All posts by Garry

Making Bread from Grains

I have not found a bread that wasn’t made from grains, but there certainly is a variety to choose from.

However, one of my favorites has been – and probably always will be – finely ground spelt flour. It is termed the ancient grain for a reason, and one of the ones least likely cause allergies, so I am told. This is of great appeal when many people are developing (or have already had) wheat allergies, for whatever reason.

I almost always use organic spelt, organic whole wheat, and a little organic unbleached flour to give my bread a better texture. I never, ever use margarine as I do not consider it a food product; however, I use extra virgin olive oil and/or a little real butter for the fat. I use sea salt and organic sugars: There are many of those to choose from, and some can normally be found in your grocery store, as can organic maple syrup (also found in some grocery stores).

I first stir together flour and quick rise yeast (I never measure), while my water, oil/fat, salt, and sugar are warming. When butter is melted and salt dissolved, I stir in enough cold water to make the water lukewarm. I mix it in with the flour/yest mix, then add two or three fresh farm eggs. (You can add more, and they enhance the quality, as well as the color, of your bread.) I then stir in as much flour as is needed; then knead, knead, knead. I have yet to see a bread machine that can produce bread than matches the bread produced by a real woman.

With quick rise yeast, it only needs to rise about 20 mins. in a warm kitchen; then for maximum texture, I let it rise again for 15-20 mins. I then roll it or form buns; let it rise again approx. 20-25 mins.; bake at 350-375 for approximately 25 mins.

I make cinnamon bread and buns (with REAL butter, remember) with the best cinnamon (I like Watkins or imported cinnamon from the health food store, when possible), as well as cheese breads, and peanut butter bread (ok, even raisins for those who like raisins).

I find homemade bread is a wonderful “thank you” to neighbors who have done me a kindness, and many of my friends who are professionals also appreciate this “touch of home,” when they do not often eat as well as they would like to, or find time for lunch!

To make the best breads, you can add fresh wheat germ, ground flax, whole oats, nutritional yeast (also at health food stores), and/or bran if you wish. I have even added a little skim milk powder for the protein, and bread with any of the above additions packs a little extra energy punch.

So, making bread from WHOLE grains is ideal; you retain the chromium (also good for your blood sugar) and minerals while delighting your family, friends, and neighbors with the most wholesome scents as they emanate from your kitchen.

How to Freeze Pie Crusts

There are a number of different pastries that you might use for a pie, sweet pastry for desserts and savoury pastry for meat pies for example.  In addition you could use shortcrust or flaky (puff) pastry in either situation.  All of these pastries will freeze and keep well whether they have been cooked or not.  In fact you can purchase very good frozen pastry in stores, and generally, I would recommend making your own shortcrust pastry, since it is simple to do, but buy pre-made flaky (sometimes known as puff) pastry unless you have a lot of time and want to put the effort into layering and folding the pastry a number of times.

Pastry is made from fat (butter, lard or a mx of the two), flour, water and seasoning.  It is the fat element than you need to be most careful with when freezing.  The ingredients are combined by hand until a dough is formed which is just slightly sticky to the touch and has been worked until the bowl is left clean.  You can freeze the pastry from any point forward, and it will keep well.  It is sometimes best to shape the pastry into a pie crust before, and I would suggest the following rules of thumb.

Assuming you are starting with fresh pastry, either homemade or shop bought, the first thing you need to decide is whether or not you will want to cook the pastry from frozen or whether you are going to defrost the pastry.  If you are going to cook from frozen then you should roll and shape the pastry before freezing.  If you are going to defrost the pastry before use, then you may roll and shape before freezing or you might decide to roll the pastry after it has been defrosted. This same process needs to be considered with regarding to freezing the pastry as raw or cooked.  If freezing cooked pastry, then it too should be rolled and shaped before freezing, in fact you may wish to freeze it in it’s own baking tin.  If freezing raw pastry, then you can decide when to roll the pastry to best suit your needs.

To freeze a pie crust if you have cooked the pastry first, let it cool down to room temperature before freezing. 

When you have the pastry ready to freeze, wrap it in clingfilm.  This should be done in appropriate portion sizes or as individual pie crusts if pre-shaped.  The pastry can be placed in the quick freeze compartment of your freezer until frozen.  Then transferred to the normal freezer compartment. I wouldn’t keep frozen pastry more than about six months, although I believe it can be kept frozen for longer.