Tag Archives: bread

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

As promised, I’ve dashed off this recipe for those who were eager to get their hands on it. In my opinion, it was good but not great. If I were to make it again, I’d perhaps add a little more oil for that decadent fat flavor. I’d also probably up the spice ante, and may be so bold as to double it. In my infinite wisdom, I bothered to first mix my flax and a little water together as the side of the bag said it was an “egg substitute” and I added molasses thinking the sticky texture would help bind the bread in the absence of eggs. I don’t know if all that extra labor was necessary. Molasses is certainly delicious and should be included. If not on hand, just put in more sugar, either white or brown.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 can pumpkin puree)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flax with water in a bowl. Add oil and sugars (brown, white and molasses). Mix.
  3. Add pumpkin puree to the wet mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (flours, spices, salt, baking soda)
  5. Pour dry into wet and mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in most of the nuts.
  7. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle additional walnuts on the top.
  8. Bake 50 minutes until 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean.

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Banana Bread

Banana bread is wonderfully delicious and easy to whip up, especially if you keep extra ripe bananas frozen in your freezer. This last time, I forgot to take my bananas out early, so I “speed defrosted” them by sticking the frozen bananas on top of the preheating stove. By the time I got everything else together, they were good and soft.

My grandmum always seems to have a loaf around her house. Whenever we’d visit there would be bread sitting on the table, or if we were really lucky, a loaf for each of us to take home. Her bread was always wonderfully moist. She swears her secret is adding a tablespoon of water to the recipe. So, every time I make a loaf, I think of her. I used to make her recipe, but I began to tweak it as it calls for vegetable shortening and three sources of sodium (baking soda, baking powder, salt).

I made one loaf of banana bread about a week ago, with only a few tweaks to my grandmother’s recipe (butter instead of crisco, no water added, less sugar) and it didn’t turn out so hot. It was slightly burnt (even though the recipe said 50-60 minutes) at 50 minutes of cooking and tasted “meh.”  Plus, it was better on the “health” factor but still rather low with all that sodium. Banana bread’s hard to mess up so long as it isn’t brick-quality over burnt so I still ate it, but I figured I could do better. After consulting Simply Recipes banana bread recipe, I came to a happy (and delicious) medium between her recipe and my grandmother’s, which is detailed below.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted or softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt (less than 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cups walnuts (optional, but very yummy)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas with the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together separately.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the sugary eggy banana butter mush and stir with a spoon until just combined.
  6. Fold in nuts if you’re including them.
  7. Pour into a loaf pan that you’ve sprayed with vegetable oil. These can also easily be muffins, but baking time will be severely reduced.
  8. Bake the banana bread for 45 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick at 45 minutes to see if its done (mine was and looked beautiful!).

Enjoy.

 

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Pita Bread

Pitas seem like one of those hard to make breads, but they’re actually pretty simple to whip up.  The hardest part is mastering the art of “puffing.”  In order for the rolled flat bread to puff up, leaving you with that great pocket, the proper balance of warm oven, rested dough, and rolled consistency needs to be reached.  Out of the eight loaves made in my first attempt most puffed at least a little, two or three remained pretty flat, and only one properly puffed up like a balloon.

I devoured two loaves while they were still warm.  I can attest to the fact that they are still delicious if less than perfectly executed.  The improperly puffed breads end up more like Indian naan.

I worked from this recipe from The Fresh Loaf blog.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, roughly at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar together in a bowl.  Add the water and oil and stir to combine into a ball of dough.  Add a little more water if the dough isn’t coming together or a little more flour if it is too sticky.
  2. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the surface of the dough ball in oil.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap.  Let it rise until doubled in bulk, approximately 90 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees as early as you can.  You want that stove nice and piping hot.  (I preheated mine for close to an hour, but my apartment was also freezing so I can’t judge if that was excessive or necessary).
  5. Punch the dough down.
  6. Place an inverted cookie sheet on the oven rack to preheat (or pizza peel or stone if you’ve got it).
  7. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball and cover again with a damp towel or plastic wrap (I inverted the bowl the dough rose in over the balls).
  8. Let the 8 balls rest for 20 minutes.
  9. With a rolling pin on a lightly floured counter, roll out each dough ball to between 1/8 and 1/4 an inch think.
  10. Let the rolled dough rest for about 5 minutes before placing in the oven.  Place as many rolled pitas onto the baking pan as you can comfortably fit (I put two in the oven each go).
  11. Bake at 500 degrees. Pitas will be cooked through in 3 minutes (so set the timer and keep watch).  I cooked mine for 3.5 to 4 minutes in order for them to also be a little golden brown.
  12. While cooking loaves, roll out the next round.  After pulling out freshly baked loaves, close the oven and give it a few minutes to get back up to temperature.  You want your oven as hot as you possibly can get it to mimic the traditional brick oven cooking method.

