Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homemade Bread and Other Food Processor Wonders

Believe it or not one of the most expensive prepared foods we buy is bread. So we decided to try and make as much of our bread from scratch as possible. This was of course greatly aided by the recent arrival of a food processor (yay!) from my cousin Rog (thanks Rog!).

Although a food processor is not necessary for bread making at all it is mighty helpful for kneading if you have scrawny weak arms like me. The basic recipe that came with the food processor is actually quite good. You proof your yeast in warm water with sugar and in the mean time you mix your flour, salt and fat in the processor. You then use the feed spout to slowly pour in the yeasty water (to which you add some ice water) and then let it mix for a few seconds until it is fully kneaded. Then it goes into a bowl to rise, gets shaped, rises again and then is ready to bake.

We have used this recipe to make basic white bread but also bread with some whole wheat flour mixed in, rolls and Italian type loafs.

One of my favorite specialty breads are those long skinny crusty kalamata olive loaves you always see at farmer’s markets for five bucks a pop. I wanted to try to make my own version so I made up a batch of the usual dough but for some reason I thought I should put the olives in with the dry ingredients before adding the liquid. So instead of a lovely white loaf studded with olives I ended up with an interestingly purple colored loaf that had a vague flavor of olives. Oh and it was also gigantic. But still good! (Note to self: add olives AFTER kneading dough with food processor.)

The giant kalamata flavored loaf. You think it's ugly? Check out these rolls:

We have an astounding capacity to make ugly bread (but at least it tastes good).

My other favorite specialty bread is cinnamon raisin bread. I survived much of college eating it with peanut butter and bananas on top for breakfast. So when we went on our bread making kick I knew I had to make myself some. I made regular white dough and after it had been allowed to rise once I smooshed it out into a rectangle. I then sprinkled on cinnamon sugar and a bunch of raisins. I rolled this up and put it in the bread pan to rise again. It was fabulous. I would also like to introduce you to the best peanut butter in the world. It is so fabulous because not only does it contain only peanuts but it is also very fresh. Unfortunately you probably shouldn't bother looking for it because it comes from Providence and I have only found it in a few places in Rhode Island. But if you are a RI resident find it!

(Sorry about the blurry picture but this is the fabulous peanut butter.)

Toasted with peanut butter and bananas on top. Mmmm...must be served with a glass of very cold milk.

We’ve also used the food processor to make cookies. These were actually for an after school program my boyfriend works at and he wanted a Halloween themed snack that wasn’t candy. We got the idea for the icing decoration here (although I actually got the link from this fun site) but the recipe for the cookies here. They were excellent and moist, not like some of those gingerbread cookies that you suspect are designed more for their structural integrity then edibleness.

Naked cookies.

My boyfriend hard at work decorating the cookies.

We had a bunny cookie cutter so I wanted bunny skeletons.

When is a bunny not a bunny? When it's a whale.

I have to admit that the icing wasn’t actually homemade but this stuff that came in a squeeze bottle that was scarily reminiscent of Elmer’s glue. You just pop the bottle in the microwave and squeeze away. Although expensive it was quite handy and dries nice and hard so it doesn’t get smudged.

Besides baking the food processor is also awesome for vegetables. I love that it shreds, I’ve started making more coleslaw then I ever thought I would. We also used it to (finally!) deal with those sugar pumpkins we bought for Halloween decorations. We used Pioneer Woman’s method to make frozen pumpkin puree. There are now 5 two cup bags residing in our freezer waiting for someone to make them into some sort of delicious desert.

Next up for the food processor: ground meat. I'm making my own meatballs and I don't feel like paying $2.99 a pound for ground chicken so I'm going to do it myself!

1 comment:

  1. Those cookies look delicious. Glad to hear that the food processor is working out. Be careful washing the blades!