Apple Oat Loaf

apple, oat. loaf, savoury, fall, autumn, cinnamon, farm, picking, breadMy family came up to visit this week and we wanted to show them around the area, so we did a little sight-seeing.  Just a little drive up the road is Homestead Orchards.  They used to be a dairy farm but the owners switched over to apples a few years back and now the son runs the farm.  They offer pick-your-own apples, as well as strawberries and fresh corn.  The strawberries help them out during the beginning of the summer when the apples aren’t quite ready, helps them in the pocketbook too.   They even bake apple goods on-site, so you can pick up a fresh apple pie or apple blondie hot from the oven, if you choose.

When we arrived there were three types of apples ripe for picking.  Apples ripen earlier or later during the season depending on the type.  When we went there were galas, gingergold, and jonamac apples ready to be picked.  They recommend you bring your own bags so it’s easier on the environment too.

When you arrive you can see rows of apple trees laden with ripening fruit.  The ones which are ready are clearly marked and you’re welcome to taste while you pick.  Jonamac is a combination of a Jonathon and a MacIntosh apple and is a perfect baking apple and great for applesauce and apple butter.  We spent about half an hour going through the trees and finding the ones we liked.

After you go back to the barn area, your apples are weighed and you pay a very reasonable price per pound.  Of course we picked up an apple blondie to go too, since the smell of fresh baking was wafting through the air.  At this time of year who could resist.   Talk about farm to table!

A while ago, I picked up some steel cut oats thinking that they were similar to large flake.  Boy was I wrong.  While the oats are delicious, I hadn’t realized how much more prep would be needed for the steel cut variety.  I foolishly picked up the large bag and we’re still have about half a bag left.  Instead of always trying to use it up making breakfast, I searched for another way to use these wonderfully filling grains.  What did I find?  Honey oat loaf.  Since we have the fresh apples, why not combine the two?

This recipe requires a little prep as you have to soak the oats for a couple of hours before everything else is mixed together.  You could even do it overnight and leave them in the fridge if you like, but you really only need to soak them for a couple of hours.

After the oats have softened, place in large mixing bowl.  Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mix in your melted butter and honey while on the mixer is on low.  Add the eggs and mix well.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Blend the dry mix with a whisk until well combined.  While the mixer in on low, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Then add 1/2 of the milk, one more third of dry, the last of the milk, and finally, the last of the dry.  You should always end mixing with the dry ingredients.  That way you can tell if your mix is too wet or dry and you can adjust accordingly.  Then fold in the diced apples.   Place even amounts into two greased 8×5 pans and bake for 70 minutes.  The dough is very dense so it needs the longer bake time.

Once removed from the oven, immediately remove from the pans and let cool on the rack.  The steel cut oats give the loaf a nice chewy texture, interspersed with the warming flavour of apple and cinnamon.

apple, oat, cinnamon, loaf, savoury, bread, farm, picking, fall, autumn, harvest

Apple Oat Loaf

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 2 loafs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water boiling
  • 4 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup honey liquid, not creamy
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups apples peeled, small dice

Instructions

  1. Place steel cut oats in a large bowl and cover with the two cups of boiling water. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for 2 hours. Stir once half way through.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt butter and honey then stir into bowl with oats.
  5. Beat egg into milk and alternately add milk mixture and flour mixture to large bowl with oats stirring with a wooden spoon as you add each. Do not over mix, just mix to combine wet into dry. Fold in diced apple pieces.
  6. Generously spray two standard size loaf pans (8X5) with non-stick cooking spray and scrape the dough into the pan, using half the batter for each. Using a spatula, smooth out the top then place in oven for 70 minutes (one hour and ten minutes), or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. The dough is dense so we recommend leaving in for the full 70 minutes.
  7. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve with additional drizzled honey.

Recipe Notes

Note: this bread is not meant to be that sweet.  I personally like to use more tart apples for a greater contrast in taste.  Experiment and let me know how you do.

Summer Savoury Biscuits

savoury, biscuits, bread, bun, quickAsk anyone from the province about savoury and they will tell you that it’s a staple in most Newfoundland kitchens.  Summer savoury is an annual herb and is hearty enough to survive the short Atlantic growing season.  It’s flavour is similar to the winter variety and is sometimes used as a substitute for sage.

