Honey Oatmeal Bread

As with every newbie homesteader, I’ve found that you slowly become more and more in love with it. ‘I can’t just stop with a simple pot of herbs?’ you tell your husband. Then a few carrots and tomatoes get added to the garden, and before you know it, you have an entire backyard of chickens and a garden the size of your apartment. Next, with out any convincing needed, canning and bread making start to takeover whatever little time you had left. It’s like once you see how beautifully simple and peaceful this kind of hard work can be, you just can’t go back to the way things were.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m not a super advanced bread maker, but I really do enjoy it and I’m still determined to be great at it. Today’s loaf is a light oatmeal honey bread adapted from Bojon Gourmet’s blog. I don’t even know how I stumbled upon her blog, but this particular recipe is officially on my list of ‘must make’ every week.

Honey Oatmeal Bread
(adapted from this recipe)

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces) honey
2 ounces (4 tablespoons/half a stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) boiling water

1 packet (1/4 ounce/2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (or 1 packet instant yeast, or 2 tablespoons fresh cake yeast)
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 – 2 cups white bread flour (if you don’t have bread flour, take a tablespoon of flour out of every cup of white flour and add in 1 TBS of vital wheat gluten)

1) Add oats, honey and butter in a large heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the ingrediants and stir to combine. Let cool to 100-110 degrees, stirring occasionally to melt the butter.
2) Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture, and stir for about 30 seconds to incorporate it. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes till nice and bubbly.
3) Stir the whole wheat flour and salt into the yeast/oat mixture. Add 1 cup of the white flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Continue adding more flour until a shaggy dough forms.
4) Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured surface and cover the dough with the bowl and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. (I don’t have a picture for this one, but aren’t these little hands so cute?!)
5) Knead the dough vigorously for 10 minutes by pressing it away from you with the heels of your hands, then folding the far edge over the dough (towards you), turning the dough 1/4, and repeating for 10 minutes. As you knead, dust the surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. The finished dough should have a slight sheen and be fairly smooth. It will be slightly tacky to the touch.
6) Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl at least twice the size of the dough (or in a large, plastic container), turn the dough to coat it lightly in oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or the lid). Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. At this point, you can let the dough rise again if you wish, or stick it in the fridge for up to 24 hours; if you do, let it come up to room temperature before working with it.
7) When the dough has finished its first rise, gently scrape it out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough into an oval about 1 inch thick, with a skinny end facing you. Roll up the dough from this end and into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam closed, tuck the ends under, and roll the seam-side of the loaf on the counter a few times to secure it closed.

8) Place the loaf seam-side down in a lightly-oiled 9×5″ loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let the loaf rise until the tallest part sits 1 1/2 inches above the rim of the pan (it should be roughly doubled in bulk). Mist the loaf lightly with water and sprinkle with a handful of oats.
9) Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º.

10) Bake the loaf until the top is deeply browned and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped, 45-55 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through baking. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 210º.
11) Let the loaf cool 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack at room temperature, 1 – 2 hours. The bread is still baking from residual heat, so do try to resist the urge to cut into it before it has cooled completely…(I almost always fail at this 😉 )
Store in a plastic bag at room temperature. The bread keeps well for up to 4 or 5 days.

P.S Can anyone cut a perfectly straight slice of bread?



The Perfect Granola

There are a few (thousand) things that never taste as good when store bought: pizza, burrito’s, anything in the produce section, granola..the list could go on to cover the entire store I’m sure.

One thing I love about granola is it’s so versatile. You can pretty much do anything to it and it’ll be good. Don’t like almonds? Toss in pecans! Don’t like vegetable oil? Add coconut or walnut oil! Like fruit? Toss in dried apples, cherries, or apricots!
I like to keep my hutch stocked with a few varieties of granola, some mornings I like a sweeter granola and for snacks I might like something saltier. This one is right in the middle, perfect to top yogurt and fruit or some milk for cereal.

The Perfect Granola
(adapted from David Lebovitz)

5 cups of Bob’s 5 grain cereal or old fashion rolled oats
2 cups of chopped almonds (or slivered almonds)
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup of sunflower seeds
3/4 cup of untoasted sesame seeds
1/2 of brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree)
1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup honey
2 TBS of coconut oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1. In a big bowl combine oats, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir until combines.
2. In a small saucepan, combine applesauce, maple syrup, honey and oil together. Bring to a low boil and turn off heat.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until evenly covered. Spread evenly onto two cookie sheets.
4. Bake in the over for about 45 min, stirring every 10 min until granola is a deep golden brown.
5. Remove from oven and let it cool completely.

Keep granola in an air tight container, and store up to 1 month.


Favorites Pt 1


Over the last couple of months I’ve been stalling on the writing front, and I have no idea where to take this blog. It was supposed to be a gardening blog, then maybe a cooking/gardening blog, and now I’m just confused.

