Apricot “Milk” Bread made with Sourdough — and no Milk!

Those of you who know me, know I always want to know why.  Why is “milk” bread so different?  Why is it so incredibly soft?  Why does have so much “oven spring”? Why does it “fight back” when I try to shape it? What on earth makes this bread so special!

Since it’s called “Milk Bread” I assumed it was the cooked gruel made with milk and flour.  So I went back to the original recipes.  None of those called for Barley Malt, so I eliminated that.  Only some called for an egg, so I eliminated that.  I’ve always known that bread can be made with almost any liquid, as long as the proportions remain about 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid, one ends up with bread — a little salt, some kind of yeast, and some type of fat or oil as preservative and the rest is just technique…

The other night I had a craving for my favorite dessert: Serbian Plum Dumplings, though I make mine with apricots, since plums often bother my bowel.  At this time of year I can’t get fresh apricots, so I used apricots canned in light syrup.  I had two apricots left over (actually 4 half apricots, since my husband hadn’t found any whole ones,) along with some of the syrup in which they came.  I like apricots…  Even light syrup has some sugar in it.  Fruit has some sugar in it.  Sugar “feeds” yeast so, being the thrifty sort (mostly out of necessity) I decided to make some “milk bread” using my leftover apricots instead of milk.  To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work, so I didn’t take pictures.  I expected to end up with bread — just bread that didn’t have the feel or the texture of “milk bread.”  I also expected my bread would have a slight taste of apricots.   I was wrong on all counts.  This is definitely “milk bread” – the crust and texture are unmistakable.  The only difference I noticed was how fast the bread dough rose (I would guess due to the sugar in the fruit and syrup.)  The dough “fought back” just as hard, making it difficult to push, pull, and pat it into an oblong.  The dough was just as dry, not in the least bit sticky.  So it’s not the milk that makes “Milk Bread” unique…

Apricot “Milk” Bread (makes 1 large loaf)

In a small saucepan, combine:

2 small canned apricots with syrup well pureed,enough water so you have a total of 110 grams liquid and 45 grams bread flour. (Hard flour if you’re European)

Stir this until it is very smooth – no lumps allowed!  Then heat it over very low heat until it’s the consistency halfway between soup and very light gravy.  (It will thicken a bit as it cools.)  This time I didn’t overcook it!  It was definitely the color of apricots and only slightly thicker than the apricot puree.  When you can comfortably put your finger into the mixture without thinking “ouch!” add:

135 grams of very active sourdough starter and again, stir until smooth and completely combined.  (It was barely orange colored after adding the sourdough)  Set this mixture aside while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, or bread maker, measure 300 grams of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt into your mixing bowl, then cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter – just as you would if you were making pie dough.  If your butter is cold enough you can also “pinch” it to combine the butter with the flour to make a mixture that looks like cornmeal.  It should not stick to your hands, or feel sticky. (If it does, put it into the refrigerator and let it cool., then lightly pinch it with your fingers until it’s not sticky.)

Combine the liquid yeast mixture with the dry ingredients until you can form a breakable ball.   At first this seems like an utterly impossible task.  There seems to be far too much flour.  The dough gets too flakey, even once you start using your fingers instead of a spoon, but do not use your power mixer yet!   Knead it, press it, rub the sides of the bowl until every speck of flour is attached to the ball of dough.  (Remember, technique is everything when making bread!)  If you can pick up the ball of dough yet a flake or two of dough still falls off, add 1 tablespoon of water and mix well.  This dough is not sticky.  It’s dry.  Nothing should be sticking to the sides of the bowl, nothing sticks to your hands, yet you should be able to break the ball of dough in half, and knead it back together if you use a lot of pressure.

Now but the bowl into the power mixer with a bread hook, or your bread machine.  Start at the lowest speed for 5 minutes.  Let it rest for 5 minutes. (Or you’ll probably overheat your power mixer, but it also gives the dough a “rest.”)  Then let the machine knead the dough at least another 5 minutes, or until a small amount of the kneaded dough stretches easily without breaking.  Meanwhile, very lightly oil a bowl large enough for the dough to almost double in size.

