Whole Grain Bread

love making my own bread.  Kneading the dough is so relaxing.  I made 6+ loaves weekly for my large family for years until we moved to Ohio….where my bread failed suddenly and miserably!  Think bricks.  I tried and tried to make it happen and finally gave up.  Years later I discovered why. The water where we live is extremely hard.  It is also possible that the flour I purchased was an all-purpose flour, rather than hard wheat flour, which will also cause loaves to be rather flat. Thankfully, I recently learned that adding some lemon juice to the dough fixes this problem.  I made sure to buy hard whole wheat flour this time, too.  Hallelujah!  Fresh bread again!  My family has decreased in size as the kids have gradually grown up, so I don’t make 6 loaves a week anymore.  I have to admit….it’s a WHOLE lot easier to only knead 2-4 loaves at a time!

  Homemade Whole Grain Bread

Yields 2 loaves, 8″ x 4″ (see note below)

  • 6 c. hard whole wheat flour (hard white whole wheat is even better for a sweeter loaf)
  • ½ c. dry oatmeal
  • 1 T. salt
  • 4 ½ tsp active yeast * (or 2 pkts)
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • ¼ c. honey or maple syrup
  • 2 ¼ c. water
  • ½-1 T. lemon juice (optional, only for if your water is quite hard)

Mix 2 c. of flour with salt in large bowl.  Set aside 1½ c. flour in a small bowl for kneading into the dough later (you probably will not use all of this flour.)  Set aside remaining 2½  c. of flour and oatmeal in yet another bowl.

In a saucepan, heat water, honey or maple syrup, oil, and lemon juice, if using, to 105-110 degrees.  Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast into the water.  Stir briefly and let rest 5 minutes, or until a little bubbly.  Pour yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour and salt.  Beat with a wooden spoon, or a whisk, until smooth and for about 1 minute longer to develop the gluten.  Let rest for 5 minutes (if using a spoon, just leave it in there.)  After that, add the remaining flour and oatmeal, mixing well.  The dough should look shaggy.  If it seems too wet still, add a handful of flour from your small bowl of kneading flour.  Dust the counter or kneading area with some of the kneading flour.  Turn out dough onto this and knead** in the remaining flour (give or take, depending on the weather and how dry the milled flour actually is this time and how accurately you measured the flours and water.)  More can be added if the dough seems extremely sticky.  Knead for 10 minutes, gradually adding a little more flour to the counter under the dough, until dough is elastic and springy.  It will slightly push back as you knead it.  If you add too much flour as you knead, the bread will come out hard; if too little is added, it will come out doughy and won’t bake well.

Let the dough sit while you wash the large mixing bowl out and spray or wipe it with olive oil.  Give the dough another knead or two and see if it bounces right back at you.  This will tell you that you kneaded it enough.  Better not enough kneading than too much!  Place the dough inside the bowl, flipping it over so that the top is coated with oil, or you can spray the dough with the oil.  Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm (not hot!), draft-free area.  Let rise until double in size.

Oil your 8”x4” bread pans.  Punch the dough down and knead 2-3 times.  Divide the dough into 2 parts.  Form into loaves.  If there is any seam, place it bottom side down in the pan.  Slit the loaves lengthwise and spray or use pastry brush lightly coat with olive oil.  Let rise until double in size – about 1” above the pan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  The finished loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Loosen the sides of the bread with a non-metal spatula and tip them out onto a cooling rack.

The bread slices best when it is 12-24 hours old, leaving smoother slices and less crumbs.  It can be sliced, bagged, and frozen for later use.  It keeps bagged on the counter about a week.

*If using fast or instant rise yeast, you will mix the yeast into the first mixture of flour and salt.  Heat the oil, honey, and water to 120-130 degrees.  You do not have to proof the yeast, or wait for it to dissolve in water.   Beat liquids into the dry ingredients and continue with recipe.

** Knead bread by folding the far side of the dough toward you and push down and away with the heels of your hands.  Then spin it ¼ a turn and fold over again.  Keep doing this for 10 minutes.  You can scrape excess dough off of your fingers that clings at the start and knead that into the dough as you go.  As you near the completion, you will add less and less flour to the surface beneath the dough – just enough to keep it from sticking to the counter and you.  It will change texture and turn from a slight messy shaggy heap into a ball, and finally into a tighter ball of smooth, elastic dough, which will spring back at you as you knead it.  This will be at about the 10 minute mark.  Try not to over-knead the bread.  If you have under-kneaded it, you can knead it a bit longer after you prep the rising bowl.