Newfoundlanders use summer savoury mostly in stuffing, or as we call it, dressing.  This is the stuffing that you will find inside your holiday turkey.  One of my favourite uses is to have chips with Newfie dressing.  That is french fries which are covered in a deep rich brown gravy, then you add fried onions and dressing on top.  It can be found in most restaurants on the island.

There was a small place in Windsor called Hiscock’s.  Unfortunately the store is closed and a candy/ice cream shop is in its place.  Hiscock’s was famous for its chips and dressing.  They were open late into the night and one could go there after staying out with your friends and scarf back some loaded wedge fries.

Hiscocks, newfoundland, windsor, grand falls, drive-in, fast food, fries
Hiscock’s Drive-In

These fries were amazing.  Thick wedges of potatoes, battered and deep fried.  The outside was crispy and inside was light and fluffy.  The way a french fry should be.  These would then be piled into a takeout container the similar shape as those rectangular Chinese takeout containers.  Then you would choose your toppings.  My personal favourite was dressing and gravy with deep fried weiners.

Remember this was the time in my youth when I didn’t care about calories or what I ate.  I was a skinny teenager.  Oh how things have changed.  I would get the fries, dripping with lovely brown gravy, layered with the savoury dressing, and peppered with little pillows of weiners (these were deep fried too).  Heavenly and amazingly good.

Summer savoury can be used in other applications too.  I found a lovely recipe for biscuits and decided to add the savoury to the recipe.  Similar to a scone, these biscuits are light and fluffy, and are very quick to make.  They are perfect as a side to mostly any main, but they are best if you have something in a sauce or gravy.  That way you can use the biscuit to sop up the excess.

The original recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but you can use butter.  Preheat your oven to 450F.  Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sage, savoury, thyme and salt. Cut in with a pastry blender or forks the shortening.   PRO TIP:  Freeze the shortening and grate.  Then add to the dry mix.  Easier to get the small pieces covered in flour.  Add the milk and combine until the dough comes together.   Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough until the flour in incorporated, about 8-10 times.  Try not to overwork the dough.  You don’t want gluten to form which would make the biscuits too chewy.  You can check out my post about bread rescue and it will give you some pointers on how not to overwork dough.

Flatten the dough until it’s about an inch thick.  I just used my hands, but you can use a rolling pin if you want.  Cut the dough into rounds and place on a greased (or Silpat lined) baking tray.   When I was a child I watched my grandmother use an old Swartz mustard glass dipped in flour.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  My rounds were about 3 inches in diameter.

Swartz Mustard Glass

An aside. Back in the 1960s, you could get mustard in these really cool glasses with card suits on them.  I guess the Swartz mustard company thought that people would continue to buy their product to get a whole set. There were ubiquitous in most kitchens across the island.  I only remember a couple of glasses at my grandparent’s house, but they may have lost some along the way.

 

Enjoy these wonderful fluffy, savoury biscuits.  Don’t forget to drop me line and subscribe so you won’t miss out on any posts.savoury, biscuits, bread, bun, quick

Quick Savoury Biscuits

These wonderfully light, fluffy biscuits are perfect for any main. Make lots as they will disappear quickly.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 6 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried summer savoury
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening Butter may be substituted - keep cold
  • 3/4 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Mix well.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, or two forks, cut in the shortening until finely incorporated. Then add milk and bring together into a dough. Turn out into a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times. If the dough is too dry you may have to add a little milk.
  4. Flatten to about an inch thick with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut into rounds. Reshape scraps and flatten to cut out more rounds. Do this a maximum of two times or the dough will be too tough. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden. Cool on rack. For best results serve slightly warmed.

Bread Rescue


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What to do when your bread doesn’t turn out the way you expected.

My brother left me a message about some bread that he was making.  I guess it didn’t turn out as well as he had hoped.  It wasn’t rising as well as he’d hoped.  So I wanted to take the time to go over some of the problems that may happen when you’re making bread and possibly how to fix them.

white bread newfoundland
traditional white bread from rockrecipes.com

Bread has a rich history in Newfoundland.  It’s one of the first things many young people learned to do in the kitchen and it’s a staple at almost every meal.  The quintessential bread of choice is white bread made into a loaf with three sections.  Nowadays people are choosing healthier ingredients and using whole wheat flour, but for most of the last century most Newfoundlanders grew up on white bread, myself included.

