Monthly Archives: July 2009

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

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As far as I’m concerned, bread baking is one of the best smells there is.  I love the warm, yeasty smell of bread rising, and the nice crust you get when it’s done, along with that sense of accomplishment.  So, since I was out of bread, I’m trying to empty out my pantry before I move out next week (and failing miserably), and my dad’s going to be in town this weekend and loves whole-wheat bread, I made wheat bread.  There was logic in that decision somewhere, I’m sure.  If you find it, let me know!

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Ok, so this isn’t exactly whole wheat bread like my dad prefers, but I think it’s a pretty good compromise between our two preferences.  This bread came together really easily, and rose quickly.  I only had two small problems with it.  The most universal one was that the bread was a little bit over-browned, so I probably should have tented it with aluminum foil partway through baking.  The other problem is probably only mine, and that’s that this recipe uses oatmeal, which meant I had to make oatmeal.  I get that it’s incredibly healthy, but oatmeal gives me the heebie-jeebies.  As with most foods I’m not fond of (like scallops or flan), the texture just freaks me out.  But I sucked it up, and I wouldn’t even know it was there if I hadn’t made it myself!  This bread was a little bit sweet from the honey, and will be great for sandwiches, or maybe even french toast!  It was a great use for my SMS preserves!

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

Adapted from Epicurious and Gourmet magazine

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
  • 3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water I used 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter

1. Heat milk and 1/2 stick butter in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.

2. Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Look out, this foams a LOT! Stir yeast mixture, melted butter it’s already there, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.

3. Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

4. Lightly butter two 8×4 inch loaf pans I used 9×5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats (or just with melted butter), then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)

6. Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

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Also, since my dad will be here tomorrow, I thought I’d share some important things I’ve leard from him.

1. Always carry dog bones in your pocket.  Even if you don’t have a dog.

2. Never throw the first punch.  However, if you do throw the first punch, make sure you give fair warning.

3. If a boy doesn’t respect you enough to pick you up at the door, he’s not worth dating (although this one was usually phrased more along the lines of “I swear to god, if he sits in the driveway and honks the horn, you’re not leaving this house!”).

4. Everyone should have a nice, heavy pen.

5. You don’t have to like everyone.

6. It’s ok to skip a homework assignment every now and then, but it’s not ok to skip a big project.  Pick and choose.

7. Algebra.  Also, that math is a four-letter word.

8. Being a little weird is a good thing sometimes.  It makes you stand out from the crowd.

9. Asparagus tastes way better warm than it does cold.

10. It is possible to penny someone’s door shut so far that it is impossible to get it back open.



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SMS: Strawberry-Ruby Grapefruit Preserves

Welcome, new SMS’ers!

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One of these days I’ll actually post an SMS recipe on Sunday, and everyone’s going to die of shock.  Unfortunately, I spent five hours in a car on Sunday, driving back from my grandparents’, and the rest of the day studying for an exam.  Fortunately, Mike liked my grandparents, my grandparents liked Mike, and all was good.  Yeah, after over two years of dating, my grandparents finally met my boyfriend 🙂

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Anyway… This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe was chosen by Margot of Effort to Deliciousness.  Pretty please drop by her site, she has wonderful pictures, a great sense of humor, and a really nifty way of rating recipes based on the effort that went into them and how delicious they were (aka an Effort to Deliciousness Ratio).  She also made some gorgeous breakfast pastries with this week’s preserves.

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This was my first time making preserves, and I have to say, it was so much easier than I thought it would be!  It was just chopping fruit, cooking it down, mashing it a little bit, and putting it into a jar.  I made half of the recipe which yielded just over one pint.  Since it was only one jar, I didn’t bother going through the actual canning process, and just put the preserves in the jar and put them in the fridge.  I took them up to my grandparents’ house, along with the Whole Orange Bread we made last week for SMS and the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake, which has become an instant favorite for me, and everything was a big hit.  These preserves actually tasted pretty good with the orange bread.  The preserves were pretty tart, but I still really liked them.  I think what’s left of them will be good with the whole wheat bread I just took out of the oven, too!

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I would recommend these again to anyone, since they’re quick and really yummy.  For the recipe, check out Effort to Deliciousness here, and to see what everyone else thought of this week’s choice, check out the blogroll.

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Finally, on a note completely unrelated to cooking, congratulations to my friends who got engaged this weekend, especially Colleen (who I’ve known since I was six)!  I’m incredibly happy for both of you and wish you the best of luck.  Also, if one more person asks when I’m getting engaged or insinuates that they think it could/should happen within the next year or two, I’m going to run screaming out of the state.  I have too much to do to worry about getting engaged.  😀  Thank you, The Peanut Gallery.


