Baking bread always scared me. Yeast is a tricky thing. I have enough trouble with pizza dough. And bread is a lot more time to invest in a dough that is unyielding and dense. I told myself all these horrrible things. That making bread is something that you have to take 40 years to practice - and only until your threadbare apron is sitting happily on your plump midline as your hair is up in curlers - THEN you can truly make good bread. And let's face it - I don't want to have a perm when I'm 75 and neither do I want elasta-waist band pants.
So I fought off my demons of bread making - and found myself looking at a dough hook attachment for my mixer. I could at least blame any dough inconsistencies on my machine.
Up went the hair (in a simple elastic - no curlers) and up went the sleeves of my shirt. Despite some moments of doubt...and drawing upon any genetic bread making ability of my grandmothers, I was determined for success! I followed the recipe exactly - and I made two beautiful loaves of multigrain bread. It was especially delicious with bakeapple jam and french press coffee.
I hope that you can put aside any fears you have today of baking bread - I think it takes practice - so get started :)
Taken from America's Test Kitchen 2001-2011.
Yields - two loaves.
1 1/4 cups seven-grain hot cereal mix (Bob's Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills are excellent choices)
2 1/2 cups boiling water (measure out AFTER you've boiled the water)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, extra for work surface
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 1/4 tsp of instant yeast
1 TBSP salt
3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (can substitute for sunflower)
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1. Place the cereal mix in the bowl of a standing mixer and pour the boiling water over it, stir, and let stand and cool for about 1 hour. It should look like thick porridge. Whisk the flours together in a separate medium bowl.
2. Once the grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine. Attach the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. You should only ever have the mixer on low speed - no higher than 2! Add flours 1/2 cup at a time and let the machine knead until the dough forms a ball (about 2 minutes). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 20 minutes.
3. Add salt and knead again on low speed until the dough clears the sides of the bowl (2-3 minutes). Add pumpkin seeds and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand until the seeds are dispersed evenly in the dough and it forms a smooth taut ball. Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size - 45-60 minutes.
4. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease (with butter, oil or spray) two bread pans and set aside. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and pat into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle; cut the dough in half crosswise with a knife. with a short side facing you, starting at the fartest end, roll one dough piece into a log, keeping the roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Seal the loaf by pinching the seam together gently with your thumb and forefinger; repeat with the other loaf. Sprinkle water over each loaf - and roll each dough log in oat to coat evenly. Place seam side down in the greased loaf pans pressing gently into the corners; voer lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size - 30-40 minutes. (The dough should barely spring back when poked with a knuckle).
5. Bake until the center of the loaves registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer 35-40 minutes. Remove loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack before slicing - 2 hours at least.
Because there aren't much preservatives in this bread - it should last a week so I usually keep one out and freeze the other in a freezer ziplock bag.
Enjoy with some homemade jellies or jams!
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Cheese & Spice Potatoes
Taken from my Dad's kitchen.
Russet baby potatoes (I usually fill the cookie sheet for a serving of 3-4 people for a side dish)
1 1/2 cup old white cheddar cheese (2-5 year old)
3-4 TBSP olive oil
2-3 TBSP Montreal steak spice
1. Preheat your oven to 375 and line the cookie sheet with foil.
2. Slice the potatoes in thin pieces and place in a medium sized bowl. Pour 3-4 TBSP of olive oil in the bowl and mix with hands until completely coated.
3. Arrange potato slices on cookie sheet so that there are none overlapping and they are evenly distributed.
4. Generously sprinkle Montreal steak spice over the top. Eyeballing it, it's approximately 2-3TBSP.
5. Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.
6. While potatoes are baking, grate cheese and set aside.
7. Remove potatoes from oven and cover with cheese. Return to oven and bake for 5 more minutes.
It's that simple! Some favorite dishes that I've also had these potatoes with include BBQ steak or chicken, fish, lamb, and roast beef. Enjoy!