Weekly Baking: Honey Wheat Bread

bread rises

Yes, a yeast bread.  I’m really not entirely sure why I was so scared, the recipe is quite similar to the pizza dough recipe (except rise times are different).  And I used my kitchen aid mixer plus dough hook so I couldn’t screw up the kneading part (also your hands don’t get as messy). It took me a bit to decide precisely which recipe to follow.  A white bread would have been a bit safer since wheat flour is heavier and often makes a dense loaf, additionally a lot of the recipes that I found are for 2 loaves and I didn’t want 2 loaves.  Finally I decided to half a honey-wheat recipe from a friend.  Except I kept the yeast the same (many recipes I looked at called for a packet of yeast per 3 cups of flour, while this recipe originally called for one packet of yeast per 6 cups of flour).  During the process I remembered how easy yeast bread can be when you use a stand mixer and it is actually the rise times that keep me from baking bread, I never remember to start at the “right time”.  Case in point, I started the bread around 8 pm and pulled this bread out of the oven around midnight.  I wouldn’t have baked at all that night except I forgot about that second rise time, it wasn’t until I was checking the recipe after the first rise that I realized my “mistake”.  But it worked out, we just stayed up a little late watching tv and being tempted by the smell of baking bread.  And it did keep us from cutting into the bread too soon since we just went to bed instead of wondering “is it cool enough to cut yet?”.

sliced

Honey-Wheat Bread
makes 1 9×5 loaf

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/4 t salt
1 packet yeast (according to the packet that is 2 1/4 t)
5 T. of softened butter
2 1/2 T of honey
1 1/4 c. hot water* (about 115-125 F, use an instant read thermometer to check)
more all-purpose flour (probably 1/2 to 1 c.)
oil (I used olive oil, but really any mild oil will do)
butter (for greasing the pan and to rub on the finished bread)

*I have found that an equal mixture of boiling water and cool tap water get me in the vicinity of 115-125F.

Place the flours, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Combine (either by a quick whisk or turning it on for a few seconds and letting the dough hook mix things). Add the butter and honey and turn the mixer on low for a few seconds to combine everything. Raise the mixer speed to 2 and slowly pour in the hot water. Mix the dough for 1-2 minutes. Now start adding more all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, letting the flour mix in before adding more. Once the ball of dough has cleaned the sides of the mixer stop (it will now look like a ball of dough clinging to the hook, it will feel soft and a just slightly sticky; this takes about 2 minutes and I’m guessing 1/2 cup give or take of flour). Pour about a tablespoon of oil in a large bowl and coat the ball of dough, cover and let rise until doubled — about 1 hour.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes until it is nice and smooth. Form it into a loaf shape and place it in a buttered 9 x 5 loaf pan. Let it rise for 45 minutes. About half-way through this rise time you should preheat your oven to 350F. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until is it a nice brown color and makes a hollow sound when you tap the top of the loaf. Turn out the loaf onto a wire rack, and if you like, rub some butter over the crust. We do this sort of like you would with corn on the cob, hold the stick with the paper pulled away from one end and rub it over the loaf. It uses somewhere between a teaspoon and tablespoon of butter. You might also decide to rub the excess butter off the loaf with a paper towel. Both buttering steps are optional.

look how even!

I was ridiculously pleased with myself and took way too many photos. I also discovered that a cake saver makes a decent bread “box”; the loaf kept nicely for the whole week in my chilly kitchen.

October 19, 2010. Tags: , . baking. Leave a comment.

Weekly Baking: Beer Bread

A tried’n’true recipe that I originally found on Epicurious and so simple I was astounded when I saw beer bread box mixes (though I have been known to mix up the dry ingredients and package them nicely with a bottle of beer and jar of jam for a nice little gift).
Beer Bread
We generally end up making this with whatever beer we have around the house. I’m rather picky about the beer I drink, but like to try new stuff and generally even if I don’t like drinking the beer it makes for decent beer bread (though there was one red ale that bombed), once I made it with a bottle of hard cider left at our house – that resulted in a sweeter loaf, but overall still tasty and successful. It is quite tasty untoasted with softened butter, makes great toast with jam and I often bake a loaf to take camping. I’ve made a couple small changes from the original recipe, first reducing the amount of butter and second skipping the “melt butter” step. My friend Liz makes a version with garlic and herbs that I really must try soon.

Beer Bread

Beer Bread
3 c all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 -12 oz beer, at room temperature
2 T butter, cut into small pats (at least 6 different pieces)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. Pour the beer into the bowl and stir until everything is just mixed (sometimes it foams up a lot so I wait a couple of minutes before stirring, if you have any other tips on this I’d love to hear them). Pour into prepared pan and dot the top with butter. Bake 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Try to let it cool before slicing it.

October 6, 2010. Tags: , , . baking, Cooking. 2 comments.

It doesn’t have to be perfect

I have 17 drafts of blog posts waiting.  Waiting for pictures.  Waiting for editing.  Waiting for the right time to post.  Waiting to post them until I get back into this blogging thing (ha!, what a method for inaction).  Waiting for perfection I suppose.  I need to stop waiting for perfection, for time/skill/effort of perfection (also, download and upload photos in a more timely manner).  And so goes this short, incomplete, blog post.

I’m baking.  September hit hard today, grey and rainy.  Frankly I wasn’t ready for summer to end, I think I was still waiting for it to begin.  Somehow I feel I missed most of summer, I missed too many farmer’s market visits, I missed freezing pint upon pint of berries.  All I seem to see is missed stuff, not all the amazing things I did this summer.  If I had a better inner spin-doctor I’d be telling you about the 3 camping trips (no rain!, well on the 2nd and 3rd trips), the trips to the beach and lounging on the sand reading, the trips to see far away friends and family, our weekly grilled pizza… instead I think of all my missed opportunities (and fight the urge to go dig for photos illustrating this charmed life).  But back to baking.  Baking makes dreary days better.  But nearly every week (save the rare 90+ F degree heat waves) I think, I should bake bread, and I don’t.  I mean sure there is the no-knead bread (made it once or twice but somehow timing that seems more daunting that your standard 2 rises), and I do have quite the fondness for beer bread (such a good way to use up bottles of beer we don’t like) but whenever I buy yeasted bread at the grocery store and every time I see a blogger mention baking bread I have a tinge of guilt.  I should be doing that.  It’s not a fear of yeast or kneading, growing up my mom even went through a multi-year period of baking all of our bread and I helped, I remember the progression was tasty but dense bricks to light, reliable sturdy sandwich bread .  I even remember tackling a 10 (?) clove yeasted garlic bread, shaped as a garlic head no less, sometime in junior high all by myself.  And I make yeasted pizza dough on a regular basis.  But somehow, getting my act together to make a yeasted vehicle for toast and jam just doesn’t happen.

Can I institute a weekly savory baking session?  We shall see.  I think Mondays will be that day, and until about 7:30 pm I thought today was Monday.  But screw the yeast;  I don’t have to bake yeast bread (I hope I do though), I even have 3 lackluster bottles of beer in the pantry that need to be used.  To start, I went easy and tried this whole wheat-molasses bread that caught my eye today.  It just came out of the oven a couple of minutes ago.  I’ll let you know how well it works with jam (maybe even with a picture, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

edited to add: I wasn’t crazy about this bread, it was simply too molasses-y for me.
Whole-wheat molasses bread

September 7, 2010. Tags: , , . Cooking, Thoughts. 3 comments.