Form a ball of the kneaded dough.  It still isn’t at all sticky, and there should be no trace of loose flour anywhere.  Put it in your lightly oiled bowl, in a warm place, and allow it to rise for at least two hours.  I was very surprised that this time it did almost double in size, though it’s still a very compact ball of dough, impossible to “punch down” the way I usually literally punch my fist into the middle of the risen dough.  Instead I pressed it down into the bowl, then took it out of the bowl and, holding one end, slammed it down as hard as I could on the counter.  This dough is not sticky at all!  I couldn’t even get it to stick to the dry, unfloured, unoiled countertop!  Eventually I was able to pound it, press it, and stretch it into an oblong shape, where the short end was the same length as my bread pan.   I kept stretch, pressing, pounding, and pulling until I had an oblong about 5 cm thick, in an oblong that was three or four times as long as it was wide.  (The original recipes all said to use a rolling pin to roll it into this shape – but that would have required my husband’s help, and he wasn’t available.)  Then, starting at one of the short ends, one rolls it up pressing it together as tightly as possible.  This is easier said than done, since this dough doesn’t even stick to itself!  Plus one has to keep pressing in the edge so it stays as wide as the bread pan…

Lightly oil the bread pan, and place the roll, seam side down, in the pan.  Cover it tightly, and let it rise until the dough is marginally higher than the bread pan.  Preheat the oven to 350°F .  Slash the top deeply with a sharp knife, and bake for 25- 35 minutes or until the bread tests done.  I didn’t use any egg wash on top this time, which made the crust a lot lighter.

Even though it’s made with pureed apricots, there’s absolutely no taste of apricot (though I thought I could smell a slight apricot oder, no one else could.)  And one of the nice things about “milk” bread is cutting it right away, and smother it with real butter to eat it hot out of the oven.  So that’s what we did.

Sliced and coated with butter, it has a soft “perfect” crumb, a very soft crust, and tastes wonderful! Happy Eating!

Sourdough “Milk Bread” — very, very soft, almost crustless and sweet.

Very similar to Asian Milk Bread, this isn’t your typical sourdough. Slightly flaky and somewhat sweet, it can be eaten hot from the oven, which is nice, since it goes stale in 24 hours. Use the stale bread to make homemade “Panko” bread crumbs.

When I’m sick, I often use sourdough to make my own living “probiotics.”  Sourdough, being fermented with my own wild yeasts, always has lots of “probiotics” even plain, but I usually follow my grandmother’s “remedy” for the family gut problems and make a very thick milk gruel, toss in enough barley malt syrup to make it taste edible,  stir in some of my sourdough starter, and let that mess bubble on my counter — eating a tablespoon or two every day.  Of course my grandmother had never heard of “probiotics,” but that’s what it is and adding the cooked milk mixture simply increases the lactulose bacilli that’s already in the sourdough starter.   Live barley malt syrup (the type used to make beer) has another type of “probiotic” bacilli in it, also naturally occurring in sourdough starter.  Combining the milk gruel, barley malt, and sourdough just shifts the percentages of the various “probiotics” that already occur in a living colony of wild yeasts.  I don’t usually think about such things.  To me it’s always just been “Grandma’s homemade gut medicine” and in the 1950’s and 1960’s several doctors tried very hard to convince me it was a worthless folk remedy.  So I quit telling them (or anyone else) about it, accepted their steroids, and used Grandma’s home remedy anyway.  I never thought about it in terms of making bread….  (At the time I’d get frozen “ice cubes” of gut remedy directly from Grandma.  Probiotic bacteria can withstand freezing without problem, but it can’t survive the high temperatures of cooking.)

When searching the internet for some bread recipe I could translate into sourdough for this post I was rather shocked when I saw Milk Bread (both Chinese and Japanese) start by making the same “gruel” of flour and milk contained in Grandma’s gut medicine.   And I usually like bread that contains dry milk or barley malt syrup.  I use both ingredients regularly.

I was deep in the organic chemistry book, checking things out, when my husband asked why I wanted him to use Panko bread crumbs on the skinned chicken breasts he planned to fry for dinner.  What makes Panko bread crumbs different?  So I looked them up.  They’re made from Japanese milk bread minus the crusts!

