Winter Vegetable Soup and Tassajara Honey Wheat Bread

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WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP-Garnished with cranberry goat cheese and scallions

I enjoy food.  I seriously enjoy eating a great meal.  How I define a good meal, depends on my mood.  Sometimes a slice of pepperoni pizza and an Italian chop salad is a great meal.   One of my favorite meals is spaghetti and meatballs–just like my Great Grandma DeFranco used to make–oh, is that ever a great meal!

As the depth of winter reaches in and tries to snuff out my light, I know I need to eat more vegetables.  I don’t know if anybody else experiences this, but I know I do.

There are times when I’m going forward with my day, minding my own darn business, when all of a sudden I have a beet attack!  Seriously, I crave beets.  Not only that, but once I get my hands on some beets, I eat them so fast I have to remind myself to stop and breathe!  Obviously, something in my body is craving the nutrients of the beet, and I need to pay attention to it.

Every now and again, I get these little whole food cravings: carrots, curried soups, sauteed spinach with pecans, chard with garlic and crushed peppers, fruit salad, pomegranates, sweet potatoes with butter–the list goes on and on.

In the middle of writing this, I have succumbed to another craving–avocado with oranges and vinaigrette.   I just sliced up an entire avocado, chopped an orange, mixed them together and sprinkled them with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.  See?  I feel better now.

I was having a vegetable soup craving the other day, and I found a recipe at Epicurious.com that looked quite appetizing.   I cooked it last night and served it with my homemade honey wheat bread.  It would also be wonderful with a roast chicken dinner.

This soup is vegetarian,  but you can replace the vegetable stock with chicken stock, which I did.

Leave off the goat cheese and you have an amazing vegan soup.

Winter Vegetable Soup (Click on recipe name for original recipe)

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This soup calls for: 1 c. chopped: turnip, sweet potato, butternut squash, granny smith apple, carrots, and onion(I doubled and added 2 cups of each)



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Also, 3 Tbsp olive oil ( I doubled it to 6 Tbsp) 5 cups chicken stock (I doubled and used only 8 or 9 cups) 1/4 cup maple syrup and cayenne pepper to taste.  I used 1/2 tsp for the double batch–it was indeed spicy!

I thought buying organic vegetables and maple syrup was going to put me over the top and make the cost too high, but I ended up with enough vegetables to double the recipe!  I didn’t double the maple syrup, as I found it sweet enough with the 1/4 cup.  For less than $12, I had a huge pot of vegetable soup that will last us all week.

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I might experiement with this soup by adding curry and coconut milk or cinnamon and cloves.

Of course, no soup is complete without a great loaf of homemade bread!

Allow me to start, by saying, I’m not a fan of wheat bread.  I’m a white bread gal.  Seriously.  I’m trying to acquire a taste for wheat bread because I’m told it is so much healthier than white bread.  I’m not about to give up my Artisan bread or baguettes, Italian bread, or any white bread for that matter.  I am, however, open minded, and I have wanted to try this bread recipe every since I watched the documentary, “How to Cook Your Life”. I went right out and bought The Tassajara bread book too!

This is the first Honey Wheat bread I’ve ever loved!  I’m not kidding, I love this stuff.  Now, granted, I did add two cups of regular white flour–yes, I know that is cheating, but there is a whopping 6 cups of whole wheat flour in this recipe as well.

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These babies were bursting out of my large bread pans!

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The next day, it still sliced and tasted beautiful!

Want to see the Tassajara Wheat Bread process and read the extensive  instructions with photos?  Click below…

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Start with your ingredients in two steps.

