Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not Every Cake Can Be Amazing

Despite the alluring picture of a cake topping this post, I am not writing about secrets to build amazing cakes. No, this post is about my failures. I was rereading through my old cooking posts (someone else please tell me you enjoy re-reading your own old posts - I do.) and noticed that in my introduction to Someone's in the Kitchen I mention that I'll share with you my cooking failures as well.

I have not lived up to this - unless you tried any of the recipes I posted about and you thought they were failures. If so, don't tell me, so I can remain in my ignorant state of feeling special. Not that frequent failures, or more usually "less than spectaculars" don't happen in my kitchen. Often I'll even prep pictures, and then the final product just isn't worth recommending. I've been working on learning how to make good layer cakes this last year. For the cake above it was a sponge cake with cream filling. Sponge cakes are dryer than the traditional American layer cake, so they recommend brushing a sugar/water glaze over the cakes to moisten them. I did that, but when we ate the cake, it was still very dry for American tastes.
Then the next day we had some more (those layer cakes sure make a lot of dessert!), and the sponge cakes had finally moistened up. I wish I knew how to transfer this to successful Sponge cake layers - I guess make and decorate the day before hand, and just choose durable frosting.

This was my birthday cake. I felt on a lemon kick, so made a recipe out of a cookbook that had lemon curd dropped into the batter before baking, a lemon curd filling, and a lemon icing. Avram thought it would be a little much. I didn't. Avram was right. Also, the icing never quite emulsified properly, and so although the flavor was right, the texture and spreading capabilities were off. You can tell how the frosting is bumpy in the photo. I had that same experience earlier this year. I've been attempting to move out of the traditional butter,cream (or milk) and powdered sugar frostings into the wide world of seven minute frosting, fluffy white frosting, Italian meringue buttercream frosting and the like. Mostly I've learned there's a reason for the ease of the powdered sugar buttercream frostings. I think once I perfect the methods, these other frostings will be better, but they definitely aren't the dump and mix type of dessert. The texture (when done right) and the flavor is better, and healthier (if this can be said of any frosting type) than the regular frosting. And the homemade simple buttercream is ten times better, in my opinion, than the cans of frosting from the store.

So if you really want to dress up a cake, make a box mix, and then fill and frost with homemade frosting. Making a homemade cake is also magnitudes harder than making a box cake. Except pound cakes, which are ridiculously easy. However, I think once I master them, they will be worth it - they can stand up to layering better, and have ultimately a better flavor from the butter instead of the oil. Also, for my birthday cake that I made I finally broke down and bought Soft White Wheat flour, found in grocery stores under the White Lily brand. This flour made all the difference in the tenderness of the crumb in the cake. I highly recommend buying some, and using it for any pastries, desserts, etc. that you make. In nicer cookbooks (ie, the ones with large pictures I get from the library), they will even specify for soft wheat flour, sometimes called pastry flour. EDIT - I actually meant to say cake flour, not pastry flour. Usually it's just called cake flour, but all cake flour is is soft wheat flour. See, that is how long it's been since I've read dessert cookbooks as a hobby.
This tart came with the strict instructions to buy the best chocolate you could afford, since chocolate was the main flavor. I used the generic bakers chocolate found in grocery stores everywhere, and the tart was kind of boring. I guess the book meant what it said. Quality of ingredients really does make a large difference in the finished product, which is why if you use margarine for daily use, I would still always, always bake with butter. Butter performs better, tastes better, and produces a better product. Always. (Except for pie crusts, which need shortening to be flaky).

None of these were flat failures - they still tasted good. I think less-than-exciting dishes happens in everyone's kitchens, whether they're erratic homemakers or professional chefs. Remember, though, that even though I'm still learning how to actually do really nice homemade cakes and frostings, that I've come a long way from my first homemade cake. Same thing with anyone and cooking. Even if you try recipes and they don't work, that doesn't mean you should give up and only ever buy Macaroni and Cheese and frozen pizzas. There is a definite learning curve in the kitchen, but you get to reap the benefits from learning every day, for the rest of your life. And if you're like me, and obsessed with learning how to make yummy, fancy desserts, your health gets to reap the benefits (?) of large doses of sugar as well.

