Category Archives: Bread

Corn Tortillas: Homemade Goodness


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It does not get any easier than a recipe with only two ingredients.  Making fresh corn tortillas is a simple way to add new interest to familiar recipes.  The technique may take a little practice, but it is worth the learning curve when you sink your teeth into authenticity. The soft texture and sweet corn flavor do more than just make the filling easier to eat with your hands—it makes it memorable.

Corn Tortillas

Serves: 4
2             cups  masa harina flour
1 1/3     cups  warm water

Stir masa harina and water together until dough holds together in a ball. Turn onto a working surface lightly dusted with masa harina. Knead quickly into a smooth ball. Divide dough into twelve pieces, keep covered with plastic wrap.  Trim the seams of a gallon size Ziploc bag so you have two sheets of plastic or use wax paper.

Roll one piece of dough into a ball. Place between two sheets of plastic or wax paper and flatten slightly. Press tortillas (still in wax paper/plastic) in a tortilla press until tortilla measures 5-6 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, stacking tortillas under a damp tea towel until ready for use.

When ready to cook the tortillas, preheat a seasoned cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. Heat the tortillas on skillet or griddle, turning frequently until it looks dry and has a golden color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Keep warm on a plate loosely covered with a towel.

If you do not have a tortilla press: Set 1 ball of dough between the sheets of plastic or wax paper. Using a skillet or a rolling pin, flatten the tortilla to a 5-inch round. Peel off the plastic or wax paper and set the tortilla on the hot skillet or griddle.


Test Kitchen Bonus: Bacon Irish Soad Bread


Image by plusonetwo via Flickr

While preparing to tackle the Test Kitchen Tuesday recipes I stumbled across this recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet for Bacon Irish Soda Bread—honestly, it had me at Bacon (the photo is amazing too).  According to Jim Gaffigan, bacon is the fairy dust of the food world, making everything better!

I thought I would pass it along in case you were still looking for something Irish to celebrate today. The recipe calls for soaking the flour, which if you start early this morning you still have time to make it for dinner tonight, or you may decide to skip the soaking process just this once.  If you already have a soda bread recipe, you may just include this bacon technique for a new twist on an old favorite.

If you make it, let me know what you think and I will be sure to pass along the feedback.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Bacon Irish Soda Bread

Source: The Nourishing Gourmet
(makes one large loaf)

4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup of rolled oatmeal
1/4 cup of butter, or coconut oil
1 ½ cups of buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons of unrefined salt.
8 slices of bacon

Bake 450 degrees for 15 minutes, and then 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes more 20 minutes plus ten minutes, plus ten (cover with foil), plus another ten.

1) The night before combine the flour and oatmeal and cut in the butter, shortening or coconut oil. Add the buttermilk or the water and vinegar. Gently mix together. If too dry to form a soft ball, add more water or buttermilk until the consistency is a soft dough. You do not want it to be tough or dry otherwise it will be too hard to work with in the next step. Cover airtight using a lid on a bowl or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place overnight.

2) The next morning, place your dough on the counter and flatten. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the dough and gently knead into a ball, until you feel that the salt and baking soda is distributed. Form into a ball and then press out into a round shape about 2 inches high. Cut a cross on the top and then crisscross the bacon over the top. Place on a buttered baking sheet.

3) Put in the oven for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 400 degrees. Cook for another 30 minutes. Cover with foil, if needed and then cook until done (about another 10 to 20 minutes). You will know it’s done when it’s nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow when knocked.

4) Cool on a cooling rack. This tastes best when warm, not hot. (cool for about 30-45 minutes).Cut into thick slices, and then cut in half for a serving size.

Cornbread [Whole Grain]

Whole Grain Cornbread

Do you ever comparison shop?  Well, I often comparison surf, especially when it comes to refining recipes. Many of my recipes I consider tried and true, but I am always open for suggestions to improve technique, flavor, or nutritional value.  Surfing for cornbread recipes will lead you on an endless journey considering regional differences, add-ins, and baking preferences (some folks swear by cast iron).  I look for cornbread to complement a meal, not try to stand on its own, so I prefer it plain, yet moist, ready to receive a slather of butter—add a drizzle of honey and dessert is taken care of too.

Most cornbread recipes call for equal amounts of cornmeal and all-purpose flour, which produce cake-like bread.  Since we choose to eat only whole-grain products, white flour is not a consideration, so we use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour or grind the grain fresh.  Using whole wheat flour can make the flavor a little wheaty, so I adjust the ratio to include more cornmeal than wheat flour.  For an even healthier version, the second recipe (below) includes a soaked-grain method.  Want more information about soaking grains and soaked grain breads? Visit:

This is a great tasting cornbread recipe whether you use regular flour, soaked grain, add-ins, cast iron—it’s up to you—just be sure you have butter and honey close-by.  Our favorite meal to serve it with is Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup.

Are there add-ins you just cannot imagine cornbread without?  Is there a certain meal you must serve with fresh cornbread?

Please share your ideas and favorites by leaving a comment—thanks!

