Tag Archives: whole-wheat

Rosemary pine nut focaccia

It’s taken a while but this week I finally feel like I have a balance for my new work-life schedule. Spending three days a week at a desk and two evenings a week sailing makes me feel like all the time in between is taken up by meal prep and dishes. Oh, and working out goes in there somewhere almost every day too. Never mind that Lee works about three times as much as I do, takes a class that the community college, and has a gazillian side projects going at home.

Partly due to our busy schedules, Lee and I haven’t done anything too ambitious on the weekends recently. We’ve worked on projects around the house, visited family in Napa, and ventured North for a hike with Doc.

Doc likes the view.

This week my days off seemed much more productive than normal. Today I feel like an absolute superwoman. Do you know why? I baked bread. True, bread baking used to be a weekly occurrence in my household. I’ve hardly opened my oven (except to roast vegetables) since we got back from Curacao, though, so I’ve been lagging in the bread department.

This totally makes up for it. The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique was made for busy schedules like mine. The timetable for this focaccia looked something like this.

  1. Yesterday, mid-day: mix dough and leave on counter to rise; go to the store and to pick up the CSA box
  2. Afternoon: put dough in the fridge along with more vegetables than I can count
  3. This morning: think about bread and look at cookbook; take Doc for a walk
  4. Later this morning: take dough out of fridge and pull off a hunk; flatten it out, top with toppings, and let it sit while the oven preheats
  5. Just before lunch: put bread in the oven; talk to Mom on Skype while it bakes
  6. Noon today: bread comes out of the oven; inhale deeply

There you have it. Technically this focaccia was about 24 hours in the making. I only put a few minutes a day of work into it, though, and I got a lot done in the intervening hours. The best part is that there’s still a bucket of dough in the fridge!

This recipe has been brewing in my mind for a while now. I saw this post from Cake Duchess the other day and immediately wanted to join in on the Bread Baking Society‘s fun. I don’t think I’ve ever set out to make focaccia before, although I’ve certainly made many-a-flat bread that resembled this traditional Italian loaf.

I love the toppings I chose and I love to think about where the inspiration for them came from. The giant rosemary sprig happily living in a jar of water in my fridge came from last week’s Mariquita Farm box. I’ve had pine nuts on the brain ever since reading a book on Native California Indian cooking I bought at work (it’s dangerous to work at  a museum with such an awesome gift store!).

The rosemary, pine nuts, and honey are delicious but so are many other things you could sprinkle on top of your focaccia. Let you mind wander and see what you come up with. I made a whole wheat crust because that’s what I’m into but here’s a more traditional crust from this month’s #BreakingBread hostess.

Rosemary pine nut focaccia (whole wheat)

Ingredients

    For the dough (makes enough for at least four 1 pound loaves)
  • 7 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • For the Focaccia
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Honey

Instructions

  1. Mix dry dough ingredients in a large bowl or coverable container.
  2. Add oil+water and stir until all flour is incorporated.
  3. Cover dough (not airtight) and leave at room temperature until it rises and collapses (2-3 hours)
  4. At this point, you can pull off some dough and proceed with your focaccia or place all the dough in the fridge and bake the following day. I like to do the latter because the dough is easier to work with when it's cold.
  5. Pull off a grapefuit-sized portion of dough using floured hands. Quickly shape it into a ball and place it on a lightly floured board.
  6. Using your hands or a rolliong pin, roll out the dough into a 1/2-3/4 inch thick oval.
  7. Coat a cookie sheet with oil, parchment, or a silicon mat and place the dough oval on it.
  8. Depending on how quickly your oven preheats and whether you're using a baking stone (not necessary when using a cookie sheet but requires half an hour of preheating time) you might want to turn your oven on to 425 degrees F. and place a roasting pan in the bottom now.
  9. Using the tip of your finger, make indentations all over the top of the focaccia. These will hold oil, honey, and pine nuts!
  10. Scatter rosemary and pine nuts over the dough. I pressed most of my pine nuts into the top a little.
  11. Sprinkle on honey and olive oil to taste, using more olive oil than honey.
  12. If you haven't already, turn on your oven to 425 F. after putting a roasting pan in thet bottom.
  13. Let the focaccia rest for 20 minutes, then place in the preheated oven, pour boiling water into the roasting pan, and quickly close the oven door. I boil water in the teakettle for this.
  14. Bake for 18-25 minutes depending on how thick your focaccia is. It's ready when the top is brown from the honey and the oil.
  15. Cool on a wire rack, slice, and savor.

Notes

Dough recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

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Vegan Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

It’s raining in San Francisco today. We’ve been mourning the lack of moisture all over the West this winter, which is nothing like past winters I’ve spent in the bay area. I remember walking the length of campus in the pouring rain to get to a midterm. The class was held in a frigid basement room of the old women’s gymnasium, next door to the anthropology collection, and I thought I was going to freeze to death before finishing that midterm. My pants and feet were soaking wet and I’m sure my toes turned blue. I remember not really caring about the test any more. I just wanted to finish it and get out of there! Ah, those were the days.

