My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘Bread’

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread 1

Posted on October 14, 2010 by crankycheryl

We’re blessed with a whole flock of new babies in our lives, and that means baking for the new parents. There’s a simple rule I follow in providing food for new parents of second and third children:

Give them delicious and healthy food their older children will eat without whining.

This way, the parents can feed their firstborn, and snitch a bite or two and receive just enough nutrients to survive another round of round-the-clock babycare.

E.  & Z. & I had a lovely version of this when we popped in at Great Harvest recently.  It’s near where we’ve started martial arts classes, and it takes all the bribery and threats I can muster to get my #1 son there.  I definitely credit Great Harvest’s sugary offerings and riding toy collection with my being able to bamboozle him to the dojo last week.   And the bread was so good that even in my traumatized state I was inspired to go home and make some of our own, which we then gifted to some of the new parents in our lives.  It’s like a cinnamon roll in loaf form, and reasonably healthy-ish as far as these things go.

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Bread adapted from Joy of Cooking
Filling adapted from The Weekend Baker
Makes one loaf

1.  Stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 t. salt

Add and stir very well:

  • 1 c. very warm water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, acorn, or butternut squash

2.  Add 1/4 c. at a time, mixing by hand, or a hand-held blender:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. bread flour

Add flour until the dough is moist but not sticky.

3.  Turn your oven to 350 degrees for exactly one minute and then turn it off.

4.  Knead for 10 minutes, either by hand or in some fancy machine with a dough hook, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  But set the timer and don’t cheat your dough, even if it seems nice and elastic before you’ve kneaded for the whole time.  Then coat a large bowl with oil, place the dough in it, turn it over once to coat it, then cover with a damp tea towel.  Let rise in the oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.

5.  While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling.  Beat together in a large bowl with a handheld mixer on medium speed until very thoroughly combined into a thick paste:

  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar*
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar*
  • 1/3 c. unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. (4 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c. applesauce or apple butter

6. Preheat oven to 450.   Grease a standard (6-cup) loaf pan.  Punch down the dough, then stretch it out into an oblong about the width of the loaf pan and about 12″ long.  Leave a 1″ border on one short end, then spread the cinnamon filling to about 2″ from the other end, going to about 1″ from the sides of the dough.  (You can freeze any leftover filling or put it on your oatmeal or mix it into cookies.)

7.  Roll up the dough as tightly as you can, beginning on the short end with the filling that comes closest to the edge.  Tuck and push as you roll to get the neatest loaf possible.  Place in the loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 30 more, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove loaf to a rack and let cool completely.  Eat within three days, or freeze for up to two months.

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Rising & Rising 2

Posted on February 26, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’ve been so mad at bread.  I wanted to make it and have it be great and I couldn’t.

I became obsessed with Gerard’s incomparable European style sourdough and its slow risen, gently tart taste, its big, open, custardy crumb.  Perfect crust.  I wanted it at home.  I tried one thing after another, a friend gave me starter, and I made a variety of slow sourdough loaves.   I followed the one recipe I found, with no success.  I spritzed to get crisp crusts, I baked at high temperatures, I baked in loaf pans and on baking stones and on half-sheets.  I’d marvel at the transformation of powdery flour and water into a ropy, bubbling mass, and then a crusty dense loaf.  I wavered, wanted Gerard’s, but instead made the no-knead.  And I made a quite lovely straight-rise pumpkin-flax.

And every now and then I’d buy a loaf  and be reminded what the best bread was like.


So I gave up.  I let the starter sit and grow more and more forlorn under its layer of questionable grey liquid on the top shelf of the fridge.  I’ve baked up a cyclone of cupcakes and all manner of sweet treats.  But no bread, because if I couldn’t get it right, why keep trying?

I didn’t make bread, but I’ve been busy of course.  I’ve been working to adjust my ideas about myself, my capabilities, what I should expect of these wild little people who bless my life, who are so brilliant and fierce and energetic that I finish the day in a breathless heap.  I’m trying to keep my creative juices flowing, to do good work for the folks I’m working with, to be some kind of friend and girlfriend and daughter and neighbor to the people who matter,to keep the bills paid and some semblance of a clear path through the craziness of my house.  Perfect bread?   Forget it.  How about perfect exhaustion?

