Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Good Morning! - Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

This is a special bread usually baked around Christmas for giving to friends. But honestly, this bread is so special it can and should be made anytime of year. It includes raw oats (not the rolled oats we are used to but the whole oats) and a lot of them. Because they, themselves are a bit crunchy, they give a 'nutty' texture to the bread and lots of flavor. The bread is dense, again because of the oats, but don't let that deter you. Spread some fresh butter or jam on this bread after lightly toasting and you will love it. What a great way to start your day!

This recipe is adapted from that all-time classic bread cookbook, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. What can I say, if you don't have it, and you're serious about baking bread, GET IT!!! It's that good.

Here's What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water (to soften the oats)
3 Tbs. butter or margarine
3 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tbs. dry yeast
2 eggs, large, room temperature
4 to 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. butter melted
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs. cinnamon

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a large bowl, mix the oats and the boiling water. Stir to blend, then add the butter or margarine, honey, brown sugar, salt and raisins. Let this mixture cool down to no more than about 130 F (45 C). You can also use a food processor to make this dough as seen here. Use the plastic dough blade to mix.

2. Add the yeast, then the eggs and 2 cups of flour. Beat with a wooden spoon (or the paddle attachment of your mixer) for a few minutes, working in additional flour, one half cup at a time, until it is solid enough to 'clean the bowl'. It will still be a bit sticky but can be removed to a work surface for additional kneading. For kneading with a food processor, after all the ingredients are combined, knead for about 1 minute being careful not to let the dough get too warm as that will harm (kill?) the yeast.

3. Knead vigorously for about 8 minutes adding a little flour if necessary. Or 1 minute with the processor.

4. Place the dough in a buttered (or oiled) bowl, turn to coat, then cover to rise. It will rise slowly but should double in about 2 hours.

5. Remove the dough from the bowl, cut into 2 equal pieces, and flatten and shape into a rough rectangle.
Sprinkle the dough with the sugar and cinnamon, then roll it up like a jellyroll. Shape into a loaf, place in a loaf pan and cover for the second rise, about 1 hour.

6. Bake in an oven heated to 350 F (180 C) for about 40 minutes until it is nicely browned. Brush with melted butted while still hot after removing from the oven. Cool on a rack.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beer Bread - Just Great Flavor (but goes great with beer)

I know what you're thinking. What the point? I mean, why go to the trouble of using the beer if you don't have the alcohol? Well for the flavor!! Let me explain something. I have already written that bread and cake are kissing cousins. Most of the same ingredients but with different proportions and baking times, methods etc. Well, it turns out that bread has few more cousins. And one of them is, believe it or not, beer. At least they both use yeast (but different strains). And, at least for sourdough and pre-ferments, they both require slow fermentation. But no alcohol in the bread, because alcohol boils and evaporates at about 176 F (80 C), and your oven will be around twice that, at 350 F (180 C). So it just evaporates and leaves us the great flavor.

The beer bread has a tang and is especially good for sandwiches with a sharp cheese or deli meats with Dijon mustard. Try it, and you see, it's a keeper.

Here's What You'll Need:
For the sponge:
1 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
12 oz bottled beer
18 ounces AP flour (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Start with the sponge. Mix the flour and water together then stir in the yeast. Cover and let it stand in a warm place until it becomes bubbly and starts to smell yeasty. That should take about 2 hours or so.

2. Then add in the rest of the ingredients. If the beer is cold out of the refrigerator, it will still be fine. The only difference is that the rising times will be slower. But actually, that improves the flavor. Mix the flour in, one cup at a time, and then knead the rough dough for about 10 minutes at least until the dough is soft and smooth.

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover. Let it rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface being careful not to deflate it too much. Shape it into an oblong loaf and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet to rest, covered, for at least another 45 minutes. 

5. About 20 minutes before baking time, pre-heat the  oven to 350 F (180 C). Slash the bread with a serrated knife down the center just before placing it in the oven. To strengthen the crust, you can bake with steam.

