Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom

Honey-Wheat Crescent Rolls (New Recipe #104) December 30, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 12:33 PM
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Baking homemade bread is quickly becoming my new cooking obsession. The smell, the taste…it is simply addicting to a carb-lover such as myself. The time it requires, however, keeps me from bread making most days. But the recent ice storm, which resulted in an unexpected four-day stretch at home, gave me plenty of time to break out the yeast and make some dough. After my Honey Wheat Bread turned out so well, I felt inspired to try this WeightWatchers Honey-Wheat Crescent Rolls recipe from the WeightWatchers New Complete Cookbook (2006 edition).


I used my KitchenAid stand mixer rather than a food processor to complete step #2 in the directions below. My dough hook is my new best friend! It simplifies the bread-making process a great deal. An added bonus: it is fun to watch in action.


Rolling the dough into crescents was easier and quicker than anticipated; the rolls were rising on the baking sheet in very short order. Thanks to their small size, they also baked quickly in the oven. While I doubt that I will make homemade rolls on a regular work night, it was nice to discover that they are a feasible task for a weekend.


I served the crescent rolls with a slow-cooker turkey chowder from the same WeightWatchers cookbook. That turkey chowder was the first recipe I ever made when I initially went on the WeightWatchers program six years ago, and I have made it at least once every winter since then. The rolls went well with the chowder and were a solid 3 stars. They were not show-stoppers, but they were tasty — which is about the best that can be expected from a “diet” bread recipe. The crescents were best served warm from the oven on the first day; the leftovers were not near as soft and flavorful.


Honey-Wheat Crescent Rolls

1 cup warm (105-115°F) water
2 TB honey
2¼ tsp active dry yeast
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1½ tsp salt

1. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey; sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and salt. With the machine running, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube; pulse until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until smooth.

3. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray; put the dough in the bowl. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.

4. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Punch down the dough. Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the surface; cut in half. Roll each half into a 10-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Roll each wedge, from the wide side, and form into a crescent. Place, pointed-end down, on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, arranging the rolls 1 inch apart. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until they double in size, about 35 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls until they are golden brown and sound hollow when lightly tapped, about 15 minutes. Remove the rolls from the baking sheet and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 roll). Per serving, 3 PointsPlus.


Honey Wheat Bread (New Recipe #101) December 9, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 6:51 PM
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One day last June, my sister-in-law Kalyn introduced me to the world of baking homemade bread. I drove up and spent the day with her in Ardmore, Oklahoma where she lives. In between playing with Shepherd and Lydia, her two little ones, she taught me how to bake bread from scratch. One of the breads we made that day was this Honey Wheat Bread recipe from Tasty Kitchen. It’s her go-to daily bread for sandwiches, toast — you name it. I loved the bread, but life got busy and my bread-making aspirations were set aside for a few months.


Cue DFW Ice Storm 2013. With school canceled on Friday and the weather outside truly frightful, what’s a girl to do except get in the kitchen and bake? I happily tied on my apron and got to work. This honey wheat bread would be the first of seven new recipes that I would make over the long, icy weekend.


I worried slightly about the dough rising due to the chilly temperatures, but I was patient and gave the dough plenty of extra time. In the end, I need not have worried.


I would not know it until I cut into the bread later that night, but I did make one small error as I prepped the dough. I did not punch down/roll the dough enough while preparing it for the second rise, and air pockets formed in the center of the dough as a result. While the bread was still certainly edible, it made for slightly messy sandwiches at lunch the next day.


I also removed the bread from the oven at the 20-minute mark, as my oven often cooks food quickly, which I wish I had not done. The loaves sounded hollow at that point, but they really could have used a few more minutes.


Despite these slight glitches, the honey wheat bread still tasted fabulous and earned 4.5 stars. Homemade bread is by far tastier — and healthier — than a store-bought loaf of sliced bread. I know there will be many times in the months to come when I have to reach for those store-bought loaves, but I aim to decrease those times until they are all but nonexistent!


Honey Wheat Bread

2¼ tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
¾ cups warm water, divided
1½ cup 2% milk
¼ cups butter, melted, plus more for brushing on baked loaves
⅓ cups honey
2 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour

1. Bloom yeast in sugar and ½ cup warm water. In a stand mixer, combine milk, remaining ¼ cup water, melted butter, honey, salt and whole wheat flour. Add yeast mixture, mix just till combined and allow to sit 15 minutes.

