Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Amaranth and Honey Bread #BreadBakers

Amaranth and Honey Bread is sweet with a hint of orange zest with a delicate texture from cooked amaranth. Spread with marmalade its a great addition to the weekend morning lineup!

I adore my pantry of many strange and wonderful grains and flours. While most of them I found either at the Bulk Barn or local Asian grocery, I also saved up for when Mom and I would go to the St. Lawrence Market in the summer to buy one of my favourite specialty flours: amaranth. In retrospect, it's actually funny for me to wax poetic about this grain, as Nightwish (one of my new favourite Spotify finds) has a song called Amaranth that N loved long before I knew they existed. It's become somewhat of an anthem for us, and I couldn't think of a better celebratory bread to bake up for Bread With Seeds this month!

While amaranth is looked on as a grain by most people, like quinoa it's actually a seed that can be treated as a grain (i.e. boiled, puffed, or ground). As I've been staying gluten free personally due to skin and digestive issues, I've been enjoying amaranth as cereal and pressed with rice into rice cake / crackers all summer as it has a lightly nutty, buttery taste. When I stumbled across a recipe pairing the flavourful seed with honey on Melangery, I couldn't wait to try it out as Mom (the resident breadaholic) loves that flavour combination as well.

I did make a few changes to the loaf as I went along, and was pleased overall with the results. I soaked the grains rather than boiled them since I had time to spare and didn't want mushy grains in my bread. Butter became a mixture of sesame oil (for flavour) and canola oil for balance, and I used soy milk due to it's beneficial effect on the yeast activity. The rising took longer than a standard loaf as it is a heavy dough, but the flavour was worth every minute spent hovering over the bowl. Lastly, I upped the amount of honey because we love it's flavour and browning capacity.

The loaf came out of the oven crusty and smelling amazing from all the various seeds toasting. Visually, it's a stunning loaf with the sun-like design sliced into the top, and after it cooled (an agonizing wait!) each slice was dense but moist and perfect for smearing honey or jam on in the morning. It's a shame that amaranth flour is still a bit on the pricey side or I'd be making this every week!


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Garlicky Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade spaghetti sauce is really easy to make, and while you won't get a lot from a garden's worth of tomatoes the flavour of each drop is well worth the labour!

Well, the tomatoes have finally come in - well, most of them anyway. I actually really lucked out this year and had almost all my garden produce ripen on cue - I suddenly had the makings of a classic spaghetti sauce on my hands! With my copy of The Canning Kitchen by Amy Bronee on hand, I gathered up all the ingredients I needed from the garden and pantry and set to work! Five hours after making the first slice into a tomato, I was rewarded with this jar - four cups - of deeply flavourful, thick and rich tomato sauce. Does it seem like a bit of a rip off (when I started with 6 lbs of tomatoes)? Kind of, but at the same time I know that every last speck of effort that went into it - from the planting of the seedlings for the tomatoes, herbs, onions and garlic to the chopping and measuring to the final can - will be appreciated and can be tasted. This is no canned or jarred sauce, although they have their place. Nope, this jar is being saved for a spaghetti and meatball dinner or a homemade lasagna shared with loved ones. I owe the garden that much at least!

Also, don't freak out at the amount of garlic in this recipe. Yes, there are 6 cloves in that one jar. But they cook for so long at such a low temperature that they mellow and add a nuanced flavour to the recipe, without the sharp bite of the bulb. Egyptian onions are best equated to a cross between shallots and green onions, and you can certainly use shallots or even a white onion in this recipe instead. I left the tomato seeds in (we aren't picky) but you can mill your sauce if that's a no-go for you! No pressure canner? Freeze it! The options are endless, truly.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Number One Giant Cashew Cookie

Because everyone deserves to be told they're #1 in somebody's eyes! This giant cookie is made with cashew butter and dotted with mini chocolate chips. Using egg yolks keeps the cookie rich and chewy too - and did I mention its flourless?

I think that the "little guy" doesn't always get the credit and celebration he deserves. Yes, I agree that doctors, firefighters, police officers and the military have difficult jobs, and they deserve respect. However, the supporting staff behind the scenes keep towns and businesses running. I am not going to use this post to tout the lack of recognition that teachers get. Rather, I made this cookie to celebrate a milestone for N - 10 years as a security guard.

