Friday, July 16, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

I've been baking bread for nearly 40 years now (yikes!) and the very first loaf I made was whole wheat, and very successful -- which is probably what launched me into years of bread-baking. Over the years I've tried a lot of whole wheat recipes: liked most, didn't like a few, and have had various favorites. This is my current favorite, a basic recipe that, like many bread recipes, can be treated a variety of ways. It's easy and yields two medium loaves. You can make one with additions, as I did here, or just enjoy the simple, tender goodness as is!



  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/2 t. soda
  • about 6 cups flour (I use all whole wheat)


Heat the buttermilk and butter gently until butter is melted; add sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in water and add to lukewarm buttermilk mixture. Combine 3 c. flour and soda; mix. Add liquid ingredients to flour, mix well, then stir in rest of flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turn, cover (I used a damp, wrung-out towel), place somewhere warm, and let rise until double -- about 45 minutes. Punch down, divide in half, knead lightly, shape into loaves, and place in greased loaf pans. Cover again and let rise again.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Bottoms will sound hollow when done. Brush tops with butter, milk, or water to keep crust soft. Cool on rack, if you can stand to wait, then slice and savor!


I mixed 1 c. of golden raisins and 1 c. of walnuts with a generous amount of cinnamon; rolled one loaf out fairly thin (about 1/3" or so), covered with nut mixture, and rolled loaf tightly before placing in pan. Yum!

Another filling, on the savory side: rosemary, butter, green onions, chopped.

You can also make this into rolls. It makes good sandwich buns, too -- especially if you add a generous amount of sauteed onions with a little celery seed, sage optional.

No matter how you vary it, this is a tender loaf with a fine grain that slices well. It has a slight tang from the buttermilk and is perfect with just about anything.

Bake, cook, eat, dance, love!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

As American as...

... apple pie!

I was thinking about the 4th and foods that seem part of the 4th: anything barbecue, fried chicken (just not KFC, thank you very much!), potato salad, coleslaw, lemonade, deviled eggs; the list could go on and on, and of course the list will vary for everyone. Me, I couldn't help thinking of apple pie. It's a cliché, yes, and maybe it's not a summer pie, but still, for me it fits. Then I looked at the fresh local blueberries in my 'fridge... and voila! A combination of summer and as-American-as, for your eating pleasure.


crust ingredients
  • 3 c. unbleached flour*
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) frozen butter, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1/2 c. ice cold water. Measure precisely in a liquid measure cup.

Place all ingredients into food processor except water. Pulse until crumbs form. Add water all at once and process for 15-30 seconds, or until it begins to form a ball. Do not over-process or crust will be tough.

Remove from processor; wrap and refrigerate until filling is ready and oven is preheated.

*I used 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour in place of the same amount of unbleached. I really only like whole wheat crusts for savory pies, as they tend to be a bit heavier and chewier and not nearly as flaky, but this amount of whole wheat flour was too small to weigh the crust down, and I was determined to add a little bit of health. Not enough to counterbalance all the fat and unbleached flour, I know! but a little bit is better than none.

filling ingredients
  • 4-5 c. thinly sliced, peeled apples (whatever fills your pie pan)
  • 1 generous c. blueberries
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • cinnamon
  • 1+ T. crystallized ginger
  • 3 T. butter, cut into pieces


Combine all ingredients except butter. I like to allow pie filling ingredients to sit awhile to blend and get some of the fruit juices running but this isn't necessary.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Roll out and fit bottom crust to fit your pie pan. Roll top crust to have ready as soon as filling goes in.

When oven is hot, pour filling into crust, top with butter, top with the top crust, seal edges, make a pretty design in the crust with a knife to let the steam out, and pop into the hot oven.

Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 30-45 minutes more. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack.

(The initial hot oven helps keep the bottom crust from getting too soggy, as does cooling on a rack with air circulation under the bottom of the pie.)

The blueberries bleed as they cook and turn the whole pie... blue! Very 4th of July, no?

Slice and enjoy.

(A scoop of vanilla ice cream doesn't hurt.)

Happy 4th! and while you're lighting fireworks, don't forget to cook, eat, dance, love!