Do you have wheat stored, but haven't been able or willing to spend $250 on a grain mill?  Have you wondered if there's a way to make bread with it anyhow?  THERE IS!    This bread is moist, tender, with a good crumb and impressive natural gluten strength.   The overnight soak is the magic trick here:  as the mash sits, enzymes break down proteins and allow gluten to begin forming  on its own, enzymes break down starches into sugars for flavor and to feed the yeast you add the next day, and the soaking lets the little hard bits of wheat soften up, leaving no trace of grittiness or graininess. You will not need to add dough enhancer, Vitamin C, vinegar, vital wheat gluten, or any thing else to get great !

If you use the 2 1/2 c of wheat kernels, the bread ends up about 2/3 whole wheat;  if you use a high-speed blender (like BlendTec or Vitamix) , you can use 3 cups and end up with bread that is 85% whole wheat.


Blender Wheat Bread

2 1/3 cups (17 oz) wheat kernels (65% )  OR 3 cups- 22oz , if using a Vitamix 
2 1/2  cups water

Combine in blender; mix on high speed for two minutes.  If it seems too hard on your motor, add 2 Tbsp. water.  Let the mash soak, covered and at room temperature, 8 hours or overnight.   After soaking, add:

2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour (11 oz) 
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. honey
4 ½ tsp. yeast (1 ½ Tbsp. or 2 envelopes)
1/4 c. hottest tap water (no hotter than 130 F)

Knead for five minutes, dough should be just thick enough to clean the bowl's sides.  Add flour if needed, but the dough should be tacky and very soft.  It’s had enough kneading  when it passes the windowpane test. (See slide show.)  Cover and let rest 20 minutes.  Coat two 8x4 loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour ½ cup water on the oven floor (avoid the heating element!).  Turn the oven on 350 degrees for ONE MINUTE to warm it, then turn heat off.  Divide dough in half.  With wet hands, shape each loaf and place in a pan.  Place pans in the warmed oven.  When the top of the loaf has risen about ½” above the edge of the pan (around 30-40 minutes later), remove from oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  When oven is hot and dough has risen to about ¾” above the rim, bake loaves for 20-25 minutes, until the sides are browned. Remove from pans; cool on a rack at least 20 minutes before slicing.

   If using a high -speed blender, use 3 cups of wheat kernels in the mash. When adding flour the next day, use 1 1/2 cups flour instead of the 2 1/2 cups. 

FAQ’s:

How long can a soaker sit?  It’s best right around 8-12 hours up to 24 hrs.  If you need to have it go longer, refrigerate it from the beginning to slow down enzyme activity.

How high does the ideal proof go? (3/4”)  Does the poke test work? Yes if you use a wet finger or have let it rise uncovered.

How smooth can I get the puree in a blender, and does it matter much? It doesn’t need to be super smooth with this method; soaking eliminates any hard bits.

How long does it take to rise without a warm oven? Depends on your kitchen temperature, but around 1 hour.

Is the 20 minute autolyze necessary for flavor or texture? It’s OK without it, but rises better and tastes a little nicer (sweeter) with it.

How many minutes does it need to rise in the oven?   About 30-40.

How long does it really take to bake at 400? This depends on whether your loaves are identical in size, where any hot spots are in your oven, and how accurate its thermometer is.    My evenly-sized loaves took 21 min.

 
 
Everyone knows you can make bread with zucchini- but what if you have a giant yellow summer squash hiding in the garden?

Both zucchini and yellow squash-- either straightneck or crookneck-- are summer squash, with a similar flavor and texture, and CAN be interchanged in recipes.

My family's favorite quickbread is Lemon Zucchini Bread- so today we got Lemon-SummerSquash Bread.  I no longer shred zucchini -or this squash- for recipes, but puree it instead.  No more strings.  As a bonus, if I'm freezing some for later use, the texture does not change when thawed, unlike shredded squash.  

AND, if you're pureeing the squash, you can have the blender (or food processor) mix all the wet ingredients for you.

This bread is great for breakfast.

The recipe is found over here, though the blender method is below. 
 
 
Surely many of you are in the same boat.