Then I picked up an issue of Family Circle at the doctor’s office the other day.  I liked the big bodacious lasagna that was on the cover, plus figured maybe middle America could give me some coaching on how to get my home organization skills on  (it could happen!).  I was flipping through the pages, musing on how it’s come to pass that this most-mainstream of publications includes recipes for arugula salads and recommends yoga and alternative therapies.

And there on the last page, written by a self-described  novice baker on the staff, was a no-knead bread recipe.  I scanned it, interested in how it addressed some of the problems I’ve had with the no-knead results I’ve gotten, like the sort of half-assed sour flavor that’s neither here nor there.  And how the standard recipe doesn’t really seem to give the dough quite enough time to transform.  I made some changes and I gave it a whirl.

Perfect?  No.  But it slices terrifically and makes great toast.  It’s delicious, and certainly good enough for now.

If you want to give it a try, just remember to give it the day it needs to do its slow and amazing rise.

No-Knead Everyday Bread
Adapted from Family Circle, February 2010

1.  Mix together in a large bowl:

  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour, or 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 t. active dry yeast
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. sugar

2.  Add and stir until dough comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes:

  • 1 1/2 c. room temperature water
  • 1 T. vinegar (I used Limousin Apple Bouquet, which worked nicely – the recipe called for white vinegar so I’m sure you can use what you’ve got on hand)

3.  Cover and let sit and room temperature for 18 hours.   Place dough on lightly floured board and knead a few times.  Return to the bowl and let it sit for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

4.  30 minutes before the 2nd rise is through, place a Dutch oven and its lid in the oven, and preheat to 500.

5.  When the dough has completed its rise, carefully slide the dough into the heated pan by sort of pouring the batter right in.  It should sizzle in a satisfying way.  Put the lid right on and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid, turn the heat down to 450 and bake for 15 minutes more.  Let cool in the pan for a bit, then complete cooling on a wire rack.


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More Cornbread for Monkey Menu Monday 2

Posted on October 05, 2009 by crankycheryl
gun guy and cornbread 004

Look at that macro! $136 later and I've got my camera back.

I could see the gears spinning in their little heads when I asked the boys what we should eat for dinner on Monday.  I wondered if they could sense my food burnout, or whether they were just hoping to prevent me from pulling out something wackier.  Or just possibly they really truly enjoyed the Paraguayan Cornbread of a few weeks back.

I really liked and sort of guiltily admired that recipe’s unapologetic oiliness … but after one round of leftovers I didn’t ever want to see it again.  So for tonight’s dinner, I went back to my new standby, the 1997 Joy’s Northern Cornbread.   It’s moist, only very slightly sweet, and one of those that could be served with just about anything, which for tonight was a family standby featuring some sweet potatoes I picked up at Saturday’s farmers’ market.  I’ll be posting the recipe later this week.

Northern Cornbread
Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997 edition
10-12 servings

Preheat oven to 425.  Grease a 9 x 9 pan or muffin tin and set aside.

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

  • 1 1/4 c. stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (I used pastry flour with good results)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

Whisk together in another bowl:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c. milk (I used soy)
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk
  • 2 T. olive oil or melted butter

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined.  Scrape and pour into prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes (or 10-12 in muffin pan), or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly and serve.

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Three Things To Do With … Butternut Squash 2

Posted on September 10, 2009 by crankycheryl

0910091720 The winter squashes are suddenly bright against their crinkly grey dying leaves.  The apples have appeared, bright green Ginger Golds and stout little Paula Reds snug in their white bags at the farmstand.  The tomatoes are collapsing, and the lettuce that hasn’t already bolted is looking decidedly monstrous.

This is definitely the pivot of the harvest season, and time for butternut squash recipes.  I feel bad for these big old workhorses and how they seem to be either neglected or as maligned and sighed over as zucchini.

But they’re so wonderfully healthy and versatile, and have an incredibly long life in the pantry.  A friend of mine pulled one of these out in June from last year’s harvest, and she reports that it was perfect.

You can find – and love! – a use for them  in any meal of the day.  They’re a standby ingredient in breads and muffins and waffles, in oven-roasted vegetable mixes, and can easily replace carrots in carrot cake.