Four Grain Flapjacks

Sadly, this is the only picture I actually took of the finished pancakes. Despite Elisheva's expression, we all love these things, including Elisheva.

For Christmas my uber-organized sister Mandie put together a cookbook for my Mom with each kid contributing a recipe with pictures of the grandkids making it/eating it/just looking cute. This is the recipe we put together for her. I wish I could say I invented this, but it actually came from the new and updated Joy of Cooking cookbook. I love that book. Avram and I checked it out of the library, and kept it for over four months on renewals, because we couldn't give it back. Then my mother-in-law gave me it for Christmas, and now I can be happy for forever.

Although I planned for a cute family togetherness cooking experience to take pictures of, real life intervened. First Lydia and Elisheva fought over the one purple apron that my Mom made for Lydia. Lydia won that one, but then in a spare moment Avram kyfed the controversial apron and hid it. Good thing Elisheva is getting an apron for her birthday in a few months.

Avram began assembling the ingredients, but by this point Elisheva was starving, and demanded breakfast NOW!

The dark underbelly of cooking and trying to take cute pictures while you have hungry kids to feed.

We gave her cheerios, and food comforted all Elisheva's sorrows.
Lydia helped Avram stir the dry ingredients, while Avram did the actual work to make this meal happen.Despite pictoral evidence, these are as quick as any pancakes (not from a mix) to put together - just ten minutes or so. And we do love them.

Four Grain Flapjacks

Whisk together in a large bowl:

1 cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

¼ old-fashioned or quick-rolling rolled oats

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In another bowl, combine:

1 ¾ cup milk

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted

¼ cup honey

3 eggs

Quickly mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Cook as for pancakes - on medium heat, until bubbles form on the top, then flip and cook on the second side until brown.

We really like to eat these pancakes with real maple syrup. Sure, it's five times as expensive as the fake stuff - but because it tastes so good, you don't need to use as much. And the extra grains can make you feel virtuous and lovely.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Easy Chicken Dinner

Some days I get to four p.m., and despite the fact that I plan daily menus every week, I have nothing planned to cook. (Note: never plan to eat leftovers for dinner. This will only mean you will have magically eaten all the leftovers in the house prior to that planned dinner). Other weeks I want comfort food, or don't feel like putting much time into cooking dinner.

At these times I always turn to my favorite easy (but doesn't look that way) dish: Chicken and Cream of Chicken Soup Gravy. Yeah, so it could use a more snazzy name, but comfort food is so good it doesn't need a deceptively exciting name like potatoes dauphinoise (scalloped potatoes) or fois gras (yuckity yuck yuck). I'm a little embarrassed to be posting a recipe that uses a cream of chicken soup can - I feel that I belong in a community cookbook from the fifties and up, where it seems every recipe involves some sort of cream of ____ soup. But I can't help it, this dinner is just that good.


Chicken. The recipe, specifically the gravy, tastes better if you use at least partially boned chicken, so I usually do one Chicken Quarter (leg & thigh) and one breast, since Avram loves white meat. I grew up making this with only drumsticks, and thought that was great too.

Cream of Chicken Soup. One can works for a thigh, drumstick, and large breast. Up the cannage according to your chicken. I often dilute the soup a little for more gravy - I'll use a quarter to a half can of milk (I can't even be bothered with a measuring cup, this recipe is so low-key), and mix it with the soup in a separate bowl first. Also, I will sometimes add rosemary to the mixture, if I'm feeling high class. This time I added two cans of soup, just because I love gravy so much.

Take the chicken. Thaw it in the microwave, or in the fridge for a couple days before hand if you're really prepared and awesome, unlike me. Pull off the skin if using a drumstick or thigh. I use a paper towel to grasp the skin and pull it over the end of the drumstick - this prevents my hand from slipping off the raw skin, and is very effective at getting the skin off.

