Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Pao de Queijo July 10, 2011

Filed under: bread — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 4:41 pm

Great Balls o' Cheese!

    Pao de Queijo
    makes about 21 or 22 little balls

    1/4 cup ghee
    1/4 cup water
    3/4 tsp. salt–I like Real Salt
    1/4 tsp. turmeric (optional)
    1 cup tapioca flour, lightly spooned
    1 local egg
    1/3 cup yogurt
    1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
    1/2 cup shredded mozzarella–I love Full Quiver Farms, available at Barton Creek Farmers Market and Central Market.

    Preheat oven to 450°.
    Combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place flour in a bowl and pour in the boiled mixture. Stir briskly until mixed. Beat in the egg. Blend in the yogurt and then the cheeses. The batter may look a bit lumpy.
    Using a spring-loaded scoop or a measuring cup with a spout, fill a mini-muffin tin. I find that a nonstick pan encourages better browning and produces more attractively domed tops than a shiny aluminum pan, and requires no greasing. You’ll have enough batter for about 21 or 22 cavities, filled mostly full. Poor a little water into the empty cups to help ensure even baking.
    Place tin(s) in the oven and turn the heat down to 350°. Bake the balls for about 14 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottoms and gooey (but not liquid) on the insides.
    Eat ’em hot!


Easy Cheesy Bread September 12, 2010

Filed under: bread,cheese,easy — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:36 pm

still loafin' around

A while back I scoured the clearance rack at the Oltorf HEB and scored a number of gems.  Besides crazy clearance prices on herbal supplements, the store was discontinuing a few Middle Eastern food items like Israeli couscous and fine semolina.  I couldn’t pass up a couple a cheap, cheap bags of semolina.  I threw them into the freezer to await whatever project might call for a cup or so.

Last week at the Austin Farmers Market I bought a pair of cheeses from Brazos Valley Cheese, a young tangy parmesan and a pleasantly pliant Montasio.  Here’s an easy quick bread to showcase those quesos and press your semolina into action.


  • 8 ½ ounces (2 cups) organic all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) fine semolina
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigian0-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, sieved.  I use Rumford non-GMO, aluminum free.
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika or cayenne
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste, ¼ teaspoon or more
  • ½ cup organic or local olive oil.  Check out Texas Olive Ranch.
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary.  You too can grow this hardy herb.
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic chives or regular chives.  Only my garlic chives survived this summer of neglect!
  • 1 ½ cups yogurt, local, organic or homemmade.  I make my own yogurt from either Swede Farm Dairy or WaterOak Farms goat milk.  Click for instructions.
  • 2 local eggs.  Austin’s own Vital Farms was just awarded Certified Humane® status from the Humane Farm Animal Care organization.  Local eggs abound in our town.  Check the farmers markets or ask your neighbor.
  • 1 cup olives, drained, pitted and chopped.  I like a mix of black and green.
  • 4 ounces Brazos Valley Montasio cheese, cut into ½” chunks
  • ½ cup finely shredded Brazos Valley parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease up 4 mini-loaf pans (about 3½” X 6″.  I use my fancy Nordic Ware Bundt® design four-cavity pan.) Olive oil or melted butter (check out Natural Grocers sale on Organic Valley 1# butter for $4.49 through September 25) both work.  You can also use one 9″ X 5″ loaf pan.  The larger size takes a little longer to bake and a lot longer to cool off so I prefer the smaller loaves, so we can eat the bread right away!

Combine the dry ingredients, flour through the pepper, in a large bowl, whisking to mix.  Add the cheese chunks and toss with a fork to distribute.  Pour the olive oil into a smaller bowl and stir in the herbs.  Add the remaining ingredients, through the olives, whisking well to blend.

Sprinkle the bottoms of each pan with the shredded parmesan.  For non-fancy pans, save the parmesan for sprinkling onto the tops of the unbaked loaves.  Pour the yogurt mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir gently with a flexible spatula to combine well.  Scoop the batter evenly into each pan.  Top now with the parmesan if your pans are flat-bottomed.

Bake until a bamboo skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 30 minutes for mini-loaves, 55 to 60 minutes for one large loaf.

Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before carefully (cheese likes to stick) unmolding the breads onto a rack to finish cooling.  Please let the larger loaf cool almost completely (what torment!) to set the structure before eating.  You can enjoy the smaller loaves now!


