Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cranberry & Date Breakfast Bread

There is something deeply fulfilling about baking bread.  I’m not talking about dropping the ingredients into a machine and then waiting for the bread to bake.  I’m talking about making bread from scratch.  Adding the ingredients into a bowl then mixing them and then kneading the dough.  Then letting it rise and placing it into the oven and waiting and letting the kitchen fill with that delicious aroma of freshly made bread.  Perhaps it’s therapeutic as well.  Like in all things handmade there is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing, and in this case tasting, the results.

I make all sorts of bread but I like to specialize in whole wheat, or partially whole wheat breads.  I also make bread without salt.  In fact, I never put salt into anything I make.  When you cook or bake without salt your food actually begins to taste better.  And you’ll find restaurant food far too salty.  It’s amazing how quickly your body adjusts to a no-added-salt diet.  I don’t add sugar to my coffee either and I’ve come to the point where I find sugared drinks unpalatable.

Here is my special cranberry & date breakfast bread recipe.  It’s very easy to make and because of the added cranberries and dates it comes out sweet.  Again, I add no salt.  I think you’ll find it tastes good that way.  And besides, it’s a lot healthier without any added salt or sugar.

5 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 packet of instant dry yeast
1 cup of chopped dates
1 cup of dried cranberries
¾ cup Canola Oil
Water (I’ll explain more on this below)

Add the flour (whole wheat and white) first and then add the packet of yeast into a bowl.  Then mix the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.  Now add the cup of cranberries and the cup of dates.  Again, mix the ingredients with the spoon.

When the ingredients are nicely mixed add the Canola Oil and then begin adding the water.  You will want to add enough water so that the dough reaches a nice consistency.  Sorry, I never measure, I just add a little bit at a time until I get the dough just right: Not too gooey and not too dry.  If it flakes then it’s too dry.  If it’s too sticky then it’s too wet.  Go slowly.  Be patient.  Think pleasant thoughts.

When the dough is just right begin kneading the bread on a well-floured board.  Knead the dough for about six to eight minutes.

Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Place the two loaves on a parchment covered pan and allow the dough to rise for one hour.  I always cover the two loaves with a cloth while it is rising in order to keep any draft from hitting the dough.

After one hour, cut a slash lengthwise across the top of each loaf.  Place the loaves (be sure and remove the cloth) into an oven set at 425° Fahrenheit or 218.3 Celsius.  Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove the loaves and check the bottom of each loaf.  You should have a nice brownish color and when you tap the loaves they should sound hollow both on the top and bottom.

Place the hot loaves on cooling racks and cover them with a cloth so they won’t dry out.  Wait…this is the hard part….a few minutes and then get your bread knife and slice a piece and enjoy.

Here’s my typical breakfast:
Old Fashioned Oatmeal (my comfort food)
Blueberries (on the oatmeal)
A slice of my cranberry & date breakfast bread
HEB (a Texas store) Central Market peanut butter with no added salt that I spread on the bread.
Cup of freshly brewed coffee.

This is eating healthy folks.