Thursday, December 23, 2010

Panettone Recipe: French Toast

panettone french toast
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread from Milan. It is a staple at Christmas. While good by itself, it makes phenomenal French toast. I had the pleasure of eating some panettone French toast this morning with panettone I made myself. Here's how.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 package yeast
2 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup candied citron
1 tbsp orange or lemon zest

Mix water, yeast, salt, sugar, eggs, and oil. Add flour and other ingredients to form a wet sticky dough. In a stand mixer mix the dough for 5 minutes. Let dough rise in a greased bowl for 3 hrs. If you want a tall panettone you will need a special tall pan or clean coffee can lined with parchment. If not use a regular loaf pan or deep round casserole pan well greased and lined with parchment. After dough has risen transfer it to the pans filling them no more than half way. Let the dough rise however long it takes for it to reach the top of the pan. Bake at 375 until well browned about 30-40 min depending on the size of your pan.

After the panettone was cooled I cut it into 1/2 in slices and proceeded to make the French toast. I use a ratio of approximately 1 egg to 1/4 cup milk to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar for my French toast custard as well as some cinnamon and vanilla for flavoring.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let's Not do Fruit Cake This Christmas... Let's do Fruit Bread

2 1/2 cup bread flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (mixed with 1 tsp vital wheat gluten)
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp yeast
1/2 cup dough starter
1 tsp salt
1- 1 1/2 cups of dried fruits (I used chopped dates and raisins)
1/2- 3/4 cup walnuts

Mix water, starter, yeast, honey, sugar, and salt. Add flours, fruit, and nuts. Mix until dough comes together. It should be soft and slightly sticky. Do not knead. Instead use the slow rise method. Let the dough rise for 8 hrs folding it over over itself every 2 hrs. After the last rise don't fold it. Gently form it into two round loafs and placed on a greased baking. Let them rise 1 1/2 hrs in a warm place. Score the top of each loaf and bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 min. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Experimental Loaf 1: Garlic Herb Bread with Lemon

Recently I have been experimenting with putting different flavors in bread. One such experiment is the pretty little loaf you see above. It contains chopped fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary), lemon zest, and crushed garlic. The base was my italian bread recipe. Here is a link to that recipe- Italian Bread . It was pretty tasty, though I would have loved more garlic. Also next time I'll remove the lemon and use that for a citrus flavored bread instead (the orange cranberry bread at Wegmans is great). Some more experimental loaves are on the way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: 52 Loaves

"52 Loaves" by author William Alexander (author of "The $64 Tomato") is a fun read. If you are familiar with "The $64 Tomato" and enjoyed it, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It is written in the same style. Alexander is a great writer and he is able to make you smile and laugh at the simplest of situations. This is not a recipe book, though it does contain valuable baking information. Alexander takes you on his quest to make the best from scratch bread he can. He takes the term "from scratch" a bit seriously and even sets out to grow his own wheat! Through ups and downs he tastes through 52 loaves of bread. Does he make the perfect loaf? Read and find out if for no other reason than you could learn from his mistakes in seeking the perfect loaf and not repeat them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Croissant Roll Recipe

croissant rolls
Croissants are one of the best rolls ever invented. Layers of flaky pastry and butter. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. They are surprisingly simple to make. Don't let others fool you, and scare you into thinking they should only be attempted by professional bakers. If you can make plain rolls you can make croissants. They only require one extra step: folding butter into the dough, a process called lamination. Here is my recipe for croissants.

1 1/4 cup warm milk or water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup oil or 1/2 stick butter melted
1 egg

