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Our wood pile, though thoroughly buried is surely dwindling.  We will be spending the weekend slicing and sawing, that is for sure.  But, in the meantime the boys and I have been a baking.  It has been a long time since I shared a bread recipe.  I recently committed to a 30 day venture of NOT eating grains or processed sugar, and while it healed a weary tummy, my soul has been starving!  The last few days I introduced the glorious foodstuffs back and the results have been phenomenal!  My heart feels like its been placed back into my chest.

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Chunked up apple cinnamon bread

(adapted from Sarabeths bakery cookbook)

2 tablespoons yeast

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup of whole milk

2/3 cup of water

1 egg

splash of vanilla

4 cups of flour

pinch of sea salt

4 tablespoons melted butter

2 large apples (something firm that will hold up baking I used empire)

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

 

whisk yeast, sugar, water, and milk together. proof a couple minutes until it looks nice and creamy.  add vanilla, egg and butter.  one cup at a time mix in flour.  Knead for about five minutes until smooth and soft and elastic.  let rise in a toasty location (next to the wood stove!) until doubled.  This  took about an hour for me.  Put little hands to work peeling apples.  Slice and core them.  chunk into 1/2 inch cubes.  A three year old can certainly do this job.  And a five year old will excel at it!  So let your little ones do the work while you join the rising dough and warm up your tootsies.  Mix, the cinnamon, sugar, yolk and apples together.  When the dough rises flatten it out into a thick rectangle and mash in the apple mix.  Fold it all up into a messy, very messy mash.  Chunk it up with your knife and place into two well buttered, and floured bread pan with the bottoms lined with parchment.  Let rise again for about an hour.  Cook at 350 for about an hour until its just about 210 degrees F.  Cover the top with a piece of foil if it starts to burn.  

 

Slice and serve with lots of room temperature butter.  Great as french toast.  Trust me.

Maple Oatmeal Bread

Maple syrup isn’t just something you pour on pancakes around here.  Oh no, it is a very, very big deal.  The process is precise and communal and talked about everywhere you go.  Opinions are distinct and livelihoods are at stake.  This tapping business is serious stuff and we are very lucky to benefit from it all.  Even our tiny tiny town’s bi-weekly story hour revolved around it last week.  With a full tour around the property, a good explanation of the giant bubbling machinery, a delicious story, and some vanilla ice cream topped with warm syrup to finish things off just right, we were in heaven.  Well almost.  With the worlds most chewed up dirty old check book in hand, I knew that there was no leaving this place until I had a trunk full of that Grade B amber liquid.  So, I did what any pregnant woman new to Vermont would do and purchased an astounding amount of syrup bottled and boxed and sealed tight.

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Since then, I have tried to ration, really I have, but it seems my oven is always smelling of pancakes regardless.  There has been maple muffins and maple  yogurt and maple glazes and maple dressings and of course you knew there would be maple bread.  Maple Oatmeal Bread to be precise.  With every toast of the toaster that maple smell goes wafting back into your nose with this loaf.

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Maple Oatmeal Bread

1/2 cup of coffee

3/4 cup of maple syrup

1 cup of boiling water

1/3 cup of melted butter

1 cup of oats (your leftovers could suffice)

1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 tsp sea salt

5 tsp. dry active yeast

1/4 cup of luke warm water

2 eggs

6 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Combine first 7 ingredients.  Meanwhile mix up yeast and warm water and let it get all bubbly so you know its alive.   Mix eggs into your batter and the bubbly yeast.  Stir in flour one cup at a time until your spoon can’t do the work.  Turn onto a floured surface kneading until it’s just over sticky.  Turn into a well buttered bowl and let double in size.  About 1.5 hours.  Split in half and fold into two loaves.  Place them in very well buttered loaf pans cover them up and let them rise again until at the edge of the pans top.  This shouldn’t take very long at all.  Place in a pre heated 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, let cool slightly and turn onto a drying rack.  Wait until its mostly cooled to slice and slather in butter and if your sweet tooth is really bothering you top with a little extra syrup too….

apple spiced currant loaf

I realize I have not posted a single bread recipe in quite some time.  I promise I am still delighting myself in the controversial floury stuff.  I won’t ever stop.  I just couldn’t.