I think I’ll make it a rambling blog. A mix of all things good and delightful. Things that I enjoy, which are: My family, our garden, and the foods we eat. And maybe a smattering of my jabberings. Like this one.

Favorite books I’ve been reading: 
-We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen – Just started on this one. It’s a big one.
-And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – This one I actually just finished last night. I’ve never read a murder mystery book, but I heard this one was flawless, not a book you could just guess the ending. Anyways, it’s a good and easy read, and definitely flawlessly written.
Favorite podcasts– Podcasts are one of those things that keeps me feeling sane during the week. There are a million to choose from, but here’s a few that I love:
-Love and Radio
-Democracy Now
-This American Life
Favorite blogs I’ve been reading:
-Wayward Spark – Her blog is so..simple and honest. I really like how personable and honest she writes. No fluff. Plus she’s a big ‘ol homesteader, so she’s a great example.
-David Lebovitz – What? You’ve never heard of him. He is one of the BEST food blogs out there. His writing is subtly hilarious and his food is to die for. Every. Single. Time.
-The Elliott Homestead – They are a new-ish homesteading family that try produce as much of their own food as possible. Plus I love that they do it all on rented land.
Favorite instagram accounts:
-_sheenarae – especially their food posts, they post suppper easy, fast, healthy dishes that anyone could do…because they are like 3-5 ingredient dishes.
-Deannacat3 – urban gardener, who does a lot in their little backyard.
-Happy Acre Farm – first generation farmers, so in love.
-Workinghandsfarm – A cute farming couple. I just love seeing young farmers! Never gets old!
Favorite recipes:
-American Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated: I buy almost every magazine of theirs, especially their special edition ones.
Naan + Grilled chicken + Tzatziki Sauce ( You’ll never want to eat anything but this for the rest of your life.)
Asian Pork + Jasmine rice + steamed rice
– Left over Asian Pork + corn tortilla’s + black beans + all the right toppings + The Best Guacamole   (Although, for it to be the best, add a clove or two of garlic. Holey moley, I seriously ate this everyday for lunch.)


Spice Cake

There’s a big dividing line in this family when it comes to desserts. My husband loves all things fruit, if it doesn’t have fruit, it’s not worth eating.

*huge eye roll*

I, on the other hand, love all things sugary, especially if it’s cake related. Insert any flavor, color, fruit and put the word cake on the end and I would love it.

This particular recipe hits especially close to home. It reminds me of  Oklahoma sunsets, my grandmother’s house, of late nights eating about 70% (sometimes 100%) of the batter with my cousins, of young childhood crushes, and catching firefly’s in the field across the street from her house. It’s moist and creamy and everything that is right in the world.

Spice Cake
(The American Test Kitchen)

1 TBS ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
16 TBS unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs+3 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 TBS molasses
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 TBS unsalted butter, softened
4 tsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups confection sugar
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse (optional)

1. For the cake: Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour your 9×13 inch pan. Combine cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside 1/2 tsp of spice mixture for frosting.
2. Melt 4 tbs of butter in a pan on medium heat, 1-2 minutes. Cook and swirl pan constantly until butter is light brown and has a nutty smell, 2-4 minutes. Add spice mixture and cook, stirring consistently, for 15 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bow. Gently whisk eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Using a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle, beat remaining 12 TBS of butter with sugar and molasses on medium high speed until pail and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; add fresh ginger, cooled butter mixture, and half of the egg mixture. Mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining egg mixture (scraping down bowl as needed). Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions. Continue mixing at medium speed until batter is thoroughly combines, about 15 seconds. Give batter a final stir by hand to make sure everything on the bottom is mixed in.
4. Pour batter in prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Run tip of metal spatula through the batter in a zigzag motion to edges of pan, then gently tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 32-37 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack, about 2 hours.
5. For the frosting: Using a standard mixer, fitted with a whisk, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and salt on medium high speed until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Add sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.
6. Stir in reserved spice mixture into frosting. Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. Sprinkle with walnuts, if using and serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
7. Eat entire cake. 😉









Uncle Bob’s Apple Cake

Do you every have that experience with food, where you instantly fall back in time to when you were a little kid? This cake was it. It was everything I would of hoped it would be. Soft, sweet, moist, spicy, with chunks of apples that were falling apart. It reminded me of my grandmother’s. It reminded me of Oklahoma. It reminded me of home.


