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Posts Tagged ‘Bread’

Catching Up…

It’s been a little while since my last post.  Things have just been a bit hectic around here – couple that with being on a weight loss program and you’ve got a lack of time to bake and a lack of desire to prepare something you may not have room in your plan to eat.

 

That’s okay, things are going well and I’m ready to start getting back into the swing of things again.  Since we’re hosting Thanksgiving at our home this year – a first for us, I’ve got to really get back in the baking/cooking mode in preparation for this.

 

One area of baking I am very interested in building some skills is the area of bread baking.  While I feel pretty comfortable making a cake or pie or some nice brownies, bread has just been something I’ve just not felt too comfortable with.  My wife used to bake bread pretty regularly in our bread machine, and, while it was actually quite good, I want to learn the traditional techniques to turn out a good loaf of bread.  I don’t have any particular bread in mind at this point, but I’m searching recipe collections to mark a few for experimentation.

 

Not long ago, I gave my first go at a true yeasted, knead by hand, bake in a pan, loaf of bread – no bread machine involved (not that there’s anything wrong with that….).  After looking around, I finally settled on a tasty looking Cinnamon Swirl Bread I found on the King Arthur Flour website.  They have a blog posted about this recipe showing step by step instructions, which is helpful for a novice bread baker like me.

 

You know, the process wasn’t as tough as I thought it might be.  The yeast bubbled up beautifully in the warm liquid.  The ingredients came together nicely.  The kneading was both work and relaxing at the same time.  The rises seemed to go exactly as planned.  The loaf rolled out very easily and rolled into a loaf just as easily.  It baked for just the amount of time called for in the recipe, hitting the internal temperature called for.  All things being equal, this recipe really went off without a hitch.  My only complaint (with myself, not the recipe) is that the loaf came out a bit ‘lumpy’ on top, not quite the nice crowned dome I had hoped for.  I’m not sure what I did wrong – one site I read suggested that a top like mine may be due to letting the loaf rise just a bit too long in the pan before baking.  I’m not sure, I’ll have to try it again – maybe I just didn’t quite form it right.

In the end, we sliced up the loaf, toasted it and served it warm with some melted butter on top.  Oh boy, this was some good stuff.  I’ve bought some great bread from bakeries, but so far, even the best store bought bread still can’t compare with the taste, texture and smell (ohhh, that smell!) of fresh home-baked bread.  Yu – mmmy! 

 

If I were to change anything about this recipe, it would be to simply add just a bit more cinnamon/sugar to the bread before rolling it up – it looked like a lot going on, but in the end, it could have handled (for my taste) even more.

Next up – I’ve got my eyes on a savory bread involving bleu cheese.  Chuck over at CookingBread.com has been kindly helping me develop a method to try and duplicate a bread I tried a restaurant recently.  It’s far too good not to copy, so keep your eyes open – I’ll post the results here when I give it a shot.

 

Click here for a copy of the Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  Click on any of the photos below for a larger image.

     

     

     

     

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Homemade English Muffins

A few weeks back, while we were on vacation in Central Oregon, I took the opportunity to try out some new recipes, particularly some things I wouldn’t normally take the time to bake at home.

I had been curious about making my own English Muffins for the last year or so after reading an article on the process.  It took a post on the King Arthur Flour ‘Baker’s Banter’ blog to get me to finally take the step.

The process wasn’t too complicated, though the dough was substantially ‘wetter’ and ‘looser’ than I would have expected.  The recipe directions say to form the dough by hand before placing it in the rings – that wasn’t going to happen.  No matter, I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to handle the batter and it worked out just fine.  As for the muffin rings – well, I was on vacation and didn’t own any, so I ran to a nearby kitchen supply store and picked up (4) 4″ diameter round metal cookie cutters for $2 – they were a bit flimsy, but worked great – you don’t need heavy duty for this recipe.  If you want to buy ‘official’ muffin rings (which work for pancakes and for eggs as well), you can get them at King Arthur Flour, or a number of other online stores.

The only thing that didn’t work well for me was the cooking temperature.  As you can see in the photo, these turned out pretty dark.  My Calphalon square skillet did a great job, but I just didn’t need as much heat as I thought – medium low seemed to be plenty of heat.  These little guys need to sit on the grill for awhile, so it’s best not to get things too hot.  I did 2 batches, but by the time I finally got the temp dialed in, I was out of batter.

The final product was fantastic – the texture and taste were better than any I had ever bought in a store.  I made them into breakfast sandwiches using ham, provolone and egg – they got gobbled up by the anxiously awaiting diners.  One thing I will do differently next time is buy more rings – these take quite awhile to cook, so I would rather do a whole batch on a big griddle at one time.  This is one recipe I will definitely make again, when I have the time.  Click here for a copy of the recipe.

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