6. Cool on a rack completely before slicing.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

An East European-ish Favorite - Honey Oat Bread (as rolls)

You probably already figured out from the title that this is my take on a recipe that hails from Eastern Europe. I honestly don't remember this bread from the 'legendary Bernie's Bakery' from my childhood in Nova Scotia. But it could have been there, and I just didn't know it. Could be my family didn't buy this kind of bread. Whatever. This bread is super healthy and super easy. Just pay attention to the details, of course, and be patient. But that's good advice for just about anything.

Here's What You'll Need:
  • 2 Tbs. dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
  • 1/3 cup butter/margarine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses*
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
  • a handful of various seeds (sunflower/pumpkin etc.) for added texture if desired
Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1) Make sure have all the ingredients ready before starting.
2) Place the yeast, water and milk in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly. Wait about 10 minutes, then add the butter/margarine, salt and molasses*.

3) Mix in 3 cups of the flour, the whole wheat flour and  the oats. Then gradually mix in the rest of the flour using only as much as needed to make a soft dough. If using, add the seeds now.

4) Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough is smooth and elastic.

5) Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat then cover to let it rise until doubled, about one and a half hours.

6) Deflate the dough. Divide it into two equal pieces then shape it into two loaves or rolls if you prefer. Place the shaped dough into two 9 X 5 loaf pans (23 X 13 cm), or place the rolls on a covered baking sheet, brush with melted butter and cover for the second rise. About 1 hour.

7) About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Bake for about 35 minutes (about 17 minutes for rolls) or until deep brown. Cool on a rack. For a softer crust, you can brush the hot loaves/rolls with melted butter when you remove them from the oven.

* Molasses makes the bread a little tangy and, of course, colors the dough dark brown. If you prefer you can use honey and the bread will be golden rather than dark brown.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pane Toscana - Italian Peasant Bread with

When I think of Italian bread, or even Italian-style bread a very specific picture comes to mind. Bread with a crispy crust, not too thick, and with a soft, almost silky interior. Something perfect for sopping up the rich tomato-ey sauces from pasta dishes, or even the last few drops of a good minestrone. Ans so this bread fits all of that but with a twist. The bread from Tuscany is famous for having no salt, or, horrors, a very little salt. I know, I know, salt is one of the four basic ingredients of any bread (flour, water, yeast and SALT). So why? Well it seems in Tuscany, they like their food with more salt than other areas, or so goes the story and so they bake bread without, or with very little. Because it is invariably eaten with soup, or sauce and it all balances out in the end. Either way, this bread is VERY Italian but with just a little salt added. I have added it to accommodate my not-Italian palette. Leave it out if you wish, just make sure you eat it with a nice thick and chunky winter soup. Minestrone would be perfect.

Here's What You'll Need:
1 1/3 cups water
2 2/3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. gluten
2 1/4 tsp. instant dry yeast
2/3 cups corn meal (optional - I used it, to make it more 'Roman')
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt  - up to 1 1/2 tsp. (optional)

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1) Start with  a sponge:
Place the water, 1 cup of the bread flour, the whole wheat flour and the yeast in a bowl and stir to combine. It will be like a very thick batter. Cover with a towel, and let it stand in a warm place for about an hour.


2) Add the remaining flour (you may need a little more because the whole wheat absorbs more liquid), the sugar and the salt (if using), the cornmeal (if using) and the gluten. Mix it to form a rough dough, adding flour or water a little at a time as needed.

3) Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead for at least 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and shiny, and just barely sticky.

4) Place it in a lightly greased bowl, turn to coat, then let it rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

5) Remove the dough to a smooth surface and form into a long, oval loaf, like Italian bread! without removing too much of the air. Place the shaped loaf on a parchment-lined baking tray and cover to proof. It should double in volume in about 45 minutes.