Here are a few of my very favorite ways to enjoy them.  (And don’t forget to rinse, salt, and toast the seeds!)

1.  The startlingly delicious Sesame Almond Vegetable Saute I came across in our local paper a few years ago. I look forward to cool weather vegetables all year so I can make this.

2.  Squash/Pumpkin waffles.  They’re just so awfully good that I can’t help reposting them.  (And the maple-bacon ones aren’t too bad either.)

3.  Ginger-Squash Cake from Bon Appetit a couple years back.  I made this for my birthday that year and really adored it.  I can take or leave white chocolate, but I did like it on this.

And more squash?  Without trying hard, you can stumble across recipes using it in flan and in risotto and in cookies and all sorts of stuff that will make you and your diners happy all through the winter.  Really!

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First Day of School & Pumpkin Maple Flax Bread 0

Posted on September 02, 2009 by crankycheryl

Today, my big boy started first grade and I couldn’t believe how weepy it made me.   Walking past the new crop of kindergarten families looking lost and pent-up … seeing little friends who had gotten so much taller over the summer … going down to say hello to his teacher from kindergarten.   Some days I’m so glad the time is passing with all the craziness and exhaustion and impossible-to-solve everything.  But today a pause would be welcome.


There, nestled among the pink, is an actual full-size loaf. Really!

But the day anyway rolled on and after I dropped off at school and delivered Z. to my mom for his day with her, I came home to prepare a bread to enter in the Champlain Valley Fair’s Fleischmann’s Yeast’s Bake for the Cure contest.   This is a variation on a family favorite that I originally found on havecakewilltravel, and even turned out to be an opportunity to use up a favor from a little friend’s birthday earlier in the summer as I tried to create a breast-cancer-pink presentation.

Pumpkin Maple Flax Every Day Sandwich Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Place in small bowl and let sit until dissolved and slightly foamy:

  • 2 envelopes yeast
  • 1 1/3 c. tepid water
  • 3 T. pure maple syrup

Place in large mixing bowl:

  • 3 c. unbleached white flour
  • 3 c. whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 T. vital wheat gluten
  • 2 1/2 t. kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed

When yeast mixture is ready, stir it into the flour with a wooden spoon along with:

  • 1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 T. olive oil, butter, or heart-healthy margarine

The stirring will quickly get more difficult.  At this point, lightly oil your hands with a bit of the oil, and knead the bread (either in the bowl or on the well-floured countertop) for at least 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are well combined and the dough is nice and elastic.  Cover with a damp dish or tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.  Prepare 2 9″ x 4″ loaf pans for baking by oiling with:

  • about 1 t. olive oil or butter

Punch dough down and divide in half.  Form each half into a loaf by rolling and tucking the sides underneath.  Place each half in a prepared pan, cover again with the damp towel and let rise for an hour.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Let cool on a rack and then enjoy!

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Paraguayan Cornbread 0

Posted on August 31, 2009 by crankycheryl

So yesterday as the boys were rotting their minds on horrible TV involving big-eared mice with insipid voices, I handed them a copy of my favorite childhood cookbook (published by UNICEF, featuring simple recipes from around the world that children can make with the help of an adult) and asked if they would mind picking out a recipe for Monkey Menu Monday. many hands cookbook There are a lot of things to love about this book – its gorgeous pictures, its international flair, the fact that it rates the difficulty of its recipes by increasing numbers of little hands, how it lists all of the necessary equipment so the tykes can work on their reading and then run relay races around the kitchen getting measuring cups and the like.

No, sweetie, Mommy will get the sharp knife.  Please put it down.

Of course, I have a non-reader and a fledgling reader.  So they sat cutely together on a big pillow on the floor with their brows furrowed, judicious expressions on their little faces as they “hmmm”-ed and nodded and finally gave me the book back, open to the index.  “This one, Mommy,” E. said importantly, pointing squarely to the spot between the C’s and the D’s. I showed them where the recipes were, and they eventually settled on the Paraguayan Cornbread.  I smiled and nodded, but was thinking, “BORING!”  But also, “crowd-pleasing,” and “frugal,” and “phew.”