Quickaccia—The Bread of Redemption July 5, 2010

Filed under: bread,easy,locavore,Texas produce,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 8:13 pm

Everybody makes mistakes.  We learn this the hard way, as we commit our own follies, and we may suffer this lesson the even harder way when someone else blunders.  But wise new-agers and seasoned old-timers alike assure us that life isn’t what happens to us, it’s what we do with it.  So we not only learn from our bungling and our disappointments, but we grow and improve, when we open up to take advantage of new insights and explore new paths.  Often life’s missteps serve to remind us what is important, what we need and what we love.

slice o' life

That’s enough preambling for one post.  What’s this lapsed loaf about?  Recently I prepared a round of my Irish Style Brown Bread and noticed as I mixed the batter-y dough that it didn’t seem quite right.  Even as I poured (rather than plopped) the mixture into the pan, I knew I had erred.  But I forged ahead, placing the loose mass into the oven, hoping something edible would emerge.  I rechecked my recipe and realized I had left out the whole wheat pastry flour.  Weighing in at more than one-third of the flour called for, surely this omission spelled mealtime failure!  To my surprise and my family’s delight, the bread was delicious, if slightly imperfect, and then of course the light bulb lit up—a quick focaccia!

Little local cherry tomatoes, abundant and sweet, top this easy round with pop and zing.  This season we’ve been enjoying Sungolds from Hairston Creek Farm, Finca Pura Vida and Flint Rock Hill at the SFC farmers market at Sunset Valley.  Local red onions, local cheese and backyard herbs flavor your flatbread in a flash.

So turn that trip-up around and get back on track with this easy round of manna.

life in the round

QUICKACCIA makes one 9″ loaf

  • 182 grams (1½ cups) organic all-purpose flour.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5-pound bag is usually the best value.
  • 3 5/8 (1 cup minus 1½ Tablespoons) ounces Richardson Farms whole wheat flour (available at their Barton Creek farmers market location) or organic whole wheat flour.
  • 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar, sieved
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda, sieved
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 1½ Tablespoons organic sugar.  Buy this in bulk or look for Central Market’s brand in the 2-pound bag.
  • 2 Tablespoons organic butter, softened.  Organic Valley is my favorite all-purpose butter.  If you didn’t stock up when Natural Grocers offered their near-clearance-priced sale, click for a coupon.
  • 1½ cups organic or local buttermilk or yogurt.  I make my own yogurt from local goat milk.  Click to see howSwede Farm Dairy is back from babymaking (SFC market at Sunset Valley).  Wateroak Farms is taking a market break but will still be available at Wheatsville Co-op and Whole Foods.
  • shredded local or organic cheese of your choice.  For local queso check out Full Quiver Farms at the Barton Creek Farmers Market or  Brazos Valley Cheese Co. at the Austin and Sunset Valley Farmers Markets.
  • local cherry tomatoes, halved if round and halved or quartered if oblong.
  • local red onion, sliced thin.  We’ve been buying these up from Jackie at Flint Rock Hill (Sunset Valley) for $1.25 a pound.  She’s got potatoes—red or brown—for the same price, too.
  • fresh backyard herbs, chopped.  Oregano pairs perfectly.  Sage and rosemary remind us of fall and work well also.
  • coarse salt, preferably flaky—we love Murray River Pink.  Check out the bulk salts at either Central Market or Whole Foods and find your favorite!
  • local or organic olive oil.  Check out Texas Olive Ranch for the Lone Star State lube.  I like Central Market’s value-priced organic brand for cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400°.  If you bake your loaf in a handleless pan, you can use the toaster oven.  A heavy 9″ round pan works best and cast iron is ideal.  Lube the pan with the olive oil and sprinkle the bottom with wheat bran or cornmeal.  I sift the bran out of Richardson Farms flour for certain recipes and have amassed a stash in the freezer.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flours through the sugar) or just dump them into the food processor and let ‘er rip.  Add the butter and process to blend or rub the fat in with your fingertips.  Pour the flour mixture back into a bowl and add the buttermilk or yogurt.  Stir quickly with a fork to evenly moisten the dough, then use a flexible dough scraper to fold the dough over itself just a few times to bring it all together and develop a bit of structure.  Using the scraper, place the dough mound in the pan.  Spread and flatten the dough with a small offset spatula, or use the back of a spoon.

Toss the onions and herbs with some olive oil.  Top the dough with cheese, tomatoes and the onion mixture.  Sprinkle with the coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper, plus red pepper flakes if the kids are out on a sleepover (lucky you!).  Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, until well browned.

