Friday, 28 June 2013

Try these Whole Wheat Buns for a Cookout

A visitor to my site recently asked me if I had a good recipe for hamburger buns. Well, now that you mention it, I do. And, since the 4th of July Holiday is right around the corner, I decided now was the time to share it.

If you’re looking for an easy way to make hamburger or hotdog buns for your next cookout, you might enjoy this one.


These Fuss-Free Whole Wheat Buns are made using the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes method. The HBin5 method takes a lot of the guess work out of the bread baking process. With this method, it’s really easy to scale the dough and plan ahead. And, did I mention, there is no kneading involved.

These sandwich buns are healthier for you than store-bought ones because for one thing, you know what’s in them. My version includes home-milled whole wheat flour, but you can use your favorite brand of whole wheat flour if you don’t mill your own flour. To keep the buns from being too heavy, the dough also includes some all-purpose flour.

Another neat thing about making homemade hamburger buns is that you can make them any size you want. If you like to make big burgers like my son does when he grills out, then you can shape them bigger, but if you’re trying to utilize portion control, then you can make the buns smaller.

Please join me on the Grain Mill Wagon to learn how to make these Fuss Free Whole Wheat Burger Buns.


Happy Baking!



Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Making Nan e Barbari | Persian Flatbread

Nan e Barbari is a Persian Flatbread typically served for breakfast with feta cheese and a cup of tea. It has a beautiful golden color and a distinctive odor.

The secret to the lovely color and unique aroma is in the sauce. The sauce, or Romal as it is referred to in Iran, is a mixture of baking soda, flour, and water that is brushed on the dough during the shaping process and again prior to baking.



Elizabeth of Blog from OUR Kitchen, the host kitchen for the Bread Baking Babes this month, chose Nan e Barbari as the featured bread. This sounded like an interesting bread so I joined in the group bake as a BBB Buddy.

We seem to have a theme going with the types of breads we’ve been making recently. We had to beat the Whipped Bread into submission last month and this month’s bread is a slacker as well.

It is a high hydration dough which means it is very wet and slack. When I read the comments from the other bakers, I wondered how I would fare with this dough. It seemed that some of them actually cursed the dough because it was so wet and tricky to handle.

On the day I made this bread, I was not in the mood to deal with a slacker so I made a couple of changes to make the dough more workable.

The first change I made was to hold back some of the water while I was mixing the dough. I ended up adding some of it back but I didn’t use all of it. I also used home-milled whole wheat flour which absorbs more water than commercial wheat flour. Another variable that affected the hydration was the humidity the day I baked this bread. The dough absorbed more water and it was a delight to work with.


Nan e Barbari

Adapted from Blog from OUR Kitchen, adapted from 1001 Recipe

This bread doesn’t take long at all to make.  I made it in an afternoon. I halved the original recipe and made two mini-loaves.


  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 150 mL (2/3 cup) warm water, about 90 degrees F.
  • 30 gm (~1/4 cup) 100% whole wheat flour (I used home-milled flour)
  • 180 g (~1 3/8 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black sesame seeds (and/or nigella seeds, blonde/brown sesame seeds or poppy seeds)

Romal (Sauce)

  • 1/4 tsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup water



1. Mixing the dough 

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.


2. Kneading the Dough

Elizabeth’s method for working with slack dough:

(Watch her Working with slack dough video for more details.)

Turn the dough out onto an un-floured board. Wash and dry the mixing bowl. Using both hands on either side of the dough and thumbs resting on the top in the center, lift it up and flip it over in the air before plopping it back down on the board. Fold the dough in half away from you as you plop the dough down. Keep repeating until the dough is smooth. Every so often, use the dough scraper to clean the board. Stretching the dough is desired on the turns. But this won’t start happening right away. When the dough is smooth, place it in the clean mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave in a draft-free area to rise to double.


My method for kneading this dough:

I’m still dealing with tennis elbow so I didn’t utilize the same method as Elizabeth did for kneading the dough. I used Chad Robertson’s method from Tartine Bread. Basically, you do a series of turns and folds in the bowl.

Refer to my Tartine Bread post for a photo tutorial on performing the fold-and-turn method.



3. Proofing the Dough

Cover the bowl with a plate. Let it bulk ferment for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Perform the fold-and-turn process a few times during the first 1/2 hour of bulk fermentation.



