100% Whole Wheat Bread

November 5, 2009

With my recent adventure on bread and its relatives, such as these Brioche Loaves, Overnight Honey Wheat Rolls, and then these Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, I feel like I am starting to feel more comfortable working with yeast. I wanted to make a simple whole wheat bread that are delicious but still good for you. The initial reservation that I had with this recipe was all of the “oddities” that it calls for, like mashed potato flakes, orange juice, and powdered milk. So… okay, these may be the standard pantry standard for some folks, but they are not in mine.

wheat bread

I had to be a little creative with this recipe. For the potato flakes, I substituted for potato flour. Yea, so who’s weird, right? Who has potato flour sitting around in their pantry? Well, I do. So the substitution goes like this: 1 cup of mashed potato flakes = 1/2 cup of potato flour. And for the powdered milk, I just substituted it with liquid-milk, and reduced the amount of water called for in the recipe.  I was worried at first whether this would impact the final flavor, and I really couldn’t tell anything was “missing”. I had an issue with the dough rising, it took me well over 90 minutes to get it to almost double, and I used my dough hook in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

But the final result though was worth it! I love how tasty this bread was. It doesn’t taste like what you would expect for a commercial wheat bread. It was nice and firm, without being dry and crummy. This will hold up nicely in sandwiches or toasts. I will make this again in the future!

As seen in Branny Boils Over, originally from King Arthur’s Website


2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup orange juice
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
3 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

Note: Use 2 tablespoons less water in summer (or in a humid environment), 2 tablespoons more in winter (or in a dry climate)


Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, till it becomes puffy. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.

Combine the yeast/water with the remaining ingredients, and mix and knead—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—until you’ve made a cohesive dough. If you’re using a stand mixer, knead at low speed for about 7 minutes. Note that 100% whole wheat dough will never become smooth and supple like dough made with all-purpose flour; it’ll feel more like clay under your hands, and may appear a bit rough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it’s expanded and looks somewhat puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Dough kneaded in a bread machine will rise faster and higher than bread kneaded in a mixer, which in turn will rise faster and higher than one kneaded by hand. So if you’re kneading by hand, you may want to let the dough rise longer than 90 minutes.

Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Gently shape the dough into a smooth log, and settle it into the pan, smooth side up.

Tent the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaf to rise till it’s crowned over the rim of the pan by about 3/4″, about 75 minutes. Don’t let it rise too high; it’ll continue to rise as it bakes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 10 minutes. Lightly tent it with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

Run a stick of butter over the top of the hot loaf, if desired, for a softer crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 18


Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

November 3, 2009


After having fun making my own homemade (well… semi homemade) dulce de leche, I was ready to try my hand on making a homemade ice-cream with it. After searching in the internet for a recipe that looks ideal, I decided to try this one. One thing that I love about this recipe is that it doesn’t use raw eggs, so it is safe to serve to young kids or women who are expecting. However, at the same time, I was also a little bit worried about whether the absence of eggs would make the texture potentially grainy.

Fortunately, I was wrong! This ice-cream freezes beautifully and the flavor was out of the world. I love the subtle sweetness of the dulce de leche, and it has a perfect consistency: smooth and silky. I was pleasantly surprised at how successful the flavor was. I omitted the pecans from it, since both Red and I wanted to try this without the nuts. And we loved it! It was so delicious that I didn’t get to take a picture of it until our second batch. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Adapted from Epicurious


2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups; preferably La Salamandra brand)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted

Special equipment : an ice cream maker


Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans.

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

November 1, 2009


I have been wanting to make bagel for a few months now. I  love bagels, but don’t usually get to enjoy them during the week as breakfast. As early as I get in for work, the only thing that I can manage to grab are usually some sort of low-fat cheese & granola bar.  Additionally, even if I wanted to go out for a bagel on the weekends, there really isn’t a great bagel shop in our area, well… maybe Panera’s, and yes, I do love their bagels–especially the one with the caramelized sugar on the top. That kind usually goes out first when someone brings a big carton of them to work.