The fool in me thinks You should go back to school! You’re certainly not getting a job so you don’t have anything better to do! Ha. No way. The smarter part of me remembers that I promised to never repeat the thesis-writing experience.

What can I do instead, now that I’m without employment, internships, or medical crises to keep me occupied? I’m thinking about learning to sing or dance (I’ve been watching way too much Glee on Netflix). Or maybe I’ll through myself headlong into organizing and decorating the house, something that might never get done otherwise.

Before I get to whiny, let me get to the point: These muffins are bright sunny spots on this grey day and on my recent dark mood. The solutions to my boredom and idleness are of cooking and blogging, of course. A job would help too. I have at least one really, really incredible prospect in my sights.

Meanwhile, I’ll be making these muffins over and over again until I get tired of them. They are undoubtedly the best thing I’ve made in a long time. I knew they would be as soon as the idea hit me. What about lemon poppy seed muffins but with chia seeds instead! They could be vegan!

Lemon poppy seed muffins have always struck me as the most dainty, sophisticated muffin. They don’t have much substance and often toe the line between cupcake and muffin. With chia seeds, though, and whole wheat pastry flour, these muffins are like undercover spies in the world of frivolous pastries. A modest amount of honey adds the perfect sweetness and the lemon flavor is surprisingly strong, in a good way.

If you have not tried chia seeds I encourage you to get some. As gross as this may sound, their coagulating abilities are just so…cool. I mostly use them in hot cereal and overnight oats but now that I’ve baked with them once I think they will join flax seed meal as an essential part of my vegan baking.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds + 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sour non-dairy milk + juice from half a lemon
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with silicone or paper cups.
  3. Combine chia seeds with water, whisking them together. Allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine lemon zest, soy milk, and lemon juice.
  6. Add honey and chia gel to soy milk mixture, stirring until honey dissolves and is thoroughly blended.
  7. Stir in vanilla extract.
  8. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently till barely combined.
  9. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
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Cherry-Filled Sourdough

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        I have a lot of food boundaries. Some of them are more like barriers (I think this term has a slightly negative connotation) and some are lines that I think it’s better not to cross. I spend a lit of time breaking down the barriers and testing the boundaries of my cooking and eating habits. Comparing now to my eating disordered past, I think I only have my big toe dipped in the food restriction waters, while I was up to my neck several years ago.
        Still, old barriers remain and I chip away at them every day. Take cheese, for example. I used to eat the most processed, light, fat-free, bleugh cheese ever, and then only in minuscule amounts. Right now, I have exactly 5 kinds of cheese in my refrigerator…wait, make that 4. I finished the feta for lunch today. I love cheese and I’ve learned to eat real-food kind of cheeses (no more nasty processed stuff) in reasonable amounts.
        I could go on but I think one confession is enough for one post. Oh, but then there’s the whole reason I started talking about boundaries/barriers in the first place: Pie filling! You know the stuff in the can that you can just pour into a crust and voila, you have a pie? I don’t think I had ever bought or baked with canned pie filling until Duncan Hines sent me coupons for their baking mixes as well as Comstock Wilderness Fruit Fillings through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program last month.
        Canned pie filling was on the other side of pretty much every food boundary I have. First and foremost it’s a non-homemade route for baking, which I try to avoid. Second, it’s got to be loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and probably doesn’t have much real fruit in it anyway. Third, fruit pies aren’t my favorite. I’m a pumpkin girl all the way.
        As soon as I brought myself to pie filling level in front of the supermarket shelves (on the floor), Comstock surprised me. Some of the cans looked newer and were labeled “More Fruit” and “No high-fructose corn syrup”. What? Really? Huh, maybe this stuff isn’t that bad after all.
        I chose a can of Cherry “More Fruit” filling and immediately started thinking of how I was going to use it. Pie was too obvious. I wanted to make bread, sourdough bread to be specific. It struck me that the sweet, gooey fruit filling would be a perfectly odd partner for tangy, dense sourdough. Thus, the cherry-filled sourdough loaf was born!

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        It may look like a cherry pie collided with a loaf of bread to produce this bizarre offspring. I like to imagine both things flying through the air in my kitchen…but that would be messy. Instead, I simply made a small batch of wet dough with my sourdough starter, layered half of it on the bottom of a round baking dish, poured in about half the can of fruit filling, and then made a ring around the edge of the filling with the remaining dough. After some more rising and some oven time, I had a sweet, doughy thing that I didn’t know how to eat. Fork? Hands? Hands won but it was messy.
        The sourdough is very sour (I used a lot of starter) and the cherries are very sweet. Together, though, they are the perfect winter breakfast or brunch flavors. One reason I chose the cherry filling was that cherries are no longer in season so I can’t actually make a cherry pie from scratch right now. That’s the perfect excuse for using a canned convenience food, in my opinion. Cherry pie filling is such a Christmasy color that it’s nice to have it around this time of year, even if it isn’t made from seasonal produce.
This isn’t really a recipe, since I totally improvised the sourdough bread and I think everyone who makes sourdough has their own way of doing it. If you have a starter, make a whole grain dough with a high moisture content and open a can of pie filling. If you don’t have a starter, put it on your Christmas list!

