Ancient grains like spelt, leavened with wild yeasts found in sourdough cultures, produce bread that fits on a low FODMAP diet. Those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or gastrointestinal (GI) problems after eating processed foods or gluten may actually be reacting to fructans. Wheat (along with onions) is thought to contribute 95% of the fructans that can cause GI distress. Fructans are carbohydrates that require an enzyme to breakdown. If this enzyme is not available to breakdown the chains of fructose, fructans can cause discomfort.
Spelt is an ancient grain mentioned in the bible as one that can be grown even during a drought. So even though it is a type of wheat, it contians fewer fructans than other varieties of wheat. The fermentation process that occurs when wild yeasts are used in spelt bread further breakdown any naturally ocurring fructans. The result is a bread that fits well on a low FODMAP diet.
Most spelt bread found in bakeries or grocery stores have only a small amount of spelt flour in them. The rest contain all sorts of grains that do not fit in a low FODMAP diet. Making your own 100% spelt sourdough bread takes just a few special ingredients and only a little hands on time. Spelt flour is found in most grocery stores or markets that sell specialty flours. I grind my own flour using whole spelt berries from the field or grocery store. It is so amazing for kids and even adults to watch those tiny berries of spelt turn into a flowing river of flour.
Spelt has several unique characteristics. Spelt flour absorbs more water than other grains so the dough has a higher hydration and will be slightly stickier than other bread doughs. Spelt has fewer fructans than other wheat and those are broken down further during the long fermentation period by the bacteria in a sourdough culture. Refrigerating the dough after it is kneaded is the best way to create the perfect atmosphere for fermentation to take place.
Spelt can be sprouted, rolled like oats or soaked to be used in recipes. For this bread, the spelt is milled into flour and used just like any other flour.
Spelt bread takes a little longer to bake because of the higher level of hydration. The most reliable way to tell when the bread is done is to use a thermometer to determine the internal temperature. Many experts recommend whole grains be baked to 205 degrees but that really depends on how tight the crumb is. This loaf of spelt sourdough was removed from the oven when it reached 200 degrees. The crumb was moist but not doughy.
Spelt bread can be baked in a multitude of shapes. The recipe is perfect for one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan or it can be shaped into two round balls. Slash the top of the loaves to allow for oven spring, that instantaneous rise when the dough hits the heat of the oven. The slash in the top of the dough gives a place for the bread to rise.
Whole grain breads are known for having a tighter, denser crumb. Several ingredients in this recipe give spelt bread a great flavor and texture. Orange juice contains vitamin C which helps give a good rise to each loaf. Vital wheat gluten is added to give more strength to the cells. The sourdough culture helps increase the keeping quality of the bread. The potato flakes act as a dough conditioner. All of these together produce a great-tasting loaf.
100% Spelt Sourdough Bread
1 cup spelt sourdough starter
3 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons instant potato flakes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mixing well. Knead until mixture forms a slightly sticky, smooth dough. about 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to bring greased side up. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight or about 8 to 12 hours.
Form dough into a loaf or two round boules. Place in a greased loaf pan or baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for several hours or until almost double in size.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes for loaf shape or until internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Two smaller, round boules will bake in about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan about 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack. Slice and serve warm or store in an airtight container when cool.
Andria and Ashley found one of the perks of living in Italy included a short walk to the bakery for fresh bread. The bread loaves in Fabriano were baked without salt which took a little getting use to. Panettone, on the other hand, was love at first bite. A wonderful, orange zest-flavored sweet bread with an iconic shape defines Panettone. At Christmas, this was the gift Andria was given from her place of work.
To achieve the traditional shape, Panettone molds made of paper can be purchased in kitchen stores and online. They work well but I improvised using an empty tin can. I removed the contents, took off the label, cleaned it well, sprayed it with non-stick baking spray and filled. It worked beautifully. The trick is to fill the can at least 2/3 full so that when it rises, it is above the can rim and blooms into a beautiful Panettone shape.
The European term for a sourdough starter is a “pre-ferment” or a “levin”. A starter can also be called a “culture” but all of these terms are referring to the same wild yeast fermentation process which can be used with or without purchased yeast. A starter gives Panettone a little more flavor and a longer shelf-life. The following recipe calls for a starter. Use the one you have or follow the directions on this blog to create a starter. If you do not want to take the time to make a starter, it can be omitted, just adding slightly more flour or water to make a soft, almost sticky dough.
