Easy Braided Bread Recipe

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Ooooh yeah! Who doesn’t like fresh hot bread?!

The notion of making bread used to scare the bajeebers out of me. Notice it used to? I was given a bread machine forever ago. You know, a “box-like” machine where you dump all the ingredients in and hit the start button? Out pops a beautiful loaf…(for me, only rarely!) I never understood why I’d have a nice loaf of bread one time and then the next time the bread would come out so flat the only thing it was good for was to shoot skeet with! I lost confidence. Baking bread became frustrating, something I was too afraid to mess up on, so I stopped baking. (Insert sad face here*) Once I learned about yeast and the proper way to use it, the fear went away. Let the bread baking commence!

Just learning a couple of simple steps/tips, changed my view-point. I am no pro bread baker, but let me tell you this, if I can bake this bread, anyone can too! And once you do, you may find it very difficult to buy bread again. The taste of homemade bread is well…bake a loaf, and you will see what I mean.

Here goes…(Entire recipe is near the bottom of the post.)

Add the salt to the flour.

Add the salt to the flour. Pink salt! Yep this is Himalayan Pink salt. Not only is it pretty, it’s good for you!

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This is what yeast looks like when it’s alive and active! Well yeast doesn’t get like this on its own. This mix has warm milk, honey, and of course yeast. If you want to check out some fun info about honey, look here.  Tip: If your yeast doesn’t look like this after about 15 minutes then check the yeast expiration date; it may be old. Or the temp of the liquid could have been too hot and subsequently killed it. Or if temp is too cold the yeast says, “Nope, still hibernating”.

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Make a well in the flour. It should look like you pushed a ball in the center of the flour or basically scooped out some from the middle. (I’m only saying this because some of us don’t know what it means to make a well…) I hope that was a decent explanation. Pour the readied yeast mixture into the “well”.

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Don’t stir yet…add the lightly whisked egg…

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Now stir! Stir from the outside in, as in with each stir you will be pulling a spoonful of the flour into the liquid. Stir until you get a “rough” dough. Not like this… Notice the mug? Its made by Molly Hatch. Super cute right?! Bought it at Anthropologie.

Roughly looks like this! :)

More this. Rough mixed dough looks like this! 🙂

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Dump the rough mixed dough onto a lightly floured surface. Begin to knead. And knead. And knead.

Kneed the dough until nice smooth.

Knead the dough until smooth. It could be smoother than this 😉 Put the dough in a large clean bowl, covering it with a clean cloth. Set it aside in a warm place until…

This is what the dough looks like when it's doubled in size.

…It doubles in size. This is what the dough looks like when it’s doubled in size. It’s like magic!

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This was a second loaf I made. This time I separated the dough in three pieces right after I kneaded it. I knew I would be braiding it using three “strands” so I figured I’d separate it into three balls before the dough could rise. It worked out very well. So you can either let the dough rise in one ball and then cut it into three equal pieces or cut it in three before it rises; and cover each bowl with a clean cloth and let them rise as usual. Both works!

After the dough doubles in size, turn out the dough onto a clean surface and shape it into three long "bread sticks"!

After the dough doubles in size, turn out the dough onto a clean surface and shape it into three long “bread sticks”. Braid it like you would any braid, carefully tucking each end piece under to hold the “strands” in place. Notice my strands are not totally smooth…no worries still comes out great and tastes even better! In other words; perfection is not necessary.

All braided.

All braided! Put the braided bread on a greased cookie sheet/baking pan. I use coconut oil to grease pan as coconut oil has a high heat tolerance, not to mention very healthy.

Now don't forget to brush on the "glaze". If you do, it's not ruined. I've done this a few time! Fresh hot bread is still fresh hot bread. The glaze just makes it look so pretty!

Now don’t forget to brush on the “glaze”. If you do forget the “glaze”, it’s not ruined. I’ve forgotten it more than once! Fresh hot bread is still fresh hot bread! The glaze just makes it look so pretty!

You can slice this or tear it!

You can slice into this from top to bottom, or cut along the side, or tear it!

Homemade butter on fresh hot bread! Oh my! You can see how I make homemade butter here!

Homemade butter on fresh hot bread! Oh my! You can see how I make homemade butter here!

Note: All ingredients I use are organic/non GMO, or the very best I could find. Stores are starting to catch on how much consumers want organic. Finding most ingredients/foods in an organic form is quite possible.

Braided Loaf

The Ingredients:

2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup whole warm milk

2 teaspoons good honey

4 tablespoons butter, softened (melted is fine too)

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt

For the glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoon milk. I make it ahead and store it in the refrigerator.

The How To:

1. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan. It’s been years since I’ve used a thermometer. I test it by touch. (It’s ready when it doesn’t feel cold. Warm, a bit over tepid temperature), however if you want to use a thermometer about 105 degrees is about right. (If the temp gets too high just take it off the heat and wait until it cools.)  In a medium bowl, mix the honey and soften/melted butter. Add the warm milk. Then add the yeast. Stir slowly until nicely combined. Leave for 15 to allow it to work its magic!

