Ricotta Pie

pie slice ricotta

I did cook up a few new items over the holidays that I’m head over heals in LOVE with. First up is an Italian Ricotta Pie. It’s so easy! Can’t believe I haven’t baked one before.

Ricotta Pie 1-1

So, for Unknown’s Mami’s Sundays in my City, know that Sunday is often baking day for me and this is what’s on the agenda for a repeat performance this morning. I love to know that no matter how busy or harried the work week, there’s a little treat of some sweet, or a ready to go lasagna or casserole waiting to greet me at the end of an exhausting day.

Obviously, I’m not one of those who worry about cracks in cheese pies 🙂 It comes out of the oven poufy and settles a bit. I know it’s a traditional Easter pie for many Italians, but was in the mood to try it now. This is a delectable, yummy dessert with significantly less sugar than other dessert choices (it’s great for breakfast too!).

RECIPE: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2013/03/15/ricotta-pie-buona-pasqua/

Ricotta pie a-1

If you click over to the recipe  – at the bottom of the blog post, you’ll see some reviewers thought it bland. She’d mentioned grated orange peel was traditional but she leaves it out. I went and added in the finely grated peel from about 2/3 – 3/4 of a large orange using a micro-planer (makes tiny bits for mellow flavor dispersion). Also because of the few negative comments, I used the 2 tsp vanilla where she says one or two. And, as I’d seen other recipes with a regular pie crust, I did that (no graham crackers on hand so I improvised).

Saw a few in web searching recipe choices made with no crust at all – it would be a ‘one bowl, mix it up’ pie without the crust. My sister tells me that’s how the Italian bakery she buys hers from makes them. Just crack your eggs into the bowl first so you can be sure there’s no shells and you have a super fast dessert with hardly any clean up required. So yummy!!! No topping is needed if you put the orange peel in the pie. I mixed mine in the bowl of the Cuisinart to give it a smoother texture. If you care about cracks – I probably have more as had taken it out of the oven and measured temp; but had to place it back in (I’m in the mountains – higher altitude baking always takes longer, but you’re never quite sure how much longer). Know that ricotta pie is not the same as cheesecake, the texture is quite different. This recipe is a keeper. I love it.

Stop by and see what others are up to this Sunday  Unknown’s Mami’s Sundays in my City.

Is it March already?

February was a whirlwind that has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Hosting skiing guests, blizzards with no power, the weekend hosting the college kids (BFF’s daughter, roomie and boyfriend), planting, baking, sewing – oh, and then there’s work. March is looking to shape up the same. Once this is posted, I’m off to brunch with another set of skiers and next weekend the college gang is returning for the Sonora Celtic fair (really – it’s a free tourist town place to stay and they get fed – even dropped off and then picked up in town if they’re wine tasting – what more could a college kid want?).

So, to catch you all up with my lack of posting, a photo journey – warm sunsets, bone-chilling damp fog, baking more of the garden’s bounty, big huge fluffy snowflakes, the new kitten being entertained by the printer (actually deciding whether to rip it to shreds ..) and a fun sewing project (to go to slideshow or larger view, just click on any photo):

We’ll see if I can squeeze in a moment to add more on my winter planting and some other nifty craft projects.  Until then, be sure to pop by the other blogs participating in Unknownmami’s Sundays in My City .

Summer Squash Patties

Given that I’ve been buried alive in summer squash, I’ve become very adept at finding the best recipes to utilize it. Other than breads and cakes, squash patties are one of my favorite ways to cook them up. You can find all sorts of variations including substitutions for the plain breadcrumbs with panko or herbed breadcrumbs. I tend to use plain simply because I can toss leftover bread into the Cuisinart and then freeze plain breadcrumbs to have on hand. Like potato patties – use them for brunch or dinner – with ketchup or applesauce – versatility is the word here.