Cornbread [Whole Wheat]

1 1/4     cups  whole-grain cornmeal — not degerminated
3/4        cup  freshly ground flour -or-
King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
4             teaspoons  baking powder
1/2        teaspoon  sea salt
1/4        cup  honey
2             whole  eggs — beaten
1             cup  buttermilk
1/4        cup  butter or coconut oil — melted

Preheat oven to 400° Mix salt and baking powder with the cornmeal and flour until well combined.  Add beaten eggs, milk, melted butter, and honey to dry ingredients and mix only until moistened.

Pour into a greased 9×9 pan and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Allow to rest in the pan after baking for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.

Cornbread [WW Soaked Method]

1 1/4    cups  whole-grain cornmeal — not degerminated
3/4       cup  freshly ground flour -or-
King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1             cup  buttermilk or plain yogurt
3            teaspoons  baking powder
1            teaspoon  baking soda
1/2       teaspoon  sea salt
1/4       cup  honey
2            whole  eggs — beaten
1/4       cup  butter or coconut oil — melted

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix cornmeal and flour together with buttermilk or yogurt until moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 12-24 hours in a warm place (in the oven with just the oven light on is ideal).

Once the grain has soaked, add the baking powder, baking soda, beaten eggs, melted butter, and honey; mix well.

Pour into a greased 9×9 pan and bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes. Allow to rest in the pan after baking for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.








Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday

Blueberry Christmas Stollen

For as long as I can remember, my mom made what she called Stollen every year at Christmas. Traditionalists would not recognize our family’s rendition since Stollen is similar to fruitcake. Ours would be described best as a pastry with its tender sweet roll dough cradling fresh or canned fruit, nuts, and spices and sweet glaze topping.

Shaped like a Swedish Tea Ring, it makes a beautiful presentation.  Smaller rings can be made for holiday gifts or afternoon tea with friends.

Blueberry Christmas Stollen

1/2  recipe  Sweet Roll Dough (see below)
1      can  Wilderness More Fruit Blueberry Pie Filling
2      tablespoons butter
1/2  cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
parchment paper (optional)

1      cup powdered sugar
1      tablespoon milk
1/4  teaspoon almond extract – or – 1/2 vanilla extract

Put pie filling in a colander with fairly large holes.  Shake colander from side to side to remove as much filling as you can so that mainly the fruit remains.  Lightly chop berries to make a very chunky paste.

Roll 1/2 Sweet Roll Dough into rectangle, 15×9 inches, on a lightly floured surface.  Spread blueberries over dough leaving 1 inch clear of edge of dough; dot with butter.  Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side.  Pinch edge of dough to seal well. Gently stretch roll to make even.

Shape into a ring on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down (if not using parchment paper, butter baking sheet).  Pinch ends together to seal ring.  With scissors, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals.  Gently separate the sections just a little.  Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 375° (if using sliced almonds, this is a good time to toast them while waiting for pastry to rise).  Optional egg wash: Just before baking, whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of cream together (milk or water can also be used). Using a pastry brush, gently brush the stollen with the egg wash to give the finished pastry a shiny, golden appearance.

Bake stollen until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes of baking; if ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil while it finishes baking.

Remove from baking sheet onto wire rack to cool.  Once cooled, glaze and sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds, if desired.

GLAZE:  Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 almond extract until glaze is smooth.  Place in a Ziploc® bag and press down toward a bottom corner.  Snip the corner when you are ready to glaze and simply squeeze desired amount of glaze onto ring.

Store in loosely wrapped aluminum foil or in a storage container with the lid slightly askew so the dough doesn’t become too moist.

Sweet Roll Dough

1         package  active dry yeast
1/2     cup  warm water
1/2     cup  lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3     cup  sugar
1/2     cup  butter, softened but not melted
1         teaspoon  salt
1         whole  egg
3 3/4  cups  all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour.  Mix until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough.  Shape, let rise and bake as directed.

Do-ahead Tip:  After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.

Note: For  wheat dough, substitute half of the flour with King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour.

Whole Wheat French Bread [Soaked Method]

Since our soaked grain adventure began a few months ago, the one bread I have missed more than any is French bread.  Unable to find any recipe on-line that used authentic cooking methods for this type of bread which included soaking the grain, I decided to try to convert a basic recipe found on Famous French Desserts.

Understanding that whole wheat creates a softer texture than white flour, I did not expect the loaf to have the same crunch to the exterior nor the same airy interior of French bread made with white flour.  However, as much as we want to eat food that is good for us, it has to taste good too. This recipe accomplished both goals, so I was very pleased with the results. I used half hard white winter wheat and half Kamut flour for this recipe, although I did note that you can use King Arthur White Whole Wheat if you do not have a grain mill.

Baking the bread with a pan of water to replicate the steam ovens used in French baking helped to create a crust that had pull and was pleasantly chewy.  The interior was soft with a mild wheat flavor that yielded to the bright green tang of the extra-virgin olive oil we used for dipping.  Garlic bread, bruschetta, rosemary bread for warm brie, all come from a basic French loaf and I look forward to these delights once again—a healthier version that not only tastes good, but is good for us.

