Baking Bread. It is a wonderful thing to do when the world seems out of control. We are living in fraught times. Kneading bread and smelling the baking loaves does much to quiet the troubled soul.
One of the things I was gifted with during Christmas was sourdough starter from my cooking-enthused Daughter-in-Law, Kristen. She has been baking bread for several months now and developed the starter from one of the best French bakeries in Cary, La Farm Bakery. I receive catalogs from King Arthur Flour and saw this recipe in their Christmas publication. It sounded unusual and a good recipe for my sourdough starter. They also featured a Bread Baking Bowl that is the perfect vessel in which to bake it.
It makes a hearty loaf studded with sweet cranberries.
I have since made a simple Honey Wheat Bread. I have a feeling there will be lots of bread baking in my immediate future. Stay safe, healthy and sane during these perilous times.
Wild Rice, Cranberry, and Cornmeal Sourdough Bread
In a large bowl, combine the starter, water, yeast, cornmeal, and flours. Mix and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Knead in the cooked wild rice, salt, and dried cranberries. Knead by hand for 6 minutes, or for about 3 minutes using a stand mixer. Or place in a bread machine programmed to the dough cycle. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes (or let the bread machine finish its cycle).
Turn the dough out and fold it in thirds. Return it to its container, cover, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Shape the dough into a round or oval and place, seam side up, in a basket or bowl lined with a damp tea towel heavily sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; or cover and refrigerate overnight.
One hour before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven (with a baking stone on the middle rack, if you have a stone) to 475°F. If the dough was chilled overnight, take it out of the refrigerator before turning the oven on. Set up a shallow, stovetop-to-oven pan or skillet with 1″ of water in it.
When the dough looks puffy (it won’t necessarily double in size), bring the pan of water to a simmer on the stove and place it in the oven below the baking stone. Turn the loaf out of the towel onto a piece of parchment on a peel (or onto a baking sheet, if you’re not using a stone). Slash the top from end to end, 1/2″ deep, with a sharp knife. Slide the dough and parchment onto the stone. If you have a spray bottle, spritz the inside of the oven 5 or 6 times before closing the door.
Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, until deep golden brown all over, and the center measures 195°F or higher when tested with a digital thermometer. The bottom will sound hollow when thumped.
Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing.
Store the bread, tightly wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Week three of home confinement. We have fallen into a rhythm; marking the days with small household tasks, canceling airline tickets for a Fall trip to Europe, cooking, reading and cherishing our continued good health. It is on my mental list to do some major cleaning to closets and bathroom tiles. But for now, all I can manage are small steps. Trips to the Supermarket are fraught with worry. We try not to go often. Cooking has been one of the ways that restores calm. I bought a bag of Navel oranges a few weeks ago and have been using them in baked goods.
This simple one bowl poundcake came from Melissa Clark of the New York Times. Rubbing the sugar with orange zest seems to release the oils in zest and impart more flavor.
It is a treat to have this bread available for a quiet breakfast on the deck with a cup of coffee each morning. The beauty of nature soothes us in these turbulent times. Stay safe.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
1 Cup sugar
Zest of 1 navel orange
2 Tbls melted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla (or 1/4 tsp Fiori de Sicilia Citrus flavoring and 1/4 tsp vanilla)
Grated nutmeg (optional) or 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plain cornmeal
1 1/4 cup flour
In a large bowl, rub the sugar with the orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.
Whisk in the dry ingredients in this order; salt, baking soda, baking powder and cornmeal. Once smooth whisk in the flour until combined well.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let the bread cool in the pan. Remove. Slice and serve as is or place in a toaster for a crispy warm treat. Butter optional (or not).
I have been hesitant to share this recipe with you. Not because it isn’t delicious, but because it uses a couple of ingredients that I first thought were questionable. My philosophy is to use as many natural and high quality ingredients as I can find. But because my husband is limiting his carbs, he is always ordering ingredients to compensate for higher carb alternatives. Corn and cornmeal are high in carbohydrates. This cornbread is made with almond flour with the addition of Sweet Corn Extract.The extract contains no artificial ingredients. Even though it is rather expensive, a little goes a long way and it has a long shelf life.
