Monday, December 14, 2009

Honey Oat Bread

I have a love/hate relationship with yeast.  I have great aspirations of making bread, bagels, pretzels, and other yeast-y goods, but I hesitate to do so when the realization of my past failures with yeast come back to haunt me.  There's nothing more disappointing than putting in time and effort into making a dough and then setting it aside to rise...only to come back an hour later and see that it hasn't made any progress at all.  I've read many good reviews about this recipe on, so I had to give it a try.  The recipe was originally meant to be used with a bread machine, but since I don't own one, I had to come up with my own set of directions to make dough by hand and bake it in the oven.

Honey of an Oatmeal Bread - From
Yields: One 1-lb loaf (I doubled the recipe to make one large loaf)

1 cup warm water - I added 1/2 tsp sugar to the water for the yeast
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil - I substituted applesauce instead
1/4 cup honey
All-purpose flour for dusting work surface

Mix yeast into warm water with 1/2 tsp sugar.  Set aside until nice and foamy.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of the bread flour, rolled oats, and salt until combined.  Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast/water mixture.  Stir briefly with a wooden spoon.  Add in the vegetable oil and honey.  Mix in the rest of the bread flour.  Dough will be moist and sticky (or at least mine was).  On a floured surface with floured hands, knead the dough and add in more flour (I used AP flour) until dough becomes less sticky.  Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Turn to coat surface of dough with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1.5 hours in a warm, draft-free place.  (I preheated my oven to 200 degrees F, then turned it off and placed my dough inside the warmed oven to rise).

Gently deflate the dough and turn out onto a floured work surface.  Knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed.  Press out into a rectangle and roll the dough length-wise until it resembles a cylindrical shape.  Tuck the ends underneath and place in a lightly greased large loaf pan (I sprayed mine with Pam) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Once dough has finished its second rise, bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chocolate Chip Muffins

After returning home from working a 9PM to 7AM shift at the hospital, I decided to try my hand at making some chocolate chip muffins before heading to bed.  I had come across a basic muffin recipe on that had received some pretty good reviews.  Muffins have always been kind of tricky for me.  I don't have a very light hand when it comes to mixing the ingredients and there's just something about having a lumpy batter with visible chunks of still-dry flour that kind of irks me.  I know the secret to a good muffin is to mix as little as possible.  I know the batter is meant to be lumpy.  I've learned as much watching Alton Brown on Good Eats.

Best Ever Muffins - From
Yields: 12 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups white sugar - I used a little less because I was adding chocolate chips
1 egg
1 cup milk - I used skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil - I used 1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (I preheated to 425 degrees F based on a reader review and turned it down to 400 degrees F once the muffins were in the oven to try and create the dome effect).

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowel.  Make a well in the center.  In a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, beat egg with a fork.  Stir in milk and oil.  Pour all at once into the well in the flour mixture.  Mix quickly and lightly with a fork until moistened, but do not beat.  The batter will be lumpy.  Pour batter into paper lined muffin pan cups (I just sprayed my muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray instead of using cups).

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden (I baked mine for 15 minutes as recommended in a few of the reviews).

The muffins came out pretty good.  They sure weren't hockey pucks, which is always a plus!  I don't know if it was my mixing, but the outer crust of the muffin bottom seemed to have a chewy texture.  The muffin top itself was quite yummy and had a nice crunch to it just coming out of the oven.  Another thing I noticed about this recipe is that it is listed as being enough to make 12 regular-sized muffins, but I found that there was only enough batter to fill each muffin cup to about 2/3 full and the end result was rather skimpy little muffins.  When I make muffins, I like to be able to fill the cups to the top so that I have more of a muffin top to munch on when the muffins are done.  All in all, I'd use this basic muffin recipe again in the future and try my hand at a few other variations (blueberries, raisins, dried cranberries, etc.).

I'll remember to take pictures next time! :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birth of a food blog.

After spending countless hours on cooking/baking blogs and marking every single recipe I hope to try one day, I thought it would be fun to create a blog of my own to document the creations that I make (or hope to make) in my own little kitchen.  And when I say little, I mean little.  As in next to no counter space.  As in my dish rack takes up the entire counter next to the sink (and it's not a very big dish rack).  I don't have a dish washer to speak of, and the entire kitchen is barely big enough for two people to be in it at the same time.  I have a functioning fridge and a small gas stove/oven which will be giving birth to my culinary creations!  I don't have a fancy camera to take beautiful photos like those posted on the other blogs I frequent, but hopefully the photos I do take will be good enough.

I tend to bake more than I cook, but I'm not an experienced baker by any means.  Baking is just something I find relaxing because it takes my mind off the stresses of my daily life.  Being a first year Medicine intern doesn't leave much time for anything but work, though I hope to find the time every now and then to try something new.  In any case, thanks for stopping by and please do visit my links to other great food blogs, as this one here will be a work in progress.