So that settled the question of what type of bread I’m making.  It’s

Sourdough Milk Bread (makes one small loaf)

Combine in a small saucepan:

45 grams bread flour (hard flour)
110 grams whole milk

Stir until all the lumps are worked out, then heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. (It will become much thicker as it cools, so don’t overcook.) Immediately add 1 Tablespoon Barley Malt syrup and keep stirring until mixture is a thick paste and barely warm,

After stirring in the barley malt, and before adding the sourdough it’s a very thick paste.  Keep stirring until smooth.

then add 135 grams of very active sourdough starter. Stir until smooth. Add 1 very large egg, and stir until smooth.  It should now be about the consistency of thick cake batter. Set saucepan of liquids aside for at least 30 minutes.

Measure 300 grams of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt into your mixing bowl, then cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter – just as you would if you were making pie dough.

After cutting in (or pinching in) the 2 tablespoons of flour, there are a few small dry lumps.

Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix until fully combined.   This is much easier said than done, but, yes, all of the flour mixture can, eventually be worked in if you use your fingers.  It’s a flaky broken mess at first, but eventually you can make a dry, breakable ball and all the flour is gone.  This dough is not sticky at all.

Knead very well.  (It took more than 10 minutes in my stand mixer (after it finally formed the breakable ball) to become smooth and silky.  It’s still not sticky.

After kneading, it’s not sticky, nor does it have the “glossy” look most breads have.

Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly  and let it rise until almost doubled in size.

After rising, it does have a “glossy” look. It doesn’t “punch” down, but it’s very elastic and easy to “press” down. It’s still not at all sticky, and you won’t need any flour on the board to shape it.

To shape the dough:

Press and flatten the dough into a rectangle. The small side should be the width of your bread pan.
Then roll the rectangle into a log, and place this log in your lightly oiled bread pan.

Cover the bread pan with plastic wrap, or put the bread pan in a tightly closed plastic bag.  Put the well wrapped pan in the refrigerator overnight or until the bread has barely  risen to the top of the bread pan. Remove from the refrigerator and let it return to room temperature.  (Don’t worry if it looks a little flat – there’s going to be a lot of oven spring!)

Preheat the oven to 400°F ,  lightly brush the top of the bread with egg wash, put the bread in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 375°F.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread is golden brown and the bottom, when tapped sounds hollow.  Internal temperature of the bread, as measured by a probe thermometer should be 195°F.

Cut and eat as soon as the bread is cool enough to handle comfortably.


Happy Eating!

Note: To make Panko style bread crumbs, wait for the bread to become stale enough to grate, peel away the crust, and grate onto a large flat pan.  Spread the crumbs out and bake in a 200°F oven until completely dry.  (Don’t let them get brown!) Or don’t bake, and just let them dry out.

Sourdough Pumpernickel and … Pickle Juice?

I know I read about it somewhere else — adding pickle juice to rye bread, but I didn’t save it because I couldn’t imagine it’s taste. Then, several weeks ago, my husband brought home the “wrong” Reuben Sandwich. On Pumpernickel, served with a huge dill pickle that wasn’t properly wrapped. Pickle juice saturated the bottom piece of bread. It turned out to be one of the best Reuben Sandwiches I’ve ever had, even though it was too soggy… So, here is Sourdough Pumpernickel with Pickle Juice and Black Pepper.

Makes 1 loaf

Combine in a large bowl:

1/2 Cup mixed rolled grains (If you don’t have mixed grains available, just use old fashioned, slow cooking oatmeal.)

Triticale, /trɪtɪˈkeɪliː/ is a hybrid of wheat and rye first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century in Scotland and Sweden.

2 Cups boiling water
2 Tablespoons butter

Stir this until it’s lukewarm.


1 tablespoon gluten (if you don’t have gluten available, use only 1 Cup of dark rye AKA Pumpernickel and 2 cups of whole wheat)
1/4 cup powdered milk (optional)
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons dill pickle brine (liquid leftover from a jar of dill pickles)

Gluten comes as a powder, and should be sifted in with at least 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

I cup whole wheat flour (unless you did not add gluten, in which case, add 2 cups of whole wheat.)

