Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homemade Rye/Pumpernickel Sourdough

We have discovered recently that my daughter with gluten sensitivity can tolerate sourdough bread!  As long as she doesn't over-indulge, it doesn't seem to bother her the way bread made with commercial yeast does- that's because sourdough works on gluten slowly, breaking it down better than commercial, fast-acting yeasts.  So, there is less gluten in the finished product, making it easier to digest.  Yes, it takes longer to make, BUT here are two delectable recipes to make the extra time well worth it!:
I have experimented with two new sourdough recipes over the past few days, and they are both great- I think my favorite is the rye loaf... my bread-loving-daughter seems to enjoy the pumpernickel.  The loaves follow the same general directions, so I am putting them into the same post.
Rye Sourdough:
1 3/4 c water
1 3/4 c rye flour
1 3/4 c unbleached wheat flour
2 T maple syrup
1 3/4 t salt
zest one orange
Pumpernickel Sourdough:
1 3/4 c water
1/3 c molasses
3 T cocoa
1 3/4 t salt
1 1/2 c unbleached wheat flour
1 c rye flour
1 c whole wheat flour
Directions for BOTH recipes:
Mix all ingredients (the dough will be wet but firm).  Let rest 15 minutes.
Sprinkle dough with flour, then mix again.  Let rest 15 minutes, then repeat.
( I usually mix with a wooden spoon- just scrape and flip the dough into the middle until incorporated.)  Click here for a great website with more detailed instructions for sourdough :)

Here's what your dough should look like at this point.  It should hold its shape pretty well- if it is too wet, just add more flour until it is very stiff.

By the last sprinkle/mix, your dough should be stiff enough to handle.  Move it to a floured surface and clean out your bowl.  You may want to momentarily knead the dough and form into a ball before putting it back into the clean bowl. 
Cover the dough with a thick, wet cloth or plastic wrap to keep the dough from going dry.  Let dough sit overnight (12 to 15 hours).

After the first rise period, you are ready to shape your dough.  I made mine into a boule (French for "round")... you could also make a batarde (an oblong loaf).  Click here to view a great video on how to shape your loaves.
In the picture above, I have used a stainless steel bowl instead of a banneton (proofing basket).  I lined it with a floured towel and placed the dough inside, seam side UP.  Then, let the dough rise (covered with towel or plastic) for another 1- 1 1/2 hours.
Heat your oven to 450 degrees F about half-hour before the rise is finished.  Be sure to heat your baking stone, too!

When the second rise period is up, use your peel (I used a piece of cardboard) to flip the bread out of the proofing "basket".  Be sure to flour the bread so that it won't stick to the peel when you slide it onto your baking stone.  Brush off the excess flour, then cut some shallow slits in the bread skin with a sharp blade.  I used a clean blade from a utility knife/ box cutter.
As you are shutting the oven door, throw about 1/3 cup water onto the oven floor.  If you have a gas oven, place a shallow pan on the lowest rack before you heat the oven and use that to catch the water.  The steam will help set the crust on your loaf!
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temp to 400 degrees F for 10 minutes more.

Here is my loaf-almost done!  When you slide the bread off your "peel", be sure to use quick movements and put bread as close to the center of your stone as possible.  ( I bought this stone at a discount store for about $10)
Check the internal temperature of your loaf before removing from the oven.  It should be 200 degrees F- I use an instant-read thermometer.  If the loaf is too cold, lower the oven temperature to 375 and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

The finished loaf!  It could be in a bakery window, right?!

The pumpernickel loaf was amazing- not too heavy, with a crispy crust and lots of flavor!  My rye didn't rise quite as much but was really tasty!  Be sure to eat with plenty of butter :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Homemade Deodorant

A few months ago, I wrote a post entitled "5 Steps to a Chemical-Free Morning Routine"... since then, I have run out of homemade deodorant.  So, I thought I'd take this chance to show you all how it's made ;)  This deodorant is so easy to make, there are no excuses NOT to make your own!  While conventional deo is full of nasty chemicals and synthetic perfumes, this homemade version is natural, moisturizing and really keeps the stink away.  It costs very little to make, too!

For each batch (which fills 1 1/3 deodorant stick container), you will need:

3 T coconut oil
2 T shea butter
1 T beeswax
2-4 T baking aluminum-free baking soda
essential oils of choice

Melt oils and beeswax together, on Med-Low heat, in a small pot.  

When oils/wax are melted, add desired amount of baking soda.  Some people are sensitive to baking soda, so you might want to start with a little and add more as you see fit.  Stir until the mixture doesn't separate when left alone for a couple minutes, then add your essential oils.  This time, I used lavender.

When the deodorant is a pudding-like consistency, pour into recycled deo tubes or cosmetic-grade pots.  I made 3 batches today, so I had enough for 4 :)  I located 3 gel deo tubes and reused them. Then, I put the rest in an old lotion pot !

The gel deo tubes have small holes at the top, allowing only a small amount to be dispersed at once.  This type of tube works perfectly with the homemade paste!

There you go!  Homemade deodorant in just a few easy steps :)  Use only a small amount- a little goes a long way.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

If you are like me, you go through a LOT of ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar).  I make my own salad dressings, non-toxic cleaners and bone stocks- and I use ACV in all of them!  The problem is, organic, unpasteurized ACV can get expensive... the solution is:  make your own :)

I found some really easy-to-follow directions online, with pictures!  The only thing I did not do was add sugar.  The organic apples I used had plenty of natural yeasts and sugars to get the fermentation process going.  The only difference in our finished product is that mine is a bit lighter in color than the other one. 
I used enough cores and peelings from organic apples to fill a two quart jar- just throw in your scrap pieces and fill water to cover.  You can save the good parts of the apple for a pie or homemade apple sauce!  Then, cover your jar with a thin towel, secured with a rubber band, and wait :) 
After about 10 days, your apples are spent and you can strain them out.  Then, cover your liquid again and let it sit until the liquid tastes like vinegar.  This may take up to two weeks or more, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  (Mine took a bit longer because my hubby likes to keep the house cold!)
When your vinegar is ready, you may strain it again or just cap it and stick in your pantry.  No refrigeration required, and no pasteurization.  The grainy sediment at the bottom of the jar is called the "mother" and is actually beneficial to consume. 
Since I used scraps to make my vinegar, it really didn't cost any extra money-just a little time. ;)
So, take a little time to make your own ACV!  Your pocketbook will thank you.  Enjoy!