But then we made it tonight and it was the best, richest, most delicious cornbread ever.  I’d been a loyal Vegetarian Epicure cornbread maker for years, but a friend finally pointed out that it was unpleasantly crumbly – a truth to which I was blinded by habit and loyalty.  Since seeing the light, I’ve been using the 1997 JoC‘s Northern Cornbread recipe, which is moist and versatile and very, very good.

But this one ROCKS!  We had it tonight with some watermelon and turkey sausage with fresh tomatoes, and we were all impressed.  Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. Paraguay Cornbread From Many Hands Cookbook 6 – 8 pieces According to the introduction:

“When a Paraguayan family goes to an asado (a barbecue or picnic), crusty cornbread and beans are an important part of the meal.  Both are popular foods in Paraguay, as they are in other South American countries.  For special occasions, the cornbread is spiced with onions and cheese.  This cornbread is called Sopa Paraguaya.”
  • 1 or 2 t. butter times two, one for sauteeing the onion, one for greasing the baking dish
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c. flour (I used whole wheat bread flour)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 1/4 c. [not a typo] melted butter [I used olive oil]
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack or Muenster cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Put 1 – 2 t. in a saute pan, and cook the onion until just transparent.
  3. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  4. Put the cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and stir well.0831091656a
  5. Break the egg into a small bowl and beat lightly.  Add in the milk and melted butter or oil and beat together.
  6. 0831091659(2)Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and combine well.
  7. Add the grated cheese and stir in.  Place sauteed onion on top so your children can pick it off and throw it at each other.  Or at you for daring to sully Monkey Menu Monday with onions because “I don’t even like onions or garlic, Mommy.”  Or you can bravely stir them right into the batter if you like living on the edge.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden and a knife inserted into the center of the pan comes out basically clean.
  9. Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve while still warm so your older child, no matter that you just told him it was hot, can take a huge bite and then start shrieking and waving around his arms and knocking over the BF’s water because he burned his tongue.  Buen provecho!
Another fuzzy picture courtesy my cameraphone since real camera is still being repaired.

Another fuzzy picture courtesy my cameraphone since real camera is still being repaired.

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Making Bread 7

Posted on June 09, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread-jan-09-002Here’s how making bread goes.

Morning:  I am flinging shoes and making eye contact and nodding at children as I try to get them to get on their backpacks and socks and put down the damn marker that someone’s about to puncture an eardrum with.  I take the starter out in its little pyrex container and set it on the counter.  I give kisses goodbye and wave and watch as E. runs up the gravel path for his ride to school.  I add a cup of flour and a half a cup of water and stir and marvel at how the kitchen is already piled with dishes.

After a mind-numbing morning of Playhouse Disney, I’m swooping through the house gathering towels and toiletries and water bottles and swimsuits on the way out the door, always late, to swim class.  The starter has expanded and is liquid and bubbly and smells yeasty and sour and I stop in my tracks.  I look at the clock and scoop out a cup of the fed starter and thunk the thick, gluten-stringy stuff into my cracked mixing bowl with a cup and a half of water and 3 or 4 cups of flour, ideally a mix of Gleason’s Grains Whole Wheat Bread Flour and spelt and rye.  I stir, cover the bowl with a plate and race for the door.

After swim class, after lunch downtown, after picking up E., we return home, racing down the path playing “I’m Going to Get You” all the way to our door.  The boys run to the dirt that’s piled up in the garden, their favorite spring location.  I go in to see how things are looking.  The dishes seem to have multiplied in our absence and the sponge has expanded.  I add in the remaining flour and a tablespoon of salt.  Today I’m feeling a little kooky and throw in a generous sprinkle of dried orange peel and a pinch of ground ginger, thinking of Swedish rye bread.  I turn the oven on to 350, set the timer for one minute, and put the covered bowl into the oven once I turn it off.    The door opens and the boys are there, caked with dirt and laughing and asking for juice.

The bread rises and warms for an hour or two.  Close to bedtime then and I’m trying to do the math of when the bread is going to get itself baked.  We have the usual spasmodic dance of toothbrushes and washcloths and they moon me with their little tushes and cry like I’ve stuck spears in them when I ask them to get on their own pajamas as they bungee themselves around their tiny room.  The timer goes off and I slip downstairs to form the loaves.

bread-jan-09-005I’m half-listening to them, suddenly calm without me there, as I stretch the dough thin and wide in my hands.  I sprinkle cornmeal onto oiled half-sheet pans and wonder how real bakers do this as I sort of roll, sort of tuck, stretch and pat and fold the dough into a somewhat oval shape.  I cover the loaves with a dry cotton towel under a slightly damp one and head back upstairs to read Cowboy and Octopus.

