously reliant on the hunting of large and dangerous creatures to feed us. Maybe that’s where vegans started as well…who knows! All I know is that it meant that people tended fields of grain while others went out to catch the mammoths and that’s where humanity started to really appreciate the concept of community. Everyone had a job, and the cereal became the backbone of the community.

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Sourdough rye starter after being fed, ready for use

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A sourdough loaf

Very early on we humans learned that a loaf of bread (albeit unleavened and most probably somewhat tasteless) was a valuable thing when the mammoths went on their annual sabbatical to wherever they went (most probably the La Brea Tar Pits) and being able to harvest perennial grasses allowed communities to grow and prosper. The production of flour allowed a community to store food and once food was stored it could be bartered for other food and goods and services, and over a period of time commerce was born. Flour, and that tasteless loaf of unleavened bread was incredibly vital to how big a community could grow and how far it could travel to meet up with other small communities.

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Homemade spinach pasta dough made with eggs and spinach produced on the property

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A Roly Poly Tiger Stromboli created from a savoury Stromboli recipe after wondering if a sweet version might be nice…it was!

Fast forwards to today and flour is just as important to our economies as it was back then but we have refined (pun intended) our flour to within an inch of its life and it isn’t the life sustaining product that it once was. Fortunately for us there are healthy alternatives and we can all have a go at creating customised baked goods suitable for everyone in our family. There is a groundswell of interest in cooking and especially baking and a subsequent rise in food blogs enabling us all to customise our diets to suit our requirements. It also allows us to share what we learn with our friends and family and spread the food love around

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Delicious and healthy, a cake baked using dates as an alternative to refined sugar

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These muffins were baked using kefir and sourdough starter a great way to use up excesses in a most tasty way

Where our communities were once reliant on spreading the grain love for survival, we now share recipes to rebuild a sense of community…we have almost come full circle. I shared how to make a wonderful pizza, calzone and Stromboli dough with a wonderful friend who was staying with us recently. She can now take the recipe back home with her and share it with her friends and family to make their lives richer. Humble flour still enriches our lives even though our lives are a whole lot easier than they once were. Where would we be without bread, birthday cakes and pizza?

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This is a post I had started over on my personal blog a few years ago, but it just kept getting pushed further down the posting list until it was out of sight. Alexandra commented on my post last week about getting the recipe…. just the push I needed I guess.

I found this recipe back in 2010 over at Living on a Dime and I have been making them ever since then. This is what my husband has for breakfast every day. They make a great snack and they freeze well.  I always grab a few to take with me when I head out to run errands for the day. Having them with me keeps me from making a bad decision (fast food drive-thru) when I start to get really hungry.

I stack them in a pint canning jars to take in the truck.

I stack them in a pint canning jars to take in the truck.

The base of the recipe is great and then you go off in the direction you want to with your special ingredients. I substitute honey for the granulated sugar in this recipe. I know honey still has calories just like granulated sugar, but I am not focusing on calories here, I am focusing on my ingredients and where they come from along with the benefits of the things I add to them. Also, I think I am getting a healthier granola bar then the ones in the store that are full of additives and preservatives that I am working so hard to stay away from.

mixing up granola bars

Homemade Granola Bars           Adapted from website Living on a Dime

Cream together (I use my stand mixer or hand-held mixer)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

Add to mix (use electric mixer)
2 Tbsp. honey or corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Peanut butter (optional)

Add to mix (I still use that mixer)
1 cup flour
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Stir into mix

Add dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Add to mix
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal (I use an organic puffed rice or puffed millet)

Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. (I use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into pan.)

Bake at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes. (looking for golden brown – but not crispy

The bars will firm up as they cool.
Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting.
Makes 24 bars.

Here is what I add to mine:
Ground flax seed
Sunflower seeds
Peanuts
Coconut
Raisins or died cranberries or dried apricots

Granola Bars - done

A few of my notes:

  • I don’t tend to measure the ingredients when I am making these up, other than there is always a 1 cup measure in each jar of flour that I have and 1/4 cup measuring cup in both my oatmeal and my puffed millet. I have found when using honey in place of the granulated sugar that I need to add more flour to the mixture. Since I am not measuring, my granola bars can come out either quite chewy gooey or quite firm and crunchy.
  • Another thing to keep in mind when using more honey in these bars, is that if you bake them at 350F like the original recipe calls for, they will brown and burn more quickly and the bars won’t be completely cooked, so I turn down the oven to 300F to bake them slower and a lower heat setting. They still brown up more, but they don’t burn as quickly.

