Light Wheat Bread

I love to bake bread.  If you’ve never tried making bread at home, it’s not as hard as you might think.  Yeast is magical and creating a rich and fragrant loaf is so satisfying.  This is a soft sandwich style wheat bread.  It has 1/3 whole wheat flour to 2/3 white flour, which is a reliable ratio for most bread recipes.  Whole wheat flour requires more hydration and patience to yield a soft and light texture, but with these proportions you’ll get good results.  The addition of milk and butter also tenderize the wheat but could be left out for a dairy free bread.  I used my stand mixer and dough hook for this recipe and it was very easy.

Light Wheat Bread

recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour ( I use King Arthur All Purpose Flour)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered milk

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 cups water at room temperature

  • Stir together the flours, sugar, salt, powdered milk and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter and water, stirring until the mixture forms a ball.  If needed, add a little more water until the dough is soft and supple.  It’s better for the mixture to be a little bit too wet than too dry.
  • Knead for 10 minutes by hand or 6 minutes in a mixer.  Coat the dough with oil and cover the bowl to let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

  • Tip the dough onto a floured surface and press out into a rectangle.  Form into a loaf by rolling and pressing the dough into a log, then sealing the ends and tucking under.  It is important to shape the dough so that it will rise evenly without any odd lumps.  If you have never worked with shaping bread before, here’s a video from King Arthur Flour to help you get started.  
  • Place the dough in a greased bread pan and mist the top of the loaf with water and cover very loosely so that it won’t stick as it rises.  Proof for about 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, rotate the pan and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes.  The bread should be golden brown and register 190 degrees in the center.  Remove bread from the pan immediately and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or eating.


  • Enjoy with lots of butter!


Blackberry Lime Walkaway

This is a beautiful bread filled with cream cheese, jam and fresh fruit.  The recipe is much easier than it looks, and it’s super delicious. Nothing beats blackberries in the summertime, so I walked along the pasture fence picking until I had more than enough for a baking project.  I used raspberry jam and flavored the cream cheese with lime zest and juice.

If Walkaway seems like an odd name for a cream cheese and fruit filled bread, click through to The Italian Dish blog and read about its origins.  I’ve made it several times over the years and am always pleasantly surprised at how simple and adaptable it is.  I made a few changes to the recipe this time, leaving the dough a bit leaner and healthier while bumping up the cream cheese and fruit.

Blackberry Lime Walkaway

Adapted from The Italian Dish

For the dough:

1/3 cup milk

3/4 cup water

3 Tablespoons butter – melted

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

For the filling:

6 oz cream cheese

zest and juice of 1 lime or lemon (I used 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime b/c that’s what was in my fridge)

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup raspberry jam

3/4 cup fresh blackberries

I make the dough in my bread machine because I can walk away from it and let the machine slowing mix and knead everything.  However, you can use a stand mixer.  Place the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the mixing bowl and attach the dough hook.  Mix until combined, then gradually add the liquids and butter.  Add the remaining flour until the dough clings to the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl.  Add just enough to form a soft ball – you may have to add a little less or a little more flour.  Knead for about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl and cover.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 min to an hour.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add just a teaspoon of oil to spread around with your hands.  This will help with any sticky issues in the next step.  When the dough is ready, punch it down and place on the oiled paper with your oiled hands.  Spread the dough to fill the pan completely and evenly.  I did this just with my hands, but you could use a rolling pin.  Mix the cream cheese, sugar, lime juice and zest in a small bowl.  Spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough in about a 4 inch strip, leaving an inch of dough at both ends.  Next, gently spread on the jam and then top with the fresh blackberries.  To  make the beautiful folded top, use a sharp paring knife to cut diagonal strips down the sides of the dough.  Make two cuts on each end to make the end flaps.  Fold the short end flaps over the filling and then start folding the strips over, alternating from side to side.  Trim away any excess dough when you’re done.  Cover lightly and let rise for about 40 minutes.

Bake at 375 for about 25- 30 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve for breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, or a snack!  The zing of lime zest and punch of raspberry jam are fantastic.


Blueberry Banana Bread

Quick breads are so easy and satisfying to make.  This recipe is a direct offshoot of my Grandmother’s Banana Bread which I blogged about in 2012.  It’s not too high in sugar and includes some healthy rolled oats and blueberries.  Please try it and let me know how it goes.  Don’t worry about exact measurements for this one, it’s practically foolproof!

Blueberry Banana Bread

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 very ripe banana

1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the baking pan(s) with a good smear of butter; this recipe works well in three mini loaves or as muffins.

Begin by measuring the rolled oats into a bowl or jug like the one pictured.  Add the buttermilk to the oats, stir and let this combination sit while you gather and prepare the rest of the ingredients.  The buttermilk will tenderize the oats.

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl and add the 3/4 cup sugar and the banana.  Mash the banana with a fork and mix well.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined and relatively smooth.  Now add the oats/buttermilk mixture and stir it all up.

Add the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda to the bowl.  Begin to mix the dry ingredients in gently and then add the blueberries and continue to mix gently until just combined.