Mix the above ingredients then add 4 to 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour to form a soft not sticky dough. Allow dough to rise 2 hrs. While dough is rising prepare butter you will fold into dough. Take three sticks of butter and lay them side by side touching. Roll them in flour and then place them between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin flatten the butter into a rectangle about 1/2 in thick and 7in by 10in. When the dough is risen roll it out to a rectangle about 22in by 16in. Lay the butter in dough to one side. fold the dough over and seal butter inside. Now for the fun part (or hard part depending on how you look at it). Roll dough out to its original size. Fold it over itself. roll it out again, and repeat 5 or 6 times. If butter starts to ooze at any point place dough in the refrigerator for 1 hr to firm it. After the last fold, roll dough out to 1/2 in thick. Cut it into triangles with wide bases. Roll the triangles up and fold them into crescent shapes. Place them onto parchment lined baking sheets and allow them to rise 1 1/2 hrs. Bake at 375 degrees until golden. Time to doneness will depend on how large yuo made them.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to Make Sourdough Starter

sourdough starter

Did you know you don't need store bought yeast to rise your bread. Their are many naturally occurring yeasts floating around in the air around us. It is possible to capture and grow these yeast in a starter. This process was used to rise bread for much of human history. The starter is called sourdough because lactic acid bacteria inhabit the starter and create a sour taste.

A simple way to make sour dough starter at home is to set a jar of organic whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, and plenty of sugar with enough pure water to make a thick pancake batter consistency. Cover this with a paper towel held on with a rubber band and let it sit at room temperature for a few days until it stars to bubble. Now remove half of it and replace it with fresh all purpose flour, sugar, and water mixture (keep it thick). Do this every 24 hrs for a week. After that the starter should be good and strong. It will not rise bread fast. It will take at least 12hrs, but the flavor will be phenomenal. Always save a little of the starter to keep it going and it can be stored in the refrigerator and cared for like the regular dough starter I wrote about in a much earlier post.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Make Simple Bruschetta

Over the past few weeks I've found myself baking a lot of Italian bread, both long and round loaves. First I made some for the family, then I made some for a bake sale (they are not just for sweet stuff), and then I made some for a friend to take to a family reunion. With all this bread being made it's no wonder I had plenty of left overs (despite how good it is). But that doesn't bother me. One of my favorite things to do with leftover Italian bread is make bruschetta.

To make it I take the bread and slice it into 1/2 in thick slices. I then place them on a baking sheet and drizzle them with plain olive oil or garlic infused oil. Bake them at 400 degrees until toasted. I let the toast cool and then top them with a mixture of chopped roma tomatoes, basil, and finely minced garlic. I season the mixture with salt, pepper, and olive oil. This is a cool, refreshing summer snack or hors d'oeuvre, and a tasty use for stale Italian or French bread.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Potato Cheese Rolls

potato rolls
Potatoes are very starchy. They are often added to breads to make a more tender lighter product. This is especially useful when making rolls. These rolls also add cheese and chives for flavor making them a great accompaniment to any savory meal.


1 egg
1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast
1 cup mashed potatoes
4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped chives


3 cups of flour (give or take few tablespoons)to form a soft but not sticky dough. Knead the dough for 5 min, and let rise until fully doubled. Punch it down and shape dough into balls (the size of which will depend on how big you want the rolls). Let them rise on a baking sheet until doubled and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 min. Serve warm and enjoy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Bread

whole wheat bread
Whole wheat flour doesn't make as light a bread as white flour. This is because of a lack of gluten forming ability. When I make whole wheat breads I often mix whole wheat and white flour together to help with this problem. One can make a good, light,100% whole wheat bread though if you add gluten. The following recipe makes a great bread.

1 cup of warm water
1 package yeast
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp vital wheat gluten

Mix the gluten and the flour together well. In a mixing bowl combine the first 5 ingredients together. Add the flour mixture and knead to form a smooth dough. Let rise fully. Punch it down, and let it rise again. Form the dough into a loaf and place in a well greased loaf pan. Let it rise until it is 1 in above the surface of the pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 min. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Rolls Recipe

sweet potato rolls
These rolls have an interesting flavor, and great moistness from the sweet potato. They are higher in fiber than regular rolls also and are great with a little cinnamon butter, or just plain butter.

