Monday, January 10, 2011

Homemade bread and yogurt

I remember my mom making homemade bread when we were kids. She'd set the dough to rise next to the hot air vents, and the whole house smelled heavenly. I also remember my mom making homemade yogurt when we were kids. This was back in the days when yogurt was just plain yogurt - none of this strawberry vanilla actually-tastes-good kind of yogurt. In stark contrast to the homemade bread, homemade yogurt brings back memories of my sister and I praying mom would never try that again!

Well, this weekend I did what my mother used to do - baked bread and made yogurt! The bread was fantastic, and with the addition of some various other flavours/sweeteners, I think the yogurt will go over quite well too.

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD (I followed this recipe)
2 1/4 tsp. yeast (1 packet)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. melted honey
1/3 c. whole milk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. hot water
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Mix together first 6 ingredients, then add in the flour and mix till it forms a dough. Add a little flour as needed, and knead the dough for a few minutes. (I do this all in the bowl where I mixed the ingredients.) Drizzle with olive oil to coat the ball of dough and cover with a tea towel. Let it rise somewhere warm for 1 hour, then put it into a loaf pan and let it rise for 30-60 minutes (till it's about 1" above the loaf pan.) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, the loosely cover it with tinfoil and continue baking for another 20 minutes.

HOMEMADE YOGURT (I used this recipe)
8 c. whole milk
1/2 c. plain yogurt (must have active/live cultures in it)

Pour milk into crockpot and heat on low for 2 1/2 hours. Unplug crockpot and let it cool for 3 hours. Take out 2 c. warm milk and whisk in the plain yogurt, then pour it all back into the crockpot. Cover with a thick bath towel to insulate the crockpot, and let it sit for 8 hours (unplugged). Store in fridge for up to a week. For thicker yogurt, set a strainer overtop of a bowl and place a coffee liner or cheesecloth in the strainer. Pour some yogurt over the coffee liner and let the liquid drain out of it, then transfer the yogurt back into a container. This made the yogurt nice and thick, and it cut down the volume considerably (originally I had 2 1/2 plastic yogurt containers filled up, and after straining it I only had 1 1/2 containers.)

This yogurt definitely isn't as sweet as the stuff you're likely used to in the stores, but you can sweeten it however you like. I tried it with some sliced bananas and maple syrup.

You could also add in fresh fruit and purée it right into the yogurt, or try mixing in a little bit of the fruit dips from Epicure. You could try adding some vanilla extract, or whatever else you think might taste good. I used the unstrained plain yogurt this morning to make a smoothie, with a little bit of fresh spinach, some frozen mixed berries, juice, and a little maple syrup. If it weren't so cold out, I would try making some frozen yogurt popsicles for the kids!

The crockpot method was definitely a little time-consuming (and so is the straining method), but it's a lot healthier than the yogurt you find in the stores. My friend Jen said that she makes her own yogurt just using warmed milk on the stove, which would be a lot quicker. Maybe next time I'll try it that way instead to see what works better.

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