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Hearty Cherry-Filled Sourdough Bread

1 batch of your favorite sourdough, made with a little less flour or more water so it’s wet enough to spread over the bottom of a pan.
1 can Comstock Wilderness Fruit Filling (More Fruit, no high fructose corn syrup!)

Prepare dough, allow it to rise once. Punch down.
Coat the inside of a baking dish with oil and then stone-ground cornmeal, semolina flour, or regular flour.
Divide dough in half and gently spread half of it over the bottom of the baking dish.
Spoon about half of the can into the center of the dough in the dish, leaving at least an inch of dough around the edge of the filling.
Lay the rest of the dough all the way around the edge of the filling so that it makes kind of a barricade between the fruit and the sides of the baking dish.
Cover dish and allow bread to rise for another couple of hours, or until the top dough circle has expanded to almost cover the filling underneath.
Preaheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s golden-brown on top and the edges have pulled away from the dish somewhat.
Cool on a wire rack until the dish is no longer hot to the touch, and the fruit filling is somewhat set (not too liquidy). Then remove loaf from dish and continue to cool on rack.
Slice like a pie and serve!

The only thing that would have made this better is chocolate. Why didn’t I think to add chocolate? You could always spread some Nutella on each slice or sprinkle dark chocolate chips onto the bottom dough layer before adding the cherries. Now that would be decadent!

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Toll Houses

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This month’s Recipe Swap recipe made me smile. It also appealed to my nerdyness with a little geographical and historical context lesson. Christianna at Burwell General Store decided to start the swaps second year with a new cookbook. A group of brave bloggers received this vintage recipe from a very unique cookbook:

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        I didn’t do a ton of baking as a kid but I do remember making Toll House chocolate chip cookies with my mom. I know they were Toll House because I remember reading the recipe off of the yellow bag. Though it didn’t happen often, for me cookie baking meant valuable lessons in how to use the stand mixer. It was big, heavy, more than a little scary with all those moving parts, and absolutely essential for perfect cookies.

Until very recently, I didn’t have a mixer of my own. My grandmother’s KitchenAid coming to live with me just happened to correspond with this cookie recipe swap. Creaming butter and sugar has never been so satisfying!
Oh but wait, I didn’t use butter in my Toll House cookies. There are two explanations for this:

  1. I wanted to use a “healthier” fat and just experiment with a different version of the traditional cookie.
  2. I forgot to buy butter.

I’d say the real reason is some combination of the above…but mostly number 2. Butter was on the grocery list. I meant to use it, really I did. I’m just not a big butter user so it didn’t make it into my basket. No problem. I had coconut oil! Since it’s solid at room temperature and has such a lovely flavor, I sometimes substitute coconut oil for butter in my baking. While it’s not the same as something made with butter, I think the flavor and texture of these cookies is outstanding.

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        Now comes the part where I explain the houses. You see, my husband is such a sweet guy, he randomly buys me cookie cutters (this just started recently). Last month he added a house-shaped cutter to my small collection. That, of course, made me smile because we were about to buy our first house! We moved in a week or so ago so I’m feeling very homey and grounded nowadays. The house cookie cutter came out as my play on Toll House cookies and to share a little of my new home love with everyone.

I changed a few other things besides the shape and fat in my cookies. I used white chocolate chips in place of regular, vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, and whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose. This recipe is small – a nice size for a cookie recipe (unless it’s Christmas and you’re trying to feed lots of people). I baked all the dough in a pyrex dish lined with parchment and then cut the houses out of the giant sheet cookie. This worked pretty well but only made 5 houses + trimmings. The house cookies are big. I’d share one with 1 or 2 other people. The trimmings are perfect for snacking on while you’re snapping your cookie pictures or for crumbling over ice cream…yum!

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Toll House Houses
Adapted from The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places

1/2 cup coconut oil
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon hot water
1 1/8 cup flour, sifted (I used whole wheat pastry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts and pecans)
1/2 cup white chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
Cranberries would have been a good addition. Add some if you want! They’ll be pretty!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together coconut oil and sugar.
Add egg and vanilla bean scrapings.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water and then add to batter.
Sift flour and salt together and add to mixer a little at a time until completely incorporated.
Stir in nuts and chocolate morsels.
Line a baking dish (mine is 11×7 in. but a bigger one would be better) with parchment paper.
Spread cookie dough over paper to cover the bottom of the dish. The dough will be relatively soft so this is actually pretty easy.
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool. You can lift the “cookie” out of the dish and onto a wire rack using the parchment paper.
Once the cookie is cooled, cut out house shapes in as efficient a pattern as possible.
Start looking for a giant milk moat for your houses!

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