MY VERY FIRST LOAF OF BREAD

BREAD AND SOFT PRETZELS 001 (570x428)

HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING BUT DECIDED TO MAKE PEPPERONI CHEESE BREAD.  NO SPECIAL MACHINES OR TOOLS – JUST MY OWN TWO HANDS!

1 pkt instant dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup skim milk
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
4 c all purpose flour (I would use whole wheat if I had it)
1 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
20 pepperoni slices

Place dry yeast in a large mixing bowl. Combine water and milk in a measuring cup and bring temperature to 105-120 degrees (may need to microwave for a few seconds – if too hot make sure to cool). Add water, milk and sugar to mixing bowl and mix well. Add flour, salt, garlic and 1/2 c cheese and knead until smooth with your hands! Grease a second bowl with non-stick spray or butter and place dough into bowl. Turn dough once so that the dough has some grease on top. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour. Pat down dough and press out to about 1 inch thickness and top with a layer of shredded cheese and pepperoni slices. Roll up and seal ends. Place in greased bread pan; cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake bread for 45 minutes until golden brown.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WAS FINDING A WARM PLACE FOR THE DOUGH TO RISE (AND WAITING SO LONG FOR IT TO RISE)!  IT IS 6 DEGREES OUTSIDE WITH A MINUS 6 WINDCHILL, THE HOUSE IS 68 DEGREES AND YEAST RISES BEST AT 85 DEGREES!  THAT IS WHEN I DECIDED ON A NICE FIRE IN THE FIREPLACE – IT WORKED!

The loaf is delicious, however, I would add more pepperoni and cheese in the future!

SERVE ALONE OR WITH SOME PIZZA SAUCE FOR DIPPING!

MORE FUN WITH YEAST AND FLOUR:

HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS:

BREAD AND SOFT PRETZELS 004 (570x428)

DOUGH
1 pkt instant dry yeast
1 1/2 c warm water (105-120 degrees)
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

CRUST
1 c water
2 tsp baking soda
coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yest, warm water and sugar.  Add in the flour and salt and knead until smooth with your hands!
  2. Grease a second bowl with nonstick spray and place dough in the bowl, turn once to get grease on top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare 2 non-stick baking sheets (I add a little non-stick spray).
  4. Divide the dough into 10 equal parts.  Roll each part into a rope about 24 inches long and form into pretzel shape.
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine water and baking soda.  Submerge each pretzel in water and then place on the prepared baking sheets.  Sprinkle with salt.  Let pretzels rise 5-10 minutes.
  2. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Brush each hot pretzel with melted butter immediately after removing from oven.

SERVE ALONE OR WITH SOME SPICY DIJON MUSTARD FOR DIPPING!

YOGURT VS. KEFIR

Yogurt and kefir are both cultured milk products but there are many differences between the two. This includes how they are made, the type of bacteria present, and the health benefits of each.

Incubation Type

There are two types of yogurt: those cultured at room temperature and those that the culture requires a specific range of temperatures to incubate.

Kefir can culture at room temperature. Many yogurt strains, however,  require some sort of warming device to properly culture.

There is also a difference in what is used to propagate the culture in the milk. Yogurt is made by mixing a bit of a previous yogurt batch into fresh milk. Once the new batch is complete you may use that starter again, or in the case of raw milk a separate starter is kept with pasteurized milk. Yogurt can also be made with a dried starter.

Kefir, on the other hand, is made with either a dried starter or a set of kefir “grains.” These gelatinous grains will multiply over time, leaving you with extra grains to use, give away, or compost after every batch. In making kefir, the grains are simply removed from a newly made batch of kefir and added to fresh milk to make the next batch.

Types of Bacteria Present

Yogurt and kefir contain different types of bacteria, each of which perform different tasks.

The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called “transient bacteria.”  You also have to make sure your yogurt contains “active cultures” or it will not provide the health benefits.

The bacteria in kefir, on the other hand, can actually colonize the intestinal tract. Kefir also contains a lot larger range of bacteria, as well as yeasts. So while yogurt may contain a handful of different strains of bacteria, kefir may contain many more than that.

Kefir Contains Yeasts

Both kefir and yogurt are lactic acid fermentations. On top of that, though, kefir contains beneficial yeasts that can also produce alcohol that give kefir it’s natural carbonation.

Texture and Flavor

Yogurt has a flavor that most of us are familiar with: tart, smooth, and creamy. Kefir is also tart, but it can have a touch of yeast or alcohol flavor to it due to the beneficial yeasts present in the culture.

Most varieties of yogurt are also thicker than kefir, given the same length of fermentation time. While yogurt is almost always eaten with a spoon, kefir can often be eaten with a straw out of a glass.

Both yogurt and kefir are beneficial cultured dairy products that can perform different, helpful tasks in the body.