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Do You Know the Muffin Man?

Posted Feb 18 2012 11:10am

This blog does not promote cruelty to animated baked goods.

[ Source ]

It does, however, promote obscure 1960′s toytown pop . . .

Now, to today’s topic: I’ve always adamantly claimed that I’m not a baker. Part of me wishes I were, but I much prefer making curries over cookies any day, plus I want to avoid provoking my sweet tooth, too, which strangely disappears as long as I don’t succumb to sugary temptations.

Nevertheless, certain baked goods remain a necessary component of my weekly menu, especially homemade bread. Several years ago, my parents purchased a top-of-the-line bread machine , and it’s still alive ‘n kickin’—I usually make one loaf per week, using recipes from either Betty Crocker’s Best Bread Machine Cookbook or The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook .

In January, though, I got creative and devised my own bread recipe—and everyone’s who has tried it absolutely LOVED it. My husband claims it the best bread I’ve ever made . . . and trust me, I’ve made a lot of loaves over the last few years, so his compliment means a lot.

The Super Seedy Bread That Supersedes Your Run-of-the-Mill Loaf

Did ya get the puns? Thank my husband’s sense of humor.

NOTE: This recipe does require a bread machine. I don’t have an alternative for oven-baked bread.

Makes 1 2-lb. loaf, approximately 22 slices

Ingredients

1-1/3 cups milk alternative of choice, at room temperature

3 Tbs. water, at room temperature/lukewarm

4 tsp. cooking oil or unsweetened applesauce

2-1/3 cup bread flour*

1-2/3 cup whole wheat or spelt flour or a combination!

3 Tbs. granulated sugar of choice (I used evaporated cane juice)**

2 Tbs. dry millet

2 Tbs. dry quinoa

2 Tbs. dry amaranth

2 Tbs. sunflower seeds

2 Tbs. pumpkin seeds

1 Tbs. poppy seeds

1 Tbs. sesame seeds

1 tsp. salt

1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

*Concerning flours, I’ve found that using plain ol’ white bread flour is sort of necessary if you want your loaf to rise enough. I’ve attempted 100% whole wheat loaves in the past, and while certainly tasty, they are so dense, they don’t rise very much, and, thus, they are difficult to cut into reasonably-sized slices.

**Sugar is absolutely necessary for baking bread, since it feeds the yeast. DO NOT use a sugar-free substitute, such as stevia—you’ll end up with a useless hunk of dough.

Directions

  1. The first trick to baking a perfect loaf is to NOT allow the yeast come into contact with any liquid before the baking process. So, pour the milk alternative, water, and oil/applesauce into the bread pan first.
  2. Add flours, sugar, grains, seeds, and salt. At the top of this pile of goodness, create a little nest-like hole, about ½-inch deep, with your finger—this is where you’ll put the last, but most important ingredient, the yeast.
  3. Every bread machine is different, but most require you to select a cycle. If available, select the whole grain cycle. Now, you can go about your business while the machine does its job—just be sure to check the dough a couple minutes after the knead cycle starts, as it may need some extra water (too dry) or extra flour (too moist). The key to determining perfect moisture content is to press the dough with your fingertip—if your finger comes back clean (no dough stuck to it), you’re good to go, so to speak.
  4. When the loaf is finished, remove from the bread machine and allow to cool completely before slicing. Waiting prevents the bread from drying out.

In addition to bread, I also take the time to bake protein bars, a filling snack I can carry in my backpack to combat that nefarious middle-of-the-afternoon slump.

Tropical Paradise Protein Bars

Makes 12-16 bars

Ingredients

2 Tbs. ground flaxseed + 6 Tbs. water

1-1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup flaked or shredded coconut

¾ cup roasted brazil or macadamia nuts, chopped

½ cup dried dates, chopped

½ cup dried tropical fruit mix (pineapple, mango, papaya, etc.), chopped

½ cup protein powder (I used hemp protein powder from Nutiva )

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

2 Tbs. toasted poppy seeds

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. salt

3 ripe bananas

2 Tbs. maple syrup or raw agave nectar

10 drops liquid stevia

1 Tbs. coconut oil, melted

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (optional)

Directions

  1. First, make your flax “egg” by whisking together the flax and water and refrigerating at least 15 minutes before using.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth (I like mine a little chunky, so I get gooey pieces of banana in my bars). Stir in sweetener, stevia, coconut oil, and extracts. Retrieve flax egg, whisk briefly, and add to the wet mix.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until combined, adding a little water or milk alternative of choice if the batter’s a little dry.
  5. Spread the batter into a 9×11 baking pan lightly sprayed or greased with cooking oil, smoothing it down evenly with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and pulling away from pan’s sides. Cool completely before dividing into 12-16 bars, depending on the size you prefer.
  6. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. These also freeze well—just take one out at least half an hour before snacktime!


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