Although the basic recipe doesn’t call for it, I take the pan I’ll be frying the patties in and first sauté the onion, peppers and anything else (think shredded carrot, bits of broccoli) I might want to toss in. I also melt that 2 tablespoons of butter that brings just the right amount of richness to the mix. Scrape it into the pattie mix; re-oil the pan and away you go. This recipe is very adaptable. My neighbor likes to make it using half potato and half summer squash. She tells her hubby that they’re potato pancakes and avoids any funny looks she’d get if she admitted they were squash.

Summer squash patties


2 ½ cups grated Summer squash

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup bread crumbs (a dash of salt and pepper if you use plain breadcrumbs as I do)

 1/4 cup minced onion – raw or sautéed, your call

Optional 1/4 cup minced pepper

*for mock crab cakes add 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning


In a large bowl, combine grated Summer squash and breadcrumbs. Toss with a fork to break up any clumps. Add eggs, salt and pepper and mix again. Then stir in your sautéed onion, peppers and melted butter  and mix well. Shape into patties – most times I just grab my large ice cream scoop, scoop a tightly packed bit of mix (use the side of the bowl to help pack into your scoop) and then flatten it in the pan with the spatula, tapping around the sides to give it a more solid edge. Fry patties until golden brown on both sides.

You can tell from the bits that I use butter, not oil, in the pan.

I’ve gotten cavalier with this recipe and just eyeball squash to breadcrumbs and sautéed veggies. Too many veggies will be tasty, but the patties will break when flipping them over. You can simply sauté the mixture as if you are making hash browns if you want to add more sautéed veggies than the recipe calls for.

Above is the last batch I’d dropped off to our Senior Center – Sunburst yellow squash, Zapollo Italian white pattypan, a few Horns Of Plenty and these strange looking Italian Tromboncino Zuchetta.  The Tromboncino remain tender when harvested up to 3 feet long (they will grow more than six – Territorial seed Tromboncino Info ).

Now that I have a season of growing this Italian Trombocino Zuchetta under my belt, I understand why one gardener had written that he was getting an old swing set and covering it with fencing wire to use as a trellis for his squash. I’m still so very enamored of it. It’s pretty, takes off and is the very definition of prolific – very resistant to squash vine borer for folks who have that problem. It has many aliases, depending on the seller – Climbing Zucchini Tromboncino, Trombocino, Zucchetta, Zucchino or Zucca Rampicante, Italian Trombone Squash, Cucurbita moschata ‘Tromba d’Albenga’. Some seed sold has a more pronounced bulbous end with thinner neck – not my preference. As only the bulbous end has any seed, the bigger neck variety is a more versatile vegetable.  Seeing the Cooks Garden photo, I’ve decided finding the right summer squash soup is next up: Cooks Garden Tromboncino.

This post is participating in the global  Sundays in My City at Unknown Mami – some of the folks go out and about and do things other than garden or cook  and take fantastic photos (ok, I do go out and about as well but haven’t been dragging the camera along enough).

Californians – Murphys Dis de los Muertos is November 3 & 4 – if you can’t book a place in town, Angels Camp is just 9 miles/10 minutes down the highway.

Apologies to those who got this in email with no pictures – I was a tad to quick on the “publish” key.

It’s the Squash Gremlins!

Stripe has leapt into the swimming pool!  I let it have water; I let it feed after midnight, oh noooo!

Italian Trombocino Zucchetta Rampicante – that’s five you see in the one square foot-ish area of vines. This photo posted a few weeks ago shows a baby squash growing right along a hands width from the larger. I’d harvested that squash two days later for the photo here  – showing it on a 20 inch napkin. The neat thing is the squash is very good a bit larger, quite a bit larger, than other summer squash. Even the seed companies tell you it can be harvested anywhere from a few inches to 3 feet long. In There are no seeds in the neck, only in the small bulbous bottom.

Dark shots as I ran out at 7:30 pm to get a few more for this post. I’m thinking this squash could solve world hunger. On the right side of photo you’ll notice that the squash are growing on the vine only about 8 inches apart from each other and there’s another forming off to left. When I grew Tuffy acorn, I was lucky to get two per vine. This roots as it grows so the number of squash per vine (plant) is just limited by the length of your season. For gardeners, don’t let the white flower fool you – I have gourds growing in that area as well.

