Chewy Sourdough Blueberry Granola Bars with Dates & Almonds

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I’ve had granola bars on my mind for a long time. So when I learned the challenge of the month for the Sourdough Surprises Baking Group was Sourdough Granola Bars, I was delighted to finally get the chance to make some.

Chewy Sourdough Blueberry & Date Granola Bars

 

I had never made granola bars before, much less ones made with sourdough so I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it.  I referred to the references for the sourdough version on the Sourdough Surprises Monthly Inspiration Pinterest board, but I also found a number of helpful recipes for the non-sourdough version. I’ve included links to the recipes that were the most helpful in my quest.

If I had known how easy it was to make these bars, I would have made them hundreds of times already.  There are endless possibilities for the types of fruits and nuts you can include. My problem was deciding which combination I wanted to try first. I ended up using a little bit of this and a little bit of that from what I had on hand to come up with my own yummy bars.

Chewy Sourdough Blueberry & Date Granola Bars

I had just picked up some fresh blueberries from one of my favorite farmer’s markets so they became the star of these bars along with the sourdough.

I dried the blueberries in the oven which was a fun project except I got distracted and almost burnt them. Fortunately for me, I caught them before they were burnt and crispy instead of chewy.

I also added some dates and almonds and a mashed ripe banana. I used less sweetener in these bars because I thought the dates and banana would provide enough sweetener (along with the honey).

Some recipes also include brown sugar, but I omitted it. Feel free to add additional sweetener if you prefer, but my taste tester and I didn’t think these bars needed any additional sweetness.

 

Chewy Sourdough Blueberry Granola Bars with Almond & Dates

Adapted & inspired by these delicious-looking recipes

Also inspired by these 23 delicious granola bar recipes

Yield: About 21 bars, depending on how you cut them

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (discarded) sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 cups spelt flakes (or rolled oats)
  • 1 cup oat flour (or grind rolled oats in the food processor)
  • 1 cup raw, sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1 cup blueberries, dried *
  • 1/2 cup dried dates
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

* You can buy dried blueberries or dry them yourself in the oven at 325 degrees F.   Just be sure not to burn them.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper, extending it up the sides. Spray the parchment paper and any exposed pan sides with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, sourdough starter, and honey.
  5. Mash the banana and add to the wet mixture.
  6. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until the mixture is thoroughly combined. 
  7. Spread the thick batter out evenly in the prepared pan and pat it down gently.
  8. Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are light golden brown around the edges.
  9. Cool in pan on a wire rack for about ½ hour before cutting into bars or squares.
  10. Wrap bars individually to store; or place in a single layer on a plate, and cover with plastic; or store in layers with parchment in between. In humid weather, it's best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

 

Chewy Sourdough Blueberry & Date Granola Bars

 

I love to hike so these bars will make a tasty companion along the way.  They don’t weigh very much which is very useful for a snack to take along on a journey.

Happy Baking!

Cathy

 



 
 
 

Sourdough Polenta Bread {BBBs}

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I grew up eating grits and cornbread, but I haven’t had much exposure to polenta. 

So when Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen chose Polenta Bread as the bread of the month for the Bread Baking Babes (BBBs), I set out to learn more about polenta and what differentiates it from grits and cornmeal. 

Sourdough Polenta Bread

I ran across an interesting article and discussion about Polenta versus Grits here.

Some folks contend that grits (the Southern version) are made from white corn, and polenta (the Italian version) is made from yellow corn. 

Others, such as Glen Roberts of Anson Mills, say the type of corn is what makes the distinction – i.e. grits are made from dent corn and polenta is made from flint cornDan Barber substantiates this claim further in his book, The Third Plate, when he talks about tasting the best polenta he had in his life. It was made from New England Eight Row Flint.

The third explanation is that it’s the grind of the corn that makes the difference.  One commenter, whose family ran a mill for a long time, put it this way,One pass of the millstone = Grits; Two passes of the millstone = Corn Meal; Three passes of the millstone =Polenta (Corn Flour).”  There you go. Take your pick. 

