A delicious Almond nut meal bread!

On my previous post, I had you making your own almond milk. At the very end of the recipe I told you, DO NOT THROW OUT THE ALMOND MEAL! This is why.

Almond meal can easily replace Whole wheat flour in many recipes.

I altered the recipe found in “My grandmothers recipe for whole wheat bread” (in a previous post on my blog), except this time, I removed the whole wheat flour and replaced it with Almond nut meal from making my last gallon of almond milk and used almond milk instead of whole milk.

This recipe will use 1 1/2 cups of almond nut meal.

I mentioned in my almond milk post that this nut meal is gluten free. That means you can use this in recipes not requiring yeast. Some ideas are banana bread and cookies. If you come up with your own recipes that worked let me know and I’ll make up a batch for everyone to know about here.

I want to say something about the latest fad in diets…. Going gluten free.

Years ago I was in the medical field. Many of my patients were those were diagnosed with Celiac sprue and other auto immune diseases. Celiac sprue is a disease that affects the small intestine hindering the absorption of nutrients. Those of you that have been diagnosed with Celiac sprue know that the treatment consist of a lifetime of abstinence of any gluten found in the Triticeae family of grains. This is a very difficult diet to follow. I would wish it on no one.

Let me be clear, Celiac sprue is NOT a wheat allergy but is a genetically inherited auto immune disease. An allergy to wheat products is a whole other ball game DO NOT confuse the two! If you have digestive concerns due to gluten, get tested. Do not self treat!

My reason for bringing this up is this.

Going gluten free will also leave you with a diet that is severely lacking in calcium, vitamin D, folate, niacin and iron. You should be under a Doctors* supervision on this diet even if you do not have Celiac sprue. If you are pregnant, tell your Doctor that you are eating a gluten free and have your Doctor prescribe supplemental diet therapy to prevent your newborn from having nutritionally derived birth defects.

By trying to eat as if you had Celiac sprue, your body could be as nutritionally starved as if you truly did have Celiac sprue! This is not a diet to play around with. If you do not have Celiac sprue, I would highly advise skipping this one.

Note* I have to side with the medical field on this, not health nutritionist. There are serious consequences to a gluten free diet that effect organ and bone function that are way out of a nutritionist scope of training. Please, DO YOUR RESEARCH.

But folks, the big reason you’re hearing so much today about going gluten free is an age old reason…money!

Every few years, those producing products for the ‘health’ industry roll out a few new reasons you need to change your eating habits. We’ve been hit with, vitamin A,B,C,D, X,Y and Z. Then came the attack on sugar which gave us a myriad of substitutes including High Fructose Corn syrup. Sea salt verses table salt, brown rice verses wild verses Uncle Bens. Good Lord, the list goes on and on and on.  As long as you keep chasing after each new miracle diet, the health industry keeps raking in the bucks!

Domino’s Pizza now offers a gluten-free pizza, (for an extra 3 dollars), Frito Lay is offering more than a dozen gluten-free chip products and even Michelob came out with an Ultra Light Cider that’s gluten-free. It’s all about the money!

Folks, my grandparents lived a long, long life. They worked hard and ate well. They were western State farmers. When they passed, it was determined they died of…Old Age!

Many of my heritage recipes come from my grandma. While I’ve been leaning more and more to the vegetarian side of eating, I am still  doing so with my eyes wide open! I am not one to delve into fad diets. They come, they go.

Now, back to the darn recipe!

The recipe below is one that contains nut meal instead of whole wheat. You may ask, why replace the nutritionally superior whole wheat and not the high gluten flour?  Gluten!

In order for bread dough to rise it needs gliadin, a prolamin protein called gluten to react with the yeast. These proteins bind to each other causing the dough to not only rise, but it adds flexibility to the bread. Without it, the bread would crumble into pieces when you slice it.

The ratio of high gluten flour (bread flour) to almond nut meal is close to 2:1. This gives just enough nutty taste to the loaf but not too much.

Try this recipe using the almond nut meal from making your almond milk. It is truly delicious!

2 ½ cups of high gluten flour (standard bread flour found on your grocery shelf works fine

1 ½ cups of almond nut meal

3 Tablespoons of sugar. Divide by setting aside 1 tablespoon of sugar to rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 Tablespoon of dark Karo syrup

2 teaspoons of yeast

1 egg yolk

6 oz  of almond milk heated till very warm

Directions

In your electric mixer’s bowl with dough hook, combine and mix together on low, flour and nut meal, salt, and 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

In a smaller bowl combine 6 oz of very warm milk, Karo syrup, melted butter, egg yolk, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix well with a fork and let stand until bubbles begin to form showing that the yeast is activated.

In your dry ingredient mixing bowl (flour, nut meal salt, sugar), create a low spot in the center and begin to add the wet ingredients while the mixer is on low speed. Add the entire wet mixture until dough begins to form into a soft spongy ball but not outright sticky. (add water or extra flour as needed ) After mixing for a few minutes, dough should not stick to your fingers when touched but should feel damp. Knead dough for 10 minutes using the electric mixer. After well kneaded, the ball of dough should feel very spongy. Remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 10 to 15 times forming it into a ball. Place dough ball into a large greased bowl to rise. When dough is doubled in size, remove and press down lightly to deflate the dough ball. Shape into a loaf and place it into a greased bread pan, let rise until ½ inch higher than lip of pan.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees now.