They are everywhere.

My previous shots of the garden were from the other side. For the bed in the foreground, it’s Maranka gourd, Trombocino squash and lemon cucumber (filling right third of the bed and growing out).

It has a stronger zucchini flavor than the Zapallo or Sunburst, which are both mild. Stays firm and tasty sautéed. It can be grown as a winter squash. At the various garden forums and blogs, unanimous love for it as a summer squash is professed. As a winter squash it has some supporters while others prefer Butternuts, acorns and pumpkins for winter squash flavor. The way this thing is multiplying, there will certainly be some I can test out later in the season.


Hands down – Sunburst is my favorite summer squash. If there could “be only one” this would be it. I love the mild flavor, the stable texture and that you can use it at all different sizes. The baby ones raw dipped in a bit of Marie’s chipotle ranch salad dressing are the best. If I miss one and it gets really large I’ll scoop out the seeds and grate it for Spiced squash bread, chocolate squash bread or squash patties (think potato pancakes made with grated squash). “It’s the earliest (and reputedly most productive) of the yellow scallopini, an AAS winner. Can be picked from baby size up to 8 inches across without losing its tender, buttery flavor” – from the seed packets and positively true. It’s so much earlier and so incredibly prolific, that until a week ago I thought the Trombocino was a dud (boy, was I wrong!). You’ll notice I don’t grow regular zucchini logs or green “8 balls”; not a fan.  I grew ‘Horn of Plenty’ sweet yellow crook neck summer squash this season, and it’s one for the ‘eh’ file. It can become a bit watery when cooked and the seed area in relation to the squash is large. It‘s quite pretty and ok flavor wise, just not the star the others are.

Italian Zapallo white scallopini is firm when cooked and has the most marvelous shape. Imagine this one with the top cored off, a bit of stuffing in the center, and the lid and placed back on. So beautiful.

Shoshana’s gift all of Godzilla Butternut seed and seedlings are really coming along.

The Butternut squash is only planted in the front third of the bed – I keep pulling the vines out and down. There’s nothing below this bed, so it can grow as long as it wants.

Dealing with the bounty a.k.a. my freezer is my friend. With the proliferation of vegetables piling up – I look for the easiest ways to preserve them. Here are the Cherry 100 tomatoes ready for freezing. Just rinse off, let dry and freeze.

The tray for initial freezing is useful as 1 – I don’t have a flat open space in the freezer and 2 – to prevent me from spilling the tomatoes all over the floor when I open the freezer door.

A friend raved about her Food Saver vacuum sealer for over a year before I finally broke down and bought one. I am so glad I did.

Frozen cherries ready to throw into a sauté or on top of a pizza come winter. I like a few green ones for tart; they’re all ripe enough to be soft, no hard nuggets allowed.

When I last made the Summer Squash Spice Bread , I set up my little assembly-line with four bowls for dry and four bowls for wet plus pans ready for four recipes. It’s so easy and so fast. Set the oven to start at 25° higher so the temp doesn’t drop too low when you add the four pans. Reset it to 350 after 15 or 20 minutes. Grab the flour and dump 1 1/2 cups in each dry bowl – and so on down the line each ingredient. Just make sure the dishwasher is empty before you start.

 Now the thing about the Food Saver vacuum sealer is that it’s powerful. My original thought in getting it was that I love home-baked breads and muffins and also enjoy stocking up on bagels and bakery breads at Costco. Imagine my surprise when, not being one to read the directions coupled with the hour and half drive through windy one lane mountain roads plus meeting a friend for shopping and lunch, I took my marvelous new machine out-of-the-box, placed a loaf of Costco hard crusted bakery bread in a bag and hit seal. Vroom, it seals and pulls all air from the bag – and before my eyes my hard crusted bakery loaf shrank to about an inch high. I started laughing. I did wish I had a camera on. Then, I read the instructions and found out you have to freeze many things solid first (ooohhh); thus the tomatoes going in on the tray to freeze before vacuum sealing the bag.

