trying to get caught up

I made this Whole-Wheat Zucchini Bread last month when we had a bumper crop of zucchini, including one 2 1/2-pound zuke. The recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book. It has all good stuff in it — zucchini, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and grated lemon zest — not to mention it’s good for you. On paper, it’s a wonderful bread; it was moist and flavorful, qualities one doesn’t typically associate with whole grain baked goods. Sadly, for some reason it just didn’t hit the spot for me.

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the easiest whole-wheat bread ever?

I was really intrigued by this recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking. The dough isn’t kneaded; rather the ingredients are mixed into a batter which is proofed in a loaf pan for an hour and then baked. The instructions seemed so avant garde — when have I ever gone from mixing ingredients to oven-ready loaf in just an hour?! I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that it turned out kind of… ummm… flat. I later found the recipe posted on King Arthur Flour’s site (renamed “No-Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread“), now with more extensive proofing instructions. Apparently, I should have let if proof slightly longer, although I doubt another 30 minutes would have made much of a difference — my bread barely rose at all in 60 minutes (this was as expected, according to the book instructions). If only I had done a little more research — but sometimes I just want to bake without overthinking things, ya know?

Appearances aside, the bread is soft and moist, and the flavor of the molasses really shines. It toasts up beautifully too!

whole wheat sourdough bread

I refreshed my still-kickin’ sourdough starter to make this whole grain sourdough bread yesterday. In addition to the whole wheat flour, I added brown rice and oats to the dough, which resulted in a moist and very flavorful bread. My only complaint was that where some of the brown rice made contact with the hot baking stone, those rice bits became very hard, so some mouthfuls of bread had a little painful surprise when you bit down. No idea why this happened, because I didn’t have this problem with earlier loaves containing brown rice.

whole wheat hot dog buns

OK — I do realize it seems a bit hypocritical to be making whole grain buns only to put a whole-fat, highly-processed, chemical-laden meat product in them. But dietary improvements are best made gradually, yes?

I took some of the dough from yesterday’s whole wheat bread and shaped them into hot dog buns. They came out really well, if a bit irregular — it adds to their charm, I think. And now I can feel a little better about my family eating hot dogs for dinner while I go out to eat with my book club (they’re not complaining).

100% whole wheat sandwich bread

We are solidly a whole wheat bread family when it comes to store-bought breads. I freely admit that white bread makes the best toast and grilled cheeses so occasionally we will get Scali Bread for a treat, but I really prefer to stick to whole wheat for our daily bread. But when it comes to homemade bread, I’ve always been somewhat reluctant to bake whole wheat bread — whole wheat always conjures up images of dense, leaden, inedible bread to me. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way or else why were whole grain breads given a bad rap for such a long time.

Yesterday I baked a 100% whole wheat (yes, that’s all whole wheat flour — no white flour at all) sandwich bread which might make me a homemade wheat bread convert. It’s moist and light(ish — it IS whole wheat after all) and the crumb is small and even but not at all dense. Hopefully even C. (my biggest white bread connoisseur) will feel the same way about it. Now if only I can figure out how to make good homemade double fiber bread!

roasted three-seed bread

This was actually a variation of Peter Reinhart’s Roasted Three-Seed Bread (from Brother Juniper’s Bread Book). The original recipe has sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds, and I added a few more. It’s actually very, very good — medium crumb, great crust — and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like breads with nuts and twigs. I have no problem with the smaller seeds of the bread world, actually, but sunflower and pumpkin seeds (at least in store-bought breads) tend to be a little too prominent for me to ignore. In this bread they all blend together in the dough in a sort of seedy symphony. Now if only I had splurged on some of that nice Irish butter when I was at the grocery store, my happiness would be complete.

cranberry whole-grain muffins

Now this is a proper whole grain muffin! It’s made with whole wheat flour and oats, and also has fresh cranberries, orange zest and chopped walnuts. The original recipe actually calls for an orange glaze, but I omitted it because I didn’t feel it needed more sugar. Without the glaze, the muffins still have a touch of sweetness which contrasts very nicely with the tartness of the cranberries. And best of all, they are moist and tender, not tough like I feared a whole grain muffin might be.