The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Honey Whole-Wheat Bread February 27, 2010

Filed under: baking,bread,home — Amanda @ 22:32
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Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

Whether due to pure tastiness or a boost of nostalgia, this is probably my favorite bread recipe. I learned to bake bread by helping in my Grandma’s kitchen on the weekends when I was young, and this is the whole wheat recipe that we made. I think it can be enjoyed even by people who don’t typically like whole wheat bread – only about a sixth of the flour in the original recipe is whole wheat, and the honey and sugar give it a pleasing sweetness.

The recipe also has a distinctive secret ingredient: Cottage Cheese!

Cottage Cheese!

The original recipe, which makes two standard-size loaves of bread, calls for:

  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 c cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 5 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 packages dried yeast
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt

Since both of my loaf pans are larger than standard size, I multiplied the quantities of everything but the yeast and egg by 1.5 so that I had enough dough to rise above the tops of the pans. (I probably could have done *1.33, but 1.5 was easier.)

Recipe Card

First, combine the water, cottage cheese, honey, and butter in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter is just melted.

Butter, honey, cottage cheese and water in sauce pan

To avoid killing the yeast, you’ll want to make sure the temperature of the cottage cheese mixture is below 115 F. If you keep the heat low enough so that the butter melts gradually, it should be fine – mine came out at 108 F.

Testing the cottage cheese mixture's temperature.

While the cottage cheese mixture was heating, I put together a mise en place with the remaining ingredients:

mise en place

I wanted a slightly higher percentage of whole wheat flour than the recipe called for, so I increased the whole wheat flour by 1 1/2 cups, and decreased the all-purpose flour by the same amount. In the mise en place I’ve set aside a quarter of the of AP flour for kneading; the rest of the flour (whole wheat + AP) is mixed together in the large bowl.

Also, a note about the yeast – you’ll see various advice about how long yeast will last past the expiration date. I buy mine in bulk from King Arthur Flour and store it in the freezer. The package I currently have was originally purchased over four years ago – October 2005!  – and it’s still going strong. So even if you only use yeast a few times a year, buying in bulk and storing in the freezer may be more convenient and cost effective than buying individual packets.

My yeast - purchased in 2005!

I combined the flour mixture, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, then added the cottage cheese mixture and egg. I mixed these until combined, then turned out onto a kneading mat and added half the reserved flour:

Bread dough, first mixing

Bread dough - kneading in reserved flour

After I kneaded in the portion of reserved flour, I split the dough in hlaf to rise in separate containers. For the standard size recipe you can divide the dough later, and probably by hand instead of weighing the portions, but I had a large batch of dough and a fun kitchen scale, so I weighed it out:

Bread dough after first knead

As you can see in the next picture, my dough weighed 2.6 kilograms – about 5 3/4  pounds!

Weighing the dough

Half of the dough - 1.3 Kg

I put each half of the dough into a mixing bowl, covered them with plastic wrap, and let them rise for about 2 hours (until approximately doubled in size).

Dough covered for first rise.

After the first rise, I took each piece of dough, deflated it, and kneaded in its half of the remaining flour.

Dough after first rise

Half the dough after second knead

I then returned the dough to the mixing bowl, and let it rise again until doubled, about 1.5 hours:

Dough after second rise

I then shaped the dough into cylinders to fit the loaf pans, covered with plastic wrap again, and let rise a final time while I preheated the oven to 350F:

In loaf pans before final rise

After about 40 minutes, the dough was well clear of the pan rims:

Dough after final rise

I then put it in the oven at 350F; my large loaves took a little over an hour to bake thoroughly, but standard size loaves will likely finish sooner and should be checked after 45 minutes.

The finished bread had a rich brown crust – the dark spots are the cottage cheese curds – and the crumb was similar to a dense sandwich bread – not spongy, but soft and close-crumbed, with a thick, slightly crispy crust.

Honey Whole-Wheat Bread

The crumb shot!

The sweetness of the bread doesn’t pair well with some savory applications – I wouldn’t make a fried-egg or pastrami sandwich with it, for example – but this bread is perfect with peanut butter and jelly, or toasted with butter and/or jam.

This is my fourth submission to YeastSpotting, the inspirational weekly compendium of bread baking blogs hosted at the Wild Yeast blog.


Bring On the Barley: Spent Grain Crackers November 7, 2009

Filed under: baking,beer,bread,San Diego — Amanda @ 18:06
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Barley Blend from Chocolate Porter

Barley Blend from Chocolate Porter

Inspired by the spent grain flatbread I’ve had at Stone World Bistro (where it’s now called “Brewer’s Barley Cracker Bread”, perhaps because non-brewers are squeamish about the phrase “spent grain”), I took advantage of Chuck’s recent batch of Chocolate Porter to try my hand at making these treats. I searched for recipes in my numerous baking cookbooks and online, and found several recipes for spent-grain bread, but none for crackers. While reviewing the flatbread section of The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, I decided that the malted barley is kind of like rolled oats, and so an adaption of the “Scottish Oat Cakes” recipe would be my jumping off point for my spent grain crackers.

