Basic Quick Bread Formula (and Cranberry Walnut Bread)

Before the popularity of my herb books, before Amazon gave the opportunity for small authors to publish their work, even before I had heard of blogs, I had written three books. There is one remaining copy of each here, created and bound at a copy store, their pages stained. I wrote three plant based cookbooks and sold them at farmer’s markets and at my little shop on Main street. They sold surprisingly well, I thought, considering I lived in a small town where the common occupation was rancher. But as more and more people began to seek out healthier ways of eating, ways to beat disease, and young people began cooking for themselves, folks around there were looking for ideas.

This recipe is in my first book, Gone Vegan; Hooked on Brilliant Health and Beauty and Deliriously Good Food! It is a basic formula for Quick Bread. We love banana bread, pumpkin bread, or even savory bread, like onion. This recipe easily changes to what you have on hand. It is nice to be able to use one bowl, whip up some bread, and have it done in an hour. Yesterday I made Cranberry Walnut Bread with a touch of rosemary. See what you come up with!

Basic Quick Bread Recipe

2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached white flour

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 T baking powder

1 ts of yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

1 cup of water or plant milk

1/3 cup of oil

1 cup of nuts

1/2 cup fruit

Mix everything together and pour into greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until bread is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Variations

For the cranberry bread, I used 2 cups of white flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat. I used walnut oil. I did 1 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of frozen cranberries (the moisture content required the bread to cook a little longer), and added 1 teaspoon of minced rosemary.

You can decrease the sugar, use white sugar, honey, agave, or maple.

Add savory dried onion and chives or red chile powder.

You could use lemon oil and orange juice as the liquid to make a fruitier bread.

Add 1 teaspoon of spices.

Maybe combine raisins and pecans. Currants and pine nuts. Eliminate the nuts altogether and just add 2 bananas. Feel free to play with this recipe. Cooking is all about experimentation. Just try to stay with the basic formula and you will be alright!

I am seriously considering testing my way through the three books and creating one book of great plant based recipes!

Bread Baking (So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series- Day 9)

For the past ten years or so we have purchased very little that is electronic, instead opting for hand cranked or self powered items.  Oil lamps, a hand cranked coffee grinder, food processor, and cast iron that can be used on a wood stove if necessary fill my cupboards.  After reading Jim Lahey’s great book, My Bread, I have baked many a loaf of good bread.  I don’t remember when I gave away my bread maker (when we became raw foodies for a short time?  When we were trying to go off grid?) but when I plugged in the one from Grandma’s house that Grandpa sent me home with, a big smile crossed my face.  All I had to do was layer the ingredients into the pan, slide it into the oven, press 7, and go about my chores.  It mixed, raised, kneaded, and baked a heavenly loaf of bread for supper while I got laundry, gardening, and housework done.  What have I been missing all these years?

Now that we are 100% solar powered, I tend to plug a few more things in (but not much!).  The bread from the breadmaker is delicious.  If I want a good boule, I will whip some up myself in mixing bowls and over hours, and bake it in my Dutch oven.  It’s nice to have options.  And nothing beats coming home to a house smelling of fresh bread.

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By making your own bread for sandwiches, toast, croutons, pizza crust, and bread crumbs, you really cut down on the food bill and can control what you are eating.  Flour, salt, yeast, and sugar do not cost much.  I recently read what is in “dough conditioner”…well folks, let me just tell you that we won’t be eating take out pizza or processed bread any longer.

I bought my daughter a breadmaker for her bridal shower.  I think it is the best of both worlds between convenience and homemade.  A little homemade butter and you have heaven on a plate.

Here are a few recipes of mine from over the years on this blog if you want to try your hand at a homemade loaf.  But do consider a breadmaker.  I bet there is one at a second hand store by you!

Grain Mills and Rye Bread

Maple Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

Sourdough Making 101

Sourdough is a fermented food, therefore making it easy to digest.  A piece of organic sourdough warm from the toaster with Miyoko’s butter (vegan) smeared across it is divine with a cup of coffee in the morning.  Memories are made around loaves of bread.

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The original starter is from The Amish Cook’s Family Favorite Recipes by Lovina Eicher and is easy to put together.

3 packages of active dry yeast and 1 cup of warm water.  Pour into a small container with a loose fitting lid and refrigerate for 3-5 days.

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Now we add the starter feed. 

Add to that 3/4 cup of sugar (When did everyone get so funny about sugar?  It seems about the time artificial sweeteners came on the market.  Sugar is a plant.  Use organic sugar preferably.)

3 Tb instant potatoes (Bob’s is good, no extra weird ingredients.)

1 cup of warm water

Mix these up and then add the starter in with it.  Keep it on the counter with a loose fitting lid (it has to breathe) for 5-12 hours.  It will get bubbly.

