Farmhouse Spiced Zucchini Loaf

So was the season for copious amounts of zucchini!

Every year it’s the same, we always plant at least 2 zucchini plants as we get better pollination for them. Some years we plant as many as 4, but this year we landed with only 2.

Still, despite there being only 2 plants…they were huge! They had a slow start to producing (they were also planted later than usual), having mostly only female flowers and no males caused a bit of a worry for me, but it was short lived.
There’s really only so much zucchini one can eat anyway…but really who ever gets tired of the tasty, delicious Spiced Zucchini Loaf?

Not I!

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Farmhouse Sourdough Bread

I don’t know about you, but the smell of fresh baked bread – particularly sourdough – is one of the most home comforting there is to me.
Making bread with our little baby boy Nathan was certainly going to be a challenge I thought, but thank goodness for the flexibility of my sourdough recipe! Fresh sourdough is once again on the menu.

I make sandwich style loaves. For everyday home use the sandwich ones last longer and fit our sandwich containers, so I like to do those instead of a round loaf which you can make in a dutch oven or on a baking stone in your oven for a beautiful crusty loaf.

The crust on the sandwich loaf is still decent but I as a Baker / Pastry Chef have a large place in my heart with lovely dark crusty loaves. Perhaps when my wood oven is made (wink, wink) I will once again resume exploring different breads at home. I think it will be sooner than later though, as I have more opportunity being off work for now. Plus, I gotta let those creative juices flow still, right?

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Farmhouse Apple Pie Granola

One of my favourite things to have around the house is granola. A bit of fruit and some milk or yogurt and there’s something wonderful ready to eat.
Store bought granola can contain unknown ingredients, and cost way more than is reasonable for a really good organic brand. I use all organic ingredients in mine, and still get more for my buck.

This way, I get to pick what goes in and I like the way that, that sounds! I include nutritious nuts and i like to do a surprise mixture of oat, kamut and spelt flakes but you can stick with just oat flakes too if you prefer, or if that’s what you have around the house!
I’m big on “make do with what you got” so often times with any of my recipes, I will substitute similar items for ones that I have instead. Don’t have sunflower seeds? Why not try almond slivers? …You get the picture, I’m sure.

For this granola, I dry my own apple cubes to use. You can of course opt them out or swap fruits, but I really believe this to be worth it! I use the apples in our backyard, so it’s free too!

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I have made many versions of this recipe but this is my favourite way to do it. There’s something magical in the combination of apples, oats and spices.
The smell of you making this is sure to have your family come running to find out what delicious goodies you’re making!

Farmhouse Apple Pie Granola

In a large bowl combine:

3 cups flaked oats
1 cup puffed rice
1 cup puffed millet
1 .5 cups lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup lightly toasted sunflower seeds
3 tbsp. whole flax seeds

In a medium saucepan over medium heat:

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. each, allspice and salt

Combine and heat until a smooth mixture, then add into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Coat the oat and nut mix thoroughly.
Spread onto parchment lined sheets, bake at 325F., stirring twice for 30-35 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack on pans.
Layer with homemade dried apple cubes, dried unsweetened cranberries and dried currants.

Enjoy!

 

Making your own Levain (Sourdough) Culture

I’ve had a lot of people over the years ask me how to make a Levain (Sourdough) Culture or if, rather, I could give them some of my own to use, which is usually an almost necessary action anyway during the typical care of a culture since it’s required to dispose of half before refreshing.
On the other hand though, I have found a system that works for my Levain and that makes no waste product in the end, saving me effort and money but still provides a good product.
To explain the waste, typically when you have a Levain, you feed after every use then store it and then get rid of that feeding and feed it again before using. This improves your yeasts environment (therefore the strength), keeps your yeast alive and happy, ensuring that your bread will rise with a good Levain Culture.

My no-waste method is simple and with the same end goal. I refresh (feed) my Levain the night before I intend to use it, let it rise / quadruple over-night or 8 hours, use about 80% of what’s there, and then store the extra 20% left over in the fridge until next time. Then I repeat by refreshing the leftover with a new feeding the night before I intend to use it again and so on.
Simple, and saves the money lost in the disposal of the extra flour used otherwise. Of course I typically make bread twice a week, but I’m sure that this can be stretched to a longer period of time like perhaps a whole week in between. After this you will most likely need to follow the typical feeding / usage requirements before making your dough.

There are other methods of storing your Levain using less water to make almost a hard dry dough you would just rehydrate before use, or using leftover dough instead, etc. but perhaps I’ll do another post in the future on different care methods for your culture, this post is simply on how to make one and a little bit about it.

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Apple Oat Muffins

The other day we needed some lunch snacks for Tim at work, my typical solution is to make muffins. Not entirely sure what it is that has me committed to them, perhaps it’s how I find them easy and simple to make, delicious, consistent and filling. The flavour choices are endless, I can use whatever I have on hand, as well as the fact they keep so well when frozen.

waiting for these lovely apples to ripen, our trees produced quite a lot again this year!

Waiting for these lovely apples to ripen, our trees produced quite a lot again this year!

There’s something magical to me about fruit trees, and I suppose all flowering foods. To create something so delicious and wonderful…all starting from a tiny flower! I guess it’s a bit like the magic of a new baby, this beautiful wonder filled being who started from a single cell! Talk about the wow factor…
So, today I will share my recipe for a muffin that I absolutely adore, Apple Oat.
A salut to our wonderful apple trees who put a lot of effort out to give us a fruitful season with a little love, year after year.

Gone Wild Apple Oat Muffin

231g Organic White Flour
8g Baking Powder
3g Fine Sea Salt
35g Rolled Oats
20g Ground Dried Apple (optional)
3g Ground Cinnamon
1g Ground Ginger
1g Ground Cloves
1 Lemon Zested

71g White Sugar
71g Brown Sugar
100g Vegetable Oil
2g Pure Vanilla Extract
90-100g (2) Large Eggs
175g Buttermilk
90g Shredded Fresh Apple, unpeeled

In a large bowl, whisk together thoroughly all the dry ingredients. For the ground dried apple, I dry my own in the dehydrator until crisp but still pliable. I’m sure you can do so in the oven as well on a very low temperature setting, I do dip the apples first in a cider vinegar solution: 20% vinegar to 80% water. Once they are dried I grind the desired weight in a small coffee grinder. I marked this optional, but the ground dried apple really does give a wonderful apple-flavour boost!

In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients together one at a time following the order listed above. Each time making sure that the first is incorporated well before adding the next. Eg. being: Combine the white sugar with the brown sugar, next add the oil, then add the vanilla, etc.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold gently all together until the dry is saturated, do not over-stir! If you so desire, you can use Pastry Flour which has a lower gluten % for more of a insured tender muffin.

Bake in a 350F. preheated oven. I get about 8 decent sized muffins from this recipe usually… which really don’t last long enough to freeze some days!

Store either well wrapped for a few days at room temperature or freeze immediately once cooled to store for 1 week.
Enjoy!