Rye Bread with a Swirl – Step by Step

Rye BreadThis delicious loaf of rye bread is a real eye catcher when you slice into it! It’s has a hearty crumb and a good crust. This is a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I’ve made several modifications to. I’ve been cooking out of that cook book for nearly 20 years!
ingredientsTo make one loaf you will need:
3 to 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS butter
2 TBS dark molasses or cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups dark rye flour

I like to buy my yeast by the pound and keep it in a big jar in the refrigerator. I’ve had this batch of yeast for 2 years now and it’s still working just fine! 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast equals one envelope.
heating milkAfter you mix 2 cups of the all purpose flour and your yeast in a large mixing bowl it’s time to heat the milk. Combine the milk, salt, brown sugar, and butter in a sauce pan and heat it until it reaches somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees.
add wet to dryAdd the wet to dry ingredients and mix on high speed for 3 minutes, this helps develop the gluten.You should have about 2 1/2 cups of batter, divide it in half.
kneading boardMy kitchen has old tile countertops and I don’t dare try to knead dough on them! I went to Home Depot and bought a large ceramic tile. I place it on top of a non-slip drawer liner I cut to fit and it works perfectly!

dough ballsTo one portion of the batter stir in as much of the remaining all purpose flour as you can, then knead in some more to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. To the remaining batter stir in the cocoa powder or molasses (I used one tablespoon of each!), the rye flour, and as much of the remaining all purpose flour as you can. Knead in more flour as needed to make a stiff dough. Form each dough into a ball, place them in separate bowls that you’ve oiled, cover, and let them rise until doubled. Mine took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
rolling out the doughPunch down both doughs and roll them out into rectangles about 12 x 8 inches each.
dough on topPlace the dark dough on top of the light one.
roll it upRoll the doughs together beginning at the short side.
loaf panPlace it in a buttered loaf pan seam side down and let rise until nearly doubled.
risen loafMine took about 50 minutes for the second rise. Pop that baby into a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes! Bread is done when it sounds hollow while tapping on it.
cooling loafNow here’s the hard part! Let your rye bread cool for at least an hour before slicing it. I know it’s tempting, but I find that slicing bread too early crushes it and the slices come out a bit doughy.
pretty sliceAnd now the big moment! Slice into your loaf of swirled rye bread and impress your friends and family!

Threshold Replacement – Do it Yourself

Old ThresholdWhen we bought our fixer upper over the summer I knew the threshold was going to need to be replaced. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the house and it looked gross! There was also a 3/4 inch gap between the bottom of the door and the top of the threshold so it was getting really drafty now that winter was setting in.
Threshold RemovalThe first thing I did was remove the old threshold. Here you can see how gross it was underneath, not to mention the old termite damage on the door trim. I cleaned up all manner of things including dirt, rust, old tile grout chunks, dog hair and even lentils. Seriously – lentils! I have no idea how those got in there!
New ThresholdWe chose an aluminum and oak threshold for the replacement. It fit perfectly so it didn’t need to be trimmed.
Cutting Door Trim 1I was going to have to cut the door trim however. First I made a cardboard template by tracing the side profile of the new  threshold. I used this to mark my cut line on both sides of the door.
Sawing Door TrimI used a coping saw to cut the door trim.
Chisel Door TrimA chisel helped get the last bits of wood out.
Threshold in PlaceWith the new threshold in place I noted a problem! There was a large gap between where the tile ended and where I wanted the new threshold to be placed.
Quarter RoundI went back to the hardware store and bought a length of oak quarter round trim. I cut it to length and glued it to the new threshold.
Rubber Band ClampsI tried different clamps to hold it in place while it dried, but they all slipped off the round surface. Rubber bands to the rescue!
Wipe on PolyAfter the glue dried I used a wipe on polyurethane to help protect the wood.
Poly FinishLooking good!
Masking OffWhile the polyurethane was drying I cleaned up the rust from underneath the old threshold and masked it off.
Spray PaintingI sprayed it with Rust-Oleum primer for rusty metal.
New Threshold InstallTime to install the new threshold! I cut a piece of scrap wood to use with a rubber mallet to help me tap it into place.
Drilling HolesI drilled holes and used 2 1/2″ screws to hold everything in place.
Finishing New Threshold I finished by screwing the top piece of the threshold in place.
Threshold FittingI still have to work on the old door trim, but that’s a project for another day!
Brand New ThresholdWhat a difference! I also bought a new doormat to put on the tile since rainy season is approaching. Now the first thing you see when you come in my house is a shiny new threshold!

