Archive for the ‘Bread and Grains’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Crunchy Granola Recipe

I found a great little cookbook at the library called More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre.  Simple recipes made with only the most basic ingredients, right up my alley.  There are about 15 recipes marked that I want to try before the book has to be returned to the library.  Today, I started making their Crunchy Granola recipe, only to find that I did not have half the ingredients and I had no desire to run to the store.   So, as always, I improvised and came up with my own granola.  The method for this recipe is different to the one that I have made in the past and honestly much easier.

Here is the recipe that I used today:



2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup crushed all bran cereal (put it in a bag, let the air out and then rush gently with your hands)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a sauce pan heat the following to a boil:
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Once the honey mixture has boiled, pour it over the dry ingredients and mix well.
Spread onto a cookie sheet  and bake for about 20-30min at 325 ‘F.  You do not want it t brown too much, so keep an eye on it.
Allow to cool, then break into chunks and store in airtight container.


This recipe makes about 4-5 cups of Granola, but can easily be doubled.  I like to eat mine with homemade yogurt, but the kids eat it plain or with milk in the mornings.

PostHeaderIcon Snow-nuts

We woke up on Saturday morning with almost 4 inches of snow outside and all I could think about were DONUTS!  Or doughnuts for those South Africans who read the site.

Emily and James ran outside to start playing and building a snowman.  Alexia and I preferred to make Snow-nuts (snow-donuts) in the warm kitchen.

I found this recipe online and thought it looked easy enough to try.   Only now that I am typing this do I realise that I used water instead of milk.  I have no idea why, other than I miss read the recipe.  The recipe says that the donuts have to double in size at the final rising stage, mine did nothing, but it still came out really well.  As soon as they hit the hot oil they plumped up.  Once they were cooked, Alexia and I sprinkled powdered sugar on them and they were delicious.

Donuts Recipe

1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 beaten egg
1/4 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
8 cups vegetable oil for frying

Place the milk and egg into the pan of your automatic bread machine.  Add the butter, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in that order, with the yeast on top. Select the dough setting, and start the machine. If you do not have a machine you can still make it by mixing everything together and kneading for about 10 minutes.  Then let it rest for 40min and knock it down before starting the next stage.


When the dough cycle is finished, remove the dough to a floured work surface, and knead a few times to get the bubbles out. Cut the dough into 16 pieces, cover them with a damp cloth, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  I made about 14 pieces and Alexia helped so they were all different sizes.


Stretch each ball out into a disk about 1/4 inch thick, and use a small cutter to cut a hole in the center.  We used a bottle top.  Let the donuts rise on the floured surface until doubled, 30 to 40 minutes.


Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  I have a deep fryer, but hate getting it out so I used a large pan filled about 1/4 inch full of oil and it worked well.  I do not have a kitchen thermometer that will go as high as 350 degrees, instead I just guessed and it all turned out fine. 


Gently place a few donuts at a time into the hot oil, and fry until they float to the top and turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip them over, and fry on the other side. Remove from the oil, and drain on paper towels.


Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with frosting or a glaze.

These were great and I will make them again this coming weekend.  This time I plan to make a chocolate glaze to go on top.

PostHeaderIcon Sandwich Bread

Years ago I found this recipe on the back of a King Arthur bag of flour and I have made it ever since.  This is one loaf of bread that always comes out really well.  The only problem with it is that half the loaf gets eaten within minutes of it coming out of the oven!  I have made it twice this week and plan to make a third loaf on Sunday.  Between the Ciabatta bread and this loaf I really have no reason to buy bread any longer.  Here is the link to the recipe and a few pictures of the bread baked in my kitchen.

King Arthur Flour – Classic Sandwich Bread Recipe


For this recipe I used 2 cups of All purpose flour and 1 cup Whole wheat flour.  My second loaf was half white and half wheat and it came out just as great.


After an hour of rising the dough goes from looking like this to ….




After another hour of rising.


The loaf.  Isn’t it pretty!!  I LOVE bread, the smell, the taste just the process is magical…. well scientific actually, but it feels like magic.


No words…….aaahhhhh

PostHeaderIcon No-knead ciabatta bread


My mom and sister have been visiting us for a month from South Africa and although we did a lot of cooking, eating and generally having a great time around the table, there was no time for blogging about it.  Life is back to normal now and I am ready to try a few new things.

Last night while looking through a copy of Cooking light magazine (thanks to my 2 free trial issues) I saw a delicious looking sandwich made with ciabatta bread and roasted veggies.  I figured since I have not had much luck with my sour dough bread and ciabatta bread is already flatter than normal sandwich breads it would be a good intro back to bread making.  I came across this blog called Foodwishes and it a has a great little video attached that shows you exactly how to make a no-knead ciabatta bread.   The blog has everything that you need to make this bread and the video is a hoot so I did not take many pictures of the process, just a few of the final bread and what I ate for lunch today.


