Tips for Baking Rye Bread

 

Rye bread is delicious in all of its many forms, whether it’s a dark, dense pumpernickel loaf at a German breakfast table, a thin open-faced Swedish sandwich topped with smoked fish and eggs, or a New York Jewish deli treat piled high with pastrami.

A hardy grain that’s closely related to barley and wheat, rye has been grown for over 4,000 years and has been popular across central and eastern Europe since the Middle Ages.

Rye is particularly nutritious -- rich in fibre, manganese, phosphorus and copper. It is also naturally lower in gluten than wheat flour and can help to promote weight loss, prevent gallstones and lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Baking rye bread uses all the same basic techniques you’d use when baking a standard all-purpose flour loaf. Follow these four easy tips and you’ll be enjoying your own homemade loaf in no time.

 

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Tip 1: Use white or light rye flour for less dense bread.

White or light rye flour, without any trace of bran, will give you the lightest-coloured, highest-rising bread. Using medium, dark or whole rye flour will result in not just denser, heavier loaves. If you’re after that chocolately dark pumpernickel colour, a little caramel colour (a dark powder) will do the trick.

Tip 2: Mix rye flour with regular flour for a lighter texture.

Rye bread made with 100% rye flour turns out dense and heavy. The more regular white flour (all-purpose or bread flour) you mix in with your rye flour, the higher your bread will rise and the lighter its texture will be. The extra protein in wheat flour balances the lack of gluten-forming protein in rye flour and helps it rise.

Tip 3: Give your rye dough more time to rise.

When kneading your rye dough, you will find its texture more clay-like than elastic, making it almost impossible to knead it into a smooth shape. Instead of struggling with your dough, shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise, covered. It should rise nicely. Compared with wheat flour doughs, rye dough takes much longer to rise. Be patient – some recipes require a whole day of rising time!

Tip 4: Top your rye bread with seeds for more flavour.

Caraway, fennel and anise seeds are wonderful additions to rye bread and provide a lovely flavour contrast.

Tips for Baking with Whole Wheat Flour

 

Whole wheat flour adds more nutrition to your baked goods, with almost four times more fiber than all-purpose flour and more potassium, magnesium and zinc. Research shows that whole grain as part of a low-fat diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and help with weight management.

To enjoy the health benefits, not to mention the nutty and tasty flavor, of whole wheat without sacrificing any delicious texture, follow these five helpful tips.

To start experimenting with whole wheat flour, check out these recipes and try our varieties of organic whole wheat flour, organic white wheat flour and wholemeal wheat flour

Happy baking!

 

For bread and pizza dough:

  • For sturdier-textured baked goods like bread and pizza dough, swap at least 50% of the all-purpose flour with regular or white whole wheat flour. When altering a white bread recipe to become whole wheat bread, you may need another ¼ cup or so of liquid.

For cookies, cakes and pie crusts:

  • For tender-textured treats like cookies, cakes, pie crust, use whole-wheat pastry flour in place of up to 50% of the all-purpose. Whole wheat pastry flour is lower in protein and milled from a softer wheat—yielding more tender results than regular whole-wheat.

  • When making cookies with whole wheat flour, reduce the butter or shortening by 20 percent. When making cakes with whole wheat flour, add another tablespoon or two of liquid.

General tips:

  • When baking with whole wheat flour, let the batter rest for at least ten minutes before baking. This gives the liquid in the batter a chance to hydrate and soften the bran and germ in the wheat, ensuring a tender crumb.

  • To maintain the freshness of your whole wheat flour, store it in an airtight container in the freezer.

Foodsterrs - Whole Wheat Flour

- Joanna Kang

10 Delicious Ways to Cook Polenta

 

Polenta, a Northeast Italian staple made from cornmeal, has got to be one of the most versatile ingredients in your pantry. Make it into a porridge for breakfast, serve it as a side with a hearty stew, cut it into fries, or bake it into a beautiful cake for dessert – the options are endless. As an added bonus, polenta is a great option for vegetarians and people on gluten-free diets. Whether you prefer yours creamy and soft, or crispy and firm, there’s a polenta recipe out there waiting to grace your table.