The machine has a small tray to collect liquid so you can just grate your squash, put it in the sealer and go. You don’t have to parboil it first. What will happen is that the moisture being sucked out by the vacuum will prevent the seal from the adhering wherever those droplets of moisture are. Solution is to toss it in the freezer for a few hours or overnight, then reseal it. You can also do this with things like blanched chard or kale leaves – anything with just a bit of moisture. When you defrost frozen grated summer squash, you’ll end up with some liquid and some squash. There are two camps – one:  those who religiously put both the liquid and the squash into their recipes and claim they don’t end up with soggy breads and two: those who only use the squash in their recipes. I’m in the latter camp, the liquid can go into a soup or on the compost pile.

Since my first garden years ago, I’ve been freezing pesto in ice cube trays. The taste has always been wonderful and fresh. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it until I saw others do it, a Homer ‘DOH’ moment – pesto is garlic frozen in olive oil, fresh herbs (basil) frozen in olive oil. So, garlic, herbs, peppers and onions are being minced, tossed into ice cube trays and drizzled with olive oil. Once frozen, into the Food Saver bag they go. Just leave the end of the bag longer and so you can open and reseal it a few times. All those lazy, tired nights – you can skip chopping and mincing and just grab the cubes. Each is about 2 tablespoons of minced herbs.

Egads, this post is a book. But, I saved the best for last. Each of these two linked videos is less than a minute. It’s really worth your time. Saveur – how to peel a head of garlic in less than 10 seconds. I did the garlic bit this morning.

It works. I took the three pound bag up of garlic, courtesy of Costco, and went at it. I did not thwack it with the heel of my hand as he did. I knew I had a whole bunch to get through and that would be painful – so I smacked it with the bottom of my bowl. Some cloves would go skittering across the floor, easily collected. It appears my bowl was not always lined up for the shaking part and I ended up with bits of garlic paper on the counter, the floor and me. It was still worth it. I would shake a little bit, pull out the clean cloves and rinse them, shake a bit more, pull out the rest. Optimum for me was two or three heads in each shaking of the bowl. This really goes fast. You are bruising the garlic, the scent is released and it gets sticky. This is my mess with the plastic bowl of empty papers and the two sticky shaking bowls. Some of the garlic will be frozen; some will be minced, covered with oil and placed in the fridge and some will be left whole, covered with oil and placed in the fridge. The bowl pictured is a bit less than half of the bag.

Trick for separating eggs.

 This one looks like so much fun. I have a coffee ice cream recipe that takes 6 egg yokes. I already have two meringue recipes lined up for the whites. Mine broke, repeatedly. I was all ready with bowls for yolks, whites, breaking and everything.

First thought was that I used the little glass cup and the bottle was sucking up the white with the yoke (which it was). For the second try, I used a saucer for the egg.  Gosh darn it, remembered something from an old cookbook and realized my eggs, courtesy of my neighbor, are simply too fresh for this method.

In really fresh eggs, the white and the yolk cling to each other. Photo courtesy of Time Life books, Eggs and Cheese. Copyright says you can only reproduce a small portion with a review, so – I really learned a lot from this out-of-print book and enjoy the recipes.

Finally, remember the date, Nov 3& 4 – Murphy’s Dia de los Muertos has a Facebook page. Above is a simple scarf for the celebration I’d decorated using an Urban Threads design.

Follow my blog easily by getting the posts sent to your email – sign up in the right column.

This post is participating in Unknown mami’s Sundays in my City, the Gallery of favorites hosted by April at The 21st Century Housewife and Alea of Premeditated Leftovers, Seasonal Sundays at the Tablescaper and Sundae Scoop at I Heart Naptime.

Summer Squash Spice Bread

The garden’s cornucopia of fresh veggies and herbs has begun – and that makes me one happy camper. I’ve begun searching my favorite recipe sites to ensure I have a diversity of flavors to apply to the bounty.