Then, I told a couple of my friends that I wanted to make bagel, and one of them exclaimed: “Eeww! You’re sure about that? I tried it once, and it sucked. It was hard like a rock.” Errgh.. okay, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I just stared at her. Well okay, so maybe I was a little bit worried after that comment. And then, as I was shopping for the ingredients, I couldn’t find instant yeast. I went to several different groceries, and no luck! I finally posted my status on Facebook (yea.. I know, lame, right?) saying that I couldn’t find instant yeast to make bagels. So for about a week, I thought I probably should just drop the idea. But then, one of my friends emailed me and told me that she mailed me a pack of instant yeast! Wohoo!!  Bagel was back on the list.

So what did I think? Well… the experience itself was not really as intimidating as it sounds. I followed the recipe to the “T”: I did not make any substitutions and I read the recipe a few times before I made it to make sure that I was prepared to do the next steps. It really does take some time to make, so you need to plan. I made this during the weekend, and split it into a two-day project, and it worked out great. I also only made a half of the recipe (well, just in case it doesn’t turn out!), and it made about 18-mini bagels. I personally think that the regular-sized bagels are a bit too much for me to enjoy in one sitting, so the mini-sized was just perfect. Whenever I eat a “standard” size bagel, I would end up in a food-comma, which isn’t always a good idea at work. I’d spend the rest of the morning fighting my yawn. Now that I feel a bit more confident with this recipe and process, I think I will be making this again in the future!

As seen on Smitten Kitchen, adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

NOTE: This can be a two-day or one extended day project.

1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
2 cups loosely packed raisins, rinsed with warm water to remove surfact sugar, acid, and natural wild yeast

To Finish
1 tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
Melted butter for brushing (optional)
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Day one: To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. In the last two minutes of mixing, add the raisins. (I ended up adding a bit of flour with them, as mine were still wet and made the dough a little sticky.)

Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should 77 to 71°F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

Immediately divide the dough into 12 (4 1/2 ounce) pieces for super sized bagels, 16 (3.375 ounce) regular-sized bagels, or 24 (2.25 ounce) perfectly smaller bagels. Form the pieces into rolls.

Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter for a supersized bagel, two inches for a large one or just slightly more than one inch for a miniature. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)

Place each of the shaped pieces two inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels, see head notes), preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute, flip them over rand boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you decide to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.)

When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately five minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only one pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450°F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.

Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Yield: 12 super large, 16 regularly large or 24 miniature bagels

Homemade Applesauce

October 30, 2009


Yea I know, I know… I’m sure every house in America is baking or cooking with some sort of apples right now. But I really couldn’t help it–I had to find something to use up the leftover apples at the house that used them all up and I actually ran out of ideas of what to do with these apples! Some recipes called for a lot more, some called for a lot less. Since I only had several apples left, I did not have enough to make a whole batch–but this recipe was so flexible that I went ahead and made this! It was delicious, although Red reminded me gently that he doesn’t like apple sauce. I know that I can find a wonderful bread or cake or other baked goods that call for applesauce!

Adapted from Ina Garten


2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 to 8 apples)
3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap (about 6 to 8 apples)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples (reserving the peel of 2 of the red apples) and toss them in the juice. Pour the apples, reserved apple peel, and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot. Bake for 1 hour, or until all the apples are soft. Remove and discard the red apple peel. Mix with a whisk until smooth, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Pear Clafouti

October 29, 2009

I have been waiting all summer long to make this simple pear dessert from Barefoot in Paris. I am always in the lookout for simple rustic dessert like this one to try and I was looking forward to make this dessert when pears are beautiful in the fall. A few weeks ago, I tried to hunt down some pears from my local grocery store and didn’t see any nice looking pears. But their Asian pears look amazingly perfect, so I bought those instead. And with the luck of the draw, the groceries somehow incorrectly priced these pears.  I came out from the check out lane terrified that I had just paid $12 for four of these pears. I turned around and inquired about the price disrepancy … and voila, they told me that I would receive these pears for free since they made a mistake. I came out feeling like a winner!


