{Day 17} Holiday Baking with Oats: Warm Oatmeal Bread, Brown Sugar Oat Bread and Oaty Pecan Rounds

Yesterday we woke to rain pounding on our roof.  It poured like it hasn’t in I can’t even remember when.  The sky was gray, the house was cozy.  It was a day made to be spent in the kitchen.  For my birthday, I was given a hand-me-down vegetarian cookbook and I have quickly fallen in love with it.  Unlike many cookbooks now-a-days, it gives homemade, old-fashioned bread making a significant role in nutrition and in the rhythm of daily life.  This is where I got the recipe for oatmeal bread, best warm from the oven.  While I’m not going to duplicate the recipe here, what you can do is find a good, simple whole grain basic bread recipe and begin substituting part of the whole grain flour for whole grain rolled oats and wheat germ.  The coarse whole grain rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick cooking) magically disappear into the flour and adding honey lends a perfect touch of sweetness; it is not unlike a “honey wheat” variety you would purchase at the supermarket, but superbly and incomparably healthier, tastier and fresher.

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Lately, my absolute favorite thing to eat is baked beans on toast.  Maybe this is due to our time spent in the UK, where this dish shows up pretty much everywhere, but it truly is something worth trying if you haven’t.  I know most of here think of baked beans along with Summer days and barbecues, but hot baked beans on warm whole grain bread (with butter of course) is wonderfully filling, especially for breakfast.  Instead of leaving Santa another tired plate of frosted sugar cookies, perhaps you could leave him this hearty dish (I know he won’t be disappointed!)

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I made these Oaty Pecan Rounds a little while ago, but they went fast.  They are essentially a homemade granola bar recipe sprinkled with dried cranberries, pepitas (soaked and dried pumpkin seeds) and pecans.  After they are firm and cooled you can use a cookie cutter or mouth of a mason jar to cut  them into rounds.

IMGP1668Even my husband got into the spirit of baking with me as we had to make bread for his work’s holiday potluck.  We thought we’d try something new and found a recipe for Brown Sugar Bread.  It begins as a basic quick bread- flour, eggs, oil, water, baking soda and powder, and salt with the addition of 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 cup quick cooking oats (I ground up old fashioned rolled oats into a flour). The result was so good, my husband declared Brown Sugar Bread our new Christmas bread tradition (with the stipulation that we could also have it every other week of the year!)

IMGP1681No Christmas season could possibly be complete without a day of baking with the family.  When I think of baking for the holidays, like you, I almost immediately think of white sugar cookie cut outs, smiling gingerbread men, artificially dyed frosting and sprinkles likely finding their way in all the nooks, crannies and corners of my kitchen.  But “holiday baking” can be something worth sinking your teeth into; something warm and nourishing.  Something filling and memorable.  Try it and you’ll see.

 

 

Soaked Whole Grain Banana Pecan Bread

Yesterday, a little blonde toddler (who shall remain nameless) wouldn’t sleep.  It was late and instead of continuing to fight a losing battle, I decided we would get up and I would bake.  

Baking my very first loaf of banana bread years ago was when I first fell in love with the magic of baking.  Ever since then I have always loved that perfect loaf of sweet and slightly spicy banana bread, but this loaf is extra special.  It is originally from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and reprinted with permission in The Maker’s Diet.  The day before I had soaked 3 cups of whole grain flour in a water and yogurt mixture.  There is tons of information out there on soaking grains.  Soaking your grains first allows for better digestion and allows for important nutrients to be properly assimilated.

Here is what I love about this banana bread:

– Absolutely no white flour is used.  Only whole grains and freshly ground is preferred (although I didn’t do that).

– Absolutely no refined sugar is used.  Only a 1/4 cup of real maple syrup.

– You only need 2 ripe bananas instead of the usual 4-5 in the traditional recipe.  

So around midnight I began to smell that glorious scent of cinnamon and nutmeg waft through the house and somehow it made everything better again.  

My favorite way to eat banana bread? Sliced cold straight from the fridge with a cold pat of butter. Yum! (And yes, eventually she did go to sleep!)

Enjoy!

Homemade Pita Bread Panini Pressed Sandwiches or What I Like to Call a “Pitanini”

At our house we love panini pressed sammys.  They’re quick and easy on nights I just don’t feel like cooking.  I had recently bought some pita bread at the store and love slicing it open to reveal the warm heavenly soft middle and stuffing it full of vegan goodies like hummus, avocado, salad greens or red peppers.  Since I love baking bread so much, I wanted to try making pita bread myself too.  Once I got into bread making, I realized leavened breads are pretty much all the same.  The taste might depend on how long I let it rise, how long I knead it, or what seasonings I add to the dough.  And the shape is simply dependent on what I feel like rolling it into.  When I understood this, it wasn’t long before I was rolling out the soft round dough ready to make some delicious flatbread.

I used this recipe from The Fresh Loaf but incorporated this idea to cook them on my cast iron skillet.  

The dough made eight balls which I then easily rolled out with a rolling pin just so it was round and flat but not too thin.  Once my cast iron skillet was hot I dropped them in one at a time.  It only took a minute or so until they were beginning to bubble or puff on the top then I flipped it over.  When the other side was cooked and had some of that wonderful browning in spots I took it off the skillet and let it cool on a wire rack.  You can also cook these in the oven.  

The finished stack.  So good hot off the skillet!

When I make paninis, I usually use a sturdy english muffin bread but this time around decided to try and use the fresh pita bread.

 

Slice the pita bread horizontally to make two thin halves.  Then stuff it with whatever you like!  My husband likes turkey and cheese while I spread mine with mashed chickpeas with tomato sauce and oregano and of course toppings like red onion, avocado and tomato.  Place in a panini press and cook until fillings are hot and outside has lines across the top and bottom.  

my husband’s turkey and cheese

my chickpea and tomato

Chewy bread, hot filling, who doesn’t love that?  These would be perfect on a cold Fall day with some soup.  For a yummy hot breakfast “pitanini” I used peanut butter, thinly sliced bananas and cinnamon.  Just one more reason to love pita bread!

 

 

 

 

 

baking bread

Today I did something I have always wanted to do.  Today I have made bread absolutely from scratch.  I made the dough, kneaded it, let it rise, shaped and baked it and do you know what?  It came out perfectly!  Oh, if I could only hand you a warm piece from my computer I would, and if you have not had the ridiculous pleasure of making your own bread from scratch then turn off your computer, dear reader, and get to the kitchen.  I promise you will be simply giddy in a couple hours time!

 

“Dinner Rolls” recipe from 2005 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

 

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