Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Give us our daily bread...

I must admit I haven't made any bread for a couple of months. Mostly because my husband has been away from home for the majority of the summer. Not really an excuse, I know. I also have to mention I live in an area where bread with any sort of crustiness to it is considered stale. Bread here comes in a plastic bag, is white, and requires no teeth to eat. So buying good bread is not an option. My mother has been an avid bread baker since my early childhood. When we moved to Alabama and I started a new school I was the only child in my class(probably school) that didn't have a sandwich on pure white store bought bread. My sandwich bread was large and brown. My mom also never bought processed cheese, so this to was very different from my classmates who had ham and Kraft cheese on perfectly square, white bread. Come to think of it everything was square. The bread, the cheese, even the meat! At the time I coveted for that square white bread sandwich. Who wants to be the new kid (from up North) that eats weird food? I was that kid! Well thanks to mom, I can barely tolerate store bought bread. I do buy the plastic wrapped excuse for bread but always with a slight disdain, I know what bread is supposed to taste like.
Yesterday I used the last slice of a loaf of preservative loaded store bought bread to make a sandwich. I got out the roasted turkey, the smoked provolone cheese and the Dijon mustard and put it on a piece of bread that may have been over a week old and could probably last another week without molding. Does anyone else think that this somehow goes against nature!!! Maybe that's what's wrong with the world today...lousy bread! Anyway the sandwich being a disappointment, I decided to get off my duff and make some real bread with actual grain in it. I love the King Arthur Flours. They make the most wonderful breads. I used an easy bread recipe from the King Arthur website. This is the recipe I used when I first attempted bread making and it's very forgiving and always comes out great. It's their Classic Sandwich bread recipe, however, I adapted it a bit for this loaf.

The Recipe:

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, margarine 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 60 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch 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 inch 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 about 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.

©2006 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc.

***I used 1 1/2 cup of the King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour and 1 1/4 cup of the King Arthur Whole Wheat flour and 1/4 cup of Wheat Germ.


Ten minutes later. After much begging from hubby to let him have a piece while it's warm(hot).
Fifteen minutes later! After several slices each with butter.

There's nothing better in the world than fresh from the oven bread!


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I have decided to start making my own bread. As you know I have issues with baking, but I hate store bought bread too and luckily I have un-earthed my long forgotten bread machine! My fiancee eats so much bread it is amazing! So anyway, I have decided to let the machine do the icky kneading for me! I am a believer in no coincidence, so I believe your post was the nail in teh coffin for store bought bread!

Half Baked said...

It's so true. Once you have homemade bread it's had to go back to store bought "bread".Let me know how you like the bread from the bread machine.

Camiseta Personalizada said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peabody said...

Nothing beats homemade bread!
And welcome to the Daring Bakers.