3 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons gluten
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup active starter
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon orange oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried pineapple
1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
2 tablespoons each grated orange and lemon zest
Combine all of the ingredients, except dried fruit and nuts, in a stand mixing bowl and mix just until combined. Then use dough hook and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and soft. Fold in dried fruits and nuts. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours or until puffy and slightly risen. Spoon dough into a panettone mold or a can that has been sprayed with non-stick baking spray. Container should be about ¾ full. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until light and slightly risen. Brush with egg white that has been mixed with 1 tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sliced almonds and pearled sugar. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until no longer doughy. Let cool about 10 minutes and remove from mold unless paper molds are used which the Panettone can be cooled and served in.
If Panettone is browning too quickly, cover with foil the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking.
Panettone is traditionally cooled upside down and can be cooled by carefully inserting skewers into the bread and hanging bread on a cooling rack, upside down.
Every bakery has fresh bread but there is only one place in the whole world that can produce crusty, warm bread that you can sink your teeth into just minutes out of the oven. That one special place is your own kitchen.
Artisan breads are often seen as so amazing and elusive that only specialty bakeries can produce a true loaf. It has not has always been that way. There was a time when every log home, covered wagon and sod grass hut had homemade bread. It was made with whatever ingredients were on hand whether it be milled corn, rye or later on wheat. Only three ingredients were necessary and even those could be changed depending upon what crop was harvested and when. Today, recipes sometimes suggest the precision of a scale but in days when bread was made in every home, flour was more likely measured by handfuls before measuring cups and spoons or scales were available. It was and still is a simple process: Wild yeast was introduced into a grain and water mixture. The gasses this produces leavens the bread. This type of dough takes time and develops a complex depth of flavor. Nothing more complicated than mixing flour, salt and water.
Making bread today can be just as easy. Use any combination of grains for a variety of different loaves. They all start with the same fermented flour and water mixture. Below is a photo of the flour and water mixture when bubbles break the surface after the mixture has started fermenting.
Starter can be made with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of whole wheat, rye or spelt flour added. Combine flours and water in a mason jar and allow to stand on the counter for a day or two or until bubbles form on the top (I had some bubbles coming to the surface after 30 hours so I was ready to move to the feeding step). To feed starter, add 1/2 cup each of water and flour. Allow to stand for another day or two. Repeat this until a starter is created that can float on water as seen in the photo below. If the starter fills more than half of the mason jar, discard half of the starter before adding more flour and water. I like the consistency of the starter to be similar to a very thick pancake batter but just about any consistency will work.
When your starter walks on water (aka floats on water), it is ready for baking. Combine 1 cup starter and several different grains like 2 tablespoons spelt, oatmeal, wheat germ, rye, or barley. Mix just until a shaggy mass forms either by hand, in a mixer, food processor or bread machine. Let stand for several hours, covered in a greased bowl. Fold the dough over on itself a few times and let stand covered for one hour in a greased bowl. Repeat folding and resting one more time and then the dough is ready to form into a loaf. A bread machine can be used to mix the dough (see the following photo) and then turn off the machine to allow the dough to rest.
Once the dough has been rested and folded over, gently shape it for French bread or into a ball for artisan whole wheat bread. Let bread rise until almost double in size. It can take 1 to 2 hours in a warm room or over 8 hours in a cool place like the refrigerator. Allow refrigerated bread come to room temperature at least 1 hour before baking. Place a pan in the bottom of the oven while it is preheating and pour boiling water into it just as the loaves are put in the oven. This will create steam and a light, crispy baguette. Bake at 375 degrees on a preheated stone for 30 minutes or until interior of bread reaches 205 degrees. I usually let the bread rise until about 45 minutes or one hour before serving time so that it is coming out of the oven just in time for warm bread to grace the table.
1 cup of starter
1 cup water
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups flour (white or whole grain or combination)
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, using just enough flour to form a wet, shaggy dough. Stir and cover. Let dough sit out on counter in a greased and covered bowl several hours. Fold dough over on itself a few times and let rest 1 hour. Form into two loaves and place on parchment paper, a floured towel or in baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel. Let rise 1 to 2 hours or until double in size. Slide loaves onto a preheated baking stone, or if baking on a baguette sheet pan or stainless steel sheet, bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until loaf has a hollow sound when tapped. Serve warm.
