A Baking Mood

Harvest Fruit Bread is filled with nuts, whole grains, seeds, cranberries and apples and is flavored with honey, cardamom and cinnamon. It goes very nicely with cream cheese blended with honey and walnuts.

A mood has come upon me.

A baking mood.

I am having the urge to fire up the oven and bake tasty delights.

I don’t necessarily want to eat the tasty delights, I just want to bake them.

Okay, I want to eat some of them. But not all of them.

It all started with wanting to bake scones. I saw that Pau at FoodBlog had made some ginger rosemary scones that turned out really well in spite of a sticky dough which caused some consternation and frustration. I posted a comment about scones, having made many batches in my time, and then found myself wanting to bake them.

Actually, I was craving a scone, but one cannot bake a single scone. And if I bake an entire batch of them, I may not stop at eating one. And that is bad, because I make cream scones, so in addition to the butter and egg, there is cream. And I don’t need to eat an entire batch of them. Neither does Zak, for that matter.

Now, I know the solution to the scones issue. I have friends in town, see, and I can call them and have them come over for scones.

Except, they all have jobs, and calling people at ten at night and telling them to come over so I can bake scones for them–well, let’s say that is a bit much.

So, I gave up on the scones, and went to bed instead, resolving to bake some this weekend when the friends will likely gather to go see Hitchhiker’s Guide when it opens. Scones, being a veddy British sort of thing, and my scones being utterly posh, would be a perfect before or after movie ritual nibble with a spot of tea.

So, no scones.

And brownies, too, are right out. Eating an entire pan of double chocolate brownies that have been flavored with espresso and chile powder right before bed is awful. Actually, eating an entire pan of them anytime is a recipe for having one’s pancreas crawl up the esophagus and fling itself to the floor to expire in a twitching puddle of goo.

So, perhaps this is a weekend to ply my beloved people with both brownies and scones.

So, whatever can I bake?

But wait!

We got a shipment from King Arthur Flour yesterday, which included a package of potato flour that had mysteriously opened on its way here and spilled itself all through the box, the packing materials and everything, including my kitchen floor, which is now covered in powder which looks oddly like anthrax aerosol. But it also included many other goodies, which did not act up and spill out all over the place. Like thier “Harvest Grains Blend.”

“Harvest Grains Blend” is a mixture of oat berries, wheat flakes, rye flakes, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, millet, flaxseed and poppy seed, which you can add to any of your white or wheat bread recipes in order to make a bread that is full of seedy, nutty grainy goodness.

Whatever I put such an ingredient in would be made instantly wholesome and healthy. Unlike the cream scones and killer brownies.

Baking without guilt or fear for the fate of my internal organs!

So, I resolved to bake a loaf of bread. Bread is good. It is wholesome, and if it has some of that grain mixture in it, there is no way I could physically manage to eat an entire loaf even if I wanted to.

So, bread.

Unlike Zak, I adore breads that are chewy, nutty, and full of different whole grains. I do not like hockey puckwhole wheat bread, however, that is godawful dry and tastes just this side of sawdust. That sort of thing is nasty. But complex nutty-wheaty-grainy stuff–I love it.

I didn’t feel like waiting overnight for a starter, so instead, I adapted the recipe on the package of the blend, changing many of the ingredients around. I don’t much care for cornmeal in yeast breads–it makes it too gritty in my opinion, so that got left out. I used wheat germ instead to make up the dry volume that would have been cornmeal. And instead of using a half a cup of whole wheat flour, I simply used wheat germ, while I was at it. It was one less thing to measure.

I also used honey instead of sugar, in order to add moisture to the dough, and I added some cinnamon and cardamom just because I could.

In order to entice Zak to like the bread, and for more texture and flavor, I added dried apples and cranberries. And, in order to make the dough rise better and have a better texture, I added Lora Brody’s Bread Dough Enhancer. It has malt, gluten and ascorbic acid, and help keep whole grain loaves from turning into neutron stars.