I cannot count how many times that I have passed on this recipe and everyone that has made them has been thrilled with the results.

I make two batches at a time and always keep them in the freezer.

Do you make your own granola or granola bars? Feel free the share your recipe or a link to it in the comments.

Sincerely, Emily

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LemonI am starting to see posts around blog-land about lemons coming into season. Lemon is a favorite fruit  and used in so many different ways for many people for so many reasons. Lemonade on a hot summer day. Lemon cakes. Candied lemon peels. I could go on and on and on.

For a recent cookie exchange with an herbal culinary group that I am involved in I thought long and hard about what I was going to make. Last year I had the brilliant idea to make cardamon peanut brittle, which didn’t work and it forced me to regroup and come up with something else. The day before I needed to have 12 dozen herbal cookies I fell back on a basic Mexican Wedding cookie and added the cardamon to it. They turned out great.

This year I made rosemary lemon cookies. Man-o-man were they good.

RosemaryRosemary-Lemon Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter – soft

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp snipped fresh rosemary

2 tsp finely grated lemon peel

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

Rosemary-Lemon cookies

Line cookie sheet with parchment.
Beat butter, sugar, rosemary, lemon, baking powder, salt and vanilla in electric mixer until completely combined.
Beat in flour, one cup at a time until it is all combined.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
Flatten balls with the bottom of a glass that is buttered and dipped in sugar.
Bake at 400F for approx. 8 min, or until lightly browning on edges.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.
Transfer to cooling rack

Makes approx 40 cookies

You will taste the lemon right away and after a few seconds have gone by the rosemary flavor will come through ever so slightly. I loved that.

I also loved the thinness and crunch that these cookies had, and I can see myself using this cookie base for other herbs and spices like ginger and cinnamon.

Do you prefer a crunchy, crispy cookie or one that is soft?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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You have an official pass to eat goodies– it’s Christmastime! But in January, you have to be good. Here are some of the yummies, we’re making:

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I (Xan) really just starting baking a few years ago. Baking is one of those things that one does with one’s mother, and since mine died right at the brink of my adulthood, I didn’t really feel confident in doing it. Plus, it made me sad. But when I changed my food buying habits and diet a few years ago, I had to learn to bake, or no bread. And I really did kinda figure it out. I’m slowly figuring out bread, am something of an expert now, or at least fairly fearless, at scones, and last year I taught myself to make pies (including the crust). Here is one them, and it fits in with last Tuesday’s post about baking with my mother.Pineapple apricot pie

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Well, I (Sincerely, Emily) had wonderful intentions of making some cookies over the past few days….   ahhhh, that just didn’t happen.

Pecan Pie Bars 2

So, the only sweet treat you are going to see from me is in the post I did yesterday about the Pecan Pie Bars that I made. Oh, and there is the batch after batch of zucchini muffins and bread that I have been making over the past few montsh (and stashing in the freezer – and other people’s freezers too).

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What sweet treats have you been baking? Comment and add a link if you posted about them.

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I have been looking around for a different cookie recipe to take to a cookie exchange that I am going to next week. In the process I came across a recipe for Pecan Pie Bars. My husband is a big fan of pumpkin pie and pecan pie, and my neighbor usually makes the pecan pie and I usually make an apple cranberry thingy. Well, this year, for Thanksgiving, I completely dropped the ball on desert and Wednesday night by husband asked if we were having pumpkin pie…. ahhh, no.

I did get him to agree to help me with the pecan pie bars and boy, they were great!

Pecan Pie Bars

Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C. crust: combine flour, powdered sugar and salt. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until your mixture is course crumbs. Pat the crumb mixture into an ungreased 11×7 baking dish. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until it is a golden brown.

“Pie” filling
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup agave syrup
1T cornstarch
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

While you crust is baking, mix together eggs, pecans, brown sugar, agave syrup, 2 T melted butter and vanilla. Spread this mixture over your baked crust.
Bake for 20 minutes (350F/180C). Cool before cutting.

We cut our bars rather large (15 bars). I know I will be making these bars a few more times through December and will cut them much smaller (24 bars).

