Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Back when I started on this real food adventure, I knew there would be a lot of pushback from my three kids.  They hate that I won't buy Kraft Mac & Cheese, pop tarts or American cheese slices.  They grumble that Hostess snacks and Entenmann's Little Bites are never purchased for packed lunches.  (I actually rarely to never bought Hostess snacks, but my kids have been known to eat a Twinkie or two.)  So when my husband said the kids might take it easier if the former snacks and foods were replaced by something equal, but healthier, things might go easier.  Queue the whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I would not necessarily call this cookie healthy.  But, I do know what ingredients are in it, and compared to the gmo laden processed crap at the grocery store, they're fantastic!

I found this recipe online originally at the Betty Crocker website.  I read the reviews and tweaked the recipe just a little.  I reduced the sugar just a bit and upped the flour by 1/4 cup.  They come out perfect every time and my family scarfs them down faster than I can make them.  They make a large batch, and you can feel good that everything that goes into them is all natural.  Give them a try, you won't be disappointed.

Before baking

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from: Betty Crocker recipe here

⅔ cup sugar
⅔ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour, regular or white whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl until well combined. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Make 1 inch balls of dough by rolling in your hand. Place about 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until bottom edges of cookie are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets 2-3 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Yield:  about 4 dozen

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cinnamon Spiral Bread

I will spare you all my despair over not updating my blog, including completely not doing my annual 12 recipes of Christmas.  It seems almost every time I blog, I try to explain why I haven't.  Let's just say I kinda suck at keeping this thing up to date.  That being said, I still enjoy blogging occasionally, so let's jump back in with both feet!

My awesome sister got me this fantastic new cookbook for Christmas this year.  I have checked it out of the library and renewed it too many times to count.  That's how I knew I needed to own it.  Now I do!  Squeeeeee!

So with my King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook in hand, I sat down and made a loooooong list of recipes I wanted to try, including page numbers.  This is what I do for fun, leaf through cookbooks and make lists of all the things I want to make.  And knit.

I came across the Cinnamon Spiral Bread and read the description.  "This dark-brown, spiraled loaf resembles nothing so much as a giant cinnamon bun."  Done!  This is it!  I have to try this!!!! And so I did, and I thought I would share the results with you!

Cinnamon Spiral Bread - after baking before icing

Close-up  - Mmmmmmm!

I will start by saying this recipe has a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps.  It took me most of the day to make it, although most of that time was waiting for it to rise twice.  It is worth the hard work, though, as it is so tasty and delicious!

Cinnamon Spiral Bread
Adapted from : King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

1 cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup cool water
pinch of instant yeast

All of the pre-ferment
½ cup milk, heated to lukewarm
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 6-8 pieces
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
⅔ cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ground in food processor
⅔ cup old-fashioned rolled oats, left whole
1 cup all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast

¼ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Make the pre-ferment first. Do this the night before you want to bake the bread. Mix the pre-ferment ingredients in a small (2-3 cup) bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter overnight at room temperature.

To make the dough:
Combine the pre-ferment and all of the dough ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix until combined. Switch mixing paddle to dough hook and knead on speed 2 for about 5 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth. Alternately, knead by hand after mixing.

Place dough in greased bowl. Turn to grease top and cover and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Prepare the coating by mixing together the powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Deflate the dough and on lightly floured countertop, roll it into a 40-inch-long snake. The dough should be very soft. Sprinkle the length of the dough with the cinnamon sugar topping, turning to completely coat in the mixture.

Coil the dough in the prepared pan. Scrape any remaining cinnamon-sugar off the counter and sprinkle it over the dough in the pan. Cover it loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow it to rise until it fills the pan and has close to doubled in size, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

While the oven is preheating, make the topping. Stir together the sugar, water, vanilla and cinnamon. Drizzle topping evenly over the risen loaf.

Bake for 33-35 minutes, tenting with foil after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and after 2-3 minutes, turn bread out onto wire rack. Flip over again onto another rack or serving plate to cool completely.

When bread is completely cool, make the icing. Mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and enough milk to make a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cooled bread and let set until firmed slightly. Cut into wedges and serve.
Managed to snap a picture before the kids gobbled most of it up!

 A few notes:  My kitchen was very cold when I made this.  It took my loaf a full two hours for the first rise, and I had to turn my oven to 200ºF to warm the area where the dough was rising.  The recipe originally called for traditional whole wheat flour, but we prefer white whole wheat, so that is what I used.  When making the ground oats, measure the oats whole, then grind.  Do not measure after grinding.  This is delicious heated up slightly.