Note:  If you find that this doesn’t rise as high as you would like, you can double the recipe and put it into 3 loaf pans.  This makes a higher loaf.

Apple Pecan Muffins

I got a message from a friend who is cooking for a group of young people involved in an Christian outreach program this summer.  She needed 2 dozen vegan muffins ~ could I help?  How could I say no?  Especially since this amazing woman is cooking for these kids even though she recently fell and broke her shoulder!

These are some of my favorite muffins and I wanted to share them with you.  But I confess I haven’t made them recently, because hubby and I would be tempted to eat them, wheat and all.  So, this was the perfect excuse to bake them for the recipe photo-op, but with temptation being removed!  🙂

I’ve been making this recipe for a very long time.  I made and froze these before my last baby was born so that once I needed them, hubby could bring them to me in the hospital to eat.  (Hospital food and veganism just don’t seem to dovetail very well.)  That baby is now 15!!  And I’ve been making them longer than that.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I used to.

Apple Pecan Muffins

  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour (King Arthur’s or Trader Joe’s are good)
  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (best if you can get ahold of Saigon or Ceylon, etc.)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder, sieved
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda, sieved
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder (do not add water)
  • 1 c. chopped apple (the finer you chop it the softer it will be)
  • 1/4 c. broken pecan pieces (or chop if you want finer pieces)
  • 1-1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • soy milk added to lemon juice to make 1 c. total**
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce (or 1/2 c. applesauce & an extra 1/4 c. oil)
  • 1/4 c. extra light olive or melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray muffin cups with oil.  Whisk lemon juice and soy milk together and set aside.

Mix flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and egg replacer powder in a mixing bowl.  Add pecans and chopped apple, tossing to coat apple with flour mixture.  In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the soy milk/lemon juice mixture (which should have curdled into vegan buttermilk) with the applesauce, oil, and maple syrup/honey.  With a rubber spatula, scrape wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold together until no dry spots remain. 

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.  As you can see from the picture of the unbaked batter, these will be very full muffin cups!

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Place muffin pan on wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.  (Trust me on this, okay?  It’s absolutely necessary, or your muffins will not let go of the pan and you’ll have muffin pieces that are slightly gooey because they haven’t finished setting up in the pan.)  Remove from pans with fingers ~ if they won’t let go with just a tiny tug, then let them cool a little longer (esp. in the summer if you don’t have the A/C on.)  Place on rack to finish cooling.

** I have only tried this with soy milk.  It probably works with other non-dairy milks, but I cannot vouch for how they behave.

Black Bean Patties

I love a simple patty recipe.  A fast patty recipe that doesn’t involve 45 minutes to an hour in the oven.  One without a list of ingredients as long as your arm.  One that you might actually have all the ingredients for in your cupboard.  One that doesn’t require a multitudinous amount of chopping.  One that tastes good without a bun (for those with gluten issues.)  Oh, yeah…and one that the whole family actually likes, with no exceptions!  Whew, what a relief.

Black Bean Patties

  • 2 cans organic black beans, drained
  • 1 c. medium, or stronger, salsa
  • 2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (for gluten-free patties, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. millet flour*
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder (opt., depending on the strength of your salsa)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (opt., depending on the strength of your salsa)
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil, preferably (if you are out of coconut oil, use extra virgin olive oil, but the coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that are so good for you)

Put all ingredients except coconut oil into a food processor and process until only tiny pieces or flecks of beans remain.  Add melted coconut oil and continue processing, or mix together in a bowl.  Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

If desired, you may spray or brush the griddle with olive oil to make it easier to form the patties, but it’s not required.  Heat griddle to 300° (I use a large electric pancake griddle) or frying pan to medium heat.  You may begin forming patties while it is heating.  Pile about 1/4 c. measure onto the griddle and smooth into a patty using the back of a serving spoon (bigger than a tablespoon from your silverware set, but not as big as a cooking spoon ~ I use this to scoop up the 1/4 c. approximate measure, too.)  Cook for 5 minutes; flip, press down lightly with the spatula to obtain an even surface on the bottom side, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Makes 12 patties.  Serve with guacamole, salsa, or ketchup, or on a burger bun.

*If you don’t have millet flour in your larder, you probably could substitute another type, but I haven’t experimented with different ones.  (Hey, when something works for me, I don’t mess with it!)  You also can put dry millet in a coffee grinder or strong blender and whiz it into flour.

