Julia, my sister, is going to give our Grammie and Aunt Mattie homemade bread for Christmas this year. Last night we decided to do a run-through to see how it would come out. I found a recipe for a Cardamom braid in Cooking Light, so I modified it (a lot) and came up with my very own. It’s quite simple to make and came out better than any bread I have made in the past.
Spiced Holiday Bread Braid Recipe
- 1 1/3 cups almond milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Lemon rind from one lemon plus a dash of lemon juice
- 1.5 teaspoons spices – allspice/pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- 4.5 cups whole wheat flour (separated), plus extra for kneading
- 2.5 teaspoons yeast
- 1 egg white
- Cooking spray
- 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Mix together the first 6 ingredients (milk, sugar, butter, lemon, spices, salt) in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. The temperature should be about 120 – 130 F.
- Combine 2.5 cups of the flour with the yeast. Then add the milk mixture from the saucepan and mix together. Gradually add the remaining two cups of flour. (You can do this in a mixer – mine was not very cooperative. I think it would be better to try by hand.)
- Once you have a ball of dough, knead for about 10 minutes over a floured surface. Continue to add flour as the dough absorbs it; the dough should remain slightly sticky.
- Spray the inside of a bowl with cooking spray, then place the ball of dough inside. Cover and keep in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has about doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Preheat the over to 375F.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll them into ropes – if you want a long, thin, braid try for about 20 inches; if you want it fatter, try for 15 inches. Pinch together the ropes and then braid them. When you have finished the braid, pinch the other end together.
- Place the braid on a sprayed cookie sheet; cover and let it sit for another 25 minutes.
- Paint the braid with the egg white and water mixture, then sprinkle the additional sugar over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove and let it cool.
We had it with butter and that fresh fruit dip I keep raving about.
I really like using almond milk – it’s light and naturally sweet. I’m not a huge regular milk fan anyway (though I do like whole milk and heavy cream).
More posts to come – I expect to make A LOT of cookies over the next day or so.
Last night I went to H-Mart (the Korean grocery store near Oxford Valley Mall) to do some shopping. I happened upon a package of persimmons, 3 for $1.49, so I decided to buy them, even though they looked a little sickly – sort of like tomatoes on the verge of going bad. But I was curious.
Apparently there are two types of persimmons: Hachiyas and Fuyus. I bought Fuyus. The Fuyu looks basically like a tomato: red and round. Hachiyas are more pear shaped and must be very ripe before you try to eat them (otherwise they are too astringent). I think Hachiyas are better for baking (try cookies), while Fuyus are delicious plain.
The Fuyus I bought felt plump and soft to the touch. They were perfectly ripe.
This morning I sliced one of the persimmons, sliced a Gala apple, and mixed them together with some of the fruit dip I posted earlier (dip!).
Fresh Persimmons and Apples with Dip
- 1 ripe persimmon
- 1 apple
- 2 tablespoons fruit dip
- 1 tablespoon chopped nuts (walnuts, perhaps?)
- Slice fruit. Mix with dip. Sprinkle nuts. EAT!
Vegetable and Seitan Stir-Fry
- Diced onion
- Chopped red/orange/yellow pepper
- Sliced carrots
- Chopped bok choy
- Fresh sliced seitan
- Smart Ground meatless crumbles
- Grapeseed oil
- Soy sauce, to taste (about 2 tsp)
- Heat the oil in a pan on high.
- Toss in onions, peppers, carrots, and all fake meat. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the bok choy and saute for another minute.
- Add soy sauce, stir, and remove from heat.
- Serve alone or with rice.
Other great veggies to add: broccoli, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, baby corn, scallions, mushrooms, zucchini…
Note that it’s important to add the bok choy (and any other leafy vegetables) last, otherwise they become limp.
Because it’s snowing terribly outside, I decided to make oatmeal raisin cookies today. I was supposed to go to the mall to do Christmas shopping, pick up my cap and gown, and sell some textbooks back at the library, but the snow on the ground was discouraging so I stayed in my warm apartment.
I made some applesauce the other night and it was delicious, so I decided to make some more and add it to the cookies. That was a good call; they came out great.
Quick Applesauce Recipe:
To make the applesauce, just chop up an apple and boil it in an inch of water for about ten minutes. Then mix it in a blender with the remaining water – one apple will make a little more than a half cup of applesauce. If you want, add a bit of sparkling apple cider instead of water.
Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups oats
- 3/4 cup raisins
- Preheat over to 375F. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Set aside.
- Beat together butter (softened) and sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, and applesauce.
- Stir in the flour, then the oats and raisins.
- Use a teaspoon to drop the cookies on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
I decided to try a twist on the bread that I’ve made a few times – I added oatmeal! I used half oatmeal, half flour, but it would work with all flour as well.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread Recipe
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 teaspoons melted butter
- 2.5 – 3 cups of whole wheat flour/oatmeal mix
- Corn starch or nonstick cooking spray
- Prepare the yeast: heat up the water (about 120F – as hot as you can touch) and mix with the yeast until there are no lumps. Add 1 teaspoon of honey, mix, and let sit for a minute or two.
- Add the butter, milk, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix gently until the color is consistent.
- Add two cups of flour/oatmeal mix and stir with a spoon. Add more flour/oatmeal until the dough is dry enough that it leaves a little bit of flour on the sides of the bowl.
- Put some flour between your hands and rub them over a clean area of the counter. This is for kneading.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Squeeze it back and forth between your hands and mash it on the floured counter. Shape into a ball.
- Spray the inside of a bowl with nonstick cooking spray or dust with corn starch. Place the ball of dough inside, put a towel overtop, and keep in a warm place (near a lamp or on the warming area of a stove both work well) for about an hour. The dough should rise.
- Take the dough and punch/shape it into a rectangular, then roll it up – it should be about the size and shape of a bread pan. This is easily done in the same area that you did the kneading; you may even want to dust some more flour on the ball before you start shaping.
- Put the dough back in the bowl (or in a bread pan coated with cooking spray), cover with a towel again, and return to the warming area for another hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake the roll in the bread pan or on a baking sheet sprayed with the cooking spray for 30 minutes. Remove from pan to cool.
This whole wheat oatmeal bread is delicious warm, straight from the oven, with a pat of butter. It also goes well with the apple dip I posted earlier. You can store the loaf in a Ziploc bag to preserve freshness. Be sure to put it in the fridge after a day or so – otherwise it will get moldy. Whole wheat bread goes moldy quickly because it has a lot of nutrients, which mold likes. Mold can tell the difference between homemade and processed, unlike people.
Be creative – you can use different flours and add flavors (cinnamon, raisins, dates, etc…) to fit the occasion.
Here is an excellent website for a kneading description: Kneading e-How.