Recipe for Scottish Oat Cakes, with Spent Grain Markup

Recipe for Scottish Oat Cakes, with Spent Grain Markup

I wanted my crackers to be part whole-wheat, and wanted to use less butter, oil, and sugar than in the oat cakes recipe, and I was hoping the residual moisture in the barley from the beer-making would help bind the crackers together.

I started out with 2 cups lightly packed barley which had been boiled from the beer and then mostly drained.


Two cups packed barley

I combined the barley with one cup each King Arthur All-Purpose flour and King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, added two tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.


Mixing the dry ingredients

I then added 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened, and 4 tablespoons shortening, and creamed those into the flour and barley mixture. After mixing in the butter and shortening, I had a dough that held together loosely. I recommend adding 2-4 tablespoons of water to make the dough more cohesive, since my baked crackers had some crumbly edges.


Cracker dough after mixing in butter and shortening

The recipe recommends rolling out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cutting it into rectangular crackers, but I was going for a more rustic look. I used a cookie scoop to get uniformly-sized balls of dough, then squished them down to about 1/4 thick:

Dough sqiushed into disks, before baking

Dough squished into disks, before baking

I then baked the crackers at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until fairly crispy. The resulting crackers had the flakiness of a pie crust, with extra chewiness from all the barley. The whole wheat flour and barley gave the crackers sweetness, but they weren’t overwhelmingly sweet.


Spent grain crackers, just out of the oven

We had the crackers with our dinner that night, as part of a cheese plate. We had three cheeses from Taste cheese shop –  Mimolette, Barely Buzzed (made with coffee – my favorite!), and Shropshire Blue.  We also paired our dinner with Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point.

Cheese Plate with Baguette and Spent Grain Crackers

Cheese Plate with Baguette and Spent Grain Crackers

Sculpin IPA

Sculpin IPA

These crackers are a fun and tasty way to use some of the barley from beer-brewing, and I recommend making them if you get the chance!


Adventures In Sourdough VI: Blueberry Waffles with Whole Wheat Flour April 5, 2009

Filed under: baking,home,sourdough — Amanda @ 20:54
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I used to buy Eggo waffles for breakfast sometimes, but then I actually looked at the ingredients for their “Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat” waffles, and was seriously unimpressed with their whole-wheat content. Since then, whenever I’m craving waffles I make my own, individually wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. They’re round just like the Eggos I used to love and can be toasted straight out of the freezer for a quick breakfast or lunch. Last weekend, I decided to take my homemade waffles to a whole new level – it was time for sourdough waffles.

I based my recipe on the Blueberry Waffle recipe in Ed Wood’s World Sourdoughs From Antiquity, but increased the yield to eleven waffles by adding an additional feed and proof cycle. Here’s how I did it:

1) To two cups active culture (100% hydration), add two cups whole wheat flour and one cup water. Proof for 4 hours (or longer depending on culture).

sourdough culture with whole wheat added

sourdough culture with whole wheat added

2) Thaw 2 cups frozen blueberries; drain if desired (I’m ok with purple batter, so I kept the bluejuice). Melt four Tablespoons butter. Add blueberries, butter, and 1 teaspoon salt to proofed sourdough culture.

sourdough cluture with blueberries and butter

sourdough culture with blueberries, butter, and salt

3) Beat 4 eggs and 1/4 cup sugar on high speed until foamy and tripled in size. (The original recipe called for the more traditional separation of eggs – it added egg yolks and sugar directly to the flour mixture and beat the egg whites to soft peaks, but I had just made a genoise cake the day before and realized that I could be slightly lazy and skip the egg separation step. Seemed to work pretty well.) Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture.

Eggs and Sugar, Foamy

eggs and sugar, foamy

4) Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 1 Tablespoon hot water; add to waffle batter and mix gently.

final waffle batter

final waffle batter

5) Add batter to preheated waffle iron and cook to desired level of crispiness. My waffle iron took slighty more than 1/2 cup batter per waffle, and I used a cook time of about 5 minutes per waffle on the highest heat setting. The waffle edges sometimes had an uncooked appearance when there wasn’t enough batter to fill the iron completely; since I was re-toasting my waffles after freezing this was no big deal, but it’s worth making sure the iron is full enough to come in contact with the edges of the waffles when you’re eating them fresh from the iron.

waffle in progress

waffle in progress, not enough batter

6) Eat and enjoy! I’ve had these waffles toasted to untra-crispness with butter, with peanute butter and jelly, and the traditional butter and maple syrup (Grade B, for richest flavor). They’re probably the best waffles I’ve made yet – the sourdough flavor works well with the sweet-tartness of the blueberries and adds a depth of flavor that waffles are usually missing.

Blueberry Whole Wheat Waffle

Blueberry Whole Wheat Waffle

This is my second submission to YeastSpotting, the weekly compendium of blogged breads that is a fantastic source of baking inspiration.



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