How many engineers does it take to plan, design and execute antipasto platters for Andria’s wedding. In this case, it was 6 engineers, 2 doctors of physical therapy and 1 with a MS in social work to plan and design a tower of brie cheese surrounded with just the perfect tiny bites. Three stacked rounds of cheese made tiers resembling a wedding cake. The towering cheeses were the starting place for antipasto platters to be served at Andria’s wedding.
Andria and her fiance’ made 90 cutting boards for serving the 5 course meal. The first course, an antipasto platter, took a little creative action when Andria and Friends got together.
Andria and Friends tried all kinds of different arrangements to see which one would make the best display for the wedding platters. Determining the flavors that went best together was the next goal. Antipasto typically is made up of cured meats, dried fruits, marinated vegetables and cheeses. So the analysis also included exactly which ingredients would surround the brie-mini -wedding-cakes. The slight tang of fresh grapes paired well with the cheese. The rest of the antipasto platter pulled together really quickly by arranging nuts, dried fruit and crackers at the base of the trio of brie rounds.
A rose made from prosciutto and thinly sliced cheese garnished each tray. It was made by placing 1 slice of prosciutto on one slice of cheese. Starting at narrow end, roll cheese up with prosciutto in the center. Ruffle out the prosciutto and cheese slightly to give the roll a rose petal effect. Place a toothpick through all of the layers at the base of the meat and cheese.
Start with three different sizes of brie set up on top of the other for a “mini wedding cake”.
Add an assortment of Italian inspired tiny bites such as:
Cured Meats: Prosciutto, hard salami, pancetta
Dried fruit: Apricots, dates
Fresh Fruit: Figs, red grapes, green grapes
Marinated Vegetables: Peppadews, tomatoes
Olives: Castelvetrano, Cerignola
Bread Sticks, foccaccia bread,
Crackers, cheese straws
Parmesan Reggio Cheese, feta, fresh mozzarella
Fresh herbs: Rosemary, basil, bay
Nuts: Almonds, pecans
Arrange tiny bites around brie and serve as a first course.
The tables were beautiful and the antipasto platters were a perfect centerpiece.
Sometimes a meal is special because of an event and other times it is special for the food itself. There was one specific meal that I will always remember because of the event and it just happened that the food was really special too.
Coulter would be deployed with the United States Marine Corps the next day but just for the evening we had a little precious time with him for a meal together. Dave and I flew across the country to see him off. Little did we know that one of his men were killed in a motorcycle accident and another one was in the hospital. He attended the funeral and then needed to head to the hospital to visit the other marine. That meant we had literally 2 hours to spend with him. We went to a restaurant in San Diego that Coulter chose. It was a memorable meal in that goodbyes before a deployment are never easy but I remember how proud I felt. He was putting himself out there for his marines, for his country and for us. It was one of those meals where the food was not really that important compared to having he chance to share heart to heart with him, but it turned out that the food was exceptionally good. Dave ordered Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi and I still remember it as special. The following recipe recreates the flavorful macadamia nut topping and the beautiful texture of the mahi mahi.
In recreating this recipe, it needed to have a crunching topping and the fish all perfectly done at the same time. To achieve this, the fish is cooked for about 5 minutes before the topping is added. By adding the macadamia nut topping to the partially baked fish, both the fish and topping come out perfectly done at the same time.
Mahi Mahi is done when it turns from translucent to opaque white and it flakes easily when a fork is inserted into the center of the fillet. The reason the fish turns color is because the heat denatures the proteins as they reach a specific temperature. It is similar to what happens to egg white as heat is applied. The egg white turns from a clear liquid to an opaque white. It is difficult to take the temperature of most fish fillets because they are too thin for a thermometer to accurately record the temperature. Just as reliable as a number on a thermometer is the change of the fish color. If there is any difficulty seeing a change in color, a backup test is inserting a fork in the thickest part of the fillet and twisting it slightly to see if the fish flakes. When the fork test shows flakes of fish as well as white, opaque flesh, the fish is done.
