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Crunchy Granola (Bread!)

flying 011Sadly, not a rave.

I don’t love dried fruit and I guess was hoping this homemade granola and the accompanying granola bread (both from Artisan Bread in Five, which went back to the library yesterday) (an “adapted” version of the recipe is here if you’re interested; it looks the same as the original to me) for which it was made would somehow transcend all of that and make me love it. It didn’t. (if you followed the sentiment despite all the parentheses) (don’t bother).

The bread was good. So good I gave half a loaf, hot n’ fresh, to my sister. But Ted talked me into using dried cherries in the granola; they were too big and weird. And I guess I’m just not a “bits and pieces” gal.

However, tflying 009he granola did get rave reviews. (the online recipe is slightly different; it includes sunflower seeds, which the book’s recipe does not)

Naomi couldn’t get over the fact that I actually made cereal! And after years of aspiring to “crunchy-granola” status, I can finally remove the quotation marks.

I didn’t try it in milk, but it did taste lovely as a snack; very much fresher than store-bought granola. Probably less sugar and fat, too. (But, in a whisper: but… I love Quaker Harvest Crunch because it is SO sweet and I love the way it clumps in the bowl.)

The day I made this, the littles ate granola for breakfast, granola bread for lunch… and again for supper. Without a single complaint!

The bread itself was pretty much enjoyed by everybody (okay, Elisheva complained a bit; don’t remember about what). I subbed whole-grain spelt for the 1.5 cups of whole-wheat. I suspect Ted kind of believes everything that tastes cinnamony is a little bit good for you; this bread is definitely more up his alley than mine.

Here’s what it looked like inside: a perfectly-risen loaf. The book mentions a granola topping, so I sort of threw some granola at it before it went in the oven. Naturally, it didn’t really stick (though a few raisins puffed up & burnt - blah).

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This site (where the recipe is also posted) says the book mentions the granola topping but doesn’t say what to do with it. Apparently that’s just one of many “too-late-it’s-already-printed” errors in the print version of the book. Anyway, the solution I could have figured out if it wasn’t 7 am when I baked this is: EGG WASH. Doh!

The bread’s colour looks a little ripply in the photo, but I promise it wasn’t that glaring in real life. There may have been a few “patches” of white and patches of spelt (I was tired when I was stirring it together, so didn’t premix the dry stuff like a good girl) but they weren’t visible in normal light and it didn’t affect the flavour or texture.

In conclusion! I might make the granola again; I might make granola bread again, without the fruity stuff. But maybe not… I can’t see that the nice “roasted” flavour from the granola added much that a bit of maple syrup and vanilla in a regular oat-bread dough couldn’t – a little more easily.

Six Word Saturday: December 26, 2009


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burgers 011Bun-baked Burgers:  look gross, BUT…

(Belated) Six Word Saturday: December 19, 2009


chanukah over 007

Oops… forgot to blog; AMAZING boule!

Sending Chanukah out with a sizzle…

…The sizzle of deep-frying donuts / sufganiyot, of course:  one last hurrah!

Further to the sort-of unloved no-knead Pain au Chocolat from a few weeks ago, I decided that the dough, being not quite sweet enough for my family, would make an excellent chocolate donut.  Donuts being deliberately NOT sweet but fried, and dusted lightly with sweetness on the outside.  You don’t want a donut to be sweet all the way through.

No time for adding comments, but basically I made the chocolate dough as called for here, subbing oil for the butter, which did change the texture of the dough a bit.  Still, I found it very workable and the donuts were yummy!  Will add more comments later if I have a chance!!!

Here they are, start to finish, donuts, donut holes (I fried them up separately rather than reroll them), and all:

chanukah over 010 chanukah over 011 chanukah over 012 chanukah over 013 chanukah over 015 chanukah over 016 chanukah over 017

Mmm, mmm, good…!!!

No-knead Nutella Sufganiyot (donuts)

Starting with one batch of no-knead Artisan Bread in Five Minutes challah dough, here are start-to-finish pictures of yesterday’s amazing Nutella-stuffed sufganiyot (the Hebrew word for the traditional jelly donuts eaten at Chanukah, but I’m not sure if that’s the word for donuts in general, or just these particular ones, or just jelly donuts… so many questions!)

The basic recipe is here, but I made it with two variations this time. 

First, I omitted one of the four eggs.  I have been doing this every time because I find the dough much easier to handle if it’s on the dry side.  Second, I made it with BUTTER instead of oil as I usually do for Shabbos. 

Our Shabbos bread usually has to be pareve (non-meat, non-dairy), but since I was planning to use Nutella in these anyway (Nutella is made with milk), I figured a little extra dairy couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the dough after its initial stir.  I didn’t have to take it out of the bowl, but you can see that it’s dry for a no-knead dough.  It’s partly the butter’s fault.  Our house is quite cool, which is great for working with pastry in general, but it meant the butter probably started congealing right away after I added it.

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Here’s the dough the following day just before forming.  It hasn’t risen much – unlike the Shabbos challah dough, which pretty much overflows the bowl overnight in the fridge.  Again, I think that’s mostly because of the butter:  it can’t flow.

