Monday, October 16, 2017

Cranberry, Walnut and Wild Rice Loaf for #wbd2017

This crusty, delightfully chewy whole grain loaf is loaded with Canadian flavour, and is so hearty that a slice of two are great for packing on a hike or long car ride.

Cranberry, Walnut and Wild Rice Loaf

I can't believe it's been another year. I love the annual World Bread Day roundups by Zorra, and always do my best to come up with a loaf to share. I have to admit, though - I almost didn't make it this year! I'm in the middle of writing term papers for the first year of my sociology program at university (yup, back at the education thing again) and this blog (and cooking in general) has sadly been shifted to the back burner. It's not quite stuck in the warming drawer, but for a little while at least my posts definitely won't be as frequent.

However, when the school thing with all its deadlines, coupled with the work thing and it's responsibilities, gets just too much, I bust out the breadmaking routine. Nothing eases tension like crafting loaves of bread. Its such a soothing, creative process... and a tasty one at that. This time around I settled on a very "Canadian" themed loaf inspired by a chef on the TV channel Gusto. The original bread is a lofty boule with chopped walnuts and cooked wild rice. Mine, although it didn't rise as high, had the added flavour elements of flaxseed, dried cranberries and walnut oil, and uses less honey in favour of the addition of maple sugar. A slice of it, smeared with walnut-almond butter (we just mixed walnut and almond butters together) makes for a chewy, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that's full of brain food for the day, Omega-3s and complex carbs to keep you going. For lunch, I ate the leftover wild rice with the dried cranberries, garlic and mushrooms, because why not?

The best part about this loaf is that its a big one, so I know that I'll have lots of leeway between bake fests. As much as I hate to put them off!

Cranberry, Walnut and Wild Rice Loaf
Makes one large loaf, 24 slices
1 cup warm water
1 ½ cups warm 1% milk
¼ cup honey
¼ cup maple sugar
2 tbsp walnut oil
2 cups flour
4 cups whole wheat bread flour
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 cup cooked wild rice, temperature
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  1. Whisk together the water, milk, honey, sugar and oil in a cup, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flours, flaxseed, yeast and salt.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients and knead with the dough hook until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.
  5. Punch dough down and knead in rice and walnuts.
  6. Shape into a round and place on a cornmeal-dusted, rimless cookie sheet.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  8. Heat the oven (ideally with a baking stone) to 375F.
  9. Slide loaf off the sheet onto the stone (or place sheet in the oven) and bake ~50 minutes, until it registers 200F.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 202.0
Total Fat: 5.7 g
Cholesterol: 1.3 mg
Sodium: 204.4 mg
Total Carbs: 34.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g
Protein: 5.9 g
World Bread Day, October 16, 2017

Didn't bake a bread but want to see all the goodies? Look out for the hashtags #wbd2017 #worldbreadday and #worldbreadday2017 on social media, and check out the founder Zorra's instagram at @zorrakochtopf! You can also follow me, you know - I'm right here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rich Roasted Pie Filling

Richly spiced, roasted apple pie filling. Where's my spoon?

Roasted Apple Pie Filling

When was the last time you dug into an apple pie filling that tasted great, no crust required? When I was a kid, Northern Spy apples were as prevalent in the orchards as the day was long, and when we went picking we were guaranteed at least two huge bagfuls of giant, beautiful fruit. Spies needed no adornment in my mom's pies, save for an occasional sprinkle of cinnamon. They were perfect on their own.

These days, spies are a rarity, and the other suggested substitutes simply aren't as good. The last pie my mom made wound up with a filling of relatively bland, over-softened apples that shrunk down so much it looked like there was hardly any at all. I've tried the old tactics of sauteeing the apples before adding them, etc, but still the results aren't what I was going for.

Then I started roasting them. It started as a fairly quick way to add flavourful fruit to oatmeal, and as I continued to tweak and add layers of flavour I eventually wound up with a pan of delightfully rich-tasting, ever so slightly gooey apples perfect for topping a dessert. In fact, I would have titled this recipe a "dessert sauce" instead of a "pie filling", except that when I gave it out as gifts, the recipients by and large made pies with it - the texture is reminiscent of canned pie filling, although the taste is not as sweet and definitely more multifaceted than commercial products. Us, though - we dug into a jar (or three) and spooned it over yogurt, warmed it up and dolloped it on ice cream (rum raisin ice cream is perfect with this) and even used it in lieu of syrup on Sunday morning pancakes. For Home Ec this year, I'm thinking of making a batch to turn into "apple pie rolls" - essentially stuffed, rolled up pieces of bread baked enchilada-style - or to use over French toast.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sourdough Pain Noir #BreadBakers

This 100% sourdough Pain Noir is stuffed with chocolate, pecans and dates and baked cloche style for an impossibly crispy crust. It is begging for a smear of jam!

