Whole-Wheat Saffron Buns

Summer’s arrived, scorching and sweltering, and as much as I longed for it in winter, I find myself now wondering, why? There’s one big bonus, though, for the vegetable gardener– I can see my eggplant, okra, tomatoes, beets, and spinach growing almost daily. If I watched long enough and hard enough, I might just see the zucchini grow!

I made raised vegetable beds this year, instead of just mixing new soil into the existing one on the ground, as I did in past years. This was followed by multiple trips to the store to buy enough topsoil and humus to fill them up. I have Desi to thank in big part, because who do you think put the veggie beds together and then hauled all that soil?

I learned a thing or two about raised vegetable beds that I thought I’d share.

One, be sure that the wood you buy is not treated with chemicals (as a lot of wood meant for the outdoors is), because they will leach into your soil and get into your veggies. After walking through Home Depot twice and finding that they did not carry untreated wood that was also long-lasting, like oak or cedar, I settled for reasonably priced oak beds from a local nursery. They were sold precut and notched and all, and all Desi had to do was nail them together, which took him just a few minutes.

Second, you need a 50-50 proportion of topsoil to humus (or soil conditioner) to get a decent vegetable bed going. And, of course, try to buy organic if possible.

Soon after I planted the veggies in their homes and they were all cozy, a colony of ants descended on them. I am all for sharing my produce with the ants and the birds and such, but the plants need a chance to grow first. So on Desi’s advise (he had seen his mum do it) I sprinkled some turmeric powder around the bed and what do you know? The ants just disappeared. I don’t believe the turmeric kills them (I wouldn’t want that), but it does seem to repel them. Another great use for this invaluable kitchen spice.

My dad also recommends compost tea, that rich, stinky, brown liquid that leaches from your compost bin (if you have one with holes on the sides, like I do– I’ve slapped a wide plastic tub under the bin to collect the tea) as a great, organic bug repellant. Just put some in a spray bottle and spritz it on your plants.

Now on to today’s recipe, Saffron Buns. It’s a weird irony, but summer makes me want to bake. Yes, the idea of starting up the oven in an already 90-degree kitchen may be odd, but there are other advantages to baking in summer. To cite just one, I feel more like actually doing something, instead of snuggling under the covers in front of the television set. Besides, the bananas ripen easily making it a perfect time to make some banana cake, the zucchinis just call out to be baked into some deliciously healthy zucchini bread, and even the yeast multiplies rambunctiously, sending breads mushrooming into big, fat, happy loaves.

I’d been wanting to make a vegan Saffron Bun for the longest time, and although the kitchen was unbearably hot while they baked, I’m sure glad I did. And now I can share them with you.

Enjoy, all!

Whole-Wheat Saffron Buns


1-2 cups of whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 tsp vital wheat gluten (if you’re not using this, flip the proportions of all-purpose and whole-wheat flours and you should be fine)

1 tbsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup soymilk

2 tbsp vegetable oil, like canola

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp flaxmeal + 3 tbsp water, mixed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp saffron threads (use more if you want more color and flavor. I used 1/4 tsp and the flavor was very exquisitely mild)

Mix together the yeast, water and saffron and let stand about 10 minutes. Make sure the yeast has started multiplying, or flowering, before you move on with the recipe.

Add the all-purpose flour and one cup of the whole-wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, soymilk, oil, sugar, salt, and flaxmeal mixture, and knead by hand or in a stand mixer until well-incorporated. Add the remaining whole-wheat flour slowly, until you have added enough to make a smooth dough. (I needed two and a half cups of flour altogether)

Continue to knead another 10-12 minutes until you have a smooth dough.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for two hours until doubled.

Now turn the dough onto your work surface and punch it down. Cover and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll them into balls or rectangular loaves.

Place in an oiled 9 X 12-inch baking sheet, close but not touching each other. Cover the baking dish and let the rolls rise for another two hours.

Brush the tops of the rolls with a mixture of 1 tsp soymilk + 1 tsp oil for some added gloss. Sprinkle some sugar on top.

Preheat an oven to 370 degrees. Bake the breads for about 20-22 minutes until the tops are all richly golden.

Cool for at least 10 minutes on a rack before you pull the rolls apart and eat ‘em!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Multigrain Wholegrain Bread: Hearty and Easy

Multigrain BreadHere’s a bread I make almost every weekend so we can have something nutritious to snack on when hunger hits.

My multigrain, wholegrain bread is not just divinely healthy, it’s also one of the best breads you’ll ever taste– guaranteed. What’s more, it is totally versatile. It works beautifully for sandwiches, makes the crunchiest toast you can imagine (the way we like it), and is great even with a topping of nothing but ol’ peanut butter and jelly.

Over the past few weeks since I first came up with this recipe, I’ve tried shaping it all sorts of ways. As two loaves, one loaf, a loaf-shaped loaf, and a round, bulbous loaf. As you can see, I went with the last option this time, but they all work great.

