Orange Rhubarb Bread

March 29, 2011

Cornmeal and rhubarb?  Who knew how great this combination would be?  The color of the bread is great.  The bread is moist and the tart/sweet vibe is delicious.  This is my new favorite rhubarb bread recipe.

Orange Rhubarb Quick Bread
Country Home, March/April 2009

2 ½ cu. flour
¼ c. cornmeal
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. butter
3 eggs, beaten
½ c. milk
zest from one medium sized orange
2 tbsp orange juice
2 c. chopped rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine dry ingredients except sugar.
Separately combine sugar, butter, eggs, milk, zest and oj.  Pour into dry ingredient mix and stir until moistened.  Mix in rhubarb.

Pour into two greased bread pans.  Bake for 55 minutes.


America’s Test Kitchen Banana Bread

January 11, 2010
America's Test Kitchen Banana Bread

America's Test Kitchen Banana Bread

It’s been a while since Kent or I posted to the blog.  What began as a fun project became a chore.  So we took a break.  But recently, I’ve started baking again for the fun of it and thought I’d try a small post about my recent experience testing a recipe for America’s Test Kitchen.

Kent had signed up to be a recipe tester for America’s Test Kitchen.  Once a month he gets an email about a new recipe to try.  In December, a recipe for banana bread came up.  Kent really enjoys banana bread so he forwarded the email to me to try.  The email contains a link to the recipe (sorry I can’t share the recipe – you’ll have to watch America’s Test Kitchen) and then a link to a survey to complete once you’ve tried the recipe.

Turns out America’s Test Kitchen knows what they’re doing.  The banana bread was excellent.  Kent says it was the best he’s ever eaten.  And it was a pretty simple recipe.  While I can’t share the recipe, I think I can share one tip.  They had me wrap four layers of aluminum foil around the bread pan to keep the outer edges from getting too crispy.

Challenged! Make Your Own Yeast

May 12, 2009

raised doughBe careful what you joke about.  After watching a food challenge cooking show, I joked that Kent and I should come up with challenges for each other.  He immediately challenged me to make my own yeast for bread making.  Well, I couldn’t back out of it so I started researching.

There are actually several options for making your own yeast.  Most sources talk about using potato water but they called for hops.  I didn’t want to mess with trying to track down hops so I kept hunting.  Finally, I came across a site with a recipe for yeast water that seemed like something I could easily do with what I already had at home.  It uses raisins.

I put the raisins in a jar with tap water.  In about a week, the raisins were floating and there was a layer of foam across the top.  I used a peasant-style pot bread recipe from Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple cookbook. It is a kneadless bread that relies on a slow rise of over 18 hours.  For the second rise, you fold in the outer edges of the dough.

preparing for the 2nd riseThe recipe is available at

Instead of mixing instant yeast into the 2 cups ice water, I simply used two cups of the yeast water.  And guess what?  It rose!  Woo Hoo!From the photo, it looks like it didn’t rise on the one side.  That is more the result of my clumsiness in moving it from the bowl to the hot stew pot.  In transferring the dough, I accidentally collapsed the one side.  I really liked this bread despite it being a white bread.  That’s mostly because of the crust.  Placing it in the hot pot really created a wonderful chewy yet flaky crust.  This is a crust that you do not want to cut off.

I’m not sure if I can just add water to the jar and continue to generate yeasty enough water, but I’ll give it another try with another bread.peasant pot bread

Irish Soda Bread

April 27, 2009

irish-soda-breadIt’s raining today.  A lot.  And it brings back memories of a wonderful, but rainy, week spent in Ireland.  During this trip, I learned how important a fulfilling breakfast is to combating cold and damp.  Since I was planning on an afternoon of digging and planting in between the showers, I decided to bake one of my favorite discoveries from that trip in Ireland.

Irish soda bread is one of those earthy, dense breads with a crunchy crust that I enjoy with butter and jam.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big white bread fan (sourdough being the exception).  Just one slice will get you through your work and it goes great with a hot drink to relax with when you’re done.  This is a low fat version I tried this morning.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
2 2/12 T brown sugar

Cut into the dry mixture:
2 T. butter

In a separate bowl, combine:
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. raisins or currants

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.  Turn onto a floured board and knead about 10 times.  Shape into a 9″ round and place on a greased baking.  Make a cross in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.

Bake 45 minutes.