When dough is risen to the desired height, poke holes along the top of the center at 2” intervals no deeper than 1/4″ with a tooth pick to let gas build up escape while rising in the oven. Brush the top of the loaf of bread with almond nut milk and place onto middle oven rack in the center. Set a timer for 35 minutes.

Remove when done ( it should sound hollow when thumped) and brush once again the top with a coat of nut milk.

Wait a few minutes after coating the top, then remove the loaf from the pan and cover with a towel to prevent it from losing its moisture while it cools. When completely cooled, place in a plastic bag or bread container to preserve freshness.

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Making the perfect loaf of home made bread

The perfect loaf of bread

Did you ever attempt to reproduce the loaf of bread your mother or grandmother used to bake? How many loafs turned out just like hers?

Not many if you were like me!

After my Mom passed away, I came across her lifelong collection of recipes. Many I already knew because of my interest in cooking. My own recipe collections had helped propel me into the restaurant business. But there was one recipe that eluded me no matter how many books I bought or magazines I read , that of a the loaf of homemade bread I had eaten as a child growing up in Idaho. It was the one recipe my Mom had not written down in her collection, she didn’t need to, she knew it by heart. To her it was like breathing. There is no need for an instruction manual in breathing, is there?

It wasn’t until I was in the process of doing research for my coffee table cookbook ( Maw Maws recollections, observations and recipes) that I realized in fact I did have my mother’s recipe. In my younger days when my Mom was still present on this celestial ball, I once took a job as the foreman on a cattle ranch. There, I befriended Jeff, a fellow ranch hand. Now Jeff lived in the small town just outside the ranch along with his 90 plus year old but very spry grandmother. On a cold rainy day, I gladly offered to drive him back home when his pickup truck refused to start. As I entered his home behind him, I smelled the delicious aroma of his grandmother’s freshly baked bread. Being from a generation that believed you should never let company part your home hungry, she sliced up the warm loaf and spread a goodly amount of butter on it. I remarked on its familiar taste and color telling her I believe my Mom made her bread from the same recipe. Jeff and I talked of weather concerns and other ranch related subject until I had to get going. As I was leaving Jeff’s grandmother handed me a hand written copy of her bread recipe. Thanking her profoundly, I returned to the ranch. Since my own mother was still years away from leaving us, I put the recipe along with other mementos of the ranch in a box for safe keeping.

There it lay packed away for over thirty five years. Jeff is a grown man now with young grandkids. Sadly, as is the nature of things, his grandma passed on some years ago. It was on a day when one begins to reminisce about his childhood that I came across her bread recipe in that box. How ironic it seemed that the one thing I really wished I had, I had in fact been safely harboring for years! Since that time, I have rarely purchased bread at the grocery, and when I do, it taste bland and mushy!

I hope you find some similar memories as I did when you smell the familiar scent of this real homemade bread baking.

Ingredients;

2 ½ cups of bread flour ( Do not use all purpose flour as you need the added gluten for a good rise)

1 cup of whole wheat flour

(The combination of the two flours simulates the dense rougher texture and higher gluten content of the heritage flour that was used back in the day)

2 Tablespoons of sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast (Instant or active, it makes little difference)

1 Tablespoon of unsulfured Molasses

1 egg

1 cup of warm water

2 Tablespoons of softened / melted butter

(Optional added ingredients if desired = 1/4 cup of wheat germ and 1 Tablespoon of flax seed)

2 Tablespoons of milk for brushing the loaf before and after baking. This gives the loaf a wonderfully soft crust.

Directions;

1) Using a mixer with a dough hook, add the dry ingredients and mix together well. Then add the wet.

There is no need to pre mix water, sugar and your yeast. Most common yeast today will activate without a ‘wet’ pre activation step

2) As the dough is mixing, if it appears too dry add a tablespoon or two of water, one at a time. If it appears to wet, add a tablespoon of the bread flour. It should have a slight sticky feeling, similar to that of a post it note but should leave no residue on your fingers

3) Knead the dough ball on low for 5 minutes, then remove it, fold it over on itself a few times and replace the dough into the mixer on low for 3-4 more minutes.

If mixing by hand you must hand knead the dough for at least 10 – 15 minutes or until spongy. You can also use a bread machine to mix and knead the dough.

4) Place kneaded dough in a greased bowl and cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel. Let it rise until double in size. Approximately 1 hour. Since high gluten flour can rise faster than regular flour keep an eye on it. Do not let it rise past double its size.

5) Once risen to its proper size, remove and gently punch down the dough. Fold and shape it into a nice smooth loaf and place it into a greased bread pan with the seam on the bottom.

6) Pre heat oven to 350 degrees at this time.

7) When the dough has again risen with its top peaking 1/2 inch above the bread pan and it fills the pan, brush the top of the loaf with milk. Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the length of the top. This will prevent the loaf from bursting out its side from the rapid oven rise. The holes act as gas escape vents.

8) Place in the pre heated oven for 35  minutes or until nicely browned and hollow sounding when you ‘thunk it’ with your fingers.

Each oven bakes differently so keep an eye on it. This bread will look darker than regular bread due to the molasses in it!

9) When done, brush once again with milk and cool for 10 minutes then remove from the bread pan and cover with a dry towel until completely cool. Place in a plastic shopping bag and refrigerate to extend its freshness. There is no preservatives in this bread so it should be consumed within a few days.