Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Whole wheat loaf (from the Vita-Mix cookbook)
    And now for something completely different!  To be honest, I almost don’t want to write about bread after writing about (and drinking) green juice, but I went on a bit of a baking frenzy a couple weeks ago and want to share. Just so you know, up until now I did not consider myself a baker.  I grew up baking cookies from scratch (at least during holidays and special occasions—snickerdoodles, anyone?), and knew my way around a box of brownie or cake mix, but for some reason I never found my way into the world of bread baking.  I eventually came to accept it as an activity reserved for some initiated few.  I do have a few memories of eating bread that my grandmother baked; she would always prepare kringel for birthdays, and I remember biting into slices of her English muffin bread which was best hot out of the oven and smothered with melting butter.  I vaguely recall some starter that she used for baking dark Estonian rye bread, but for some reason I don’t really remember seeing much of the actual baking process.  My brother, on the other hand, has carried on the tradition; he started making pizza dough from scratch years ago, and he often brings sweet braided raisin breads to family birthdays.  Until recently, I continued to shy away from the seemingly mysterious process of bread making.  Like rolling out a pie crust, it was one of those things that I just didn’t do (I can roll out a mean tortilla, though).  So I have baked a few breads over the years, but they have mostly been non-yeasted breads, and I have managed to turn out a decent whole wheat pizza crust.  When my Vita-Mix arrived with the whole grain cookbook, which includes instructions for grinding grains into flour and baking bread,  I had to try it out.  I had some good success with my first couple loaves, and decided to get adventurous when a friend offered me some sourdough starter that supposedly originates from the Oregon Trail.  

My first loaf of sourdough! 

What can I say? I have an affinity for strange cultures and ferments that require occasional attention and feeding. My first loaf came out beautifully! Although it wasn't very sour, it was very tasty.
 I also made some sourdough waffles.  I thought they were pretty good, but my girls were not as enthusiastic. 

Easy Cinnamon Sticky Buns

Since I was on a roll (hahah), I then moved on to these Easy Cinnamon Sticky Buns from Vegetarian Times magazine. They were fun to make, but very, very messy! They came out so dark because I didn't have dark corn syrup, so I added some blackstrap molasses to some light corn syrup I had instead. (I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you are a big fan of molasses). Since these are best hot, I would also recommend making them for a crowd. I gave some away and still ate too many.

1 comment:

  1. Baking bread is supposed to be something really special and elemental - the whole process. Your grandmother was appalled when she once forgot to save some starter for the next batch. (She had gotten her starter from someone in a distant city and over the years it had taken on its own unique character.) But with some advice over the phone as to what to do she made her own new starter from scratch. She had to bake a number of batches before it was back to the flavor we all were used to. I am glad you are baking bread!