The Sunburst squash is absolutely delicious simply harvested small, cut into wedges and served with a creamy spicy dressing. However, all the jokes about people leaving summer squash on their neighbors’ doorstep exist for a reason.  With the right conditions, summer squash is prolific. My Sunburst and Zapollo (Italian white pattypan) are doing me proud.

So, how does a gardener go about making Zucchini bread?






Six: Sieve through recipes, books, magazines;  wander the web. Today’s winner –  Zucchini Spice Bread from MarthaStewart.com

Seven: Bake

I made minor adjustments to her recipe.  First, I used smaller pans instead of making one large loaf. In my corn muffin post (also adapted from Martha) I passed along the tip to open the dishwasher, place the pans on the open door and spray there (next wash and the inside of that door is cleaned off); then tip the pans over to let any excess oil drain off while mixing the recipe (tip originally from NordicWare’s site).

Lining the pans with parchment (long side only see photo) is something I’ve been doing with the tea breads. Place the parchment in the oiled pan then lift and turn it over so the batter side has some as well.

Spiced Summer Squash Bread (slight adaptations from Zucchini Spice Bread from MarthaStewart.com)

Oven 350 degrees

1 large pattypan summer squash (to yield 1 3/4 cups when grated)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts broken into large pieces

Ready your pans (3 mini loaves or one regular loaf pan).

The major change I made was that Martha’s folks didn’t drain their zucchini. I grated my squash in moments with my small food processor. You could use any grater with larger holes (no micro-planers – you’d end up with slush). Sprinkle the ¾ tsp salt called for in the recipe into the squash and place it in a double layer of cheesecloth, wring it a bit and leave it in a colander while mixing the rest. Skip this step if you let your squash grow really big as it will be a bit drier – you can tell if you grab some of the grated squash and squeeze – if water come out, then drain it.

Whisk together sugars, oil,butter, vanilla, and eggs.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt together.

Wring the squash again thoroughly as the salt will have drawn more of the liquid out. I’ll note here, my final loaf was VERY moist although I’d squeezed out at least a cup of liquid from the squash and not added any extra liquid to the recipe. Wondered if her folks also did the squeeze thing but forgot to mention it.

Place the squash in with the flour mixture and use a fork to break up the squash clump and incorporate it throughout the flour mix.

Stir in the egg mixture then the walnuts – just to combine well (never ever over mix tea breads or muffins).

Pour into the prepared pans; lightly sprinkle the tops with sugar if you like.

 Bake 25 to 30 minutes for small pans, 45 to 55 minutes for a regular size loaf.

Cool 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack, then roll over to top side up (with a towel or mitt, it’ll still be pretty warm). Don’t you love how all the recipes say cool completely? Really, does anyone? My personal recommendation is to dive into it while it’s warm – don’t burn yourself, but go at it. This is truly a wonderful loaf with just the right amount of spice.

This post is participating in UnknownMami’s Sundays in My City; the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, hosted by a bunch of folks including April at The 21st Century Housewife and Alea of Premeditated Leftovers and My Meatless Mondays .

Tart Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Murphys has a wonderful little frozen yogurt shop, Yogurt Your Way. Their Wild Berry Tart is the best frozen yogurt I’ve ever had. I am so enthralled with this flavor. Decided it was past time to drag out the ice cream maker and give frozen yogurt a whirl.  

My starting point was the Very Berry frozen yogurt recipe from the instruction booklet that came with the Cuisinart ice cream maker. To achieve tartness, I substituted plain low fat yogurt where they specify vanilla low fat yogurt (there’s usually a sweetener in vanilla yogurt). I also completely ommitted the 1/4 cup of sugar, (you can’t do this with all frozen dessert recipes as it can change the texture of something like a sorbet).

