April 8, 2010

I’m not so scared of yeast…anymore!

I've been getting better at yeast bread. My first attempts at yummy fluffy dinner rolls turned out more like weapons….I could have killed someone with these pucks.

Believe me when I tell you these were supposed to be bread bowls for some yummy broccoli cheese soup, didn't work out as planned. My loving husband still ate his. The girls dug the centers out and made bread balls to dunk in their soup. I haven't tried bread bowls again…I'm slowly working up the nerve…I'll let you know when I get to that stage.

What I have been making is wonderful bread creations like these pretzels. These were my first yeast success. They are so easy to make and yummy to eat. I got the recipe from My Kitchen Cafe and I love making them for a quick afternoon snack. I'm a huge hit with the neighborhood kids. We even got crazy and dip them in cinnamon and sugar.
Then there is this very yummy monkey bread from the King Author Flour Blog.

This was another huge hit and very yummy for a Sunday morning breakfast. Just make it the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight.
But my biggest achievement to date in the yeast bread category is this super yummy wheat bread.

I adapted a recipe from the King Author Flour site and the kids seem to eat almost a loaf of bread a day. Ashley wrote about how my homemade bread is better than the store bread. Triumph at last.

I use active dry yeast, so it's really important to make sure the yeast puffs up before adding it to the flour.

That's what I like to see after a few minutes. Nice puffy yeast…a great start! This particular dough is a little dry looking and that seems to be just fine. The finished product is nice and fluffy. Because this dough has whole wheat flour in it I like to let it sit in the mixer for a few minutes before kneading it.

See how it's dry looking. I add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix it just until combined. It ends up looking like oatmeal, so I bring it together with my hands a bit. After sitting for a few minutes I mix it for about 7 minutes in my Kitchen Aid on speed 2. It needs to rise for about an hour.

                               This is before the Rise.                                      This is the after. It's still not a super soft dough.

A baker I know advised me roll out my dough and then form it into a log by rolling it up cinnamon roll style.

Let it rise again and get ready to bake it.

I wanted to see if I could make it look like the split top bread, so I cut a line down the center.

After 30 minutes in the oven…HEAVEN!!!

After it cooled I sliced it and had wonderful sandwiches, toast, and most importantly many yumms from the family. I'm no longer scared of yeast….but I'm still not ready to try bread bowls yet…but soon.

Wheat Sandwich Bread
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup dried potato flakes
2 Cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup orange juice
5 tablespoons butter, softened

Combine warm milk, water, sugar and yeast. Set aside and let yeast poof for a few minutes. In mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Add yeast mixture, orange juice, and butter to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Let sit for a few minutes so the wheat flour will absorb the water. Knead until you've made a smooth, fairly stiff (but not dry) dough. (I do 7 minutes in my Kitchen aid on speed 2) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it's expanded a bit.

Lightly grease a loaf pan. Flatten dough and using a rolling pin roll it into a rectangle no wider than the loaf pan. Roll the dough up much you would a cinnamon roll. Tuck the ends under and put the log in the pan smooth side up, cover the pan, and allow the loaf to rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, till it crowns over the rim of the pan by 1" to 1 1/2" or so. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 10 minutes. Lightly tent it with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Run a tablespoon of butter over the top of the hot loaf, if desired, for a softer crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf.

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