1 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk (or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water)
1 package yeast
1 egg
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick butter melted (or 1/4 cup oil)
3 - 3 1/2 cups flour

Mix the first 8 ingredients together then add the flour. Knead to form a soft, smooth dough(about 5 minutes). Let the dough rise in a greased bowl until fully doubled, about 1 1/2 hrs. Punch it down and shape into 1 1/2 or 2 in balls, depending on how big you want your final rolls. Place them on greased baking pans with at least 1 in of space between each roll. Let them rise until doubled again, about 1 hr more. Bake on 350 degrees for 25 min. Serve warm.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Garlic Infused Bread Recipe

I cannot tell you how much I like Garlic. I'll put it in almost anything, so It's a wonder I hadn't made this bread sooner.

4 large cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped herbs (like rosemary and thyme)
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup dough starter
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
3 -3 1/2 cups bread flour

Mix the water, dough starter, sugar,and yeast together. Stir in one cup of the flour. Stir in the garlic, herbs, and salt. Now add the rest of the flour until you have a soft slightly sticky dough. Knead a couple of minutes then let rise 2 hrs. Fold the dough over itself a few times then let rise 1 1/2 hrs. Fold it over itself again, and then let rise 1 hr. Gently shape the dough into a round loaf and place on a greased baking sheet. Let rise 1 1/2 hrs. Score the top with a sharp knife. Bake in a steamy oven at 400 degrees for 35-40 min. Enjoy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Raisin Nut Buns Recipe

raisin nut buns

This is my all time favorite sweet roll. They are basically just cinnamon buns with raisins and nuts in them. Don't eat too many if you can resist it.

The Dough:

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or 1/2 stick melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour


1/2 stick softened butter
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


4 oz softened cream cheese
4 tbsp softened butter
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla or lemon juice (optional)

For the dough mix the water, milk, oil, yeast, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla together. Add the flour and knead for 5 min to form a soft but not sticky dough. Let the dough rise until fully doubled in bulk (about 1/ 1/2 to 2 hrs). Punch the dough down and place on the work surface (there should be no need for extra flour, but if it feels sticky by all means use some (but not to much)). Shape the dough into a rectangle no thicker than 1/2 inches. The dimensions are not important to me, just know that the wider it is the more swirls the finished rolls will have.

For the filling begin spreading the butter on the rectangle leaving a one inch border butterless along one of the long sides. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and spread this over the butter. Then eveny spread the raisins and nuts over that. Pres firmly with a rolling pin. Now roll the rectangle up starting on the side opposite the butterless border. When you get to the border press it tightly to seal. Cut the roll into 1 in thick rounds and place in a well greased baking pan. You will probably need 2 (a large one and a small one). Let them rise one hour, then bake for 25 min at 350 degrees. Remove from the pan while hot or the will stick. The easiest way to geth them out is too quickly turn the pan upside down and let them fall out.

For the frosting beat all the ingredients together until smooth and drizzle over the buns. If it wont drizzle add more milk or if you prefer a spreadable frosting add less milk.

Serve warm and enjoy. They reheat well 20 sec in the microwave.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pumpernickel Bread Recipe

pumpernickel bread
Pumpernickel is a dense, dark, rye bread, great for sandwiches or toasted with cream cheese and smoked salmon or gravlax. Here is my recipe. Enjoy.

1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp vital wheat gluten
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup dough starter( optional, adds more depth of flavor)
1 tbsp browning sauce (optional, just makes it darker)
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp caraway seed
2 tsp cider vinegar

This is probably the longest list of ingredients I've had so far, but pumpernickel has a complex flavor that comes from the sum total of all these ingredients.

Mix the flours, wheat gluten, the caraway seed, and cocoa together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer mix all the other ingredients together. Add the flour mixture, and using the dough hook attachment knead to form a smooth elastic dough. It should not be sticky so add extra flour as needed. Let rise in a greased bowl until fully doubled (2 or more hours). Shape into a round free-form loaf, and let rise again on a baking sheet until doubled. Score the top with a knife in any pattern you choose, and bake at 375 degrees about 40 min. Let cool and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Naan Recipe

Indian food is great, and what Indian meal would be complete without naan- the premier flat bread of India. It is very simple to make so if you like it, you should try.

1 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp yogurt

Mix the 1st two ingredients together, and set aside. In a separate bowl mix the last six ingredients together. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix to form a soft, but not sticky dough. Knead just until smooth and place in a greased bowl to let rise until doubled.