4. Prepare the sauce

Whisk flour, baking soda and water in a small pan. Bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

5. Pre-Shaping

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust it with flour. Cut the dough in half. Form each piece into a ball and place well apart on the baking sheet. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a draft-free area for about an hour, or until double in size.



6. Final Shaping

Brush each round with the sauce.



Dip your fingers in the sauce and dimple the rounds down to form two ovals with lengthwise furrows.



7. Final Proof

Brush the ovals with the sauce again and sprinkle with the seeds of your choice. Let the ovals rest for about 45 minutes.



8. Baking the Loaves (in a conventional oven)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. with a baking stone on the middle rack. Before placing the loaves onto the stone, pull each oval with your hands to lengthen it. Wet your hands so they won’t stick to the ovals and pull the dough from the bottom with your palms facing downwards. I forgot to do this part so my ovals didn’t get lengthened.

Place the loaves onto the hot baking stone (on the parchment paper). Spray the loaves with water. Bake the loaves for about 15 minutes. Rotate the loaves and remove the parchment paper part way through the bake cycle.  Bake the loaves until they are golden brown. 

Grilling the Loaves: If you would like to grill these loaves instead of baking them in a conventional oven, refer to Elizabeth’s post for directions on grilling this bread on your gas grill.



9) Cooling and Eating the Loaves

Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool slightly before enjoying. 

I enjoyed one loaf with dinner and the other with lunch and as a snack the next day.



This bread turned out to be fairly easy which was nice because I had some mishaps earlier in the day (not related to bread), and I wasn’t in the mood for anymore mess ups. Baking this bread was a good stress reliever and it was delicious!

Thanks BBBs for another fun and tasty bread!









Happy Baking!


Friday, 21 June 2013

BreadStorm™ Bread Formula Software

I was catching up on what’s been going on with the Chicago Amateur Bakers, and I ran across this neat software for managing bread formulas. The program is called BreadStorm™.

BreadStormâ„¢ logo

They are currently looking for beta testers who use a Mac computer. I don’t use a Mac so I’m unable to test the program, but I’m sure there are a lot of bakers out there that might want to try it. I’ve included some background information as well as the contact below if case you are interested in becoming a beta tester.

BreadStorm™ ( is the software for managing your bread formulas, designed by amateur bakers Dado and Jacqueline Colussi. BreadStorm supports pre-ferments, soakers, and Detmolder builds. Enter any formula in weights, and BreadStorm automatically calculates the baker's percentages for you. Now the baker can create and edit formulas without doing any calculations or defining any equations (as one must do in a spreadsheet). BreadStorm is currently accepting beta testers for Mac OS X 10.6+. If you are interested in testing the software and providing feedback, please email Jacqueline at

Monday, 17 June 2013

Olde-Style Pumpernickel in Pullman Pan

The bread of the month for the Artisan Bread Bakers is Pumpernickel. The formula, from David of Hearthbakedtunes, is an olde-style pumpernickel that utilizes stale bread, rye berries, rye chops, rye meal and bread flour.

The timing couldn’t have been better for making this bread. I have been experimenting with a new Einkorn bread recipe and after several (less than successful) attempts, I had plenty of old bread to work with. The test breads tasted fine, they just didn’t look very good. When I found out we were making this bread, I knew I could put the leftover bread to good use. It made a unique addition to this bread.


The method for making this bread is similar to the Volkornbrot the Mellow Bakers made a couple of years ago, with a couple of variations. The Volkornbrot utilized a flaxseed soaker and a rye chops soaker, but this bread utilizes an old bread soaker and a rye berry soaker.  This bread is leavened with sourdough but due to the weight of the soakers, the rye chops and rye flour, it also includes some dry yeast to give it some lift. 

Even though this was a heavy dough, it rose really well during the bulk fermentation and the final proof in the pan. If I hadn’t had the lid on, it probably would’ve risen right over the top of the pan.


Olde-Style Pumpernickel Bread

Makes: 1 Pullman Loaf

Adapted from: Pumpernickel Bread on the Artisan Bread Bakers FB page.

I used rye flakes instead of rye chops because that is what I had. I also used whole rye flour that I milled in my grain mill instead of using rye meal. Rye meal is a rougher grind of pumpernickel or rye flour, but you can substitute whole rye flour.