We just happened to have fresh mahi mahi for this recipe but most other fish can be used. The time can be increased 4 to 5 minutes for thicker fish or decreased a little for thinner fillets. Using a fork to check if the fish flakes easily and looking for a change in color of the flesh are both doneness tests that work on any fish. Fish does continue to cook a little after it is removed from the oven so allow it to stand a few minutes before serving.
Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi
2 pounds mahi mahi
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
1 cup macadamia nuts|
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 fresh mangoes
1/4 cup cilantro , chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Thai basil
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place fish on foiled lined baking sheet that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Bake for 5 minutes. Spoon coconut milk over fish. Combine nuts, bread crumbs and butter in food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Top fish with nut and bread crumb mixture. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Combine all ingredients for mango salsa and serve with fish.
I have been putting off making homemade mozzarella cheese because it seemed complicated, but once I got my ingredients together, it was done in less than a half hour. This is one of my bucket-list foods to make, and I was so excited with the results.
My inspiration for this recipe was a dairy farmer who sold milk out of the back of his red pickup truck. I called him on the phone and he said, “Just look for the red Dodge in the Tractor Supply parking lot”. Sure enough, I found him and the milk was straight from the cow. Goats milk or milk from the store can also be used.
Milk, citric acid and vegetable rennet are the only ingredients I needed. A thermometer assures I do not overheat the milk. It is as easy as heating the milk to 95 degrees and adding the dissolved citric acid. I heat the milk a little more to 110 degrees and stir in the quarter of a rennet tablet. To my amazement, the curds started forming immediately. I simply removed the curds and drained the whey. I used the microwave to heat the curds for about 20 seconds so they could be stretched. The curds have to reach 135 degrees so they can be stretched and folded back on itself to form a ball. Pretty simple.
Pour milk into a 5-quart pan. Dissolve the citric acid in 1 cup of water in a small bowl, Stir into milk. Heat milk to 90 degrees over medium heat, stirring 5 or 6 times. Meanwhile dissolve the rennet in the remaining 1/2 cup of water. When milk reaches 90 degrees, stir in rennet solution. Use a gentle up and down motion and stir for about 30 seconds. Heat the milk to 105 degrees. The milk will start to coagulate.
As the curds start to form, gently stir for 1 minute. The curds are white and shiny like yogurt. The whey is yellow. Turn off after the one minute of stirring. If the milk is all white and has not started to separate into curds and whey, heat the milk a little longer but to no higher than 110 degrees max.
Spoon the curds into a microwave-safe dish. Gently hold the cheese curds so that they whey can be drained off. Gently remove as much liquid from the curds and place curds in the dish. Microwave the curds for about 20 seconds or until about 135 degrees. Add the sea salt. Gently stretch and fold the cheese back on itself just 2 to 3 times. Shape the cheese into a ball and served immediately. It will keep up to 1 week but is best eaten the day it is made.
It is blueberry season in Florida, but we just visited Ashley and family in the Midwest where the snow is melting off. It reminds me of the first green wheat sprouting up from the black, rich Iowa soil, sometimes even peeking out from a snow covered field. I can still remember my Dad explaining the difference of these first green sprigs of wheat and the wheat that would ripen late in the year. This wheat planted in the fall and allowed to sit in the soil over the winter is a hard, red wheat which is wonderful for bread baking. It creates a beautiful loaf of bread. Crusty outside with a tender crumb.
For that beautiful loaf, a gentle kneading action may create the perfect gluten formation but a great texture only happens with a flour made from wheat with the optimum protein content. Gluten is a protein and the harder the wheat the higher the protein content. King Arthur makes a bread flour with a higher protein content but I was surprised to learn that some of the best bakeries in the country use all purpose King Arthur flour. It gives a rustic looking peasant loaf.
A few years ago it would have been hard to find specialty flour but now there is a wide variety found in many larger grocery stores. The flour choice determines how much strength the gluten has and how much kneading is optimum.
The following recipe suggests kneading 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. This takes a little experience but most breads will turn out well even if it is kneaded a little too long or a few minutes shy of the optimum. Blueberries tucked into the center of the loaf are so delectable in the bread that it is impossible to complain about anything like kneading or texture. In the photo below, whole wheat is used in the dough. Just substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
I use fresh blueberries and roll them up in the center of the dough but a bakery in Elk River, MN that makes this kind of bread also uses rhubarb or apples and calls it Apple Fritter Bread. I tasted a similar bread from a bakery in Pella, Iowa where the apples are mixed in with the dough before the last rising. It is called simply “Apple Bread”. Even though that was 40 years ago it has remained one of my favorites.
