The Answer To It All. Hint: It’s not 42

Right out of the OTE oven

Right out of the OTE oven

Do you know what the problem with the world is today? No one knows how to bake bread. I’m not talking about throwing a mix into a machine and letting it go. I’m talking about baking real fucking bread. I’m talking about kneading the dough, letting it rise, kneading it again, and so on until you have a perfect loaf of bread.

There’s something about pulling a loaf of bread from the oven. A sense of accomplishment you can’t get from anything else. There’s pride in that loaf of bread.

I think we could make the world a better place if everyone would stop for a couple hours to learn the basic fundamentals to baking a roll of bread.

Just a thought.

The Best Onion Bread In The World

It’s true. There is nothing as divine as a simple slice of bread. Something so important, the staple of so many cultures. There’s nothing quite like homemade bread. The aroma that fills the house is as comforting as an old blanket and every bit as warming.

I’ve been on a daily bread making routine. There’s a good chance that I should have taken up the daily sit-up routine, but it doesn’t taste as good as fresh baked onion bread. Michelle and I had this the other night with homemade corn chowder. One of the best dinners I’ve had in quite a while. I think she ould say the same.

 

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 packet active yeast
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ cup oat milk
  • ¼ cup chopped Spanish onion
  • sunflower oil
  • 1 egg

 

In a large mixing bowl, pour in the water and in the active yeast.

Stir in the salt and sugar oat milk

Slowly mix in the flour. I would start with 2 ½ cups and gently kneed in the last ½ cup as needed until the dough is no longer sticky.

Place ball of dough covered in a thin layer of sunflower oil in a bowl and cover bowl with a clean towel.

Let rise for one hour

Preheat over to 375

Punch down dough and kneed thoroughly adding in chopped Spanish onion

Create a loaf by hand and place on cookie sheet with parchment paper

Cover with towel again and allow dough to rise for 45 minutes

Beat egg and brush onto the entire top of crust in which can be seen without lifting dough

Place in over for 40 minute or until bread is a deep golden color.

When pulled from the oven, the bread should make a hollow sound when tapped.

Let the bread cool for a bit.

A Few Months In…

As many of you know, Our Tiny Earth is about sustainability, community, and how Michelle and I work to live within our community while maintaining a certain level of sustainability within our own lives. To be honest, it’s not as easy as we had hoped. We knew that there would be a lot of challenges and that it wouldn’t be a simple overnight transition, but there are a lot of factors in which we never really thought about. Though we feel hat we have a firm understanding on basic gardening, we quickly discover that there are a lot of things we don’t know. There are a lot of things for us to learn. It’s also not as cheap as we had anticipated. We knew that it would be expensive, but i find myself saving to buy a single item that we need, but that single item is only one small piece of a giant puzzle. The relationships we have with people. Some are not as we would want them to be, but we have to understand that sometimes people just don’t get along. It’s just a simple fact of life.

Mom and Dad's Back Yard

We have had our struggles, but then at the same times, we have had our triumphs. We’re eating food in the middle of February that we pulled from our garden in August, covering our homemade bread with jams and jellies we made in our kitchen from local and organic ingredients. We’ve met some of the most wonderful people in our lives and have maintained relationships with them that will last for the rest of our lives, and, we hope will enrich the relationships of those who also live within our community. Though we have spent a good amount of money, we have saved a good amount of money. I believe as we progress, the saving will begin to outweigh the spending. Michelle and i have become very active members of our community, taking part in local neighborhood and community events and organizations, dining at local restaurants, purchasing from local farmers, and drinking locally brewed beers!

In all, we’re not even close to our goal of becoming 100% sustainable, but we’re well on our way. It’s a slow process where opening our minds to learning new things is the most important thing we can do. I’m proud of Michelle and myself. I’m proud of the people in our community. I’m proud of the farmers and local business owners. We’re doing well. I love you all.

 

Breaking Bread

Bread is a staple food of virtually every culture that’s ever existed. For many cultures, it’s the one food that defines who the people are. A bread can be as fine as any wine, or as unrefined as a slab of beef. Every bread has its purpose, every bread has it’s place. This bread is all about simplicity. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with being unrefined.

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 3/4cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast

Place 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into mixer (we use Kitchenaid with the bread hook attachment). Mix thoroughly. Place dough in a floured bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with clean towel, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched. Punch down dough to original sized. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough in half, creating two equal pieces. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

 

Vegan Raisin Gingerbread Cake

This one is to all my vegan friends. Gingerbread cake was always one of my favorite things in the world growing up. I just had to do it. I tried and tried to make it like my mother does, but just couldn’t do it. Always been a holiday treat, so I had a little fun with it. It turned out great! It went well with the coconut milk ice cream!

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350. Coat 9×9 pan with shortening.
In large bowl, mix together sugar, oil, egg, and molasses
In second bowl, mix together remaining ingredients
Stir in hot water and pour into pan.
Place into oven for 1 hour of until toothpick comes out clean
After cooled, sprinkle on powdered sugar.

Challah! You Know What I’m Sayin’

Challah is a traditional Jewish bread usually braided. I’ve never baked challah before, but since it’s one of my favorite things in the entire world, I figured that I would give it a shot. There are a lot of different variances, like pumpkin or raisin, but I figured it would be best if I stick with the traditional method.

My first attempt at challah

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup clover honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Bread should have hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

Apple-Raisin Cake

To ensure ones successful transition to sustainability, I encourage the support of small, independently owned business such as Richardson’s Canal House in Bushnell’s Basin, NY. They’ve been a staple of Rochester’s fine dining culture for as long as I can remember and probably will still be there long after I’m gone. In honor of this Iconic Rochester establishment, I would like to post one of their recipes published in the September 2000 issue of Gourmet magazine. I baked this a month ago and am wanting more. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Cortland or Empire apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F and cover inside of cake pan with shortening

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together oil, eggs, sugars, spices, rum, and vanilla in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in apples and raisins and spoon batter into pan.

Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours.

Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.