Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beginning Baguette

Pretty good for my first attempt at baking a baguette.

I happened upon an online bread-baking class. Taught by Peter Reinhart, author of such great bread-baking books as Whole Grain BreadsThe Bread Baker's Apprentice, among others. I wasn't planning to get into artisan bread-baking just yet. But, what an opportunity!

If you are interested, go here.

More to come!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cinnamon Graham Crackers!

"Now to combine the cinnamon with the homemade graham crackers."

Good idea, Martha!

I waited for a day when some taste-testers (grandchildren) could come over.  Also, that would keep me from eating all of the graham crackers by myself.

I made them like I had before, except I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on them. I used the double-strength mixture, like I use for cinnamon bread: 3/4 C sugar and 1/4 C cinnamon, a 3:1 ratio. On half of the dough I used Ceylon cinnamon. On the other half of the dough I used Saigon cinnamon.

Before baking: Ceylon to the left and Saigon to the right

After Baking
Disappointment! They were okay, but not amazing like I thought they would be. I did prefer the Saigon cinnamon ones. I like that sharp, pungent flavor.

 Cinnamon rolls were the requested snack for Libby and Ty's checkers game.

I decided the graham cracker itself needed to be crisper.

So today I baked cinnamon graham crackers again. This time I rolled out the dough on parchment paper. After sprinkling with the cinnamon and sugar mixtures--I used Ceylon and Saigon again--and pricking with a fork and scoring with a pizza cutter, I used my pizza peel to transfer the dough onto the preheated baking stone in the oven.

10 minutes was a little too long, with the preheated baking stone!

But, other than the easily-discarded burnt edges, these cinnamon graham crackers were amazing!

Unfortunately, there was only one other taste tester and I have no will-power, so I ate way too many.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cinnamon, Cinnamon, or Cinnamon?

My daughter Kirsten gave me some Saigon cinnamon last fall. Recently a friend gave me some Ceylon cinnamon. So I thought I would see how they compare to my "regular" cinnamon.

There are lots of things that are flavored by cinnamon: apple pie, apple crisp, apple cake, baked apples, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon-raisin bread, zucchini bread, bread pudding, spice cake, snickerdoodles, and I could keep going.

I settled on snickerdoodles because cinnamon is the predominant flavor.

As you probably know, when you make snickerdoodles, you roll balls of cookie dough in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Here are the three mixtures:

First, we have McCormick-brand cinnamon. It isn't identified as any particular kind, so it is probably either Chinese cinnamon or Indonesian cinnamon (see Cinnamomum Cassia in Wikipedia). Next, is Costco's Kirkland-brand Saigon cinnamon. Finally, we have Ceylon cinnamon, packaged locally by a company called Hey Rose (315-730-7498).

I baked the cookies--a pan of each kind of cinnamon-sugar mixture. After they cooled, we tasted them.

Snickerdoodles with Ceylon Cinnamon
We thought the Ceylon cinnamon was smooth and mild.

Snickerdoodles with Saigon Cinnamon
We thought the Saigon cinnamon was sharp and robust.

Snickerdoodles with McCormick Cinnamon: Chinese or Indonesian
We thought the McCormick Cinnamon was coarse yet flavorful.

Our taste-testing group was small. The toddlers happily ate all the cookies they could get their hands on without comment. The adults were pretty evenly split about which of the three types they preferred. They, too, happily ate all the cookies they could get their hands on.

In conclusion, the cinnamons have definite differences. Which you choose may be determined by your own preferences and by your intended use.

I have unanswered questions that will require further testing, which I am happy to do!


1½ C sugar
½ C butter, softened
½ C shortening
2 eggs
2¾ C (11.7 oz.) flour*
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
3 T sugar
3 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°F. Mix 1½ C sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls.

Mix 3 T sugar and the cinnamon; roll balls in mixture. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

*I used 100% whole-wheat flour, ground from hard white wheat. The flavor and consistency were great!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Birthday Breakfast Pizza!