2. While you are waiting for the yeast mixture, in a large bowl, add the flour. Stir in the salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.

3. In a small dish, add one egg and whip it slightly. Set aside.

4. After the 15 minutes your yeast mixture should be nice and bubbly/alive looking. Pour the yeast mixture gently in the flour well. Add the beaten egg. Now with a wooden spoon, stir pulling some flour with each stir, until a rough dough is created.

5. Lightly flour a clean surface and knead dough until smooth. Place in a large clean bowl, and cover with a clean cloth. Find a warm spot for it to rise. I usually am cooking something so next to the stove is a good place. You know it’s ready when it doubles in size; usually around 2 hours (Depending on how warm the spot is. Sometimes it’s ready in an hour, sometimes it takes 3.)

6. Grease a baking sheet. As I’ve mentioned above, I like to use coconut oil.

7. Turn out the finished rising dough on a clean surface and cut it into three equal pieces. Begin to roll each into long strands; like a long bread stick. After all three strands are made, start braiding them together. I fold the pieces under and it holds just fine. Set the braided bread on the greased pan. Cover it with a clean cloth and let it sit for 30 minutes in a warm spot to rise.

8. Preheat the oven to 375°F. I usually start preheating oven about 20 minutes into the braided bread’s rising.

9. Brush the bread with the egg yolk and milk mixture.

10. Bake bread for 30 minutes. You will know it’s done by the golden color. Every oven is different, so start checking at 25 minutes for color. I’ve baked this bread for 35 minutes and it was still fine. For my oven; 30 is perfect! When done, I remove the bread and set it on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely if storing it in any container, because if you don’t, it will get soggy! If storing is not needed, dig right in while it’s warm. Now for a bit of homemade butter and good jam or honey…oh my!

This is a great bread to go with soups or stews. You can make garlic bread with this or top it with cheese. You can add cheese into the dough! This is great sliced for toast too. It makes for a great egg sandwich bread. And if there’s any bread left a couple of days later…tear it up and make it into a strata! Want a recipe for a strata? Mention it in your comments below. 🙂

This bread is a great bread to gift to family and friends and great to serve up anytime bread is called for. It’s very enjoyable to make and the presentation is lovely. Give it a try!

Thank you for reading. If you want to know what else I’m up to, you can always follow me on twitter and instagram!

Wherever you are, don’t forget to pull your shoulders back, smile boldly, and breathe! My hopes for you this week is for your to find your center and enjoy something that makes you happy.

Cheers, Koko

Please “like”, “share”, and “follow”. Your comments are fantastic and I read everyone!

 

 

 

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Lemon Zesty Blueberry Muffins

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This was a request from my husband.  All he wanted for his birthday was a bunch of lemon zesty blueberry muffins.  His biggest challenge was fighting the kids for them! (Actually it wasn’t too difficult.  Both kids had a full day of college classes and didn’t come home until the wee hours.  So dad got to have his birthday muffins all to himself! He saved them some 😉 )

This is a very easy and forgiving recipe.  I’ve also made this with orange zest. Very tasty.  The hardest part about this recipe is finding beautifully plump blueberries.

This Made 18

Muffin cups or grease muffin pans
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup blue berries
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (I use raw unpasteurized)
6 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
The zest of one whole lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together flour, baking powder, sea salt, then add brown sugar and blue berries.

In another bowl beat eggs, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and lemon rind.

Every recipe I’ve read says to make a well in the dry and pour the wet into it…well, I did the opposite and added the dry to the wet. I noticed no difference. Not saying the “well” thing isn’t a good idea, just that it made no difference in the outcome.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top. (All ovens are different. Please keep that in mind.)

I made these with a lemon cream cheese frosting.
8 oz of cream cheese.
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
zest of one whole lemon
5 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar
whipped in kitchen aid until fluffy

This was enough to top all muffins nicely.

 

 

Chia Seed “Pudding”

Remember the …. Cha cha cha Chia!–The funky clay heads you plant seeds on its head and it grows “hair”?  Same seed, but really a food!

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Magic seeds! Not really, but still amazing! 😉

Chia seeds; This endurance enhancing super-food is one of my top faves. Energy and stamina booster, I so crave and need. These amazing seeds are pumped up with fiber. One ounce gives you 11 grams, as well as 4 grams of protein! Also rich in omega 3 fatty acid, not to mention manganese, phosphorus, and calcium.

You can use Chia seeds as an “egg” replacer in a lot of your baked goods…Hear that vegans?! 😀 Use a 1 to 6 ratio of seed to water. Making a “gel” with it. This replaces one large egg! Very cool right?!

All you do is grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder/spice grinder.  Then measure out 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons water. Let stand until it forms a gel like consistency! The magic takes about  5 minutes.  Wah lah! 

