Thursday, June 4, 2015

bread ruminations


I've been very into bread making for the two months or so. There were two things which finally got the fire under me: one, something Jane Brocket said in an email response. She told me she was making a loaf of bread every day with her sourdough starter in order to practice her technique. The second was simply what you'd expect from any restaurant; Crescent Dragonwagon was saying that in her restaurant they had a nice assortment of rolls at all times. Before reading these, I think I was too focused on finding the perfect recipe for rye bread, which is our favorite. Afterward, I suddenly felt freed from this endless searching - I was just going to try any and all bread recipes which sounded good. And that's what I've been doing.

I'm just looking for ingredients lists, really; the directions are only a suggestion. I have my own method, which is based on Leila's (she uses her KitchenAid).  I've got an old Better Homes and Gardens bread machine cookbook from the library, which means I have to figure out what temperature the oven needs to be, and how long to bake it, but it's working!

This is what I made today -


an Italian-style bread with some whole wheat flour in it, and a bit of sage.  So, here's the recipe, and this is what I did.

Italian Whole Wheat Sage Bread  from BH&G Best Bread Machine Recipes

1 1/3 c. water
4 tsp. olive oil
2 2/3 c.  bread flour
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. fresh sage, crumbled
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. yeast

I didn't follow this, exactly. I used all-purpose flour, because I wasn't using a bread machine, so didn't need to use it. I used only one teaspoon of yeast, because I like to use as little as possible, and I figure one teaspoon per loaf is usually enough. (in my opinion) Also, they said if you have only dried sage, to use 1/4 tsp, but I had the powdered, so I used only 1/8 tsp.

My method:  last night, I dissolved the yeast into the 1 1/3 c. of water - cold water. Then I put it the whole wheat flour. This is what I always do: mix the yeast with the entire amount of water, cold, and add an equal amount of flour. Whisk it till smooth, cover with a thin towel and leave it on a kitchen shelf overnight, till I'm darn good and ready to get back to it the next day.

What I do next is scoop it into the mixing bowl and add everything else. I mix it and see how things look. Today it seemed a little thick so I added two teaspoons of water - one at a time - until I was satisfied.  I then shut off the machine and left it for twenty minutes or so (not more than one hour) and then mixed it up some more. At this time it formed a nice ball, and I got it into a greased bowl, turned it over and put it in a corner with towels over it. Almost three hours later it looked good so I deflated it and got it into the greased bread pan and covered it again to proof.  It was about an hour later when I decided I'd bake it at 400 degrees, so I heated up the oven for ten minutes and put it in. I think it took forty three minutes before the loaf seemed brown enough to take out.

It's very nice, and they all are!  I like this cookbook, but I have a feeling that it doesn't matter which one I use - there are a multitude of great bread recipes out there.

There's a funny thing about these breads, too. After the first day or so leaving it out on the counter, I put the loaf in a plastic bag and into the fridge. I often forget about it in there, and I have eaten two week old (or more) bread from the fridge which has no mold on it whatsoever. No green, not even the whitish stuff. It's lovely toasted. I did hear recently that sourdough bread keeps very well. This isn't sourdough, but it's a slower rise and I wonder if that's what makes it keep so well. Anyway, I'm really having a lot of fun with this, not to mention the benefit of eating something with such a short list of ingredients. Hooray for homemade bread, made when it's convenient!




4 comments:

  1. OH!!! LOVE this... I've been meaning to make bread again... we are about to enter the Apostle's fast ... I really should get back to bread baking... so fun! and how fun for you! :)

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    1. It's a good method, I think. And I have more to say about it - pretty soon.

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  2. I once baked all the bread we ate; haven't done much baking in awhile. This sounds wonderful!

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    1. Wow, Nellie - well, things change, don't they?

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