Much Kneaded Relief

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I love bread.  I love to eat it.  I love to make it.  I love to bake it.  And then I love to eat it some more.  🙂  So, needless to say, I’m grateful when I have an excuse to do that bit of something that makes me happy, that thing we call baking.  For me, the process of baking is therapeutic.  There’s comfort in taking flour and water and yeast and and pounding it around and then seeing it turn into something so delicious.

I have a busy life, and I love it.  And while being a stay-at-home mom has tons of advantages (like having time to spend in the kitchen and  to blog about it), it can have its disadvantages, too.  I love my three girls, but by the middle of almost every week, my patience is thin and my frustration is high.  And then there are weeks–like this week–when there are extra bumps.  I think that’s why Thursdays become the unofficial baking day.  I can take my frustrations, my stress, my anxieties, and throw them into the bowl and pound them out with the dough.  This is what yesterday morning looked like.

And add a double batch of whole wheat pizza dough in there, too.  🙂  (It’s a good thing my sister-in-law is visiting this weekend!)  It wasn’t like it was a tough week, either, but there were just some frustrations.  A few school-related and and equipment-related and just general issues with my middle monkey, some not-so-well-taken naps by all three of my charges, and a touch of restlessness all contributed to the mix this week.  

And so, dear friends, you now receive the recipes of my therapy.  If you come to my house, you can taste them, too.  :)And if you’re intimidated by baking a loaf of yeast bread, don’t be!  It’s really quite easy.  All you really need is a recipe, a mixer (stand or hand), your own two hands, and about 3 hours of time at home (about 30 minutes of active in-the-kitchen messing-with-the-flour stuff; the rest is rising and baking time). 

The cinnamon swirl bread in the foreground of the picture, well, that’s just the basic Betty Crocker Traditional White Bread recipe with a twist–or swirl, I suppose.  After the initial rising, you roll out the rectangle of dough to shape the loaf, slather a tablespoon of vegetable oil over the rectangle, sprinkle a mix of 1/4 cup of sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon over that, and then roll it up into the loaf shape before the second rising and baking.  (And the dough isn’t delicate–you can push and prod and pull and pinch to get it into a reasonable loaf shape.)  And another tip:  making a small batch of vanilla frosting to spread on the bread is pretty tasty, too.  🙂

The chocolate chip cookies?  Well, yes, I tinkered, and whether it was enough to make enough of a difference, I don’t know–did adding more brown than white sugar and that little bit of corn syrup help the chewiness?  I’m not quite sure.  They taste good, though! 

 The banana bread, too, is mine.  I urge you to make it and judge for yourself whether it’s an improvement. I thought the addition of sour cream and brown sugar might produce a moister bread and the allspice a slight variation on the usual cinnamon and/or nutmeg.  And you may already know this, but freezing your unpeeled ripe bananas is great–when you want to make bread, remove the number you need, microwave for 30 – 60 seconds in their peels, break open a small slit in the peel, and then squeeze them right out into the bowl.  Then you can simply mash them a bit more with the spoon as you mix them into the batter.

Happy baking!  (and Happy Birthday, Dad!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar in large mixing bowl till light and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, vanilla, and corn syrup.  Mix till well-blended, about 30 seconds.  Add baking powder, salt, and flour and mix till blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.  Spoon by large Tbsp. onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between (2-3 inches).  Bake one tray at a time for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown and tops look almost set, rotating sheet halfway through bake time.  Cool on baking sheet for two minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Betsy’s Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3-4 ripe  bananas, mashed by hand
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  •  

Place oven rack at lower middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour one large loaf pan (9-1/4 x 5-1/4 x 2-3/4″ is best, though a slightly smaller one will work); set aside.  In medium bowl, whisk together sugars, flour, baking soda, salt, and allspice; set aside.  Mix butter, sour cream, eggs, bananas, and vanilla in large mixing bowl.  Add dry ingredient mixture and combine just until blended.  Fold in the walnuts.  Spread in prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool upright on wire rack for at least an hour.

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