When liquid is added to chia seeds, they swell up to 12 times it’s weight! It’s great for helping to feel full longer, to keep you hydrated, which is why they are so popular with athletes. I wish I knew about these in my long distance running days.  A gel like substance actually forms around the seed!  It’s like the seeds own protective bubble. This gel substance is full of nutrients.

Chia is an herb. Salvia hispanica-or-Chia; native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. This super food was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. And some historians say that the Chia plant was just as important as the maize crops were in that time period.

You can add these awesome seeds to puddings, on top of hot oatmeal, cold oatmeal, in dressings, in your smoothies, tossed in yogurt, add them to sauces for a thickener, in lemonade; the possibilities are endless. Use them in place of poppy seeds too! You can also use them in place of flaxseed meal in baked goods. I like them best in my drinks, smoothies, oatmeal, and my favorite: a refrigerated no cook “pudding” that I eat for breakfast, lunch, or snack, and sometimes dinner!

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Refrigerated overnight “pudding”. Healthy, energy packed goodness!

Chia pudding can be made a million ways! Really! Made as a dessert or healthy snack.  Even when I say dessert; I still make it healthy-good-for-you-amazing!  The basic recipe is below.  The possibilites in what you put in it really are endless.  Bananas, chopped apples, berries, any fruit really can be added.  Any nuts such as chopped walnuts, toasted almonds, sunflower seeds, roasted pecans…are you getting it? 😀  Even the liquid you use can vary; almond milk, coconut milk, moo milk, water even!  Can you sweeten it? Yep, try honey, agave, maple syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar….whew!  Oh and you can spice it up too; cinnamon, Himalayan sea salt, nutmeg…see how this can go on and on and on? 😉

Okay here’s what I put in my pudding that I had for breakfast today:

Chia Pudding

1 cup of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of Chia seeds (I buy NOW foods and Nutiva brands as well as a few others. Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds, 12-Ounce Bag is what I use right now.  I am partial to anything ORGANIC! You can buy these at most health food stores.)

2 tablespoon of Organic Goji Berries

1 tablespoon of Organic Coconut Flakes

Stir and put in refrigerator overnight.  I mix mine in a glass dish that has it’s own lid.  Pop the lid on, put it in the refrigerator…next day take lid off, give it a stir, and enjoy!  If you want to eat this for lunch, snack, dinner, you can make this about 3 hours before you want to eat it.  Overnight is just easy for me.  I will make a few variations at night and the next day or two I will have them ready.  I wouldn’t make more than I can eat up in 2 day period.  This doesn’t take long to set up; really you are waiting until it gets cold and the chia seeds soak up all the liquid goodness.

Just keep in mind 1 cup of liquid to 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds.  If you want it thicker or thinner; just adjust the liquid.  Try this amount and go from there. 😀

FYI: I try and buy everything organic when I can.  If you see a recipe/ingredient/anything consumable-edible that I write about; if I’ve left out the “organic”, just know I try my utmost best to buy organic.  Because I didn’t write it doesn’t mean it’s not.  So what I am saying is, try and eat organic as much as you can.  😀

Hope you’ve this post and if you make this amazing pudding and or your variation on it; PLEASE let me know. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with!

In Awesome Health, Koko

Cacao Nib Smoothie

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Happiness Smoothie!

I enjoy smoothies.  It’s fun to experiment and also a great way to get down more nutrients in a single glass.  My smoothies change with what I know I need nutrient wise and what I am doing in any given day.

Today my smoothie consisted of about 6-8 ounces of milk, one whole banana, 25 almonds, 1-2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs, and a scoop of whey protein powder. All blended up in a high-powered blender until…well….smooth.  Hehehehe 😉

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FYI…..

Cacao nibs: Rich source of antioxidant flavonoids.  Great for promoting cardiovascular health.  It fights against toxins that we constantly face. The flavonoids in raw cacao nibs can help improve circulation and blood pressure.  My favorite is it helps assist the body to repair and resist against free radicals; a toxin no one needs in their body.  There are other benefits too, being a good source of manganese; which helps to oxygenate the blood and a fab source of magnesium which helps with brain power, (I so need that!).  Cacao nibs are rich in sulfur and that means stronger hair and nails and awesome skin. Consuming cacao nibs helps with PMS and depression.  It stimulates our endorphins boosting our mood naturally! There’s 5 grams of protein in an ounce serving, not to mention 7 grams of fiber.

Try them in smoothies, granola, cookies, just popping them into your mouth!

Are you a smoothie drinker?  Any favorites?

I’m off to bike the hills in my neighborhood.  I shoot for 5 miles; that makes me happy, 8 miles I am excited, 10 exhausted, but super satisfied.  We will see what I can do today.  The weather is beautiful. The sun is out and sky is blue; touched with white puffy clouds. It will be a good thinking day as I ride.

Have a happy day, Koko 😉 ❀ ✿ ❁ ✾