We have read and snuggled and put down the shades and they are quiet as  I make my way downstairs.  Dishes still.  Plastic tools covering the couch and paints and markers all over the little table.  Blueberry trails scatter across the dining room floor.  The loaves have expanded.  Enough?  Maybe.  I turn on the oven to 450, cringing and remembering the several times I’ve managed to set off the smoke alarms and wake up the boys.  I open two windows and turn on the exhaust fan.

bread-jan-09-0101The oven beeps, preheated, and I take a steak knife and cut slits across the bread, slip it into the oven.  I set the timer for 20 minutes and wait, thinking about the next day, wondering whether it would kill me to clean the bathroom.  Suddenly remember that I haven’t yet checked E.’s school-to-home folder and get his backpack from the mudroom.  A field trip is coming and another homework page I can’t bear to force a kindergartener to do falls to the floor.  I sign the permission slip and replace the backpack, line up shoes, jackets, baseball caps for the morning.

The timer goes off and I take out the pan, quickly closing the door before the heat or the charred whatever in the oven sets off those noisy alarms.  I put the loaves on a rack, and listen to the peepers singing in the pond in the dark.  Upstairs someone wakes up a little, talking to their dreams.  Then quiet, cool, night.

You can do it too.  Let me know if you want some of my starter.

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Why It Matters 0

Posted on March 05, 2009 by crankycheryl

I thought I had finally demonstrated my cooking nuttiness this week when I looked down in the sink one evening and saw every one of my 8  (8!) wooden spoons there.  There was the one from starting the sponge for sourdough bread, the one for the cake, the one for its icing, the oatmeal, the custard for the cohousing dinner, plus whatever else I’ve already forgotten.

But I realized that I didn’t feel nutty.  I was tired, but I felt kind of great.  And it made me realize that there’s something I haven’t yet said here:

I cook for the joy of it.  For the satisfaction and simplicity of feeding those I love.  For the pleasure of necessary thriftiness.  Because it’s art and craft and creation and primal and needed.

For me, cooking all the time – the daily grind of it, and the fanciest flights – is life.  To do it with a glad heart is to try to keep my own best self close.  That I can make people happy and engage in the organic magic of bread-making and fill the house with the smell of chocolate or melting butter and evoke memories and even save money is a pure and needed joy.

So every day, here we are, slogging along through money worries and perpetual lateness and ADHD and cabin fever and the rest of it.  But every day we can come back to this quiet, necessary, open-hearted act of creation and sharing.  And if that doesn’t make it all somehow worth it, I don’t know what could.

And in that spirit, I’m sharing some recent, unblogged creations:

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Good Sandwich Bread 6

Posted on February 19, 2009 by crankycheryl

003I adapted this from the recipe on the back of the King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat bag.  I’m surprised by how well it came out!

Multigrain Molasses Sandwich Bread

2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 C. water (start with the smaller amount)
1 T.  olive or vegetable oil
2 T. molasses
1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour

1 C. white flour
1/2 C. oats (I used quick oats, but I don’t think it much matters)
1/2 C. ground flaxseed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured or lightly greased surface, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth.  Place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp dishtowel and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Punch dough down, knead a couple of times, and then shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with the dish towel, and allow the bread to rise for about an hour, until it’s risen about 1 inch above the edge of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf.) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

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No-Knead Bread 0

Posted on January 03, 2009 by crankycheryl


My to-do list for the week is impossible.   My degree of overwhelmed gives me a special love for anything effortless – like the fact that by 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, this blob will have turned into sourdough, and by the time the monkeyboys have gone to bed, the oven will be heating to make a pair of beautiful crusty loaves.

Though I’m pretty sure I was the last foodie to have discovered No-Knead Bread, maybe it was actually you.   If you haven’t yet tried it, you can visit Mark Bittman’s blog and check it out.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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