Category Archives: Bread

One of those weeks

[Warning: I am doing a little bit of complaining in this post]

Do you have those weeks where you are just apathetic about doing anything?  And when you actually summon the energy deep inside to do something, it doesn’t go as planned?  It has been one of those weeks.  Dave has been in San Fran for work since Wed which has made me not want to cook (cooking for one, is just not as much fun).  No desire to cook, has kept me away from grocery stores.  My past two training runs have been filled with crazy side stickers (felt like my whole  diaphragm was on fire) plus shin pain for the first time ever.  And to top it all off, they are predicting 1-2 inches of snow for the first time in weeks,  for the Shuffle tomorrow morning (and I sorta ran into a pole-like thingie, digging through my goodie bag to pull out a some what disappointing shirt at the Health and Fitness Expo yesterday and now I have a painful bump on my nose). 

It has been on of those weeks.

However……I came home on Thursday to a “See Doorman” sticker on my mailbox and this was waiting for me.

Andrea at Bella Eats asked for my address after I sent her a bag of my granola because she wanted to send me a treat. (I really wasn’t expecting anything out of my granola sharing, I just really loved the way it turned out and love to share with friends-even those that I only know through the internet and really hope that I can meet some day).

Banana Date Bread! Let me just say that this is some of the best banana bread I have ever had. It is incredibly moist and flavorful. I have been slowly enjoying it, trying to not eat it in one sitting so that Dave can have some when he gets back today.

I will be making this again when the banana bread craving strikes. It really is that good. I really is amazing how writing this simple blog has given me the opportunity to meet so many interesting and sweet people. I need to jump in the shower because I am actually meeting two local reader/bloggies at Argo at 1.

Thank you Andrea for being so sweet and really giving me a smile during one of those weeks. 🙂

PS-I currently have some Rancho Gordo‘s soaking for an appealing recipe that I hope to share tomorrow after the snowy Shuffle.

Kolaches

Within a few days of booking my flight home to TX, my March Gourmet had an article about Central Texas kolaches in Good Living: Road Food. I always knew about The Village Bakery in West, Texas (yes, the town of West not the directional region) because it was on the 1-35 route between Ft. Worth and Waco that I traveled many times sophomore year. But I had forgotten that the Czechs had settled in areas with the Germans in Central Texas, including La Grange where we were staying the night before heading south to Shiner. After mentioning to my friends that I was going to have to try out a bunch of Kolaches, I realized that Kolaches aren’t a commonly known thing in the Northeast (CT, PA) Georgia or Missouri. Who knew?

We first tried out the goods at Weikel’s Store and Bakery on the 71 bypass but we had heard from a local that theses were just not the best in town.

I tried a cheese, poppy-seed and cheery. The dough was just like I remembered a kolache tasting and I did enjoy the cheese. However, the poppy-seed was just a little odd in my opinion.

The next morning, we hit up the “better” bakery on the square surrounding the courthouse. Lukas was the real deal.

We decided to stock up on a bunch of their famous pigs in the blanket, which I currently have in the freezer for a rainy day. We also bought some homemade Krenek’s Bohemian Noodles which I will have to find a worthy soup to toss them in. But of course, we had to try the kolaches.

These were fantastic. They had a greater filling to dough ratio which made for a more satisfying treat. You could also tell that they used real fruit because they weren’t overly sweet and were more complex.

My favorite was the cheese. It was almost a cottage cheese with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon. Fantastic.

Dear Gourmet, this is where you should go for kolaches in La Grange.


My Mom enjoyed the apricot. If you ever find yourself wanting to spend a day exploring La Grange and the other small towns in central TX, make sure to hit up Lukas Bakery for breakfast. You won’t regret it.

