Posts tagged ‘yeast’

Country Wheat Bread

Few things smell quite as good as homemade bread baking in the oven.

Coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon come to mind, but that’s another post for another day.

Homemade bread baking just smells so dang good. If you’ve never made yeast bread, it’s almost worth it just to get that wonderful smell in your kitchen. Believe me. It’s awesome.

Oh yeah, the bread tastes really good too.

This is a basic country bread. It has a good crumb, it’s not dry, and it makes good sandwich bread.

I use a mixture of bread flour and white whole wheat flour. The addition of bread flour helps it to rise better than if it were 100% whole wheat flour. Feel free to use whatever ratio of bread flour and whole wheat flour you want.

Country Wheat Bread

(makes 2 loaves)

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1 c. buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1/4 c. melted butter (or oil)
  • 1/4. c. sucanat or sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 3 – 3 1/2  c. bread flour
  • 2 – 3 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 4 tsp. dry yeast
  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, buttermilk, and butter.
  2. Add the sugar and salt, and mix.
  3. Add 1 cup of bread flour and 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour, and mix until smooth. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the yeast and mix. Allow mixture to sit, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Continue to add flour, 1/2 c. at a time, until it becomes hard to mix. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead, continuing to add flour as needed, for about 8 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
  5. Place dough in a large bowl sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover bowl, and put in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until dough doubles in size.
  6. Punch down dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in half and shape into 2 rectangles. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, lightly pressing with each rotation of the dough to get out any air bubbles. Pinch the seams closed and place in two sprayed (or greased) 5 x 9 in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until double in size ( 45 min – 1 hr).
  7. Preheat oven to 375° F. Uncover and bake bread for 30 – 35 min, or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. [Note: If bread starts to brown on top too quickly, cover with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.]


October 5, 2012 at 11:15 am 2 comments

Pretzel Monster Fingers

Did everyone have a good Halloween? Or for those of you in the U.S. (and similar time zones), are you having a good Halloween?

Hisa and I did nothing to celebrate Halloween really, but then Halloween isn’t really celebrated in Japan. You can see Halloween decorations and Halloween themed foods here and there, and some shopping malls even have events for kids these days, but that’s about it. Most people don’t do anything.

Normally not doing anything on Halloween would bum me out, but honestly, we’re too busy trying to get ready to move out, go to my in-laws’ place, figure out our trip to Thailand, and finally move back to the U.S. (phew!).

So that Halloween didn’t pass by us completely unnoticed, however, I decided to make something a little spooky and fun for dinner.

Monster fingers!!! Are these awesome, or what?

So many Halloween treats out there are sweets, but I wanted to make something spooky to have with our dinner, so I decided to make these monster fingers. They’re made with pretzel dough shaped into fingers and topped off with an almond for the nail/claw.

These were a lot of fun to make.

I made a normal dinner (meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and tossed salad), and then merely added the fingers so it looks like a hand emerging from the mashed potatoes. You could have these sticking out of just about any salad or side dish.

These also go great with sandwiches! Ah, you gotta love Halloween!

Pretzel Monster Fingers

(makes 24 fingers)

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c. bread flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • sea salt
  • 24 whole almonds
  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Let sit 5 minutes or until bubbles form.
  2. Add whole wheat flour and mix. Add salt and mix.
  3. Add bread flour gradually until easy to handle. Pour out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes, or until smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450° F (175° C).
  5. Bring a large pot of water on to boil. Add baking soda.
  6. Divide dough until you have 8 balls of dough. As you work with one, cover the others to prevent them from drying out. Divide each ball of dough into 3 pieces. Roll out each piece into a snake, the length and width of a finger.  Pinch the dough twice to create “joints”. Boil the fingers, 3 at a time, for 1 minute, and then place on a lined baking sheet.
  7. Beat egg, and brush egg on each finger. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the “knuckles” of each finger a couple times.
  8. Place one almond on each finger, carefully pushing it slightly into the dough. Sprinkle fingers lightly with sea salt.
  9. Bake 12 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.



November 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

Perfect Dinner Rolls

Yesterday evening, Hisa and I walked to the nearest police box (koban) to report my bicycle stolen. Naturally, when we arrived there, no one was there because the officers were currently off on patrol.

So, we continued walking to the police station, which wasn’t too far off. Once there, a nice police officer helped us fill out a police report. He had us show him on a map exactly where the bicycle had been when it was stolen. He then said two officers would drive us back to our place, so we could show them the “scene of the crime”.

