Bear Bread

"Bear" Bread: Baked

If you’ve been a reader of Dianne’s Dishes for a while, you know I’m all about letting kids be involved in the kitchen. Alexis has been involved in one way or another in the kitchen since day one. (You can read more about that in my FAQ section.)

One of my fondest childhood memories was baking “bear” bread. I think we baked it once or twice, but it was so much fun. I knew that when I had a child of my own I’d want to bake “bear” bread with them. I have my mom looking for the picture of the bear loaves now. If she finds it I’ll have her scan it in so I can share it with you! But that’s neither here nor there…

A while back when we were studying B in Miss G’s lessons we baked bear bread. Get it? B…Bake…Bear…Bread…Oh never mind! ;oP Alexis had a blast! She’s been wanting to do it again so I think we may make a pumpkin shaped loaf soon, or maybe we’ll do a cat or a moon? Who knows? The point is, this is a very easy recipe to follow and kids really love the process!

There really isn’t anything that is special about this bread, in fact you could make it with any bead dough that was shapeable. (You could really make any shape you wanted…I even made Santa bread one time!) The one I use though is really fabulous and has such a light airy texture. It’s just perfect! Not only is the bear adorable, but it tastes good too! What’s not to like about that?

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of water
4 – 4 1/2 cups of all purpose or bread flour, divided (Note: You can use white whole wheat flour instead if you prefer.)
4 teaspoons of yeast
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs, beaten for the egg wash
Raisins for decoration

In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour, salt, sugar and yeast until well incorporated. Set aside.

"Bear" Bread: Dough

Mix sour cream and water and heat to 110 F over low heat and check the temperature using a thermometer. Pour into bowl with flour mixture. Continue to add flour until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes until dough is elastic.

Cut dough in half and then cut each half into separate pieces: 1 large piece for the body, 1 smaller piece for the head, 2 small circles for the arms, 2 small circles for the legs and finally 2 smaller pieces for the ears:

"Bear" Bread: Body Parts

Next assemble bear on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper:

"Bear" Bread: Arms and Legs

Shape the body first, then shape the head and lay it above the body. (Note: As long as the pieces are touching firmly they’ll bake together. No need to man handle the dough or anything.) Then add the arms, legs and ears.

Once the bears body is assembled add raisins for eyes, ears, mouth and belly button:

"Bear" Bread: Ready to Rise

Mash the raisins slightly into

The Ultimate White Bread

Ultimate White Bread

The majority of bread that I eat is whole grain, but once in a while, it’s just nice to have a big slice of good old white bread! This white bread is the ultimate loaf of bread. If you’re looking for white bread perfection, then look no further…You’ve found it!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of warm water (Note: I just use warm tap water. You want it warm to the touch, but not hot.)
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: Next time I make this I’m going to use honey to see how it turns out.)
2 tablespoons of yeast
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cups of unbleached bread flour

Ultimate White Bread: Proofed Yeast

In a large glass bowl mix together water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until mixture is foamy.

Ultimate White Bread: Dough

Add sea salt and olive oil into the proofed sugar/water/yeast mixture and stir to mix. Next slowly add flour until dough ball forms. (Note: As with any bread you might need only some of the flour, all of it or more. When dough forms stop adding flour.)

Ultimate White Bread: A la Alexis: Kneading

Turn dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. (Note: Just until the dough is elastic. You don’t have to knead it for a long time.) Cut dough in two and place each half into a bread pan that has been brushed with olive oil thoroughly to prevent sticking. (Note: I made one large loaf and let Alexis play with a smaller portion of the dough and make her own little round loaf. You could also make two regular sized loaves with this mix.)

Ultimate White Bread: Ready to Rise

Shape the loaves and place them into the oiled pans. Let rise in a warm place 20-30 minutes or until doubled in sized. (Note: As always I just place the dough in the oven with the light on. The light gives off just enough heat to make a nice, warm rising environment. Once dough is risen remove from the oven before preheating it.)