But seriously, aside that it made me excited that I got one of my ingredients for free, this dessert was a gem! If you’re looking for a different type of dessert that is not a pie, a cake, or a cheesecake–this is worth trying! I did not have pear brandy or lemon zest, so I skipped those. But I still adored the flavor! The house smelled amazing when it was baking in the oven. The custard was delicious and the sweetness of the pears complemented the creamy and light–and not too sweet batter. I will definitely make this again, probably trying different type of fruits.



1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons pear brandy (recommended: Poire William)
2 to 3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
Confectioners’ sugar
Creme fraiche


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter a 10 by 3 by 1 1⁄2-inch round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar.

Beat the eggs and the 1⁄3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and pear brandy. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the pears and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, and creme fraiche.

Yield: 8 servings

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

October 27, 2009

This was a recipe that I have tried a couple of months ago, but I haven’t gotten around to blog about it! I found myself with about two cups of leftover shredded zucchini and tried to find a way to use them up. Then I saw this recipe on Heidi Swanson’s website, which quickly intrigued me. I like cheesecakes, but have never tried a savory kind.  I decided to pick up some ricotta cheese and decided to try this!

Ricotta Cheesecake

I don’t have the size of pan that she had recommended for the recipe, which I believe made the tart a lot thinner than what Heide would have intended. But I didn’t mind it thinner, since it’s a cheesecake. I really like the flavor, however I must have either used too much lemon zest, but it was too lemony for my taste. I would definitely try this again, since this is great recipe–but I will try it with a lot less lemon, and use a thicker pan.


Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups zucchini, unpeeled & grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 325F degrees, racks the middle. Butter/oil a 7-inch springform pan.

In a strainer, toss the shredded zucchini with the salt and let sit for ten minutes. Now aggressively squeeze and press out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.

In the meantime, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, shallots, garlic, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and continue mixing until well combined. Now stir in the shredded zucchini. Fill the spring form pan with the ricotta mixture and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for sixty minutes. If there is any moisture left on top of the cake at this point, carefully use a bit of paper towel to dab it off. Now sprinkle with the goat cheese and return to the oven for another 20 -30 minutes or until the goat cheese is melted and the cake barely jiggles in the center (it will set up more as it cools).

At this point, if the cake is baked and set, but the top isn’t quite golden, I’ll zap it with the broiler (just about a minute) to get a bit more color on top. Remove from the oven and let cool five minutes, then release the cake from its pan. Cool completely, serve at room temperature drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a few sprigs of dill.

Serves 8.

Dulce de Leche

October 25, 2009

I first tried dulce de leche flavor in a pint of Haagen Dazs ice-cream. I thought that it tasted like caramel, but with so much more depth and character to it. I enjoyed the flavor so much that I finished an entire pint of Haagen-Dazs in one sitting… yea, my connection to that flavor was that strong!  There was nothing like coming home to pint of this deliciousness after a long hard-day at work. When I moved to Iowa, I was no longer able to find this kind of ice-cream at our local grocery stores. I would like to call it a blessing of disguise, since daily consumption of Haagen-Dazs ice-cream would provide a significant challenge to my waist line.

Finally, after a couple years of denying myself this wonderful flavorful caramelized milk, I decided to try making my own… after all, the girl has to have something we call “shameless indulgence” right? I landed on David Lebovitz’ website and saw that he had a recipe for homemade dulce de leche. It sounded simple enough, using condensed milk and a pinch of salt, and throw it in the oven for a little bit over an hour. There was also another recipe from Chez Pim that uses whole milk, which I know that I will try in the future when I have a little bit more time (and patience). But for now… I am enjoying the fruit of my labor: my very own sweet intoxicating… dulce de leche… and *I still wonder why I waited so long to try this!*


Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)

1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

Pour one can (400 gr/14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.

Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.

Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).
Once the Dulce de Lecheis nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.