A Bread Success

img_11281

This weekend was wonderful. Even though it was (really) cold, it was bright and sunny, not dreary and gray. School isn’t too busy yet (and probably wont be..3Litis much?) so the weekends are actually something to enjoy. My toe is almost healed so I was able to workout on both Saturday and Sunday (and I went for a run OUTSIDE tonight and FROZE but it felt great). I also cooked and baked up a storm. On Saturday, Julia suggested that we take the boys to a FREE wine tasting and then they came over while I made Mexican Meatball Soup. Wonderful recipe but I didn’t take any pictures (whoops!). I am excited because I have two portions frozen for a quick weeknight dinner, one of which we heated up tonight. YUM! Then I baked up some Snickerdoodles really quick to take to an apartment warming party. I don’t like to show up empty handed 😉 But the real accomplishment this weekend was baking bread. Real sandwich bread.

I can’t believe how easy it was to make a real homemade loaf of sandwich bread and how few ingredients are involved.

img_1104

Mix 2/3 bread flour with 1/3 wheat. Don’t you love my flour canisters? I really do. I have 4 of them and kinda wish I had a few more.

img_1106

It is true that you can only buy powdered milk in massive quantities (at least this was true at Treasure Island) but I hear there are other good recipes (granola at Homesick Texan to name one) to use some of it up. Anyone in Chicago need some powdered milk? I can hook ya up ;-P

After Ethel (my KitchenAid) did the mixing and kneading, you let it rest for and hour or so until it doubles. Then comes the fun part of stretching it out into a rectangle…

img_1111

…then shaping it and rolling it to the proper loaf shape.
img_1113
img_1114

After a 2nd rise and 45 mins in the oven…out came a loaf of bread!
img_1118

I was a little concerned because it felt rock hard on the outside, but really the “crust” layer was perfect. It made a wonderful sandwich yesterday and I enjoyed a slice tonight with a little melted sharp cheader to go along with the leftover soup.

img_1123

And the best part about it? I know EXACTLY what went into it. No partially hydrogenated this or xanthan gum that. Just flour, yeast, salt, sugar, powdered milk, water and a little time. Amazing.

Give it a try for yourself. It really does give you a feeling of triumph and accomplishment.

The recipe can be found here. Now I have another cook book to add to the endless wish list 🙂

Cranberry-Nut Bread

img_1728
Time and time again I realize how much I love going to the farmer’s market because I end up buying an ingredient that I have never used before and I’m not even sure if I like it, but then come home, pull out my cookbooks and find something to do with it. Cranberries are in that category. I can’t remember having cranberries on our Thanksgiving table and the only time I have tasted the flavor is in juice form to ward off a bladder infection. At the last Green City still in Lincoln Park (they have since moved North to the Nature Museum but it is a bit of a trek on my bike rather than a leisurely walk) I picked up a $2 pint of cranberries just because they looked so pretty.

pretty red cranberries.

pretty red cranberries.

After looking through Tastespotting and a few of my favorite blogs, I decided that I would make a quick bread.  I love how easy it is to throw all the liquids in a small bowl.  Whisk all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour the wet into the dry with a quick stir, pour into a loaf pan and toss it all into the oven.  This bread was super moist and stayed that way for 4 or 5 days when I took the end of the loaf to work.  I got lots of compliments on it.

perfect flavor combo

perfect flavor combo

Try this while cranberries are still in season. They were little bursts of tang mixed in with the bright orange and the moist bread.

I love Zest.

I love Zest.

quick stir

quick stir

Crumbly

Crumbly

perfect with a glass of milk

perfect with a glass of milk

Cranberry-Nut Bread
Modified from p.687 “The Best New Recipe Book

2 Cups of AP Flour (I used 1 Cup AP, 1 Cup White-Wheatand will probably use all White-Wheat the next time)
1/2 cup nuts (I used Walnuts because it was what I had on hand, but pecans would also be lovely)
Zest and Juice from 1 large orange
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2-1 teaspoon of cinnamon (My addition-I love cinnamon in all my breads)
1 1/2 cup cranberries, chopped coarse.

Pre-heat oven to 375. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Stir together the orange zest and juice, buttermilk, butter, and egg is a small bowl. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry with a rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in the cranberries and pecans. Don’t over mix! Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the surface.

Bake 20 mins, then reduce the heat to 350; continue to bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 mins longer. Cool in the pan 10 mins, then cool completely on a wire rack.