Once the dough has risen divide it into 1 1/2in diameter balls (or bigger if you want bigger naan). Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot. Roll the balls out to an 1/8 of an inch in thickness and then place them in to the pan (irregular shapes are fine). Working with one or two at a time cook them 1 1/2 min per side or until covered in bubbles and spotty brown. Serve warm.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kaiser Rolls Recipe

kaiser roll dough
shaping kaiser rolls
shaping kaiser rolls
kaiser rolls
The hamburger bun is probably the top roll in the country, but it lacks the great chew of a good Kaiser roll. I make kaiser rolls every once in a while just to say I did, and if you haven't i think you should try to make them too. My recipe is a little different from most others, but I like it.

1 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cu dough starter
1 tsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp oil
4 cups bread flour

for topping:
poppy seeds
egg wash (beaten egg and a little water)

Mix the first 7 ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then add the flour. Knead to form a smooth, soft (but not sticky) dough. After 6 min of kneading it should be ready. place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let rise until well doubled. It is best to let this dough rise relatively slow to develop flavors. Once the dough is risen turn it out onto a work surface and gently redistribute the air by pressing its surface. Now form the dough into pieces large enough to form 1 in wide 13 in long snakes of dough. Now follow the pictures above to form the snakes into a kaiser roll shape by looping each one around itself. Place the finished rolls on a greased and cornmeal covered baking sheet to rise until doubled again. Once risen brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake in a 375 degree steamy oven for 20-25 min. enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hearty Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon raisin bread is good! But not necessarily good for you. This recipe hopes to change that. It makes one loaf.

1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole whet flour
1 1/2 tsp vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon mixed with 1 tbsp sugar

Combine 1st 5 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the next 4 ingredients and knead to form a smooth elastic dough. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until fully doubled. Remove from the bowl and place on worktop. Shape dough into a rectangle that is the same width as the loaf pan you will be baking it in, and 1 in thick. Spread the raisins out over the dough. Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over it. Roll the dough into a log tightly and then squeeze the ends. Place in a greased loaf pan and let rise until it is just above the rime of the pan. Bake on 375 degrees for 40 min. This makes great toast with cinnamon sugar and butter, or cinnamon raisin french toast. mmmm fiber.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Homemade Bagels: Basic Recipe

I don't believe there are very many things more fun to bake than bagels. I always thought bagels required to much skill and special equipment to make at home, but ever since I discovered one could make quality bagels right in the home kitchen, I have made them regularly. I now realise almost anything can be made at home (a secret the food companies are glad to keep hidden). Here is my basic recipes for bagels.

3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup dough starter
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp malted barley flour
1 tbsp sugar
3-4 cups bread flour

Extra Equipment: pot of boiling water (at least a 1 gallon), 1/4 cup baking soda, cooling racks, egg wash (beaten egg and water)

Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer (holding a cup of the flour) and knead until smooth and elastic. Bagel dough should be stiff not soft, so add the extra flour as necessary. When the dough is well kneaded (about 7-8min) transfer to a lightly greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Now portion the dough into balls (the standard is 4 oz for bagels if you have a scale). I just eyeball it to whatever size I like. Once you have formed your balls let them rest on the counter for 15 min. Now take the balls and poke a hole in the center and stretch it out (much farther than you want the final bagel hole to be since it will get smaller).

Add the baking soda to the boiling water and boil the bagels two or three at a time, about 1 1/2 min per side (they will be bumby but will smooth out in the oven. Place the bagels on a rack and brush with the egg wash. If you want to add poppy seeds or some other toppings add them now. Place the bagels on a parchment lined, greased or corn meal coated sheet and bake 375 degrees until browned (20-25 min). Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Cross Buns Recipe: Classic Easter Bread

Easter is almost here so I thought I'd post a recipe for the traditional easter bun. I don't vary much from tradition, but feel free to add sultanas, or chocolate chips in place of the raisins or to add your favorite nut.