7 Grain Pancakes

April 26, 2009


A few years ago I began having problems with eating things like pasta, pancakes, pizza and sweets.  After eating these items I would feel like I had drunk too much caffeine.  I’d be hungry shortly after eating, even if I’d partaken in a large portion.  I visited the doctor and he said my symptoms didn’t quite sound like hypoglycemia or a food allergy.  To remedy the situation I avoided the foods that made me feel bad.  I also found that by ingesting protein throughout the day, usually milk, I felt better.  After avoiding these foods for several years I was able to begin eating them in small quantities.  I could eat spaghetti as a side but not as a main course.  Fast forward to today.  I’m able to eat pizza or pasta as an entree but I can’t do it every day.  Pancakes have been an exception though.  It must be the combination of sugar and the refined wheat.  A few months ago we were visiting Matt and Alicia (Melissa’s sister and brother in law) and Alicia served pancakes using a mix from Paul’s Grains.  I felt fine after eating the pancakes, so upon returning home, I looked up Paul’s Grains and discovered their products could be purchased online.  I finally ordered some flour last week and made my first batch of pancakes today.  They were delicious and I felt fine after eating them!  The recipe I used was out of Michael Ruhlman’s new book, Ratio.  The recipe called for all purpose flour, I used Paul’s 7 Grain flour, so I ended up using more liquid to compensate.  Ruhlman’s book mostly uses weight to measure ingredients, which I’m liking more and more.  The base ratio is: 2 part liquid, 1 part egg, 1/2 part butter and 2 parts flour.  This is my adaptation.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4.5 oz buttermilk
  • 8.5 oz skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 oz butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Paul’s 7 grain flour or all purpose flour (1-1/3 to 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar (turbinado)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Combine dry and wet ingredients in separate mixing bowls.  Then combine the wet and dry mixes together, stirring until smooth.  Cook the pancakes over medium heat on a greased skillet.

By Kenton

Baking in a Toaster Oven

April 25, 2009
Toaster Oven Muffins

Toaster Oven Muffins

I baked the funniest looking muffins the other day and I have to share the pictures.  The pictures may not do them justice, but if you imagine gold smurfs you’ll have a good idea of what these looked like.

Here’s the back story.  A few posts ago I mentioned that Kent had converted our oven into a pizza oven with layers of fire bricks.  I’ve been leaving them in the oven in hopes of more pizza or maybe calzone.  Since this blog is about learning I thought I’d use this time to see how our toaster would do in baking muffins.  It is a convection toaster oven.

I decided to use up two muffins mixes I had on hand.  One, because the muffins pans that would fit into the toaster oven only had room for 6 muffins or were the tiny muffin kind.  Two, I was still in a “experimenting” mood and I knew that a commercial mix would yield more consistent results.

Toaster muffins 2

Toaster muffins 2

The result – golden smurf muffins.  Both sized muffin pans yielded muffins that rose to a high point and spread out to an almost mushroom-like appearance. Then there is the lean.  This is where the convection oven part comes into play.  The air of the convection most definitely comes from the left side of the oven and caused the lean as well as one-sided browning.

Lesson learned.  And by the way, I’m still waiting for more pizza.  And for Kent to post on his pizza making.

Griddle Scones

April 5, 2009

griddle-sconesYears ago, I went through a big mystery novel phase.  In one of the mysteries, the heroine is stranded at a cabin with only a few items for food in the pantry – flour, baking soda, dry milk, etc.  Of course, she is able to whip together a totally appetizing meal with minimal ingredients in a skillet in the fireplace.  I was reminded of this story this morning when I wanted to bake but didn’t want to use the oven.  (Kent turned our oven into a high-powered pizza oven with fire bricks last night and I was hoping that if I left his construction undisturbed he would make pizza again tonight).

So here’s a recipe for scones done in a skillet.  As I was baking them this morning, it dawned on me that this might be a good recipe for a camping trip.  The ingredients are all dry but water and a little vegetable shortening so most of it can be easily mixed up and placed in a baggy to go.  They taste a little like french toast so they’re perfect for a Sunday morning.

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/4 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. dried milk
1/2 c. water
2 T. vegetable shortening

Stir the dry ingredients together.  Add the water and mix well.  Place batter on a well floured board and knead 8-10 times.  Pat into 6 inch circle.  Cut into wedges, 6-8.

Heat skillet on medium heat and melt shortening.  Place wedges in skillet and leave until the bottom side is golden.  Flip and brown other side.  Split a scone to test for doneness.

PS – I did get more fresh pizza for supper.  Watch for Kent’s upcoming post on it.  Yummy.