Here are ten wonderful recipes to show off your polenta repertoire.

 

1. Cheesy polenta and mushroom pizza by Woman’s Day

2. Baked polenta fries with garlic tomato sauce by Oh My Veggies

3. Sweet buttered polenta pancakes with fresh summer berries by Half-baked Harvest

4. Brown butter scallops with polenta by the Gourmet Gourmand

5. Fried polenta with avocado and poached egg breakfast by The Kitchen Paper

6. Orange polenta cake by BBC Good Food

7. Polenta cookies by Food 52

8. Baked polenta-crusted chicken thighs by She Knows

9. Spinach & mushroom polenta stacks by The Flavor Bender

10. Baked polenta with classic chicken parmesan by Cooking and Beer

Foodsterr's Polenta

- Joanna Kang 

Delicious Pecan Recipes

 

The rich, buttery taste of pecans makes them one of the most popular nuts for baking, snacking and a whole host of other treats. With more than 19 vitamins and minerals, pecans are also good for you. Pecans are high in health unsaturated fat and just a handful a day can lower your bad cholesterol.

We found six great recipes that showcase the delicious flavor and crunch of pecans.

Vegan Maple Pecan Pie Smoothie by The Blender Girl  
Whether or not you’re observing a vegan diet, this healthy vegan maple pecan pie smoothie will taste so good you’ll forget it’s also super nutritious.

Salted Pecan Caramel Popcorn by The Pioneer Woman
Sweet caramel, crunchy pecans and just a hint of salt take popcorn to the next level.

Healthy Pecan Berry Coffee Cake by Eating Well 
Apple replaces some of the butter in this recipe, making it a healthier choice for your next teatime snack.

Chilli-Lime Pecans by Southern Living  
If you love spice like we do, you’ll have to try these seriously addictive chilli-lime pecans!

Mixed Green Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette  
Pecans are a fantastic addition to any salad, giving added texture and crunch to every bite.

Croissant French Toast with Pecans  
For a decadent brunch treat, you can’t go wrong with this simple French toast recipe.

5 Health Benefits of Prunes

 

Prunes are well known for their ability to relieve constipation, but did you know that they have many other health benefits as well? This unassuming fruit is a powerhouse of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Just one cup of prunes provides 87% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, more than 20% of most B vitamins, 8% of calcium and 27% of potassium! Here are five great reasons to add prunes into your daily diet.

1. Improve your vision

Prunes are a great source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision. A single prune delivers three percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which helps prevent night blindness, dry eyes, macular degeneration and cataracts.

2. Boost your antioxidant intake

Did you know that prunes have an even higher concentration of antioxidants than blueberries? A study by researchers at Tufts University in Boston ranked prunes as the number one food in terms of antioxidant capacity, with high amounts of manganese, iron and plant phenolics that help protect cell membranes from free radical damage.

3. Keep your heart healthy

Prunes are high in potassium, an important mineral that ensures proper functioning of the heart and nerve response throughout the body. Daily intake of potassium helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of problems such as dizziness, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

4. Relieve constipation

With their high fibre and sorbitol content, prunes help with digestion, relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. Sorbitol, the natural sugar present in prunes, functions as a laxative because it pulls moisture into the digestive tract and facilitates bowel movements.

5. Prevent osteoporosis and relieve arthritis

According to researchers at Florida State University, prunes may be able to reverse osteoporosis in postmenopausal women as potassium and boron in prunes help to support bone health. Prunes also have anti-inflammatory properties and are highly recommended for people suffering from arthritis.

5 Great Reasons to Eat More Raisins

Raisins are so sweet and tasty, we seldom think of them as health food. But these are snacks that you don’t need to feel guilty about eating – because they come with a multitude of health benefits.