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I’m going to be completely honest, there’s no recipe in this post.  Just a quick thought.  See, this evening after dinner I dropped by the grocery store with Mike.  We were looking to rent a movie (they have one of those movie box rental thingies) and I needed more strawberries for this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe.  We got the two things we need, but we also got…

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A completely unholy amount of raspberries.  Why, you ask?  Because they were on sale, 10 for $10.  I nearly wet myself I was so excited (ok, not really).  A half pint container around here is usually $3-4, even this time of year!  And boy, oh boy, do I have plans for these babies!  A couple of them will go into another Raspberry Buttermilk Cake to take to my grandparents’ this weekend, a few of them will be given to my parents this weekend, maybe a couple to my grandparents, and Mike has very nicely asked for raspberry preserves, so I think I’ll use a few to make a small batch of preserves.

Or I might just eat them all straight out of the containers.  I haven’t really decided.

If you live in the area of one, I got them at Schnucks.  I think they’re only in Central Illinois and the St. Louis area, but I could be wrong.  Also, the raspberry sale wasn’t advertised, so maybe it’s just the store by my apartment?  Still, can’t hurt to check!


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SMS: Whole Orange Poppyseed(less) Cake

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Whew!  After a crazy fun weekend with my friend Dana, who came to visit, it took me a couple days to get caught up on schoolwork, sleep, all those important little details.  And laundry.  Which is why I’m just getting around to posting this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe, and why I’ll be quick.  Our recipe this week was chosen by Melissa of Lulu the Baker.  She’s such a sweet person, just celebrated her blog-iversary, and has a super cute site (or maybe that’s just my love of polka dots talking).  Anyway, check her out, and you can also find the recipe for this cake there.

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I was really happy with how easy this recipe was- the hardest part was splitting the batter evenly, as I made three mini loaf pans.  They were 3 inches by 5 3/4 inches, and took 27 minutes to bake.  I chose to omit the poppy seeds, becasue they’re not my favorite thing in the world, and also because I didn’t have any.  The only other little change I made was to use some simple syrup I already had in place of the syrup we were supposed to make with orange juice.  I didn’t think the orange taste in this bread was as strong as I had expected, so next time I think I’ll actually use the orange syrup, or maybe a little bit of orange extract in the batter.  However, the orange I used in the batter didn’t have that super strong orange smell when I cut it, so it might have just been the orange.

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All in all, though, I really enjoyed this.  It was more dense than I expected, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I loved how citrus-y it made my apartment smell, and I was happy with how well it divided into three loaves.  I have one out now, and I think I’m going to take the other two home this weekend, one for my parents and one for my grandparents.  I wonder what could be mixed in mixed in with this besides poppy seeds?

Check out the rest of the SMS’ers at the blogroll and see what everyone else is up to.  And if you’re interested, we’re baking out of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy- you should really go pick up a copy!


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Thin-Crust Pizza

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Has everyone seen the newest Harry Potter movie yet?  My good friend Dana is in town and we saw it last night.  I have to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed with it.  The movie itself was very good, don’t get me wrong, but we were both really disappointed with how many major scenes were left out, and how many others were created just for the movie.  On the other hand, we got a kick out of all the one-liners, Harry’s behavior after drinking the Felix Felicius (he acts like he’s on drugs!), and the first “Slug Club” dinner.  We’re really excited that the last book is being split into two movies.

But, back to the food.  A few weeks ago Mike and I were craving pizza, but we have very different ideas as to what constitutes a good pizza- I like thicker crusts, and he likes ultra-thin.  Fortunately, the internet delivered a recipe for a thin-crust pizza dough that doesn’t require several hours of prep time.  This dough comes together in about 20 minutes because it doesn’t require a rise time.  I feel like next time I might let the dough rise a bit, then punch it down and make two separate pizzas because the dough seemed really dense to me, but Mike loved it, so I guess it’s just personal preference.  The only real problem I had with this dough was that it needed to be kneaded for more than two minutes.  After two minutes, it wasn’t at all elastic and just tore when I tried to stretch it.  I probably kneaded the dough for at least 6 minutes, just until it was elastic enough to stretch.  I think next I’ll have to try a recipe for ultra thin, crispy, cracker-like crust.  Does anyone have one they like?

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Combine your water, sugar, and yeast, and let set for eight minutes.  If your yeast has no reaction, throw it out and try again.

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While you wait for the yeast, prep all of your ingredients.

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Combine your yeast with the flour and salt.

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Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes.  This was my dough after two minutes, and you can see how it just cracked and split when I tried to stretch it.  Just keep kneading until the dough is elastic.