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Divide carefully – I actually used a scale! – to portion 24 donuts, from the entire recipe of dough.  Roll each portion, flatten with rolling pin (okay, you got me – a wine bottle), fill.  Brush edges with a bit of water and seal well. 

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Rest on seam and allow to rise 20-40 minutes.  Here are all 24 ballies, lined up in the order I made them, to ensure that they all got a nice long proof.

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Now fry!  I couldn’t take pictures of this step because I was hurrying, but it was beautiful except the oil got darker and darker with each batch (I only did four at a time because I usually overcrowd deep-fried things, with bad results). 

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(Yes, I transported them to my mother’s house and graciously presented them in a cut-open Coke box)

The final few batches were so dark, they actually looked like they’d been made with chocolate dough… which actually…wouldn’t be a bad idea, now that I’m thinking about it.


I haven’t made the pain au chocolat again because it wasn’t really sweet enough for my or my family’s taste.  If something looks like chocolate, we just inherently want it to taste sweet.

BUT the point of donuts is that they are not, themselves, sweet.  They are deep-fried and coated in a slight sweetness, but what you are tasting is basically fried dough; it all comes down to the flavour of the dough itself.

I found these absolutely yummy with the pure-butter challah dough (what’s not to love about blobs of fried challah?).  But a chocolate dough that was NOT sweet, coated lightly in icing sugar… well, that might be just the thing to cap off our Chanukah experience next Shabbos!

By the way, I generally dislike day-old donuts, but I decided to have one of these with my coffee (there were lots left over and I didn’t want them to go to waste) and it’s actually quite nice. 

I like that the chocolate is still soft in the centre (when I made them for Shabbos with squares of chocolate, it solidified again when it cooled off).  It’s basically toast with Nutella, a perennial favourite.  Mmm…

Six Word Saturday: December 12, 2009

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No-Knead Donuts:  you NEED them!

One more time for POTATO bread!

And this time, as they say in the world of sports, she shoots… she scores!  A perfect Artisan Bread in Five potato bread (originally borrowed from this web recipe) on the, um, eighth try? 

Ha ha.  Maybe more like third.  (read about my last disaster with this bread)

Still.  This bread has the potential for being an all-time favourite, so I figure it’s worth the effort.

So:  no garlic this time; I may throw some in next time.  Not as flavourful without it.  Also not as flavourful because I fridged it for a few hours, then baked it the same day I mixed.  I still have about 2/3 of the mixture in the fridge, which I plan to bake up for tomorrow morning, so I can see if the flavour improves with time.

Also… (don’t tell!)  I used instant mashed potato flakes.  Just boiled up water and mixed them in a bowl, let it cool off, and added it to the recipe.  Easy; not as authentic, and also probably way more moist than if I’d baked the potato, which gets a lot of the water out.

I used about 2lb of the dough, so bigger than a grapefruit or a canteloupe, the standard sizes the authors suggest, but it was a good size for the pan, and for our family.

So here it is unbaked:  what a wet blob this was, coming out of the fridge after only a few hours.  Even with floured dough, floured hands, I still couldn’t get a good grip to turn it into a nice, neat ball, so it’s a little ripped and messy looking.

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But it rose okay.  I did NOTHING to the oven except throw it in, because the baby was waking up, and it was either steam or baby, so I chose the baby.  I’ve eaten lots of non-crisp crusts in my day; I figured one more couldn’t hurt.

And here it is, fully baked.  I think I baked it for 50 minutes.  Perfect!  Okay, a little too much flour on top.  Like I said:  the baby.

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And here’s the inside.  Hard to cut when soft and fresh, but ever so moist (but not overly wet inside!) and yummy.

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We had this last night with creamy Broccoli soup and a very by-the-books tuna casserole.  I actually had to miss supper for PTA at Elisheva’s school and only had it later after the bread had cooled down.  It was still amazingly yummy!

Nifty Tidbit – “outta honey, honey?”

Hey, cool!

No, I haven’t abandoned this blog, just didn’t bake much this week, and haven’t blogged the bread that I did make:  a perfect (yes, perfect!) no-knead potato bread!

But here’s a nifty frugal / emergency baking tip while you’re waiting.  When you’ve run out of honey, and don’t want to run out to the store, here’s how you make a substitutable equivalent:

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • That’s it!  It’s easy!  I did this for my challah this week and then (doh!) forgot to buy honey in the meantime, so I had to sub it in again this week.

    The reason straight sugar won’t work well is because it’s dry and so you need to add in a bit of water.  This ratio (5:1) gives a texture very much like a heavily-crystalled honey that will ensure your recipe gets the moisture that it needs.


    • Sugar tastes sweeter than honey, so you may want to cut down a bit for breads or the final product may be noticeably sweeter.  I didn’t mind it in challah last week.
    • Of course, it won’t have that wonderful TASTE of honey… but you knew that, right?
    • This makes a bit more than a cup of “honey” substitute, so be sure to measure before subbing into recipes where precise quantity makes a difference.