This is the first time I have used this product, so I am keeping my fingers crossed to see if it lives up to its reputation as being able to help whole wheat breads rise efficiently. It works in two ways: one, the added gluten helps the elasticity and strength of the dough so that more carbon dioxide bubbles from the action of the yeast can be trapped, resulting in a greater ability for the bread to rise higher. One of the problems with whole wheat flour is that it the wheat germ and bran particles interfere with gluten development, so that the protein molecules that make up gluten are not as able to unwind and stretch themselves out to produce a more efficient, stretchier dough.

The malt and ascorbic acid work by feeding the yeast. Yeast, as we all know, is a living critter, and like all critters, needs food, air, water and warmth to live and thrive. The malt and ascorbic acid give it things to feed off of other than just the sugar and starch present in the dough, so that they can go forth and multiply in great orgasmic numbers thus populating the dough with a huge colony of little fermentomats who are busily turning sugar into alcohol and pouring off carbon dioxide while they do it. The carbon dioxide, of course, being that which makes the dough rise.

Anyway, here is the recipe:

Harvest Fruit Bread


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend
1/2 cup dried apples and cranberries, mixed, roughly chopped (I used a little over 1/4 cup of apples, and a little under 1/4 cup of cranberries; you can vary the fruit as you like)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 teaspoons Lora Brody Bread Dough Enhancer
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup milk
1/2-3/4 cup water
canola oil or oil spray


Combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Using smaller amount of water to start with, combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Using a dough hook and a stand mixer, mix together and then knead for about 10 minutes. Or do this by hand.

Coat inside of a second bowl with canola oil or use oil spray. Remove dough from work bowl of mixer, form into a ball, and put into oiled bowl. Turn once to coat, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to rise about an hour and a half, or until double.

When dough is doubled, remove from bowl and carefully shape into a loaf, degassing as little as possible (in other words, don’t punch down dough and let out as little carbon dioxide as you can. Grease a loaf pan, and carefully place into pan, spray top with canola oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Allow to rise in a warm place until the dough has crowned aboutabout even with, or slightly over the rim of the pan. This will take about 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes. (If you have a convection oven, you may only need to bake for thirty minutes, as I did.) For the last ten minutes, if the bread is browning too rapidly, cover with a tent of aluminum foil.

The internal temperatre should register at 190 degrees. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and allow it to completely cool on a wire rack. (Right. I am notorious for not letting a bread cool all the way before diving into it. But it really does taste better if you wait. Really. Some breads taste better if you let them sit overnight and eat them the next day. I know it is hard. But try, anyway.)

This was very nice spread with cream cheese blended with honey and walnuts.

It turned out really lovely; though the bread didn’t rise high as a less grain-dense bread would, the texture was springy, and the crumb was tender. It was perfectly moist and the flavor was exceptional. It wasn’t too sweet at all, and the grain mixture gave it a toothsome crunch that was very satisfying. I was afraid that there was too much fruit in it when I looked at the dough as it was rising, but it turned out to be fine.

I will have to try it toasted for breakfast tomorrow. If I can get my Amityville Toaster (yes, I am a Foamy fan, and yes, my toaster is red, but no, it doesn’t have a devil face) to work. Damned thing is possessed; it matters not what setting I put the little knob which supposedly controls how toasted the bread gets, it is either underdone or burnt to a crisp. And it is brand new, too. A Kitchenaid, at that.

And now for something completely different: a kitten.

Our youngest cat, Gummitch, sleeping curled up with our two oldest cats.

I figured that the name of the blog is “Tigers and Strawberries.” I had written about strawberries and posted a picture, but nothing about tigers. And since I am short of big scary tigers here at my house, I thought I would post a picture of a small, cuddly tiger.


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  1. Oh Barbara, Gummitch is adorable! He’s incredible cute!!!! I’m looking forward to see more photos of your cats 🙂

    The fruit cake looks delicious, very yummy indeed. Your post made me laugh as I really recognize your problem with baking and the lack of someone else eating the delights before you eat everything by yourself 🙂

    Comment by Dagmar — April 28, 2005 #

  2. A kitty! Who looks very much like my much-missed Sekhmet! And yummy bread! One of the best things about the low-carb movement has been the increased choice in stores for true whole grain bread, not just “whole wheat” loaves made with white flour. More flavorful, more filling, more interesting. What more could a foodie ask?