Loosen the sides of the quickaccia with a metal spatula or butter knife before turning the bread out of the pan.  Re-invert onto a cooling rack and let cool a few minutes so y’all don’t go scalding your tongues!

Enjoy this bread, the fruit of my flub.  Be happy and carry on!


Pigs in Pillows—Corny! June 9, 2010

Filed under: bread,easy,fast,locavore,meat,sunset valley farmers market — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:23 am

grab a dog!

Crawling back to my blog.  Do you call that clogging?

This past Saturday we were wooed and wowed by Homestead Farms hot dogs at the SFC farmers market at Sunset Valley.  I hadn’t even planned on buying meat that trip but Austin Frugal Foodie can’t resist a frankfurter!  Homestead Farms raises grassfed cattle in the Waco area and fashions the meat into a selection of charcuterie including cold cuts, which I’d previously purchased at the Austin Farmers Market downtown.  The folks running the sales booth are sweet sellers hawking sustainable and tasty Texas beef.  A warm sample of wiener was all it took to sway me and I immediately began brainstorming both haute-doggery and plebian preparations.

Homestead Farms hot dogs, while not as smooth and homogeneous as mass-market franks, deliver that familiar flavor, so yummy with yellow mustard—I like Central Market organic.  Or lots of ketchup—that’s how the kindergartner digs ’em.

Here’s an easy and totally fun recipe to enjoy with children young and old.  Portable, the finished franks can conveniently tag along to the park when it stops raining.

PORKYPONES makes about 19 -21 pig pockets (beef bullets?)

  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) organic butter, melted and browned a bit.  I love Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.
  • 3 Tablespoons turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk.  Remember to bring your own container and have the staff tare the weight for you.
  • 1 cup local milk.  Check out  Swede Farm Dairy and Wateroak Farms goat milk.
  • 2 local eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 121 grams (1 cup) organic all-purpose flour.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5# bag is usually the best buy.
  • 4 1/8 ounces (3/4 cup) organic cornmeal. I generally choose Arrowhead Mills.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sieved (I use Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO)
  • 3 Homestead Farms hot dogs, or other local frankfurters (or choose organic), cut in half crosswise and each half quartered into 4 strips

Grease up three cornstick pans with the lube of your choice.  Organic neutral oils, melted butter and pork fat will all work.  Preheat the oven to 425°.  I use the hot oven to melt and brown the butter.  Just put it in an ovenproof saucepan and stick it in there.  Remember to grab a potholder before reaching for the pan! Let the butter cool a bit on a cooling rack.

Whisk together the sugar, milk, eggs and salt.  Whisk together your dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients and barely combine them using a flexible spatula if you have one.  You only want to unite these elements about halfway.  Pour your butter over the mess and continue to combine the ingredients just until a few very discernible streaks of flour and butter remain.  Don’t overstir.

Using a large spoon, fill each cornstick cavity with batter.  Place one hot dog strip into each section, skin-side down.  Press the wiener into the batter a bit to tuck it in.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the batter is cooked through and lightly browned.  Remove pans from the oven and carefully unmold each porkypone, placing them on a cooling rack.

Serve with your favorite dog dressin’s!  Porkypones taste great at room temperature, too.


Do the Math. Hit it! Houston May 27, 2010

butter up!

It’s simple arithmetic.  Not Going To The Y plus Not Writing equals More Time For Cleaning.  When a second batch of yogurt turned out curdly and separated, I knew the yogurt maker needed a scrub, so I gave in and hit the housework.  I just can’t do it all, unfortunately, and with our recent road trip to H-town rounding out a whirlwind spring season, the house (and my figure) reveal embarrassing signs of neglect.

The next time you find yourself in Baghdad of the Bayou (I just had to throw that one in ), check out chef Monica Pope’s T’afia restaurant for Czech-inflected Clutch City cuisine, locally flavored with the bounty of the Third Coast.  Joined by another mom and gradeschooler, we enjoyed kind service, tasty food (loved the chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates!) and a noisy atmosphere impervious to energetic kids.  On a rare night of imbibing, Austin Frugal Foodie gratefully knocked back a flight of five Texas wines to accompany the five-course local tasting menu.  Our party partook of silky Swiss chard, heavenly cream-drizzled grits, fat shrimp, great bowtie mac-n-cheese, balsamic caramel beef(!) and more.  On Saturday mornings, T’afia hosts a farmers market that sounds incredible.  We might pencil that in for our next trip to Space City.  By the way, Motel 6 on the Katy Freeway furnishes THE most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on!  (I like ’em firm.)

