Today I did something I have not done in a couple of years, I made bread and granola. For about 12 years I made all the bread we ate. Usually it was a honey wheat but occasionally I would make more elaborate breads like challah , Italian bread (the kind that needs a sponge made 12 hours before the bread is made and there are several rises involved) or pita. But than the Aunt Millie's bread outlet started offering certified organic breads for under 75¢ a loaf and I decided the bread was decent, had no HFCS or hydrogenated crap and I could not make my own bread as cheaply. the organic breads from Aunt Millie's were never as good as mine but they saved time and money. But over the past 6 months or so the price of that bread went above a buck and gas, as we all know, is getting ever more expensive and our vehicle is a not so green cargo van with a V-8 engine. We also have been buying some pretty decent granola at Aunt Millie's bread outlet store for around $2 a pound bag.
And yesterday upon scanning the freezer for more bread so we could have an extra sloppy joe (made with 95% local ingredients, tomato sauce I made last year and the Streit's grass fed beef, an organic onion from Jungle Jim's and our peppers from the freezer) we discovered we were out of bread and would not have the time to go to Richmond, IN to visit the bread store until Monday. At the Tuesday farmers market I considered buying a loaf of Pia's honey wheat bread but $5.50 is out of my price range.
So this morning I got up and decided I should do something about the bread and granola situation. So I got out the oat meal, some maple syrup (the real stuff, not the HFCS maple flavored crap that is death in a bottle as far as I am concerned), butter and walnuts. I put some syrup and butter in a sauce pan and heated the two until the butter melted. Than I added some vanilla powder, cardamom and cinnamon and poured that over the big stainless steel bowl that had 6 cups of rolled oats and walnuts broken into pieces (I have no idea the amount on the nuts, lets say around a cup). Mixed everything together than put into a 300˚F oven for 15 minutes that stirred, put it back for another 15 minutes, stirred it again and back in the oven for the final 15 minutes. When it was done I poured the content of the cookie sheet into another large stainless steel bowl (I used to work in restuarant kitchens and picked up some commercial cookware over the years-most of it honestly) to cool. At that point I added dried cranberries, raisins and apples along with puffed wheat and rice cereal. Let it cool et voila! granola. And far far better granola than anything we could buy and I got a huge container of the stuff for under $3.00.
About mid way into the granola cooking I started a loaf of bread by warming up some water and pouring that into a big ceramic mixing bowl along with a tablespoon of honey. Mixed the honey into the water and added a teaspoon of yeast and let that grow for about 10 minutes. When the yeast sponge was nice and puffy I added 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup white along with a tsp of salt and a TBL of olive oil. Mixed it all together and than kneaded the dough for 5 minutes or so (how ever long the NPR newscast between non news shows lasts) and put that into a well oiled bowl to rise for several hours and went into Eaton to do errands. came home, opened the store, checked on the dough and saw it was about ready to shape into a loaf. Did that, let it rise again and let it over rise by about 20 minutes because a customer came to the store and I got to talking to him for a while. Got the bread into a 350˚F oven (which had been pre-heating for several hours as it took a lot longer than I thought for that second rise to happen) and about 1/2 hour ago it was done and out of the oven. It turned out better than I expected despite it trying to fall when I started baking it.
It will be wonderful to have fresh bread with dinner and I suspect most of it will be gone by tomorrow. I t was fun and very satisfying making these items and I will get back into making bread and cereal from scratch as I can make it better and cheaper than buying these things./ That, and I have about 3 pounds of yeast in a freezer that I bought years ago (it's still very lively stuff). I may even start offering the granola at the store if I can can find rolled oats in bulk (organic would be best but I'll take not organic as oats do not have a GMO variety...yet)