Apart from the usual dark-coloured Thomson seedless raisins which are the most commonly consumed variety, you can find a similar nutrition profile in currants, sultanas and golden raisins, which are also different varieties of dried grapes. If you can’t decide, try our popular organic three-fruit mix with currants, sultanas and raisins all in a convenient pack!

Here are five great reasons to snack on a handful of raisins every day.

Boost your energy
Raisins are rich in natural sugars, so they give you a quick boost of energy when you’re feeling sluggish -- without weighing you down. For this reason, raisins make an excellent pre- or post-workout snack.

Reduce constipation
Eating raisins regularly can help ease or prevent constipation. Raisins are a good source of dietary fiber. Raisins contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which both help keep things moving through the intestinal tract in a healthy way by reducing constipation but discouraging loose stools as well.

Prevent cavities and gum disease
Contrary to what you might expect from a sweet dried fruit, raisins can actually improve oral health. In fact, they’re one of the best ways to naturally reverse cavities and heal tooth decay. The antimicrobial phytochemicals in raisins suppress the growth oral bacteria associated with dental cavities and gum disease.

Lower your blood pressure and reduce stroke risk
Researchers have found that consuming raisins daily may significantly lower blood pressure, especially when compared to eating other common snacks. In addition, raisins are rich in potassium. People who get a lot of potassium in their diets have a lower risk of stroke, especially ischemic stroke.

Prevent cancer
Studies show that dried fruits, especially dates, prunes and raisins, contain high phenolic components that have strong antioxidant powers. Antioxidants are extremely important to our health because they prevent free radicals, which are one of the primary factors that lead to the spontaneous growth of cancer cells.

Baking with Spelt Flour

If you’re looking for some variety in your baked goods, spelt flour might just be the answer.

Wholesome, tasty and versatile, spelt is an ancient variety of wheat cultivated in Europe since 5000BC. Spelt is red and looks a bit like barley, with a mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor similar to that of whole wheat flour but with none of the bitterness. It is a light grain, so it doesn’t weigh down baked goods the way whole wheat flour can – in fact, spelt flour breads and pastries are usually light and tender.

Spelt is a nutritious whole grain flour, rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. It is high in protein and lower in calories than wheat flour and also easier to digest than wheat. It also has a low glycaemic index, which means it can help keep hunger pangs away - important for people on a weight-loss diet.

It's not completely gluten-free, so it's not suitable for people with coeliacs disease. But many people who are intolerant of wheat (as opposed to gluten) find that they have no problems eating products made with spelt.

Baking Tips

• Since spelt does have gluten, it can be used to substitute for other flours such as whole wheat flour. If you are baking something that requires structure such as bread or cakes, you can use spelt to substitute for up to half of the usual flour. A good way to do this is to use spelt for 25% of the flour in a recipe, see how it comes out, and then try increasing the amount you use from there.

• The gluten in spelt is more fragile, breaking down easier. This means that vigorous kneading and mixing should be avoided when using spelt flour or you could get a crumbly texture.

• The more fragile gluten in spelt also means that foods baked with spelt flour will not rise as high as those with wheat so you might want to use a spelt starter for recipes where you want that rise. You could also try using more yeast and more baking powder than the recipe calls for.

• Spelt requires less liquid than called for in your wheat flour recipe. To substitute spelt flour for wheat flour, you will want to make some quantity adjustments. The most reliable way to duplicate the results from your wheat flour recipes is to decrease the liquid in your recipe by 10—15%.

For more detailed spelt flour baking tips, refer to this handy guide at bake-with-spelt.com.

Producer in the Spotlight: Stahmann Farms

 

Have you tried our delicious pecan products from Stahmann Farms in Australia?