This was a very easy bread to make and the taste is fantastic! The crust is hard and chewy and the inside is soft with loads of air bubbles.   Emily (my soft white bread lover) gobbled it up and asked for more.  I ate it for lunch with last nights left overs.  A tomato, basil and balsamic vinegar salad on one slice and left over pork, and roasted veggies on another.  The kids ate theirs with a generous amount of homemade butter.


The Recipe:
4 cups bread flour or 3 1/2 cup white flour and 1/2 cup wheat flour (you can use all purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon yeast
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients using a spatula until you have a sticky wet dough.  Depending on the temperature of your house let it rise between 12-18 hours.  I left mine for 18 hours in a very hot house and it did not over-rise, so the dough is very forgiving.

After the 18 hours, punch the dough down using the spatula and transfer to plastic wrap or as I did parchment paper.

The only thing that I did differently, (it made things a little easier) is using parchment paper.  Instead of shaping the dough on plastic wrap and later transferring it to the baking sheet as suggested in the video, I shaped it on parchment paper.  Lightly oil the paper with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal.  Shape the loaf, punching out the air bubbles as you move and shape the dough.

Let the shaped dough rise for 2 more hours on the parchment paper.  Then pull the parchment paper onto your baking sheet, I used a pizza stone, but you can use any cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 ‘F for 35-45 min – mine took about 40 min to get that nice brown color.

This bread will be great with soups and stews during the cold months and a great building block for a rustic hardy sandwich.  You have got to try it, it is so easy!

PostHeaderIcon Sourdough Bread Round 2

I have had my sourdough break and am ready to jump back in with both feet.  The last week I spent getting my starter pet back to health again and within 3 days it was looking healthy and frothy after a feeding.  I actually managed to make a half decent loaf of bread, it was not very risen, but it gave me hope that a successful sourdough bread may still be in my future.  Here is a picture of the first bread I made yesterday.  James and I ate most of it as soon as it came out of the oven at about 9:30 pm.  The rest he had for lunch at work.

Today I made another loaf , but it was very flat.  I think my problem is not the rise of the sourdough since you can see from the second picture below, the sourdough gets a good rise.  I think it is that I am making the dough too soft, not adding enough flour to give it substance to rise.  I have another starter proofing right now and hope to have better success tomorrow.

I used this recipe to make the bread and will continue to try it a few more times before I give up on it.


This was after the first kneading.


After 3 hours this is what it looked like.


My poor little disk of a bread.  It was very tasty and the girls and I each had a slice to eat.  However I could not get over the fact that it was very flat so I turned it into….


…croutons.  I cut the bread up into blocks and tossed them into herbed olive oil.  They are now in the dehydrator and will stay in there until the morning.  The girls and I love salads with croutons we also add them to our soups and Emily has already asked me to make vegetable soup tomorrow (yes in this heat).

Tomorrow I continue my quest for the perfect (or at least more than 2″ high) sourdough bread!

PostHeaderIcon Scone recipe

I used to think that I was scone challenged, which by association made me biscuit challenged as well.  I have never been able to make those high-rise scones and biscuits that you see in the recipe pictures.

Today I set out to try again and the scones that I made today came out tasty and somewhat risen, but no high-rise!  So, I have concluded that they do not exist….They are all photoshop creations.  Ok, I know this is not true, the reason that I know that is that I have eaten them before.  I cannot remember where or when, but I am sure that somewhere in my past I have had one or more (likely four) of these.

I think the problem is that I seek out the recipes with the least ingredients and expect the best results.  Something wrong with that isn’t there?

So for now, I am content to make the somewhat risen scones and even enjoy eating them without dreaming of their elusive high-rise cousin.  Anyone out there have a recipe that I can try……………..So much for being content.

This was our breakfast this morning and contrary to my ramblings these were very good and can be served at any tea party without shame.  Enjoy!

Basic Scone Recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk (approx.)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in the egg.

Gradually add the milk until a thick dough is formed. (1/2 cup worked for me today)
scones 1

Turn out the mixture onto a floured board and knead lightly. Roll out the dough to 3/4″ thickness and cut into rounds with a 2″ cookie cutter. Gather the trimmings and lightly knead, roll, and cut them as well.

Place the rounds about 1″ apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg or milk. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes about 16-20 small scones.  The picture only shows the first batch that I made (the curse of small cookie sheets).
Here is where I found the original recipe.

I served them with strawberry jam, whipped cream and a sliver of fresh strawberry.  I like mine with cheese so I also made a few with shredded cheese on them.

PostHeaderIcon Ihop Style Pancake Recipe

Firstly a disclaimer:
I do not know American pancakes very well.  My best experience of pancakes here in the US are Ihop pancakes.  There may be better pancakes out there, but I have not yet tasted them.  The pancakes that we make in South Africa are more like French Crepes.  We eat them with cinnamon and sugar or lemon juice and sugar so the thicker American style pancakes served with syrup and fruit are fairly new to me.

