Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Every once in a while I feel the need to bake bread. There is just something so earthy about the process; proofing the yeast, watching the rise of the dough and finally the yeasty smell of bread baking in the oven.
I decided to make a basic white bread today. My recipe makes two loaves; so I made one traditional and a cinnamon bread with the other.
I started by warming 1/2 cup of skim milk with 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan until the butter was melted and the sugar dissolved. I set this mixture aside to cool to lukewarm.
I then dissolved two packets of yeast in 1 1/2 cups of warm water in the warmed bowl of my stand mixer. Once the yeast was dissolved, I added the lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups of flour. I attached the dough hook to the mixer and mixed at low speed for two minutes. I continued mixing 1/2 cup of flour at a time on low speed until a total of 6 cups of flour had been added. The dough got mixed for two more minutes to knead it until it was smooth and elastic.
The dough then went into a greased bowl, covered with a kitchen towel and set aside to double in volume which took 50 minutes. I punched it down, cut it in half and rolled one half into a 9 x 14" rectangle. I rolled it up from the short end, tucking in the sides when done. It went in to a greased loaf pan, seam side down and covered again with the towel and allowed to rise for another 50 minutes.
I did the same process with the other half of the dough, however, when I had it rolled out, I spread it with some butter and sprinkled it with a combination of 1/4 cup of sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar. I proceeded to roll it and put it in another pan.
After 50 minutes of rising time, the basic white bread went into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes and the Cinnamon bread went into a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. As soon as they came out of the oven, the breads were removed to a wire rack to cool.
I love the whole process of making bread from scratch, the scent of baking bread always brings me back to my childhood memories of spending time in Canada with my aunt who made fresh bread every few days in a wood burning stove. It's amazing how smells evoke instant memories.
Thanks to Val, I found a recipe on a website which she just loves for a sourdough bread starter. I made the starter this afternoon which has to sit for 2-5 days before I can use it. Sourdough bread is without a doubt my favorite bread in the world. I can't wait to experiment with how it comes out and I'll be sure to blog about it when the time comes.
Since I had the leftover Eggs Benedict for lunch today, I wasn't that hungry for dinner. With the loaf of fresh bread sitting there, I decided to make a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich for dinner which was absolutely delicious. I have been thinking about having a slice of the cinnamon bread toasted with butter in a little while.
A very satisfying day in the kitchen!