Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bread of the Month

My good buddy, Maren, has a monthly feature on her blog which she calls "Bread of the Month". I thought it sounded like fun so I committed myself to do it, then instantly forgot. Until...I read Maren's blog yesterday in which she has a wonderfully delightful photo essay of Homemade English Muffins.
Here is my attempt:

Yesterday morning I knew Joy School kids would be arriving and I'd need a snack for them. I thought I could hit two birds with one stone and have them "help" make the Bread of the Month. I pulled out on old favorite, America's Bread Book: 300 Authentic Recipes for America's Favorite Homemade Breads, Collected on a 65,000-Mile Journey Through the Fifty United States, and found a simple enough looking "quick bread" under the section "Martha's Vineyard" (a place I intend to go one of these days). It is called "Cranberry Bread" but because I consistently refuse Sierra's request to buy the giant bag of dried cranberries every time we go to Costco, I have no cranberries. But I do have raisins so what follows is a twisted Mindi version of Martha's Vineyard Cranberry Bread:

Start with 2 cups white flour, 2 cups wheat flour, 1 cup sugar, 3 t. baking powder, 1 t. baking soda, and 2 t. salt in the food processor (if you happen to have 6 kids helping you make sure each has a turn to add an ingredient and never turn your back for a moment or their freshly-washed-yet-freshly licked fingers will instantly be in the dry goods "just for a taste".  Then they will say "yuck" and make lots of faces and lots of noises).  Pulse for a bit.  Then because the food processor is too small (something I noticed in the nic of time) take all dry ingredients out and put in separate bowl.  Then add half back with half a stick of butter.  Pulse (making sure each kid has a chance to hold down the button) until butter is mixed in and ingredients resemble cornmeal (that's what Martha says).  Put that batch in another bowl, add remaining ingredients and half a stick of butter and repeat.  Then put them all back together again.  At this point the cooking process will be way too boring for six kids and you'll be happy to see them scamper away (after you've washed their hands again).

Combine 1 1/2 c. orange juice (Martha says fresh squeezed, to which I laugh out loud while making the Costco canned OJ), grated rind of 1 large orange, 2 lightly beaten eggs and pour into the dry ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula just long enough to dampen the mixture.  Fold in 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) and 1 cup raisins (or if you are going with Martha's version and happen to live just 7 miles off the Massachusetts coastline where they have things like raw cranberries add one cup of those babies, chopped).  
At this point it is very helpful (or perhaps a hindrance?) to have a two-year-old around who is in a state of utter and complete melt-down 87% of the time.
Batter will be surprisingly thick, like cookie dough, but not quite as yummy.
Spoon batter into the pan and bake 1 hour at 350, or until bread tests done.   While bread is baking, let kids finger paint (if you are crazy! this shot was taken before things really got out of control).

And this is the finished product. The bread was done after 30 minutes according to my "I now smell the bread" test.  But I really wanted to believe Martha so I left the loaves in for 50 minutes.  I really paid the price.  They were over baked and crumbly, leaving me grumpy for a good while about the whole situation.
But when served hot, outside, and with a cup of OJ said bread was quickly consumed (well, by kids that aren't picky eaters--which in this group happens to be mine.  They went around and finished off what the others left behind, I'm so proud).

And truth be known, Martha's recipe doesn't call for any wheat flour (I threw that in because I physically can't bring myself to make straight white bread).  Plus Martha would have added 2 cups of sugar and I only added one.  Maybe these things added (and will continue to add) to my bread baking demise...stay tuned for next month's edition of Bread of the Month.


Pistolmom said...
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Maren said...

Good job, Mindi! I have to say, that picture of Tristan in meltdown made me feel better - I'm glad I'm not the only one with a crazy toddler like that!

(p.s. Using wheat flour and omitting things like sugar will really change your baked goods unless you compensate for it. Sugar is actually considered a liquid, so next time try omitting the sugar but adding a little more liquid...)

Ryan and Chrystal said...

Can I just say, you are one brave woman to bake AND finger paint in the same day with that many kids. Whew, that sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me. I'm so glad you were able to keep control.

P.S. Thanks so much for coming to my party, it was nice having you there!

Meldrum Fam said... continue to amaze me! bread of the month and finger painting and eating it all in one day! you really are a super mom! can't wait to see it all up close and in action, i will be taking notes.

The Cluff Family said...

Sorry I'm a little late commenting on this, but I just had to share two stories! First, I recently saw a Martha Stewart TV episode where she talked about fresh-squeezed orange juice. She turned to the health dude and said, "have you ever bought orange juice at the store?" They both agreed that they had NEVER had anything but fresh-squeezed oj...

Second, I made pumpkin bread two days ago and also made some adjustments to the recipe - part whole wheat flour, applesauce for oil and agave nectar for sugar. It's mostly good, but the texture is a little odd. I think I made too many substitutions at one time to try to identify the culprit.