Out of the eight of us in the house, we've learned that one child can't have wheat.  She's so sensitive that eating one 1/4" piece of bread caused her arms to turn hot pink and start to weep.  But the rest of us are fine.  We're still in the process of determining if she reacts to gluten, or to just the wheat itself, so for now everything must be wheat-free AND gluten-free.  And dairy-free, while we're figuring out if that's an issue too.  For some strange reason, I prefer to cook only one meal, per meal.  And special 'gluten-free' foods are pricey.  Really pricey.  So I'll let you know how I've adapted.  Hopefully it'll help you or someone else having to adapt to whatever allergy or special needs diet strikes just one or two in your family.  


Eight Tips for feeling (more) normal when someone has special dietary needs

1- Plan on preparing most of your family's foods.  
Unless you have nothing against quadrupling your family's food budget.  Not kidding.   If you didn't cook much before, brush up on the basics.  They'll do for now.  And for a while.

2- Eat naturally wheat-free foods
Keep a list around so you can focus on what CAN be eaten rather than all the CAN'Ts.  It's empowering and encouraging.  While you're still getting used to what's okay and not, go through your kitchen and pantry, and write down everything that is GF already, including all plain spices and herbs (blends might not be; check), canned/fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, rice, plain beans, flax, buckwheat, meat in its natural state, eggs, peanut butter, olives, potato chips, popcorn, jam, ketchup...  See a bigger list here, halfway down the page.  There's a GF year-supply list here.  You know, I've been telling myself for years that we oughta eat more rice and beans.  They're cheap, store well, and are filling. 
Those have suddenly become more popular at my house.

3- Make a list of 10-15 meals your family likes that are gluten/wheat-free and can be made using what you typically have on hand.  Include both super-quick meals and more involved ones.  Be willing to spend about an hour doing this; it'll save you much more time than that in the long run.  Get input from your kids.  Tape the list someplace handy like the inside of your cooking supplies cupboard.  No more panic or feeling helpless at a change of dinner plans!

4- When you cook some specialty gluten-free food, go ahead and make a big batch.  Then freeze the rest in individual serving sizes.  For my 10-year-old, the ziptop "snack size" baggies are the perfect size.  There's a gallon-sized ziptop bag labeled for her in the freezer. What's in it changes often.  Right now it has GF waffles and breadsticks, spaghetti (made with specialty GF pasta) and sauce, seasoned rice, dairy-free homemade ice cream (made in my blender), and GF chocolate chip cookies.  Remember treats. They've saved my daughter from feeling deprived with all these new "don't"s.  Whenever my husband pulls out the ice cream, she pulls out her freezer bag and gets something sweet too.  I also keep one loaf of GF bread in the freezer, for sandwiches and toast.  She pulls out a couple slices whenever needed.

5- Keep a small plastic bin full of GF baking supplies, like the photo above. It's handy for all kinds of things. My 'essentials' include a bag of GF flour mix (homemade or storebought), xantham gum, some white flour like rice, tapioca, or potato starch, and a whole-grain GF flour like brown rice, lentil, oat, or sorghum.  Mine also has a bag of dairy-free chocolate chips in it, good for a lot more than just cookies.  I've found flours like tapioca, potato starch, and rice flour at the Asian market for a fraction of the price.

6- Try a new GF recipe at least once a week.  And maybe only once a week, depending on how overwhelming it is to you.  Have that other family member cook with you, so she'll learn to cook for herself later.  If you love bread, stick with the quickbreads for a while.  They're much simpler.  I think the easiest way to learn, other than just trying a new GF mix each week, is to buy a copy of of Living Without magazine.  Or sign up for their free weekly newsletter, which includes a recipe.   I love the magazine format because you can learn in 5-minute increments.

7- Remember to watch out for cross-contamination
I think this is actually the hardest one.  You might want to have TWO jars of mayonnaise and jam open, one of each labeled as GF.  Otherwise it's really easy for bread crumbs from one person to end up in the jar, where they'll cause the allergic person grief.  Remember that toasters carry crumbs.  Wipe the counters really well.  Consider having a second set of measuring cups, possibly mixing bowls and cooling racks too, depending on severity of reaction.  If you have a regular wheat grinder you can grind your own GF flours, using things like rice, beans, oats, lentils, quinoa, etc, BUT only use a mill that has not been used for wheat.  Unless you want to invite problems.  Some things can be ground in a blender, like oats, if those are OK for your family member.