Bake the bread in a loaf pan, clay or cast iron. Each creates just a slightly different crust but each loaf is a delicious. I use the lids to keep the dough from drying out while it rises but bake the bread uncovered.
A loaf-shaped pan is nice for producing a slicing bread. When Andria was living in Italy, I noticed that European breads are often round, bole’ or baguette shaped. In the US, the traditional shape comes form a loaf pan. The Fritter bread I buy at a local bakery is loaf shaped as pictured below.
Blueberry Cinnamon Roll Bread
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup non-fat powdered milk
2 teaspoons fast acting yeast, proofed in 2 T water
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine water, dry milk powder, yeast, salt, sugar, butter, egg, and flour until a shaggy dough. Knead until smooth (about 5 to 10 minutes). Let rise until double in bulk, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Roll into an 6 x 10-inch rectangle.
For filling, spread butter, blueberries, sugar and cinnamon over dough and roll up with filling in the center. Place in loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let rise until almost double, about 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until no longer doughy. Let stand 10 minutes and turn out of pan. Cool, slice and serve while slightly warm.
Hawaiian Poke made yellowfin tuna famous. So many Hawaiian cooks develop their own favorite ingredients but yellowfin tuna is the go to base. Other sushami-grade tuna can be used but the time honored tradition for Poke is yellowfin tuna.
Dice onion such as maui or vadallia in a uniform piece similar in size to the tuna and cucumber pieces. Sometimes traditional poke contains 1/2-inch pieces but for those who might not want to bite into that large of piece of raw tuna, a tiny dice works best.
Ponzu citrus seasoning and dressing is a great sauce for this recipe with notes of lime and orange. Soy sauce can be substituted with a touch of lime added. The seasonings only need a few minutes to meld with the raw tuna. Serve chilled and eat immediately.
Endive is a good carrier for Poke and adds a fresh taste. It can also be served with rice for a meal.
Served as an appetizer with cucumber slices is another idea for serving.
¾ lb. yellowfin tuna or other sashimi-grade tuna, diced
¼ cup diced sweet onion
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup diced cucumber
1 teaspoon black and white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon Ponzu citrus dressing or soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine diced tuna with remaining ingredients. Marinate in refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes to r before serving. Place a spoonful on an endive leaf and arrange on platter.
This message really humbled me. On the other hand, we all laughed when I told my kids that getting a PhD was thankfully more about my determination than brilliance.
My dissertation title is: Political Ideology, Beliefs and Values as a Framework for Nutrition Preferences.
A PhD is suppose to signify that I am now an expert at something. I thought about taking a poll to see what I am an expert at, but polls have been really off lately with the 2016 Presidential election so I decided to just think about it on my own. PhD’s are suppose to be able to do that really good, too!
Nothing shows my determination like a PhD unless it is sourdough that made it through every single one of those moves– 4 different states in 5 years. I carried my college backpack in one hand and my sourdough starter in the other. Can you imagine the determination of those pioneer women to keep their starter alive through their moves? Yep, that’s the kind of determination I am talking about.
Paige has some of that determination. She wanted to help her mommy bake and wanted to make sure she got in on the fun.
So what am I an expert at. It is where I have put my passion. My kids and grandkids. Also, as a food scientist I am likely a bit obsessive compulsive about determining what works for sourdough. 50 years of bread baking and 1000′s of loaves later this is what I know for sure…..
Keep it simple. Don’t stress. It always comes back to life. But we all need a little renewal:
I have spent hours and hours on a loaf. And I have spent 5 minutes on just as great a loaf. But it is all good. Even after months of neglect, add a teaspoon of cider vinegar and a tablespoon of instant potato flakes along with 1 cup of flour and a cup of water, and it is all good…. Let it sit on the counter, covered for at least several hours. It will float in water when it has the power to make a crusty, light loaf of bread. Ashley has proven this renewal works since she keeps a neglected bit in the frig that only sees a feeding when I visit several months later.