Step 1

Mixing up the sponge:

(two loaves)

3 c lukewarm water (85-105 degrees)
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 c sweetening honey, molasses or brown sugar (I used honey)
1 c dry milk
4 c whole wheat flour (substitute 1 or more cups of unbleached white flour if desired) I substituted 1 cup here.

measure the water -3 cups; lukewarm {85- 105}, does not feel warm or cold on your wrist. measure the baker’s yeast (2 T) for faster rising and lighter bread, use 1.5-2 times amount in recipe. sprinkle yeast over water and stir lightly to dissolve
add honey.

add dry milk and stir to dissolve.

complete dissolving is not necessary, as the ingredients will become well mixed when the batter is thicker.

The bread will have a grainier taste and a coarser texture if the dry milk is omitted. In this case, less flour will be needed.

Then add whole wheat flour a cup or so at a time, stirring briskly after each addition.  As mixture thickens, begin beating with the spoon, stirring up and down in small strokes and in small circles at the surface of the mixture.  Scrape sides of bowl occasionally. After 4 cups of flour have been added, the mixture will be quite thick but still beatable, a thick mud.

Now beat about 100 times until the batter is very smooth.  Do this at the surface of the dough ducking the spoon under the surface, bringing it up above the surface pulling up the batter in a circular motion. the dough will become stretchier as you do this and much air will be incorporated.  This completes the mixing of the sponge.

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Setting of the dough to rise:
Cover the bowl with a damp towel to keep off draft.   Set in warmish place (about 85-100 degrees) in summer, almost any place might do.  Otherwise on the top of stove over pilot light, shelf above the hot water heater, in oven which has pilot light, or in oven which has been turned on for several minutes then turned off .  If it’s in a cooler place (70-85) it’ll just rise more slowly.   If it’s frozen it won’t rise at all but will rise when it’s unfrozen.  Heat above about 125-130 degrees will kill yeast, which is what happens when the bread is baked.

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Let it rise for an hour or 45 minutes.

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Above: SPONGE

Advantages of the sponge method:
the sponge method, omitted in most bread recipes, is advantageous in many ways. the yeast gets started easily in the absence of salt, which inhibits its functioning, and in the presence of plenty of oxygen. gluten is formed when the sponge stretches in rising, which would otherwise be the product of your labor in kneading. this added elasticity makes the remaining ingredients more easily incorporated and kneading more easily accomplished. Even a 10-15 minute rising at this point will facilitate the accomplishment of the remaining steps.
Part 2

Folding in oil, salt and dry ingredients –other flours, nuts, fruits, etc.

4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil, butter, or margarine (I used x-virgin olive oil)
3 cups additional whole wheat flour ( I substituted 1 cup white)
1 cup whole wheat flour for kneading.

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Folding in is the method used to mix from this point on.   Do not stir!  Do not cut through the dough!  Keep it in one piece as much as possible.  Each cut and tear will lessen the elasticity and strength of the dough.  Pour on oil and sprinkle in salt.   Stir around side of bowl and fold over toward center.   Turn bowl toward you with left hand and repeat folding until oil and salt are incorporated.   Sprinkle dry ingredients on surface of dough about a cup at a time.     Fold wet mixture from sides of bowl on top of dry ingredients.   Turn the bowl 1/4 turn between folds.   When dry ingredients are moistened by the dough, add some more dry ingredients.   Continue folding. after adding 6-8 cups of wheat flour, the dough will become very thick and heavy, but don’t be intimidated.   Continue folding in flour until dough comes away from (does not stick to) sides and bottom of bowl, sitting up in the bowl in a big lump.   The dough is ready for kneading when it can be turned out of bowl in pretty much of a piece, except for a few remaining scraps.  Take time to scrape bowl carefully, and lay scrapings on top of dough on floured board.   It is not necessary to wash the bread bowl at this point, simply oil it lightly.