1/2 cup warm milk,1/2 cup warm water (you may use all milk for more richness)
1 whole egg and one yolk
1/4 cup melted butter, and 1/4 cup vegetable oil (you may use all one or the other)
1 package yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together. Then add...

1 1/2 cups raisins
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour (enough to make a soft but not sticky doough)

Knead for 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise 2 hrs. Punch it down. Form dough into a long snake and then cut it into peices- size depending on how big you want your buns. Shape into balls and place on a baking sheet with an inch and a half between them. flatten then slightly. Let them rise an hour (if they touch dont worry). Brush each bun with an egg wash (beaten egg and a tsp of water). Take a knife and press a cross into each bun, then bake until golden brown at 375.

While the buns are baking prepare the frosting by mixing 2 tbsp each of softened butter and cream cheese with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp milk.

When the buns have cooled slightly pipe the frosting onto them in the shape of a cross. Serve warm with butter. Enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Make Bread with an Open Crumb, Big Holes: The "Holey" Grail

10 Tips to get those large irregular holes found in artisan breads:

1) Use high hydration(wet) dough
2) Slow rise- dont put it some place warm to rush the rising. Save that for dinner rolls. A slow rise develops gluten bonds slowly.
3) Fold the dough over itself between rises- this adds stability to wet doughs
4) Use a small amount of yeast- a whole pack will rise it to quickly
5) Use bread flour or a bread flour/all purpose flour mix. If using King Arthur flour then all-purpose alone is fine.
6) Don't work the dough roughly when shaping. You don't want to deflate the bubble (you want them to get bigger)
7) Use a preferment (basically a starter)
8) Make sure you fully rise the dough after it is shaped
9) Have a hot oven
10) Have humidity in the oven

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Italian Bread

Every once in a while I like to have some whole wheat italian bread. Not just for th health benefits but for its depth of flavor also. The following is the recipe I use.

This recipe is not 100% whole wheat.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup dough starter
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp white sugar
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1- 1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together until no dry clumps of flour remain. It should look wet, so add more water if it is to stiff. Do not knead, instead we will be using the rise/fold method. Let the dough rise until doubled, then fold over itself 3 or so times. It till be sticky. Let rise again, then fold again. And repeat rise/fold one last time. By now the dough will have some resiliency. After the final rise turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Divide it into 2 or 3 potions depending on how small you want the loaves to be. Working gently, so as not to deflate too many air boubles, shape each portion into a thick oblong loaf (called a batard). Place on a greased baking sheet dusted with corn meal. Let rise, score the top with a knife, and bake in a 425 degree steamed filled oven for 30-35 min. too make the oven steamy place a cast iron pan of water at the bottom while it is preheating.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Understanding Whole Wheat Flour

Some whole wheat recipes are coming, but first a little info on whole wheat flour. It will be written WWF from now on. WWF is called whole because all parts of the wheat seed are used- the bran (husk), the endosperm (carbohydrates and protein, the bulk of the seed), and the germ (nourishment for the seed. In white flour only the endosperm is used. WWF is used because it adds fiber, nutrients, texture, and flavor to breads.

We all know the health benefits of whole grains, but not everyone like the taste. For those people there is white WWF which come from soft white wheat. It lacks the tannins and phenolic acid of regular WWF (which comes from red wheat), and thus has a taste more like processed white flour. It is hard to make light bread from only WWF so often white flour is added to whole wheat recipes to improve the gluten level. Recipes with whole wheat also require more water since the bran and the germ absorb more water. It is also important to note that WWF has oils in it that make it go bad quicker than white flour. I keep my WWF in the freezer for this reason.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rye Bread Recipe

rye bread recipe
rye bread
I love the taste of rye bread. One of my favorite sandwitches is roast beef, muenster cheese, and mustard on toasted rye bread. Here is a recipe for rye bread:

1 cup rye flour (may use whole grain)
3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 packet yeast
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1- 1 1/2 tsp caraway seed