Hisa and I actually had quite a good time, as neither of us had ever ridden in a police car before. We were both a bit let down, however, upon discovering that there was no cage or glass separating the front seats from the back seats in the car, and that there was also no computer or high-tech equipment in the car like American police cars. All-in-all, the inside of the police car was quite like a normal car. It was still fun riding in the car though, and watching people slow down when they saw us, hehe.

Once we got to our place, we should them the covered bicycle shed where all the residents park their bicycles, and where my bicycle had been parked the last time we saw it. They then proceeded to walk around the shed with flashlights (it was night by this time) and write things down in little notebooks. What there was to see and write down I have no idea, but I can only imagine what the other residents were thinking if they saw, hehe.

I just hope they can actually find my bicycle, and in one piece. Two bicycles stolen within four months is pretty rough for anyone. Especially when I can’t drive here and a bicycle is my only method of transportation. We’ll see what happens.

*        *        *

If you’re one of the many people that have tried to find the perfect dinner roll recipe, this is for you. I found this recipe a few years ago, and sadly I don’t remember where the heck I found it. I do know it was online though (as if that helps, lol).

This is an easy but delicious dinner roll recipe. It makes 24 rolls, or you can make 12 rolls and freeze half the dough for later (which I usually do as there’s only two of us). Just remember to make this ahead of time, because the dough has to be refrigerated at least two hours before you make the rolls.

Dinner Rolls (makes 24 rolls)

  • 1 c. warm water (about 110 degrees F)
  • 4 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 c. bread flour
  1. Combine water and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs, and salt.
  3. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to three days.
  4. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.
  5. Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a round ball. Place in rows in pan.
  6. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Heat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 17 minutes.

August 19, 2011 at 10:44 am Leave a comment

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I have a confession to make.

I’m horrible at frisbee.

I wouldn’t even go near a frisbee for years, because I was traumatized during my junior high school years.

It’s all my brother’s fault.

Well partially at least. In one experience, my class was playing frisbee tag during gym class, and I got hit in the eye with a frisbee. It left a red line across my eye and face the rest of the day. That was the less traumatic experience.

In my other experience with frisbee, me, my dad, and my two brothers were playing with a frisbee in a big parking lot. Every time my dad threw the frisbee at me, however, my brother, Nathan, would run in front of me and catch it before I could.

After this happened so many times, I finally got mad enough that I chased after my brother in an attempt to catch it before he did or grab it out of his hands. The result was that I didn’t even touch the frisbee (figures), and instead grabbed the back of Nathan’s shirt with my left hand (I’m a leftie). My left ring finger got caught in my brother’s shirt, twisted, and made a horrible ripping sound. Nathan immediately turned around and started inspecting his shirt, thinking I’d ripped it. He then noticed that I was bent over, clutching my hand, and squealing in pain, and that it was my finger that had made the ripping sound, not his shirt.

Long story short, there’s a tissue that surrounds ours bones, and that’s what ripped in my finger (thus, the ripping sound). My finger was also fractured at the same time. The doctor didn’t catch the fracture on the x-ray, however, because my finger was so swollen. As a result, the joint gradually slid down and made my finger crooked.

And it’s still crooked to this day.

And it’s Nathan’s fault.

And frisbee’s fault.

So that is why I stopped playing frisbee, and thus, cannot throw one of those things to save my life.

My psychological wounds have healed enough now, however, that I decided to pick up a frisbee once more recently. These days, Hisa and I sometimes throw a frisbee around in the park when the weather is nice.

I think Hisa enjoys it, not so much because throwing a frisbee is so fun, but because it’s so funny to watch me (try) to throw a frisbee in his general direction.

It’s harder than it looks. Whenever I throw the frisbee, I somehow accidently turn it so it goes sideways and ends up rolling on the ground. Either that or I end up throwing it sideways and almost hit a tree, bush, small child, or old person. I also still get a little nervous if the frisbee comes flying at me at eye level.

I have been getting better, just very very slowly. In an attempt to keep my arm and the frisbee level when I throw it, I do something that looks like a slow-motion yoga pose whenever I throw it. Like I said, Hisa enjoys it immensely.

Whenever it starts warming up, I start wanting to have a burger.

Although hamburgers are super popular in Japan, it’s really hard to find hamburger buns in a super market, so I don’t think people usually make their own. I guess it’s more of a fast-food only type of food for people here.

I’m not a fan of fast-food burgers (or fast-food in general), so when I’m craving a burger, I usually just make my own. Or course that also means I have to make my own buns. Homemade buns are always yummier than the store-bought ones though, so I don’t mind the extra effort.

This Monday, when I made hamburgers for dinner, I decided to try a new hamburger bun recipe, and I found one that came out really well.

This will give you light, fluffy buns, just the right size and thickness for burgers.

The original recipe is here.