Kneading the Dough:

The kneading surface, board or table should be at a height on which your hands rest comfortably when you are standing straight (mid-thigh).   Keep the surface floured sufficiently to prevent the dough from sticking during kneading.   The purpose of kneading is to get the dough well-mixed, of a smooth, even texture, and to further develop the elasticity of the dough.   Beginning with a lump of dough not entirely of a piece, somewhat ragged and limply-lying, commence kneading.   Flour hour hands. picking up far edge of dough, FOLD dough IN HALF toward you, far side over near side, so that the two edges are approximately lined up evenly.   Place your hands on NEAR SIDE of dough so that the top of your palms (just below fingers) are at the top front of the dough.  PUSH DOWN AND FORWARD, centering the pushing through the heels of the hands more and more as the push continues.   Relax your fingers at the end of the push.   Rock forward with your whole body rather than simply pushing with your arms.   Apply steady, even pressure, allowing the dough to give way at its own pace.   The dough will roll forward with the seam on top, and your hands will end up about 2/3 of the way toward the far side of the dough.   Removing your hands, see that the top fold has been joined to the bottom fold where the heels of the hands were pressing.
TURN the dough 1/4 turn, clockwise is usually easier for right-handed persons, and vice versa.   Fold in half towards you as before and rock forward, pushing as before.
TURN, FOLD, PUSH.   Rock forward.  Twist and fold as you rock back.   Rock forward.   Little by little you will develop some rhythm.   Push firmly, yet gently, so you stretch but do not tear the dough.
Add FLOUR to board or sprinkle on top of dough as necessary to keep dough from sticking to board or hands.   As you knead, the dough will begin stiffening up, holding its shape rather than sagging; it will become more and more elastic, so that it will tend to stretch rather than to tear.   It will stick to hands and board less and less until no flour is necessary to prevent sticking. the surface will be smooth and somewhat shiny.
As you continue kneading, scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate into the dough, SCRAPE THE BREAD BOARD and rub dough off hands and incorporate these scrapes into the dough.   Place the dough in the OILED BREAD BOWL smooth side down, and then turn it over so the creases are on the bottom.   Oiled surface will keep a crust from forming on the dough.
COVER the dough with a DAMP TOWEL and set it in a warm place.
Rising and Punching the Dough:
let dough RISE 50-60 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.

PUNCH DOWN by pushing fist into dough, as far as the hand will go, steadily and firmly. do this maybe 25 or 30 times all over the dough. it will not punch down as small as it was before the rising.   Cover.
Let RISE 40-50 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.  If you are short for time, the second rising may be omitted.   The loaves will be slightly heavier.

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Shaping the Loaves:
Start the oven preheating (adjustment of temperature may be needed for your oven. Electric ovens in particular may need to be set 25 degrees lower than the indicated temperature).   Turn dough onto the board.  If the dough is of proper consistency, (i.e., moisture content), no flour will be necessary on the board.  If too wet it will stick on the board. use flour as necessary.  If too dry the folds will not seal together easily.
Shape into BALL by folding dough to center all the way around as in kneading without the pushing. turn smooth side up, and tuck in dough all the way around.   Cut into 2 EVEN PIECES. shape into BALLS again, and let sit for 5 minutes. KNEAD DOUGH with right hand.   Turn and fold dough with left hand.   Do this about five or six times until dough is compact.   This gives the loaf added “spring”, similar to winding a clock.   After the final push, turn the dough 1/4 turn and, beginning at near edge, ROLL up the dough into a LOG SHAPE.   With seam on bottom, flatten out top with finger tips. square off sides and ends.   Turn it over and pinch seams together all the way along it.   Have BREAD PANS in a stack.   Put some oil in top one and turn it over, letting it drain into the next one. place loaf in oiled pan with seam up.   Dough can fill pan one-half to two-thirds full. a 5 1/4 x 9 1/4 pan will take a 2 1/4-2 1/2 pound of yeasted loaves. a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 pan will take a 1 3/4 – 2 pound yeasted loaves.
FLATTEN dough out with backs of fingers. turn loaf over so seam is on the bottom.   Press again into shape of pan with backs of fingers.

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COVER. Let RISE 15-20 minutes, from finish to last loaf, depending partly on how long you take to make the loaves and partly on how fast the dough is rising.