And,
8- Read labels.  Always.  Always.
Learn which ingredients have hidden gluten.  You'll be surprised at what you find.  Sometimes good surprises.  Sometimes lame ones.  Realize too that sometimes companies change their ingredients, and something that didn't have gluten/wheat in it before, might the next time you buy it.  Knowing exactly what you're eating is a good idea anyway.


You can do this!  :D

Love, Rhonda
 
 
Start with regular bread dough- and turn it into a treat!

I love the flavor combination here- the bright flavor of candied orange peel, the sweet-tartness of snipped dried apricots, and the hearty depth from pecans. This bread is at its best after a day so the orange has a chance to permeate the whole loafwhen toasted: great with butter, but heavenly with cream cheese.  Yum.  I like it for breakfast.

This batch was made using 100% whole wheat dough, but use whatever you're making anyway.

Mix up a batch of dough (like this one).  Set aside one loaf's worth of dough.  Stretch or roll it to about 8x16 inches.  Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 cup diced candied orange peel, 1/3 cup (2 oz) dried apricots, snipped, and 1/3 c. pecan pieces.  Roll up starting with the narrow end.  Place in a greased 8x4 loaf pan, seam side down.  Let rise and bake as usual, adding 1-2 extra minutes to the baking time.  Cool and slice.



 
 
Between helping a sick 7-year-old catch up on homework, driving the carpool today, running kids to appointments, and half of them needing to be at their church youth activities an hour later, I needed an easy and quick dinner tonight.  I had a batch of bread dough rising, so I heated the oven to 450 F, took a loaf's worth of dough, rolled it out to fit a greased cookie sheet, and baked it for ten minutes.  While it cooked, I pulled out shredded cheese, opened a can of olives and one of pineapple, and stirred together some red sauce: 1/3 c. tomato powder, 2/3 c. hot water, and 1/4 tsp. salt (or use one 8-oz can of tomato sauce), then spices to taste: a few good shakes of oregano, basil, black pepper, onion powder, a pinch of fennel... whatever you have and smells good with it. 
Spread the sauce on the hot pizza crust, sprinkle on the toppings, then put under the broiler for two minutes, until bubbling.  If you want a few more mixing/cooking details, see this other post.

Since I'd only used part of the can of pineapple and also had some coconut milk in the fridge, I made Pina Colada:   

1 (20 oz.) can of pineapple (or almost a can, in this case)
1/2 cup coconut milk (or use 2-3 Tbsp. shredded coconut and 1/3 c. water)
Half a tray of ice cubes or one handful
1 Tbsp. mild molasses
1 drop lime essential oil or 1/4 tsp. lime zest (optional but adds just the right touch)

Combine in a blender; turn on high until smooth.  Add a little sugar or honey if it's not sweet enough.

I didn't use any more sugar; the lime boosted the flavor enough that the drink didn't really need anything else.

To the pizza and drink, add a salad or other vegetable, and there's supper!

 
 
About six years ago I discovered my boys had a vocabulary problem.  They were using one word to describe everything that tasted good: 'heavenly'.
This bothered me for two reasons-  one, I'm sure heaven is much better than the best food, and two, they weren't expanding their vocabulary.  This was a perfect time.  So we pulled out a thesaurus and looked up 'delicious' to come up with a new word to use.  'Toothsome' had them rolling on the floor laughing, so that became the new favorite.  
I've discouraged them using 'heavenly' very often- but I'll tell you, that was the first word that popped into my head (I didn't say it!) when the first spoonful of moist, custardy, caramel-y, pumpkin dessert hit my tastebuds.  

My apologies to Heaven.
  

This is a modified version of Caramel Bread Pudding.  (The link has other ways of using up stale bread, too.)  The spices in this play a supporting role to the pumpkin flavor: just enough there to help you notice the pumpkin, not the spice.  If you want to taste the cinnamon, double or triple the amount here.

Caramel Pumpkin Bread Pudding- fills a 9x13 pan

15 slices good-quality white bread, cut into 1” pieces (about 16 cups or 20-24 ounces)- baked until crisp (about 10 minutes at 450 degrees)
1 ½ sticks butter
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
¼ c. honey or corn syrup  
5 tsp. vanilla, divided
2 1/2 c. half-and-half, or use the last ½ cup evaporated milk from your can (above); use whole milk for the remaining 2 cups here.   
5 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon  OR 2 tiny drops cinnamon essential oil
1/4 tsp. ground cloves OR 1 tiny drop clove essential oil
1/2 c. toasted nuts, optional

Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  Stir about 4 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.  Remove from heat and stir in cream or evaporated milk, corn syrup, and 2 tsp. vanilla.  Pour one cup of this caramel into a greased 9x13 pan.  