2 cups (approximately) dark rye flour AKA pumpernickel  (unless you did not add gluten, in which case, add only 1 cup dark rye flour.)

Stir very well, until a soft, smooth dough forms. “Knead” it a few times using the stretch and turn method. Cover tightly and let it sit for at least 2 hours. It will rise, but probably won’t double in size.

This is what mine looked like when it was ready to be kneaded in the stand mixer.

Knead in up to another 1 cup of dark rye flour and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. (It may take a little more or a little less flour, depending on the humidity and the water content of your flour.) You want it to just kiss your hand. (In a stand mixer or bread machine, knead it for no more than 10 minutes total.)

Shape it into a ball and let it rise and spread until double in size. (about 2 hours)

Preheat your oven to 400° F.   Slash , and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350° F and bake until done — about another 30 minutes.

A fine example of bread that’s been cut too soon… My husband wanted a Reuben Sandwich less than 5 minutes after removing the bread from the oven. By the time I was done eating *my* sandwich, and went back to get a better picture, showing the proper crumb of the bread the entire loaf had been eaten…. Oh well, it tasted good.

An extremely Versatile Multi-grain bread

Depending on the amount of whole wheat bread flour you add on the second day, this makes anything from a no knead light airy bread, to a soft chewy kneaded bread, to a kneaded, softly crusted, freeform bread.   This recipe doesn’t work well if you started your “sourdough starter” with any type of store bought yeast.  It relies on the beneficial bacilli (the “probiotics”) that is part of a wild yeast colony.

Before I get to the recipe, let me explain what I’ve been doing since I last posted.  I have a friend who’s really into science.  She’s worked both as theoretical physicist and an experimental physicist and knows more about molecular chemistry than I will ever know.  When she finally got married, as a joke (knowing she really didn’t know how to cook,) her colleagues gave her a  “cookbook” that doesn’t have a single recipe in it.  What it does have is 818 pages on the molecular chemistry of the foods we eat, with an emphasis on the way the USA “processes” it’s basic foods, such as meats, grains, fats and vegetables.  If it’s part of the “normal” process, it doesn’t appear on the label; and “organic” certainly doesn’t mean what I thought it meant!

When it comes to food, I thought “organic” meant, of or relating to foodstuff grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or hormones.  But, chemically, “organic” means: relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis — or, basically, every living thing (or once living thing) you can find in or on the earth.  Unfortunately “synthetic” also has several meanings, including: involving or of the nature of synthesis (combining separate elements to form a coherent whole) as opposed to analysis.  Please notice that it’s combining separate elements, not separating previously combined elements.  I think everyone knows that one can separate water into pure hydrogen and pure oxygen using an electrical current, but how many people realize that the “Clean Air Act Amendments” have resulted in removing so much naturally occurring sulfur from the air that farmers (including organic farmers) now have to add sulfur to their soil?  And what is the cheapest way to obtain calcium and sulfur?  Through what is called “beneficial reuse programs.”  Without using euphemisms, the “pollutants” captured by coal powered plants are separated out to sulfur, calcium, and a very high quality “synthetic gypsum.”  The sulfur and calcium go on farmers fields, while the “synthetic gypsum” is used to make wall board for your house.  Instead of pesticides, “organic” farmers use oils.  What we currently call “organic farming” is not “sustainable farming” (I suspect you’ll hear more and more about “sustainable farming” in the next few years.) What does all this mean in terms of bread?  Buying “organic” store bought flour can (in the USA), may contain several chemicals that are banned in almost every other country in the world.  Once I knew what to look for, it wasn’t hard to find lots of confirmation on the internet.  Here’s one site that is very easy to understand, and explains the problems very well.