Sourdough Pain Noir

I adore sourdough bread. Given the choice, I would pick a loaf made with wild yeast, carefully cultivated for years and slowly leavening dough far and above the fanciest straight-dough loaf. Even things like cinnamon rolls and Chelsea buns get a boost when a little tang is added to the mix. The only thing I probably like in baking more than sourdough is chocolate. Give me some good dark stuff or a scoop of cocoa powder, and I am a happy, happy woman.

So of course, it was natural for me to want to combine the two for this month's Bread Bakers event! This month, the #BreadBakers were challenged to make a bread with either a sourdough starter, a poolish, a biga, a soaker or tangzhong. Obviously, since I had a good ol' starter hanging out in the fridge, I used that, but 75g each of flour and water, plus a pinch of yeast left overnight at room temperature would likely do the trick nicely too. To fulfill my desire for chocolate, I added not only did cocoa powder and chocolate to my lovely, tart sourdough, but dates and pecans fell into the mix too. While there is some sugar in the loaf (cocoa is bitter after all) the bread is in no way cloyingly sweet or "dessert-y". Rather, those I served it to preferred it with either a smear of cream cheese or tart cherry jam (or both) for breakfast, and toasted with salted butter for a snack. Either way, I was glad that it is baked "cloche-style" (AKA in a Dutch oven), because it kept the smell mediated... until you opened the oven!

If you'd like to create your own sourdough starter, you'll start about a month in advance (mine's been going for 9 years!). Here is a great source to get you going and here's how to keep it going. Now, a biga or poolish is not a sourdough starter, but it's similar in that its a mixture of flour, water, and yeast (in this case it's added, rather than wild, yeast). Like sourdough, it's made in advance to develop flavor. A soaker is typically cereals or rye that is soaked in boiled water a day in advance and then added to the bread, so that they don't break your teeth and insome cases are more nutritious.

The odd one out (and the only one I've never tried) is tangzhong. A tangzhong is a mixture of flour and water that is heated to 64 C, cooled, and added to the dough to soften the dough.


#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.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Here's what our group baked up this month:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

With less sugar, calories and fat, and more fibre than a storebought scone, these Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Scones topped with almonds and raw sugar make a great teatime treat!

Healthier Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

Scones are a rarity in this household. Mom and I both adore them (and their cousins, buttermilk biscuits), but I can no longer eat them and she doesn't trust herself around their buttery, sweet natures. On the rare occasion a biscuit or two might pop up at dinnertime, but scones? No dice. Too many calories, too much fat, and not filling enough to warrant the indulgence.

Then I came across a recipe that allows for sweet, tender and just-crumbly biscuits that also happens to be whole grain and a little bit better for the waistline. While searching for a use-up for bananas that wasn't traditional banana bread, Chemistry Cachet's blog popped up. The science (obviously) looked promising and I decided to give it a shot, making a few modifications to use what I had and nix what I didn't. The result was exactly what I had in mind: nutty and sweet, soft and flaky, and perfect room temperature or slightly warmed and topped with a dollop of homemade yogurt. Not only that, but they had both nuts and chocolate going for them - definite bonuses in our book.

Taste and texture aside, these scones are nutritional halos in the scone world. While sweet and nutty, each wedge will only set you back about 170 calories and 7 grams of fat, and contain just over 5 grams of sugar while 3.7 grams of fibre offset the carb load. These are not piddlingly tiny scones, either - one wedge is plenty for having with afternoon tea and is filling enough to last through to dinner. For comparison, a banana chocolate chip scone from COBS has  260 calories, 10 grams of fat and 17 grams of sugar, with only 1 gram of fibre.

Have you "healthified" a recipe lately? What would you love to make "better for you" but still great-tasting?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mock Dried Pineapple

This sneaky swap for "real" dried pineapple is indiscernible from the real thing in baked goods, and lasts a long time in the pantry. Just when you thought you were all "zucchinied" out! 

Not even 1/4 of It

Our zucchini are done for the year. Hallelujiah.

Unlike last season, the squash loved the weird cool / rainy then hot / humid Summer we had, producing en masse. With the last push of produce from those plants came the somewhat woody / spongy rejects which just aren't great for eating. However, those zucchini are (for the most part) awesome for baking! They're slightly drier (i.e. no need to really wring them out after shredding) and soak up flavour even better. When I came across a recipe for candied zucchini on The Persnickety Plate, I knew these last zucchini were prime for it. 

Essentially, the summer squash (you can use any variety) are peeled, cubed, and simmered in a sweetened pineapple juice until they're infused with the flavour. I then let them steep overnight for even more flavour before dehydrating them into chewy bites of fruity goodness. To keep them from sticking - especially if your climate is on the humid side - a toss with cornstarch or arrowroot keeps them separate. I didn't have that problem, since they went into muffins the same week, but you do what you do.

Unfortunately, because I made and used it so fast I forgot to take a photo... so next year (if I remember) I'll be sure to take a photo! One thing's for sure, I will make it a repeat!