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Use 1 cup of starter and place the rest in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and then feed again, then bake more bread.  I put a note on my calendar every five days.  Pitch the 1 cup if you aren’t making bread.  Sound like a lot of work?  If you have time for Netflix binges, you have ten minutes to work on your sourdough!

Now let’s make some bread!

Dear Lovina was an Amish mama and her recipe that follows the starter is for three loaves of bread.  That is a little much for just me and Pa so I adjusted it to my own tried and true bread recipe.

Mama’s Rosemary Sourdough

Pour one cup of the sourdough starter into a large bowl

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Add 3 cups of white, unbleached, organic flour (You can use 2 cups of white and 1 cup of wheat or other flour but do not exceed that ratio or you will have a cement block.  Been there, done that.)

1 Tb+ of fresh rosemary

1 ts of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of warm water

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Blend well and let sit overnight on the counter or 3ish hours if you are starting in the morning.  Cover with a plate.

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Sprinkle dough with flour and use a wooden spoon to pull the dough into a ball.  Knead 20 times in bowl.  Sprinkle more flour if needed to keep from being terribly sticky.  Cover with plate again for another hour or two.

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Sprinkle dough with a little cornmeal and shape into a ball.  Spray cast iron pan or cookie sheet with oil and then sprinkle with corn meal.  Place dough on sheet or pan.  You can spray the top of the dough with oil then grate some vegan parmesan on top or add a little more garlic powder.  (Violife is the most convincing parmesan in the world.)  Bake for 40 minutes.

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Cool on rack.  Let cool before serving or the steam will make the center doughy.  Store in an airtight bag.  Tastes best with laughter and wine, or in blessed silence with tea.  Really up to you.  Enjoy!

 

The Delicious and Versatile Homemade Crouton

I try to bake bread each week.  The first few days the bread is delicious and soft.  The next few days it needs to be toasted.  The next few days we forget about it.  Then I make croutons!  Croutons are a great way to preserve stale bread and can be made with store bought bread as well.

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Simply cut into half inch pieces and place on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Use a large spoon and stir while flipping the pieces over (the best you can, don’t do every single piece, you’ll go crazy) and drizzle with a little more oil and salt and pepper.

For these I used a little sage and onion infused olive oil from Drizzle and Dip in Southlands along with good olive oil.  Rye bread was made into croutons this week and it goes very well with strong flavors like garlic, sage, and onion.  You can also add minced herbs if you wish.

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Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Shake the pan after 10 minutes.  Then again when it comes out of the oven.  Let cool on pan completely.  Store in a paper bag.  These are delicious on salad, in soup, or as a snack.  These crispy, salty, savory croutons taste great with a little holiday red wine.  Add a few slices of good cheese and you have fast hors d’oeuvres.

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Here is a link to one of my bread recipes. Click here

Grain Mills and Rye Bread

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The aroma captures you as you enter the house.  It instantly makes a home cozy.  When you make the soup too spicy (oops) it calms it down and fills you up.  It is perfect with a glass of wine and bit of butter and jam.  A must for a picnic.  Not to mention full of protein, nutrients, and fiber.  Ahh, fresh bread, how I adore you.

One of the lovely things about moving to a small town, opening a small business in a small town, and living simply around other folks that live simply is the community mindset of barter.  So when a couple we know wanted to take some of my herbal classes, they offered me a near forgotten treasure…a grain mill.  One that actually grinds whole wheat into fine, delicious flour.  What a gift!

Living at 6500 feet above sea level has provided me with years of baking cement blocks.  A few of you are laughing, cause you know what I am talking about!  I have perfected the simple loaf of bread with the help of some books like “My Bread” by Jim Lahey and “Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” by Hertzberg ad Francois.  They didn’t touch on high altitude baking but they catapolted me to the next level in order to master the humble peasant loaf.

Easy Scrumptious Rye Bread

2 cups of unbleached, organic white flour

1 cup of rye flour

1 Tablespoon of yeast

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1Tablespoon of caraway seeds

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 1/2 cups of warm water (1 1/3 cup for lower altitudes)

Mix well in a mixing bowl and place plate over it (you could use a towel, but I have cats, since cat hair is not really a necessary ingredient in bread, I use a plate) Promptly forget for 2-6 hours.  Take off plate, sprinkle with flour and knead 20 times in bowl.  Re-cover. Promptly forget for 1-4 hours.  Place in preheated Dutch oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake for 15 minutes more.

You could also grease two bread pans and bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes with a ramekin of hot water.

Enjoy with rich butter, homemade choke cherry jam, and glass of red wine, a meritage or California red blend would be lovely.

Have a beautiful Sunday.  (Go Broncos!)