Unburgers

When I was 18 I worked in a health food store in western New York called Ye Olde Nut Tree.  They served something called Unburgers that Jean Young created when she worked there.  They were made daily for the snack bar.  (The “batter” kept in the frig. for a day or two.)  Hard-working, non-vegetarian, construction workers would come in just because they loved them.  They were served on buns with alfalfa sprouts, tomato, etc., or on split open pita bread with cream cheese, avocado, cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts, topped with an oil and vinegar dressing.

I made Unburgers so many times that I had inadvertently memorized the recipe.  When I quit working there, I wrote my memorized recipe down and made it for my growing family.  Unfortunately, the original recipe contained 9 eggs!!  Needless to say, I had to turn them into a vegan version when we gave up eggs. 

The recipe makes 12-16 patties, but they freeze marvelously.

The Nut Tree (the shortened name) exchanged owners and names, moved, and eventually went out of business.  For any of you who used to go there to eat lunch, now you can make your own at home.

Unburgers

  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morniu silken tofu
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Savorex, Vegex, or Marmite paste (from original recipe)
  •                OR (my preferred method)
  •                2 T. Brewer’s yeast flakes
  •                1 1/2 tsp. Spike seasoning
  •                1/2 capful Liquid Hickory Smoke
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 3 c. quick oats (you may use half rolled oats for a chewier texture ~ for gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

Whiz in blender everything except walnuts, oats, and seeds until fairly smooth.  Add walnuts – allow blender to run until no large pieces remain.  Pour into large bowl and stir in oats and sunflower seeds.  Let stand for 5 or more minutes.

Preheat electric griddle to 250-275 degrees F.  (I suppose you could use a square stove-top griddle, but you couldn’t cook as many at a time on it.  Use medium-low heat.)  Drop large scoops of mix onto griddle and flatten into patties.  (Sometimes this isn’t a quick process – be patient.)  When browned (about 8-10 minutes), turn them over and continue cooking another 3-5 minutes.  If you flip them too soon, they will be gooey inside.

Serve with gravy, on sandwiches, or alone with guacamole and slices of tomato on top.  Try one crumbled onto a salad.

Makes 12 large patties, or 16 medium patties.  Freezes well with waxed paper between layers.

Oatmeal Cookies

Eating cookie dough – I think we all did it growing up!  That is, until Mom learned that raw eggs could contain salmonella and kill us.  Rats.  There went all the fun of “helping” make cookies.  Somehow, though, when her back was turned, I still managed to snitch a taste here and there.  To a little kid’s mind it made no sense whatsoever to one week be allowed to eat the dough and the next to be told it was dangerous.  Once I became a mom, I had to be diligent and depressing and not allow my children to eat it, either when we weren’t yet vegan.  Therefore, it was with great joy that it dawned on me while creating a vegan cookie recipe that there were no eggs in the cookie dough any more.  I could teach my children to eat cookie dough!  (I think I probably created a problem there…ha!)

This recipe probably provides my favorite cookie dough to eat (although chocolate chip is a close second.)  There is something about the chewy oatmeal and the goodies chosen to vary the recipe that make me dip in again and again.  (I guess it might be a little difficult to definitively tell you how many cookies the batch makes!)  🙂

The batch pictured contains a wonderful raisin medley from Trader Joe’s.  It has 3 types of HUGE raisins – white, flame, and regular.  If you are not a raisin fan (like some of my kids – and lo, and behold, my husband!  He refused to eat the cookies when he saw these.  Shocking….simply shocking!  This is the man who is a devourer of cookies…), you can switch them with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips (I’ve actually found a dairy- and corn syrup-free kind once!), coconut flakes, etc.  Or combine a whole bunch of things together to make some crazy cookies.

And be forewarned….you may wish you’d  made a double batch when you see how quickly these disappear!  (I guess mine will be around longer since the cookie-monster hubby isn’t involved any more.  But wait…these are my 17-yr. old son, J’s, favorite cookies.  Never mind….they probably are already gone.)

Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) Earth’s Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened (these contain no trans fats)
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil (virgin is best) or light olive oil
  • 1 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice
  • 1-2 T. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (white whole wheat is sweetest and lightest)
  • 3 c. oats
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.  Stir in the egg replacer powder.  Stir in soy milk a bit at a time and whip with spoon until fluffier.  Add salt and baking soda into sugar mixture.  Add flour and oats.  Stir thoroughly.

