Monday, March 29, 2010

Lesson #3: Honey Oatmeal Bread

Here I am, kneading away!

That's a big ball of dough!

I was away on vacation for a couple of weeks and, boy, was I ever ready to get back to baking! I baked a batch of banana muffins a couple of days ago and even whipped up some cookie dough yesterday morning with Holden for some cookies I'm planning to make for Easter. I just couldn't wait to get back into the kitchen! Today was the icing on the cake though (pun intended) I learned how to bake bread!! I know I could attempt these recipes on my own but it's so much easier and way more fun with a willing instructor. As long as Grandma is willing to teach, I am willing to learn. Besides, I showed up to my grandparents' place so proud of myself for bringing my own rolling pin that I immediately pointed this out to them. Grandma's reply was, "Oh, well you don't need a rolling pin. You will be kneading the dough." Obviously I need these lessons because I learn something new each time!!

Anyway, I really was able to bake a batch of bread (3 loaves) on my own since Aunt Paulette was there to help out with Easton. Grandma helped me with the trickier parts like the yeast (which I've never used before, obviously) and the kneading. I have to say that kneading dough is pretty fun. It is also fun to punch the dough down before dividing it into loaves. The best part though is smelling the bread while it bakes! Like it says in the cookbook we used, "There's nothing like homemade bread!"

Here is the recipe:

1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tblsp salt
2 cups boiling water
2 packages active dry yeast (we used Fleischmann's traditional)
1 cup lukewarm water
8 cups flour (we used all-purpose and only about 7 cups)

Combine oats, butter, honey, and salt. Stir in boiling water. Cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm water (105-115 degrees) and stir to dissolve. Add yeast and 2 cups of flour to oat mixture. Beat with mixer at medium speed until smooth, for about 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. *

Gradually add remaining flour, a little at a time, to make a soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl. (We only added another 4 cups of flour here.) Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth for about 8-10 minutes. (The rest of the flour was kneaded into the dough.)

Place into a lightly greased bowl and turn dough over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled for about 1 to 1.5 hours.

Once dough has risen, punch it down and divide into thirds. Shape into loaves and place into 3 greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. Let rise until doubled.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 30-35 minutes. Brush tops with butter and remove from pans. Cool on racks. Makes 3 loaves.

Recipe taken from "Family Favorites" From Country Kitchens which was published by Farm Journal, Inc. in 1973.

It is suggested in the cookbook to "serve warm from the oven with honey drizzled over each slice." That sounds delicious....I will have to try that in the morning, warm from the toaster! Whatever I have left I will bring to my mother-in-law's for Easter dinner. As for Easter with my side of the family, there will be dinner rolls which were baked today by Grandma!

*Just a note about the yeast. You do not want the water any warmer than the suggested temperature so use a thermometer if you are uncertain whether or not it is lukewarm (I did). If it is too hot it will kill the yeast and your dough will not rise. Also, while mixing the yeast it will feel tacky but that is normal. Keep mixing, it will dissolve!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lesson #2: Cake Decorating

Sammy and her Ariel cake.

Austin and Winnie the Pooh.

The carrot cake Grandma baked for Alex.

I was very impressed with this box. Grandma's dad made this for her specifically to hold her cake decorating tools. She said she's had this box since before she was married so it's more than 50 years old!

The "before" shot of the Little Mermaid Cake.

The "after" shot!

The adorable Winnie the Pooh cake.

I've always wondered how Grandma was able to turn a regular old cake into a beautiful princess or a favourite cartoon character so when my sister, Erin, was talking about having a birthday party for her kids, Sammy and Austin, I volunteered Grandma and myself to bake and decorate the cakes. The party was to be held on the last Sunday of February so Grandma and I decided to get together on Friday, February 26th for some cake decorating fun! We had quite a bit of snow the night before and that morning so Easton and I had a long, slow drive out to Kingsville but I knew it'd be worth the effort. Unfortunately, Easton was not feeling great so he wanted to be held a lot which meant I wasn't able to help Grandma as much as I would have liked but I still feel like I learned a lot just from watching.

Grandma had one cake cooling and one in the oven when I got to her house that morning so that we could get started on the decorating shortly after I arrived. She had made a teddy bear cake for Austin that we were going to turn into Winnie the Pooh and a doll cake for Samantha that we were going to turn into Ariel from the Little Mermaid...oh, and Sammy wanted Ariel to look like a mermaid, not a princess. Unfortunately, the teddy bear cake fell apart a little when Grandma was taking him out of the cake pan (sorry Grandma if you didn't tell anyone this!) so we waited for the doll cake to finish baking and cooling before we started decorating.

Mostly all I did was help Grandma mix the food colouring into the icing because I didn't want to ruin the cakes! I helped with the Ariel cake but let Grandma decorate Winnie on her own (mainly because Easton didn't want me to put him down). I think it was good for me to just watch but next time....I will decorate an entire cake on my own (I hope)!!

As I started typing this I realized I forgot to get the recipe for the icing from Granmda so I will post it later. I should mention that Granmda baked a third cake on Saturday...a carrot cake for my cousin Alex's sweet sixteen. We celebrated all three birthdays together. Happy 2nd Birthday to Austin, Happy 4th Birthday to Samantha, and Happy 16th Birthday to Alexandra!!!