Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Experimental Baking – Honey Whole Wheat Bread – Part 2 (with recipe)

Hooray! The dough rose as it was supposed to for me!

On Monday, I baked bread for the first time in years.  If you’d like to read about my experience, click here for yesterday’s post.   Today, I’m sharing a picture of how the loaves turned out and the recipe.   The bread is hearty, filling, and delicious!  I’ve been eating it with butter spread on it in the mornings, but I can’t wait to try using it for a sandwich.  We also enjoyed it sliced, spread with butter, and sprinkled with garlic salt then put in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes as garlic bread with our Parmesan chicken earlier this week.

Delicious warmed and spread with butter!

Here’s the recipe that even I didn’t mess up.  🙂

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

from Farm Journal’s Best-Ever Recipes (1977), edited by Elise W. Manning, p. 132

2 pkgs. active dry yeast

1/2 c. lukewarm water (110 to 115°)

6 tbsp. shortening

1/4 c. honey

4-1/2 c. lukewarm water (110 to 115°)

4 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. instant mashed potatoes (not reconstituted)

1/2 c. nonfat dry milk

1 tbsp. salt

6-1/2 to 8 c. sifted flour

Sprinkle yeast on 1/2 c. lukewarm water; stir to dissolve.

Melt shortening in 6-qt. saucepan; remove from heat.  Add honey and 4 1/2 c. lukewarm water.

Mix whole wheat flour (stirred before measuring), instant potatoes, dry milk, and salt.  Add to saucepan; beat until smooth.

Add yeast and beat to blend.  Then with wooden spoon, mix in enough flour, a little at a time, to make a dough that leaves the sides of the pan.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and satiny and small bubbles appear, 8 to 10 minutes.  (I didn’t see these bubbles appearing.)

Place in lightly greased bowl; turn dough over to grease top.  Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Punch down dough, turn onto board and divide in thirds.  Cover and let rest 5 minutes.  Shape into 3 loaves and place in greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Bake in 400° oven about 50 minutes or until bread tests done.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  Makes 3 loaves.

Note:  You may use 1 c. mashed potatoes in place of instant potatoes.  Combine with the honey-water mixture.




Experimental Baking – Honey Wheat Bread – Part 1

I have found that I have a tendency to binge bake.  Before Christmas, I had a desire to make every type of cookie I’d craved throughout the year and was disappointed when I didn’t get them all made.  Back in July, at county fair time, I filled my head with ideas of bringing home purple ribbons for beautiful loaves of bread and other baked goods while I finished trying new canning recipes and harvesting in our garden.

I never baked that bread, though.  Honestly, any ribbon I would have won would have been by chance or grace since I’ve never really baked bread.

Yeast dough rather intimidates me.  I didn’t help Mom bake bread growing up.  When I had baker duty at my scholarship house in college, the more experienced bakers paired with me decided it was easier for them to make the dinner rolls than for them to teach me, I think.  My only instruction with this type of dough has consisted of a kolache-making class at a community college about ten years ago.

I also have this silly sense of pride (or disillusionment) that I’ll be able to do anything I want to, though, and so, checking to make sure the needed ingredients were on hand, I held my breath and began to attempt the recipe of honey wheat bread Monday afternoon.

Lukewarm water.  You’d think that’d be easy, right?  For those of you more experienced than I am, please chuckle.  🙂  I don’t trust my senses for feeling if the water is “just right,” due to my inexperience.  A temperature range was given in the recipe, but then I found I wasn’t trusting my measurement device (thermometer) either.  I knew if the water was too cold, it wouldn’t activate the yeast.  Too hot, and I would kill it.  (I do have enough practice to have erred on both sides of this.)  I did end up going more by feel, but with very little assurance.

I measured and mixed a midst various distractions from my toddler.  I kneaded by hand, though not satisfied that I had achieved the “satiny” finish that the recipe mentioned.

We went out for groceries, and when we returned, ALLELUIA!  The dough had risen!  JOY!  I punched it down, separated the three loaves, and let it rise again while I started making supper.

At 8:00 that night, I pulled the bread from the oven.  It looked good!  It smelled good!  And it tastes delicious!  In my next post, I’ll share the recipe.

Stay tuned,


For the recipe, see my post: Experimental Baking – Honey Wheat Bread – Part 2


Cheesy Mushroom Appetizers

Are you looking for a crowd-pleasing snack for an upcoming New Year’s Eve party?  Consider this easy recipe!

Three years ago, with my aunt providing the main meal and my mom covering the pies for Christmas dinner, I decided to bring appetizers to share.  Cheesy Mushroom Appetizers had been a hit at my Lincoln Christmas parties, and I thought I’d share them with my family.

My cousin hasn’t forgotten them, and when I asked my aunt what I should bring this year, she mentioned my cousin had been talking about them again.  I really wasn’t planning to write about them here (hence, no picture), but another cousin asked for the recipe on Sunday, too, and since he was one of my first blog followers, I said I would share it.  🙂

Cheesy Mushroom Appetizers

Prep Time: ~15 minutes

Bake Time: ~25 minutes


3 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls (I used the Pillsbury Recipe Creations kind with no perforations this time.  This change saved time and gave better results.)

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

3 cans (4 ounces each) mushroom stems and pieces, drained and chopped

1-1/4 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (I don’t have this in my cupboard, or didn’t until today, so I usually put in Italian seasoning.)

