Tag Archives: Flour

Baking to beat the cold and stress

In many ways, yesterday was a typical January day in northwest Ohio. Sort of. There was nearly one foot of snow on the ground, and extremely high winds had created large drifts up the sides of houses and parked cars. Icy roads made driving dangerous.

Okay, so if you live in Minnesota or North Dakota, you might be yawning by now. But hey, this is Ohio. We get snow. Some years we get a lot. Some years we get none. This is one of those “a lot” years. Windchills of 40 below didn’t make it any more palatable.

So there we were. Stuck in the house. Even Bluffton University shut down for two days. So…what to do?

One of my favorite rooms in the house is the kitchen. It’s bright. It’s yellow. And it gives me a nice view of the back yard, and the little A-frame that my dad built 20 years ago. He insisted it would probably fall apart after two years.

Backyard
Looking at the A-frame sparked a memory of Dad baking bread on cold winter days. So? I baked bread.
Bread-baked

While that was rising, I figured I could log on to my work desktop and get some work done. But since I’m really good at procrastinating, I shoved that thought to the back of my brain, and instead baked cookies.
Not just any old cookies. It’s January. I hate January. In fact, my stress level rises just thinking about January. So…since whoever decided that dark chocolate and antioxidants are good antidotes to stress, I’ve resorted to the perfect cookie, Anti-Stress Cookies.

Chock full of ingredients like whole wheat flour, olive oil, dark chocolate chips, raisins, dried sour cherries, walnuts, oats, yogurt, brown sugar, butter, and whatever else you feel like adding.  I added 1/4 cup of flax seed this time. You can’t ruin them…unless you leave the room and forget they’re in the oven. Doesn’t matter. Surely, someone in your house likes dark cookies. If not, call my husband.

cookie-plate

Anti-Stress Cookies
1½ c. white flour (or white whole wheat flour)
¾ c. whole wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
¾ teaspoon salt
½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. olive or canola oil
1 c. packed dark brown sugar (I actually use 3/4 c.)
1 large egg
2 egg whites
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
½ cup oats
1 ¼ cups Monukka raisins
1 ¼ cups dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 ¼ c. DARK chocolate chips (i.e. Ghirardelli)
1 ¼ cups chopped walnuts
Directions
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter, oil and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and egg whites  Add the molasses, yogurt, ginger and lemon zest and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture to make a sticky batter (do not overmix). Fold in the oats, raisins, cranberries or cherries, chocolate chips and walnuts.
Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the cookies until dark golden but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes; cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to one week. May also be frozen (I like my cookies hard!)

By the time I was done with all the baking, I’d warmed up the house, and the frigid temps outside didn’t seem nearly so daunting.

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Second time around: homemade crackers

Awhile back some dough that was intended to become a loaf of bread instead morphed into crackers because I’d forgotten to add yeast. And they were good.

Today, though, I had a plan. Homemade crackers were on the agenda. I’d consulted my ancient edition of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, searching for some ideas for foods to eat to reduce pain and inflammation. I knew about the healing properties of flax seed and that it has some analgesic properties. It’s also a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are thought to promote cardiovascular health.

Having stocked up on flax seed, I searched for a cracker recipe and found one in a blog by Tracy Carolyn.

Her recipe, Whole Wheat Flax Seed Crackers, also incorporated sesame seeds. But as usual, I have to make changes. So I substituted white wheat flour for the white flour and added some rosemary and thyme, both from my garden, and set about creating. My version of the recipe follows the photos.0303131158

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Whole Wheat/Flax/Sesame/Wheat Germ Crackers
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. white wheat flour
1/3 c. flax seeds
1/6 c. sesame seeds
1/6 c. wheat germ
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. water

In a medium bowl, mix together flours, flax weed, sesame seeds, wheat germ, salt and baking powder. Add the oil and stir until combined. Add the water and stir to come and create the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead four to five times. Divide into eight equal pieces, cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 (my oven doesn’t register correctly, so I set it for 425). On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough to 1/16-inch and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I use a silicone baking mat). Bake on the middle rack of the oven for five to six minutes, then flip and bake for an additional two to three minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. When cool, break into desired pieces.

Note: Baking times will vary with actual thickness of dough and oven temperature, so watch them carefully.

Also: I like the unusual shapes of broken crackers, but you could score them before baking to produce consistent size/shapes.
Store in airtight container for up to two weeks — if they last that long.

Fighting the flu and other maladies with Anti-Stress Cookies

It’s that time again….flu season. According to health experts, hand washing is one of the most important steps one can take to prevent the flu. Covering your mouth and nose when others cough or sneeze is another step toward warding of the dreaded stuff.

Now, I’m no expert but it’s clear that eating right can’t hurt when trying to keep your body healthy, and loading your body with antioxidants might help in fighting infection and disease.