Sourdough Build:

  • 9.6 oz Whole Rye Flour
  • 9.6 oz Water
  • 0.5 oz Rye Culture (I used this rye levain)

 Rye Berry Soaker:

  • 6.4 oz Rye Berries
  • Water, as needed

Old-Bread Soaker:

  • 6.4 oz Old Bread (I used some stale Einkorn bread)
  • Water, as needed

Final Dough:

  • 8 oz Bread Flour (more for sprinkling if necessary)
  • 8 oz Rye Flakes (or Rye Chops)
  • 12.8 oz Water (if needed)
  • 0.6 oz Kosher Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 1.3 oz Black Strap Molasses
  • Berry Soaker (all of the above)
  • Bread Soaker, drained (all of the above)
  • Sourdough (all of the above)



Making the Rye Berry Soaker:

Place the rye berries in a bowl and cover them with water by an inch or so.  Soak the berries overnight. 



The next day, rinse and drain the berries. Cover them in three times their volume in water.  Bring the berries to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let them cook for about an hour, until they are soft and pliable.  The berries will increase significantly in size.



Sourdough Build:

In a small bowl, add the water, then mix the starter in the water.  Add the rye meal and mix with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk until it is thoroughly incorporated.  Let the sourdough rest for 14-16 hours at 70 degrees F.



Old Bread Soaker:

Take the stale bread, toast it in the oven until it is really brown, almost burnt, but not quite. 



Add water as needed to cover the toasted bread and let it soak for at least four hours, if not longer, until it becomes a sticky, gooey mess.  Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible before you use the soaked bread in this bread.  You probably won’t need to add any additional water in the final dough mix.



Mixing the Final Dough:

Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the water.  The bread soaker and berry soaker will absorb water in varying amounts so you might not need any additional water.  I didn’t.  Mix the dough on first speed for ten minutes. Add flour (or water) as necessary to get a dough you can work with, but don’t expect too much development with the dough since it’s mostly rye.



Bulk Fermentation:

Let the dough ferment for 30 minutes.



Shaping the Loaf:

Spray the inside of a Pullman pan and the lid with cooking spray and dust heavily with rye flour to keep the bread from sticking to the top and sides of the pan.  This will also help insulate the dough during the long bake.



Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a log the length of the pan. Place it in the Pullman pan.



Final Proof:

Using your fingers, spread the dough out evenly in the pan and sprinkle the top with flour and a little more oil, if desired.



Slide the lid on the pan. 



Let the loaf proof in the pan, with the lid on, for about an hour, or until the dough is almost even with the top of the pan.  I took the lid off to make sure it had risen enough, then I slid it back on.



Baking the Loaf:

Note about the baking process: This bread was designed to be baked overnight in the oven while it was receding in temperature. This was so the baker could utilize the hot oven, while it was not in use.  In order to simulate this method in a home oven, you need to follow the steps listed below:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., with a baking stone on the bottom rack and the middle rack removed.

2) Place the loaf (in the covered Pullman pan) on the preheated baking stone and let it bake for an hour at 350 degrees F. 

3) Remove the baking stone, if possible (without breaking it due to temperature change).  This will prevent the bottom crust from getting over baked.  

4) Reduce the oven to 275 degrees F. and bake the loaf for 3 1/2 more hours. 

5) Turn the oven off for the remainder of the bake cycle.  Just let the bread rest in the oven while the oven cools down, about 10 – 12 hours.  My oven was cooled down before that time, but I just left the loaf in the oven the required time.

During the extended bake cycle, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. DO NOT PEEK! DO NOT TOUCH!  These were our instructions.  David said the Rye King would come after us if we peeked or touched it before the bake cycle was complete.



Cooling and Resting the Loaf:

Do not cut into the loaf until it has rested for 24 hours!  I let it cool on the wire rack until it was completely cooled.  Then I wrapped it in foil and let it sit for 24 hours.



Slice and Enjoy!

I baked this bread for a friend of mine who will be hiking part of the Appalachian Trail. This dense loaf is full of nutrients and has good keeping quality so it’s the perfect bread to take a long on a hiking trip. I know this because I’ve taken this type of bread with me on a hike before, and it was very satisfying for me and the other hikers.  The loaf is so big, there’s plenty to share.