2. Add bread flour and once dough is combined, using a dough hook, mix 6 minutes (or 10 minutes if kneading by hand) until dough forms a smooth ball.

3. Place dough in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let rise until nearly doubled in size. (Depending upon the time of year, it can take anywhere from 45-75 minutes.)

4. Punch down dough and divide dough in 2 pieces.

5. Roll each piece of dough into a 9-inch wide rectangle, then roll rectangles into loaves. Place loaves in buttered bread loaf pans. Spray tops of loaves generously with cooking spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap (they will expand beyond the height of the pan), and let rise until nearly doubled in size. This can take 30-60 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 375°F and bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes until tops are deep golden brown. They should sound hollow when tapped.

7. Butter tops of bread loaves after removing from oven. Cool before slicing.

Yield: 2 loaves.

When each loaf is sliced into 18-20 pieces, one slice of bread equals 2 PointsPlus. When each loaf is sliced into 14-16 pieces, one slice equals 3 PointsPlus.


Blooming Herb Bread (New Recipe #94) December 1, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — skpierce12 @ 3:55 PM
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One of my cooking goals for myself is to eventually reach a point in which I am making 99% of our bread at home from scratch. Homemade bread is cheaper and — more importantly — nearly always tastes better than store-bought bread. So one of my (many, many) baby steps towards reaching this goal was to try Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread from the Pioneer Woman’s website. I wanted a showy, delicious bread to serve for dinner when having company (although this bread is so good, I plan to make it regularly whether we have guests over or not).  I must thank my sister-in-law, Kalyn, for first recommending this recipe to me.


Still being new to bread making, I wanted a practice run before serving the bread to guests. So the weekend before our small dinner party, I made my first attempt at the herb bread. I decided upon fresh rosemary for the herb, so I snipped the leaves from about 5 sprigs and stirred them into the melted butter. I used active yeast that, as the recipe recommends, I sprinkled over the water (which I had warmed to about 100 degrees). I let the yeast/water mixture set for 10 minutes or so before pouring it into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer along with the rest of the ingredients.


It was a chilly fall day when I made the bread, so the inside of our house was chilly, as well. I ended up helping the dough along as it rose by pouring boiling water into a 9 x 13 pan and then setting the bowl with the dough on a wire rack above the pan of steaming water. I did this twice in the course of the afternoon, and within 3 hours the dough had nicely doubled in size.


I followed the baking instructions on the recipe, removing the lid from my Dutch oven after 30 minutes and allowing it to bake another 15. A fairly hard crust formed on the exterior of the bread, and it was very dark, even black, in spots. While the inside of the bread was soft and absolutely perfect, I wanted the exterior to be perfect, as well. Therefore, when I made the bread again the following weekend, I left the lid on the Dutch oven for all but 5 minutes of the 45 minute total bake time. Doing so prevented the dark spots on the bread from forming and saved the crust from becoming as hard and crunchy. Next time, I may tweak the procedure yet again by lessening the overall time in the oven by 5 minutes.


When John and I ate the herb bread the first time, we pulled off a chunk of bread at a time. For company, I sliced the bread before serving it, which was slightly uncomfortable to do, as the bread was still very hot from the oven. I arranged the slices back into the original shape of the loaf in the Dutch oven (now lined with a clean cloth) so that the “blooming” feature of the bread would not be completely lost.


Even with the hard crust, this bread was a 4-star winner. I highly recommend using fresh rosemary as the herb, as it was utterly fantastic. I want to experiment with other herbs in this loaf, but I have a feeling that rosemary will remain my top choice. While the bread was best on the first day, it continued to be soft and tasty for several days afterward. John especially enjoyed the leftover slices as the bread for a ham and cheese sandwich.


Blooming Herb Bread

20 oz. weight (about 4 cups) bread flour
8 fluid oz. water
4 fluid oz. melted butter with chopped herbs of choice (such as chives, rosemary or thyme)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp active or instant yeast (if active, sprinkle yeast over the water to let it start to work before mixing it in)

1. Combine all ingredients together in a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 10 minutes (it can be done by hand–it just takes longer).

2. Allow the dough to sit out with plastic wrap over it for 1-4 hours to double in size.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

4. After the dough has doubled in size, it should be kneaded for a minute or two so that the yeast can redistribute. Form the dough into a dome and place in a covered cast iron pan after coating it with olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Cut a large ‘X’ into the surface of the bread dough so it can bloom.