Put the chicken in a casserole dish, and cover with the soup. Cook at 350 degrees until done, anywhere from 45 minutes for breast only to 65 minutes for bone-in meat. When preparing this meal for the pictures, I was too lazy to even thaw the chicken all the way (hence the skin on in the pictures), so I cooked it for an hour and a half. No matter - the chicken doesn't get dry covered with all the good gravy.

I usually make mashed potatoes to eat with this meal, but this time I made rice, and loved the combination. I also love peas with this.

This is a simple, down home meal, but I love it (have I said that enough times yet?) My girls love it too - Lydia kept on serving herself extra gravy. In college I served it to an apartment of guys in my ward, and they could not stop exclaiming over the dish. I told them how to make it, and they went on to try all sorts of exciting new variations, like adding cheese. I promise it'll change your life too - and if you eat it often enough, even your waistline.


Please stop buying the yucky large peas, and go out, this very minute, and buy Petite Green Peas, known in England as Petite Pois. They are small and yummy and vibrant and your tastebuds will thank you forever. Now when I eat normal peas I think they taste like Lima Beans. Lima beans, may they never pass my lips again, would probably taste like...fois gras. At my local grocery store these yummy peas even cost the same as the regular peas, but even if they cost more, they are completely worth it. Specifically look for "petite," and not just fresh, or whatever. I never had these until England, and I've never looked back since then.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Baked Fresh Fettuccine with Spinach

This recipe is adapted from the same cookbook, The New Complete Book of Pasta, by Maria Luisa and Jack Denton Scott, that I got the pasta recipe I posted earlier from. My recipe has been tweaked in several areas.

Baked Fresh Fettuccine with Spinach Serves 4
3/4 lb to 1 lb Pasta (depending how much sauce you like - this is not a super saucy dish, it's supposed to just coat each strand). You can substitute store fettuccine - not as good, but is a whole lot faster to use.
1 Pound spinach (to be honest, we use 10 oz. because that's the size of the bag that we use. I think it'd be great with the whole amount, though)
1 large white onion
1 garlic clove, minced
4-8 slices bacon, diced (Whatever amount makes you feel yummy, but still pretend healthy)
1 tsp butter (If you like your fats a lot, you can use more here.)
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbs flour
1 and 1/2 C. light cream
Juice of one lemon - about 1/4 -1/3 of a cup (You can use the bottled stuff, but the fresh does taste better - it's more potent somehow.)
1 tsp. salt
liberal black pepper to taste
4 Tbs. Parmesan Cheese

1.Make fresh pasta and cut into fettuccine and dry.
2. Cook spinach without any water in a covered pan until soft (check often)Spinach before cooking.
The same spinach after.

Let the spinach cool, then drain out all the liquid (by standing over the sink and squeezing it, is our method) and chop finely.

3.Finely dice onion, bacon and mince the garlic. Saute over medium heat in the butter and oil until soft. Drain out any bacon fat, if desired. Add the flour and blend it in, then let cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the cream, until the sauce is smooth.

4. Blend in the spinach and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

5.Meanwhile have water boiling, in the largest pot you own. Cook the noodles less then al dente, which for fresh noodles is 1 to 2 minutes only. For store bought noodles cook until almost done.

6.Drain, put in large hot oven proof bowl.
Toss with spinach sauce.

7. Sprinkle the 4 Tbs. Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake at 375 Degrees for 10 minutes.
You can also skip the baking step, if it's summertime and there is no way you'll turn your oven on. In that case, cook the noodles until they're done.

The original recipe used Pancetta instead of bacon, 1 1/2 pounds of Fettuccine (the whole fresh pasta recipe), 2 Tbs. butter and 2 Tbs. Olive Oil, and 2 pounds of spinach. If you want to make it really authentically, then by all means, please do so. I cut the pasta, because American tastes usually prefer a saucier dish than Italian ones, in my experience.