If you’re hauling your kids to the Energy Capital of the World, be sure to visit the amazing Children’s Museum of Houston.  Our frugal friend, Austinfrugalmom, recently purchased a Premier Membership from the Austin Children’s Museum, and the reciprocity program allowed free entry into the Houston location for all of us.  Great savings for itinerant summer-breakers!  Check it out before you hit the road with young ‘uns.

Back to that “yogurt”.  I can’t bear to throw away honest local goat milk (from Wateroak Farms), even if I did screw up the preparation.  Well-whisked, the fine-lumped fluid still works as a buttermilk substitute for most recipes.  Like this here easy, easy quick bread fortified with Richardson Farms freshly ground whole wheat flour.  Crunchety-crusted and sweetened just enough to highlight the fresh wheat, this craggy loaf craves the caress of rich and lightly salted Organic Valley Pasture butter.  Accompany this bread with Dai Due‘s meaty hot boudin and you’ve got lunch—don’t forget the Texas peaches for dessert!

IRISH-STYLE BROWN BREAD makes one 8″ or 9″ round loaf

  • 182 grams (1½ cups) organic all-purpose flour.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5-pound bag is usually the best value.
  • 3 3/8 ounces (1 cup) organic whole wheat pastry flour.  Look for this in bulk departments or try Arrowhead Mills or Bob’s Red Mill.
  • 6 ounces (1½ cups) Richardson Farms whole wheat flour (available at their Barton Creek farmers market location) or organic whole wheat flour.
  • 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar, sieved
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda, sieved
  • 1½ teaspoons salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 3 Tablespoons organic sugar.  Buy this in bulk or look for Central Market’s brand in the 2-pound bag.
  • 2 Tablespoons organic butter, softened, plus 1 Tablespoon melted.  Organic Valley is my favorite all-purpose butter.  If you didn’t stock up when Natural Grocers offered their near-clearance-priced sale, click for a coupon.
  • 1½ cups organic or local buttermilk or yogurt.  I make my own yogurt from local goat milk and I usually do a better a job than the last two batches.  Click to see howSwede Farm Dairy is back from babymaking (SFC market at Sunset Valley).  Wateroak is taking a market break but will still be available at Wheatsville Co-op and Whole Foods.

Preheat the oven to 400°.  If you bake your loaf in a handleless pan, you can use the toaster oven.  A heavy 8″ or 9″ round pan works best and cast iron is ideal.  Lube the pan how you please and sprinkle the bottom with wheat bran or cornmeal.

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flours through the sugar) or just dump them into the food processor and let ‘er rip.  Add the butter and process to blend or rub the fat in with your fingertips.  I recommend the machine if small children are about.  They have a way of knowing just when to soil the carpet or bust their lip and you might not want to get caught butterfingered at that moment.

Pour the flour mixture back into your bowl and add the buttermilk or yogurt.  Stir quickly with a fork to evenly moisten the dough, then use a flexible dough scraper to fold the dough over itself just a few times to bring it all together and develop a bit of structure.  Using the scraper, place the dough mound in the pan.  Slash a large “X” in the top of the loaf with a sharp knife before placing the pan in the oven.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until browned and the center of the loaf tests done when probed with a long bamboo skewer.

Carefully remove the loaf from the pan, brush it with the melted butter and let it cool for at least 30 minutes.  Serve warm or let cool completely.  This loaf tastes best the day of baking.  Chunk, crumble or slice leftovers to freeze for stuffing, bread crumbs or toast.

Welcome home!


Wing-it Bicuits May 4, 2010

Filed under: biscuits,bread,breakfast,easy,fast,locavore,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:34 pm

Why yes, I would like some biscuit with my butter!

OK, so I was VERY hungry and late on my lunch this afternoon, having flowered and delivered a cake for the Teachers Appreciation lunch at my kindergartner’s school.  (My carrot cake really “rose” to the occasion—see photos.)  But biscuits never fail me—butter and starch, spread with more butter and maybe even some honey?  Bring it on, honey!