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


Unroll crescent dough into three long rectangles; seal seams and perforations.  In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, mushrooms, garlic powder and Cajun seasoning.  Divide mixture into thirds (one-third for each crescent rectangle).  Spread over dough to within 1 inch of edges.  Roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; seal edges.  Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet.  Beat egg and water; brush over dough.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  (I made a note to myself to bake them at least 25 minutes.)  Cut into slices about 1 inch wide.

Yield: 24-36 appetizers (depends on how thick you slice them).

(Modified from The Best of Country Cooking 2000, p. 14)




Kitchen Folly – Follow Up and Ginger Snap Recipe

Well, if you didn’t read about my adventures with the ginger snaps Friday, read here first.

I admit, things looked pretty bad without the sugar mixed in with the shortening, but I did purchase the molasses on the way home, mixed together the remaining ingredients, and ended up with a normal-looking kind of dough!  🙂

These cookies ended up being delicious!  I did find, though, that I do NOT like the smell of molasses.  (Maybe it’s a pregnancy thing right now?)   And, that smell was nearly enough to make me plan to give the entire batch of cookies away.  The cookies are crisp on the outside and moist inside, my favorite!  Since they did turn out well, I’m sharing the recipe with it reworded a bit to help you all avoid the mistakes I made Friday.

Grand Champion Ginger Snaps, a recipe robust enough to handle my silly mistake!

Grand Champion Ginger Snaps

(from Favorite Recipes Old & New, Willing Workers 1906-1996, Ellsworth County, Kansas)

2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 cup molasses

2 eggs

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

5 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1-1/2 Tbsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. soda

4 tsp. baking powder

Cream shortening and sugar, then add vinegar, molasses, vanilla; mix.  Mix dry ingredients together and sift 2 or 3 times.  (If using hard winter wheat flour, 5 cups of flour is enough.  If not, adding an additional 1/2 cup may be needed.)  Add flour mixture to other ingredients.  Chill.  Roll into small balls about walnut size.  Place on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350° for about 10-12 minutes.  When baked, they will be nice round ginger snaps with the little cracks (or little rivers) just like the ready-made ginger snaps.  Secret:  Take cookies out a little raw, so they will crack.

I realized how silly my complaint about the “work instructions” sounded this morning as I pulled out my oldest cookbook, The Oakland Cook Book, published in 1902 by the Ladies Society of the Free Baptist Church in Oakland Centre, Wisconsin.  A dear friend, who has since passed away, gave this book to me.  It was her grandmother’s.

Now, I had to search a bit in my newer cookbooks to find a recipe for ginger snaps.  Not so in this book.  There are 13 recipes for ginger cookies, ginger snaps, ginger creams, ginger drop cakes, and ginger bread.  I haven’t tried them, but I wanted to share what a recipe from that time looked like.

Ginger Snaps

One cup of New Orleans sugar, one cup of New Orleans molasses, one cup of butter or lard, one tablespoonful of vinegar, one teaspoonful of soda in three tablespoonfuls of boiling water, one egg, one teaspoonful of ground cloves, one tablespoonful of ginger and salt.  Mix soft.   –Mrs. H. Wilder, Koshkonong, Wis.

I don’t have a chance with this one, do I?  🙂


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Kitchen Folly Friday

I’m sure Dorothy meant well when she shared her recipe with the Willing Workers to be included in the cookbook.  I’m sure she probably did win Grand Champion with those ginger snaps.  I also think Miss Dorothy may have been a bit like one of my grandmas who didn’t really measure and had her own way of doing things, and that writing them down may not have been a big priority.

I’ve been craving something sweet and spicy, and ginger snaps sounded good.  Really good.  Since I don’t remember Mom making these much, I searched my recipe books and found Dorothy’s recipe.  With some extra time this morning, I thought I would make the dough, let it chill while I went to school to grade, and then bake the cookies this evening.

I read through the directions.  I had all the ingredients.  The process seemed a bit strange, but I’ve never made ginger snaps before.  What do I know, right?

I’m good at reading and following directions when I want to.   You don’t excel in analytical chemistry lab if you don’t pay attention to detail, and I had that down.

Or, so I thought.

The first step in the recipe said to combine the dry ingredients.  I looked down the out-of-order list of supplies.  The things I saw that I considered “dry” were sugar, flour, salt, soda, and baking powder.  I sifted them together, as directed.

Then, I read the next line.  Cream shortening and sugar together.


The sugar was already dispersed with my flour!   I have made cookies many times and have always creamed the sugar with the butter, margarine, or shortening as the first step.  I thought it was strange that the sugar would be mixed with the flour this time, but it was dry, wasn’t it?

Unsure of how to proceed, I continued with the steps.  I added the eggs (which were not mentioned anywhere in the method!), vanilla, and vinegar.

Then, I found my molasses was not only 3 years beyond it’s recommended usage date, but was also less than the volume I needed for the recipe.

I’ve never bought molasses.  This jar was some that a friend brought when we were cleaning up from the tornado that hit our town one summer, you guessed it, three years ago.

So, on my way home from work this afternoon, I’ll buy molasses.  I’ll continue with the recipe and see if it turns out.  I’ll share a re-written version of the recipe if it does, one that’s a bit more mistake-proofed.

Dear Dorothy was likely an excellent, prize-winning baker, but she could use some tips on writing work instructions.  Let’s hope she created a recipe that is robust against these kinds of blunders that I’m making!


(See how these turned out by reading my follow-up post.)