    Six Word Saturday: December 5, 2009

    (a little late; so sue me!)

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    Three challah blobs… and Sara’s masterpiece.

    Artisan Bread in Five B(oat) Bread

    wiggle 003New bread book from the library! Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

    I have been baking from this book – especially the challah recipe, which I’ve been tweaking for better workability – for months now, so it already feels like an old friend.

    I came this close to buying it in Chapters a few weeks ago, and decided not to because it doesn’t really include very many recipes. However, sitting down with it, I’m sort of starting to rethink that decision… I think this one may be a keeper.

    Now that I have it in my hands (not literally; I had to put it down to type) I’m finding I do love the happy, balanced tone of the book itself – above and beyond its core formulae (of which there are more than I’d originally estimated, however).

    I like the fact that most of the recipes are non-dairy, though some do include milk and butter and whatnot.

    Anyway, I really want to make as many of the breads as appeal to me (not all do), starting with the semolina bread, which I’ve been wanting to try anyway… however, since I decided that, I have been completely unable to find semolina flour in our regular grocery stores.

    I used to buy it all the time when I made pasta, but now it seems to have vanished from the shelves. Will have to try again over the weekend. I don’t love sesame seeds, but Hertzberg and Francois say the combo of semolina and sesame is wonderful, and I think I’ll trust them and try it out the way they say.

    Meanwhile, I decided to make the very blah-vanilla-looking Oat Flour Bread (p. 104). Well, I wanted to make the Oatmeal Bread (p. 94), but it looked too involved, and I was tired, so I decided to just chuck a cup of rolled oats into the Boring Oat Bread and call it a day.

    Except the Oat Bread calls for oat flour, and I forgot until halfway through mixing it that what I’d bought was barley flour (the store had no oat flour, so I figured I’d find another recipe). I should call this blog “The Distracted Chef” because yes, when shopping with children I forget what I’ve bought, and when baking with children, I forget what flours I have on hand.

    So I made (b)oat bread! The B is for Barley, which I substituted for the one cup of oat flour called for. I used bread flour because we were out of all-purpose, cut down the flour by one cup and dumped in the cup of rolled oats to liven it up.

    What else? Oh, yeah, while I was massacreing the recipe, I added 1/4 cup of maple syrup because the Oatmeal Bread calls for 1/2 a cup and it sounded yummy, but we only had 1/4 cup left in the house; I reduced the water accordingly.

    So throw it all together at 8:00 a.m., stir it up, rise it for 2 hours, fridge it for 4 hours, and what do you get…?

    wiggle 009Well… GREAT bread! Amazing!

    The barley and maple syrup gave the bread such a lovely, soft sweet taste and texture.

    Soft means this bread is very hard to slice when hot…but reasonable once cooled. I made grilled cheese with this bread today for the little kids’ lunches.

    wiggle 007The rolled oats disappeared completely, by the way; I could feel them with my fingers when I was forming the loaves, but there was no trace of them on my tongue when eating the bread.

    So there you go. Sometimes you work hard and the bread flops… and sometimes you just throw a few things in a bowl, stir it around, and end up with Very Good Bread.

    The super-nice thing is that the recipe made enough for three loaves… I baked up two last night before supper (served it with lasagna), and saved one to bake tonight so we will have fresh bread for the kids tomorrow morning. Yay, me!

    The pletzl that plotzed

    bayis 001Well, I don’t know exactly what I mean by that title, but on Monday, I decided to make the yummy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes pletzl again (here’s the original recipe).

    Except… two things went wrong.

    One, last time I used the book’s basic Boule recipe; this time, I used the challah dough – as suggested in the pletzl recipe! I have no idea why, but there was way more dough, far too much to fit on my little cookie-sheet pan… ugh.

    (in hindsight, I should have used 3/4 of the dough and saved 1/4 for another time. That thought honestly never occurred to me until just now. But hindsight is 20/20, and at the time…well, I didn’t!)

    And TWO, for some reason, I totally skimped on the onion! I must have used two last time, because when I dumped them onto the dough, they were only able to spread out in the most skimpy way. Ew… who wants an onion bun with not enough onions?

    So what I learned is that challah is NOT the right dough for pletzl!

    The challah recipe is rich and cakey, with eggs, oil and honey, where the boule dough is plain and bready. It is my definite opinion that when crafting a bread so elaborately decorated with flavourful onions and drizzled with oil, as simple as possible is what you want from your dough.

    Speaking of oil: I must have been sleeping or dreaming of Naples when I drizzled this with olive oil instead of canola, like last time. On an Italian bread, that would work (though not in combination with this rich dough!). On Ashkenazi bread, well, just plain weird.

    Anyway, everybody seemed to enjoy their puffy, crusty, low-oniony pletzl well enough. I served it with roasted-red-pepper and black bean soup. That was it for supper.

    (did I mention I dumped the poppy seeds on a little randomly and over-generously? sigh… it was Monday; I was not at my best…)

    Lessons have definitely been learned from yet another bread mishap. I will definitely make this bread again… just maybe not on a Monday!

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