Richardson Farms locally grown whole wheat flour (available at their Barton Creek location) shines its fresh and sweetly wheaty glow onto every recipe it touches.  These super easy, quick as a flash, homey drop-style biscuits are no exception.  With a light and fluffy texture (not at all heavy, despite their whole grain content), these fast little breads fill you up like royalty when spread with great butter and local honey or your favorite fruit preserves.  Let ’em cool down and you can even shortcake ’em!  Plenty of local strawberries teasing at our farmers markets lately.  And dewberries!  We’ve been keeping an eye on our patch in the woods and so far have collected two—berries that is.  But our pint from Naegelin Farms (SFC market at Sunset Valley) this past Saturday helped put the color in our kids faces, literally!

WING-IT BISCUITS makes 8 biscuits

  • 140 grams organic all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams organic or local (Richardson Farms) whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder, sieved.  I prefer Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ½ Tablespoon organic sugar.  Widely available in bulk departments around town.
  • generous ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved.
  • scant teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 1 cup yogurt.  I make my own from local goat milk.  Check out how.  The folks at Swede Farm Dairy just had a baby and Wateroak Farms will be taking a two-month break.  I’ll let you know how our options are faring.
  • 1 stick organic butter, cut into bits and well-chilled.  Organic Valley is my favorite.  Natural Grocers has OV butter on special for only $3.99 a pound through May 15.  Closer to my hood, Sprouts counters with a price of $4.49, through May 5.

Preheat your toaster oven to 425°.  You can use your full-size oven, of course, but it’s May and warm here already.  I use the toaster oven whenever I can in hot weather as it heats up the kitchen less.  Plus it uses less energy than the big oven.  Have a 9″ round cake pan handy and get out your ¼-cup scoop.

Combine the dry ingredients (flours through the salt) in the bowl of a food processorRun the machine to thoroughly mix them.  Add the butter and process for a few seconds to cut it in.  Turn the flour mixture out into a bowl and pour on the yogurt.  Stir together quickly to moisten all the flour.

Using your scoop, preferably spring-loaded, scoop out 8 rounds and place them in a 9″ pan.  You’ll have seven mounds around the perimeter and one scoop in the middle.  Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400° and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, until biscuits are browned and cooked through.

Place pan on a cooling rack for a few minutes before carefully loosening biscuits from pan.

Fill your belly!


Texas Velvet Biscuit Cake March 28, 2010

Filed under: biscuits,bread,breakfast,cake,easy,locavore,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 10:00 pm

honey me this

Back to baking!  With the reintroduction of beans into our diet after last week’s brush with death (well that’s what it felt like, anyways), and it being Sunday and coolish, I decided that biscuits were in order.  And honey.

This super easy recipe combines local Richardson Farms fresh ground whole wheat flour with a softer flour from King Arthur for a fluffy and super-light texture that soaks up a hive of honey.  So comb your cupboards and nectar nooks for the bee sap to enjoy this mound melligenously.  Yeah, that’s right.  I made up an adverb.

TEXAS VELVET BISCUIT CAKE makes a 9″ round of 6 (sort of) large biscuits

Combine the dry ingredients in your food processor and whirl until mixed.  Add the butter and lard and process until the mixture looks mealy.  You’re not going for flaky here so do blend the fat in well.  Turn the flour out into a bowl and stir in the yogurt with a fork until well blended.  Using a greased ½-cup measure or spring-loaded scoop (best), scoop out six heaping ½-cup portions and place them in a buttered 9″ round pan (1½” to 2″ high).  You’ll get five biscuits around the perimeter and one in the middle.

Bake at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and well-risen.  Let the biscuits cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning them out.  Use a fork to pull the biscuits apart (they’ll have coalesced) and split them for honeyin’.



Beany Rolls March 14, 2010

Filed under: beans,bread,bread machine,dessert,easy,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:23 pm

glazy days

Roll Out

Taking advantage of sales and utilizing leftover potato cooking water, I baked up a batch of sweet and puffy cinnamon rolls.  The surprise ingredient?  Eden Foods organic canned aduki beans.  Why not?  In Asia aduki beans (also called adzuki or azuki) frequently show up in sweets.  From Chinese moon cakes to Japanese ice cream and Thai shaved ice, aduki beans make life a little sweeter.  Or a lot sweeter, as in the case of these here buxom buns.

You’ll be happy to know that Eden Foods canned beans (on sale now at Whole Foods, four 15-ounce cans for $7) are at this time the only beans canned commercially in BPA-free cans.  With a great many varieties from which to choose, including harder to find legumes such as black-eyed peas, black soy beans and the adukis, you’ll be beanin’ with joy!