I have worked through every complicated sourdough process, I have tried every method known. More importantly, I visited with cooks across the country in their own kitchens to learn even more. Wow, this is starting to look like how I earned my PhD….I traveled across the country talking with people about food, nutrition and politics. That is another thing that I am good at. Talking to people and learning about food.
I am a foodie in a really down to earth kind of way. I love local dives. Expensive restaurants can’t hold a candle to a hole in the wall with great local cuisine. I will go way out of my way to eat at one in just about any corner of the world. My kids have been known to say “We are not going to eat there, are we?” But when Coulter’s deployment with the US Marines was completed he needed his truck. So I loaded up the F-150 and headed west. Through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. And no one was with me to refuse a stop at all of these amazing little nooks where some of the best cooks and chefs serve their food day in and day out. I learn so much from all these folks, about cooking, about new foods and yes, life too.
So, this is also how I learned about bread baking: Gram on the farm in Iowa taught me the sponge method. My mom taught me that some things like yeast bread can be done even when when you have 6 kids, work full time and go to school. The native Alaskan women, stooped with age, first taught me less flour is more. The North Dakotans have such a long history of wheat bread baking that it was ingrained in their souls and they shared recipes handed down several generations. And then there was my experimentation. I literally can not stop. I tell myself after the 20 loaves in as many days, to get on with my life. I then find myself back in the kitchen because in the middle of the night I woke up with one more experiment to try that meant another 20 loaves in the next few days. OK, you get the picture. And here is a fabulous apple bread to celebrate all this knowledge and expertise I have gained in sourdough baking and in working towards a PhD. It takes very little hands on time, about 5 minutes if you are fast and sloppy like me. I make the bread between classes, work, playing with Carson and Paige and even between chapters of a dissertation.
Sour Dough Apple Bread
1 cup flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups starter
1 cup starter (it is perfect when a bit of it can float in water)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups fresh or dried apple pieces, dusted with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients, adding more water or more flour to make a dough that is very wet but can still be a handled. Knead it for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let stand in a very warm place if you want it in 3 hours or at room temperature 68 degrees if overnight.
Go to work. Write a dissertation. Play with the kids. Go to sleep for the night…. ahh yes sleep. That is what I do. I mix it up right after supper and it proofs overnight on the counter.
After you are done with what you are doing and the bread is double. Form it into a loaf. Place it on parchment paper and gently place it in a cast iron pan or clay cooker. Cover with the lid.
Go to work. Take a walk with your sweetheart. Spend the day with the grandkids.
As soon as I get home from work, I put it in the oven. Turn the oven on: 425 degrees. Spray the top of the bread with water. Sprinkle with seeds. Slash a cool design on the top. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Take the lid off and bake another 20 minutes or until a thermometer placed in the center of the loaf registers 200 degrees.
Tip: The bread can be placed in the oven before it is preheated when using a covered baking dish. To bake in a regular loaf pan, preheat the oven. Coat the pan with cooking spray and place dough in the loaf pan. Let rise until double and then bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes total.
Ashley and I just got back from Magnolia Farms in Waco, Texas. Magnolia Flour, also known as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ fixer upper silos, was a quaint little turn of the century grainary turned bakery.
There were only a few different biscuits, rolls and cupcakes but every single one of them were like little treats of perfection. And the packaging, ohhh the packaging. Black and white and classy and so Joanna. Definitely worth finding space on the plane for those. Need I say anymore?
Graced with scripture, the setting in and around the bakery and store felt comfortable and welcoming.
One of our favorites from the bakery were the Cranberry Orange Biscuits which were a little like a glazed scone.
…….But in a square biscuit shape.
…….But baked close together so the sides were pillowy soft.
……..But oh so tender and melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
……..But with a glaze speckled with orange zest!
OK maybe not really like scones.
But these were like no other biscuits. But what would you expect from Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame?
I thought I could find a copy cat recipe online for some of the bakery items. Ashley scoffed at me and bet that I could not. I lost that one. I guess the bakery is too new or maybe the biscuits are too out of this world. But since I lost, I told her I would put a copy cat recipe on my blog to remember such a great day together.
Give me a minute here to rave about the whole place. Tastefully done, simply delightful and food trucks, did I mention food trucks?And shopping for home goods. And simple gardens of zinas and herbs and Swiss chard. And a large green space for yard games. And did I mention food trucks?