Uncle Bob’s Apple Cake with Honey Glaze

For the Honey Glaze
1 cup of confection sugar
2 TBS of honey
2 TBS of milk

For the Apple Cake
3 cups of diced granny smith apples
1 cup of lightly toasted walnuts (I used pecans)
2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2 cups of sugar
1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil
3 eggs

1) For the honey glaze, add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix until smooth. Set aside.
2) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and place rack on the middle shelf. Lightly spray or grease bunt or coffee cake pan.
3) For the cake, mix together diced apples, toasted nuts, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4) Using an electric mixer, beat together the oil, eggs and sugar together, until well incorporated. Add dry ingredients and beat until completely combined. Fold in apple mixture.
5) Scrape mixture into prepared pans. If you’re using a coffee cake pan, bake for 60 minutes (but check starting at 50 min). If using a bunt pan, bake for 1 1/2 hours (but start checking at 1 1/4 minutes).
6) Allow to cool for a full hour before turning it out onto a plate.
7) Drizzle cake with honey glaze. The cake can be wrapped and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
8) Devour in one sitting.




Rustic Italian Loaf

I’ve realized, in my short 28 years of life, that you don’t have to travel the world, wear louboutins (say what!), or get facials every week to be happy. It really is the *little* things in life that make you happy. For me it’s things like freshly baked bread smothered in butter, a clean kitchen, my daughter running around the house singing songs about faeries and dragons, gardening, sitting on the porch eating an apple, and kissing. Annnnd lets not forget that seed starting is only a couple of months away 😀 So in 2015 I’m determined to find more *little* joys in my life everyday.

Moving on to breadier things! If you follow me on instagram (growingmagnolia) you’ll know that I have a goal of making 2000 loaves of bread, in my lifetime. So far I’ve made:
1- Perfect Sandwich Bread
2- Almost No-Knead Bread
3- I’ve also had a couple of flops…like this one: Big Flop

This week I ventured to try Cooks Illustrated Rustic Italian Loaf.  I really really really really enjoyed this one. Really really 😉
And although the process takes awhile, it’s not hard. So PLEASE don’t be intimidated by the 6 step process (more like a million steps).



Rustic Italian Bread
(makes one loaf*)

2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour**
1/4 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
1 cup water, room temperature

3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour**
1 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
1 1/4 cups of water, room temperature (plus more for spraying)
2 tsp salt
vegetable oil spray

1. FOR THE SPONGE: Using a standing mixer with a dough hook, mix flour, yeast and water on low speed until mixture forms a shaggy dough (2-3 min). Transfer dough to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand at room temperature until sponge starts to bubble and rise, about 3 hours. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
2. FOR THE DOUGH: Remove sponge from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while making the dough. Using your standing mixer, with dough hook, mix flour, yeast, and water on low speed until shaggy dough forms (3 min). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
3. And sponge and salt to dough and knead on low speed until everything is well incorporated. Dough should clear sides or bowl but stick to bottom (about 4 min). Increase speed to medium/low and continue to knead until smooth and elastic (1 min). Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise until double in size (at room temperature) (about an 1 hour).
4. Spray a rubber spatula or bowl scraper with vegetable oil. Fold risen dough over itself by gently lifting one side and folding over, turn bowl 180 degrees and fold again. Finally, fold dough in half, perpendicular to first fold. (Dough should look like a rough square, or like a weird blob, like mine 😉 ) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour. Repeat folding again, replace plastic, and let dough rise for another hour.
5. Cover pizza stone*** with parchment paper. Place dough on a well floured counter. Generously dust your hands and dough with flour and gently press dough into a rough 10 inch square. Fold top corners of dough into middle of dough, then roll and pinch dough into a torpedo shape. Gently transfer dough to pizza peel, seam side down, and gently tuck into a taut loaf. Spray dough and plastic wrap with oil and cover loosely. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size (1-1 1/2 hours). Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.
6. 1 hour before baking, move oven rack to the lower/middle area. Place baking stone in oven and heat oven to 500 degrees. Using a sharp knife, make three 1/2 inch slashes on top of loaf. Spray loaf with water and slide parchment, with loaf, onto baking stone. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate loaf and turn temperature down to 400 degrees. Continue baking until crust is a deep golden brown, and loaf registers 210 degrees (about 35 minutes). Transfer loaf to wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing.


*Don’t try doubling this recipe if you are using a normal sized kitchen aid*
(I did and nearly clogged my motor!)
**Also, if you don’t have bread flour, I’ve found that adding 1 TBS of vital wheat gluten to every 1 CUP of all-purpose flour gives you the same results.
***Cookie sheet can be substituted, although pizza stone gives the bottom a nice chewy crust.




The perfect sandwich bread

We all need a perfect, no fuss, no-talent-required, go to bread, right? One that is perfect all covered in butter and honey. Or maybe covered in jam and peanut butter. Or one that is perfect when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, so instead you eat half of a loaf of bread and watch re-runs of Friends on Netflix…true story. Well, I’m happy to bring you one of my all time favorite loaves. Drum roll please…!