The best part of this bread is, it requires very little rising time– just two rises of an hour each. So as breads go, this one is quite an efficient guy.

I usually add molasses to the bread which gives it a great taste and a great color. I didn’t this time, for no particular reason. It was still wonderful, but if you’d like some added richness do use the molasses which is full of great nutrients like iron, calcium and magnesium, among other things.

I’m going to keep this short, but for more advise on bread baking basics, refer back to this post. And find some of my other bread recipes here.

Enjoy, all!
Multigrain Bread

Multigrain Wholegrain Bread: Hearty and Easy
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Multigrain Wholegrain Bread
  • 4 tsp active dry yeast mixed with ¼ cup warm (not hot!) water. Set aside about 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to froth.
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm soymilk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup molasses (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  1. Mix the water, soymilk, sugar, salt, molasses and oil in a bowl.
  2. Add the yeast to the soymilk mixture, then add the whole-wheat flour and the vital wheat gluten flour.
  3. Mix by hand or in a stand mixer until just combined. Then add the buckwheat flour and the rye flour.
  4. Knead for 10 minutes on low speed or by hand. Keep about ½ to 1 cup of whole-wheat flour on hand to add in case the dough is too sticky. You want a smooth, elastic dough that does not break easily.
  5. Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning it around once to ensure it is coated all over with oil.
  6. Set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour to 90 minutes.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, shape. If you'd like to make it in loaf pans, divide the dough into two halves, tuck the edges under for a smooth top, and place in oiled loaf pans coated with some cornmeal.
  8. If shaping into a round, single loaf, as I did, place on a cookie sheet lightly greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the loaves rise in a warm place for two hours.
  9. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 more minutes.
  10. Remove the loaf to a rack and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.


Multigrain Bread**
Update on Lucy
For those of you who’ve been waiting for news on Lucy, she had her first session of chemotherapy last week. The side effects were minimal, and the site of her amputation has almost healed, so all in all she’s doing pretty great.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Cannoli, my neighbor’s cat. Cannoli has sort of adopted our garden and loves rolling in the mulch. He’s even made little mulch angels in the ground! How cute is he?

And here also is a picture of my darling Freddie, diaper and all.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Rye Bread

Rye bread
Sing a song of sixpence
A pocket full of rye
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie

I never could stomach blackbirds baked in a pie, even when they miraculously stayed alive to sing for the king afterward. But I sure can imagine a pocket full of rye.

In fact, I love this wonder grain known for its many nutritional properties and health benefits. The high-quality fiber found in whole-grain rye promotes heart health, fights diabetes, and does everything short of achieving world peace, or at least that was the impression I got after reading this site :)

But seriously, I love rye because it gives me a chance to incorporate another grain into mealtime, and also because I do enjoy rye bread. In fact, although rye bread tends to be more dense than breads made with wheat flours, I love the flavor and texture it has.

This bread needs a sponge starter which didn’t take as long as a sourdough starter, but helps immensely in giving this bread its unique taste and texture. It does take a six-hour rise for the starter, though, so be prepared. The trade-off in flavor is totally worth the time.
Rye breadI’m feeling very Friday-ish right now, as you can no doubt tell, because there are two wonderful days of leisure (sort of) to look forward to. I’m also really thrilled because as I write this, I’m listening to the amazing Gore Vidal make a lot of sense on the Bill Maher Show. I love hearing people who make sense, don’t you?

With that, I’ll leave you with the recipe for a delicious loaf– or rather two– of rye bread, and wishes for a great weekend. Enjoy, everyone!
Rye bread
Rye Bread
(Adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

For the sponge starter:

Mix together–
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water

Add 3/4 cup o bread flour. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the batter starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl in elastic strands, about 1-2 minutes.

Cover the bowl, and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 6 hours. The sponge will triple in volume.

To make the bread:

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, place:

3 1/2 cups rye flour

3 1/2 cups bread flour

2 1/2 cups water

Sponge starter

Mix together and then knead by hand for about 7-8 minutes, or on medium low-speed for the same time. The dough will be smooth.

Transfer it to an oiled bowl and turn over once to coat with the oil.

Cover and let the bread rise in a warm place for exactly 1 1/2 hours. Don’t let it stand any longer because the loaf will get too dense and heavy.

Divide the dough into two, and shape each ball into an oval by pulling on the sides and tucking them under. Place the loaves next to each other, but with a few inches between them, on a large, oiled baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover loosely with a napkin and let the loaves rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

Half an hour before the loaves are ready for the oven, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

A minute before you put the loaves into the oven, spritz the walls of the oven with water using a spray bottle.

Quickly score a cross into the top of each loaf using a very sharp blade. It’s important to use a quick, single motion so as to not deflate the loaves.

Bake the loaves in the oven for 45 minutes or until such time as the bottom of each loaf sounds hollow when rapped.

Allow the loaves to cool on a rack.

You might also want to check out some other bread recipes on Holy Cow! like this vegan challah bread, and this crusty French bread.  Or go here for many more bread and quickbread recipes.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.