Cornmeal-cherry cookies

Cornmeal cherry cookies

It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed a Good to the Grain recipe. And oh my goodness – this one certainly measures up to all previous efforts. In the book, these cookies are presented as Cornmeal Blueberry cookies – I decided to go with cherries, since a) I had a feeling they’d taste like Arizmendi‘s cornmeal-cherry scones in cookie form (and they did!), and b) I only had dried cherries at my disposal. If you’d like to see the original recipe with blueberries, Lottie + Doof has it.

Cornmeal cherry cookies

These cookies were delicious. Perfect buttery mounds of sweet cornmeal, nicely offset by the tart cherries.

Cornmeal cherry cookies

Cornmeal-cherry cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain

2 cups corn flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (Good to the Grain says to use only “finely-ground” cornmeal; I only had standard cornmeal and it tasted just fine to me)
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position the two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small (1/2 inch) pieces. In another bowl, mix the butter and sugar together using a mixer (I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment) on low, until they are just combined, then increase the speed to medium and cream for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl using a rubber spatula.

Mix in the eggs one at a time, until each is combined. Add the flour mixture, blending on low speed until barely combined (roughly 20-30 seconds). Scrape down the bowl again, then add the milk and the cherries. Mix until the dough is combined.

Butter two baking sheets and set aside. Pour the sugar into a small bowl. Scoop out mounds of dough 3 tablespoons in size, form them into balls, and dip each ball into the sugar, coating lightly. Place the balls on the baking sheets with about 3 inches between each cookie – any extra balls of dough that don’t fit on the baking sheets should be chilled until ready to bake.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the cooking time. The cookies will bake into lovely little mounds, complete with cracks on top, and are done baking when the sugar crust is golden brown (but the cracks still a bit yellow).

Cooking on my day off: rye multigrain soft pretzels and lemon-strawberry yogurt cake

Rye multigrain soft pretzels

I had the day off from work yesterday, for Cesar Chavez day. In between cleaning out an old box of CDs (Amoeba gave me $90 for them! Unbelievable!) and other miscellaneous household stuff, I cooked a lot. I made rye soft pretzels with multigrain flour, as well as lemon-strawberry yogurt cake, and also chopped up and threw a bunch of stuff into my slow cooker to make shrimp and lentil curry. We enjoyed all three last evening while watching more episodes from season 3 of Veronica Mars.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Pretzels. The main theme here.

Rye multigrain soft pretzels

This recipe comes from Good to the Grain (again). I couldn’t resist, since I had a bag of rye flour just hangin’ out in the freezer, begging to be used.

I had already mixed the yeast and warm water and rye flour, however, when I realized I had barely 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, and the recipe calls for 2 and 1/2 cups plus more for kneading the dough. Thinking quickly, I grabbed my multigrain flour mix from the fridge and filled in the flour gaps accordingly. The pretzels came out great, regardless, although I’m curious as to whether they would taste significantly different with more all-purpose flour. I also had to use the remains of my whole wheat flour for kneading the dough, which proved to be a little tricky.

Rye multigrain soft pretzels

Rye multigrain soft pretzels
Adapted from Good to the Grain

1 tablespoon butter, melted (for the bowl when the dough is rising)
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup rye flour
1 cup multigrain flour mix
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup baking soda
Coarse sea salt (for sprinkling)

Pour the yeast into a large bowl, then add 1 1/2 cups of warm water (around 100 degrees, warm to the touch), then add the honey and stir together. Slowly add the flours and salt and stir again. The dough will be very sticky – add a little more all-purpose flour if the dough is too sticky to remove from the bowl (I didn’t do this and my dough was almost too unworkable to start kneading – I had to get creative with pouring more flour onto my work surface when my fingers were covered with dough).

Slowly pour the dough onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 12 minutes, adding more flour  as needed, until the dough is tacky and soft. Lightly brush a large bowl with the melted butter. Add the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. The original recipe says 1 and 1/5 hours – I let mine rise for at least 3 hours, while I ran errands and such.

When the dough has finished rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (preferable the butter kind), or rub with real butter if you feel so inclined.

Slowly dump the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and cut into 12 equal pieces (as equal as you can get, but some discrepancy in size is fine). Take each piece of dough and gently roll into roughly 17-inch-long rolls, with thin tapered ends. Form the dough pieces into pretzel shapes and place on the baking sheets, then let them rise for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the pretzel pieces are rising, bring 10 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling (should be around the time that the dough pieces have finished rising), slowly add the 1/2 cup of baking soda. Don’t do it too fast – my pot of water almost overflowed entirely when I just dumped in the soda all at once. Whoopsie.

Gently add the pretzel pieces, 3 or so at a time (don’t crowd them), into the pot of boiling water. Let them boil for 30 seconds on each side, then gently move them back to the baking sheets (lightly pat dry). Sprinkle the boiled pretzels with the coarse sea salt.

Bake the pretzels (with the baking racks positioned at the bottom and top thirds of the oven) for 15 to 18 minutes, switching the sheets halfway through. The pretzels will be dark in color, like in the photos. Transfer them to a plate or wire rack to cool, and enjoy sooner rather than later. I had another pretzel the day after making them, and could definitely taste the difference in freshness (not bad, just not nearly as good).

Rye multigrain soft pretzels

From there, I made cake, just for the heck of it. Since I had Meyer lemons and plain yogurt, and because in-season strawberries taste like amazing red nuggets of heaven right now, I decided to take smitten kitchen’s lemon yogurt anything cake, add strawberries and double the recipe in order to bake into bundt form.

The result was pretty good. Not great, however. It was a little oiler than I like my cakes, and I should have used more chopped strawberries (I added 2 cups, and probably should have added 3). The recipe was still worth trying out, however, and was very easy to execute.