Happy Baking!


Friday, 14 June 2013

Sprouted Rye and Spelt Bread

I was in an experimental mood this past weekend so I sprouted some rye berries to make sprouted rye bread.

It’s been a while since I’ve made sprouted bread. It is one of my favorite types of bread so every once in a while I just have to make it.



This Sprouted Rye and Spelt Bread is made with sprouted rye berries, rye flour and all-purpose Spelt flour.

In most of my other sprouted breads, I’ve used white bread flour so I decided to try a different combination.  I’m trying to incorporate more ancient grains in my bread baking so this was a good experiment.

The process for making this sprouted rye bread is really easy. I started sprouting the rye berries Friday night and by Monday afternoon they were ready to be used in the bread.

The sprouted rye berries and the Spelt flour performed really well in this bread.  I really like this flavor/texture combination.  The bread has a delicious taste and a nutty texture from the crunchy rye berries and the spelt flour.


Sprouted Rye and Spelt Bread

Adapted from The Pleasure of Whole-Grain Breads by Beth Hensperger

Makes: 2 large loaves



  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/2 packages) active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of ginger
  • 2 cups whole rye flour
  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sprouted rye berries, chopped
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose Spelt flour
  • Spelt bran, for sprinkling, optional
  • Melted butter, for brushing



Step 1: Sprouting the Rye Berries

Duration: 2 to 3 days

Makes: 2 cups

1/2 cup rye berries

Place the rye berries in a bowl and add tepid water to cover by 1 inch.  Let stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. 



Drain the rye berries and rinse with fresh water. Place the berries in a 1-quart jar. Cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.  Place the jar on its side in a warm, dark place.  Twice a day, rinse and drain the rye berries with tepid water poured through the cheesecloth. 


Tip: When you place the quart jars in a cool, dark place such as your cabinet, put them in a container so that the excess water drains into the container instead of your cabinet.

After 2 to 3 days, the rye berries will sprout. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. Grind in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Do not over process; the berries should be chunky.



Step 2: Making the Bread

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a small bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast, sugar, and ginger over the water. Stir to dissolve and let it stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.



In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the rye flour, milk powder, and salt.  Add the warm water, honey, and 4 tablespoons butter. Mix or beat for 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat 1 minute longer.  Add all the rye berries and the Spelt flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating on low speed until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl forms, switching to a wooden spoon when necessary if making by hand.



Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and spongy, 1 to 2 minutes for a machine mixed dough and 3 to 4 minutes for a hand-mixed dough, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time, just enough as needed to prevent sticking. Place in a lightly greased deep container, turn once to coat the top with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. 



Let it rise at room temperature until double in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.



Grease two 9” x 5” loaf pans and sprinkle the bottom and sides with wheat germ or you can use the bran and germ sifted from whole grain Spelt.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 equal portions. 



Pat each portion into a rectangle and roll into a loaf shape.  Place, seam side down, into the prepared pans.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until level with the rims of the pans, about 1 hour.



About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until crusty and golden. 



Remove the loaves from the pans to cool on a rack. Brush the tops with melted butter. 



Let the loaves cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing and serving.  Enjoy!



My favorite way to enjoy this bread is warm with butter, but you can also make a sandwich with it.  Might I suggest a PB&J or a grilled cheese sandwich?  Yum!


Happy Baking!


Monday, 10 June 2013

Semolina Bread & the Olive Oil Adventure

I was looking for a bread to make last Saturday, and happened upon a photo of a Semolina Sandwich Loaf posted by David, one of the bakers in the Artisan Bread Bakers FB group. I was hooked!  I just love breads made with Semolina. This sandwich bread, also known as Pane in Cassetta di Altamura, is made completely with Semolina flour.


Sliced Semolina Sandwich Loaf


I didn’t realize you could make a loaf using only semolina flour. I thought you needed to add at least some bread flour in order to give the dough its structure. I’m not sure where I’ve been, but I’m so glad I found this bread. It has become a new favorite.

My loaf is extra special because I used olive oil that was grown on a farm in Tuscany and delivered right to my kitchen, albeit in a roundabout way. The olive oil traveled by way of Italy, with a stay over in England for a few weeks, then it made its way to the U.S. and finally to me.