Ultimate White Bread: Risen

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place risen dough into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. (Note: Alexis’ smaller loaf only took 20 minutes.) Remove pans from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire baking rack.

Ultimate White Bread

Turn loaves out and let cool, covered with a towel for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Ultimate White Bread: A la Alexis

Notes: All purpose flour would most likely work for this bread as well.

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread

Making bread has a bit of a mystique to it, but it really shouldn’t. It’s one of those things that some people are terrified of, that they simply shouldn’t be. Homemade is surprisingly easy and you just can’t beat the flavor! You also can’t beat the price…It’s much cheaper to make your own! Plus you can control what goes into each loaf. Want a delicious whole grain bread? Then you can have it! Who says whole grain bread has to taste bland? Trust me…This one is fabulous!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups of warm water
2 teaspoons of yeast
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 tablespoons of powdered milk
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, finely chopped
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of honey

Dissolve yeast in water and let sit for bout 5 minutes or until foamy.

In a large bowl stir together white whole wheat flour, whole wheat flour, sea salt, powdered milk and sunflower seeds until completely incorporated. Add olive oil, honey and yeast water until dough forms. (Note: Whole grain flours, just like more refined flours, react differently depending on humidity. You might need all of the water, or just some of it, or you might even need a bit more. Your dough should be firm, yet elastic. Don’t worry if you add too much water…Just add flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is good. If you get too much flour, then add water a tablespoon at a time in the same manner.)

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Dough

Turn dough out onto a floured surface (Note: Use either whole wheat or white whole wheat flour) and knead for 2-3 minutes until dough springs back when touched. Shape dough into a loaf and place into a bread pan that has been brushed with olive oil or sprayed with non-stick spray:

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Ready to Rise

Let bread rise for an hour or so in a warm place until doubled in size:

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Risen

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until bread sounds hollow when tapped and is golden brown:

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Baked

Let rest in pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cotton towel to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed Bread: Ready to Slice

Notes: If you don’t like sunflower seeds you can chop up some oats instead or even nuts.

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread: The Inside

Gluten free bread, whether commercially made, or made from scratch is largely hit or miss, especially when you are used to eating the glutenized equivalents. I’ve talked to several people who no longer can eat gluten and their reactions are largely hit and miss too. One person told me after not having gluten for years they still hadn’t found a gluten free bread that was to their liking. Another told me that they had no problem switching over to gluten free breads and actually enjoyed their bread of choice. Jamison would squarely fall in the former category and not the latter and given he’s a very picky eater (yeah I know) this bread journey has been an adventure in and of itself! I have to admit though he’s been a very good sport.

Right after we found out that Jamison couldn’t eat gluten we purchased a bread machine that has a gluten free setting and ironically the bread I ended up coming up with works better on the basic setting, than the gluten free one. What can you do? You do what works and in this case the basic setting is the one to go with.

This bread is really good for gluten free. It doesn’t dry out after a day or two after some gluten free baked goods do. It has a very nice texture and a nice crumb too. The taste is also mild and it doesn’t overpower what you’re putting on your sandwich. We’ve been really pleased with this concoction and I bake a loaf every week or so so that Jamison has bread for his lunch to take to work. I have not tried it out in a conventional oven, though I intend to do that one day soon. So far we’ve just stuck to the bread machine because it’s simple and I don’t have to hover over the process. You just set it and go. If one of you gets adventurous and tries the conventional oven before I post anything about what might have occurred then let me know how your results turn out.

What You’ll Need:
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups of warm water
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of honey
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons of powdered milk
1 tablespoon or organic cane sugar
2 cups of sweet rice flour
1 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of sorghum flour
2 tablespoons of xanthum gum
2 teaspoons of sea salt
4 teaspoons of yeast

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread: Bread Machine

Into the well of your bread machine dump eggs through organic cane sugar. The machine will do the mixing for you so don’t worry about stirring.