6) About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) for about 30 minutes. For a more authentic loaf try baking on a stone with steam.*

* You can approximate the effect of steam in a professional oven by placing a small aluminum tray in the oven under the baking tray (or baking stone). Just before placing the loaf in the oven, pour about a cup of boiling water into the tray, place the loaf in the oven and close the door quickly. The steam will fill the oven and create a wonderfully, crispy crust on your loaf.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

No-Knead Multigrain and Seed Bread

I bought this pot a long time ago in the market and have never used it. It is marketed as a pot to be used for making Jachnoon - a Yemenite bread that is slooow baked overnight after being spread very liberally with butter. Put it in the oven an a low heat, say 150 F, and just leave it there for 10-12 hours! I have never made it, but I have eaten it, and it IS delicious but very different from any other bread I have eaten. Soft, and buttery, of course, but also flaky and rich. It is usually served with soft cheeses and grated (yes, grated) tomatoes spread over. Or Jam.

All this is a way of introducing my baking pot for this week's bread. I have read about Jim Lahey's no-knead technique for bread and am fascinated because it seems to fly in the face of everything we know about bread baking. Long slow rises, with virtually no kneading and then baked in a pot, covered, at high heat (425 F)! This bread is adapted from a cookbook I have by Nancy Baggett:  Kneadlessly Simple:Fabulous, Fuss-Free No-Knead Breads, a great addition to anyone's cookbook collection and a nice gift for the baker in your family (or you!).

I was intrigued by the techniques she uses and wanted to try them myself. The bread, because it is baked in a closed pot, is literally steamed, and therefore develops a lovely crisp crust. The crumb is full of nice big holes and, the bottom line, it tastes great. Eat this one for breakfast with cheese or jam. Definitely worth the effort.

Here's What You'll Need:
3 tablespoons cracked wheat (or chopped wheat berries; see Tip)
2½ tablespoons flax seeds, preferably golden*
2/3 cup boiling water
2½ cups (12.5 ounces) whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached white bread flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Generous 2¼ teaspoons table salt
1¼ teaspoons instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
2½ tablespoons clover honey or other mild honey
2¼ cups ice water, plus more if needed
Corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil for coating dough top and pot
2 tablespoons liquid egg substitute or egg white for glaze
1½ tablespoons each flax seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds mixed together for garnish

* I used ground flax seeds because that's what I had on hand. In retrospect I think whole seeds would be better as they would not color the dough. A matter of aesthetics, I guess.

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a small bowl, combine the cracked wheat, flax seeds and boiling water. Mix then let it cool down completely.

2. In another bowl mix the dry ingredients, the flours, what germ, seeds, salt and yeast.

3. In yet another bowl mix the honey into the ice water. Then...

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the honey ice water mixture and the cracked wheat flax seed mixture. Stir to combine and make a shaggy dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl. You may have to add a bit of water (the whole grain and the seeds absorb more water) if it is too dry. Cover and let it rest and rise for anywhere from 3 to 10 hours, or even overnight. If overnight, place the bowl in the refrigerator.

5. The next morning, if you refrigerated the dough, let it stand for at least an hour before continuing so it comes to room temperature. Then, using a well-oiled spatula, pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and towards the center. Oil and flour your baking pot* and invert the dough into the pot, so it forms a rounded mound in the pot. Spray lightly with oil then cover and let it rise a second time, for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

6. Preheat the oven to 475 F (240 C). A hot oven. Place the pot, still covered, in the oven, reducing the temperature to 425 F (210 C). Bake for about 45 minutes until lightly browned. Then uncover the pot and let it bake for an additional 10 minutes or so until it is dark brown.

7. Remove the pot to a cooling rack, and let the bread cool for 15 minutes before removing it. Then, let it cool completely on the rack before slicing. This is a lovely bread for breakfast or as a snack. And, yes, this method definitely is worth trying again and again. It is less intensive than  traditional methods and produces very tasty, attractive bread.

* I bought a simple aluminum pot about 8 in. diameter and 5 in. high with a close fitting lid.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wintertime Treat - Mixed Seed Rye Sandwich Bread

Actually, the title is a little misleading. NOT because it is some other kind of bread. It really is a sandwich bread, complete with rye flour and even caraway seeds. In fact, this bread is probably the closest I have ever made to the 'white' rye we used to get at the famous Bernie's Bakery I have talked about in past posts. The crumb is a little closer maybe. The crust just slightly less chewy. But this is the real deal. It's just that you can make it and eat it anytime. I called it a wintertime treat because I am stuck in the house from a snow storm. Hence, the wintertime treat. You can enjoy it all year.