Now some people will roll their eyes at this. But the work is hard, boring and thankless - not to mention the strange and ever changing shifts they are subjected to. N has more tenure than the other 3 guards at his site combined, and seeing as he started as a fresh faced 21 year old that's saying something! While his work "gave" him a pin (left on top of a filing cabinet with papers for days before he went in for something unrelated), I wanted to celebrate with him and acknowledge his work... and what better way to say "hooray" than with a big, personalized cookie? To be fair, I also made him and I cake...because cake. The cookie is huge, richly flavoured and perfect to share should you be so inclined, or spread over many snack times with a glass of milk or coffee. It also has blissfully few ingredients and is vegan and gluten free (depending on the chocolate you use). The icing on the top makes the cookie a "special occasion" treat, but if I was making this for myself or kids to share after school I honestly wouldn't bother. 

Also, feel free to use any nut butter you desire - I had the dregs of a jar of cashew butter to use up, but the original used peanut butter and I am eyeing my jar of almond butter to try as well. Just make sure it's a "no-stir" variety to eliminate oil oozing out and making dry, ugly cookies. Not a fan of chocolate? Add sprinkles, nuts, raisins...whatever! It's your cookie!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Mashed Potato Quick Bread

The crumb of this Potato Quick Bread is so soft and moist you'd expect it to contain a pound of butter - but it has no added fat and it's vegan! Not to mention it can be on the table in under an hour.

There is honestly not one scrap of my being that doesn't miss biting into good, warm, homemade bread. While my days of eating loaves, rolls and cinnamon buns are over (thank you, autoimmune), I still enjoy making bread for my friends and family, and with the kids at work! When it comes to breadmaking in Home Economics class, speed and ease are key, as is thriftiness - hence the creation of this crackly-crusted, moist loaf. After my classes made chocolate potato truffles for what seems like the millionth time (they all love them, and I can't believe I haven't posted the recipe after 6 years of making them!) I found myself with a rather large amount of potatoes left over. Well, not one to waste food (or my school's money), I Googled and came up with a recipe for a quick, one bowl bread using mashed potatoes and blissfully few other ingredients. Mixing the dough was absolutely no work for me, and when I set my (older) kids free to follow their recipe while I was hands off they made equally excellent results that they were quite proud of! It is, I dare say, even easier than Irish Soda Bread, and tastier to boot!

This loaf, when warm from the oven, tastes exactly like the biscuits from Red Lobster. Even when there is no garlic, cheese, butter or herbs in sight, it is unmistakably similar in both flavour and texture. Even my sister had to agree, and if it passes her picky taste test I know it's got to be good!

If you are trying to get your kids (or yourself) into baking, I strongly recommend this loaf as a jumping-off point. Who knows, you may catch the bug like me! Also, for the simplest of simple recipes, use a digital scale. Consistent results every time and one less thing to wash!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Spiced Superfruit Jam - Toast Topper #85

This Spiced Superfruit Jam is a decadent mix of blackberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries softly spiced with a hint of cinnamon and cloves. With less sugar than standard jams, its a Toast Topper you can feel great about enjoying!

It feels good to be back in the canning kitchen again! I took a bit of a break last Summer (life and school got in the way) and now that the new year is almost upon us I'll be wrapping up my slew of canned goodies (that you can see on IG) as well. This year was a shockingly good one for Ontario produce, and I'd be a fool not to preserve it for a long winter's worth of pancakes, waffles and toast!

Like with most things, I prefer my jams not to be cloyingly sweet and want the fruity taste to come through full force. I have found two low-sugar pectins (the stuff that makes jam gel, if you don't make jam usually) that I love and buy them en masse when they're on sale. The first (and cheapest outright) is Bernardin (which may only be available in Canada, I can't find it on Amazon, but I have used Ball as well), which churns out about 6 cups of jam per packet. The second is Pomona's, which allows the batch size of various jams to be customized based on the amount of fruit you have. I've made as little as one jar of jam with it and as much as 12!

I also really enjoy playing with the flavours of my jams. Even though the fruit is always first and foremost, adding complementary flavours is a great way to add interest and an aspect not available from storebought preserves. I pulled out my copy of The Flavor Bible to help me this year, resulting in the addition of cinnamon and cloves to accent the tart-sweet berry notes. A spoonful of this jam tastes like a less tannic mulled wine, and I have it on good authority that a dab of it on sharp Cheddar topping a cracker is pretty darn good!