Archive for the ‘bread’ Category


The first time I made zucchini bread was in high school, in my Food & Nutrition class. When the teacher gave us the recipe, I remember thinking that it was going to be the most disgusting bread ever. I mean, how could anyone possibly incorporate zucchini into a sweet and tasty bread?!

One taste of the finished product and I was convinced; I loved it! But I never made it again…. until last week…

This time, Stas was the skeptical one (and I don’t blame him… he doesn’t even like zucchini much). But he liked it too – and even took some to work. (or maybe I made him take some to work :))

The zucchini doesn’t add any strong taste to the bread. I think it serves mostly for moisture and a nice, chewy texture. Whatever purpose it serves, it does it well!

the finished loaf

the finished loaf

Zucchini Bread
from Cooking Light

2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place shredded zucchini on several layers of paper towels, and cover with additional paper towel. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Set aside.

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder in a large bowl and stir well; make a well in center of mixture. Combine zucchini, applesauce, egg substitute, oil, and vanilla; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

4. Divide batter evenly between 1 large 9 inch loaf pan (or 2 smaller 7 1/2 x 3-inch loaf pans) coated with cooking spray.

before going into the oven

before going into the oven

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan(s), and let cool completely on wire rack.

straight from the oven

straight from the oven

Serves 28

1 serving = 3 Weight Watchers points

I used 1 large loaf pan for my bread. I think this way, the center of the bread stays more moist- and you get that yummy section of almost-but-not-quite-fully-cooked part… the part that’s extra moist and chewy… the best part!


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I’m lucky enough to have a co-worker who brews his own beer… but not for the reason you may immediately think.

Lucky because whenever he makes a fresh batch, he gives me his spent grain – what’s left of the grain after the beer-making process. Here’s what it looks like:


That bag was from a batch of oatmeal stout – it’s a little darker than the usual grains he gives me…. and it made a GREAT batch of bread. Spent grain bread is incredibly healthy, and this recipe produces a slightly-sweet bread (from the honey) with a nice, deep bread flavor (from the soaker and biga). It’s more dense than the average white loaf, but still manages to have a great soft texture.

This recipe makes 2 loaves – I kept one at home and brought the other one into work for a Thanksgiving potluck – it got rave reviews and went very very quickly!

If you’re going to make it, keep in mind that it’s a 2-day process, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
Spent Grain Bread
adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads

Day 1:


454g (1lb) white whole wheat flour
8g (1 teaspoon) salt
1 1/2 cups water

Mix all ingredients until flour is completely hydrated. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Then, put it in the refrigerator, where it can stay for up to 3 days.


454g (1lb) white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water

Make a well in the flour. Pour the water into the well and then sprinkle the yeast into the water. Mix the water, gradually drawing in the flour until it is fully hydrated. Once you have a ball of dough, knead it in the bowl with wet hands for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to add too much extra water to the dough.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, and then knead again by hand for about one minute. This time, the dough will be slightly easier to work with (but still very sticky). Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Here’s my soaker and biga, on day 2. (soaker is on the left):


Day 2:

(Remove the biga from the refrigerator about 2 hours before starting to mix the final dough)

225g spent grain
113g all-purpose flour
10g (2 1/4 teaspoon) salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant dry yeast
85g (4 1/2 teaspoons) honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Using a bench scraper, chop the soaker and biga into about 12 smaller pieces each. Sprinkle some extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Hydrate the yeast in a little warm water (just enough to form a thick paste). Add to the biga and soaker pieces along with the remaining ingredients. Mix with a spoon or knead with wet hands for a few minutes to evenly distribute all ingredients. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface (it will be very sticky). Knead for 3-4 minutes – it will be difficult to work with, but resist the urge to add too much flour (you don’t want the finished loaf to be too dense). Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes.


Knead the dough again for about a minute. Place it into a lightly oiled bowl, covering it in oil on all sides. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes.

Once risen, divide the dough in two using a bench scraper. Form into two loaves. Cover loosely and let rise for an additional 45 to 60 minutes.


Before going into the oven… The recipe didn’t tell me to slash the loaves – but I did anyway.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add a steam pan to the oven. When you put the bread into the oven, add a cup of water to the pan and shut the door. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes. Then rotate the bread and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Cool on wire rack (don’t cut into it for at least 1 hour).

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I forgot my slashes this time!!! Oh no!!

I’ve recently gotten back into baking my own bread. I used to be crazy about it – I experimented with a ton of recipes from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and The Fresh Loaf blog. I didn’t eat the bread back then (too scared of the carbs… and for awhile I was on a very specific weight-lifting food plan), so poor Stan was forced to eat all of my “experiments”.

Eventually, I stopped making my own bread – mostly because of time contstraints. I was too tired to do it right after work, and most nights were spent at the gym.

Ukraine changed a lot for me – it sort of “re-set” everything and gave me some balance. I now eat bread (I’m no longer on my crazy food plan) and we’ve been spending less time at the gym… So I’ve re-discovered my love of bread baking! There’s (almost) nothing better than baking your own bread – the texture of the dough as you knead it, the sound of the air bubbles popping as you punch it down, the squishiness of it as you shape it, the smell of it as you bake it… and of course the taste of fresh warm bread!

Plus, have you ever looked at the ingredients in store-bought bread? Most are filled with chemicals, bleached flour… all sorts of stuff. I like knowing exactly what’s in my bread.

I make this recipe about once per week. It’s very very easy – doesn’t require much hands-on time. It’s a 2-day process. I make the dough one day when I get home from work – mix it, shape it and put it in the fridge. On day two, I bake it. Unlike most bread recipes I’ve tried, this one doesn’t require long rising periods. Just one 10-minute rise and it’s ready to shape! I think the secret is in the yogurt and the 24-hour rest in the fridge…

Simple French Bread

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 envelopes Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use Greek 0% yogurt)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

bread-ingredients yogurt

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, milk, powder, undissolved yeast and salt:


Step 2: Heat water, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of oil until it reaches 120-130 degrees F:


Step 3: Stir liquid mixture into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Mix with dough hook in a stand mixer until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. (Or knead by hand on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes).


I usually use the stand mixer for 8 minutes, and knead by hand for the final 2 minutes.

Cover and let rest on floured surface for 10 minutes:


Step 4: Divide dough in half. Roll each to a long oval/rectangle:


Beginning at the long end, roll up tightly (like a jelly roll). Pinch seams and ends to seal. Place, seam sides down, on large greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Or place in a perforated French bread pan (I just got one yesterday as an early birthday present!)


Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for dough to rise. Refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Step 5: When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and carefully remove plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

With sharp knife, make 4 or 5 diagonal slashes across the top of each load (*** I forgot this time!!! ***).

Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 loaves


I LOVE the look of this bread – the caramel color and the little bubbles all over the crust! Once cooled, I wrap one and keep it in the freezer until we’re ready to use it. To defrost it, I just leave it out on the counter for awhile. It keeps very nicely in the freezer – keeps its taste and its texture.

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