Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fresh Baked Bread!

I have always been intimidated by bread. I've had some disasters like the dough just turning to sand and not coming together in any recognizable dough consistency. I've also had bread just not rise and become rock hard. Through the years I've had to continue to try because in the Orthodox Christian Church each family who wishes to offer bread for Holy Communion bakes the special bread called Prosphora in Greek, or Alter Bread in English. It's a very simple yeast bread that has a special seal stamped on it before it is baked.

Lately I've been wishing to make more of our food from scratch in order to know exactly what's in it. No nasty preservatives and what-nots for me. I'm tired of guessing if the pre-made food is safe or not. So this weekend I decided to experiment and try bread based on the simple Prosphora recipe. Following is the Prosphora recipe followed by the alterations I made to it.

Prosphora (basic recipe)

5 cups white flour (sifted)
1-1/2 cups warm water
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. In a large bowl add sifted flour and salt and make a "well" in the center. Pour the yeast and water mixture into the well and knead until smooth. Cover the dough and let rise (about an hour). When double in size, knead again. Then divide dough in half and put in cake pans that have been floured only (no grease). Let rise for about an hour then place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Wrap in a clean cloth while cooling so crust will be soft. Makes two loaves.

Alterations to the basic recipe (for home consumption, not for alter bread).

3-1/2 cups white flour (sifted)
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (sifted)
4 to 5 tbsp. roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1 to 2 tbsp. flax seed meal
1-1/2 cups warm water
2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar

Follow directions as above. I did rub the two loaves with a bit of olive oil before letting them rise in the cake pans. I was hoping that would give the loaves a nicely browned top.

The resulting bread is very tasty with just enough texture and added flavor from the whole wheat flour. The sunflower seeds add a nice dimension as well. It was really difficult not to eat an entire loaf right out of the oven!!

Super yummy with a butter spread of your choice.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Better Late Than Never

The last two weeks have had me frazzled! Working on a minor renovation, husband's birthday, son's birthday and party, add in Valentine's Day, and I am wooped. I did manage to make my son's Valentine's for his class party which made him very happy. He actually wanted to give them to his classmates before the class party as a birthday "give-away". He was a little disappointed when I told him he'd have to wait for the 14th.

I got inspired via Pinterest, this link takes you to my "Fun for Kids" board, which shows you the original idea. I decided that Kindergarten and 5 to 6 year olds do not need love sayings and hearts on EVERYTHING, so I purchased a star shaped punch to make mine. Also, not everyone appreciates pink, in fact, my son's favorite color is blue. I gathered several different bright colors of paint chips from the home store and began crafting. To make it more appropriate for a Valentine, I added the lollipops to each of them and my son signed his name to the backs.

These bookmarks turned out cute and they were so easy to make. A plus for this busy working mommy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pretzel Love

A couple of nights ago my son and I made these yummy little treats as a Valentines Day gift to his cousins in Arizona. It was so easy and fun. I actually got the idea from a photo on Pinterest. I didn't actually follow the link to the directions because they looked easy enough, and they were, but if you do have a moment to check out the original blog (linked here) they are really nice looking.

I lined a couple of cookie sheets with wax paper and armed my 5 year old with a bottle of sprinkles. I melted a bag of Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips in a double boiler and dredged the little pretzels through the melted goodness. After placing the enrobed pretzels on the cookie sheet they were blasted by colorful sprinkles. Once the sheet was full I placed it in the fridge over night.

So good, so simple, and so cute in a Mason jar for a gift to loved ones!