The silos are old grain bins used in an era past to store grain before it was shipped out on the railroad. What was once an eyesore in Waco is now a destination for 15,000 visitors a week.
Look at these “laying hens” nesting boxes that are filled with oregano, basil, mint, lemon mint and more. What a great way to grow herbs in a small space .
OK so now on to the recipe for Cranberry Orange Biscuits. They are easy and you have to keep them easy. No over stirring. No over kneading, No over handling. No over thinking. Just 5 minutes to mix up and 12 minutes to bake. That’s it. Make them any harder and I promise, they won’t be as good.
First of all, I am sure being in the south and now a Texas Girl, Joanna and staff use a traditional southern biscuit flour such as White Lilly or some other low protein flour. It makes the biscuits light and the crumb tender. This is the flour to use and self rising flour would be even more perfect. But in some markets, this is hard to find. That is also a lot of different flours to keep on hand all the time. So to get this same effect as using a low-protein flour, I gave tips with the recipe for substitutions such as using all purpose flour and adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per cup of flour. The results are a slightly coarser crumb than Magnolia Flour’s but letting the dough sit for about 1/2 hour before baking makes the crumb more tender.
The real secret is to handle the dough as little as possible and as gently as possible. This takes lots of practice but this recipe is so delectable that everyone will oooh and aww over your first biscuit. Only you will know how much better your biscuits are after many times of working the dough and knowing how gently to knead the dough.
Placing the biscuits close together was another tip I learned from the bakery. It allows the biscuits to raise straight up and tall but still have soft, luscious sides.
I noticed that Magnolia Bakery cook their biscuits just until barely done. That’s right. The center biscuits are incredibly moist and I bet that even the biscuits at the edges of the baking sheet are absolutely, perfectly moist and tender. One tip for this recipe is to err on the side of under-cooking the biscuits.
A glaze of orange zest, juice, vanilla and powdered sugar is spread over each biscuit. I experimented with the glaze and the best time to spoon it on the warm biscuits. If it is put on too soon, it melts and dissolves into the biscuit, so let it cool a little. Pour on the glaze so it drys to make a slightly stiff coating.
Orange Cranberry Biscuits
(AKA: A lot like Joanna Gaines’ Biscuits from Fixer Upper and Magnolia Farms fame)
2 1/2 cups White Lilly flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1-inch pieces of orange peel without any white pith on it
1/2 cup butter, cut up in pieces
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk, milk or light cream
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate 3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine cream and orange juice concentrate. Set aside while mixing remaining ingredients. The cream might thicken slightly which is a good thing.
For Biscuits: Combine sugar and orange zest in food processor. Process until the orange peel is very fine, about 15 seconds. Add flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, soda and salt to mixture in food processor. Process for 2 to 3 seconds or until butter is cut into pieces about the size of a pea (so easy to over-process so you can also cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender). Pour this dry mixture into a mixing bowl. Pour liquids into the center of the dry ingredients. Add dried cranberries. Stir lightly, just until flour is no longer visible. Turn out onto a floured board and gently fold dough in half 3 to 4 times, turning and kneading as gently as possible.
Place dough on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Pat out to about 2-inch thickness and shape into a 8×8-inch square. Cut into 2-inch squares and gently spread squares apart about 1/4-inch so they can rise but will still touch after baking. (optional: let stand 30 minutes before baking) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until lightly browned. If the biscuits are really close together, they may take a few minutes longer. Let cool slightly. Combine glaze ingredients, adding more or less orange juice to get a nice consistency to drizzle over the biscuits, stirring until smooth. Spoon over biscuits and allow glaze to set for a few minutes.
Tips: In place of White Lilly flour which is a lower protein flour, you can substitute cake flour or all purpose flour. For all purpose flour put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the measuring cup and then add flour for a total of 2 1/2 cups). The cornstarch will help keep the biscuits from forming excess gluten and the biscuits will be soft and tender.
My sister Debbie did not have cream so she used yogurt and orange juice in place of the concentrate. She said they turned out really good. You can also substitute buttermilk.
If your dried cranberries are not fresh they will draw moisture out of your biscuits and they will not keep as well. To freshen dried fruit, boil 1 cup of water or orange juice and let the cranberries plump up. Drain well and stir in with other ingredients for biscuits.