A Year of Living Breadfully #4 – Rosemary Bread

Homemade rosemary bread is a favourite to make when we are at our place in the Gulf Islands. With rosemary growing fresh in our garden year round, it is a great addition to a basic white bread recipe. This bread is a great savoury bread to enjoy with soups and stews.

Rosemary


Bread dough and fresh rosemary.


Rosemary bread


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A Year of Living Breadfully – #4 – Scones

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Scones. Lots and lots of scones as my daughter took them to school for an event. I started with this recipe and then made a few adaptations after reading a few differences between British and American scone recipes.

From internet reading, it appears American scone recipes have more sugar and butter in them as they are often eaten on their own or with butter. According to the internet British scones have less butter and sugar as they are often eaten dressed up with preserves and clotted cream. These differences may or may not be true, but it made a little sense and added up to the differences in scones I have personally tasted on both sides of the Atlantic.

Knowing that these scones were headed to school, and that there would not be preserves or clotted cream, I decided to make them just a little bit sweeter. I opted to use 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 1/4 and I also added in 1 cup of currants.. They were also sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

All in all the scones were delicious, and disappeared in a flash.

A Year of Living Breadfully continues with so many breads to explore.

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A Year of Living Breadfully – #3 – naan

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We have been going through a spell of very cold weather with windchills of -30C and colder (yes, I do believe in “windchill”!). One thing very cold days are good for is baking. Yesterday I continued my “Year of Living Breadfully” with naan.

Naan was completely new to me. I picked a recipe off the internet, one in which I had all the ingredients. I have decided to not link this recipe as the measurements of liquid to flour were clearly off (as in, it did not create a workable dough, it was really, really crumbly). Luckily from having made bread in the past I was able to tweak the recipe at the end balancing out the final dough adding more liquid and a little more flour. I guess the 2/5 rating the recipe had was valid…explains why you couldn’t view the comments too. Sometimes, I guess, the ratings are correct.

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Once the dough was usable, it was left to rise for an hour. Upon rising, the dough was then flattened down, divided into golf ball sized balls, and left to rise for a second time.

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The dough was then rolled out into very thin circles. Using a pastry marble worked perfectly for this, releasing the dough with no issues at all.

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The thin circles of dough were then put in an oiled frying pan and cooked until they started to bubbled and brown. Once browned , they were then flipped to cook on the other side, plus given a light brush of butter on top. I found a mid range heat worked best for this. After each naan was completed I put it in the oven on the warming setting to keep the bread warm for dinner.

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Even with the recipe snag, this bread turned out to be very, very good. It tasted much like naan we have had from Indian restaurants in England. We paired it with a yam, lentil, chick pea curry that was beyond delicious.

Now I need to contemplate what my next bread will be. Perhaps it is time to bake something sweet. I’ll have to hit the cookbooks and the internet and look for recipes.

Photography by Debra Hunter

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A Year of Living Breadfully – #1 – whole wheat bread

This year I decided to embark on a new kind of project, not a resolution, but rather an exploration. I have decided for 2017 to experience a year of living breadfully. By now you are probably wondering what I am talking about, and it is, quite simply, a year where I explore making different breads.

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The goal is to explore baking bread at least once a week, trying new flours, new recipes, or new ways to incorporate bread into our everyday eating. Bread has such a history, it has sustained civilizations for thousands of years, and it was actually through watching historical documentaries that the idea came to me to spend the year exploring this humble food.

Ironically, focusing on bread seems so contrary to modern society, a society that maligns “carbs” and puts “gluten-free” upon a pedestal. However anyone who has followed this blog knows very well that I don’t mind being contrary, so celebrating a food that sometimes receives negative attention seems apt.

I am looking forward to a year of the smell of freshly baked bread filling my home, a year of eating warm bread out of the oven, and having the chance to photograph some amazing loafs too.

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#1 Whole Wheat Bread

The first bread of the year is whole wheat bread. I tweaked a recipe that I have used for years, and it will probably be the basis for many of the loaves I make over the coming months. I used a combination of stone ground hard whole wheat flour and all purpose flour for this bread. We enjoyed the bread sliced for dinner along with butter, cured meats and cheese….and it was amazing.

For those who are interested, here is a list of the ingredients to make two loaves:

warm water – 2 cups
sugar – 2 tablespoons
yeast – 1 tablespoon

butter (melted) – 2 tablespoons
salt  – 2 teaspoons

whole wheat flour (hard stone ground from Bulk Barn) – 3 cups
all purpose flour – 2 cups

(***bread was baked at 400F for 40 minutes)

Now I will be the first to admit I am not new to making bread, the first loaf I made was actually 26 years ago, with bread made at least once a month….so that is a lot of bread. What I have found is that bread making is actually much simpler than many people make it out to be. Making bread also is not that time consuming, but rather more about time management. So instead of detailed information about how to scientifically bake bread I will give a quick run down as to how I do it.