Pre-baking and Baking:
Cut the top with SLITS 1/2 inch deep to allow steam to escape.   For golden brown, shiny surface, brush the surface of loaf with EGG WASH: one egg beaten with 2 Tab water or milk.   Sprinkle with sesame seed or poppy seed, if you wish.

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BAKE at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. smaller loaves will bake faster. to see if done: top is shiny golden brown.   The sides and bottoms should likewise be golden brown. loaf will resound with deep hollow thump when tapped with finger.
REMOVE from pans immediately. for clean-cut slices, LET COOL one hour or more before cutting. note: adjustment of oven temperature may be necessary.   Electric ovens, especially, should probably be set 25 degrees lower than indicated.

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Storing:
When completely cooled, bread may be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.   Finished bread may also be frozen and thawed for later use, with some impairment of flavor and freshness.   Slightly stale bread may be freshened by heating in 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes.   Dry bread can still be used for toast or french toast, croutons or breadcrumbs.   For zweiback, cut dry bread in cubes and rebake at 200 degrees until crunchy and dry.






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12 thoughts on “Winter Vegetable Soup and Tassajara Honey Wheat Bread

  1. You bake a BEAUTIFUL loaf of bread. That’s an art form as far as I’m concerned.

    I’ve been looking for a good wheat bread recipe forever. I think I’ll try the oup and the bread this weekend – both look wonderful. I especially love the touch of the cheese.

    Plus you made me laugh! I too crave beets, and spinach. Especially at this time of year. My body just needs it.

    I like to steam my beets and steam the beet greens then toss it all up with butter and vinegar, salt and pepper – YUMM!

    Thanks for a fabulous blog. One of my “resolutions” is to try at least one new recipe a week. The ones you post are always good so I know I’m in for a treat.

  2. MAVEN: Thank you, the bread is really yummy!
    I just shot you an email…I think I got my root veggie fix, and now I don’t want the leftovers. Good thing Mark loves it!
    Ya know what? The beet thing freaks me out. It is like I eat them really fast and then I don’t want to see another beet for like a week.

    I’m in a decorating mood….

    Freddy: HA! It’s supposed to be a Zen like experience. I will admit, the instructions do go on forever, but once you make it, you have it down.
    The Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes works better for those who don’t like the labor of bread baking.

  3. LAUREN: Thanks, the bread really tastes great. I’m going to try the curry/coconut today with the leftover soup.

    LAILA: Thanks for dropping by my site. I’ll check yours out too!

  4. I definitely want to try the soup and since I was going to bake whole wheat bread tomorrow, I think I’ll bypass my old standard recipe and try yours.
    Lillian

  5. I’ll admit I’ve rarely eaten beets. I think I’ve only eaten the ones on the salad bar that are pickled or something…and they tasted kind of like dirt. How do you prepare your beets?

    The bread looks divine. I wished I could dive right into that soup, too. Mmmmmm!

  6. LILLIAN: Oh good, let me know how it turns out for you. I just added curry to the soup today, and it made for a nice change.

    KAY: DIRT? Ok, maybe a little bit, but what is wrong with a little dirt once in a while? 😉 They certainly do have an “earthy” taste. I like them roasted, boiled, and pickled too. I can eat them with olive oil and kosher salt, or in a vinaigrette. My “kids” do not like them one bit. Mark used to hate them and now he likes them.
    I grow both red and golden beets. Try golden beets cooked with an orange sauce–heaven.
    Beets are really good for you! (Do I sound like your mama?)

  7. That orange and avocado salad sounds… well mouth watering. Sauteed spinach and pecans.. mmmm! I am mysteriously getting a few cravings myself .. 🙂

  8. That orange and avocado salad sounds… well mouth watering. Sauteed spinach and pecans.. mmmm! I am mysteriously getting a few cravings myself .. 🙂

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