Saturday, January 07, 2006

Breakin' Bread

I absolutely LOVE bread..I'm a carb addict, honestly. I swear to you I could never do the Atkin's Diet, I wouldn't last a day without carbs. Breakfast/lunch usually consists of bagels, waffles, homemade muffins or something along those lines.

And, with that said..I made bread! From scratch, with yeast and everything. My goal is to learn the art of bread making. And I will be honest, that seems like no small feat to me. Bread baking has always been a bit intimidating to me. All that kneading, and rising..scary.

peasant boule

I used a recipe from The Weekend Baker, which by the way is a fantastic book. It seems to have lots of great recipes. The book is broken down into 3 sections, based on the amount of time you are able to devote to the recipes. The only thing I don't like about the book is there aren't a lot of photos. I'm super visual so great color photos are a HUGE must for me when it comes to cookbooks!

Peasant Boule
Makes 1 round loaf

3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups very warm water (between 115 & 125 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Optional: 2/3 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs

(recipe can be prepared by hand, however instructions are for using a stand mixer, as that's the method I used)

1. To mix in a stand mixer
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk until well blended.

2. Check water temp; should register about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. In order for the yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115-125 degrees.

3. Fit mixer with dough hook. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour the warm water into the flour mixture and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Add the chopped herbs (if using). Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. If the dough clumbs up the hook, stop the mixer and scrape the dough back into the bowl. Don't venture too far away while the dough is mixing, as the mixer might dance around on the counter because of the large amoutn of dough.

4. Let the dough rise
Scoop up the dough & shape into a ball. Lightly grease the bowl & pop the dough back into it. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap. Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

5. Generously butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Turn the dough out onto clean work surface (no need to flour; the dough is soft, but not sticky) and press down gently to deflate it. Shape dough into a rough 7 inches wide & place it, smooth side up, in the prepared pan. Generously brush with some of the melted butter. You may not need all the butter.

6. Let dough rise (no need to cover it) in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 25 minutes. It will fill the pan and will be light and airy to the touch.

7. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush dough with remaining butter.

8. Bake until the boule is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped, abuot 40 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack, tip the baked bread onto the rack, and remove the pan. Set the loaf right side up and let cool completely.

I was pretty pleased with the outcome. This is just a good basic crusty white bread. Definitely a good beginner recipe for others like myself who want to start baking bread. I was afraid of over kneading the dough and actually I think I should have kneaded it more because it was a bit sticky. So I'll try the recipe again and be sure to knead the dough more. The only other thing I'm not sure about is why the bread softened up after it had been sitting overnight. It's by no means soggy, but initially it was fairly hard and when tapped the loaf sounded hollow. I put the loaf in a large ziploc bag on the counter overnight and the next morning I noticed it seemed to have softened up. My muffins often do this too. I guess something to do with moisture, does anyone have any clues or suggestions? If so I would love to hear from you, please let me know.

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Comments on "Breakin' Bread"


Blogger ericmsdw2005 said ... (1:03 PM) : 

If that tastes even half as good as it looks, you've created a masterpiece! Butter me up a slice!

I think the softening up is due to moisture. Let me know if anyone suggests anything, cause I'm not sure what to do either. I tried my vacuum sealer with bagels once and it totally flattened them permanently!



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:03 PM) : 

Wow--very impressive! I find dealing with yeast intimidating too, no matter how much everyone assures me that it's not. I've tried it once and wasn't happy with the results...posted about it a while back. Have you considered working thru the King Arthur online bread baking course? It's just in pdf form and you work thru it at your own rate. I'm considering that as a starter for me.

And I'm with you on the carb thing...I think I'm hard-wired to be a major carb consumer and I likes it that way!! The result of that is, I have to work harder to lose I'm on my way right now to go on running!

And why would anyone even think of printing a cookbook without pictures??!! I got a used cookbook thru the mail recently that's called "Diner Desserts." And much to my dismay, all these cobblers and pies and cakes and cookies come with nary a picture!

Can't wait to read about your next loaf!


Blogger Heather said ... (1:29 PM) : 

Heather= bread! I am so with you on never being able to be an Atkins dieter... I laugh at my friends who have tried it, not because they failed but because I started a diet at the same time and lost 40 pounds and ate bread and carbs the whole time. It is all about portions. Enough with that!
This bread looks great. I am going to have to try it too. I have always wanted to be a big bread baker too, we will have to exchange stories and recipes... oh I guess we are.


Blogger ericmsdw2005 said ... (7:47 PM) : 

A toast to my fellow carb lovers!




Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:18 PM) : 

Hooray for bread! The boule's a beauty!


Blogger Ziz said ... (7:18 PM) : 

that bread looks soo good..mmm..

Pst! I tagged you for a meme! Check it out..


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:44 PM) : 

I think the hardest thing for me to get used to was making sure the water temp was right (I never got around to getting a thermometer) so I always mixed the water, yeast and a bit of sugar to make sure the yeast activated correctly. It was easier to throw out this mixture instead of an entire dough because the water was to hot or too cold.

One thing about storing bread, always make sure it is completely cooled before bagging...this will help a bit with the moisture but most breads will soften naturally. Most breads also freeze well, including bagels. Just wrap in plastic wrap then in a freezer bag.


Blogger ericmsdw2005 said ... (6:57 AM) : 

OH YES, THE FREEZER! It helps alot. Here in the Northeast, bagels are HUGE! They're best fresh out of the bagel shop's oven but we can't get there every morning so on Sunday mornings, I get a dozen and after Sunday breakfast, I freeze them for the week. Defrost in the microwave on med for 30 seconds, which leave them slightly frozen in the middle. If you split them and then toast them, they are pretty close to when I first get them. Freezing is better than just bagging.



Blogger Culinarily Obsessed said ... (1:28 AM) : 

Thanx for the encouragement everybody! The more I eat from this loaf the more I LOVE this bread. It's so amazingly delicious for it to have been sooo simple. It's REAL bread with not nearly the amount of effort I have always expected bread to take.

Jen thanx for the tips. I should have thought of coming to you for advice immediately, Ms Bread Bakery Lady =)

I let the loaf sit out for quite some time so I know it was completely cooled, I made sure to elimate that possibility from the equation. I've learned that from always trying to keep my muffins crusty on top instead of a bit sticky & soggy. Still haven't figured out how to deal with that except by refrigerating them. I guess the bread just softening because, like Jen said, that's what bread does.

And Eric I'm with you..I do the same thing. Altho I normally buy frozen bagels from the grocery store..I know I know..not nearly as good but it's what happens when you don't have a bagel shop close by =(


Blogger ericmsdw2005 said ... (10:42 AM) : 

LOL! They say the bagels here are the best because of the water supply. I don't drink it myself (Poland Spring here!) but there's got to be something to it. I visit Boston, Chicago and Atlanta regularly and even though some NJ/NY bagel shops have moved there, they still aren't as good! Lenders work if there's nothing else around...just gotta toast them. When a bagel comes right out of the oven at my local bagel shop, you can just eat it plain and they melt in your melt, after you get past the awesome chewy crust...YUM!



Blogger Culinarily Obsessed said ... (8:30 PM) : 

Dayum you I want bagels!!

That's may have the market cornered on the best bagels, but I lay claim to Krispy Kreme!! lol


Blogger ericmsdw2005 said ... (5:56 AM) : 

definitely! we didn't get crispy creme in NY until about 1997...until then, we had to go south of the border, lol!


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