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Molli and Kara Celebrate Homemade Bread Day

November 17, 2009

From Molli: In celebration of Homemade Bread Day, I opted to try a braided bread, something I’ve never tried making before.  Borrowing a recipe from our friends at the King Arthur Flour Company, I tried my hand at a gorgeous choice for fall – Holiday Pumpkin Bread.

It was a pretty simple recipe – your basic whole wheat yeast bread, with some delicious pumpkin puree thrown in.  I actually modified the recipe a bit, trading one of the eggs and all the oil for some homemade applesauce.  I love substituting applesauce in baked goods for eggs or oil – or both!  It brings the fat content down and adds a delicious subtle sweetness while still keeping the final product nice and moist.

I grew up watching my mom braid her Christmas Nisu bread – a delicious Finnish sweet bread she only made during the holidays, and our typical Christmas morning breakfast.  But having never braided bread myself, I had quite an adventure trying to get all my pieces equal-sized and braided together well, and then connecting the ends into a wreath.  It’s a bit tricky – I recommend making sure your pieces as well as your working surface are well oiled.

In the end, I managed to braid my wreaths relatively neatly, and they came out looking beautiful! This one is not a sweet pumpkin bread, but you can definitely still taste the pumpkin, and it’s perfect for toasting and topping with some butter or jelly on a chilly morning. It may just have to replace Mom’s nisu this Christmas! Yum!

– Molli

From Kara: I’ve been in need of a go-to roll recipe, and when I checked out these Honey Wheat Rolls, I knew they’d fit the bill.  Not only did I love the inclusion of orange juice in the recipe (just a little, to help balance out the flavors), but it finally gave me an excuse to experiment with powdered non-fat milk in a bread!  It might sound like an interloping ingredient, but I’ve been hearing for years that powdered non-fat milk is a bread baker’s secret weapon.  It’s supposed to impart flavor, add color to the crust, help with the dough’s rising action, and even acts as a tenderizer.  No, I don’t really know what all that technically means, but I do know I’ve been eager to give it a try.

Something else I had to try was making rolls in two different shapes (and no, I can’t do anything the easy way).  The recipe makes 16 rolls, so I figured there’d be enough dough to play with, and I was right.  As you can see, I actually ended up with enough dough for 18 rolls, six that I formed into typical dinner rolls, and 12 that I formed into a type of pull-apart roll that a friend’s mom once made and called cloverleaf rolls.  The name comes from the fact that you take each of the pieces of dough that you might otherwise make into typical dinner rolls, cut it into three small dough balls, and drop them into greased muffin tins.  When the rolls finish their second rise and bake in the muffin tins, what comes out resembles little clovers.  And let me tell you, a blob of jam or a little peanut butter right in the center of these bad boys while they’re still warm is just as tasty as it is visually pleasing.  No photo of that – I ate them too fast!

And the verdict?  Oh yes, these are definitely making an appearance on my table in the future.  I have a feeling the dough can be made about a day in advance and spend its first rise in the fridge overnight, so I’ll have to give that a try.  Both shapes yielded tasty rolls that are both chewy and fluffy, but I think the cloverleaf rolls are definitely the way to go.  They’re just so cute and fun to eat!  But either way you shape ‘em, this recipe is definitely one you have to try.

– Kara

The Whole Grains Council website now has a new category in the Recipes  section full of delicious whole grain bread recipes! Check it out!

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