December 21, 2009

Bread Baking


I am learning new skills in my role as full time homemaker.  I never want to get into a rut, but instead I want to keep my life interesting and learn new things.  One of these new skills is bread baking.  I have made bread in the past as an addition to a special dinner, but I have never made it consistantly on a weekly basis.  After reading the labels at the grocery stores for expensive "whole wheat, high fiber bread", I decided that I could do better and it would be healthier and far cheaper.  The fiber in the "whole wheat, high fiber bread" was a whopping 2 grams.  Big whoop!  2 grams is terrible and you would expect a bread labeled as high fiber would actually be higher in fiber.  So I set about making my own whole wheat bread.  I own a bread machine but I have never really liked it for what I would call day to day bread making.  In my bread machine the bread never raises very well and I don't like the hole it leaves in the bottom from the dough kneader. 

I chose a whole wheat bread recipe that called for honey.  I used half honey and half sorghum.  I also added flax seed to the recipe.  Here is the result:


Honey Whole Wheat Bread

These are beautiful loaves of bread.  I double wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and then in two plastic grocery bags and froze them for when we were ready to use them.  For our family I will need about 2 loaves a week.  This bread makes wonderful toast and is great for sandwiches. 

The next bread I baked was cuban bread.  This recipe was in the Tightwad Gazette and while it calls for a lot of yeast, it produces two loaves in a small amount of time.  Again, it is great for sandwiches, if there are any leftover after our supper meal. 



Cuban Bread

When the blizzard hit our area 2 weeks ago, we were running low on dog biscuits.  Our dog gets these treats throughout the day.  I did not want to go to the grocery store as I have been doing my best to not run to the store when we need 1 thing and instead to either make do or make what I need from scratch.  I found a recipe for dog biscuits that calls for whole wheat flour, powdered milk, beef bouillon, beef fat (or vegetable oil) and a few other ingredients I have in my pantry.  I decided against making them in the shape of a dog biscuit and instead used my pizza cutter to cut the dough into rectangles.  These rectangular dog biscuits fit snuggly into my dog's toy "Kong" and she loves trying to get to those dog biscuits.  I made them for pennies and they are better for our dog than store bought.  I will continue to make these and will search for a peanut butter version for variety.



Dog Biscuits

About every other year I have been baking cardamom bread to give away as gifts.  This is a bread that my mom would bake at Christmas time.  I am Swedish and in our household it was a traditional Christmas bread.  If you have never tasted cardamom or wonder what it is like, it is readily available in the spice section of the grocery store.  I believe it is in the ginger family, but I think its taste and aroma is hard to describe except to say that it's flavor is delicious especially in this sweet bread.  The taste and aroma of this bread takes me back to my childhood and our Christmases in Western New York.  On Saturday I baked 8 braided loaves of this bread for gift giving.

The hamburger buns were a last minute addition to my baking day as I decided to have Sloppy Joes for Sunday lunch.  We were going to have a busy afternoon so I put the ingredients for Sloppy Joes into my crock pot before going to church and when we came home it was ready.  Sloppy Joes served over homemade hamburger buns is a treat. 

All in all I am enjoying baking bread.  I love kneading the dough and I feel as if I am getting my upper arms in shape as I work the dough.  Beyond enjoying the process of mixing, kneading, shaping and baking my own loaves I love that I know what is going into each loaf of bread and that the bread is healthier and far cheaper than anything you can get at the store.  There is nothing like the smell of bread baking in the oven or the delight of your family as you serve them fresh, homemade bread. 




Cardamom Bread and Hamburger Buns



3 comments:

tammyyarbrough said...

You are quite the baker!!

Moderate Means said...

Your bread looks fabulous! Would you mind posting the recipe for the honey wheat? I'm trying new breads and would love to try this one. :) Also, I'm curious about the sorghum as I've never used it...is there a benefit to it? My daughter is diabetic and I am always curious about alternative natural sweeteners :)

I'm also looking for a peanut butter dog biscuit for my pups - I hope you post about it if you find one!

Stacy

Martha said...

Stacy:

Sorghum is made from sorghum cane and it tastes extremely similar to molasses. I prefer it. We have some sorghum producers here in Iowa and sorghum is cheaper than molasses. However, it is just as "sweet" as molasses and therefore would not be a substitute sweetener for a diabetic. I will definitely post my recipes today.

Martha