Semolina Sandwich Loaf


Let me explain about the traveling olive oil. One of the places I really want to visit is Tuscany. I wasn’t able to fit in a trip to Tuscany while I was in Europe last month so it’s still on my bucket list. However, my youngest son was in the UK for several months while he was attending school near London, and he was able to do a good bit of traveling.

On his trip to Tuscany, he toured a farm, Fattoria Poggio Allora, where they grow olives and make exceptional olive oil. This family farm also serves delicious meals from locally grown food so he and his friends were able to enjoy an authentic Tuscan meal. He really enjoyed the experience and knew that I would also enjoy it so he decided to bring that experience home in the form of olive oil. He bought me some olive oil from this farm in Tuscany and some from another place he visited in Rome.

I had no idea he had gotten me the olive oil. In fact, the entire time we were traveling in the UK, he never mentioned it. It was hidden in his dorm room. I only found out about it when he came back to the states and handed it to me. He found a very creative way of bringing the olive oil back in his luggage. He didn’t break any rules, he just had to think out of the box in order to fit it in small bottles. The presentation was humorous, but it was such a unique and thoughtful gift. 


Pane in Cassetta di Altamura

Semolina Sandwich Loaf

Adapted from: Semolina Sandwich Loaf on the Artisan Bread Bakers FB group

I used Tuscan olive oil in this loaf. It definitely lives up to its name of being one of the best olive oils. It imparts a delicious flavor that makes this bread melt in your mouth.


Water (70–78 degrees) 300 grams 1 1/2 cups
Instant yeast 5 grams 1 teaspoon
Semolina flour 500 – 580 grams 3 1/4 – 3 3/4 cups
Raw sugar 15 grams 1 tablespoon
Olive oil 50 grams 1/4 cup
Sea salt 10 grams 1 1/2 teaspoon



1. Mixing the Dough

Place the water in a large bowl, then add the yeast, sugar, flour, salt and oil.  Mix it well using a large wooden spoon or a Danish dough whisk until a rough dough forms.

I added more flour than the original recipe suggested because the dough was really wet. It was still pretty wet and shaggy so I gave it a longer bulk fermentation time to develop the dough without having to knead it.



2. Slow Rise/Fold Turn the Dough (or Knead/Bulk Fermentation)

Place the dough in a clean, greased bowl and let it bulk ferment for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, at about 70 – 75 degrees F.

To develop the gluten, during the first hour and a half, remove the plastic wrap every 30 minutes and fold and turn the dough in the bowl, for a total of 3 folds and turns. Recover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise until it is doubled in bulk.



Alternately, after mixing it into a rough dough, you can knead the dough for 12-15 minutes by hand or 8-9 minutes using a stand mixer and then let the dough bulk ferment for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until it is doubled in bulk.

I have an injured arm so kneading by hand for 15 minutes was not an option. I did the fold and turn method and let the dough ferment longer to develop the structure of the dough. 


3. Shaping the Loaf

Transfer the dough to a counter sprinkled with semolina flour. Shape/roll the dough into a loaf shape and place it in a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan.



4. Proofing the Loaf

Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it proof for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough crests over the rim of the pan.



5. Baking the Loaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the loaf on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 35 – 45 minutes.  Test for doneness by placing a wooden skewer in the center of the loaf to see if it comes out clean.  Also, the bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when thumped. 


6.  Cooling and Slicing the Loaf

Place the loaf on a wire cooling rack and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing it from the pan.  Let it cool completely on the wire rack before slicing and eating.  Enjoy!



Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Easy Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Today, you’ll find me on the Grain Mill Wagon talking about Whole Wheat Banana BreadI love making Banana Bread because it’s quick and easy to prepare and it’s a great way to use up overripe bananas.  Quick breads make a great snack and this loaf is no exception.


I’ve always enjoyed the banana bread I grew up eating, white flour and all, and I still enjoy that version from time-to-time.  However, these days, I look for ways to make a healthier loaf.

This quick bread incorporates freshly-milled whole wheat flour, olive oil and less sugar.  I sifted out some of the bran and germ to lighten the texture of the loaf, but still keep most of the nutrients from the grains. The result is a delicious and moist whole wheat banana bread with lot’s of flavor.

Please join me on the Grain Mill Wagon to learn how to make Easy Whole Wheat Banana Bread.


Happy Baking!