Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Homemade Breads

I make a lot of my own breads from scratch: scones, biscuits, pizza crusts, loaves, cinnamon rolls, etc. I also do it without a breadmaker or large KitchenAid-type mixer because I like being able to control as much of the process as possible.

Today, I made the cinnamon rolls and loaf of bread in the above picture.  We'll be having grilled cheese sandwiches for supper tonight with this bread.  Nothing beats grilled cheese on homemade bread for deliciousness.

My "recipe" is not really a true recipe.  I don't really use one anymore because the liquid amounts and flour amounts change based on the humidity.  My house is very dry in the winter so I add a bit more liquid.

Basic Recipe:

1 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons of shortening
5-6 1/2 cups of flour (I use white because I just cannot get a good rise with whole grains no matter what I do).
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix about 2 cups of flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.  In a small pan, heat the liquids and the shortening to hot, but not boiling (too hot and you'll kill the yeast).  The shortening is NOT going to melt, don't worry about it.

Slowly stir the very warm liquid into the dry ingredients and then really stir this mixture for about 2 minutes (or use a mixer on Medium speed).  Add in another cup of flour and stir vigorously another 2 minutes (or on High for 2 minutes).  Stir in as much remaining flour as you can and then dump on a floured surface and knead in the rest of the flour for about 5-10 minutes (or use your mixer).  I only knead for 5 minutes, but that's probably because I beat the snot out of it and have the forearms to prove it.

Form into a large ball and place in a greased bowl.  Let it rise for about 45-60 minutes.  On cold days, I set it on a heating pad to hurry it along.  Punch it down when it's about twice the size, form into a loose ball and let it rest for 10 minutes on a floured surface.

Cut the dough in half.  Form your breads.  Let rise until doubled. Makes 2 loaves, or 1 loaf and a pan of sweet rolls, or dinner rolls, or a pizza crust, whatever.  Bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes. 

*For cinnamon rolls/sweet rolls: Roll out flat and spread about 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.  Sprinkle about a 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar mixture on.  Roll lengthwise, cut into 12 slices.  Place in greased dish.  Once cool, drizzle a powdered sugar/milk glaze on top.


Still no decision by our state legislature on the fate of the budget of my husband's education center at UW-Extension.  I really want to be planting more fruit and nut trees-more than zero.  However, I just cannot justify doing so until we know if he has a job in October.  If not, I don't want to have invested time, effort, and money into something I won't be able to enjoy.  And yes, I could just go ahead and plant what I want, hoping for the best and if we need to move, know that the next people will enjoy what I've done, but I'm not feeling that magnanimous.

We did put up a large homemade trellis (9 feet tall, 8 feet wide) and I planted some hops to grow up it.  Mostly to screen the 6 garbage and recycling carts in the rental yard next door, but also because I wanted to grow hops for our homebrewing.

Built a raised bed for raspberries-small, just 4 feet by 4 feet.  Planted 5 bareroot canes and am hoping for a small harvest this late summer and into the fall.  I have a lot of peas planted in different places, including the front yard.  The backyard has a lot of shade and the front vegetable garden (on the SW side of the house) is a warm microclimate: concrete on 3 sides and the white siding of the house makes up the 4th side.  My peppers and tomatoes did great there last year.  This year, the tomatoes will be in containers on the south side of the house, on the driveway.  Those plants are susceptible to late blight, so I cannot grow them in the same spot this year.

The salad greens in the cold frame are finally big enough to pick.  Lots of spinach is getting tossed on top of vegetables and potatoes in the skillet these days.

The apple tree that I planted last spring is full of white blossoms.  I'm hoping for enough apples to do some baking and maybe freeze for use over the winter.

Friday is the planned planting day.  Herbs, vegetable starts, seeds, potting soil, rabbit fencing-it's time for all of it to get done.  Because of garden expansion last fall, I have room for green beans which I have missed having in mason jars and in the freezer over the winter.  Eggplant, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, peas, greens, and herbs galore are going in the soil and in containers on Friday and Saturday.

If I'm still standing upright once it's all done, I'll celebrate a job well-done with a local microbrew.  I may not be willing to invest in fruit trees, but I'm still planting.