Stahmann Farms prides themselves in quality, setting and maintaining the highest standards in their industry. Stahmann Farms Inc. was established in New Mexico, USA, in 1932 by Deane Stahmann Snr. He and his sons, the late brothers, Deane Jnr and Bill Stahmann, planted more than 100,000 pecan trees on a vast property still operated by the family.

In 1965 Deane Stahmann Jnr arrived in Australia with the intention of creating the first commercial Pecan operation in the Southern Hemisphere. He planted trees first at Gatton in Queensland and shortly after at the flagship property Trawalla near Moree in New South Wales.

Spread over 700 hectares and with more than 80,000 mature and highly productive trees, Trawalla's climate is well-suited to Pecan trees, with low pest pressure and near-perfect growing conditions. Stahmann has pioneered the development of insecticide-free farming methods, and continues to employ advanced biological pest control technologies. Stahmann's Trawalla farms produce some of the most sought-after pecans in the world. 

Try Stahmann Farms' favourite pecan recipes here.

Raisin Recipes We Love

 

Raisins pack so much nutrition in a tiny package. When grapes are dehydrated to produce raisins, the nutrients become more concentrated, making them rich in vitamin B, iron and potassium. These nutrients help support your immune system, lower your blood pressure and regulate your metabolism.

Raisins are a great snack for kids, and they also make tasty additions to all kinds of baked goods, salads and side dishes. Here are four of our favourite classic raisin recipes. Try these at home this weekend!

Soft Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies by Sally’s Baking Addiction  
Classic oatmeal raisin cookies are an all-time favourite treat and this one by Sally’s Baking Addiction certainly sets the bar high, with chewy oatmeal and sweet raisins in a buttery batter, kissed with a touch of cinnamon.

Granola by Alton Brown
The Food Network’s Alton Brown pulls out all the stops with his highly rated granola recipe. This one calls for a full cup of raisins, with lots of added crunch and texture from almonds, cashews and coconut. Try this and you’ll never go back to store-bought granola.

Norma’s Apple Raisin Cabbage Slaw by Just a Pinch  
This super refreshing coleslaw recipe has a lovely sweetness, thanks to the addition of raisins and apple slices. It’s a no-fail way to get kids and adults alike to enjoy their vegetables!

Couscous with Raisins, Pine Nuts and Capers by Emily Han  
Nothing could be simpler than this couscous recipe – all you have to do is boil the couscous and mix it in with sautéed onions and the other ingredients. You’ll have an elegant side dish in no time that will impress your guests.

 

Joanna Kang

Canihua: Superfood from the Andes

 

You already know all about quinoa and its multitude of health benefits, but have you heard of its close relation, canihua? The reddish-brown seeds are also a precious ancient super grain, with a common history and similar nutrition profile as the highly sought-after quinoa. It has a nutty flavor, and is slightly milder and sweeter and a little crunchier than quinoa.

Canihua was a staple food for the Inca and Aztec cultures and has been prized in South America for thousands of years. Canihua is grown at altitudes of over 3800 metres in the Andean highlands of Peru and Bolivia, in extreme cold and drought. This resilient plant is one of the toughest crops, growing in conditions where even quinoa may not survive.

Canihua is now a globally recognised superfood. Like quinoa, canihua is exceptionally rich in protein, with a balance of all the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of calcium and zinc, as well as antioxidants and omegas 3, 6 and 9. As an added bonus, canihua is naturally gluten-free, making it a great choice for people with gluten sensitivities.

At less than half the size of quinoa, canihua is a superb source of dietary fibre. A single serving will give you a whopping 60 per cent of your recommended daily intake of iron, four times that of quinoa. They also contain no saponins – the natural coating that gives some other grains soapy, bitter flavour unless washed thoroughly. Hence, there’s no need to rinse or soak canihua before cooking.

To prepare canihua, put in a cup of grains with two cups of water or stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Canihua pairs well with both savoury and sweet dishes. Try it in salads, stir-fries, soups and stews, or simply served as a delicious side dish. 

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