When I found this recipe, I didn’t have light corn syrup on hand, so I turned to our resident baker here at NDIN (Emily at Tanglewood Farm) about using a substitute and she recommended trying agave syrup. After I mixed the “filling” it seemed a bit thin and runny so I decided to add 1T of cornstarch to the mix. I have NO idea if this helped or not. All I can tell you is the “filling” was firm and came out fine.

When I decided to try this recipe I was looking forward to using my Vitamix to make the powdered sugar. Before I got started, I looked up in the cupboard, waaaaay in the back, just to make sure there wasn’t any store-bought powdered sugar still lurking up there. OH, MY! I found A LOT of powdered sugar up there. I can’t tell you when the last time was that I used any powered sugar, but I can also tell you that even though I gave away a ton of food before we moved to Texas (4+ years ago), somehow this powdered sugar came with us. Crazy! I can also tell you that this stuff in OLD. I probably would have bought this when I was taking cake decorating classes when we lived in Palm Springs. That was about 10 years ago. YIKES!

If any of you are from California, you will also laugh, because one of the packages is from Lucky (grocery store) and another box I found is from Stater Brothers. Lucky closed many years ago, but Stater brothers is still around out there.

What kind of treats are you baking this time of year?

Sincerely, Emily

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Breakfast Bread

slice

We had a couple of requests for bread recipes this past week so I thought I’d be obliging and share our Cinnamon Swirl bread. This is the bread that my daughter asks for almost every morning of the week. It’s fantastic toasted and supremely decadent served up as french toast. I’ve used both dried cranberries and raisins as a filler, but it would be fantastic with diced dates or prunes, dried apples, or any other dried fruit, and seed. I hope you enjoy!

rolled bread with honey

My recipe is based on this one published in Bread Baker’s Apprentice and shared by Smitten Kitchen. I’ve altered it to suit my family’s needs.

Makes one two-pound loaf

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp  honey
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups room temperature water
  • 2 Tbsp oil for bowl
  • 1/4 cup raisins or cranberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

I always add 1/2 cup unfed sourdough starter (the perfect way to use up “waste” when you’re feeding it). You can also substitute 1 Tbsp of whey for water.

  1. In a large bowl mix all of your dry ingredients.
  2. In your mixing bowl add honey, butter, yogurt, and one cup water. If you’re adding sourdough starter, now’s the time to add it. If you’re using a stand mixer jump to the next step. For hand mixing, make a well in your flour combination and start adding your liquids. When your dough forms a nice ball and no flour remains you’ve added enough liquid. Sprinkle a workspace with extra flour and work your dough for 8-10 minutes. The ball should be slightly tacky and springy. Skip the next step
  3. If you’re using a stand mixer you can begin adding about 1/3 of the dry mixture using your paddle. Once that’s very well incorporated switch over to your dough attachment. Continue adding flour until the dough begins to work up your hook. You’ve added enough dry mixture when the dough resembles a tornado and the sides of the bowl are clean. Allow the dough to mix on medium speed for about 5-6 more minutes.
  4. Oil a bowl (I like grape seed oil but have used olive oil as well) and roll dough in the bowl to cover with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly sprinkle flour on workspace and gently roll out dough. Very carefully pull and shape the dough to form a rectangle about 8 inches by 12 inches. You don’t want to release any of the air trapped in the dough by handling the dough roughly. Drizzle your honey all over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with your dried fruit and finally the cinnamon.
  6. toppings

  7. Carefully roll up the rectangle of dough to form the swirls and set inside an oiled bread pan. Cover pan and allow to rise for another hour or until bread rises just past the top of the pan. During the last 20 minutes of rising, set your oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake bread for 30 minutes. Turn bread around for even baking and finish baking for another 10-15 minutes or when internal temperature reaches 205 F.
  9. When bread is done baking, turn out immediately on a cooling rack and try to be patient before you cut into it. Okay, okay, 10 minutes should be okay but a half hour is even better!

cinnamon swirl

Slice off a good hunk and top with some homemade butter and, if you have a real sweet tooth, a drizzle of honey and enjoy!!

You can find Jennifer over at Unearthing This Life where she blargs about her life with one Kid, one Hubby, two cats, and seven chickens. Yes, the boys are outnumbered.

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