As for me, I used coarsely ground cornmeal and cooked it with hot water to make the polenta. When I tasted it, I was smitten. I forgot all about the confusion with the grinds and colors and types of corn. The cooked polenta tasted really good, even without salt.

Sourdough Polenta Bread ready to eat

 

I made my Polenta Bread with sourdough. Some of the other Babes scoffed at using sourdough so Elizabeth provided an alternative. If you prefer to use dried yeast instead of a sourdough starter, please refer to the instructions in Elizabeth’s post.

I also used a slightly different method for the bulk ferment and final proof because I still had stitches in my finger from my surgery, but don’t worry, I used a food-grade glove to protect my finger and the dough.

 

Sourdough Polenta Bread

inspiration: Della Fattoria's Polenta Bread from Artisan Baking Across America: the Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes by Maggie Glezer

The evening before (1st day):

Starter

  • 60g (60ml) water at 95F
  • 20 g (4 tsp.) (active) fed sourdough starter
  • 100g (2/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour

The morning of (2nd day):

Polenta

  • 35g (3 Tbsp.) cornmeal, coarsely ground
  • 175g (175 ml) cold water

The morning of (2nd day):

Dough

  • 390g (390 ml) water at 80F
  • 535g (3.85 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour or a mixture of all-purpose and bread flour *
  • 60g (0.5 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 5g (1.5 tsp.) ground flax seed meal
  • all of the starter
  • 18g (1 Tbsp. + 0.75 tsp.) salt
  • all of the cooled polenta
  • cornmeal, for garnish and sprinkling

* I used all-purpose flour to make this bread. It worked pretty well, but the dough will be stronger if you use a mixture of all-purpose and bread flour as suggested in the original recipe. Or, you can add some vital wheat gluten to the all-purpose flour to give it more structure. 

Starter: The evening of the day before you plan to bake the bread, add 20g of starter to a small bowl.  Pour in the water and add the flour.  Using a wooden spoon, Danish dough whisk or your hands, mix until you have a smooth lump of dough. This will only take a few minutes.

polenta-bread3-3

 

Polenta: In the morning of the day you are baking the bread, pour cold water into a small pot on the stove at medium high heat. Add the polenta and using a wooden spoon, cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick - about 5 minutes. Remove it from the pot to a plate or shallow container and put it into the fridge to cool.

polenta-bread3-2

 

Mixing the dough: In a large mixing bowl, add the starter (which should have doubled and be quite bubbly).

Using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk, stir in the flours, ground flaxseed and salt. Elizabeth said it might be pretty sloppy.  Mine was gloppy.

Kneading: Lay the cooled polenta on top of the dough. Plunge in with your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl, kneading until it's smooth (5 to 10 minutes).

polenta-bread3-4

The dough was really wet so I did the fold-and-turn method in the bowl.  I couldn’t really knead it. The dough stayed pretty wet so I covered it with a towel and let it bulk ferment (in the bowl) at room temperature for a couple of hours.

I did the fold and turn method after about 15 minutes and then every 30 minutes for the first hour and a half.  The dough got stronger but it was still pretty gloppy.

Shaping: When you are ready to shape the bread, turn it out onto a lightly floured board and divide it into 2 pieces. Trying not to disturb the bubbles too much, shape into two rounds. Liberally spray the tops of the shaped loaves with water. Cover them with cornmeal. (Glezer suggests rolling the sprayed shaped loaves in the cornmeal placed on a plate.) Put each loaves seam-side up in a brotform, tightly woven basket or colander. Cover each one with a mixing bowl and allow them to rise on the counter (or in the oven with only the light turned on) until almost double.

I shaped the dough into rounds and placed them into lined proofing baskets dusted with corn flour.  Then I put them in the refrigerator to retard overnight.

Sourdough Polenta Bread proofing in banneton

 

The next (3rd) day:

You can bake this bread on a baking stone, in a Dutch oven or cloche or even in a loaf pan.

