Rusks; teething crackers

These are for Gwen, my grand niece in Sparks, Nevada.

Since it’s going to be more of a sweet bread, even though I’m not using sugar, I’ve reduced the salt to 1/4 teaspoon. Because it should be sweeter, and hopefully more palatable for a child, instead of rye I’m using barley and oat flour. It still has 1 cup of wheat bran. Hopefully the fruit’s sweetness will offset the bran’s bitterness.

Banana

1/2 cup barley flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 very ripe banana, sliced and mashed
3/4 cup (approximately) water

Apple

1/2 cup barley flour
1/2 cup masa harina
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3/4 cup (approximately) fresh/raw apple juice

It made a very stiff and sticky dough.

The liquid quantity is an approximation. I add the liquid slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of liquid it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. Suddenly it will start sticking to the inside of the bowl instead of clumping together, becoming a very stiff batter. At this point I don’t add any more liquid since I’ll be cooking it in the pressure cooker in a steamy environment. I’ll let it mix for a few more minutes in order to develop whatever gluten there might be, which is not much with barley and oat flours. Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

The dough is resting.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

Later, baked and cooling: Another fine brick. I’m not sure how thickly to slice it though. I don’t want it thin like a cracker but I don’t want it too thick either. If the baby bites off a piece you want it to get soft fairly quickly so that they won’t choke on it.

Later, sliced and dried: Well, no chances of the baby biting off a piece; they’re tough as wood. In that sense the toughness could be a good thing; the baby can gum on these all day. As long as she doesn’t drop it, one cracker could easily last her the rest of her teething period, or life. If she drops one, I’d worry about their dogs breaking a tooth trying to eat it.

The edges are sharp after drying; that might be an issue. If I had a diamond grit file I could smooth the edges.

Nevertheless, the flavor is great.

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