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The weather around here is cold.  I mean cold in a way that scares me a little bit.  I know that this is nothing, and that soon it will be physically painful will to bring my trash out or call my dog in.  I know that mismatched runninng socks will not cut it for my boys one of these days very soon.  Wool and layers.  Wool and layers.  I keep telling myself I must stock up!  But, then a warm day surprises me and I forget all about the impending freeze.

Not only is the weather making my knees knock, but daylight savings shook me up a bit yesterday too.  This picture was taken at 4:45… sun is down.

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This is disturbing and cold and well… I know I must stay positive and possibly buy one of those lights that recreates the sunlight so I don’t go insane this winter.  But, there are fires and knitting and bundling and one other thing that is taking a turn for the better; The time spent behind my stove.  Yes, the time of year where a hearty soup and light bread or a heavy bread and a silky soup will not only suffice for supper, but it will warm your bones.

So yesterday, after one last trip to the orchard, Lee decided to attempt to brave the weather for an afternoon bike ride with the boys.  This left me in the house for a whole hour alone where I folded both clothes and dough furiously, and my efforts were not in vain.  Nothing like starting a Monday off right with a clean house and a few loaves of sweet bread on your counter.

Apple spiced currant loaf  (makes 2 loaves)

Proof 3.5 teaspoons of yeast, 2 tablespoons of clover honey, 1/4 cup of warm water and 1/4 cup of apple cider in a large bowl until frothy.  On the stove top slowly melt 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of whole milk.  Cool the milk down and stir into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon.  Fold in one cup at a time 2 cups of wheat flour and 3 cups of white flour stopping and kneading when the stirring gets to tough.  Knead until it’s satiny soft and roll into a buttered bowl until its doubled in size (about an hour if it’s next to your warm oven).  While its rising place 1/2 cup of currants in a cup covered in cider to plump them up.  Punch down and fold in the currants.  Slice into two balls, form them into loaves and place them in 2 loaf pans to rise again.  Cover them with a towel.  WHen they are about an inch over the top of the side, place them into a preheated 400F oven until golden brown.  Cool, slice, and slather in butter.

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This bread is as good for breakfast as cinnamon toast as it is with olives and cheese in the afternoon.  (I swear I am not that fancy but olives and good crispy bread is worth the indulgence… and if it’s that kind of day I have been known to pour myself an afternoon glass of red wine for my fancy self too… just cuz I can.  There I said it.)

#52 Artos (A Greek Celebration Bread) resolution complete.

52 weeks ago I made a resolution about bread.  A simple task.  One new variety per week, made by my own two hands.  The task was not all together daunting, but mostly exciting.  I envisioned myself an expert by the time December rolled around.  My kitchen would be brimming with tools that could equip the finest of bakeries.  Never again would the cellophane wrapped store-bought loaf have to enter my bread box.

While it is rare to have to pick up a soft and squishy loaf (as my boys have deemed them), it does happen.  I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert.  I believe myself to be only at the beginning.  I have picked up a baking stone, a paint scraper (the perfect tool for dough) and a sturdy piece of linen over the past year, but that is all that I can claim for tools on my bread baking expeditions.

More than a resolution, I have found love.  I have found comfort in the rhythm of baking.  I have lived by the rising and falling of bubbly dough.  Cookbooks have become my bibles.  Tasting, tearing, dipping, and smearing… these actions spell out my days.  Bread has given me something to focus on.  To count on.

The unpredictability of a new move, knowing not a soul for miles and miles, the solitude of a home nestled in the swamp lands of an isolated area, the chaos and sometimes exasperation of mothering two small boys; these things can add up to a lonesome life.  I promise you.

But somehow this whole bread thing sparked something inside me.

Somehow.

A resolution can bring on hope.  It doesn’t have to tell you no.  It doesn’t have to dictate your every mouthful, or every word.  All I did was keep at it, and I found myself a new woman.  This may sound humourous, it does to me!  Bread cannot change a person.  But it did.

It connected me to the past.  Women and men through out all of history made these very loaves.  They cultured yeasts and experimented with temperatures.  They shared meals, and delivered loaves to neighbors.

