Spare time has been hard to come by this Christmas season, but baking has been a priority. It's like icecream. There's always room.
I've decided that it's important because...
a: it feeds my children... and homemade wheat bread almost balances out the endless batches of cookies and candy--
b: it serves as gifts... and homemade gifts are the best.
c. the bread makes my house smell like heaven and I like the smell of Heaven.
d: it's thereputic for me, and calms my racing mind, which means it's worth the time... even when I'm waiting 'till midnight for my bread to come out of the oven.
One of the gift-treats we made for a few neighbors this year.... almond roca.
I love almond Roca, or toffee... whatever you like to call it because it feels so special and Christmasy to me... but it's really so easy and so quick. The hardest thing is just that you could really use a candy thermometer for it... and I'd imagine not everyone has one on hand. I do. nana na na na.
My friend, Lizzie taught me how to make this a lots of years ago when we had much fewer children between the two of us and could play all day in the kitchen.
1 lb butter
3 c. sugar
2/3 c. water
3 c. almonds (toasted and chopped up)
3 c. milk chocolate chips (I use the pound plus bar from Trader Joes chopped up... SO much better than chocolate chips... any good quality chocolate will do.)
In pot: add water, add butter and sugar, cook to 320 degrees. It's pretty mellow in the beginning, but stir pretty regularly (I should say that, but I walk away a lot during this part) When it hits the high 200's, it's getting really hot and needs constant stirring until you reach 320.
Have cookie sheet ready with sides greased and 1.5 cups almonds sprinkled on pan.
At 320, immediately pour mixture on pan.
Sprinkle with 3 cups of milk chocolate and let it sit till it melts, (it happens quickly) then spread around.
Sprinkle with remaining 1.5 cups of almonds. Let cool. (I cheat and pop it in the freezer to harden the chocolate when I'm in a hurry.)
Another recent obsession. I can't stop making bread.
I feel like I sound like a robot--- can you tell I'm in a hurry?
Oh and Lizzie gave me this recipe too.... I guess this is a what-would-I-make-if-I-didn't-have-Lizzie? post too.
Lizzie's Whole Wheat Bread
3 1/3 C hot water
1.5 T yeast
1/3 C honey
1/3 C butter
1 T salt
1 C flour
1/2 C wheat gluten
1 C oat flour (or grind up oatmeal in your blender- I don't always have this handy and just substitute white or wheat flour)
7 C whole wheat flour (I use hard white wheat, and I usually only need about 6 total.)*
Mix water, honey yeast. Let proof. Add white flour, oat flour, gluten and half of the whole wheat flour. Mix. Add salt and butter/oil. Mix. Add the rest of the flour until it barely cleans the upper half of the bowl when mixer is running. (this is much more important than getting all 7 cups of wheat flour in. It could take much less.)
Knead for 10 minutes in mixer. Dough should be smooth and elastic, but sticky. Let rest 10-20 minutes. Set oven to 170 degrees. Spray Pam on your hands and shape into 2 loaves. Put in oven and immediately turn OFF oven. Let rise in oven for 22 minutes then turn oven to 350 degrees and cook 28-30 minutes. Immediately turn out onto cooling racks.
*The amount of whole wheat flour you use will just depend on how dry your wheat kernels are and how humid it is where you live.