    Comment by etherbish — April 28, 2005 #

  3. Hi Barbara,
    Lovely loaf! I like chewy and nutty bread too. Thanks for the science lesson as well. Shirley

    Comment by Anonymous — April 28, 2005 #

  4. Hey, Dagmar! I promise to post more pictures of the other cats soonish rather than laterish. They are such a part of our lives that I feel remiss in not introducing them.

    Gummi is my helpful one. He often sits on my desk and helps me write, mostly by chasing the cursor and getting in the way. He also likes to sit and watch me cook, though he is bad about sticking his wee paw into the sink to try and fish out anything that is thawing in the water there. The other cats leave it alone, being that they hate water. But not Gummi…no, not at all.

    Hey, Ladi–you’ll get to see your Sekhmet soon!

    Whole-grain bread is the bomb, but only when it is good. I cannot abide dry crumbly bread, which is why I tend to add more honey to such loaves I bake. It is hydroscopic and so will draw more moisture and retain more moisture in the dough, thus helping to keep the bread a bit more moist than it otherwise might be.

    Hello, Shirley–I love food science. My favorite classes in high school were science classes and in fact, for a time in college, I was a zoology major. The math requirements, however, killed me, so I ended up with a writing degree, and then went on to culinary school.

    But still, chemistry, biology and physics still call to me, so when I teach cooking, I always give the scientific principle for how and why it works. I find that people really respond well to that method–not only do they get the practical knowledge of how to do something, they understand why it works the way it does. I find that if people understand the basic principles behind cooking and baking, they can apply them to other dishes in other settings, rather then just rely on rote memorization of recipes and processes.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — April 28, 2005 #

  5. Oh, that bread looks so very wonderful. Really, it’s enough to entice me to try to make bread again. I’ve nearly given up hand-made bread in favour of my bread machine, and I still a bit guilty.

    I am not good at breadmaking. I am very good at producing lots of heavy bricks. Perhaps in my past life I was an Egyptian brickmaker of some sort.

    Comment by Kris — April 28, 2005 #

  6. Hey, Kris!

    Don’t feel guilty about using a bread machine. In fact, you could use the recipe I gave for a bread machine if you wanted to. The orignal recipe was useable for hand made bread and bread machine bread.

    As for making heavy loaves of bread-there are any number of reasons why that might be, but I suspect that when you make bread by hand you don’t knead it long enough for good gluten development. Which is a problem with hand-kneading. A lot of folks tire out before the strands of gluten have untangled themselves and then become nice and smooth so that they can stretch really well and catch lots of carbon dioxide.

    Another problem may have to do with yeast growth and development.

    At any rate, the bread machine is a good remedy to those issues, and I highly endorse the use of them, especially for folks who don’t have the time or energy to make breads by hand.

    I mean, geez–the artisan breads you see in most bakeries and restaurants were not totally made by hand. Chefs don’t knead bread dough by hand–they let the big Hobart mixers to that job for them. (A Hobart is the commercial version of a Kitchenaid. Imagine a Kitchenaid on big doses of steroids. Some of the commercial mixers are taller than I am with bowls that a kid could nearly go swimming in. Amazing machines.)

    So, don’t feel guilty! Just make and eat good bread. 😉

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — April 28, 2005 #

  7. Just bake to your hearts content Barb. When you run out of space I am sure that Myself, Judi, Torquil, Pricilla, Daniel, Jackie, Heather and Dan will all be more than willing to help you dispose of the baking. All else fails, ship some of it of to “Dat Bad Ole’ Puddy Tat” downsouth we call Tom 🙂

    Comment by Bryian — April 28, 2005 #

  8. Thanks, Bry!

    I will indeed pass on the efforts of my baking to the folks…be assured that there will be scones for our viewing of “Hitchhiker’s Guide.”

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — April 30, 2005 #

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