In a large bowl whisk or sift together sweet rice flour through sea salt until well incorporated. Once mixed dump the dry mixture on top of the wet ingredients. The machine will mix these together too. Dump yeast on top of the dry mixture and set the machine on the Basic 2 pound setting.

My machine also has a setting for light, medium or dark crust. If yours has this setting too then set it for medium. Start the machine and go back in and take a look between five and ten minutes to make sure that all the flour is incorporated. You may need to scrape down the sides of the well to make sure everything incorporates. I’m not sure why this is the case with gluten free breads, but I’ve had to do this with every loaf I’ve made even the mix I purchased. When the cycle is through and the bread has baked let it sit for 10 minutes in the machine and then remove the loaf from the pan and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

After the first mix and when you’ve scraped down the sides the dough will look like this:

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread: Rising

The dough is very shaggy and makes a very rustic loaf.

After it has risen it will look like this:

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread: Risen

Still shaggy, but roughly doubled in size.

The top and sides turn a lovely brown:

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

And thus your have your finished loaf. It’s moist and holds up well and is easily sliced with a bread knife. It’s just perfect for sandwiches.

Notes: Make sure that you use sweet rice flour and not just plain brown or white rice flour. It really adds to the texture and taste of the bread. Also the tapioca flour helps retain the moisture and give you the tender crumb. You could most likely use all honey or all organic cane sugar and it should work fine. The olive oil also lends to the crumb and flavor. You could substitute safflower oil or something if you wanted, but I wouldn’t recommend that substitution.

My Mom’s Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Right before Grant was born my sister and I were discussing banana bread as I had a ton of bananas that were past eating stage, but just right for baking banana bread. She told me about a recipe that utilized toasted pecans, but I am really a sold on my adapted version of my mom’s banana bread recipe and I think it’s the best banana bread I’ve ever had, though the idea of the toasted pecans intrigued me. So what to do? I decided to toast some pecans and add them to my base recipe and I have to admit it was really good!

This recipe is a simple, quick solution that makes use of those bananas that are past their prime. The banana gives the bread such a lovely undertone, while the toasted pecans give it just the right punch. The best part is that the recipe makes two loaves so you have one for you and one to share or you can even freeze a loaf for later!

This bread is wonderful sliced right out the oven and it’s also good at room temperature. You can eat it plain, spread on a little butter or even a little peanut butter and you’ve got a wonderful snack or even breakfast! What’s not to like?

Banana Bread

What You’ll Need:
6-8 very ripe bananas
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of safflower oil or unsweetened apple sauce (Note: The apple sauce would make it healthier all while helping hold together the bread as the oil does. I make it with oil sometimes, but for the most part I utilize the apple sauce instead.)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You can use white whole wheat flour if you like. This batch was made with all purpose flour, but normally I use the white whole wheat flour instead.)
2 cups of pecans, chopped and toasted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of a mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat bananas until smooth.

Next add sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil or apple sauce to the bananas and mix until smooth.

In a large bowl sift or whisk together flour, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients in with the banana mixture and stir until mixed. Set aside.

Banana Bread: Toasted Pecans

In medium sized skillet add chopped pecans and toast in a dry pan over medium heat until they turn slightly brown and you begin to smell their nutty flavor. Add nuts to the batter and stir to mix throughout.

Banana Bread: Ready for the Oven

Spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick spray and half the batter between the two pans. Place the pans on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes until bread is done through. Let sit in the pans for 5-10 minutes and then turn out to cool.

Banana Bread

Makes two loaves.

Banana Bread

Notes: For an added bonus you can stir in chocolate chips or raisins or even blueberries. You could also use a different type of nut. It’s all up to you and your tastes.