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and bring together to form a soft but workable dought (no sticky, and not stiff). If it is too dry add more water. Knead for 1 min. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl in a warm place for 2 hrs, then fold over itself to make a ball. Let it rise for 1 1/2 hrs more. No you can shape the dough into a free form loaf or put it in a loaf pan. I like free form. To make a round free form loaf (called a boule), simple form the dough into a tight ball by bringing all the edges together and squeezing them tight so the dough is round and smott ontop. Let the dough rise seam side down on a baking pan dusted with corn meal until it has doubled in bulk. Score the top and bake in a steam filled oven at 400 degrees for 30-35 min. enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Review: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois is an intersting bread book. I had first heard about their 5 min bread recipe in a youtube video a year ago, and When I saw the book in Barnes and Noble I just had to take a gaze. The basic idea of their method is that you make a wet dough, you let it rise without kneading, then you store it in the refrigerator for use as you knead it (haha get it "knead"). They say in the introduction that pre-mixed, pre-risen, high moisture dough keeps well in th refrigerator. This is true. I keep my pizza dough in the refrigerator for quite while. The fact theat they do not knead their bread is also solid considering that there are two ways to get gluten development: one being agitation and the other being time (just letting it sit like the New Yor Times no-knead bread that hit a few years back. They dispense alot of myths about baking, though I still stand by my punch down and re-rise method which they don't like. he book is extremely informative with clear recipes and lots of tips. One complaint (though mostly aestetic) is that it's lacking in pictures, and the pictures it does have are in dull black and white. I beleive alot of lerning to make bread is actually seeing what it should look like and not just reading descriptions. All in all if you enjoy making bread and like learning different approaches it isa good book to get. A clear value at 27.99 U.S.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speak up

Hello everyone. if you like what you see please become a follower of leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you. If you don't like what you see please leave some suggestions. Your comments and critiques are welcome.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cold? Have Bread and Chowder

manhattan clam chowder
homemade bread
The other day I had some of my homemade Manhattan clam chowder. The only thing I liked better than the chowder was the bread I had with it: My homemade Italian/French bread. here's the 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 a mix)

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.

I cut the bread in half, then put pats of buttr on it and toast it in a hot oven until crispy. It freezes for up to 6 months if wrapped well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pita Bread Recipe

pita bread
pita bread
Me and my grandmother both love pitas. We'll stuff them with anything: meats; fish; cheese; vegetables; etc. One might think that they would be difficult to make, but this is not true. Remember my pizza dough recipe? Well you can use it to make good pita bread. Here's how. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, and set a cast iron pan inside to get blazing hot. After the pizza dough has risen the first time form it into balls (the size of which will depend on how big you want your pitas). Roll the balls in flour and let them rest on the counter for 15 min. Next take the balls and roll them out quite thin, a 1/4 of an inch or preferably a little less. Then immediately throw the flatened dough into the hot pan and close the oven door. The oven and pan must be very hot for a big bubble to form. After a couple of minutes the pita will be puffed up like a balloon. When this happens it is ready to remove. Let it cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Understanding Different Types of Flour: All Purpose, Bread, Cake

Gluten is the protein found in wheat. It is a combination of gliaden and glutenin (which together are 80% of the proteins in flour) in the presence of water. The amount of protein is the most important criteria for determining which flour to use. This is because it is gluten that gives dough and batters its structure. Low protein=tender, high protein=chewey.

 All purpose flour is the "go to" baking flour. As its name suggests it can be used for anything. It is made from a blend of hard and soft wheats. Hard (winter) wheats are high in protein. Soft (spring) wheats are low in protein. Most brands of all purpose flour have 3 grams of protein per serving.

Cake flour is made from soft wheat, and has 2 grams of protein per serving. It makes tender fluffy cakes.

Bread flour is made from hard wheat, and has 4 grams of protein per serving. Bread flour also often contains malted barley flour which improves yeast function and taste, and ascorbic acid to improve texture. Bread flour makes great bread, but all purpose is good too. My recommendation is to use bread flour where you want the final product to have some chewiness, like bagels, and to use all purpose flour where you want something more tender like rolls.