A few years ago, the Food Network came out with a recipe for Flu Fighter Cookies. This seemed like a good idea and the cookies were good, but I figured I could adjust the recipe to include additional healthy ingredients.

This recipe is chock full of antioxidants and good stuff — hence, the name, “Anti-Stress Cookies.”

Mixing up the good stuff

Mixing up the good stuff

Time to eat!

Time to eat!

 

 

 

Anti-Stress Cookies
1½ c. white whole wheat flour (in place of all-purpose flour, although that also works)
¾ c. whole wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
¾ teaspoon salt
½ stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. olive or canola oil
1 c. packed dark brown sugar (I actually use 3/4 c.)
1 large egg
2 egg whites
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
½ cup oats
1 ¼ cups Monukka raisins
1 ¼ cups dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 ¼ c. DARK chocolate chips (i.e. Ghirardelli)
1 ¼ cups chopped walnuts
Directions
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter, oil and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and egg whites  Add the molasses, yogurt, ginger and lemon zest and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture to make a sticky batter (do not overmix). Fold in the oats, raisins, cranberries or cherries, chocolate chips and walnuts.
Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the cookies until dark golden but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes; cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to one week. May also be frozen (I like my cookies hard!).

The REAL pfeffernusse…all others must be faux

Pfeffernusse. Peppernuts. Did the Dutch know what they were doing when they created this tiny cookie that leaves such a powerful impression and incites such passionate arguments among those who love them.

With pepper or without? Anise? Cardamom? Cinnamon? Cloves? Nuts? Seems everyone has his or her own favorite recipe and is equally certain that his or her recipe is the best. But they’re all wrong. And I know this….how?

Because the Pannabecker version is the best. After all, we Pannabeckers are Dutch. We were tile bakers long ago.

Here’s the thing about pfeffernusse. They’re hard. Very hard. And while some claim that they soften over time…this is just not true. If you actually think they soften over time, then you’ve never eaten a one-year-old pfeffernusse. They’re hard….and in my family, harder means better.

For many years, my mother would try to see how long she could keep some in a jar before someone would finally filch the last few. I think they often lasted until late spring.

But at long last, I have beaten her record. Not on purpose, mind you. I just found a tiny baby food jar full of pfeffernusse made in December 2011. And they’re still excellent. And very hard.2012-11-20 12.15.56

Curious enough to try making them? Here’s my recipe…or actually, it’s my Grandma Pannabecker’s recipe. The trick to getting them very small is to roll them into pencil-like rolls and cut into tiny pieces.

Pfeffernusse
5 eggs
3 c. sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cloves
Pinch salt
4 c. flour (or a little more)
Sift flour three times until very light. Sift together sifted flour, cinnamon, soda, cloves, salt. Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar. The stir in the flour mixture. Using a small amount of dough at a time, roll into long, pencil-thin coils. Cut into tiny pieces and place on greased cookie sheets. Try to separate each piece or they’ll back together into big pieces. Bake approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch carefully! Cool and store in airtight containers.

Let me know how long yours last!

Filling the bread drawer takes unexpected turn

Our bread drawer was nearly empty today so I decided it was time to stir up the sourdough and bake some bread. My plan did not include making crackers or pizza dough, but…well…things happen.

Just an FYI for the uninformed: In the “olden” days, a bread drawer was usually made of tin, with holes punched in the lid for airflow. The purpose is to store bread safely and keep it fresh.

When we looked this house, one of the things I fell in love with immediately was the fact that it has two built-in tin bread drawers…just like the one in the house I grew up in.

This is what ours looks like. See? It’s empty.

So..back to the bread. Using some of the sourdough, I mixed up one of my favorite blends — whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, flax seeds, and white flour. While kneading it, I remembered that I could have used the Cuisinart for this part.

I put the dough in a big bowl to rise. Plenty pleased with myself, I went off to do something else. Oddly, when I checked the dough, it hadn’t risen. At all. Of course, that’s when I remembered what I should never forget. Yeast.  Unlike my big brother’s sourdough, mine doesn’t provide enough rising action so I have to add yeast. Except I forgot.

My husband reminded me that he did that once and baked it anyway. He thought it tasted okay. I considered that option, but decided I wasn’t up for unleavened bread. But..all was not lost. Crackers don’t need yeast, so we rolled half of it out for crackers and stuck the other half in the freezer for thin crust pizza.

That didn’t solve the empty bread drawer so I swiped more of the sourdough and mixed up another batch of bread. This time I cheated and let the bread machine do the kneading (it’s easier to clean than the Cuisinart).

I know what you’re thinking. Why doesn’t she toss the Cuisinart pieces in the dishwasher? We don’t have a dishwasher. Never have and according to the hubs, never will. Guess who does the dishes? Not me.

But we do have two tin bread drawers. And now they’ll both be full — one with crackers and one with bread.