We love this dish. It has just the right amount of lemon zing with creamy, spinach undertones. (Now I'm going to start describing the bouquet, like it's a fancy wine). Also, especially if you use store pasta, it's really not a difficult dinner to bring together. We eat this with a salad, and it makes a complete meal. This reheats well the next day, but I often add some extra (reconstituted in a bottle) Lemon juice, because somehow the reheating makes it lose it lemony goodness. The recipe is best when made with Fresh Pasta, and Baked, but the fact we love it even half followed says something.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Our last week in England an Australian/New Zealand family (the mother from one and the father from the other) had us over to dinner. For dessert we had a Pavlova, and although I was worried at first, not being a fan of marshmallows, I loved the contrasts of textures, and I have been in love ever since. You can read about the history of Pavlova here, which like out dinner hosts comes from Australia and/or New Zealand. Pavlova is a simple dessert, with a baked meringue crust (that should still be soft and marshmallowy in the center), filled with whipped cream, and traditionally topped with strawberried and kiwis, although any fruit can be used as a topping. A seductively simple dessert, Pavlova feels like the essence of Summer cooking, with light flavors and intriguing texture. Pavlova is also a popular dessert in England. I suggest for your next dinner party, or just when you have some extra fruit and whipped cream, to try this for a change. I love Pavlova for entertaining, because the meringue needs to be made ahead, and the fruit can be prepared ahead, so all you have to do at the moment is whip the cream and assemble the dish.

Pavlova is not a picky dessert, and although it helps to use a recipe for the meringue base, anything goes for the rest. Some popular toppings are tropical fruit, berries of any kind, and I have even seen in cookbooks chocolate pavlovas topped with nuts. Personally, I think the fruit idea is more refreshing, but I wouldn't pass up a chocolate strawberry pavlova. (Avram would though. How did I end up married to a man who doesn't like Chocolate? What little old lady did I diss in the pre-existence?) A good recipe for Pavlova can be found at the Joy of Baking site.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Often Imitated, Badly Substituted, but never Duplicated, 100% Whole Wheat Bread!

After a three month hiatus (oops), I'm finally back, inspired by my latest food adventure (making cheese, per this website. Go forth, make cheese today) to continue blogging about food. Before reading this, you may want to review my ingredients, since I posted it so long ago. Also, just a reminder - I use half white whole wheat, and half red whole wheat for this recipe. You can use any mixture of whole wheat, and even of whole wheat flour and white flour as well (although I would recommend not using this recipe for all white bread). So here it is - the recipe you've all been waiting for, Whole Wheat Bread! (cue the cheesy intro music).

100% Whole Wheat Bread -
Makes two large loaves, or two medium loaves plus a small third loaf.


1 Tbs yeast
2 and 3/4 c. warm water
3 Tbs. honey
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 c. dry milk
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. Wheat Gluten or 2 Tbs. Dough Conditioner
4 -6 cups of whole wheat flour


1.Mix together the 1 Tbs. yeast, 3 Tbs. honey, and 2 and ¾ c. warm water in in a sturdy mixing bowl or stand mixer, and let sit for 5 minutes. Before adding the honey, I spray the Tablespoon with spray oil, and that way the honey comes out very easily, instead of sticking to the surface. The mixture should foam a bit at the top - this lets you know your yeast is active and working. This particular picture has superman powered yeast on steroids - normal foaming is much smaller.

2.Add 3 c. flour, 3 Tbs olive oil, ½ c. dry milk, 2 tsp. Salt and 3 Tbs. Wheat gluten. This is the wheat gluten I use, or the dough enhancer if I don't have wheat gluten. Sadly, these cheap products come from Utah. In other places, without Grandma's Country Foods, you can get Wheat Gluten, but it's not as nicely priced. Still, you only use 3 Tbs every batch, so it lasts a really long time.

Mix with a stand mixer at a level 2 or 3(and the paddle), or with a handheld mixer on medium for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and the gluten has began developing. This has not been mixed long enough. There are still lumps.

This has been mixed long enough. The gluten is starting to develop, and it's a smooth mixture.

3.By Stand Mixer: Change the paddle to a dough hook. Gradually add four cups of flour, mixing at a level 2. You will probably need more flour. The dough after four cups of flour. It needs more. I add about a half cup at a time after this, until it is ready. This probably has enough flour, but if as it's kneading the ball dissolves, just add another quarter cup or so, to keep it ball shaped. The dough does not technically need to form a ball - it is being kneaded regardless of its shape, but I like to have a stiffer dough for bread. Usually I will add another cup to cup and half total, but it changes from time to time. Making bread is not a science.

