Saturday, February 8, 2014

Grown-Up Roasted Tomato Balsamic Soup

Since I've been in a bread-making phase this bitter winter, it only seems natural that I also am in a soup and stew phase. This recipe is a long-time favorite. (In fact, I should probably just rename this blog SingleGrrl's Greatest Hits, since I've been blogging more about my old standards than new experiments. But anyway ....) I've been making it, or variations thereof, since it was first published in Cooking Light magazine. Its title in the magazine is Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup. I consider the "creamy" part optional, though, and I like to emphasize the fact that the tomatoes are roasted. This soup has a deep, robust flavor, and has the added attraction of being healthy and easy to make.

Of course, you'll want to pair this with a grilled cheese sandwich made with slices of Cottage Tea House Bread or 100% Whole Wheat Bread, as you see here. What is more classic than a good homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More Yeast: 100% Whole Wheat Bread

My favorite white bread recipe was featured on the blog a few weeks ago. (Yeast Bread - Yes You Can!) I have another favorite recipe for yeast bread -- this one is whole wheat. Baking with whole wheat flour presents some special challenges. As noted in my previous post about wheat flours, a good wheat yeast bread made depends on gluten for structure. In general, the higher the protein content in the flour, the more potential for gluten development. When you are working with white flours -- flour where the germ and the bran of the wheat kernel has been removed -- this relationship is pretty straightforward. If you are working with whole wheat flour, however, a number of factors complicate matters. This recipe provides some techniques for getting the most out of a 100% whole wheat loaf.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Picking the Right Flour for the Job

In most grocery stores you'll see many types of white wheat flours: all-purpose, cake,  bread, self-rising (if you are in the South), and sometimes pastry. Less common are the whole wheat varieties -- you can usually find whole wheat all-purpose flour easily, but whole wheat pastry flour and whole wheat bread flour are harder to come by. When I was growing up, we usually had all-purpose white flour, self-rising white flour, and cake flour on hand. The cake flour was always Swans Down, and the others were nearly always White Lily. I never heard of bread flour or pastry flour until I was grown! So ... what distinguishes these types of flours, and why should you care?

Missing: The bag of unbleached all-purpose white flour I have; it was way in the back of the
flour/cornmeal/sugar cabinet. Yes, I have an entire 2-door cabinet devoted to baking supplies.