Just in case you don’t want to read the whole article, here’s the basic list:

  • Benzoyl peroxide (banned in the EU and China)
  • Calcium peroxide (banned in the EU and China)
  • Chlorine (banned in the EU)
  • Chlorine dioxide gas (banned in the EU and Australia)
  • Azodicarbonamide (banned in Singapore, the EU and Australia)
  • Potassium bromate (banned in the EU, Canada, China, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Peru and more)
  • Calcium bromate (banned in the EU and Canada)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (banned in the EU and Australia)

(And yet people think it’s the gluten in flour that’s making them sick…  Since these are all part of the processing of flours, they don’t have to appear on the list of ingredients.)  So how does one avoid these nasty chemicals?  By knowing why such chemicals are used — to make flour white in color, to preserve the flour, to enrich the flour, and to “fluff” the flour so it’s easier to use.  So… Never buy store-bought bread. Never buy anything other than “whole wheat” (or “whole grain”) flour.  And never buy “enriched” flours.  I don’t think I’ll ever buy flour in our local grocery store again.  (Our local health food store is another story – as long as I read the labels very carefully.)

Beware  of flour that is simply marked “Whole Grain.”  “Whole Grain” doesn’t necessarily mean it is free of the deadly additives listed above.

If I need to buy flours via mail, I go to Bob’s Red Mill – which is also available in many of the larger grocery stores.  Bob’s Red Mill  has a blog and recipes that I’ve found to be very precise and (as far as I can tell) accurate.

What does all this have to do with the following recipe?  This started not so much as a recipe as an experiment.  If I was reading the “cookbook” full of molecular chemistry correctly, the bacilli that lives in a symbiotic relationship with wet flour are largely killed off if the flour has any of the 8 bad ingredients listed above.  If all the bacilli are there, in enough quantity, the actual molecules found in whole grains and fats are changed slightly. making the bread much easier to digest.  (Both the bacilli and the yeast are killed off when the bread bakes, so the changes have to occur before baking.)  Rolled (or pressed) grains are as close to whole grains as one can obtain easily at this time of year, and once re-hydrated, they are pretty easy to see, and everyone knows melted sweet cream butter rises to the top of most liquids…  So….

This recipe makes 3 to 8 loaves depending on the amount of flour added later.

Combine in a large bowl:

Triticale, /trɪtɪˈkeɪliː/ is a hybrid of wheat and rye first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century in Scotland and Sweden.

2 cups rolled (pressed) multi-grain mixture
4 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or sunflower oil

Stir constantly until the water is no longer too warm to touch, being certain all of the rolled grains are well moistened and starting to swell.  You don’t want any of the grains to clump together if you can help it.  (BTW, following the instructions on the label, this makes an utterly fantastic hot breakfast cereal!)

While the mixture is still warm, add:

While this says, “Hard White Spring Wheat” it’s talking about the specific species of wheat grown locally. There is also “Hard Red Spring Wheat” that’s only slightly darker.

1 cup whole wheat bread flour

Active Starter is always covered with bubbles.

1 cup very active, well stirred (so the bubbles disappear) starter

1 tablespoon Barley Malt Syrup 

Continue stirring until the mixture looks like this:

A multigrain mix with barley malt, butter, bread flour, and wild yeast colony.

Then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.  At first the butter or oil will rise to the top, but those beneficial bacilli will take care of that.  There will be a few slight color changes as other beneficial bacilli get to work on the various grains and the yeasts start to take over.

24 hours later the mixture looks like this:

24 hours later, the butter has completely disappeared, as have most of the obviously different grains. Only the flax seeds appear unaffected.

But does it still make good bread?  YES!

Stir in (or use an electric mixer):

  • 2 cups of the 7-grain mix
  • 2 cups of the whole wheat bread flour

The dough will still be much to wet to use, but it’s obviously dough and not a liquid.

Let it rest for 20 minutes.  This gives the rolled grains a chance to expand a bit, adding much more flavor to the finished product.

Stir in, using a wooden spoon, 1 cup of bread flour at a time.   When no more flour can be stirred in without kneading the dough, you can divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts, and put it in well oiled bread pans to rise before baking.  It will only rise to the top of the pan, and the finished bread will be very airy and light.

I prefer a good firm bread, that’s a bit chewy, so I kept kneading in bread flour, using as much flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.  8 Cups of bread flour later, I was exhausted and was running out of room to knead.  I shaped one normal size loaf, put it in a well oiled bread pan to rise, and divided the rest of the dough into two pound packets that I put in the freezer to finish some other day.