When the dough is ready, it will spring back to a light touch, and be smooth and elastic.

4.By Hand: stop using the hand mixer, and change to a fork and then your hand, as the dough stiffens. Gradually add four cups of flour to the dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 15-20 minutes. You will need to periodically add flour - at a quarter cup at a time. When ready, the dough should be smooth and elastic, and will spring back to a light touch.

5.Lightly oil a large bowl and the surface of the dough. Place dough in the bowl, cover with a damp towel or saran wrap (sprayed with spray oil) and let rise in a draft free place (I often use my oven during the winter, which I turn on to 350 degrees for 1 minute, turn off, and place the dough in there) until double in size, one to two hours. Sometimes, I'm lazy, and use the same bowl I made it in. But it'll rise farther if I don't.

6.Punch down the dough, and turn out and knead a couple of times. Cut the dough in half with kitchen scissors or a knife. Form two loaves. I do this by flattening out the dough with my hands, into a rectangle, than folding the two shorter sides into the center, until they barely touch. Then I pound this down with my hands, so it won't separate while cooking. Then from the top down I roll it up into a cylinder, squeezing it all the way so it will mesh together. This was the first time I used this method, so it looks a little ghetto, but it should be as long as your pan. I use really long pans from Ikea, that I love for making sandwiches, because then your slices aren't huge. If you have normal pans, you may have too much dough for them, in which case just make a small third loaf free form, and then lightly butter or oil a piece of tin foil, and put the loaf on that. You can bake the loaf on the tin foil - it's great for any free form bread you make, because then you don't have to wash up afterwards. If you make three loaves, and you don't need to make monster long ones because you have an IKEA bread pan, you shouldn't need to follow this method of shaping the loaves, but instead just make the rectangle, and then roll it up (with pounding it as you roll). Put the seam on the bottom.

Spray the pans with oil. Place the loaves in the pans, cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil (I reuse the same plastic wrap I used to cover the dough while it rose). Let the loaves rise until an inch above the pans. Turn the oven on to 375 degrees.

7.When preheated, cook the loaves for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and let cook for 20 minutes longer. Take the loaves from the pans (this should be easy, with the greased pan, but if they don't come right out, run a butter knife between the bread and the pan, and then turn over and bang on the bottom really hard, and that should do the trick). Let cool on a rack. I usually freeze one loaf, by wrapping it thoroughly in plastic wrap, and then a layer of tin foil. I let defrost either at room temperature, or in a moderate oven for 15 minutes or so, after first removing the plastic wrap, and then rewrapping with tin foil. The other loaf I wrap with plastic wrap, and keep at room temp. It will last for several days, and usually goes stale, instead of molding. I also keep the stale bread and use it for breadcrumbs in recipes.

And voila! Yummy bread. Although there are a lot of steps, it does not not take that long - it's just a spread out process. And with a kitchenaid, it's almost totally hands off. Some people would see that as cheating, or missing out on the earthy goodness of dough in your hands. I just think as long as you end up with a great product, who cares how you get there? (Barring breaking any major laws or the ten commandments, of course).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Good Bread Only Takes Three Good Things...

I'm preparing my grand whole wheat bread recipe post, but before I jump into it, I would like to do a smaller post about ingredients, so I don't clutter up the recipe with segues into my preferences for flour or yeast.

Avram and I have a joke - with an twisted origin from something that Avram's brother Samuel's mission companion (he went to Montreal) said once about Poutine (a specialty of Canada) - that you only need three things to make a good Poutine - good Potatoes, good gravy, and good cheese. As Poutine is thick french fries covered in a gravy and cheese curds, this effectively describes the whole dish. We like to turn this into a joke about any dish. 'Pizza only takes four important things. Good dough, good sauce, good cheese, good toppings.' 'Fettuccine Alfredo only needs three important things. Good Noodles, good cream and good Parmesan.' - and so on until we get tired of the joke, which hasn't happened yet.