Me: What kind of cake do you like?

Teenage boy: Hmmm ... ahhh ... well, ... I don't really like sweets.

My friend went on a month-long trip halfway across the world. Because she had to leave her son home and he would have his birthday before she returned, she asked me to do something for his birthday.

So what do you do for the teenage boy who doesn't like sweets? (Good for him, but difficult for me to fathom!)

Answer: Breakfast Pizza!

He was surprised and pleased!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Graham Crackers In Our Bakery--Updated

When my granddaughters walked into the house and saw the toy kitchen set, Katie declared, "It's our bakery!"

I baked some graham crackers for them in my bakery. Which they ate in their bakery.

Homemade graham crackers? Easy and tasty!

Honey Graham Crackers

2 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. milk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Cut in butter. Mix in honey and milk, forming a ball. [Note--I'm guessing that a good pastry cutter or a food processor would work well. Since I have neither, I just mix everything with my hands.] Roll out the dough on a lightly greased large cookie sheet or baking stone, 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Prick with a fork and score with a pizza cutter. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
Update: If you use a baking stone, preheat it. Roll the dough onto parchment paper, and, after pricking and scoring, transfer it to the pizza stone. Either use a pizza peel or the back of a baking pan. Reduce the baking time by a few minutes.

Before baking.

After baking.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Flat Stanley at the Bakery!

We had a visit from Flat Stanley to Brady Bread Bakery yesterday! You can see him here. Just scroll down to "Back at the Bakery." He came to Syracuse from New Jersey. He will travel from place to place, returning home in May, where he will show-and-tell school children all about his travel adventures.

We wish him well!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Not Chocolate Rolls?

The Chocolate Bread was so good, I was encouraged to try Chocolate Rolls--like Cinnamon Rolls but with, well, chocolate.


Like Cinnamon Rolls, I used my Aunt Betty's roll recipe. (This is half the recipe.) After patting out the dough, I spread melted chocolate on it: 2 C of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted. I rolled up the dough, cut it, and panned the rolls. The melted chocolate makes this a messy process!

After baking the rolls, I made some Chocolate Ganache:

Heat in the microwave, just to simmering (Watch carefully! It doesn't take long!), 3/8 C (6 Tbsp.) heavy cream. Add 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir until completely melted.

I piped ganache onto the rolls. I need a little practice!


By the way, I used 100% white whole-wheat flour in these rolls.

Whole Grain Happiness!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Flansburghs Favor Whole-Wheat Flavor!

Libby: "Grandma, may I have some bread?"
Me: "Sure!" I showed her the three kinds, left over from yesterday's baking.
Me: "Would you like maple oatmeal?"
Libby: "No, thanks."
Me: "Would you like white whole-wheat?"
Libby: "No, thanks."
Me: "Would you like regular whole-wheat?"
Libby: "Yes! That one! May I have two pieces? With butter?"

Me to Zack: "Do you want some bread, too?"
Zack: "Yes!"
Me: "Do you want butter?"
Zack pointed to the butter and nodded.

P.S.--Ty was too concerned about waiting for his friend's arrival to eat!

Friday, February 1, 2013

What Is Whole Grain Happiness?

It's a cold, slippery, snowy February day, yet a little while ago I had a whirlwind of grandchildren whoosh through the house. They were here to pick up bread with their dad, but it was lunchtime and they were hungry.

Seeing the freshly-baked rolls cooling on the table, they each asked if they could have one ("with butter!"). They didn't ask any questions about the rolls. Whether the rolls were whole-grain or not, freshly-baked or not, weren't considerations for them. They took for granted that the rolls would taste good. Grandma baked them? Yeah, they would be good!

Yes, the rolls were freshly-baked. Yes, they were whole-grain, made with freshly-ground wheat. And yes, the kids ate them with pleasure.

That's whole grain happiness!