Post #558 Yup, Bread Again!

January 21, 2018 at 12:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #558 Yup, Bread Again!

It’s no secret in this blog that I love bread.  I really do.  Yesterday, for breakfast, I ate two biscuits with butter and local raspberry preserves and was happy all morning.  Then for lunch, we had french bread slices with brie and veggies and sliced meats.  Dinner was a little heartier, grilled and sliced steak with salad, but there were croutons in the salad so that counts.  Pizza is one of my favorite things and it’s really just bread dough with cheese and tomato sauce.  And don’t even get me started on cheese sandwiches, hot or otherwise.  This morning for breakfast, I ate two pain au chocolat, basically french croissants with bittersweet chocolate inside them although rolled a little differently.  So, yeah.  Bread.  Good stuff.

I’ve had a search on for a couple of years now to find the easiest and most satisfying recipe to make “regular” white sandwich bread.  I found one from Julia Child that fit the bill, but was a little complicated.  I used one from America’s Test Kitchen that was good, but intricate though reliable, as all their recipes are.  I had just settled on one that made a good serviceable bunch of sandwich rolls in an easy manner, when someone from the food group I’m in on FB (Food Interactive, if you’d like to get involved) shared a recipe that made two loaves of a tender but well structured loaf.  It was an easy recipe, hands on, and versatile.  I took it on and I’ve made easily 50 loaves using this recipe.  We’ll go through the first loaf in a couple of days, and the second (when we start getting tired of toast and sandwiches) over the rest of the week.  Partner/Spouse doesn’t eat as much bread as I do, but eats his fair share.

So somewhere along the line, I decided I was a bread baker.  For Christmas this past year, I got two books on baking bread, three Banneton bread proofing bowls (French willow baskets used to create round or oblong rustic loaves), and a couple of other baking implements.  And I’ve been working on trying out various recipes.  Cuz that’s how I roll (mmm, rolls!)  When I wanted to learn how to make a good cake, I made cake over and over again.  I got so I could from an urge to make to cake to the finished product in under an hour.  I can throw together a batch of chocolate chip cookies and have them cooling on a wire rack in under 45 minutes.  Brownies from start to eating is about four hours because you have to add in the three hour cooling time it takes to keep from searing the inside of your mouth.  I did the same with spaghetti sauce and Italian cooking.  And there was a time when I used the gas grill outside far more often than the stove.

So here I am now with bread.  Cuz I love bread.  And bread, in its simplicity and complexity and variety, is truly one of the great challenges in the baking world.  It’s easy to learn and hard to master.  There are subtleties to making it.  The ingredients can change the finished product depending on their age.  And those changes can make the bread a tremendous success or a rousing failure.  It’s tough to tell what’s going to happen.  I used to keep a jar of yeast granules in the fridge to keep them fresh.  Now I keep the vacuum sealed packages instead so they maintain their freshness longer.  I imagine one of these days, I’ll be making my own sourdough starter.

So one of the books I got was from America’s Test Kitchen, their Bread Illustrated Book.  After devouring it with my eyes, I noted a recipe for brioche.  Brioche is a light textured bread with a crumbly interior and a very lightly sweet taste.  It makes a wonderful breakfast bread to toast or to eat plain with butter and jam.  It makes a good french toast, or a bread pudding.  I wanted to try my hand at it, just to see what I came up with.  Here’s how to make it.

  • 1 2/3 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temp
  • 1/4 cup water, room temp
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

In a medium bowl, stir the first three ingredients together with a whisk to fully incorporate.  When first putting the ingredients in the bowl, do not allow the salt and the yeast to touch.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together last four ingredients until well blended and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and using a rubber spatula, gently incorporate the wet into the dry.  The best way is to move the spatula under the flour and lift up through the egg mixture.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.  Keep gently mixing until there are no dry ingredients, and everything is mixed.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temp for 10 minutes.  Then, using a plastic bowl scraper or your fingers, fold the dough into itself by lifting from the bottom of the bowl and pressing into the center.  Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.  Keep repeating until you’ve turned the bowl a total of four times.  Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.  Repeat this three more times, allowing the dough to rest for 30 minutes in between each folding process.  Cover tightly and place bowl in the fridge to rest for at least 16 hours or up to 48.  (I let if rest for about 20 hours, overnight into about mid-morning.)  My fridge runs a little cold so at the next step, I allowed 15 minutes to make the dough more pliable.  Remove dough from bowl to a well floured surface and cut in half.  Cover one piece with plastic.  Using your well floured fingers, roll the piece into a ball then flatten into a four inch disc.  Fold the top into the middle and press firmly but gently.  Turn a quarter turn and repeat until all four corners have been pressed into the middle and a rough ball is formed.  Using your cupped palm, roll the dough into a firm ball and set aside.  Cover with plastic from other piece of dough and repeat process with that piece of dough.  Cover both dough balls with plastic and let set at room temp for 5 minutes.  Prepare an 8×4 loaf pan by spraying with vegetable spray.  When five minutes have passed, repeat the process of flattening each dough ball and reforming.  Place each dough ball in prepared loaf pan and cover loosely with plastic.  Allow to rise until they reach a half inch below edge of pan which can take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Allow ample rising for lighter texture.  Just before rising is completed, heat oven to 350.  Brush loaf with an egg wash and bake for 35-40 minutes (I did 40 minutes but turned the oven off for the last 5.)  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool for 3 hours.

Here’s how mine turned out.  I forgot the egg wash so it’s darker than expected.  The interior crumb was good, and the flavor was excellent.

It also didn’t rise as high as I’d hoped, but I put that down to my own inexperience and lack of technique.

So, that’s my latest adventure in bread.  Not sure what my next will be except I’m sure it’s going to feature our new stand mixer and the Banneton bowls in some way.  I’ll be sure to let you know what happens.

As always,

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