  • measure out two cups of warm water, stir in your sugar, sprinkle your yeast over the water and let it sit 5-10 minutes….whatever it takes to get all bubbly. While this is happening I usually go and do something else and come back to check on it.
  • once the water and yeast are all bubbly I add it to the bowl of my stand mixer (best purchase ever!), add in the melted butter, the salt, and two cups of the whole wheat flour. Turn on the mixer (bread hook attached) and let it work for a couple of minutes. This is a good time to check your email, or Instagram accounts.
  • after a few minutes add in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and let the mixer work for another minute or two. Then add in the first cup of all purpose flour and again let the mixer work it in.
  • with the final cup of flour add it in a bit at a time. Part of making bread comes down to the feel of the dough, you don’t want it to be too wet (sticky) or too dry (crumbly), so adding in the last cup of flour a bit at a time will allow you to monitor the dough to be the right squishy dough consistency. Sometimes you need less flour, sometimes you need more, just go off the feel of the dough.
  • once all the flour is added, and the dough seems right, I let the mixer work away for at least another 5 minutes. Another great opportunity to do something else while the mixer works.
  • now that the dough is ready, I remove the bowl from the mixer, take the dough out, spray the mixer bowl with oil or cooking spray, and put the dough back in. You can also rotate the dough in the bowl once so that the top of the dough is oiled.
  • I then cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let the dough sit. (Rotating the dough in the bowl so the top of the dough was oiled means the plastic wrap won’t stick to your dough once it has risen, making things much easier.)
  • usually I let the dough rise for 30 minutes to an hour. I usually line this time span up with going for a walk , doing errands or picking the kids up from school. I don’t need to be around for bread to rise….making bread is all about time management.
  • one thing to note is if your house is a little on the cool side, you can let the dough rise in your oven with just the light on. Sometimes that added warmth gets the yeast working and the bread rising.
  • once your dough has doubled in size (30 minutes to 1 hour later), I punch down the dough and shape the bread into loaves. For the loaves above I divided the dough in half, shaped each piece into a ball, placed the ball of dough on an oiled baking sheet, and flattened the ball
  • I then put the loaves on the baking sheets into the oven to rise a second time. This can again range 30 minutes to an hour. I usually pop it in, go do something, and then just check back later.
  • once the loaves have risen, I take them out of the oven, then turn the oven on, and bring it to temperature.
  • the loaves then go in to bake for about 25-40 minutes. This particular recipe was 40 minutes at 400F.
  • a ready loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom
  • when I bake bread I always rotate the position the bread is in the oven part way through, swapping bread on the higher rack for the bread on the lower one. Also, I never bake on the bottom rack….no one likes burnt bottoms on their loaf.

As I said, this is a rough idea as to how I personally bake bread. It is actually a stress free form of baking with lots of waiting times. Usually bread is baked to go with our supper, so I start around lunch time to have hot loaves to go with our evening meal. It is all about time management.


I think my project of “A Year of Living Breadfully” will be an interesting one, with so many types of bread to explore……and eat.

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A Taste of the Past – Grandma’s Banana Bread

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I’ve been wanting to expand my portfolio for a few years, and food photography has been one of the items on the list of things to shoot. I actually used to do quite a bit of food photography, maybe too much, when I worked in the U.K.. A Christmas hamper company was one of the main clients for the company I worked for and we would literally shoot Christmas dinners for 6 months of the year.

Blogging has given me a reason to expand what I shoot beyond portraits, weddings and a few commercial jobs. It has been refreshing.

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The images today are of banana bread from my grandmother’s recipe.

I will admit this is actually the second attempt shooting banana bread. The first attempt was last week when I made the loaves one afternoon while our older children were in school. I pulled the loaves out of the oven just before picking them up from school, we got home, they smelled banana bread and the rest is history……my shooting subject became the after school snack. This time I was sneaky and I made the loaves and shot them after the young ones had been put to bed.  I still had to fight off a very attentive husband who kept saying “That smells so good!”, and followed me and the loaves into the studio to “help”.

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As this recipe makes very good banana bread, I am also going to share the recipe with you. My grandma used to put walnuts in the bread, but as schools have all gone nut free, my loaves are made without the walnuts so that we can pack slices into our big kid’s lunches. I have discovered that oil can be substituted for butter in a pinch, but butter definitely makes the best loaf.

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Grandma’s Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour

– Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Mix butter into mashed bananas.
– Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla.
– Sprinkle baking soda and salt on top and mix in.
– Add flour and mix in.
– Pour into a buttered 4″x8″ loaf pan.
– Bake 1 hour.