I'm happy to say that Bread is not in this category. In my experience you can get by with some mediocre ingredients and produce a wonderful product. Bread making is all about the method. I am the official family roll maker for my family's Thanksgivings and Christmas celebrations, and am somewhat famous in the position, if I do say so myself (and I just did). I have repeatedly been asked by various sisters for my roll recipe - and I always tell them that it isn't the recipe. I could use any old recipe lying around - and I usually do. It's how you make the rolls that makes them special. Same thing applies to bread. You can take any flour, water, salt and yeast you have lying around and turn out a great loaf - without even a recipe or four star ingredients at all.

Having said all this, I do care enough about my ingredients that I use to want to pontificate on them for a post or so.


There are two major types of yeast out there on the market, Instant or Regular. Either kind works fine, but I do prefer the regular, and I can't really tell you why. Supposedly since the regular yeast takes longer to rise, the flavor of the bread develops better. Who knows? Regardless, don't go out and buy the regular if all you have is instant. The regular comes in small balls, and the instant is more powdery. Many modern recipes assume you have instant yeast, and so will instruct you to mix the yeast with the flour. Do NOT do this if you have regular yeast. Regular yeast must be dissolved in water before mixing with flour - otherwise it will never fully activate, and your bread won't rise (and it also won't fully incorporate into the dough, and so there will be pesky little dots of yeast scattered throughout your bread. Not that I know this by personal experience, or anything....) If your recipe tells you to add the yeast to the flour first, just add it to the water, and make sure the water is warm to the touch, so the little yeasties can grow.

Instant yeast can either be mixed with water first, or mixed straight into the flour. My recipes will all call for proofing, or mixing the yeast and water, since I use regular yeast. Also this method allows you to test your yeast to make sure it is active and strong. Yeast has a shelf life, and the longer it sits, the less rising action you will get from it. Yeast is actually alive (which makes me wonder - is it alive enough to count as an animal? Should vegetarians really be eating bread? What about jello - gelatin is made from pigs and cows hooves and stuff. So can vegetarians eat jello? Mmmm, these are deep thoughts), and the best way to keep it fresh and strong is by storing it in your freezer. I just put the little jar or bag (if it's in a large bag, like you can buy yeast in from Costco, I first place it into a larger bag, so yeast doesn't leak out all over my freezer) straight into my freezer door - the yeast doesn't have moisture, so it won't freeze into a solid block, but will just remain as it was unfrozen in form and composition, and you can use yeast for any recipe straight from the freezer. If you proof your yeast and it isn't very strong, double the amount called for in the recipe.

Yeast is not like other ingredients. If you double the recipe, only 1 1/2 times the yeast. If you halve the recipe, you don't necessarily halve the yeast.

When buying yeast, take the plunge and buy the biggest container you can of it - it's much cheaper per ounce to buy a honking bag than a dinky little set of three individual use pouches.


I really don't have much to say here except use any old tap water. It's important though to add warm water - about the warmest that you can comfortably rest your hand in it - so that the yeast will grow quickly. Otherwise your dough will take forever to expand. If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast as well (although I've never accidentally added too hot water.) It's really not rocket science - if you wouldn't put your baby in the water, whether it's too hot or too cold, then don't stick the yeast in it. Your baby - alive. The yeast - alive. Both need to grow. Just whatever you do, don't stick the baby and your yeast in the same water at the same time.


Bread does not need sweetener. I have made many a loaf with nothing but the four basic ingredients - Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. But sweetener does help the yeast grow quickly, since they feast on the sugar, it acts as a preservative, and if you add a lot of sweetener it affects the flavor of the bread as well. For whole wheat bread I always use honey, because the flavor complements the whole wheat taste. Also, honey is sweeter measure for measure than sugar, so if you ever substitute sugar for honey you need to add more sugar. Since I make a weekly sandwich loaf, I use minimal honey - two tablespoons for two loaves. But if you like a richer bread, feel free to add more. Honey is expensive, especially when compared to using sugar, but two tablespoons a week does not add up very fast. I've been using the same large container (about $10) for about eight months, and we use it for everything - sandwiches almost daily, on cornbread, in bread baking.