The aduki beans make this dough tender, moist and light.

BUXOM BEANY CINNAMON BUNS makes 12 large buns

  • 1½ cups potato cooking water.  Newflower Market’s selling organic russets at $2.50 for a 5-pound bag through March 17.  Get spudsy!
  • 2 Tablespoons organic or local butter.  Organic Valley is my favorite all purpose butter.  Click for a coupon.
  • 1 generous cup well-drained aduki beans.  I used Eden Foods brand.  You can use home-cooked.
  • 1½ teaspoons salt.  Use a scant measure if your potato water was salted.  Mine almost always is.
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk at Central Market.  I bring my own container and have the staff tare the weight for me.
  • 500 grams unbleached bread flour.  I like King Arthur brand.  Whole Foods usually has the best price on the 5-pound bag.
  • 2 Tablespoons organic quick oats.  Buy this in your favorite bulk department.  I stock up during sales and store it in the freezer if I’m not working through it quickly.
  • 1 Tablespoon organic or local whole wheat flour.  I love Richardson Farms locally grown, freshly-ground flour.
  • 1½ teaspoons instant yeast (bread machine or rapid rise).  NOT active dry.
  • 4 Tablespoons softened butter.  Organic Valley Pasture butter is especially tasty here.  You’ll find it on sale at Whole Foods for $3.39 right now.  Lucky Layla (available at Central Market) and Way Back When (available at our farmers markets and from Greenling) are Texas options for high-butterfat, lightly salted beurre.
  • 206 (1 cup) grams organic light brown sugar.  Central Market’s brand is on sale now at $2.50 for a 1½ pound bag.
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of salt if you’re using unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1½ ounces (3 Tablespoons) organic cream cheese, softened.  CM’s brand is usually the best buy.
  • 3 Tablespoons yogurt.  I make my own from local goat milk.  Click to read how.  I like Swede Farm Dairy and Wateroak Farm, both at the farmers market in Sunset Valley.
  • 174 grams organic powered sugar.  CM again, with a sale price of $2.50 for a 1½ pound bag.  I don’t bother to sift for this glaze.  I’m too rushed (distracted?  lazy?).
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

I use my bread machine’s dough cycle to mix up the dough and give it a first rise.  For my appliance I add the ingredients in the order listed.  Your machine’s instructions may vary.  You can mix the dough by hand or with a stand mixer, too.  Combine the dry ingredients with the yeast before mixing in the rest.  Knead until you have a smooth and bouncy dough.  Let rise for about 2 hours at coolish room temperature.

Meanwhile line a 9″ X 13″ baking pan with aluminum foil.  I turn the pan upside down and drape the foil to the outside of the pan before putting the foil on the inside.  Butter the foil very well.

With floured hands pat the dough into a rectangle on a floured surface.  I love non-stick silicone rolling mats for bread work.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to approximately 12″ X 16″.  Spread the surface of the dough with the softened butter to within ½ inch of the edges.  Combine the brown sugar and spices (including salt, if using) and spread all over the buttered surface, patting it in a bit.  Starting with a long edge, roll the dough up jelly-roll style into a tight log.  Using a sharp chef’s knife or bench knife, cut the dough log into 12 equal pieces, one at a time, placing them into the prepared pan as you cut.

Loosely cover the pan of buns with a piece of plastic wrap—I reuse plastic bags that I’ve washed in the (clothes) washing machine (yes, you can!), cutting them open for greater surface area.  Let the buns rise for about 1¼ hours, until puffy and well-risen.  Gently brush with the melted butter before baking in a preheated 350º oven for about 35 minutes.  The rolls should be browned and test done when a middle bun is poked in the dough with a bamboo skewer.

Using the foil as a sling,  lift the rolls out of the pan and place them on a cooling rack.  Let them rest for 5 minutes while you whisk together the glaze ingredients (cream cheese through the vanilla).  After 5 minutes, drizzle the glaze over the rolls, separating them first if desired.

Eat warm.


Sour-DOH March 10, 2010

Filed under: bread,locavore — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:53 pm

100% wild-cultured sourdough, 100% Texas flour

As much as I enjoy the tastes and textures of most whole grains (brown rice, my least favorite, being somewhat of an exception), I have known for a few years that some compounds in entire grains can interfere with mineral absorption (see excerpt from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions).  Certain preparations, such as sourdough cultures, neutralize the “antinutrient” properties of whole grains, and therefore increase their nutritional value.  For this reason, and because I was inspired by AustinUrbanGardens‘ “No Grocery Store Challenge for a year,” I embarked on a wild sourdough project using Richardson Farms locally-grown whole wheat flour.

