One Loaf to Rule Them All

I have finally found it. The homemade loaf from the bread machine that is light and fluffy, but chewy with a soft crust.  It is the closest I have ever gotten to the texture of store bought, but still shining through with the flavor of homemade. I could go on and on about this bread, but I won’t.  You just need to go make it.

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Chewy Sandwich Bread

Adapted from Melanie Cooks.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups half & half
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Directions

Warm half & half in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until it feels warm (not hot) to the touch. Combine all ingredients in your bread machine in the order specified by the manufacturer.

  • Cycle: Basic/White bread
  • Loaf size: 1.5lb
  • Crust: Light

Allow to cool thoroughly before slicing.

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Homemade Hot Dog Buns

It finally happened.  I’ve been thinking about trying homemade hot dog buns for yearsWhen we all decided that hot dogs were what was for dinner, I had the chance.  Hot dog buns are not something I keep on hand.  So, I hit up Pinterest, looked over a few recipes, picked one, modified it, and hoped for the best.  The results?  Delicious!

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They are fluffy and chewy with great texture.  The bit of whole wheat makes them more filling than your average $1/bag buns from the store. I made mine as directed, going with 3oz of dough per bun for 16 buns.  That proportion made fairly large buns which were a tad big for our turkey dogs. I think next time, I would make smaller buns and greater quantity.  This recipe also lends itself well to hamburger buns with the addition of an egg wash and sesame seeds.

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You can crunch the time of the second rise by warming up your oven a bit and then turning it off and putting the dough in.  I have a “keep warm” setting on my oven that heats it to 170º.  I turned that on while I was portioning the dough out and then turned it off and let the dough rise with the door closed.  They were perfect size in less than 30 minutes.  I also used the dough setting on my bread machine to do the work of the mixing and first rise.  If you don’t have a bread machine, just use a stand mixer and follow basic bread dough procedure through the first rise.

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

Adapted from this recipe at Baking Obsession.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups half & half, warmed slightly
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Directions

For Hot Dog Buns:

Add all ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer and set for dough cycle.  After the dough cycle is complete, portion your dough out into 20 equal portions (roughly 2.5oz each) and shape into logs.  (I shaped mine like rolls (folding all the edges under and pinching them together) before rolling into logs.)  

Place on a greased 9×13″ sheet pan and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled and dough is touching.  Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes.  Buns should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing.

For Hamburger Buns:

Follow same procedure as hot dog buns until shaping, portioning into 16 equal pieces (approx. 3oz each).  Shape into rounds and flatten slightly.  Place on a greased 9×13 sheet pan and allow to rise about 30 minutes in a warm place.  Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1tbsp water or milk) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake at 375º for 25-30 minutes.  Buns should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing.

Both types of buns are best eaten the same day and will last shorter than store-bought buns.  They freeze nicely, warming up in the microwave in 15-30 seconds.

A Lovely Loaf

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Take a moment to drink in that beautiful bit of bread.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Good.

I recently picked up the Better Homes & Gardens The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking for a whopping $4 (used, from Goodwill online via Amazon).  When I received it, I noted that pages had been dog-eared and took that as a good omen.  That beauty above is the first loaf from this book and it did not disappoint!  It is the basic White Bread, the first recipe in the book.

The description states, “This tender classic with its golden crust and delicate flavor is the bread supermarket loaves aspire to be.”

This loaf lives up to that lofty expectation.  It is soft and light and delicious.  When I gave Sam a slice to try, Rex stole it from him and ran away.  It’s that good.

Loaf specs: 

  • “White Bread” from BHG Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking
  • 1.5lb loaf
  • Basic bread setting
  • Light crust

Cinnamon + Raisin + Bread = Awesome

I was browsing TasteSpotting in my Google Reader today and happened across this amazing recipe for Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread.  With my several week craving for cinnamon rolls, I figured this bread would do the trick.  (For some reason, I didn’t want to actually make cinnamon rolls.  I’m not exactly sure why…)

It not only looks cool, but it tastes amazing!  I made three very slight modifications to the recipe because of ingredients on hand.  I used half & half instead of milk (we’d just run out), used half wheat flour, and raw sugar instead of white sugar.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written.

Don’t let the length of the recipe instructions scare you.  It’s really written out for someone who is newer to bread baking.  For the most part, it’s a very basic bread recipe with a twist at the end where you roll it out and put the filling in.  I hate rolling dough out and even for me this was easy.

It’s worth the effort.  Trust me.

Tortilla Cracker-Chips

The original goal was to make homemade tortilla chips.  But the consistency doesn’t come out quite right for that.  Instead, these warm pieces of floury, salty goodness are not quite crackers, but not quite chips.  


Tortilla Cracker-Chips

Ingredients: 

  • 4 soft taco sized flour tortillas
  • Kosher salt
  • Coconut oil
Directions:

Use a pizza cutter to slice tortillas into fairly uniform pieces.  Spread pieces out on a cookie sheet and brush with oil. (Or, you can place the pieces in a lidded container or zip top bag, pour in the oil, and shake.)  Sprinkle salt to taste.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is reached.  Remove from pan and consume as soon as they are cool enough to handle.

Notes:

  • You could put salt and pepper or cinnamon and sugar or whatever flavor you like on your crackers/chips.  Go crazy and experiment!
  • If you sub in corn tortillas, you may need to adjust your cooking time.
  • Coconut oil is not essential, but it was what we had on hand and was delicious.
  • This is totally cheaper than buying a bag of tortilla chips from the store.  I buy my tortillas in bulk (a large 3 pack) at Costco and then freeze them, thawing as needed.

(Confession: I made these originally on Tuesday night, but didn’t get any photos before they were scarfed down in their entirety.  So I had to make another batch.  The things I do for the blog…)

Agave Nectar Cookies

Agave nectar is a great sugar substitute.  It’s low on the glycemic index and made from the same plant that gives us tequila.  When I was doing a weird nutritionist-prescribed allergy diet, I became really good friends with this golden sweetener.  During that time, I purchased the Baking with Agave Nectar cookbook.  (Sadly, I haven’t used it as much as I should.)  Last week, I took advantage of its handy location on the shelf and made Oatmeal Raisin cookies.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, only modifying it by adding coconut (I was low on raisins).

Anyway… let me get off my sweetener substitution soapbox and show you the cookies already.

Aren’t they pretty?  They were a little bit stickier than normal cookies and they don’t bake after freezing quite as well, but the taste makes up for those shortcomings.  Plus, you can pretend they’re “healthy” because they are made with whole wheat flour.  Woot!