Alan Doyle, in his book Where I Belong, remembers his mother making loaves of bread two or three times a week.  It was common for women to make their own bread instead of buying it from the store.  And cheaper too.  When you have to pinch pennies, sometimes bread might be the only thing to eat. “Fill up on bread” was heard in many Newfoundland kitchens.

Like Doyle’s mother, making bread didn’t really follow a recipe.  You would throw together the flour, salt, shortening, water and yeast and go by feel.   I’m sure there originally was a recipe, but most seasoned cooks now just know if there’s too much flour, or water, in the dough.  But for the few of us who follow a recipe here are some things that may go wrong with your bread and how to fix it:

  1. Dough didn’t rise enough.

This is the most common problem and there’s a myriad of answers.  First recheck your recipe to see if you followed everything correctly.  Note: a packet of yeast is 2 & 1/4 tsp, so make sure you used enough if you’re measuring from loose.

Yeast is a finicky thing.  Too hot, it will die.  Too cold, there won’t be enough gases produced.  Too much salt, it will die.  Too much sugar, it will slow down fermentation.  If you have more than 1/2 cup of sugar to 4 cups of flour you’ll have to add another packet of yeast to your dough.

To activate the yeast your water should be about 110F.  Rule of thumb is if you can comfortably leave your finger in the water for 5 seconds it’s hot enough for the yeast.  Leave it in longer, the water is not hot enough.  Ideally you should measure the water with a thermometer.

Temperature for proofing, or rising, your dough also makes a difference.  Bread likes a warm, moist environment to proof.  Commercial proofers are basically large walk-in closets where the humidity and temperature is kept constant.  The humidity keeps the dough pliable so it can expand as the yeast release carbon dioxide.  Sweet yeast dough products need to be given full proof with a temperature range of 35C to 37C and with a humidity range of 80% to 85%.

2  Dough is sticky.

Not enough flour was used.  Again, reread the recipe to see if you have the amounts correct.

The flour was too old.  Gluten is the protein found in wheat flour and the protein bonds formed in bread is what gives it a lovely spongy texture.  If you were rustling through your pantry and found a bag of flour leftover from the Smallwood* era those gluten proteins will have broken down and cannot do their proper job.  Check your dates on the flour if unsure.  There’s usually a date stamped on the bag.

Another reason is the dough was overworked.  Imagine you were making your dough and suddenly your child is halfway across the room ready to stick a knife in the wall socket.  Then the phone rings and you’re stumbling over toys and the dog is now relieving himself on the ficus in the living room.  In the back of your mind you can hear a whirring sound.  The dough has been mixing for fifteen minutes and now looks like something that came out of your five-year-old’s nose last Christmas: sticky and messy.

That dough is overworked.  The gluten strands just couldn’t hold on any longer and they broke.  Sorry, that bread dough is toast.  |Ha! Bread pun.| You’ll have to start over and have less distractions.

3. Crust is too thick.

You take your lovely loaf out of the oven, let it cool, and slice into to it only to find the crust is twice as large as you expected.   This can be explained by a few things:

The oven was too low.  If the temperature of your oven is too low the outside of your dough will form quickly, preventing the bread to rise and will form a thicker crust.  Check the recipe for the correct temperature or you may have to re-calibrate your oven.

Too much flour was used.  Again, recheck the recipe to see if you’ve put in too much flour.  Sensing a pattern anyone?  Making sure you know your recipe inside and out, double checking amounts and ingredients is crucial, especially for the beginner baker.

Lastly, the dough was too dry. You know what I’m going to say.  Recheck your recipe.

4. Bread has large holes in the loaf.

Some types of bread have characteristic large holes.  Really wet doughs like ciabatta will have holes in them, and that’s expected.  We’re talking about the plain, unassuming white loaf here.  When bread is kneaded correctly there will be little air pockets formed during the baking.  These air pockets are the result of the yeast releasing gas when they’re breaking down the sugar in the dough.  While it’s really, really hard to under knead bread by hand, it is easy to over-knead if you do it by machine.  Machine mixed dough should be for at least two minutes on low and 4-5 minutes on medium speed.  Careful though, if you leave it too long you will break the gluten strands as noted above.