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Once your dough has been kneaded, spread it out on a greased pizza stone that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.  If you don’t have a pizza stone, a cookie sheet will work, but you might want to try doubling up cookie sheets.

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Spread the pizza with your sauce…

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And add your toppings.  Mike likes sausage and sometimes jalapenos (although he also had pepperoni this time), and I love pepperoni and black olives.

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If you’re me, add an ungodly amount of cheese- it’s ok, my dad is from Wisconsin.  Please know that if you use this much cheese, your pizza will most likely spill out into the bottom of your oven, burn, and force you to clean the oven.  And in the background is the oven thermometer that my oven killed… may it rest in peace.

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It was worth it, though!  Also, please remember to rotate your pizza halfway through its cooking time, or it may end up looking like mine…!

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This crust wasn’t super thin and crispy like I was expecting, but we still had a really good ratio of crust-to-sauce-to-toppings.

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

adapted from Robbie’s Recipes

1/4 oz. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. warm water (about 110 degrees F.)
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Sauce, toppings, and cheeses as desired

1) Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Allow to rest for eight minutes.
2) Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
3) Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
4) Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for two minutes. I had to knead for at least 6 minutes for the dough to become elastic enough to work with.
5) Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12-inch circle.  You can also hold the dough in the air and use gravity to stretch it, making sure to rotate the dough the whole time.
6) Place the dough on a lightly greased pizza pan and stretch to the edges. For a really crisp crust, sprinkle the pan with cornmeal after you grease it.
7) Top the dough with whatever sauce, toppings, and cheeses you want.  Bake in a 500 degree oven until the edges are golden, about 8-12 minutes. I had a lot of toppings and had to bake this a bit longer than that.  Just keep an eye on it and take it out when it looks done.


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Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

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When I was pretty young, maybe six or seven, my family’s summer trip was to a small town in Wisconsin where we spent several days at a bed and breakfast.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the trip, aside from our room having a lofted section, which was just the coolest thing ever, and a fishfry that took place late into one night at the building next door.  My strongest memory, however, is of the raspberries.  It was in the middle of berry season, and there were raspberries everywhere.  They were the biggest berries I’d ever seen in my life, and the sweetest, too.  One morning for breakfast, I just had a big bowl of raspberries, blueberries, and whipped cream- because you can do that when you’re six and on vacation.  My family remembers the raspberries well, and my dad claims they’re the best he’s ever had in his life.  And to this day, raspberries are one of my favorite fruits.

So when I saw this recipe for raspberry buttermilk cake on Smitten Kitchen, I was, well, smitten.  In addition to being full of my favorite fruit, which happened to be on sale for a steal, it didn’t have too much butter or sugar, so the berries would really shine through.  After I made it, I’d say it’s pretty heavenly.  It’s not overly sweet, and is very tender.  It was even still good a couple days later, although it was best the first day.  I think it would be perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but want to know a secret?  I ate it on its own for breakfast, and that was fine by me!

The only change I made to the recipe was to bake it in four 4-inch pans, which baked for about 19-25 minutes.  If you want to make the recipe in 4-inch pans, though, I’d say be really careful on the bake times, because my oven’s a little bit crazy so I don’t know how accurate those times are.  My first two were done in 19 minutes, but the second two were still liquid at that point.  If you don’t feel like dealing with that, just bake the cake in the 9-inch pan.  Just go make this cake, now!  Sub in whatever berries or fruit you like best if you’re not a big raspberry person.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

from Gourmet magazine, via Smitten Kitchen with my changes in italics

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 ounces)

1) Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. I used four 4-inch diameter Springform pans.

2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3) Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer (by hand) at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

4) At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined. I missed this step and just added the buttermilk all at once, then the dry ingredients.

5) Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

6) Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes (19-25 minutes). Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.


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SMS: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust

Whew!  What a name!  This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe was chosen by Eliana of A Chica Bakes.  Run over and visit her and check out her wonderful recipes, including a selection of Latin favorites!  Unfortunately for this recipe, I’ve never been much of a cheesecake person, which is completely sacrilegious (according to my mother, anyway).  In any event, I skipped this week’s recipe, but I pinkie promise I’ll be back next week!  If you want to see what everyone else thought of the cheesecake, check out our blogroll.  I do think I’m going to have to try this cornmeal crust in place of a graham cracker crust sometime soon!  I think it might be a nice contrast in a key lime pie.

Also, hopefully I’ll have a post up later today about what I’ve been up to- it does involve fresh berries, in keeping with this weeks’ SMS theme.  I just have to track down my camera first, it seems to have run off on me…

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