Whole Wheat French Bread
(Soaked Method) Yields 2 loaves

4 cups freshly milled flour -or-
King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. kefir or whey
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. dough conditioner
1 tbsp. wheat gluten
1 tbsp. active yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
2 cups warm water

1. In a bowl, mix together 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 3/4 cups water, olive oil, and kefir until flour is moistened.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot (above 70°), or in the oven with the oven light on.  Allow to soak for 12-24 hours.
2. In another bowl, combine yeast, 1/4 cup warm water (100-110°), and honey. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes until bubbly.
3. In a mixer, add soaked flour, yeast, dough conditioner, gluten, and salt. Mix on low speed until well incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and knead with the mixer for 8-10 minutes. This dough is quite soft so using a mixer works better than hand kneading.
4. Dough will be slightly sticky; don’t be tempted to add more flour.
5. Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the oven with the oven light on. Let rise for 1 hour until double in size. Remove from oven.
6. Place a shallow pan of hot water in the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°.
7. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and gently knead again. Divide dough into two parts. Roll each half between your hands and the counter to stretch the dough into a long loaf shape.  Place on a baking sheet or in a baguette pan (see photo). Slice the tops of the loaves diagonally about 1/4″ deep with a razor blade or sharp knife.  Let rise for at least 20 minutes.
8. Bake baguettes for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan of water, turn oven off and allow bread to remain in the oven for 3-5 more minutes of baking. Watch closely to prevent baguettes from becoming too brown.

Optional: Use 1 egg white and 1 tbsp cold water to brush on loaves after removing the pan of water and before returning to oven for 5 minutes.  This will give the crust a shiny finish as shown below.

Shaped for smaller French rolls and fishished with an egg wash.

For more info on the nutritional benefits of soaked grains, click here.

This recipe also shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday

Soaked-Wheat Dinner Rolls

Healthy Holiday Menu Choices

Adorning tables across our country during the holidays, bread is comforting and satisfying. Loving everything about bread—the aroma as it bakes, its perfect texture with butter or virgin olive oil—I wish it were as good for me as vegetables. While it will never reach the nutritional heights of the veggie tray, if chosen carefully, bread can be an enriching element of our holiday meal, rather than the empty-carb-diet-busting cheat we regret.

In the journey toward optimal health, sprouted or soaked whole grain products have become the standard in our home. As the holidays inch closer, we are determined to not compromise while also enjoying long-standing traditions. This led me to revamp an old recipe for dinner rolls into a healthier, soaked version we could feel good about.

Two adjustments in this common recipe recreate a holiday staple that is as nourishing as it is comforting.  Mashed sweet potatoes are a substitute for regular mashed potatoes. This subtle change incorporates all the added nutritional value of sweet potatoes, while also decreasing the amount of sugar needed.

Soaking the wheat flour breaks down the phytic acid, which can act as an anti-nutrient if untreated. Phytic acid in grain combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc preventing their absorption. Soaking or sprouting the grain before baking neutralizes this acid, releasing the full benefit of the grain. This simple step also aids digestion, avoiding that too-full feeling often experienced after eating bread products.

Foodie that I am, it is vital to prepare food that is not only healthy, but tastes good too.  This dinner roll recipe accomplishes that goal, ready just in time for our Thanksgiving feast.

Soaked-Wheat Dinner Rolls

5        c  freshly ground whole wheat flour
2        c  all-purpose flour
1        tsp dough conditioner*
1 ½   tsp salt
1 ½   c  warm water
3        tbsp whey, kefir, or buttermilk (warm)
1        c  warm mashed sweet potatoes
1/3    c  palm coconut sugar or honey
2/3    c  butter, softened
2        whole eggs
1        pkg  active dry yeast

1.  Peel and cut sweet potato into 1” cubes; boil until soft. Mash until no lumps remain.

2.  Grind wheat berries into flour, sift to remove any large pieces, and measure.

3.  Mix 5 cups ground flour with salt, dough conditioner, sugar, 1 ¼ cup warm water (other ¼ cup is for dissolving the yeast), whey, mashed sweet potatoes, and butter in a mixer or food processor. Mix until well incorporated.

4.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place at least 12 hours. Overnight in an oven with the oven light on is a good spot.

5.  After allowing the dough to soak in this manner, it is now ready to mix with the yeast and eggs. Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup of warm water with 1 tsp. honey.  With a mixer, stir yeast and eggs into dough.  Add all-purpose flour, ½ cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball; continue kneading dough about 8 minutes. The dough will be tacky, wheat dough can become dry if too much flour is added.

6.  Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until double, about an hour.

7.  Punch dough down and shape into rolls in a 9×13 pan or use muffin tins to make clover or pull-apart rolls. Brush with melted butter and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

8.  Bake at 375° and until golden brown, 20-25 minutes in a 9×13 pan, 15 minutes in muffin tins. Makes approximately 2 dozen dinner rolls.

*Notes: The natural dough conditioner I use contains datem, ascorbic acid, l-cystine, enzymes, and wheat flour. Other natural dough conditioners include lecithin, gluten, and ginger.

On-line resources for sprouting or soaking grains:

Judy Purcell on Foodista