Ready for the oven, with milk brushed on top, then sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Surprisingly there was very little “oven spring” when the bread was baked.
Moist, chewy, and very flavorful, Happy Eating!





Sour Cream and Sourdough

It’s a good bread for sandwiches, though it doesn’t keep well.  I confess I fell asleep while it was in the oven, and the top is definitely overcooked.  Normally I make this with whole wheat flour, but it does require bread flour (Hard flour) to work and I currently am unable to find whole wheat bread flour.  This bread tastes a bit like salt-rising bread: slightly cheesey, with very little taste of sourdough.  It’s very, very good bread to make into fresh croutons if you have any bread left the day after you make it.

Makes 2 loaves of Sandwich Bread

1 cup sourdough starter
8 ounce container of sour cream
1 cup very warm water

Mix until entirely combined and there are no islands of sour cream or starter floating around. Set this mixture aside until the top of the mixture is entirely covered in bubbles. (About 15 minutes)

Sift together:
2 cups (300 grams bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Baking soda

In a very large bowl add the liquid ingredients to the flour and stir until smooth.

Work in another 2 to 3 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, kneading it in the bowl as you go.   Here’s a YouTube video showing how to knead bread in the bowl.  The finished dough should be very loose.  It won’t hold it’s shape.  Yet it should be extremely “elastic” and not sticky.  This takes a lot of kneading.  More kneading and less flour – only enough flour to keep it from being too sticky.  The dough should “kiss” your hand, but not stick.  I think it is impossible to over knead this dough when you work it by hand in the bowl.

Cover the bowl tightly, and let it rise until doubled in size in a warm, draft free place.

Butter two sandwich size bread pans.

Once the dough has risen, cut it in half while still in the bowl, and maneuver one half of the dough into each of the buttered bread pans.  This is easier said than done.  Pat the dough down in the bread pan (it looks like a tiny amount) to form a flat surface filling the bread pan.

Using a pastry brush, brush the top surface with milk.

Cover each bread pan with a large bowl, and allow the bread to rise to the top of the pan.  Just before putting it in the oven, brush the top of the bread with a little more milk.

Bake in a 400°F oven for 25 minutes or until  the interior temperature of the bread reaches 200°F.  Using a probe thermometer really helps.

Sour Cream and Sourdough bread, cut slices

Happy Eating!

A Happy Mistake – Strawberry Sourdough

I never intended to put strawberry yogurt in this loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread!  I intended to try using the electric blender to blend the rice.  Since it was a very cold afternoon, I did intend to add plain yogurt to the bread.  (Supposedly this helps sourdough to rise.  It didn’t.) But I was tired (I have a bad cold) and in a hurry, so I didn’t really look at the containers of yogurt… But it was a very nice mistake!  There are no bits of strawberries in the bread (it was very cheap yogurt!)  There is also no visible sign of rice. This bread tastes and smells very faintly of strawberries.  If I didn’t know it was strawberry flavored, I would realize this is a very different loaf of bread, but I’m not sure I’d guess it was strawberry.  I’ll have to try it on a stranger next time I know someone is coming over.  <grin>

Makes 1 large loaf

16-24 hours before you want to eat the bread, combine in a medium sized bowl and mix well:

2 Cups Whole Wheat flour
1/2 Cup cooked rice, blended with 1/4 milk to the consistency of hand lotion (Electric blender required!)
1 Cup very active sourdough starter (or 2 teaspoons store bought yeast and another 1/2 cup of water.)
1/2 Cup warm water
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 small containers (2  4 ounce containers) of strawberry yogurt
3 tablespoons honey

When it’s well mixed, and the dough is just beginning to pull away from the bowl, place in a well oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly, and place in a warm, draft free place for at least 12 hours.  The dough should double (or more than double) in size, but still be sticky and moist.

