Thursday, January 25, 2007

The aroma alone was worth the effort...

I noticed that our bread supply was getting low in the freezer and I had some extra time today so I went ahead and baked a couple loaves of this Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread. This is a tender and slightly sweet bread that would make for a great sandwich or a killer piece of toast slathered with peanut butter. It has an interesting start by mixing rolled oats, maple sugar, maple flavoring, honey, butter and a dash of cinnamon with boiling water. This will soften the oats and allow them to melt into the bread and add a hearty chew to the loaf. The dough was very easy to work with and I had no problem incorporating some white whole wheat flour along with the all-purpose. I already had maple sugar on hand, but I know it is not easy to find and can be fairly expensive. So if you want to make this, don't run out and try to find it - just use brown sugar. It won't have that deep accent of maple to it, but I think it would work out just as well.

Fresh homemade bread always smells wonderful, but the addition of cinnamon and maple made these very intoxicating. The aroma coming from these loaves as they cooled made it very difficult to wait and slice them. If we ever sell this house, I'll have to remember to bake these before a showing!

We had a fairly light dinner tonight... this Wheat Berry-Cranberry Salad was probably meant to be a side dish, but instead we just increased the portion size a bit and had a couple toasted slices of the bread we made earlier. While this is really a no-fuss recipe, there is a step or two that needs to be done hours before you want to eat from the use of wheat berries. This grain, also called hard winter wheat berries, is whole kernels of wheat that have only had their outer (inedible) hulls removed. Because of this, they need to soak for about 8 hours and then require another hour or so of cooking until they become tender. To dress this salad, we first boiled cranberries in pure maple syrup until they began to pop. This is then combined with cranberry juice, olive oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard. Crisp diced celery, sliced green onions, fresh parsley and chopped toasted pecans are then added to round out the salad. The dressing has a pleasant balance between the tangy and sweet flavors that coat the lightly nutty and chewy wheat berries. Besides adding flavor, the toasted pecans and celery add a welcome crunchy texture against the softer berries.


  1. I've baked lots of bread, but I have never been able to slice it so beautifully. How do you do that???

  2. I've never had wheat-berrys before. Interesting ...


  3. mmmm, Joe, that bread is just asking to be made in to French toast!!! I think I'll give it a try tomorrow and do the French toast Saturday for brunch.

    great post as always ;)

  4. Anon - I just used a steady hand and a good sharp bread knife!

    Teddy - they were good too! However, they need to be well seasoned or they will be bland.

    Stacey - Let me know if you try it!

  5. So, have you been peeking into my kitchen somehow, Joe? How else would you have known that I had some leftover, cooked wheatberries in the refrigerator, wondering what to do with them? And that someone just give me a half gallon of local pure maple syrup. And that I was planning to cook one of those 3 bargain Thanksgiving turkeys that were in the freezer, along with those frozen cranberries?!
    So your recent recipes were just perfect: the wheatberry cranberry salad was delicious with the turkey, served along with the barley risotto. The maple syrup was in the wheatberry salad, and I used it in the oatmeal bread too. I used 1/4 cup and no other sugar or maple flavor; I wasn't looking for a really sweet bread. It turned out to taste a lot like raisin bread, without the raisins! A good oatmeal bread recipe to have on hand; next time I'll use regular sugar, and less, for a savory version.
    So what am I having for dinner tomorrow?!

  6. Paul - I may have a hidden camera =) Glad to hear everything turned out well with your additions! Let me know if you try anything else!