Monday, January 12, 2015

Bread, I Said!

Two weeks before Christmas, I opened a package of Brownberry 100% Whole Wheat bread.  I don't eat bread like I used to, but I still like a piece every few days.  Todd rarely eats sandwiches, so half the loaf was still in the fridge, forgotten, when we left for Oregon.  When we got back, the bread was waiting for us.  I was still getting over the flu and feeling weak, so I didn't run to the grocery store for fresh produce like I usually do.  I pulled out the bread to make a peanut-butter sandwich, and realized:  it was still soft and fresh three weeks after its wrapper was opened.  Three weeks!  How is that possible?  When I make bread, it starts to get hard on the second day if I don't freeze it.  So I did some research, and there's all sorts of nasty things in store-bought bread:  preservatives, extra sugars, dough conditioners, and genetically-modified ingredients.  I called Todd at work and said:  "We've had our last slice of store-bought bread."  I embarked on a bread-baking extravaganza. 

Annie's Eats is a trusted website I bake from frequently, and she had several sandwich bread recipes, so I started there.  Her white sandwich bread recipe is my go-to recipe - absolutely delicious.  This weekend I tried her Oatmeal Buttermilk Wheat Bread recipe. 

Lovely dough.

Filled the pan even before the second rise!

Look at that rise!

Nice big loaf.

Sliced easily.


Individually wrapped and popped in freezer.  So easy to pull out a slice and microwave a few seconds to thaw it.  It tastes as good and fresh as the day you froze it!

My only gripe with this recipe is that one slice = 205 calories and 37 grams of carbs, compared to my usual Brownberry slice, at 110 calories and 20 grams of carbs.  I try not to be a fanatic about calories and carbs, but I do think they matter.  I definitely felt deprived on the day I had a slice of this bread, since I had to cut out my afternoon snack, and was hungry all day.

Back to the drawing board.

Next I tried her Whole Wheat Bread with Wheat Germ (I left out the rye)Right away I noticed that the first rise was fairly small.  I went ahead on faith, though, and baked the loaves.

I thought I'd divided the dough evenly, but one was definitely much smaller than the other.

Sliced up easily enough and I got 31 slices (minus the heels) out of them!

This recipe worked out to 94 calories and 17 grams of carbs per slice.  That would be perfect, except the small loaf, when sliced, produced pieces that were really half-slice size.  I'm going to get totally shortchanged on days when I get one of these.

There's one other recipe on her site that I'm going to try, and one from King Arthur Flour, too.  It might take a little while to find the right one, but I think it's worth the trouble.  Baking bread is easy (and therapeutic), wrapping up the slices and popping them in the freezer takes minutes, and thawing out a slice for consumption takes seconds.  It's definitely worth it to me to further reduce our processed food intake.

Never let it be said that I'm strictly focused on healthy baking, though.  I also made these absolutely amazing Eggnog Cupcakes this weekend, also from the Annie's Eats site.  I'm not a fan of eggnog, but Todd is.  I bought some for him last week since I thought that stores might be phasing it out soon, since it's seasonal.  I made the cupcakes, but tried a different frosting.  Her frosting calls for 20 tablespoons of butter.  A real indulgence.  I'd just read about a flour-based frosting on Can You Stay For Dinner? that, halved, only had 8 tablespoons of butter.  Todd prefers whipped frosting and not much of it, so I halved the recipe and used 1/2 cup of eggnog instead of milk (with an extra dash of nutmeg, too).  Can I just say that the combination was AMAZING?  The cupcakes had an almost spongy quality, perfectly complemented by the light frosting.  And the flavor was perfect, even for a non-eggnog lover like me.  I highly, highly recommend these.

Because I had leftover eggnog, and I was still on a baking tear, I made eggnog mini muffins (recipe here, from Two Peas in a Pod).  The recipe is for full-size, but to make any full-size muffin recipe into a mini muffin recipe, reduce baking time by 10 - 15 minutes.  Mine were done in 9 minutes.

I didn't make the eggnog glaze, but these didn't have a strong eggnog taste to me.  Just nice little coffee cake bites.

Aaaaand, last but not least, I made two loaves of my favorite banana bread (recipe blogged here).  This time I added 3/4 cup of cinnamon chips, which really took it over the edge. 

This is a real indulgence, though.  One slice = almost 400 calories.  These slices, too, were individually wrapped and put into our now-bursting freezer.  Oh, well, bread keeps in the freezer for 3 months, and I'm sure all of this bread will be long gone before then. 

It was the perfect cold, rainy weekend for baking, and I look forward to finally finding that perfect whole wheat sandwich recipe.  I'll post it when I do.  Until then, I look forward to eating my mistakes!  :) 

Have a great week!

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