The freshness of Richardson Farms flour promotes a fecund medium for capturing and cultivating wild yeasts, so the starter cultured readily.  Bakers know that whole grain flour dampens a bread’s rise, however, so while I fed my starter the whole grain goodness, I employed the sifting trick to obtain a lighter flour for building my boules (see Texas Bread).  Removing most of the bran afforded a stronger structure that could raise a respectable loaf without additional ingredients.

The sourdough process is involved and takes its own sweet time, but the baker is rewarded with a sweet (or sour!) and wheaty tasting bread that keeps well.  You’ll be surprised at the nutty and toasty flavors you’ll taste, unhidden by the emphatic flavor of commercial yeast.

I gleaned this method from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book, a terrific resource for learning to incorporate whole grains into all your baked goods, from pancakes and quick breads to yeasted goods, cakes and pastries.

I recommend using weight measurements for this project.  The volume of the sourdough starter changes as it’s manipulated, making volume measurements approximate at best.

ALL-TEXAS SOURDOUGH BREAD yields 2 small naturally leavened loaves

  • 9 ounces Richardson Farms fresh-ground whole wheat flour sourdough starter, refreshed and ready to raise your round.  See instructions below.
  • 17 7/8 ounces sifted Richardson Farms whole wheat flour, most of the bran removed
  • 1 ½ cups cool water.  I prefer filtered water for sourdough loaves.
  • 1 Tablespoon local honey.  I buy Good Flow wildflower honey in bulk at Central Market.  I bring in my own jar (widemouthed—the jar, that is) and have the staff tare the weight for me.  Lucky Central Texans enjoy many apiary options.  Use your favorite.
  • 2 teaspoons salt.  I like Real Salt.

Combine the first three ingredients.  I recommend a stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) but you can use a large wooden spoon.  Mix just until the ingredients are well combined and all the flour is moistened.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  (This resting period is called “autolyse” and allows the dough to begin developing its gluten).

Stir in the honey and salt and knead on medium-low speed for 2 minutes with the stand mixer and probably 4 minutes if stirring by hand.  The dough will look rough and still be very sticky.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 45 minutes.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface.  I like to use a silpat or other nonstick mat.  With well-floured hands pat the dough into an approximate rectangle.  Facing a long edge, fold the sides in like a business letter.  Use your dough scraper or a bench knife to help lift the sticky dough.  Brush away any excess flour.  Rotate the dough to face the long edge again and repeat the tri-folding, again brushing away excess flour.  Place the dough seam-side down back into the bowl, cover and let rise another 45 minutes.

Repeat the folding and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes.  The dough won’t look like it’s doing much, but that’s OK.  Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface again and use your bench knife or a sharp chef’s knife to divide the dough in two.  Cover the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes before shaping.

I use a brotform to support the dough in its final rise, but I have only one.  I improvise another using a well-floured tea towel and a medium-diameter colander (about 9″ across).  Whatever you’re using, flour it up very well now.  Pull the sides of one dough portion into the center and pinch the edges together to form a round.  Place the dough ball seam side down on a smooth surface—I use my unfloured counter top.  Gently cup the dough with your hands and roll the round in a circle to tighten the dough’ surface.  You want the bottom of the dough to grip the counter to help pull the top taut.  Don’t get too worried about perfection here.  Do your best and remember that bread baking, like everything else, becomes more intuitive with practice.  Place the dough seam side up in your prepared brotform, banneton or colander. Repeat with the second dough portion.  Cover the formed loaves and let them rise for 2½ hours.

Meanwhile, about 45 minutes before baking time, load your oven with a large baking stone and a small cast iron skillet and preheat to 450º.  My baking stone isn’t quite big enough for these two loaves so I augment with my small toaster oven baking stone.  Together the two provide ample surface area for this recipe.  If you don’t use a microwave oven, put a little saucepan with a scant cup of water in it on the stove over low heat to get it hot.  You’ll be steamin’ these loaves at the beginning of baking.