(When I made this bread, we had a difficult night.  Coyotes were around the house, and our dogs where constantly demanding to go outside to chase the coyotes away.  The temperature was well below 0°F and there was no part of the house that was truly “draft free” or warm.  Instead of the dough doubling in size, it barely puffed up…  I don’t know if that’s why it was so hard to knead…  This was also when I discovered my mistake with the yogurt.  I’m saving yogurt containers at the moment, and BAM! There were two empty containers of strawberry yogurt instead of plain.  I was not a happy person for a while, but I still wanted to see if my rice was now invisible in the bread.)
Using up to 3 cups whole wheat flour, knead the dough until very smooth, and barely sticky.  This took me quite a long time before I finally gave up and put the dough in my new stand mixer, using the dough hook.  Less than 2 minutes later I had perfectly kneaded bread, ready to shape.  I didn’t feel up to shaping it, so I simply tossed it in a well oiled large bread pan, and pressed it level into the pan. Using a well oiled hand, I lightly oiled the top of the bread.   Bread is very forgiving!

Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size.  My dough took 5 hours to rise, but again, it’s very cold outside, and the dogs kept demanding to go out to be sure no coyotes were infringing on their territory….

When the dough has doubled in size, place a large pan of cold water in the bottom of your oven, set the oven to 350°F, and once the oven is filled with steam it’s hot enough to bake bread.  Leaving the pan of water in the bottom of the oven, put the bread into the oven for 25 minutes.

Take the bread out of the bread pan, and put it on a flat tray before putting it back in the oven.  This makes the sides of the loaf nice and crusty. Bake another 15 minutes, or until bread tests done.

Strawberry Yogurt Bread – note how nice the sides of the loaf look!
Both my husband and I prefered cream cheese on this loaf.

Happy Eating!


Herbed No Knead Bread (Batter Bread)

Batter bread isn’t a quick bread, since it requires yeast.  But it doesn’t require kneading, and can be made in my brand new stand mixer – in fact that’s where the original recipe came from: the cookbook that came with my stand mixer, though, of course, I modified it a bit.

It  makes two large loaves of very flavorful, light and airy bread.

In a large bowl, dissolve the honey in some very warm (110°F water).  Add the dry yeast and the sourdough starter (if you’re using it) and mix well.  If you’re using the sourdough starter, make sure it’s mixed in as well as possible, without any globs floating around.

2 packages Active Dry Yeast from the Grocery store (4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 Cup very warm Water
4 tablespoons Honey
1/2 Cup Sourdough starter (Optional, to improve taste)

Add and mix well, using a spoon or an electric mixer:

2 Cups Large Curd Cottage Cheese
3 tablespoons fresh onion, grated or finely minced
3 tablespoons of herbs (all of one type, such as all dill or all basil, or a premixed Mediterranean mixture of herbs, or a premixed Herbs de Provence . Or get creative and mix your own! As long as there are 3 tablespoons total of dried herbs.)
4 tablespoons softened sweet cream butter
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 Cup Whole wheat flour

Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 Cup at a time, stirring well.  Do NOT add more than 5 cups of flour total.

3 and 1/2 to 5 Cups of flour

Only add flour until you have a very thick batter – much thicker than cake batter, but still a batter that can be stirred with a spoon.  Mine looked like this:

This is my batter before rising. It’s very, very thick — any more flour and it would look like bread dough. This batter barely pulls away from the pan when I stir it.  There is no way I could form this into a ball.

Let the batter rise in a warm, draft free place, until doubled in size.  (45 minutes to one hour.)

Here’s the same batter, fully risen.  Warning: Do NOT punch it down with your hand, or you end up with a fist full of glop, and the sides of the batter are still risen…  I speak from experience.

Using a spoon, stir the batter down.  It doesn’t want to go down, but the more it’s stirred down, the easier it is to get it into two well oiled large bread pans.  I had a lot of trouble trying to pour it into the bread pans – this batter, stirred down, is too thick to pour.  I finally used a clean plastic cup and scooped it into the well oiled bread pans.

Batter that was scooped into bread pans. I should have used the larger sized pans….  I also should have smoothed the tops with the back of a damp spoon.  One lives to learn, right?

Let the bread rise again but keep your eye on it!  This bread rises fast and you don’t want it to rise ABOVE the bread pan.

20 minutes later, my bread looked like this! The loaf on the left will be OK, but the one on the right is already over the edge of the pan…

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until bread tests done.  As soon as possible get the bread on a bread rack.  As always, let it sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.

Happy Eating!