The Best Sandwich Bread

2 1/2 cups of HOT water
1/3 cup of oil (I usually use coconut, olive oil or avocado oil)
1/3 cup of honey
1 TBS of salt
1 1/2 TBS of yeast
6-8 cups of flour

1) In a large mixing bowl combine hot water, oil, honey and salt and mix well.
2) Add 3/4 of a cup of flour and mix for 30 seconds.
3) Add the yeast and mix for another 30 seconds.
4) Add the rest of flour or until the dough stops sticking to the sides but still sticks to the bottom of the bowl. *the dough should be soft but not sticky*
5) Turn the oven to 450 for 1 minute, then turn off. Place the dough in a clean, greased bowl. Cover with a cloth and place in the oven for 30 minutes (and doubled in size).
6) When dough has risen, remove from oven and preheat oven to 175.
7) Spray counter and pans with oil and divide dough into two (if using large bread pans) or three (for smaller) sections.
8) Roll dough out into a long rectangle, removing any air bubbles. Then, starting at the short end, roll into a cylinder. Place in pans.
9) Let rise for the final time in your oven for 30 min.
10) Bake at 350 for 30 min. *The bread is done when tops are golden and has a hallow sound when you tap the tops of loaves.
11) Let the bread cool completely before cutting
12) ENJOY :)


Almost No-Knead Bread

I posted earlier on Instagram that I have a goal to make 2,000 loaves of bread (or bread like foods). I realize it’s a *lofty* goal, but I fun one, right?….I might be a little crazy. But life with out a little crazy is just boring. Amiright? So here’s my first review!

Overall I really enjoyed this recipe, the top was perfectly crusty and the flavor was overall enjoyable. The bottom crust did get a little tough, even though it was on a higher rack setting. I would like to play around with the recipe a few more times and see if I could improve the bottom crust. Overall I rate this recipe 8/10





Almost No-Knead Bread 1/2000

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp of instant or rapid-rise yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tbs water, room temperature
6 tbs mild lager beer, room temperature
1 tbs distilled white vinegar
vegetable spray

1) Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl, until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
2) Lay 18 by 12 inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10 inch skillet and spray with oil spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand 10-15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam side down, to prepared skillet and spray dough with oil spray. Cover dough loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with your knuckle.)
3) Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using sharp serrated knife or single edge razor blade, make on 6 inch long, 1/2 inch deep slash along top of dough. Pick up dough ball by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until crust is deep golden brown and loaf registers 210 degrees, 20-30 minutes longer.
4) Carefully remove loaf from pot; transfer to wire rack, discard parchment, and let cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving. (Bread can be wrapped in double layer of plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. To re-crisp crust, place unwrapped bread in 450 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.)

Enjoy! (with salted butter 😉 )


Molasses Cookies

Mmmm Molasses cookies. Is there any other cookie out there that actually makes you excited about winter? This one will definitely do the trick. This particular recipe is incredibly soft, chewy and made with Blackstrap molasses, which tends to be my particular favorite. Give them a try and let me know what you think! And if you end up hiding in the closet eating the entire batch, I won’t be mad. Sharing’s not required on these babies 😉






Ginger and Molasses Cookies

1 1/2 cups of softened butter (if you use unsalted butter, increase salt by 3/4 tsp)
2 cups of sugar + more for rolling
1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp of vanilla
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp of cloves
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of salt

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) In a bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt and set aside.
3) In the bowl of a standing mixture, cream together butter and sugar until blended. Add the eggs, molasses and vanilla until well incorporated.
4) Slowly add in the flour until all is mixed in.
5) Add 3/4 of a cup of sugar into a small bowl. Using a medium sized cookie scoop, dish out cookie dough into sugar bowl and roll around until all sides are covered in sugar. Place on cookie sheet.
6) Bake until sides are firm but middle still looks under cooked. 8-10 min. Let sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes and then cool on cookie rack.



Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been making the same chocolate chip cookies for more than 10 years. I really like my chocolate chip cookies, you know? They’re simple. Chewy. Sweet. Chocolaty. Just like a cookie should be. But then I started feeling a little bad, you know? Like I wanted something more? I’ve been loyal for so long… I’m a good person! It’s just that things have been a little lacking in some areas as of late. You can’t blame me, can you? Something about this cookie is different than my first. It’s slightly crunchy on top, but with a perfectly soft middle. It has the bitterness that the other cookie didn’t have and the salt on top just rounds it out nicely. I never saw this coming, and neither will you. Just in case you decide to dip your taste buds in a bit, I want to give you plenty of warning.




Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yields 1 dozen large cookies

1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (75 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (88 grams) whole wheat flour
4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Fleur de sel or flaked sea salt, for sprinkling (not table salt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until smooth. Gradually add the espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and flours, mixing until uniform. Stir in the chopped chocolate chunks.

Form cookies using 2 tablespoons of cookie dough. Drop onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.