Back in 2010 when my wife and I decided to bake all our own bread for a year, neither of us knew we would continue the practice as long as we have. It has now been 12 years since we’ve bought a loaf of bread, other than when we are traveling. We do still buy some flatbreads like tortillas and naan, but other than that we make our own. I make both corn and flour tortillas sometimes, and the homemade ones certainly have better flavor than store bought ones. A tortilla press makes the process easy, and with a little practice I can now press them out and cook a batch with little time and effort. I’ve been making them often with half flour and half masa harina, which makes for a great tasting and flexible tortilla that seems to have the best of both worlds.
As for other flatbreads, I baked up a batch of Whole Wheat Pita Bread recently, and we used a couple of them as a base for homemade pizza. I do most of our bread baking these days, and I have settled on several recipes as my favorites, and tend to make them quite often.
One of my favorite recipes is one I created myself, and it is my go-to recipe for a soft but sturdy sandwich loaf. My Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread has honey to add a bit of sweetness and help keep the bread moist, and a little oil to soften the crumb. I use either red or white whole wheat in this bread, or sometimes a mix of both. My wife and I rarely use a whole loaf quickly, so I generally slice up leftovers and freeze. This bread freezes well, either in loaf form or after it’s been sliced. I also like to make it into rolls, and bake in a 8 inch square baking pan.
That recipe is a close relative of my Rye and Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf, which makes a good base for a reuben sandwich. We usually make ours without meat and with homemade sauerkraut. I add caraway seeds to mine, but you can omit them if you don’t like that flavor. It is also great for a ham sandwich, or even grilled cheese.
I’ve also been experimenting with creating my own whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread recipe. I decided to start with my Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe, and add a cinnamon, raisin and sugar filling in the middle. So far the taste has met my expectations, and it makes a tasty snack when toasted while satisfying my cravings for cinnamon. I love Penzey’s spices and their cinnamon really kicks up the flavor. And with 2/3 whole wheat flour in it, I don’t feel guilty about eating it!
But wait – I found one more variation on the theme when I turned the cinnamon swirl bread into Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls! After baking I topped the rolls with a donut-style glaze I made from milk and powdered sugar, leaving a few unglazed for comparison. I tasted both the glazed and unglazed ones, and decided they really needed the glaze since the basic dough is not very sweet to start with. I’m still working on the recipe, but I think it is a keeper and I will share it here when I’m satisfied with the results.
I also started my own sourdough culture back in 2011, and I have kept it going ever since. I keep it refrigerated when I’m not baking with it, and feed it about once a week with a blend of whole wheat, rye and bread flours.
Lately I have been baking sourdough bread in a Pullman pan. This no-knead recipe is truly easy to make (King Arthur’s Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread, and even though the bread takes about 18 hours from start to finish there is very little hands-on time required. It makes for a dense loaf that can be thinly sliced and used for sandwiches or turning into crostini.
The recipe is adaptable too, and I have used whole wheat flour, a blend of rye and bread flour, and also a blend of purple barley flour from Hayden Mills along with bread flour. I’m still experimenting with this recipe and I will share more results when I have them.
I’ve baked several batches of sourdough rye focaccia bread the last few months. I used a recipe from Elaine Boddy’s Whole Grain Sourdough at Home, which uses a blend of bread flour and whole grain rye flour. It’s naturally leavened with my homegrown sourdough starter. I sprinkled course salt over the top and a bit of fresh rosemary on one end. I served it up with soup one night for dinner, and along with salad another day. Leftovers freeze well too. The whole grain rye flour adds a nutty, earthy flavor that I think goes well with the tangy sourdough. For a real treat we top a piece with cheese and pop under the broiler for a bit.
And last but not least, I’ve also been experimenting with using Durum wheat in bread. Durum is mostly used for making pasta, but I also use it for pizza crust. It makes for a crusty 100% Durum sourdough bread using 20% whole grain flour I ground myself and 80% Italian durum flour (aka Semola Rimacinata). A long, slow ferment (20 hours) and baking in a clay baker makes for a tangy, crusty bread that goes well with soup or salads.
I hope you have enjoyed this recap of a some of the favorite breads we have baked here in the last 12 years. I have no plans to start buying bread anytime soon, so I predict more baking adventures in the years to come! You can see many of my bread recipes on my recipe pages. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres.