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MORE THAN JUST AN AFTERTHOUGHT NOTHING GOES BETTER WITH SOUP THAN BREAD

WHAT BETTER to go with a bowl of steaming, homemade soup than homemade bread or muffins?

Any way you slice it, Swiss Muesli is one of the best breads you will ever slather with butter or wrap around a piece of meat or cheese.

On the nutritional side, it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and is extremely high in fiber. It also contains some protein.

The Italian Muffins, loaded with herbs, are quick and easy to make and a wonderful accompaniment to soup. Toss a fresh salad and you have a complete winter's supper.

SWISS MUESLI BREAD

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1/3 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup rolled oats

3 cups rye meal (divided use)

4 cups unbleached white flour (divided use)

1 package instant dry yeast OR 1 cube compressed yeast (divided use)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

3/8 cup corn oil

1 cup raisins

1 cup broken pecans
Mix sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, rolled oats and 1 1/2 cups of the rye meal. Stir in 1 1/2 cups warm water and let mixture sit overnight.

In another bowl, mix 2 cups white flour, 1 cup warm water and 1/4 packet or 1/2 cube yeast. (If using compressed yeast, first dissolve in part of the water.) Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, combine seed mixture and yeast mixture, then add remaining 2 cups of white flour and 1 1/2 cups rye meal, the salt, honey, oil and remaining yeast. Using a mixer with a dough hook, mix for 5 minutes, or knead for 7 minutes by hand.

Add raisins and pecans after mixing dough.

Let dough rest for about 30 minutes, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Work each piece until it is round, then shape into a loaf form.

Place the loaves on a greased baking sheet and let rise in a warm place approximately 1 hour, until about doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and place a pan of hot water on the lower shelf. Place bread in oven. After 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes two 1 1/2 -pound loaves.

ITALIAN MUFFINS

1/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup sliced, pitted ripe olives
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter 9 (6-tablespoon) muffin cups. Fill any unused cups with water.

Heat the butter, garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes in a skillet until the butter is melted and the garlic has just started to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Stir together the flour, parmesan, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl combine the milk and eggs and then stir in the melted butter mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in the olives.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove the tins to a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the cups. Serve warm.

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