Note: King Arthur all purpose flour has 4 grams of protein per serving making it more similar to other brand's bread flour. Use it accordingly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shaping a Bread Loaf

bread dough

shaping a loaf of bread

Step 1: make the dough into a rectangle by gently stretching it out. Trim the rectangle if necessary so it if the same width as the pan.
Step 2: Roll the dough pressing down after each turn to make a log
Step 3: Seal the seam by pressing tightly, and placing seam side down in the pan.

Basic White Bread Recipe

A basic white bread can be turned into many different things (sandwiches, croutons, french toast, stuffing, etc.: after its cooked and before it's cooked: dinner rolls, cinnamon raisin bread, pigs in a blanket, sweet rolls, etc. Here is a basic white bread recipe.

1 package yeast
1/2 cup of the dough starter you should all have in your refrigerator ;)
1 1/2 cups warm water (or milk if you like it richer)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil or 1 stick melted butter
5-6cups flour (half bread and half all purpose)

Mix the first 6 ingredients together, then add just enough flour to make a workable dough. The wetter the dough, the lighter the bread. Knead for a couple of minutes. Then place in a greased bowl to rise 2 hrs. After this rise punch it down and fold the dought over itself a few times until you have created a ball. Let it rise 1 1/2 hrs. fold it over itself again. Let it rise an hour. now turn the dough out on a work surface and spit in half. Shape each half into a loaf trimming as necessary. plcace eact half on a greased loaf pan and let it rise until it is just over the surface of the pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 min. Cool on wire racks, out of the pan and enjoy. For info on shaping the loafs look at the next post.

Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

homemade pizza
I love to make pizza dough. It is versatile and very easy to make. The following is the recipe I use.

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (just warm to the touch)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2- 3 cups flour (50% bread flour and 50% all purpose)

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl, then add enough flour to make a soft, but workable dough. Pizza dough cannot be stiff or else it will be hard to stretch later. If it sticks to things a little that's alright. Knead it until it is smooth, about 5 minutes, then place in a greased bowl and let rise 1 1/2-2hrs. Punch it down and sit it in the refrigerator overnight. Pizza dough is really best after it ferments in the refrigerator 12...18...24....even 48 hours. The dough must come to room temperature before you can use it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

how to Make Bread Dough Starter

bread dough starter
Dough Starters are a wonderful way to add flavor to bread. They also improve dough texture. A dough starter is like a pet you keep in your refrigerator It is basically yeast mixed with flour and water left to ferment and develop in flavor. It may use wild yeasts as in traditional sour doughs, or a store bought yeast. Those made from wild yeasts will develop a more interesting flavor, but they take longer to make. To make a quick starter mix about 1 1/2 cups of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and a small amount of yeast (less than a half package). Then add enough flour (all purpose will do) to make the consistency of very thick pancake batter. Let the mixture sit for 18-24 hrs at room temperature. Your starter is now ready to use. If you are not ready to use it keep it in the refrigerator and take it out once a week to give it a little more flour and water and let it sit out at room temp. for 18-24 hrs. Never use it all at once. Keep a little to keep the starter going indefinitely. Above is my starter after sitting out for 12 hrs. Note how bubbly it is. Don't you just love the power of yeast?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Thoughts on Recipes

Recipes in baking are very important, for things like cookies and cakes, but I would argue that for bread it is more about technique: getting a feel for the dough, and the environment of your home. Since recipes are a starting point I will be including them in this blog, but keep in mind that the technique of handling the dough is the most important thing. For instance if a recipe calls for 11/4 cup of water to 4 cups of flour keep in mind that this is not set in stone. On humid days you may need either more flour or less water and on dry days the opposite. Look for a white bread recipe within the next few days. Good Day everyone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Dough Maker Blog Intro!

Hello readers. You can call me Bam the doughmaker. I am a lover of from scratch baking. I have been baking bread for 10 yrs. It is something I enjoy, and for a hobby it's pretty cheap (and tasty too!). In those 10 yrs I have learned so much about the art of baking. I hope to share some of that knowledge with you, and maybe learn some more in the process. In this blog you will explore my breadmaking projects as well as a few other delicacies. The only criteria is that it will involve yeast bread dough. I can't wait to get started!