5. Bake on the center rack of your oven for 30 minutes with the lid on, them remove the lid to finish it off for another 15 to 30 minutes.

Yield: 8 servings


Honey Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread (New Recipe #66) August 10, 2013

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Back in June, I spent a day in Ardmore, Oklahoma learning how to make homemade bread with my sister-in-law, Kalyn. She is an expert bread maker, regularly making up homemade loaves, rolls, biscuits, tortillas – you name it. When I decided I wanted to learn how to make bread, I knew no better source than Kalyn. We made two types of bread that day: honey whole-wheat loaves and English muffin loaves. She did most of the work that day, while I just tried to glean as much bread making information as possible.


Two months later, with our massive garage sale and summer travels over and done with, I finally made bread flying solo. I chose this Ellie Krieger recipe from the Comfort Food Fix cookbook because it was similar to the honey whole-wheat that Kalyn had shown me how to make, but it had the fun addition of a cinnamon-raisin swirl on the inside.


The Ellie Krieger recipe calls for instant dry yeast, but Kalyn had shown me how to use active dry yeast. I Googled the difference between the two types of yeast and learned that one may be substituted for the other, provided an accommodation or two is made. To substitute active dry yeast for instant dry yeast, the yeast must be activated in warm water on its own prior to being added to the other ingredients. However much water is used during activation is simply subtracted from the amount of water called for in the recipe. So I used ¼ cup warm water to activate the yeast in a separate small bowl, which meant I only added 1 cup, not 1¼ cups, water to the mixing bowl later on. Also of note: I had to use 2¼ tsp of active dry yeast (rather than 1½ tsp) in order for the yeast to bloom.


I cannot describe how excited I was to check my dough after the first 1½ hours of rising and find it had risen and grown just as it was supposed to have done. There truly is something intrinsically satisfying about the bread making process!



I did not read the recipe carefully enough at the next step, so I used regular raisins instead of golden ones, but I did “plump” them as directed. Raisin plumping was another item that I had to Google, but I am now a fan. It’s easy enough to do–pour boiling water over the raisins and let them sit–and it yields softer, sweeter raisins.


Soon I had the two loaves all rolled up and ready to rise. In the image below, you can see how the loaf on the right, which I prepped first, had already started to expand.



Once the loaves were in the oven, I baked them at the lower end of the time range provided in the recipe; they did not need the full 30 minutes. The next step–waiting for them to cool so that I could try the bread–was the hardest one of the entire experience! John and I ended up having two slices apiece for our dessert that evening. The bites with the cinnamon-raisin swirl were fantastic. The honey whole-wheat bread on its own was good, but not spectacular. I would not make this bread without the cinnamon-raisin swirl.


John and I continued to enjoy the bread at breakfast time the next few days. We usually lightly toasted it with a smidge of butter, but to finish up the loaf, I turned it into French toast, which was especially tasty. The second loaf I put straight into the freezer so that we may enjoy homemade bread during the busy start-of-school period just ahead. All in all, I give the recipe 4 stars.


Honey Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
1¼ cups very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
1 large egg
3 TB canola oil
3 TB honey
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp instant dry yeast
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup golden raisins, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained, patted dry

1. Place the flours, dry milk, water, egg, 2 TB of the oil, honey, salt, and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on the lowest setting for 3 minutes, then increase to the next highest setting and mix 5 minutes more. The dough should be soft and fairly sticky.

2. Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until its size has nearly doubled, about 1½ hours.

3. Spray two 9x5x3-inch baking pans with cooking spray.

4. Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. Pick up one side of the dough, lifting about a third of the bulk and fold it across. With spread fingers, pat down on the dough to remove most of the trapped gases. Repeat with the remaining three sides of the dough.

5. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a flat square, about 8×8 inches. Brush each square with some of the remaining oil. Sprinkle 2 TB sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, and ¼ cup raisins over each square. Roll each square into a tight cylinder and place each one, seam side down, into one of the prepared pans. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 1½ hours, until the dough fills the pan and springs back slowly when touched.

6. After the dough has been sitting for about an hour, preheat the oven to 375°F. Uncover the pans and brush the tops of each loaf with oil. Bake until the bread is golden brown and the sides spring back when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 2 slices). Per serving: 5 PointsPlus (or 2 PointsPlus for one slice).