Preheat: If you are using a baking stone, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. If you are using a Dutch oven or bread cloche, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  You can preheat the Dutch oven or cloche when you preheat the oven but I opted to use a room temperature cloche because I was pretty much doing things one handed, and I didn’t want to burn myself.

While the oven was preheating, I took one of the baskets out of the refrigerator.  

I dusted the bottom of the cloche liberally with corn meal and gently flipped the loaf seam side up onto the bottom of the cloche.

 

Slashing:  Using a lame or very sharp knife, starting at the center of the loaf and holding the blade almost horizontally, carve a spiral into each loaf.  I used a straight lame for this and it worked really well. I think a sharp knife would also work. It also helped to work with cold dough.

Sourdough Polenta Bread Scored

 

Baking: Carefully place the bottom of the cloche in the preheated oven and cover it with the domed lid. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking until the crust is dark and the internal temperature is somewhere between 200F and 210F.

Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It's still baking inside!

Sourdough Polenta Bread ready to eat

 

I really enjoyed this loaf.  It’s definitely not cornbread.  It’s a tasty, full-bodied artisan loaf with a rustic and chewy texture.

Because I retarded the dough in the refrigerator overnight, I didn’t get a huge rise in the oven.  However, I got pretty rings by scoring the cold dough and great flavor from the overnight fermentation. 

I had a friend over for dinner and he took a bite and said, “oh, I like bread like this!”  He’s a sourdough lover and he likes breads made with different types of grains.  Bingo!

 

Check out how the other creative Babes handled this bread:

The Bread Baking Babes (current dozen) are:

 

Would you like to be a Bread Baking Buddy? Here’s how:

Just make the Polenta Bread, then email your link to Elizabeth, the kitchen of the month (or email your photo and a bit about your experience if you don't have a blog).  Refer to Elizabeth’s post for the details. Submissions are due by August 29th.  Once you've posted, you'll receive a Buddy badge for baking along, then watch for a roundup of all of the BBBuddies posts a few days after the close of submissions.

I hope you'll join us this month!

 

Happy Baking!

Cathy

Panmarino -- Bread Baking Babes & Buddies Roundup

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I was delighted to be the host kitchen for the Bread Baking Babes and Buddies in July.  It’s always a pleasure to bake with the BBBs.

I chose Panmarino Italian Rosemary Bread because I had recently returned from Tuscany and was still in a Tuscan state-of-mind.  The bread turned out to be a big hit. Any bread with rosemary is a good one in my book so I’m glad the Bread Baking Babes enjoyed it as well.

 

Here are the breads the Babe’s baked:

Ilva-panmarino Elizabeth-panmarino
Cathy-panmarino Tanna-panmarino
Elle-panmarino Karen-panmarino
Jamie-panmarino Panmarino - Heather
Lien-panmarino Panmarino -Aparna

 

The smell of rosemary appealed to the Bread Baking Buddies as well.

Please take a look at their creations.  You won’t be disappointed.

BBBuddy badge July 14

It’s always interesting to see the different variations on a theme you get when several bakers bake the same bread.  Each person brings his/her own uniqueness to the experience. Some bakers like to substitute ingredients while others prefer to utilize a different shaping or scoring technique.  Still other bakers are creative in the way they style their breads in photos.  This month, we get to enjoy creativity on all fronts.

 

Here are the breads the Buddies baked:

Louise baked along with us this month and said the bread was a real winner in her house.  Her only regret was that she only made two loaves. I know what she means. I shared the same regret.  I love this photo.  It looks like a star in the sky.

louise-panmarino

 

When Sunita of MyFoodLab learned what the bread of the month was, she said, “Count me in”. It was the rosemary that caught her attention.  I agree.  It had me at hello as well.

panmarino-myfoodlab

 

Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen used whole wheat flour and gave her loaves  a lengthy first rise. What a beautiful presentation!

Italian rosemary bread 5

 

Sandie of Crumbs of Love baked these loaves without a baking stone, couche, or lame. If she can do it and still get beautiful results like this, so can you.