KitchenAid Mixer Bowl Hack

The other day when I was baking my first cake I noticed my KitchenAid mixer hadn’t mixed everything completely! At the bottom of the bowl there was still chunks of butter and sugar that hadn’t incorporated into the mixture. I ended up having to mix by hand and I still had a few chunks when I poured the batter into the cake pans. After a quick Google search I learned about the dime test. Place a dime in the concave area in the bottom of your mixing bowl, attach it to the mixer and run it with the flat beater. The beater should contact the dime and move it 1/4 of an inch or so each time it goes around. Mine didn’t even come close! I then learned about an adjustment screw that I’ve never touched since the day I first took my mixer out of the box. This also helps if you find your beater has paint wearing off. That means the bowl of your mixer is too high and the beater is rubbing against it. Here’s a handy video to show you what I’m talking about: KitchenAid Mixer Beater to Bowl Adjustment.

Problem solved, right? Not for me! I adjusted the screw as far as it would go and the beater still didn’t touch the dime. Never fear, I solved the issue! My secret? Washers. Now, this will only work for KitchenAid mixer models that have the bowl-lift, not the tilt head. I placed one washer on each of the bowl pins, readjusted things using the screw and now it works perfectly! Also, if you’re disorganized like me here’s a handy PDF in case you lost your original KitchenAid Mixer Manual. Keeping your tools well maintained is always a good idea!

KitchenAid Mixer Adjustment Screw

KitchenAid Mixer Washer on Bowl Pin Hack

Chocolate Cake for a Beginner

Delicious Chocolate Cake
I want to become a better baker, especially now that the weather is changing and it’s getting cold outside. I’ve baked cakes before, but always from a box mix. I decided it was time to change that! I enrolled in a class on Skillshare called The Art Of Baking: A Beginners Guide. It has lots of good tips and recipes for the basics: cakes, cookies, bread, and pastry. When I finished the class I felt ready for my first chocolate cake. I followed the recipe on the back of a bag of Ghirardelli cocoa powder and frosted it with chocolate buttercream. It was really good! Some things I learned:

  1. Read through the entire recipe before you begin. You don’t want to be surprised by an ingredient or tool you don’t have on hand.
  2. Gather all of your ingredients and tools in one place. This makes it easy to follow a recipe you’re unfamiliar with.
  3. Measure accurately! Baking is like chemistry so accuracy matters.
  4. Make sure your oven temperature is correct, you may need to buy a separate oven thermometer. It took much longer than the recipe called for for my cake to come out, I have a feeling my oven temperature is off.

In the end I found that baking a chocolate cake from scratch really isn’t that much more difficult than a box mix.

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9″ cake pans.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed and add vanilla and eggs one at a time.

Alternately add flour mixture and milk while mixing on low speed. Continue to mix until smooth.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.


Loosen Up – Smaller Abstract Works

In an effort to loosen up my painting style I’ve decided to do a series of small abstract works and post them each day. Here’s the first! I was originally going to use modeling paste only to find out it had dried up in the container and the art store was closed! Luckily I’ve been repainting my house and had some spackling paste handy. It actually worked better than modeling paste!

This little painting measures 4×5 inches and it’s up in my Etsy shop. I plan on listing these little artworks for just $10 so if you see something you like scoop it up!

Boxer Pop Art Print

I’ve been having some fun with patterns and colors. Sometimes these prints take me ages to do, I just can’t stop trying different arrangements and colors! This Boxer print is available in my Etsy shop.

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