Set aside one more cup of caramel, to use as topping later.  

To the remaining caramel, add the half-and-half (or mixture of evaporated milk and whole milk).  Beat the eggs together, then whisk in pumpkin, cinnamon, and cloves.  Whisk in the half-and-half mixture.  Add remaining vanilla.  Fold in the bread, and let sit until soaked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Put bread mixture into the 9x13 pan, bake about 40-45 minutes, until the top is crisp and the custard is barely set.  Sprinkle with toasted nuts.  Serve warm, with the reserved cup of caramel drizzled on top.
 
 
If you're making homemade bread, you're bound to have a few crumbs.  Most of the crumbs come from slicing the bread, but there are always a few in the bottom of the empty bread bags, too.

It's common to just shake them into the sink or the garbage, but is there anything else!

Oh, yeah.

Since they're already dry, they don't spoil if kept fairly airtight.  I scoop them into a plastic container with a lid and save up until there's enough to do something with them.

Add to hamburger to extend it a bit
Use in  Meatballs
or Zucchini Cakes
coating for Chicken Nuggets

You can even use them as a substitute for oats or flour in recipes- 
1/2 c. crumbs = 1/2 c. rolled oats, 
1/2 c. crumbs = 1/4 c. flour

Or use them in place of graham cracker crumbs for a pie crust.  See below.

Crumb Crusts
1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs 
¼ c. sugar 
5-6 Tbsp. melted butter 

Stir together crumbs and sugar, mix in butter. Press firmly and evenly in a 9” pie pan. Chill 1 hour OR bake at 375 degrees 6-9 minutes, til edges are brown (and it smells wonderful).  
Use a blender to crush the cookies/crackers, or a cereal box liner or big zip top baggie and a rolling pin
Breadcrumb crust:use dry breadcrumbs, increase sugar to 1/3 c. You’d never know!
Chocolate Crust: use 1 ½ c. crushed chocolate cookies (take out creme filling), don’t use the sugar in the crust recipe.
Gingersnap Crust: use all gingersnap crumbs or part gingersnap, part graham. Leave out sugar.
Nut crust: add 1/3 c. finely chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts, or other to any crumb crust.
Vanilla Crust: use crushed vanilla wafers, leave out the added sugar.

 
Try it!  (Now, won't you feel thrifty?)
 
 
Yeah, I know that smoked salmon is a little expensive for a website with a name like this one has...  

Would it help you feel better to tell you I buy it during the after-Christmas "food gift" clearance sales?   It's at least 50% off then.  

OK, it's still not real frugal.  But it does have an incredible shelf life-- and is one of my absolute-favorite foods!- which is why I had a couple tins of it on hand when the idea for this sandwich struck.  I decided, the day of the contest, to enter the "Fleishman’s Yeast Sandwich Bread Contest 2012" at the Utah State Fair.  Which bread I wanted to make was no problem, the Autumn Harvest Bread came right to mind.  The contest this year, though, specified for 10% of your overall judging score to be from the filling (or "description of a filling").  This is what I came up with to complement the breads' flavors.    It will make your tastebuds "dance and sing"!  The judges agreed, this took first place in the contest.

Autumn Harvest Smoked Salmon sandwiches

Start with one loaf of Autumn Harvest Bread, sliced about 1/2" thick.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
2 Tbsp. very finely chopped (or pureed) red onion
2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger
2 Tbsp. finely chopped toasted pecans
¼ c. finely chopped celery
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/16 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Stir together, chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. 

To assemble  sandwiches, spread about 2 Tbsp Filling on each of four slices of bread. Top with 2 ounces smoked salmon, and any of the following you like (I used all of them): thinly sliced red onion, sliced tomato, roasted red pepper, alfalfa sprouts, and arugula.  Drizzle with red wine vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Makes 4 sandwiches.



 
 

 This bread has a thin, chewy crust with an exceptionally tender and moist interior, flavored with pumpkin and honey, scented with cinnamon, ginger, cloves,  with a toasty crunch from pecans.  (See a photo of the inside here.) It is one of my all-time favorite recipes.  It all started with an artisan bread cookbook, Amy's Bread.