When the rising time’s up, turn each loaf out directly onto a sheet of parchment paper (I use If You Care brand).  I press the parchment onto the dough and support it with my hand as I upend it.  Then I carefully lay the dough onto the counter.  Repeat with the second loaf.  Gently brush away excess flour from the surface of the dough.  Using a very sharp paring knife or lame, slash the top of each loaf.  I’ve been cutting a kind of crosshatch pattern and am not satisfied with that.  At this point I’d recommend a large “X”.  Of course it’s your signature, so slash as you please.  Cut about ¼” deep.  Heat up a scant cup of water in the microwave unless you’ve got a pan of water on the stove.

Using a pizza peel or cake lifter, slide the loaves onto the preheated baking stone(s).  Quickly pour about ½ cup hot water into the skillet and shut the door.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 425º and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes, until the loaves are well-browned and feel very firm.  If you want to check the doneness of the breads using an instant-read thermometer, you’re looking for 210º.

Place the loaves on a cooling rack and let them cool completely before slicing.  Actually I never wait that long.  The crust is just too good and crunchy when the bread is hot.  Get the butter out!


  • 4 ounces Richardson Farms whole wheat flour
  • 4 ounces cool filtered water

I like to keep the starter in a yogurt-style (tall) 1-quart clear plastic container.  That way I can see the action and the starter has room to rise.  I stir the flour and water together with a fork and cover the container with a piece of plastic secured with a rubber band.  Place the container in a 60º to 75º spot (good luck!) and let it culture for 24 hours.

Remove all but 4 ounces of the starter and stir in another 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water.  Let the mixture do its thing for another 24 hours again.  Repeat again.

Now you should have a tangy smelling actively bubbling starter.  Begin refreshing your sourdough on a 12-hour schedule.  After two days you should be able to raise a couple loaves.  Twelve hours after the last feeding you are ready to prepare the above recipe .

lavash shards

By the way, I never toss out the discarded portion of the sourdough.  That’s way too much waste for the Frugal Foodie!  I keep it in the fridge and have used it to make otherwise unleavened tortillas with Dai Due‘s lard (more Rorschach than round, delicious nonetheless) and lavash—the tang of the cracker exquisitely accented by ajwain seeds.  In baking my usual breads, I find I can replace some of the flour and water with this surplus starter.  Because the weights of the components are equal, I can easily calculate and reconfigure a recipe.

Waste not!


Texas Bread February 25, 2010

Filed under: bread,bread machine,locavore,rice — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:25 pm

100% wild-cultured sourdough leavened

local loaf

Texas slice

I recently read about Carla Crownover‘s “No Grocery Store Challenge for a Year” on the Austin Farm to Table blog.  Inspired by her quest for bread, I began developing a 100% wild cultured sourdough starter with Richardson Farms locally-grown, fresh-ground whole wheat flour.  I succeeded in baking up two small, but well-risen loaves, sweet(!) and tasting nuttily of fresh wheat.  I strengthened the dough with organic white flour for my wild starter’s virgin attempt at leavening, intending to advance to a 100% naturally leavened, 100% whole wheat loaf next.

Despite the confidence-building rise of these initial breads, however, the light bulb part of my brain flickered and I thought, why not just sift out most of the bran from my whole wheat flour?  The sharp edges of the bran particles slice into the dough’s gluten strands, reducing volume and creating a denser texture.  Less bran=lighter loaf (not factoring in additives ).  Plus, according to BBC’s TV program Gardener’s World, bran is the best slug deterrent.  You needn’t throw it away.  Apparently the gooey pests eat it up and expire.  And then your chickens gobble the slugs.  Gotta love that food chain!

Here’s a not-necessarily-but-possibly totally local sandwich loaf (except for the salt—only Tuscans can get away with saltless yet edible pane, and yeast). Light-textured and wheaty, this bread makes fine sandwiches, fluffy/crisp toast and of course, an accommodating base for a thick swath of butter.


I used the bread machine to mix and knead the ingredients.  Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order indicated by your instruction manual.  In my machine, that would be the order listed.   When the machine stops, take the pan out, cover it with plastic and let the dough rise.  A cooler first rise promotes flavor development, so I banished the dough to the cold laundry room for a couple hours.

With buttered hands, press the dough down and shape it into a loaf.  Cradle your bread baby into a buttered 9″ X 5″ loaf pan, cover the pan with a very large upturned bowl and let rise until the dough feels puffy when you poke it.  It should be risen to 1″ over the edge of the pan in the center.

Slash the top of the loaf and bake in a 350º oven for about 40 minutes, until well-browned.  Remove the loaf from the baking pan and let it cool on a cooling rack before slicing.

Keep it local!