Pour the batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth out the top.  Combine the 3 Tablespoons turbinado sugar and the cinnamon in your 1/4 cup measuring cup and sprinkle this all over the top.  Turbinado sugar has larger crystals than white sugar and will give a wonderfully crunchy top.  Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out to continue to cool.

 I couldn’t believe it when my husband said he thought it might even be better than banana bread!  The crumb is tender and moist and the crunchy top really sets it off.

Quick Basil and Feta Bread

There are a few food bloggers that I’ve been following for many years.  When I see their emails in my inbox, I know they’ll provide consistently delicious recipes that are interesting but not too difficult.  Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini is a food writer living in Paris.  She sends out a monthly post with a round – up of recipes, restaurants, and other tidbits.  This month provided a gem of a recipe: a savory quick bread with feta cheese and lots of fresh herbs.  There’s no yeast and no rising time, if you can make banana bread then you can make this!

Everything about this recipe is perfect.  The sesame seeds provide a subtle, nutty crunch, and the salty feta cheese in a soft rich bread hits all the right notes.  The basil makes this bread very seasonal for late summer, but any other herb or combination of herbs would work just as well.

Clotilde kindly includes converted measurements since Europeans measure baking ingredients by weight instead of volume.  I have ‘Americanized’ this recipe even more by using buttermilk in place of the yogurt and making a few other small changes.  However, her version is absolutely perfect so if you have some plain yogurt in the fridge please click through for her recipe.

Quick Basil and Feta Bread

A little butter for the pan

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds (I used a mix of black and white)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 and 1/4 cup buttermilk (full fat)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 bunch fresh basil or about 1 cup chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 1 full size bread pan or three minis (which is what I used) by smearing with butter and sprinkling in 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds.

Chop the herbs (here’s a post that includes directions for chopping basil) and crumble the feta cheese.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper and stir well with a fork or whisk in a medium bowl.

Using a 2 cup or larger liquid measuring cup (such as the one in the picture), measure the buttermilk and oil, then add the eggs and mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir gently.  When the mixture is still very lumpy, go ahead and add the herbs and cheese.  Mix until just combined (do not over mix or you will develop the gluten and make the bread tough).  Spread into prepared pans and top with remaining sesame seeds.

Bake 40- 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes then turn out to finish cooling and allow the crust to crisp.



Sourdough Bread

IMG_8710Bread is tricky and anyone who tries to tell you that it’s easy is lying. .. or they have a very different standard for bread than I do.  It’s true that many breads are easy to make at home.  I have a bread machine and can consistently make a soft and fluffy loaf.  I also find other sweet breads and rolls pretty simple.  My challenge and my goal however is to bake a crusty, perfectly shaped, beautiful and tasty loaf of bread with no added sugar, milk, eggs or other nonsense.  I want a subtle flavor that comes from fermentation.  I want large, uneven holes and a good chew.  I want a crust that is so crisp it shatters.  All this can be achieved by going to a good bakery in a large city and purchasing fresh bread.  This perfection can also be accomplished in a home oven, but it is very tricky.

I’ve been practicing my bread skills for about 5 or 6 years now and I still fail regularly. IMG_8713 My conclusion is that it just takes a lot of practice because I have steadily improved with experience.  I’ve had to throw out entire loaves of bread in the past and that never happens now.  It just takes time to get accustomed to the feel of dough, how to handle it, roll it shape it, poke it and slice it.  Typically my problem is with the final rise and I end up with a loaf that is too dense.  Here are some links from my past forays into bread baking.  There is a constant pursuit of the perfect bread for a perfect tomato sandwich seen in this no knead bread.   My son’s favorite is the sweet and rich Easter Bread.  Country French Bread with help from Julia Child is really delicious!  A surprisingly easy and fun recipe is for Pita Bread.  These are all yeast breads.  Sweet quick breads such as Banana Bread and Pumpkin Bread and scones are in a different category altogether.

IMG_8717My mom recently gave me the gift of a shortcut to excellent flavor in my bread: a sourdough starter.  The starter is basically a slurry of flour and water that smells very ripe and sour.  When I feed it more flour and water and leave it on the kitchen counter it bubbles and froths and runs down the side of it’s mason jar to make a pasty mess.  It’s so good.

Even though it’s very ugly and consistently leaves a trail of crustiness on the counter and in the fridge, I love it and will try to keep it alive forever.

I’ve been using this recipe from The Kitchn for Easy Beginner Sourdough.  It’s easy and for beginners because it doesn’t rely only on the starter for the rise – you add some yeast as insurance and to speed up the process.  Click through for more detailed information and the complete recipe.  It’s worth noting that none of my efforts have ever looked anything like the pictures on that website.  They’ve all been tasty though.  The dough is very wet and a little tricky to work with.  You will need a good mixer with a dough hook or some serious experience kneading heavy, wet dough.  I find better results with a shaped loaf than a bread pan for this recipe.  Contact me if you would like some starter – it multiplies quickly and I’d love to share.

IMG_8733p.s. I grew this mammoth, unblemished, perfectly ripe, beautiful and delicious heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato in my little garden and it was even prettier in person.