My brother had just finished a two-year mission to Spain, and came back with a whole new perspective on bread.  He described how fresh, hearty, deeply flavored, and moist those European breads were, with their beautiful, flavorful crusts.  

That's it, I thought, I MUST learn to make bread like that.  

So I bought a book.  (I still have, it, use it, and love it.  Her Country Sourdough loaf is perfect, and the thin, crunchy, seeded breadsticks are addicting!)

The recipe below began as one from her cookbook.  I've tweaked it over the years, until it can be claimed as my own.  We usually just slice and butter it, or toast and spread with cream cheese.  It would make incredible French Toast, especially if you stuff it with lightly sweetened cream cheese and top with fruit syrup or homemade maple-flavored syrup.   For a sandwich filling that goes spectacularly well with it, see my next post!

See here for a post on making pumpkin puree, or see this one on making pumpkin powder.  I actually used the pumpkin powder & added water in my batch for the fair.

Autumn Harvest Bread
(Pumpkin-Pecan Yeast Bread)

1 Tbsp. Instant or RapidRise yeast               4 ½ c. bread flour
1/2 c. warm water                                           ½ c. butter, melted
½ c. (6 oz.) honey                                            1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. pumpkin puree                                          ½ tsp. ginger
1/4 c. cornmeal                                                ½ tsp. ground cloves
2 large egg yolks                                             1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. dry milk powder                                 1 c. pecan pieces, toasted                                                                                

Combine yeast and warm water, stir to dissolve.  Let stand 3 minutes.  Mix in honey, pumpkin, cornmeal, egg yolks, milk powder, and 2 cups of the flour. Add butter, then the remaining 2 cups flour, the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.  Let rest 20 minutes.  Knead in pecans.   Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 ½ -2 hours.  

While it’s rising, make a wash with 1/4  c. cold water and 1/2  tsp. cornstarch:

Combine the two, bring to a boil, and stir until thickened.  Cover it so it doesn’t form a skin, and let it cool.

Divide dough into two pieces. Shape into 16-20” long logs, and tie each into a knot.  (Or shape into a ball, seam-side down, or shape into two 8x4 loaves.)  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 1-1 ½ hours.  Using a pastry brush, gently coat each loaf with the glaze.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown and the surface is firm.  Brush again with the glaze.  This helps it have a nice shine and a thin, soft crust.  Cool before cutting into 1/2" slices. 
 
 
This makes for a very special breakfast, one of my husband's very favorites.  It's fun to serve these when I have overnight guests, or sometimes just to surprise my family. 
I love the flavor of fresh-ground wheat, so I usually make these using 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour.
If you prefer a fruit filling, use 1-2 Tbsp. jam, jelly, or pie filling instead of (or in addition to!) the cream cheese.
You'll need to plan ahead- mix these up in the evening (10 minutes), stick the dough in the fridge overnight, then shape, quick-rise, and bake in the morning (45-60 minutes). 

Easy Danish Pastry
Makes 1 dozen

1 Tbsp. or 1 pkg. instant yeast
½ c. warm water (110-120 degrees F)
2 c. flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ c. milk, buttermilk, or kefir
1 egg yolk

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. sugar or 1 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. vanilla

Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk

Combine yeast and warm water, let sit 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the butter in, mashing as needed!  Beat the egg yolk with the milk, then add them to the dry mixture.  Pour the yeast mixture on top.  Mix well.  Cover and refrigerate dough at least 3 hours, but not more than 24.

Combine the ingredients for the filling- stir cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

Divide dough into two logs about 8” long; keep one  in the fridge to stay cold.  Sprinkle counter with flour, then put one of the logs on the flour.  Sprinkle it with flour, as well.  Roll to a rectangle about 8x14”, then cut into 6 strips, each 14” long.   Roll each strip into a rope, then shape into a coil on a greased baking sheet.   Put about 1 ½ Tbsp. of the cream cheese filling on the center of each coil.  Turn the oven on to 350 F.   Cover the rolls and let rise while the oven heats and you roll out the next half.    After the rolls have risen for about 20 minutes, bake for 15-20 minutes or until set and golden brown on the bottoms.  Mix together powdered sugar and milk for glaze, then drizzle over rolls. 

Leftover pastries can be frozen on the baking sheet, then transferred to ziptop baggies for longer storage.  Best frozen within 3 months (but OK after that).