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What am I eating today?

November 17, 2014

breadToday is Homemade Bread Day

What could be better than a slice of golden-crusted homemade bread, warm from the oven, with melty butter – a symphony of aroma, sight and taste.  Heaven!

I thought this was interesting:

Partly because of its importance as a basic foodstuff bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance in nutrition; it plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions (“He stole the bread from my mouth”), in prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and even in the etymology of words such as “companion” and “company” (literally those who eat/share bread with you.  Ref. Wiki.

Some people are afraid of bread baking – nothing could be simpler.  The only caveat is to keep the of the liquids at a temperature that will nurture and not kill the yeast (between 110 and 115 degrees F) – use an “instant” read thermometer – no surprises.  Other than that – and allowing enough time for the dough to rise – you can make good bread in an infinite number of ways.  I read a lot of recipes, but when I make bread I tend to wing it.  Sometimes I use milk for the liquid, sometimes water, sometimes I add an egg, sometimes, not.  I vary the sugar source (food for the yeast) at my whim – sugar, or malted syrup, or honey, or agave syrup, etc. I usually make white bread and have found that bread flour helps make a loaf with body.  Sometimes I add flaked wheat, or seeds – flax, sunflower, etc.)

I have learned that if you watch the temperature when adding the liquid to the yeast, take time to bloom the yeast, either scald the milk (if using) to a simmer, or use dry milk, and don’t add the salt directly to the yeast (mix it into the dry ingredients) you should not have any trouble baking a respectable loaf of bread.  Hand knead or machine knead; bread machine or old school baking.  It will be delicious!

Here’s a basic recipe for a white sandwich loaf from King Arthur Flour (wonderful people):

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1/2 cup milk (skim, 1%, 2% or whole, your choice)**
1/2 to 2/3 cup hot water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough**
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast

*For added whole-grain goodness, substitute great-tasting King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour for up to half of the all-purpose flour in this recipe.

**Mix the cold-from-the-refrigerator milk with 1/2 cup of the hot-from-the-tap water to make a lukewarm combination.

Mixing: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine set to the dough or manual cycle). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it’s domed about 1″ above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature. Yield: 1 loaf.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. The smell, that’s why one makes bread right?


    • That is a big part of it, to be sure!



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