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Before baking. I hope you’ll understand how I still haven’t gotten an after shot, even after making this recipe several times.

He never really seems phased when he can’t eat something, or at least it doesn’t show all that much. The list of “no” has grown or shifted over the years but his understanding and maturity about the whole compromised gut health situation go way beyond his nine years.

Though he is fairly stoic, somehow I always cringe a little, even if he doesn’t. It happens when someone offers him food and I watch him navigate his own response. It happens when we eat outside of our own home and he asks “What can I eat?”. Mostly, it happens when I see that he simply cannot partake in the simple act of sharing some food.

So I try to make things I know we all can eat – mostly just real, basic foods like meat, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, broth, beans, and all of the bone broth and good fats we can muster. Other times, I try to give him something special that we can all gather around – a pie we all can eat or a cookie or scone that is all his own.


Milk kefir – one of my favorite workhorses in the kitchen.

Which is how these barely-sweetened cookies were born. They are a treat, in that we don’t eat cookies often, but they are really wholesome enough to enjoy with a bowl of homemade goat yogurt for breakfast. It was kind of an accident actually, when I whipped up something for him knowing I had baked something for the rest of the family.

Fermenting some oats in kefir and mixing in a few other ingredients did not seem like it was heading toward a favorite new cookie. But when he was presented with a stash of these for weekend snacks his eyes widened and that said it all. Maybe he is more phased by the “no” food category than I thought, he simply doesn’t show it like I would. And I can’t disagree with him, these cookies are really lovely, especially considering there is no sugar in sight.

And that’s reason enough to make cookies such as these, cookies for Elijah.

Kefir-Fermented Oat-Pumpkin Cookies


  • 1 cup steel cut oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 1/2 cup milk kefir
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum or brown rice flour
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax
  • 1/2 cup softened coconut oil (neither hard nor melted, but soft like room temperature butter)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins, or other dried fruit


  1. Combine the steel cut oats and kefir in a mixing bowl. Mix in the canned pumpkin and gluten-free flours.  Leave to ferment for 4-24 hours, depending on preference. The longer fermentation time will leave them tangier and even easier on the belly.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease or line with parchment a large baking sheet.
  3. To the fermented dough, add the flax meal and softened coconut oil and beat them into the dough using a wooden spoon. Add all other ingredients and mix well to combine.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheet, leaving 1/2″ between each cookie. Place cookies onto the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until firm and golden on the bottom. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Makes approximately 18-24 cookies, depending on size.


When I started developing this recipe I wanted the bread to have a good full day’s fermentation, be flexible in its timing so that I could work it around my schedule and not the other way around, and develop that lovely sandwich loaf structure without intensive kneading. This last thing was key because I have found that whole grain loaves are especially reluctant to rise when the dough is stiff to begin with – a must when kneading on a counter.


After first mixing – a mess of dough.


Before the first fold – the dough has puffed up just a bit.

Gluten Development Without Kneading

Besides kneading, gluten can be developed through both time (fermentation) and a simple stretch-and-fold technique. In the case of this recipe, the dough is mixed together quickly and left in a seemingly sloppy mess. A few hours later a stretch-and-fold is applied in two minutes and it is left again for several hours. Just a few of these stretch-and-folds, along with the longer rise time, make the dough silky smooth and still just a bit tacky. At the end of the day a beautifully-risen loaf that looks like a high-yeast, high-knead loaf is baked. This loaf is made all the better for an all day fermentation and very little hands-on time.


After a stretch and fold.

I’ve tried several methods and techniques for no-knead bread. While those artisan loaves made in Dutch ovens actually do work quite well, my tiny oven has not been able to accommodate such equipment. There is also a quality to the crumb of no-knead bread that is quite different to the light yet durable nature of a sandwich bread that is easy to slice thin enough for fillings or toast.

Sourdough or Conventional Yeast

Sometimes I don’t have a sourdough starter going, most likely due to the fact that I’ve neglected it and killed it. Real life, y’all. When this happens I still try to ferment or at least soak the dough to make it more digestible. I then use a scant amount of commercial yeast to help with the rise.

Lately I have been using 1/2 cup of water kefir as a portion of the liquid in this loaf in order to encourage fermentation. The water kefir needs to be completely cultured but the result, along with 1/4 teaspoon of commercial yeast, is almost identical to when I use sourdough starter.

I’ve also made this recipe in a few hours by increasing the yeast to 2 1/4 teaspoons and foregoing the sourdough starter. The dough is a bit tackier and the end result is just slightly different than the all day rise, but it still works.


Just after shaping – beginning its final rise.


When baking bread, generally only flour, salt, water, and leavening are necessary. Beyond these ingredients are things like milk, egg, fat, and sugar which are thought of as enrichments. These don’t replace the liquid in the recipe but are added, as desired, to increase the shelf-life, softness, and richness of the bread. They are always optional, in my opinion and depending on what I have I add or subtract eggs, honey, and coconut oil to the framework of the flour:water ratio. Since we have plenty of goat milk right now and I find that milk results in a softer loaf than water, I generally use all milk.

With all of that blah, blah, blahing out of the way, here is the recipe for what has become our daily bread around here. I double this recipe for our larger family and make it 1-2 times per week. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


After the final rise – ready for the oven!

All Day Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe



  1. First thing in the morning, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well with a fork or wooden spoon until all of the flour has been hydrated. Cover the bowl and leave to rest in a warm spot in your kitchen for approximately three hours. After this initial time period you may or may not notice that the dough has puffed up. We’re not looking for any doubling in volume; we are simply working the dough quickly and gently to develop the gluten.
  2. Uncover the dough, which will be sticky, and stretch and fold the dough upon itself, in the bowl, four or five times. It helps to see the dough as a clock and fold from the 12, 3, 6, and 9 points for even folding. To do this, simply grab that spot on your dough “clock” and fold it into the center of the ball of dough. Move from 12 to 3 and so on until it has stretched upon itself from every direction.  A final folding can be done to neaten up the ball of dough. Flip the dough over. After this first stretch-and-fold the dough will appear a lot smoother than before. Cover the bowl again and leave for an additional 2-3 hours.
  3. Repeat stretch-and-fold technique from step two. Let rest 2-3 more hours and repeat one final time. The beauty of this recipe is that none of these time spans have to be exact and we aren’t waiting for the dough to double in between, though it will rise a bit. Instead, I like to time these stretch-and-folds around outings, nap times, and with a consideration for leaving a couple of hours at the end of the day for the bread to rise in the pan before baking.
  4. A couple of hours before I wish to be done in the kitchen for the day, I shape the loaf for the final rise. To do this either grease a 9×5″ glass bread pan with butter or other solid fat or grease a baking sheet. Shape into a loaf or a round boule by tucking the dough under and forming a ball. When shaping a boule try to make the ball higher than wider as it can spread a bit during the rise period.
  5. Once shaped, leave the dough to rise for 1-2 hours, preheating the oven to 375 degrees during the last 30 minutes of rise time. I generally find that I don’t have to wait until it is doubled for it to be ready to bake. In fact, if you put it into the oven when it has risen by approximately 75%, the loaf tends to get great oven spring.
  6. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 25-32 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees or sounds hollow when the bottom of the loaf is thumped. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.