Lemon-strawberry yogurt cake

Lemon-strawberry yogurt cake

Whole wheat white chocolate chip toffee cookies

Whole wheat white chocolate toffee cookies

And thus continues my obsession with Good to the Grain. I’ve made Kim Boyce’s whole wheat chocolate chip cookies before (the first recipe listed in the book) and they’re now the only chocolate chip cookies I ever want to eat. Those interested in trying them out at home (please, please do) can find a close version of the recipe via A Sweet Spoonful.

This past weekend, between Noise Pop gigs and working on work stuff, I decided to bake – only I didn’t have any high-quality bittersweet chocolate lying around, as dictated by Kim. I did, however, have some white chocolate chunks and toffee bits left over from previous baking efforts, and decided to roll with it.

The result was really, really awesome. I’ll still call the original version of the recipe my favorite (because OMG), but these are pretty fantastic. The white chocolate is plenty sweet (nicely offsetting the kosher salt), and the toffee melted down into each cookie, making them moist and chewy.

Whole wheat white chocolate chip toffee cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract [note: I was out of vanilla extract, so I just mixed some additional brown sugar with some water and threw that in there instead]
1 cup white chocolate chips/chunks
1/3 cup toffee bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt into a large bowl (I used my mesh strainer).

Cut the cold butter into small pieces (1/2 an inch or so) and add to the bowl of a mixer along with the sugars (I used my stand mixer with a paddle attachment). Beat the butter and sugars on low speed until just blended (2 minutes or so). Add the eggs and the vanilla one at a time, mixing until combined. Stop the mixer and briefly scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture until just about combined (should take less than a minute). Scrape down the bowl again, then add the white chocolate chips and toffee bits. Start the mixer again for a few seconds, until the chocolate and toffee are mixed in. Use your hands if need be to make sure all the flour and chocolate/toffee are incorporated with the dough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop the dough onto the sheet – the scoops should each be the size of about three tablespoons, spaced three inches or so apart.

Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes. You can bake two sheets of cookies at once – just position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and rotate the cookie sheets halfway through the cooking time. When I made these, I ended with up two and a half baking sheets’ worth of cookies (15 total).

Multigrain buttermilk waffles

Multigrain buttermilk waffles

Two weeks ago, I went on an excursion to Rainbow Grocery, and came back home with five different whole grain flours that I’d procured from the extensive bulk bin section. Oat flour, graham flour, barley flour, teff flour, and rye flour, to be specific. If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d one day become slightly obsessed with collecting different types of flour and storing them in my freezer . . . well, I’m not sure I’d even know where to start with a proper response.

This is, of course, all Kim Boyce‘s fault. Everything I’ve made from Good to the Grain thus far has been so fabulous (rhubarb tarts, corn and cheddar muffins, oatmeal pancakes) that all I can think about is trying out every single recipe and sharing with others. Lately, I’ve been dying to try one of Kim’s multigrain recipes – hence, purchasing oddball flours at my friendly (well, sometimes) neighborhood grocery co-op.

The “multigrain” section of Kim’s book evolves around a multigrain flour mixture – just whisk together the following at home, and you’re in business:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup rye flour

Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks has also experimented with her own multigrain flour mixture for a Multigrain Waffles recipe, with an emphasis on barley flour.

There are a bunch of drool-worthy recipes in the Multigrain section – beaten biscuits, popovers, baguettes, oatmeal cookies – but I decided to start with her waffles. Kim’s recipe is called “Five-Grain Cream Waffles,” using the multigrain mix, whole grain pastry flour, and heavy cream; I only had whole wheat pastry flour and buttermilk on hand, however, so I used those instead. Next time, I might use the 101 Cookbooks method of adding more barley flour in place of the whole wheat pastry flour.

Multigrain Buttermilk Waffles (makes 10-12 waffles)
adapted from Good to the Grain

1 cup multigrain flour mix (see above)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or whole grain pastry flour)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk

Turn on your waffle maker. Sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl. I don’t own a real sifter (don’t really want to spend the money on one, or take up more space in my kitchen), so I just use an old mesh strainer to do the basic sifting work.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk until fully blended. Pour the egg/buttermilk mixture into the dry mixture, and with a “gentle hand” (as Kim says), slowly fold together the two mixtures until combined.

If desired, melt together 1-2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Brush the waffle iron (I used a paper towel to dip, dab and spread) with the butter (or use nonstick cooking spray). Our waffle maker produces two waffles at a time, so I poured about 1/4 cup of batter into each waffle square. Close the waffle maker and let cook for a few minutes, until steam stops coming out the sides and the waffles are golden brown.

We enjoyed ours with maple syrup and nectarine jam, but I imagine that any topping would be great (fruit, peanut butter, etc.).

Oatmeal pancakes with whipped cream

Oatmeal pancakes with whipped cream

I am obsessed with Good to the Grain. Since receiving a copy as a Christmas gift, I’ve made Kim Boyce’s whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and they were the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. And today, I made her oatmeal pancakes. And they were stupendous.

I shouldn’t include the recipe here since it’s from a cookbook and I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. I will point to this adapted version of the recipe, however, which stays very close to the original.

This recipe requires oat flour, which I didn’t have. However, it’s extremely easy to make at home (provided that you have access to a food processor). I swapped in maple syrup for the molasses (since that was all I had), and I halved the recipe since it was just two of us consuming the end product and I didn’t want leftovers. And speaking of leftovers – I had some heavy whipping cream left over from making cookies yesterday, and didn’t want that to go to waste, so I whipped up the rest to enjoy with the pancakes. Perfect!