Homemade Bread

Last Thursday I got a wild hair and decided to bake some homemade bread.  Maybe it was the dreary weather or the lack of a current project that sparked this idea.  I don’t know what it was but I’m so glad I tackled this cooking challenge.  I broke out my stand mixer and went about making the most amazing bread ever.  I’ve reprinted the recipe I found here.

Fabulous Homemade Bread

Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water
3 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
10 cups bread flour
Directions:
1. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, stir together 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 cup bread flour, and yeast. Let grow for about 5 minutes. It will bubble almost immediately.
2. Measure oats, 4 1/2 cups warm water, whole wheat flour, salt, 2/3 cup sugar, and 2/3 cup oil into the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed slightly, and begin adding bread flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Humidity determines how much flour you need before the bread pulls away from the edge of the bowl. It is normal for the dough to be sticky.
3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Shape loaves, and place in greased 8 x 4 inch pans. Let rise until dough is 1 inch above rim of pans, usually 1 hour.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F ( 175 degrees C) for 35 minutes, or until tops are browned. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

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B brought her kids over for a play date and lunch.  She also served as my lovely assistant/partner in crime/clean-up crew as I attacked this recipe with gusto.  As the title indicates, the bread really is fabulous.  I had a slice fresh out of the oven with butter and peach jam.  It was heavenly!  In fact, the boys and I took down 3/4 of a loaf for a snack.

I would say that it was 3 and a half hours well spent.  It was difficult to do but I did manage to share some loaves with friends.  B, of course, since she helped make it.  I also gave Big Red, my in-laws and our across-the-street neighbors some.

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Guinness Cake

Now, I know there are some out there who don’t care for the taste of a Guinness but I think you need to give this recipe a chance.  It is fantastic!  I baked one for our family.  Then I baked a second one for Big Red’s dad who loves to bake with alcohol 🙂  I heard he devoured half of it by himself…

I’ve reprinted the recipe here:

Chocolate Guinness Cake

From Feast by Nigella Lawson (reprinted in the New York Times on 12/8/04)
Yield: One 9-inch cake (12 servings)

For the cake:

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar (I have used regular granulated sugar with no ill effects)
3/8 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

For the topping: Using a food processor or by hand, mix confectioners’ sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.

This is the link to where I found the recipe.

Finally a Dang Pumpkin Roll!

When I first mentioned my pumpkin roll craving I had no idea how difficult it would be to find a can of pumpkin.  You can’t make a pumpkin roll without a can of dang pumpkin!  It was like the universe was playing a cruel trick on me or something.  Every grocery store I went to (and I went to FIVE)  did not have a single can of pumpkin.  To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement.

The reason for the lack of canned pumpkin?  I heard two different explanations from the store clerks I cornered asked:

  1. There is a pumpkin shortage
  2. Pumpkin is considered a seasonal item and would not be stocked until October

Whatever the reason, I was devastated.  No pumpkin roll for me 😦  I pretty much gave up on that recipe endeavor until…

I took Cutie Pie over to Steph’s house on Thursday morning so she could babysit while I taught a couple of Zumba classes.  There on her foyer table was a can of Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin!!!!  Ahhhh!

I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I think I squealed in delight as I quickly snatched up the can and clutched it to my chest.  Upon learning of my plight, Steph scoured her pantry for some leftover canned pumpkin from Thanksgiving 2008.  She had some stashed in the back!  YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

With canned pumpkin in hand, I began my journey to make my first pumpkin roll on Friday night.  Dude, was it a messy journey.  Me and powdered sugar don’t generally get along.  I like to keep things tidy when I cook.  Powdered sugar does it’s best to see that I fail.  That’s right, powdered sugar, I’ve got your number.  No matter though!  The residual sugar dust was totally worth the end result.

One thing that I will do differently the next time I make this recipe is to use parchment paper instead of wax paper when I bake the cake.  Even though I greased and floured the heck out of the wax paper, the cake still stuck to it horribly.  I think parchment paper will work much better.

The end result, you ask?  Scrumptious!

Just as good as I remember!  And if our grocery stores ever get canned pumpkin in this year, I’m totally buying a case!