Sandie-panmarino

 

Judy of Judy’s Gross Eats must really like rosemary because she baked the Panmarino rosemary bread and a sourdough rosemary and raisin loaf.  She said, “all in all, it was a successful baking month.” Glad to hear it.

Judy-panmarino

 

Gary decided to play with us this month and I’m so glad he did.  He made the full recipe and split it between a large loaf and a batch of rolls. He said they have great flavor and he loved the texture and chew of the rolls.  He was so inspired that he also made a sourdough version of this bread.  Great idea!

Gary-panmarino-rolls-crumb

 

When Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories was making this bread, she said her dough seemed to be sloshing around in a pool of oil in the mixing bowl so she resorted to a method she learned when making a brioche to incorporate butter.  The method must’ve worked pretty well because just look at these gorgeous loaves!

karen-panmarino-loaves

 

Carola of Sweet and That’s It stayed up late to make these loaves. She used about 2/3 bread flour and 1/3 6-grain wholemeal flour, ground flaxseeds and fleur de sel on top!  What a great combination of ingredients. Healthy and delicious!  Not to mention some beautiful loaves.

Carola-panmarino

 

Soepkipje also joined us this month. She made her version with whole wheat.  Look at those lovely stars. Perfect scoring and a fabulous photo collage.

soepkipje-panmarino

 

A big thank you to the Babes and Buddies for baking the Panmarino  Italian Rosemary Bread.  I’m so glad you enjoyed it.  Now I want to make this bread all over again.

Until next time…

Happy Baking!

Cathy

Creamy Tomato Soup with Beans {Book Review}

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Beans, beans, and more beans. That’s what I have in my cupboards.

I like to buy different types of beans because they are so cool!  I mean what’s not to like about beans? They are packed with protein, nutrients, and flavor. Beans are beautiful and inspirational. 

In fact, they were the inspiration for this photo I took at the Plated Stories Workshop this past May.

Beans on dark composite 

Beans also store really well which is a good thing. Since I have so many, I would hate to see them go to waste.

The main problem I have with beans and legumes is that I’m not very good at finding creative uses for them. So they just sit in their jars in my pantry.  Although they are fun to look at, that’s not very practical. 

Then I heard about The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester, and I knew my problem was solved.  This book is chock full of unique ideas for cooking with beans.

There are over 100 plant-based dishes in this book.  Where appropriate, the book presents soy-free, gluten-free and oil-free options for each recipe.

I’m looking forward to trying the Triple Lentil Soup with Wheat Berries, Enchanted Vanilla Pancakes with Chai-Spiced Peach Compote, Weekend Vanilla Belgian Waffles, Cream of the Crop Garden Soup, Tomato Rosemary White Beans, Sun-Dried Tomato White Bean Wheat Balls, Baked Beany Mac and Cheezy, and more.

With so many options, I had a hard time deciding where to start.  I finally chose a creamy tomato soup because my tomatoes were ripening, and I figured this would be a good way to use them up.  I couldn’t believe this soup was made with beans. What a great idea!

Creamy Tomato Soup with White Beans

 

This heartier tomato soup is really easy to make. I already had all of the ingredients on hand because, remember, I have all those beans in my cupboard.

Seriously, this soup is simple and it’s made with ingredients you should already have, but if you don’t keep tons of beans in your pantry, just pick up a can of white beans or a bag of dried white beans.

I used dried beans and soaked them the night before, then cooked them and made the soup the next day.  After the soup had cooled, I placed it in the refrigerator to have for lunch the next day.  

I knew the consistency of this soup was going to be different than the creamy tomato soup I’m used to, but I wasn’t sure how the beans would affect the flavor. 

When it was time to test it, I put aside any preconceived notions about what it should taste like.  I warmed it up, poured it in a bowl and put some crackers in it like I would with other tomato soups. I also added some cracked black pepper.

Although the texture was a bit different, the soup was soothing and enjoyable. The acidic taste from the tomatoes was muted by the beans, but they didn’t overpower the flavor. 

