This has been an interesting year full of challenges, growth, joy and some sadness but upon reflection it is easy to see that I have so much to be thankful for!  The little things are truly what add joy to life:

  • The love, support and humor of my husband

  • The unique and ever evolving personalities of my two sons

  • The friendship and company of my sister

  • The support and friendship of my brother and his wife

  • The company of friends

  • A walk on a brisk day, or a hot day, or a grey cloudy day, a walk any day….

  • The hilarious antics of pets

  • Art and creativity of others

  • Humor, lots of humor!

  • Good food! Including home baked bread…..

I have baked bread for several years and have been experimenting with various recipes and techniques. Jim Lahey’s No Knead bread baking technique has made it possible for me to include home baked bread in my life in spite of a very busy schedule. I have adapted several recipes to fit this technique. Below is a healthy sweet potato pecan bread recipe that uses this technique. It requires very little “hands on time” and can be left to rise overnight. Along with it is a recipe for pear butter that was inspired by a wonderful gift  basket of pears my husband received. I was looking for easy but tasty and think I found the right mix. I am not a canner (yet!) but was hoping to make the goodness last… s0 I froze some of the pear butter in muffin tins, this resulted in several single use cubes of pear butter that thaw to warm tasty goodness in just a few minutes.  The two go especially well together. I hope you give them a try!

 

How to make sweet potato pecan bread with very little hands on time:

homemade whole grain bread

 

 

sweet potato pecan bread
Sweet Potato Pecan Bread
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes, hands on time.
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 12-18 hours of rising
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes, hands on time.
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 12-18 hours of rising
sweet potato pecan bread
Sweet Potato Pecan Bread
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes, hands on time.
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 12-18 hours of rising
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes, hands on time.
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 12-18 hours of rising
Ingredients
Servings: loaf
Instructions
  1. Peel sweet potatoes and roughly cut into small pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, salt and yeast. In a separate bowl mix warm water, maple syrup, olive oil, and sweet potatoes, stir until smooth and add to dry ingredients.
  3. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a wet sticky dough, about 1 minute. The dough should be sticky so if it is not you can add 1-2 TBS of water one at a time as needed.
  4. Add pecans and mix until incorporated.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then place in covered dough in refrigerator overnight to allow to develop and ferment.
  6. On baking day: Remove dough from refrigerator. Use a rubber spatula to ease it out of the bowl onto a work surface that has been generously coated with flour. Lightly flour your hands and gently form dough into a ball.
  7. Place a large tea towel (not terry cloth or it will stick) on the work surface and generously dust it with flour, wheat bran, corn meal-- I used flour. Lightly dust the dough ball with flour and place on the tea towel. It may look like a lot of flour (or wheat bran/corn meal if that is what you are using) but it will prevent the dough from sticking to the towel.Bring the edges of the towel together and fold over dough ball. Return tea towel covered dough ball to bowl and allow to rise at room temperature for another 1-2 hours, it should almost double in size again.
  8. 30 minutes before the end of the second rise preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and place the rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven. Place a covered heavy pot in the center of the oven to heat. I used a 3.5 QT cast iron Dutch Oven.
  9. When the dough has completed the second rise: Carefully remove the the covered pot from the oven and remove the lid. Wear potholders here because the pot and lid will be very hot. Unfold the tea towel and gently dump the dough ball into the pot. Replace the lid and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove lid and bake for another 15 minutes or so or until loaf is golden brown but not burned. Carefully remove pot from oven and place loaf on a rack to cool.
  11. Enjoy! This bread is at it's best for 2-3 days, recommend storing in a brown paper bag.
Recipe Notes

Recipe inspired by  Jim Lahey's  no knead bread technique which you can read about here or check your local bookstore for his book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. 

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 How to make pear butter in a crock pot:

 

Easy crock pot pear butter

Easy crock pot pear butter
Pear Butter
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
3-4 cups 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
6-10 hours 6-10 hours
Servings Prep Time
3-4 cups 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
6-10 hours 6-10 hours
Easy crock pot pear butter
Pear Butter
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
3-4 cups 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
6-10 hours 6-10 hours
Servings Prep Time
3-4 cups 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
6-10 hours 6-10 hours
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Prepare crockpot by spraying with cooking spray.
  2. Peel, core and roughly chop pears. Place chopped pears into food processor fitted with knife blade. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
  3. Combine pear puree and remaining ingredients in crockpot.
  4. Cook on low setting for 6-10 hours. Prop the lid open with a wooden spoon to allow the liquids to reduce.
    Easy Crock pot pear butter
  5. The actual time will depend on the size and power of your crock pot as well as the final thickness you want. It will reduce in volume and thicken as it cooks.
  6. Enjoy! It will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. You could also can it. As I am not (yet!) a canner I froze some of Pear Butter by spooning it into a greased muffin tin, covering with plastic wrap and freezing overnight. In the morning I had 8 3oz servings that I placed into a Ziploc to store in the freezer. So whenever I want homemade pear butter I just reach into the freezer! The pear butter servings thaw quickly in the microwave to provide a warm pear butter for your enjoyment.
    Easy crock por pear butter
  7. Per 2 TBS serving: 26 calories, 7 grams carbohydrate, 0 fat, < 1gram protein, 4.8 grams sugars
  8. easy crock pot pear butter sweet potato pecan bread
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easy crock pot pear butter sweet potato pecan bread

 

For those of you so inclined to head out into the wilds of the Black Friday Shopping experience, remember to support your local businesses and restaurants.  Consider paying it forward by picking up a few items  for a local food bank. Check out these links for some information on what is needed most:

 

Second Harvest Food Bank    

 

10 things food banks need but wont ask for        

 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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