Tart Raspberry frozen yogurt

2 cups low-fat plain yogurt
One 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries (ok to use mixed berries, blackberries etc.)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Purée and strain your berries. The straining is very important if you’ll be freezing any of this mixture. The extra water will turn to ice and ruin your texture. If you have a gang over and you’ll be serving it soft serve from the freezer bowl, then no worries (and the flavors do come through best when this is a bit soft).  But, if some will make it to the freezer – strain. Simply combine all your ingredients in a bowl with a mixer, pour it into your freezer bowl, pop the machine on and let it run until thickened, about 20 to 30 minutes. Freeze what isn’t eaten right off.

This was yummy. Not quite as tart as the yogurt shop though – so next up is partially making Greek yogurt (just strain your yogurt – by partial I’ll probably just do 8 hours).

This post is participating in the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, hosted by a bunch of folks including April at The 21st Century Housewife and Alea of Premeditated Leftovers; My Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory and, of course  UnknownMami’s Sundays in My City.

No Knead Artisan Bread

I’m a starch junkie. There is no way Atkins would ever be the diet for me. My Achilles’ heel in the food area is bread, scones, pastas and rice.

I’d heard a lot about Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and decided to give it a go. It’s Sunday, the ovens on, I’m baking and  also making up another batch of this wonderful bread.

 As I write this, Amazon shows 949 customer reviews with a 4.5 rating out of five. The author’s concept builds on the basic no knead bread making recipe (they’ve been around forever and pop in and out of favor; earlier I’d blogged failures and listed a dense whole wheat no knead bread from a used cookbook I have with a 1981 copyright – it would’ve made better dog biscuits – the kind they clean their teeth with). Mark Bittman (former NY Times food writer and cookbook author) highlighted Jim Lahey’s My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method – and drove renewed popularity for the no knead method with foodies (their basic bread is baked in a heavy dutch oven as no knead bread is wetter and a pan helps give it shape, the dutch oven also yields a nice crust). Better no knead recipes require mixing one day – then not baking until the next day or later – the longer rise/rest takes care of what kneading and all that physical exercise and mess would. It’s always a sticky batter (when covering, use plastic, not a towel unless you plan to wash and soak the sticky doughy towel pronto).

No knead has an attraction – but, for those equipped with a Kitchenaid mixer, it’s not such a big deal (mix everything in the bowl of the mixer – let the machine knead –  you’re set except for rise and shape that you do with no knead as well). The bigger attraction for me with the “5 minute” approach is mixing up enough for four to five loaves (or more smaller loaves) all at once and keeping the dough in the refrigerator to dole out and bake one loaf at a time. I don’t know about others, but I manage to get flour everywhere when I am mixing up bread recipes. The time saved cleaning up after my messy self is a huge plus. I’m sure everyone also experiences times when due to work, or simply a day of too much fun, they’re too weary to put effort into cooking or baking. If you’re a morning person, you shape your loaf and leave it in the refrigerator to rest during the day. If you’re an evening person, you shape your loaf and let it sit 40 minutes before baking.

The above photos show the dough after it’s initial long rise and ready for refrigeration.  As I write this, I cannot access the website for Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. I’m hoping they didn’t take it down as it’s a wealth of information with many recipe variations, each of which has a slew of comments that further elaborate the method. The master recipe (detailed at Mother Earth news) takes only 4 ingredients – water, salt, yeast and flour (Plain Flour, or American All-purpose). The authors also created YouTube videos walking through their process.

The bakery in town charges about $6 per loaf of wonderful, flavorful breads. What I notice about most home baked breads is they have a much stronger yeast flavor than my bakery supplied versions where a walnut bread has the predominant flavor of walnut instead of “yeast first”.  I understand fresh yeast can help this (as opposed to dry, it has a very short shelf life but can be frozen). Not being in a metropolitan area, fresh yeast isn’t readily available (I keep thinking I’ll drag a cooler along when I visit the bay area, fill it with ice and find fresh yeast- but haven’t gone that route yet). A longer rise means you can use less yeast and adding sourdough starter also means you can add less yeast. Once comfortable, you can play with the amount of sourdough or yeast depending on your tastes.