The other ingredient is Besti monk fruit allulose blend. It is a natural alternative to sugar. You can click on the link to read about it and decide for yourself if it is a sugar substitute that you would feel comfortable using.
I was surprised by how much I loved this “cornbread”. It was extra moist, slightly sweet and definitely corny. I will be adding this to my repertoire of low carb recipes. By the way, David made this; start to finish. He did a good job and cleaned the kitchen too. All I did was photograph it!
5 cups Blanched almond flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup Besti monk fruit allulose blend
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup Butter (melted; plus more for greasing)
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
6 large eggs
1 Tbsp Sweet corn extract
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with butter.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sweetener, and sea salt.
Stir in the melted butter, almond milk and eggs, until smooth. Stir in the sweet corn extract.
Transfer the batter into the skillet and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
Nonnettes are tender little muffins originating in Dijon, France. What sets them apart is the warm spice (pain d’epices) which is a blend including cinnamon, ginger, star anise, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and coriander. It is easy to make and I will include the recipe at the bottom of this post.
In addition to the spices, the Nonnettes have a filling of orange marmalade, orange zest and Grand Marnier. They are perfect for the Fall weather to come. It is still summer on Lake Lure even in these early days of October.
I made these Nonnettes a few months ago and photographed them. The leftovers were frozen. I forgot to add the drizzle to them before I froze them. The muffins above came from the freezer. I added the glaze and enjoyed them just as much as when they were freshly made.
ORANGE MUFFINS (NONNETTES) WITH GRAND MARNIER (Adapted from The French Life)
3/4 Cup Water
7 Tbls Butter
3/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbls Pain d’épices spices
2 Tbls Grand Marnier
3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup All-Purpose-Flour
1 Tbls Baking Powder
Zest of 1 Orange
6 tsps. Orange Marmalade
3 Tbls Orange Juice
1/3 to 1/2 cup Confectioners’ Sugar
Heat water, butter, honey and sugar, just until butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. In a large bowl whisk the flours and baking powder. Add the orange zest and stir to combine. Pour in the syrup (it should still be fairly hot). Stir until combined. Flour and butter a 12-hole muffin tin. Divide the batter over the holes. Chill for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a teaspoon, make a little well in the center of the batter and fill with half a tsp of marmalade. Bake the nonnettes for 20 minutes. The nonnettes should be tender and spring back when pressed. Allow to cool completely before unmolding. Place the nonnettes on a rack, making sure there is a sheet of tin foil underneath it. Make a thin glaze by whisking the orange juice into the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the nonnettes and leave to set.
One of my favorite “low-carb conscious” recipe websites is Kalyn’s Kitchen. She has creative recipes for South Beach, Paleo and Keto diets to name a few. David has been on the Keto diet for long enough for it to have become a lifestyle choice. Sometimes he craves more than bacon and eggs for breakfast. These muffins made with mostly almond flour fit the bill. There is a small amount of flour in the mix, but not enough to give him pause. The muffins are spiked with bacon crumbles, green onions and Parmesan cheese. I love them too.
I thank Kalyn for this wonderful recipe. I may serve them when the whole family comes for the Labor Day Weekend. They are quick to assemble and will be an easy breakfast for 14 people all on different schedules. Let the fun begin! Happy Fall.
COTTAGE CHEESE AND BACON AND EGG BREAKFAST MUFFINS (Slightly adapted from Kayln’s Kitchen)
2/3 cup cottage cheese (regular or low-fat)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup almond meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T water
4 eggs, beaten
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, fat blotted with paper towel, then crumbled
3 T thinly sliced green onion (scallions)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray
In mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, white whole wheat flour, almond meal , salt, water, and beaten egg. Mix well.
Gently mix in crumbled bacon and green onion, until well distributed in batter.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with cottage cheese and egg mixture.
Bake 25 -30 minutes, until muffins are firm and lightly browned.