I got the idea from a customer of mine who likes the advantage of being able to special order just about anything and get it home delivered. One of the breads she orders MUST include lots and lots of seeds and nuts chopped coarsely, and mixed into the dough. Then baked as a loaf (not free-standing but in a loaf pan so it can be sliced for a sandwich.

This dough is different from hers but the idea is similar. I have included a combination of bread flour and rye and mixed the seeds right in. It is perfect for my famous TLT (turkey lettuce and tomato) sandwich.

 The photos you see here are of the bread, of course, but also the turkey pastrami and mayo both of which are also homemade. It's not difficult, and if anyone wants the recipe for either just drop me a line. I will gladly share. For the bread...

Here's What You'll Need:

3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk*
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Optional topping:
1 egg white
sunflower of pumpkin seeds

* To keep my dough non-dairy, I keep a package of non-dairy baby formula on hand. It substitutes perfectly in all recipes calling for milk powder, but without the dairy.

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Sift together into a large bowl, the flours, milk powder, sugar and yeast.

Then make a well in the middle, and mix in the oil, lemon juice and lukewarm water.

Add the seeds.  Mix with a spoon until it comes together to form a shaggy dough that 'cleans the bowl'.

2. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is shiny and smooth.

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and deflate it. Shape it into a rough rectangle, fold it in three, like a letter fold and place it, seam-side down in a 9 X 5 in. loaf pan (23 X 13 cm.).

 Cover it with a damp dish cloth and let it rise for about 30 minutes until it reaches the level of the pan.

5. Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and bake for 30 minutes until it is a rich brown. Cool on a rack. If you wish, you can brush the unbaked loaf with egg white and sprinkle some seeds over the top. This is a truly delicious sandwich bread, one you will come back to again and again.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Something Healthy for Dessert - Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

An observation: I have noticed that of all the breads I have written about on breadmanTalking, very few are what are called 'quick' breads. These kinds of breads are usually sweeter, softer and well, quicker, than the breads I regularly post about. They fall in that gray area that lies somewhere in between bread and cake that I like to explore, but for some reason have not written much about.

One of the major differences is the leavening agent. For 'regular' breads it is always yeast. Even sourdough uses wild yeast painstakingly captured and coddled over sometimes weeks before baking. 'Quick' breads use baking powder, although not usually baking soda, just like a cake. The texture, however, is still decidedly bready, if that's a word.

So here I was, looking in the refrigerator, at a ton of zucchini, well maybe not a ton but lots. A mistake at the supermarket (mine, not theirs). What to do? There are lots of zucchini loaf recipes, especially popular at summer's end, when zucchini is popular. But they are really just a dessert cake loaf for serving at tea time. This recipe is for a bread, using whole wheat flour, to up the fiber, and baking powder to be sure. But still bread. It is adapted from my go-to cookbook for all things whole grain, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, a must have for anyone who takes baking with whole grains seriously. These guys really know their baking. Follow their instructions and tips, and so will you.

Here's What You'll Need:
2 cups (about 280 g) whole wheat flour, use 'white' whole wheat for a lighter colored loaf
1 cup (about 140 g) AP flour
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk to make in non-dairy)
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups (about 300 g) shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 1/2 cup raisins
1 Tbs. lemon zest (optional)

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare a 9 X 5 in. loaf pan (23 X 13 cm).

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.

3. In another bowl, or a large measuring cup, mix together the wet ingredients: the eggs, oil and milk.

4. Slowly add the wet to the dry mixing all the while. Add the zucchini, continuing to stir.When it is just mixed, add the walnuts and raisins. Add the zest if using (I didn't).

5. When it is all combined, pour (it is quite thick) the dough/batter into the prepared pan and level it out with a spatula dipped into water.

6.Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

7. Let the loaf rest in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing it to a rack to cool completely.

8. Serve with butter, or cream, or both or jam, or... you get the idea. Yum!!