I show sourdough starters at the bottom of this post. The alcoholic “hooch” that separates and floats to the top is bursting with rich sour flavor. Some recommend pouring it off (egads no!). Not sure who started that (it does look gross, I’m the first to admit). The look might not sit well with “median American tastes” some strive for. Stir it back into your starter – feed that and then let it bubble and rise if you want a flavorful starter. You will not end up with “alcohol” in your finished loaf. Also, starter can be very simple – gold miners carried it about with them. My fridge is cold -I may not get around to feeding my starter for 2 months. It’s lived. Just keep chlorinated water away from it, do feed it on occasion and it should be quite happy. I see some who make it a very effortful process requiring attention and detail – not me. You can start from scratch (potatoes and more) or pick up a commercial packet. It increases in flavor and depth the longer you have it. I’ll have to do a full post on starters one of these days.

The authors added two cookbooks to the one linked above. One of those is for whole grain. They recommend you get Vital Wheat Gluten to help the loaves rise. It was a few cents short of $8 at my local grocery for the Bob’s Red Mill packet. Sorry to say, I really disliked their Whole Grain Master Recipe that takes ¼ cup of it. I fed the entire batch of loaves to the birds. Too yeasty tasting for me. Some are concerned that commercial bakery use of vital wheat gluten is why we have so many folks with gluten allergies today (do I need to say, I’m not a doctor and this is just something I see bandied about?).  Also, know anyone I can gift the vital wheat gluten packet to? I’m thinking of just making a separate whole wheat batch  with that gluten to feed the birds every time I make a batch for me. 

My recipe started with the regular all purpose flour master recipe. For a light flavored loaf and to have enough gluten for the bread to rise, I keep more all purpose than whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour absorbs more water, that’s adjusted as well. And, I’ve got a nice sizable bit of sourdough.

My version without the gluten comes out a bit flatter after its rest (all of the 5 minute recipes spread while resting after you shape – how much depends on room temp plus time you let rest), but is absolutely delectable. For sandwiches, just cut it horizontally like focaccia.  You can buy pans, like a Kaiser bread or braided ring mold if you’re making no knead breads and want them to have a certain “look” easily. I bake a small deep dish pizza version in my 8 inch round cake pans. After looking at various bread molds, I’m thinking of trying some of my fancy bundt type pans as well.  


Adjusted Basic Recipe (Sourdough with Whole Wheat)

Makes 4 One pound Loaves
3 1/4 cups lukewarm water (don’t be afraid to add a tablespoon or two more water if your dough isn’t really sticky)
1 tbsp granulated yeast (1 packet)
1 1⁄2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
2 cups of activated sourdough starter (I stir here a bit, then add the flours)
4  cups+ unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel (or upside down cookie sheet)

Follow the instructions I’ve linked from Mother Earth News. I generally let mine get to the sitting the first day in the fridge, then add about 1/3Cup flour to each bowl (thus the + in the flour notation above). Let it rest another day in fridge and you’ll have yummy, light bread.

I was ready to run out and buy the plastic pail or dough stirring hook recommended on their website, but decided it’s easier to just mix the dough in one bowl, then dump into two large bowls (the colored bowl is a Pyrex 10 cup / 2.5 liter; the clear just a tad bigger ) for the rise and refrigeration (otherwise a big ol bucket will demand a lot of refrigerator space on a pretty spacious top shelf). I just used plastic wrap with a few pinholes so it could breathe as instructed. Noticed they use wooden spoons in all the videos, also decided to skip the special stirrer. I have a pizza peal but never use it – I rely on parchment paper (I slide my loaf to the back of a cookie sheet, then slide it from there onto my pizza stone that’s warm in the pre-heated oven).

If you’re a fan of crusty bakery breads – do give this a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. And, if their site comes up and you’re a mom, check out Zoe’s  softer crust loaf baked in a loaf pan to make sandwiches for school lunches. Not all the kiddies enjoy a crunchy crust on bread.

This post is participating in Sundays in My city.