Batter Muffins

Batter Muffins

I’ve been experimenting lately with breads that don’t require yeast. Sometimes it’s just nice to whip up a batch of something without having to wait for proofing and rising and such. These “muffins” are quick, easy and delicious. They are just perfect as a complement to a quick week night meal!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1-1 1/2 cups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar with a spoon until incorporated. Add eggs and enough milk to make a thick batter. (Note: Due to humidity you may need more or less milk. Eyeball it. You want the batter to be much thicker than pancake batter, but not quite dough like.)

Spoon batter into a muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray filling each cup 3/4ths of the way full. Bake for 10-12 minutes until “muffins” are golden brown.

Notes: You could add in 1/3 cup of chives and 1 cup of cheddar for Cheddar Chive “Muffins”. You could even add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or salt as well, but if you choose garlic salt, omit the sea salt from the recipe above.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread is one of those things that immediately sounds delicious if you’re in to such things. There are many variations of this bread, but my recipe is an adaptation of my mom’s Banana Bread. I’ve even seen recipes that called for chocolate chips! The possibilities are endless, but anyway you slice it (yeah I went there again! ;op) it’s delicious!

What You’ll Need:
2 large zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup of safflower oil or unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together oil (or apple sauce) and sugar. Stir in eggs and zucchini. Add remaining ingredients and place batter into one prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35-30 minutes or until golden brown and sticks done.

Zucchini Bread

Yeast Muffins

Yeast Muffins

When I was a kid on Thanksgiving, these were the rolls my mom always made. I remember makings this batter/dough for her countless times. I adapted the recipe a bit, but for the most part it’s just like it was back then. My only real change was switching from self-rising flour to plain since it had yeast in it to begin with. They are quick, easy and delicious when you really want a yeast bread and fast! There is no rising process…What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need:
2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
2 cups of warm water
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of salt
4 cups of flour
1 egg beaten

Mix yeast and sugar into water and let sit until foamy. (About 2 minutes.)

Melt butter in a large glass bowl and add yeast mixture and salt. Stir in salt and egg and then add flour. Dough will not form into a ball. It’s a very sticky type dough that resembles very thick pancake batter.

Let dough chill covered in the fridge for at least an hour.

Scoop into a muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Fill each cup about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 24 muffins.

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

I’ve always loved Irish Soda Bread and have made it several times over the years. This recipe is adapted from The Little Irish Baking Book by Ruth Isabel Ross. It’s warm, hearty and oh so good!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
6 cups of whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 quart of buttermilk

Irish Soda Bread

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix all ingredients in a very large bowl until dough forms. Divide dough and shape into two large or 4 small round loaves. Cut an X on the top of each loaf and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.

Note: Smaller loaves will take less time. Check them 30 minutes into the baking process and keep an eye on them from there if they aren’t done yet. They brown quickly, but the inside takes longer to bake.

Homemade Loaf Bread

Homemade Loaf Bread: The Inside Goodness!

I’ve been making a lot of bread lately and it’s true…Once you start making your own, the stuff you buy at the store just doesn’t seem that appealing!

This is an old recipe that I’ve had for years. I remember making it when I lived in Knoxville and I left there in 1997, so it’s been a while. I believe I copied the recipe from my Mom’s recipe box, but I can’t remember for sure and of course being me I’ve adapted it over the years. Regardless it’s extremely good!

Try it…You’ll like it! There’s just nothing like freshly made bread right out of the oven!

What You’ll Need:
4 teaspoons of yeast
1 1/4 cup of warm water
2 tablespoons of melted butter
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Mix yeast, water, butter, salt and honey and stir to mix. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until elastic. Place in an oiled bowl in a warm spot and cover. Let sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour and let double in size.

Punch dough down and shape into a loaf. Place in a bread pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, cover and let rise again for 45 minutes to 1 hour and let the dough rise and fill the pan. (I have a larger bread pan and when I first put the dough in it doesn’t “fit” the pan, but after it rises for a while it fills in nicely!)

Homemade Loaf Bread: Ready For The Oven!

Preheat oven to 375 F and bake for 30 minutes.

Homemade Loaf Bread