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Homemade Bagels

These bagels rock.  It only takes about an hour to create your own plateful of fresh bagels to see you through the week.  I tried bagels once before, but the result turned out poor since in a fit of idiocy I smooshed my poofy risen rounds down and ended up with boiled baked frisbees.  I thought they had risen too much and figured they’d re-poof during boiling or baking.  I was wrong, horribly horribly wrong.  This go around, I stuck closer to the directions I found on my first google hit for “whole wheat sesame bagels” and only made moderate changes to the recipe.

Whenever trying something beyond your usual comfort zone it is good to master the technique first before improvising.  I have still yet to make a good sandwich bread because I have yet to master kneading.  My impatience in learning how to consistently knead white bread by hand to the right satiny feel before I move on to more difficult to work flours to create the honey infused whole wheat or rye bread that I crave has led to numerous “bread bricks,” salvaged as croutons but good for nothing else.

Update: Since making this recipe, I’ve done several other batches, modifying the recipe each time.  I’ve still yet to find the supreme bagel recipe, but this is a good baseline for quick and easy baked fare.  In my next rendition, which I will post since the ingredients are quite different from this batch, I plan to half the yeast and double the rising time bouts to develop the flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Pulse all the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, salt, yeast) together a few times in a food processor fitted with the dough paddle to combine.
  2. Add the oil and 1 1/4 water while the food processor is on.  Add up to 1/4 cup more water until the dough comes together and forms into a ball.  It should take 45 seconds or less in the food processor to combine and “knead” all the ingredients.
  3. Knead the dough by hand for an additional minute or two, incorporating a light dusting of additional flour if the dough is tacky and sticks to your hand.
  4. Cut dough into 6 to 8 equal size pieces.  Form each into a ball.  Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rest for 10-2o minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. To form the holes, I prefer to use my fingers to pinch a hole in the center and stretch it slightly larger than the desired size.  Alternatively, use both hands to roll each ball into a snake slightly longer than the width of both hands.  Then tuck the ends together and use the palm of your hand to roll them together.  The website for a homemade bagel recipe I worked from features pictures and youtube videos on bagel rolling techniques.
  7. Let the bagels rest for 20 minutes. While resting, bring a pot of water to a boil.
  8. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  9. Once the bagels have rested and the water is at a boil, gently drop as many bagels into the pot as will fit without crowding.  Boil each side for about 1 minute.  A flat slotted spatula works well for flipping the bagels and pulling them out of the water.
  10. For plain bagels, place the boiled bagels on the baking sheet, leaving some room around each one.  To top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other yums: set the boiled bagel into a shallow bowl filled with topping. Use a fork to pull the bagel out and set on the cookie sheet topping side up.
  11. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Flip the bagels over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Beware of burned fingers if you’re like me and can’t wait to slice open and devour a hot from the oven bagel.

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Pumpkin Bread

My CSA is over, but I still have a coffee table piled high with squash and root vegetables in my fridge.  Fall in Boston settled in while I was vacationing the past week in Peru.  Inspired by the sudden crisp air and mounds of dried leaves that signal a New England fall, the first curcubita to fall under my knife was my cute little sugar pumpkin.  I turned him into two loaves of bread and am roasting his seeds as I type.

Pumpkin bread is in the same bread family as banana bread and zucchini bread.  The pumpkin adds moisture and a little bit of flavor to a loaf that is endlessly customizable.  I wanted an intensely spiced bread, easy on the sugar, with no nuts this time.  My results were not as spicy as I would have liked, so I upped the amount of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger listed in the recipe (I used tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, and 1/2 tsp cloves). D thought the bread needed to be sweeter, and one of the recipes I based this upon did use 3 cups for two loaves, but I think it was sweet enough.  Slather it in butter or devour it plain, this bread is always a good snack.

Sugar pumpkins are almost to dear to hack open

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 3 tsp ginger
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Directions:

One sugar pumpkin will yield 2-3 cups of puree.  Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp (set aside if saving the seeds). Place cut side down on a baking sheet and cook for 30-50 minutes at 350 degrees until tender.  Scoop out the cooked flesh and puree in a blender or food processor. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and all the spices.
  3. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add the oil, water, and pumpkin.  Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the bowl of dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the batter equally into two lightly greased bread pans.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or cold!

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