  Creamy Tomato Soup with White Beans

 

This soup would go really well with a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ll have to try that next time. Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is one of my ultimate comfort foods.

You know, now that I’ve found so many uses for beans, I need to buy some more. I don’t want to run out; not with all of these unique recipes to try.

 

Heartier Creamy Tomato Soup

Adding beans to the traditional tomato soup gives it a lot of body and an infusion of protein.  If you have to hide beans from your children, this is the place to start.  Make them a grilled vegan cheese sandwich to dip into their soup and they won’t even suspect what’s in it.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Great Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester

Yield: 4 servings

Total prep time: 15 minutes

Total cooking time: 25 minutes (when you start with cooked or canned beans)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • 2 cups (475 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces, or 410 g) diced tomatoes or 3 cups (540 g) chopped fresh
  • 1 1/2 cups (269 g) cooked white beans or 1 can (15 ounces, or 425 g), rinsed and drained
  • Salt and pepper, to tastes

 

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, then add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and herbs and then cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Add the cooked onion mixture, nondairy milk, tomatoes, and beans to a blender and blend until smooth. (Or you can put everything into the saucepan and use an immersion blender.)

Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking, then pour back into the pot and heat thoroughly for about 15 to 20 minutes over medium-low heat.

It is not quite as smooth as regular tomato soup. To get a silkier consistency, you can either blend it in a high-speed blender or strain it through a mesh strainer.

Serve and enjoy!

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Details At a Glance:

Title: The Great Vegan Bean Book
Publisher: Fair Winds Press
Release Date: 2013

bean cookbook

About the Author:
Kathy Hester, author of the bestselling cookbook The Vegan Slow Cooker, loves to show people how easy it is to cook.

She is the founder of www.healthyslowcooking.com and the vegan blogger for Key Ingredient. She also writes for Chickpea Vegan Quarterly and teaches vegan cooking classes.

She has more slow cookers than one person should own, plus enough beans in the pantry to last at least a year, too.  She resides in Durham, North Carolina, with a grown-up picky eater in a quirky 1970s modernist house.  Her new house is big enough for the cats and the dog to finally all get along, and now they all hang out on the deck together while she writes.

 

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from Fair Winds Press for this review.  I thank them for this opportunity.  Now I will not lack for ideas for working with beans.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with KAMUT

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I thought I had used the last of my zucchini with the creamy curried zucchini soup, but wouldn’t you know it, they started growing again.  So I decided to continue my zucchini bread experiment using ancient grains.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I already posted about the one that’s made with Einkorn.  I also tried this bread with Spelt, but it was too dry.  I need to work on the hydration of the Spelt version a bit more so for this test, I used KAMUT.

I’ve made this version four times already.  In addition to the whole grain KAMUT, I used coconut oil instead of olive oil or vegetable oil and added some chocolate chips for good measure. 

The original recipe is from one of those community cookbooks you can purchase as a fund raiser for your local civic group, church or library. This particular one is from a medical association. Someone gave the book to me years ago. 

The original recipe provided a good base for a zucchini bread but it included a bit too much sugar for my palate (and health) so I reduced the amount of sugar.  In addition, since KAMUT soaks up more liquid, I added some almond milk.  You could also use sour cream or regular milk if you prefer.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

 

This bread has a really good flavor. The chocolate chips and spices blend really well together. It tastes great with morning or afternoon coffee or tea. 

 

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with KAMUT

Adapted from Zucchini Bread from Recipes from our MDA Family

Makes: 2 Loaves

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add in the oil, milk, sugar, grated zucchini, and vanilla and mix until combined.

Sift together the dry ingredients (the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips) and combine with the wet ingredients.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Grease 2 loaf pans and pour the batter into the pans.

chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread-5-3

 

Bake the loaves at 325 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove the pans from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

These loaves taste great slightly warm, but even better the next day.

Since this recipe makes two loaves, you can enjoy one loaf now and save one for later. I froze the other loaf so I can enjoy it when all of my zucchini is gone.

 

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

 

 

Happy Baking!

Cathy

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