This bread has been over proofed. See the large holes?

Large holes can also be the result of over proofing the dough.  While your bread is proofing, the yeast is breaking down the sugars and releasing gas.  This will make your final loaf light and fluffy.  If you let your dough proof for too long there are going to be large pockets of gas bubbles hanging around.  As easy method to see if it’s proofed enough is to press your finger in the dough.  If the dough springs back slowly, the dough is ready.  If it stays indented for a longer period you dough may be over-proofed.  If you leave your finger in the dough too long, you have issues I can’t help you with.

Well, those are just a few examples of how things can go wrong.  If you like I can make another post about some other common bread problems, but these are my top picks.  I’ve been making bread for over ten years and I still make the simplest mistakes.   Don’t get discouraged.  It’s always a learning experience and most of the time, even the bad loaves are still usable.   Make croutons or save the loaf for stuffing.  Keep trying and you’ll be amazed how fast it will pick up.  Happy baking.

 

* Joey Smallwood was the premier of Newfoundland from 1949 to 1972.

Twelfth Buns

And so it ends, Christmastide.  The twelfth night, or Epiphany, has passed and we’re going back to our daily lives.  The kids are back in school, and most of us are back to work.  I just wanted to get one last Christmas post in before the season is over.   Here’s a clip from This Hour has 22 Minutes about mummering:

As I said before Old Christmas day was a big thing in Newfoundland, more so for my parents and grandparents than now, but there are still traditions of mummering and celebrating throughout the province.  Depending on what part of the province you were from sometimes it was called mummering and sometimes called Janneying. The term “mummer” was derived from the fact that those who were mumming remained silent (mum) to prevent those for whom they performed from guessing their identities. The origin of the word “janneying” is uncertain, but some believe it was derived from “jannies,” referring to young boys who disguised themselves to perform mischief during the Christmas season. It’s also thought as another form of Johnnies, a common name for young boys.

I was reading an account about Old Christmas day and there was a mention of Twelfth buns.  This is taken from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: “Those twelve nights [of Christmas] we’d be at it, and the last night we[‘d] make a pan of sweet buns, twelfth buns, and give ’em to the people. Every house we’d go to we’d give ’em a bun for Twelfth Night.”

I was talking with my father the other night and he remembers going Janneying when he was a boy. Like mummering, the group would go in the house, play a bit, stay for some cake and then move on.  Here’s a great recount of those times taken from the Southwest Arm Historical Society: “Where we lived in St. Jones, Christmas was good because we’d be Jannying for the twelve days of Christmas. We’d go to people’s door and knock. When they come out you’d say, “Any Jannies ‘lowed in?” They’d say come on in now. They’d try to guess who we were. Then they’d give you a piece of cake and a drop of syrup. Sometimes the people would want you to dance.

On Old Christmas night, we’d go around to the different houses. Around 11:00 pm a number of young people would get together and make an old twelve cake. Everyone would bring something to put in the cake like figs, fat pork, berries and whatever you could get. When it was baked, we’d all share. Somebody would bring partridge berries and we’d steep it in the kettle and remove the berries and drink the juice. This was how we made berry ocky.”

So I got to searching about buns, and cakes.  Unlike now sweet bread was considered a treat.  Sugar and raisins were not something you would throw into bread; too expensive.  Bread usually was the plain white loaf, made into the three bun loaves, used for everyday meals.  Sweet breads were for special occasions like the holidays.  Breads such as raisin loaf were only made a few times a year.

A sweet bread is an enhanced dough, usually with eggs and sugar.  Then you can augment the dough by added ingredients like fruit or nuts.  My grandmother’s cinnamon raisin bread is always a big hit when we go visit.  I like it toasted with a slathering of butter. This recipe I have is done in the bread mixer, so I can mix it and walk away and do other things while the bread is proofing (like write blog posts).

This recipe makes a two pound loaf and will be separated into twelve buns.  In the bread maker place the following ingredients in this order:

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter (room temp)
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup raisins

Put machine on dough cycle and mix.  I like to have my water a little warm, just to give the yeast a bit of a head start.  The trick is that if you can leave your finger in the water for five seconds comfortably then it’s warm enough.  Longer than that the water is too cool.

