Friday, April 15, 2016

Simple Italian or French Bread Recipe

1 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 cup dough starter
1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour( bread, all purpose, or preferably a mix of the two)

Mix the ingredients together. it doesn't have to be smooth, just wet the flour( it should be quite wet. Let it rise until doubled, then fold it over itself three times to form a ball. Repeat this 2 more times for a total of 3 folds/rises. After the final rise turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and split into 3 sections. Shape each section into long loaves (you decide how thick you want them)being gentle with the dough, meaning don't break too many of the bubbles. Place the loves onto a baking sheet and let them rise until they are nearly double in bulk. score the top with a knife. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes in a steamy oven. To make your oven steamy place a pan of water at the bottom when you turn it on.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Experimental Loaf #4: Banana Nut Yeast Bread

Banana bread is a quick bread made with chemical leaveners (Baking soda and baking powder), that is sweet like cake. I love it and make it often. One day I had the idea to combine banana bread with a yeast bread.

banana nut bread

I made this bread the way I make my Italian bread. The difference was I substituted most of the water for mashed ripe bananas. After the dough had risen I split it into two portions and as an after thought I folded in some walnuts and brown sugar (that's why the nuts are in uneven clusters). I then shaped the dough into two round loaves and baked them like my Italian bread.

The flavor was very good. You could taste the banana and the bursts of brown sugar sweetness was a perfect touch. Next time I make it (and judging by how fast my family ate this bread, there will be a next time) I will mix the walnuts in when making the dough so they will be evenly distributed. I like folding in the brown sugar in the end so some bites are sweeter than others.

Of the four experimental loafs I've done so far this one was my favorite. That's no surprise, though, since I'm bananas for bananas.    

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Recipe

cinnamon raisin bread

1 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm milk
1 package yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
4 1/2- 5 cups flour (half bread flour)
cinnamon, sugar, and raisins for filling depending on your taste. 
1) Mix first 7 ingredients. Add enough flour to form a soft but not sticky dough. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 7 min.
2) Allow dough to rise in a lightly greased bowl until doubled in size (about 2 hrs).
3) Divide dough into two equal portions and shape each into a rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you will be baking them in, and about 1/2 in thick.
4) Brush dough with a little water or milk. Sprinkle each rectangle evenly with a few tablespoons of sugar, then sprinkle with cinnamon, and lastly raisins (don't skimp on the raisins, min could have used a few more). Tap down raisins lightly.
5) Roll the dough up tightly and press seam to seal. Place in two greased loaf pans.
6) Allow dough to rise until it is just about the rim of the loaf pan.
7) Bake in a 350°F oven for about 45 min.
8) Serve warm with butter and enjoy.       

Friday, March 20, 2015

Orange Croissant Pinwheel Buns Recipe

orange croissant roll


A croissant  got drunk on orange liqueur and had a fling with a cinnamon bun. This is the result of that twisted (and delicious) night.

For the Dough:

1 cup warm water
2 eggs
1 package yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
zest of 2 oranges
4-5 cups of all purpose flour
2 sticks of butter flatted into a sheet and chilled
1/2 stick of softened butter

For Orange Sugar:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of one orange

1) Make orange sugar by blending the sugar and zest in a food processor for 30 seconds. Set aside.

2) Make a sheep of flattened butter by taking too sticks of butter and letting them get only slightly softened by sitting out at room temperature. Hold the two sticks side by side as squeeze them together. They should stick together. Roll them lightly in all purpose flour and place them on a sheet of plastic wrap. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top and with a rolling pin press the butter block down until you have a sheet about a quarter of an inch thick. Place in the fridge.

3) Make dough: Mix first 7 dough ingredients. Add just enough flour to form a dough that is not too stiff and not too soft. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.

4) Turn dough out onto a counter and roll out into a rectangle about 1/2 in thick. Remove butter sheet from plastic wrap an place on one half of dough (leaving about 1 inch between butter and edge of dough). Fold other half of dough over and seal butter inside by pressing edges. Let dough sit for 10 minutes to butter softens.

5) Roll dough out until it is half its thickness. Fold it in half and roll it out again. Now tri-fold it (fold one edge in and fold other edge over that, pictured below), and roll out again. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 min so the gluten relaxes (it will get harder to roll if you don't). Now fold it in half and roll out. Let it rest 10 minutes. Then fold it into a tri-fold again and roll out into a rectangle about 1/2 in thick.

6) Spread dough with softened butter and then sprinkle with half of orange sugar. Roll dough up into a log and press to seal seam. Cut into 1 in thick rounds. Place on greased baking sheet (with sides) about 2 in apart. Let them rise until double in size.

7) Bake in a 350°F oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. While how sprinkle with rest of orange sugar (if you don't like the texture of granulated sugar use a powdered sugar glaze with powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest to drizzle over them).

