Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou." ~ Omar Khayyam

Last winter I was determined to become more comfortable with yeast, dough and baking. I did some homework on the Internets and was glued to the television every time bread was mentioned, but mostly I spent money in alarming amounts on more kitchen gear and some awfully pretty bread cookbooks. Along the way though, I managed to do some actual baking and after a couple of tries was fairly pleased with my results. And really, like a lot of things, once you get the hang of it, there's really nothing to it.
Classic Sandwich Loaf
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) melted butter or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup very hot water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1¼ tsp salt
Melt butter in a small saucepan over a very low flame. While the butter is melting, add the milk to the hot water in a measuring glass, then stir in the yeast to dissolve. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and with the bread hook, stir on a low setting until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed and knead for 6-8 minutes, until the dough is silky and smooth looking. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and set in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise for a couple of hours. Allow the dough to puff up, but it won't necessarily double in size.
After the first rise, move the dough to a lightly greased working surface and shape into an 8" long log. Gently place dough in a lightly greased 8½ x 4½ loaf pan. Lightly cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap and let the dough rise a 2nd time for about an hour, or until the dough has domed about an inch above the rim of the pan.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes, then start checking the color of your crust. You're looking for a light golden brown. Not too dark, but certainly not pale. If you like, you can take your bread's temperature with an instant read thermometer. At 190°, your bread is done. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and eating. This recipe yields one loaf of delicious bread.
I'm baking bread a couple of times a week now. I've got a sourdough starter that I've managed to keep alive since early March, and I make a mean French boule with it. The only bread I'm still buying in the store is the dark, heavy pumpernickel the Danes love so well with their pickled herring. And it's only a matter of time before I master that as well. You'll see.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

1 comment:

traveladdict227 said...

Have to learn to bake bread(s) too; critical if starting a bakery. Planning a trip to Boise to see some friends new bakery - big focus on French baking. In BOISE? Who knew. Your's looks grand. Looking forward to a sample or three.