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  If the cookies seem crumbly after the first pan is baked, press the dough together more before baking.

Makes approximately 42 cookies.  (I tried to estimate just how much dough I snitched to make up the total.)

Variations: Add 1 c. raisins, nuts, chocolate or butterscotch chips, and/or coconut before adding the flour and oats.

Sunrise Cereal

Okay ~ you know breakfast is an important meal, and you know you should be eating it consistently.  But if you have to open a boring box of cold cereal one more time you are going to scream.  Not to mention that it would be nice to eat something hot on cold mornings.  But who in this day and age has time to fix such a luxury?  It’s all you can do to get out the door on time.  And please don’t mention crock pots, because cleaning those is no picnic, either!

Relax.  I have the solution for you.  It’s quick ~ the clean-up is easy ~ what more could you ask for?

Sunrise Cereal originally came to me from hubby’s Aunt Ann.  It was designed to be baked for an hour in the morning!  Yikes!  I was never ahead of the game to pull that one off.  Hungry children demanded food much faster.  Then someone told me about baking cooked cereals overnight in the oven.  What a marvelous plan!  You wake up to breakfast finished and waiting for you.  And it’s very forgiving – baking for 8-12 hours with little change in the finished product.  (The full 12 hours will give you a slightly crispy outer layer and a harder-to-clean casserole dish, though.)  I needed to adjust the amount of water from the original recipe and add some vanilla and, perhaps, sweetener – that was all.  Perfect.

My hungriest teen son is very happy when he sees I’ve made this.  My food-fussy youngest son isn’t impressed by it.  Each person is so very different in their tastes!  If you like cooked grains, you’ll enjoy this cereal.  And don’t be afraid to play with your food.  🙂  Try making it more than just “cooked cereal.”  When you add your non-dairy milk, use dark chocolate almond milk instead!  Or coconut (my favorite thus far is Silk’s brand)…or BOTH for a Mounds bar flavor.  Make some sweetened raspberry sauce, or use jam, with coconut milk for a taste treat.  When Silk’s eggnog or Pumpkin Spice are in season, use those in place of the other milk – but you might not need sweetener with those.  Or drizzle some natural peanut butter over it all…and maybe a sprinkling of chocolate chips and chopped bananas?  Maybe plain berries and/or nuts.  I’m sure you can think of other interesting combinations.  Who says breakfast can’t be fun?  🙂

This recipe calls for specific grains, but I’ve found you can mix and match if you don’t happen to have certain ones on hand.  Each dish then becomes individualized – complete with different textures dependent on the grains you choose.  You can also vary the amount of water if you like a different consistency for your cooked grains – creamier or chewier.  The last picture shows the creamy texture I got with the full amount of water and substituting steel-cut oats for the bulger wheat.  (Please note – you may used pearled barley instead of the hulled barley, but it’s the refined version – like white rice instead of brown.)

Sunrise Cereal

  • 1/4 c. each – brown rice, oatmeal/rolled oats, millet, hulled barley, and bulger wheat (or other grain)   ***Please note
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. stevia or 1/2 c. other sweetener (optional)

Rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer the barley and millet.  Combine all ingredients in a 2-qt. casserole dish the night before.  Cover with foil, or use the lid of the casserole if it has one.  Bake at 200° overnight.  Fluffy and nice as soon as you wake up! 

You may add raisins – if so, add a bit more water.  Serve with non-dairy milk, sweetener as desired, and any add-ins you like.

Optional – mix everything the night before, decreasing water to 3 1/2 c.  Pop into a 350° oven in the morning for 1 hour.

Any leftovers can be refrigerated and microwaved the next day with good results.  Mash in your bowl and serve with non-dairy milk and any sweetener you wish.  If you prefer not using a microwave, put the amount desired in a pan with some non-dairy milk (and optional sweetener) and use a potato masher to thoroughly mix things and reheat on the stove.  I regularly prepare a double batch of this for J and I to eat for several days.

***Note:  My family doesn’t care for bulger, so we substitute steel-cut oats for texture and extra creaminess.  You could just add extra rolled oats if you don’t want the chewier texture.  If you aren’t looking for a creamier version, use the bulger, or just increase one of the other grains, or all of them to make up the extra 1/4 c. – or throw in a different grain completely.  This recipe is very flexible.

For a gluten-free version ~ Omit bulger and barley.  Substitute 1/4 c. steel-cut oats for the bulger and an extra 1/4 c. millet for the barley.