It gave me satisfaction that I was doing something that very well could affect my family for good.  Never again will sunbeam feel like the epitome of perfection in the world of bread to that giant of a man who I share a name with.  Yes, he may still prefer this for a bologna sandwich here and there, but I know in my heart of hearts the crusty exterior, the chewy interior and oh the fresh-baked smell that fills our house has won him over.

My boys.  My boys expect the best.  My youngest first word, shortly after the obligatory mama and dada was of course, “bread”.  I watch them in their tiny kitchen kneading smooshing, sharing, and enjoying that very thing their mama spends time on.  Bread.

It is contagious.  It is habitual.  It is the bread of life.  My bread of life.

I don’t know what the future holds for this years resolution for me, but do yourself a favor; make one this year.  And make it good.  Point your life in a direction of joy.  Fall in love.  Make it tangible.

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Artos (A Celebration Bread)

1 cup barm (a starter)

3.5 cups bread flour

1 tsp salt

1.5 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tsp minced orange and lemon zest

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup of whole milk

Stir together dry ingredients.  Mix in the wet.  Knead for ten long minutes until it passes the window pane test.  (You will be able to stretch a piece until you can see through it but it does not tear)  Place in an oiled bowl to proof until doubled.

Split into one large chunk and form a boule (a very tight ball) and let rise until doubled.  The smaller piece should be placed in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic.  Preheat the oven to 350.

Roll out your small piece forming the shapes in the pictures below.  Place in the oven onto your stone or a sheet tray will do fine.  When it registers 190 or if your brave, it sounds hollow it is done.  About 40 minutes.

As soon as it comes out glaze with a heated up mixture of 2 tbsp of the following, honey sugar and water, and 1 tsp of orange extract.  Sprinkle on sesame seeds if desired.

celebrate.

#47 and #48 marbled rye and bread dough sculptures

It has been a while since I acutally made this rye bread, but I am feeling rather burnt out on typing all these directions.  So please oh please, make some of these breads, so all my efforts are not in vain.  It will be fun, I promise.

This one I cannot pass a true judgement on because I used white whole wheat flour for the whole thing quite by accident!  It took me a week to realize why it was so tough.  It was baffling.  Regardless, it was a beauty and makes a large amount of bread to enjoy.

light rye-

stir together 1.5 cups of white rye flour and 3 cups of white flour, pinch of salt, 2 tsp. yeast, and 1.5 tsp. of caraway seeds.  Dd 1 tablespoon of molasses, 2 tablespoons of softened butter, and 1.25 cups of water.  Mix until it becomes a ball adding more water only if necessary.  Knead for about 8 minutes and place in a buttered bowl covered with a towel.

dark rye-

mix same ratio of flour and salt and yeast, molasses, caraway seeds, and butter together then add in 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder.  Knead for 8 minutes and place in a buttered bowl with a towel on top.  Let rise for about an hour and a half until doubled.

To marble-

There are three ways you can marble.  You can flatten both the light and dark rye, place one on top of the other and tightly roll them up.  Or you can roll a log with half the dark and flatten the rest rolling them up around the log to form a bull’s eye, or you can chunk up each and smash them together all willy nilly.  Each will make two loaves no matter which way you marble it.  Place them into a buttered bread pan and let rise until about an inch over the top of the pan.

Brush with a beaten egg and one tsp. of water.  Place into a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until it registers at 190 or until it sounds good and hollow when you tap the bottom.

And for the sculpted dough bread….

Odd choice I am sure, but with a sick boy watching (gasp!) a movie… I decided to do something fun.  My Nana gave me a ginormous tub full of magazines, patterns, ideas and general crafting glory a few months back and I will tell you, it is the gift that keeps on giving.  I found this inside a Decorating and Craft Ideas Magazine, which sadly is no longer being published.  This magazine is so glorious.  It has everything from needle point to painting to baking to weaving pine needles for goodness sake!  It is the thing (my) dreams are made of.

So off with you!  Follow my directions, make your family something soothing and crisp on a cold november night.  You only have 48 to choose from!  Whew!