I have made pancakes in the past, they have been good, but never as good as this morning!  I went searching for an Ihop copy cat recipe and came across this one.  True to form I had to change it up a bit, here is what I did.

Ihop style pancakes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used my homemade yogurt)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used confectioners sugar – Don’t ask why, I just did it)
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cooking oil
pinch of salt

1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Use a pan with a nonstick
surface or apply a little nonstick spray.

2. In a blender or with a mixer, combine all of the remaining
ingredients until smooth.

3. Pour the batter by spoonfuls into the hot pan, forming 5-inch

5. Cook pancakes on the other side for same amount of time, until

golden brown.

I used frozen blue berries to add to the kids pancakes and made mine plain.  These were so good, it is afternoon now and I am still thinking about how good breakfast was.  Sorry that you were not home James.  I will have to remake these on the weekend!  The kids loved them as well, but then they will love anything smothered in maple syrup right?

We ate these so fast and I had no intention of putting this recipe up on the blog, so there are no pictures.  I will try to add one after the weekend.

PostHeaderIcon Banana (cheat) Rusks

This is such a cheat recipe, I cannot call this a real rusk, but it is close to the real thing and much easier to make.

For those who do not know what a rusk is, it is much like an Italian Biscotti, sweet, but not as sweet as a cookie and baked a second time to make it dry and crunchy.  Growing up we ate rusks either for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee or as an after dinner snack.

Making rusks take time and I do not have too much of that.  So by making this recipe I get two items in one go.  What I normally do is make the below banana bread recipe, but I double it (you can use any banana bread recipe that you prefer).  Then, one loaf gets eaten fresh and the second one is made into my cheat rusks.

Banana Bread

½ stick (4-5 TBSP) butter
2 eggs
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
¾ TSP salt
½ TSP baking soda
¼ TSP baking powder
½ TSP cinnamon (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.
Combine wet ingredients in a bowl, mix well.  Add the dry ingredients.  Pour the dough into greased loaf pan or muffin tins.  Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

The Rusks
Slice the banana bread into 1 inch thick slices and cut the slices in half.  Place them in the dehydrator over night and you have rusks!  Alternatively you can bake them at 200′F or as low as your oven will go and allow it to dry out for about 5-7 hours.

There is no better way to eat rusks, but to dunk them.  You have to dunk rusks, I am sure there is a law somewhere about that!

I sometimes melt chocolate and dip half the rusk into the chocolate, then let it cool and set.  I love the flavor of banana and chocolate together.  Of course if you go this route it would be legal to eat the rusks without dunking them.

PostHeaderIcon Sourdough confession time!

Confession time! I am having a sourdough break right now!

I have been defeated by the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that live (or fail to live) in my sourdough starter. Let me rephrase that; not defeated, but momentarily derailed. I will be back! Right after I finish licking my sourdough wounds and gather enough courage (and another bag of flour) and do more research.

From what I can tell, the starter is healthy or at least almost healthy, but not strong enough to raise a loaf. So for now my pet or adversary whatever you prefer is resting in a covered bowl in the fridge while we both regroup and prepare for round two!

PostHeaderIcon Sourdough starter pet

One of the sourdough websites that I have been reading refers to a sourdough starter as a pet.  I think this is such an apt description since you are constantly feeding and allowing it to rest and taking care of it as you do a pet.  For the last 3 days I have had my little pet eating, growing and sleeping in the kitchen and it seems to be doing very well.

The first time that I tried to start a sourdough pet, it was a total disaster.  I had more mold growing than bacteria and the two are enemies when it comes to sourdough starters.  So when I inquired on a Natural living forum about sourdough, the same lady who gave me my SCOBY offered to give me a sourdough starter.  It has been stored in the fridge and not fed for some time and needed to be revived, but that I read was much easier to do than to start your own so I was happy to give it a try.  Information about sourdough starters are also sketchy on the internet.  There are many people who make it, but everyone has different advice so it was hard to sort through all the information.  Fortunately this pet came with a great internet link that has been very easy to follow.  Here is a photo diary of my new pet.

This is what the starter looked like on day 1
This is my first attempt at reviving it.  I took 1 tablespoon of starter, 1 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup of warm water (75′F), mixed it together and let it proof for 24 hours.
Here is what it looked like after 24 hours.  When I saw the amount of bubbles and smelt the aroma, I was excited.  I was convinced that my pet was now ready to make bread.  I searched online and found that this was only the beginning stage of reviving the starter so I let it rest in the refrigerator for 12 hours then, I gave it one more feeding and let it proof.
Now there is a visible foam layer on the top along with lots of bubbles throughout the starter.  Tomorrow morning I will evaluate it again and see if I can finally make my first ever sourdough bread.


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