8) The most important step. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Green Bread (Spinach Bread)

spinach bread

spinach bread

I made this bread because I wanted green colored bread. The spinach adds little to it other than color. You do get a very subtle spinach flavor, though. To make it I simply added pureed spinach to a basic Italian bread recipe substituting some of the water in the recipe with the puree. I was very pleased with the outcome.

I began with a pot of boiling water. In it I blanched one bunch of spinach for a couple of minutes and then I shocked it in an ice water bath. I did this to preserve the color. When the spinach was cooled I put it in a good blender with 1/2 cup of water and pureed it until it was smooth. By blender did a great job. If yours is weaker you may have to strain the puree to get out the larger pieces of spinach.

In a mixing bowl I mixed 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp yeast. to this I added about 1 cup of the spinach puree, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp. of olive oil. I mixed this well and then began adding bread flower. Enough to form a soft dough. About 2.5 cups. The dough had a beautiful bright green color.

 If you are a reader of my blog you know I don't knead my Italian bread. I like the long rise and fold method. I covered the dough and let it rise for 2.5 hours. I then folded it over itself to redistribute the yeast, gluten, and air. Then every hour I folded it over itself. I did this 3 times. After the final fold I let the dough rise again until doubled in size. I then turned it out onto a lightly floured counter, divided it in half and formed two long loafs.

I placed the loafs on a lightly greased baking sheet and let them rise until the were double in size. I baked then in a 425°F oven (with a pan of hot water placed at the bottom) and baked them for about 25 minutes.

The loafs tasted good and I think I'll make green garlic bread with them the next time my family does Italian for dinner.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Apple Pecan Sticky Buns Recipe

sticky buns

apple pecan sticky buns
Regular sticky buns are delicious. Sticky buns with apples added are a revelation.
The Dough:
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup milk
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup oil or 1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4- 4 1/2 cups flour
The filling:
1/2 stick of soft butter
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 stick of butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 granny smith apples dices into 1/3 in chunks
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
For dough mix first 7 ingredients. Add flour and work into a soft but not sticky dough. If it is sticky add a little more flour. Knead dough for 6-7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubles (1 to 2 hours).
Take the first 6 topping ingredients and place them into a saucepan or small pot. Bring them to a full boil and stir to combine. Divide this mixture evenly between two 9x13 in baking pans. Cover with chopped apples and pecans.
Punch down the risen dough and place on a clean counter. If the dough is the right texture no extra flour will be needed. From the filling ingredients mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom together and set aside. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/2 in thick. The length and width depends on how big you want the final buns to be. Spread the rolled out dough with the softened butter (leaving a one inch strip of unbuttered dough for sealing later) and then spread the brown sugar mixture over that. Roll the dough up tightly and press along the unbuttered strip to seal. Place the dough log seam down on the table and cut it into as many 1.5 in thick rounds as possible.
Place the rounds into the prepared baking pans and allow them to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Bake the buns in a 350°F oven for 25-30 min, until golden brown on top. While the buns are still hot turn then out onto a baking rack with some foil underneath (to catch any topping that drips off). Serve warm and enjoy.            

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bread Baking Tips to Remember

1) If you want to speed up the rising of your bread make a homemade proofing box. simply place your bread in an oven with a pot of boiling hot water and close the door. The moisture from the water will keep the bread from drying out too much on top and the heat will make it rise faster.

2) Use as little flour as possible when shaping loaves. For most bread you should be able to handle the dough without any flour.

3) If you want a good crust on your rustic artisan bread place a shallow pan of water at the bottom of the oven while you bake.

4) Long slow rises with a small amount of yeast produces a bread with great texture and more depth of flavor.

5) Let hot bread cool at least 15 minutes before slicing. The bread will cut better.

6) If loaves are browning too quickly tent them loosely with aluminum foil.

7) To check if a loaf is done take it out of pan and tap it on the bottom. It should sound hollow. If you have a food thermometer the temperature should be between 190°F and 205°F.

8) After the first rise to see if the dough has risen enough press into it with your finger. The dough should give way easily and the dough should not spring up.

9) There are 2 ways to develop gluten in bread. You can knead it until it is smooth and elastic (around 10 min) or you can let it rise a long time (overnight or longer).

10) Cold slows yeast activity. It does not stop it. You can let dough rise in the refrigerator if you don't need anytime soon.

11) Hard (alkaline) water weakens gluten so bread will have less volume. If your water is hard you may consider using bottled water.

12) If your dough is too dry sprinkle water on it while you knead it to soften it up.

13) Don't use expired yeast. It is a living organism and if you've had it in the cabinet for years chances are too much of it has died.

14) Always start your bread recipe with warm water (about 100°F-110°F). The warmth gets the yeast working faster.