Hamburger Buns

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 4 1/2 c. bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. milk (optional)
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and butter, until the butter melts and mixture is very warm (but not boiling). Turn off heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 c. flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Once the milk mixture is lukewarm, and it to the flour mixture and mix. Add the egg and mix until well combined.
  3. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Pour out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into the shape of a ball, and place on a greased baking sheet. Press each piece down with the palm of your hand until in is about 1/2 in. thick. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  7. If you want sesame seeds on your buns, right before you put them in the oven, lightly brush the tops of the buns with milk, and then sprinkle on sesame seeds.
  8. Bake buns 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Now go have yourself a good ‘ol homemade burger and some slaw y’all!

April 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm 5 comments

English muffins’ terrible secret

I discovered that English muffins have a terrible secret…

I only started making homemade yeast breads about a year and a half ago, but English muffins have always dwelt  in the realm of obscure, gourmet-ish breads that look too difficult to make, and should thus, only be bought from the store.

But I discovered that English muffins are really easy to make, and they’re only pretending to be gourmet-ish hard-to-make bread!

Psh. What posers.

Okay, so if that terrible secret wasn’t exciting enough. I have another.

The truth is I’ve never been a big fan of English muffins. I’m a bagel kind of girl. Gimme a good ole bagel smothered in cream cheese over an English muffin any day (especially if it’s a cinnamon raisin bagel. Those are my favorite!).

It’s a terrible secret, I know. You’re probably in shock right now, but try to stay with me here. My point is that making home made English muffins is really easy, and they taste about a million times better than the ones you buy in the store. When I tried making these muffins for the first time, my husband and I both loved them.

The recipe I used is based off this English muffins recipe from Tasty Kitchen.

First, melt 1 cup of milk, 3 tbsp butter, and 2 tablespoons of honey in a pan.

While that’s cooling, mix one cup of warm (not hot!) water and 2 1/4 tsp of yeast in a large bowl. When the milk mixture has cooled to luke-warm, add it to the mixture in the bowl and stir. You may be tempted to drink the milky, honey, buttery goodness. Try to avoid this (unless you just want to dip a finger in to taste it. That’s probably okay).

Line two cookie sheets with wax paper and sprinkle on the corn meal.

Add 1 teaspoon salt, one cup of whole wheat flour, and two cups of bread flour, mixing after each addition. Now, as my whole wheat flour hates me, and is probably the heaviest whole wheat flour in the world, it doesn’t rise well in baked goods. Because of this, I added some gluten along with the flour. You can skip this step if you want, or you can go ahead and throw it in if your whole wheat flour doesn’t give you much rising love. Continue adding the remaining flour (about 2 cups) until the dough is no longer sticky.

Pour out your dough onto a floured surface and knead, knead, knead for about 5 minutes. Let the dough (and your arms) then rest for about 5 minutes. Am I the only one who considers kneading bread dough exercise?

Roll out your dough to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut out your muffins with a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, anything round. Biscuit cutters are apparently non-existent in Japan, so I’m used a good ole cup! Ah, improvisation.

Place your cut out muffins on the prepared cookie sheets, then sprinkle the tops with corn meal. Cover with a light cloth, and put them somewhere warm to rise until double.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Place your muffins on the un-greased skillet and cook, uncovered, until brown on one side, about 7 – 10 minutes…

Then flip and cook on the other side. If you’re easily amused like me, then you’ll greatly enjoy watching these muffins puff up as you cook them. Ah, life’s special moments.

When your muffins are done, put them on a cooling rack, and your done! Easy, right? You can now cut a muffin in half and enjoy it with butter and honey or jam…

…or make yourself a sausage, egg, cheese sandwich! Oh, the possibilities! Enjoy your muffins!


English Muffins

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 4 tsp. gluten (optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • corn meal
  1. Melt milk, honey, and butter in a pan. While that’s cooling, mix the warm (not hot!) water and yeast in a large bowl. When the milk mixture has cooled to luke-warm, add it to the mixture in the bowl and mix.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with wax paper and sprinkle liberally with corn meal.
  3. Add salt, gluten (optional), whole wheat flour, and two cups of bread flour, mixing after each addition. Continue adding the rest of the bread flour until mixture is no longer sticky. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, then let the dough rest for about 5 minutes.
  4. Roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut out muffins and place on the prepared cookie sheets. Cover the muffins with a light cloth or plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to rise until double, about 45 minutes.
  5. Heat a skillet to medium heat and place muffins on the un-greased skillet. Cook until brown on bottom, about 7 to 10 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 7 to 10 minutes on the opposite side. Place finished muffins on a cooling rack to cool.

March 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm Leave a comment

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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