If you quickly spray the measuring cup first with oil before measuring out the honey, the honey will slide right off the cup. I love spray oil - it's my best friend in cooking.


For this recipe I would recommend either using all whole wheat flour or part whole wheat, part white flour. For a white sandwich bread, I'll post a recipe soon that better works for white bread. Optimally for the best loaf, I recommend half hard white wheat flour, and half hard red wheat flour. Obviously this will not be an option unless you can grind the wheat yourself, so feel free to just use whatever whole wheat flour your store provides.

If you are LDS, odds are that someone in your ward has a wheat grinder that they would love to either lend you, or have you come to their house and use. If you aren't LDS but know anyone who is, odds are they too will have an unused Wheat Grinder in their garage. For months before getting my own wheat grinder I would periodically borrow a Sister's wheat grinder and grind two or three months worth of flour at a time. I would grind the red and white wheats separately, and then store them in gallon freezer bags in my freezer. These bags can hold a LOT of flour when filled completely! If you are going to store wheat flour for longer than a day or two, store it in the freezer - it will stay fresh tasting and retain its nutrients better this way. Even store bought wheat flour benefits from being kept in the freezer.

Even now with my own grinder I will intentionally grind more than I need, and keep the extra in the freezer, so that way when I'm whipping up something quick I can just grab the flour from the freezer, instead of having to add in the extra step of grinding it right then. I grind the red and white wheats separately, but you can also just add them straight to the hopper together, which will make a nice premixed flour, without having to add the different flours to the dough separately.


We don't like much salt. You can if you like salt a lot double the amount of salt my recipe uses.

Dry Milk

I developed this recipe to use up food storage items, and so intentionally included dry milk. If you do not keep dry milk in the house, just substitute milk for most of the water (still proof the yeast in warm water), and you'll be fine. If you do this, warm the milk up in the microwave until it's lukewarm. Milk is important to include in a sandwich bread that you will not completely eat on the day it's made. Milk, along with honey and eggs (if a recipe uses them - this one doesn't) help preserve bread, and keep it fresh tasting longer. Bread without any of these will taste stale the next day after baking.


I only use Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my bread baking - whether it's white bread or wheat bread (although with rolls I do use butter). There is no taste residue in the bread itself, and I like how healthy it is. If you like, you can substitute any oil, or even melted butter. But I do prefer Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or at least Olive Oil.

Vital Wheat Gluten

This is probably the most specialized ingredient, and also probably the only one that you don't already have in the house. But it is NOT optional. Or I suppose it is, if you like to eat the stereotypical whole wheat bricks that are the reason people are convinced homemade wheat bread is disgusting. In Provo, where you can buy fifty pound bags of wheat in the grocery store, you can also find Vital Wheat Gluten in any grocery store. Here in Ohio, I found some organic, super expensive wheat gluten at Walmart. On my last trip to Utah I stocked up, although my Mom ended up getting me Dough Conditioner instead. This will also work, although not quite as well, but it is a good thing to keep for any yeast bread, as it will help give bread that indefinable "bakery taste" (they all use dough conditioners).

Whole Wheat Flour doesn't have as much gluten as white flour, and as gluten is what gives bread its structure to keep it risen and lofty instead of dense and yucky, you need to boost the dough a little with vital wheat gluten. This will help your wheat bread rise and stay risen. It is the miracle secret of home whole wheat baking, and it's worth buying - I only use two tablespoons per recipe, so it lasts a long time. Dough Conditioner even only needs one tablespoon per recipe. So go make the investment into edible home whole wheat products today! (The Company of Grandma's County Foods really ought to pay me to say all this. I sound like a cheesy commercial.)

There you have it - the complete tour through my bread's ingredient list. I calculated it once that making homemade bread costs about a dollar a loaf. For twice that amount you can buy white bread in the store that you can smash down into a little ball of bread mush, or you can have healthy, yummy homemade whole wheat bread.

Soon I will post the recipe and instructions themselves, and then you too can eat yummy bread all of the time.