Once the cycle is complete remove dough and shape into twelve buns.  I noticed the buns were about 80 grams each.  I measure them because I like to have all the buns about the same size, but you can eyeball it too. Place the buns in a greased 9X13 pan and leave to rise again in a warm place.  About 30-40 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F and once risen again, bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool on the rack for 20 minutes.  Enjoy with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee, and a little bit of butter.

Cinnamon Raisin Buns

This raisin bun is perfect for a sweet treat in the afternoon.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 12 buns

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups warm warm
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 3 3/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Measure all ingredients into baking pan in the order given. Insert pan into the oven chamber. Select "Dough" cycle.
  2. When dough is done in bread machine, remove from pan and shape into twelve equal sized balls. Place into a greased 9X13 pan. Let rise in a warm space for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Place pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops of the buns are a golden brown. Once done remove from oven and brush with melted butter (optional). Let cool for 20 minutes on rack.

Magic Memories

When I was a young boy I watched my grandmother make bread.  My grandparents didn’t have much money and even until the 1980s they had used a wood stove for heating the home and cooking.  Bread making was a weekly ritual and my grandmother would make 8-10 loaves at a time.  My mother is the eldest of twelve kids, so bread was always being consumed, usually for breakfast.

Bread is one of life’s great inventions.  Throw together some flour, salt, water, yeast and a few other ingredients, wait a while and bake it off.  You have this light, fluffy loaf with a crispy crust.  To a little boy watching his grandmother, it seemed almost magical.

My grandmother had a little help.  While she could have made thebreadroll bread from scratch, she had purchased Robin Hood’s Bread and Roll mix.  This premix is a great Newfoundland tradition. It’s so quick and easy and is still available today.  All you have to do is add water to the flour mixture with the yeast and you hav
e the best, and easiest, bread to make.

My grandmother next measured the water.  She would instinctively know how much water was needed just by how the dough felt.  She mixed her dough in a big yellow ceramic bowl, which is still found in most Newfoundland kitchens.  It was suggested to hold off a bit of the Bread and Roll mix and use it when you formed the dough into loaves so your dough wouldn’t stick to the counter.  So I would watch my grandmother add a little water to the dough, then add a little flour.  This went back and forth a few times until she could feel for the perfect consistency of the dough.

Any baker will tell you: the dough is alive.  Yes, it contains yeast, which is a living organism, but when you work with dough enough you begin to understand that the dough begins to come alive.  You can feel the sponginess.  You can smell the fermentation.  You can see the gluten begin to form.  You can even hear the lovely crackle as the bread comes out of the oven to cool.  Bread is life and alive at the same time.

multibread
My cousin’s multigrain bread

When the dough was ready, she would form the dough into loaves of three buns each.  My cousin still does this when she makes bread.  I really don’t know why it is formed that way, but it’s always the way I remember how bread at home was made.  When I first made bread in high school my teacher asked why and my answer: “That’s the way my grandmother makes it.”  It’s been a Newfoundland tradition.  If you were lucky though, there was a little dough left over.  Not enough to make another loaf, but enough to make toutons.

Toutons are a great way to use up the little leftover dough when you make bread.  They are essentially pan fried dough pieces.  They are really easy to make.  Traditionally they are fried in pork fat or butter, but with today’s non-stick pans you can just use a little cooking spray.  So, with your leftover dough you do the following:

Take a golf ball size of dough and roll it into a ball.  Then flatten the ball so you have a round piece of dough about 1/2 inch thick.  Preheat your frying pan under medium heat and spray with a little cooking spray.  You can use a cast iron pan if you have but it will take a little longer to warm up.  If you’re adventurous, use butter instead of cooking spray.  When the pan’s hot enough place the dough in to fry.  Only place three or four, and make sure they toutonsaren’t touching.  They will puff up a little bit when they cook.  Fry for a 2-3 minutes, checking to see if they are a lovely golden brown colour.  Flip over and cook the other side.  When done, serve with fancy molasses for dipping or butter and jam.

This treat is common to find across the province and if you visit the island and choose to stay at a bed and breakfast, you may get lucky and have them for a morning meal.  While this isn’t one of my personal recipes, I’ve made and enjoyed them many times.

Note: I have not been compensated with the Robin Hood company for mentioning their product.  It is mentioned because I genuinely like the product and use it personally.