Archive for: yeast bread
Homemade bread is a wonderful thing to make and to keep around the house, but there are several things that keep us from baking bread as often as we might like. The first thing is time. It can take a couple of hours to take a loaf from start to finish and, while we might have time on the weekends, this rules it out for weekdays. The second thing is difficulty. Kneading bread can seem like a daunting task to novice bakers, and even experienced bakers don’t always want to get the counter covered with flour. This No Knead Whole Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread is one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made and it is darn tasty. It requires no kneading and has a very short rising time, so the bread can be fully baked just about one hour after you start to mix the ingredients together!
The secret to this bread is the temperature of the ingredients used. It uses both bread flour (you can use all purpose, but bread flour gives you a slightly better texture in the finished loaf) and whole wheat flour, which gives the bread a great structure and a good wheat flavor. The flour is warmed before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, and all that heat kick starts the yeast into a rapid rise and cuts the total rising time to just 30 minutes!
The bread also does all of its rising right in the loaf pan that it is baked in. You don’t need to knead the dough before putting it into the pan, just stir it very vigorously when you are incorporating all of the ingredients. If you have a stand mixer, you can mix your dough with a dough hook and transfer it directly to the loaf pan. If you don’t mind a little kneading, you can turn the bread onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for just 1 minute to smooth it out even more before putting it into the loaf pan. I usually do the little bit of extra kneading, but it definitely isn’t necessary if you just put a little bit of muscle into your mixing.
The finished bread is a great sandwich loaf. It has a good whole wheat flavor to it and just a hint of sweetness from the honey. It slices easily, toasts well and makes fantastic sandwiches. You can eat it while it is still warm, if you want to serve it for dinner, but it is best after it has cooled completely. You can use whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour in this bread and you’ll get good results both ways, but a little bit lighter flavor from the white whole wheat if you prefer a slightly less hearty whole wheat flavor.
I used to go to a bakery that, amongst other things, specialized in baking challah. Challah is a rich egg bread that is made with oil and without butter or milk. It has a similar texture to brioche, very soft verging on flakey, and a very rich texture. Traditionally, the bread is eaten by Jewish people around the sabbath and on holidays and loaves are shaped in braids. Tradition aside, this is a fantastic bread all year round. It is moist, soft and fantastic for making sandwiches, french toast, bread pudding and all kinds of good things. It is also outstanding on its own.
Most challah loaves are plain, but sometimes they will have raisins or chocolate chips added in to make them a little bit sweeter and give them a dessert feel. After frequenting a bakery that made a great raisin challah as a kid, I am a big fan of challah with raisins and decided to make a few loaves this year for friends celebrating the Jewish high holidays. And, of course, I made a loaf for me to keep and eat.
The bread comes together easily and can be mixed by hand or with a dough hook in a stand mixer. The dough should be slightly sticky, so I’d recommend working with a mixer if you have one. Once your dough i made and has risen well, you can divide it down into three sections and braid them together. The braided dough will proof again before being baked, and the loaf will look fantastic when it is finished. This recipe makes a fairly large loaf, but it keeps very well for snacking, sandwiches and other uses when stored at room temperature for a couple of days.
A baking stone is a large, usually thick, piece of stoneware that is often recommended for bread and pizza baking. The instructions usually say to put them on the bottom or middle rack of your oven, then preheat it for an extra-long time before baking. Using a stone is said to improve the crust of both bread and pizza, but often little explanation is given as to why this is the case.
The way that baking stones work is simple. Baking stones absorb and retain heat very well, so when you put them in the oven and allow the oven to run for a while, the stones heat up. They transfer heat directly to the bottom of your bread or other baked good, as baked goods can be placed directly on the stone (or on parchment, then on the stone) so the bread never starts out on a cold surface, as it would when baked on a baking sheet. This allows bread to bake more evenly all over, resulting in a much nicer crust – particularly for artisan-type breads. Since the stones retain so much heat, they also help keep the oven at a much more even temperature and make up for some of the heat that is lost when you open the door to put something in.
You can leave your baking stone in the oven when you’re not using it, especially if it’s on the bottom of your oven. If it’s on a rack, however, you may want to remove it when baking cakes and cookies. The extra heat from the baking stone directly underneath (say, if you’re setting a baking sheet right on the stone) can cause cakes to cook faster and cookies to overbrown on the bottom, so keep that in mind if you do decide to do your regular baking with the baking stone in your oven.
You can buy baking stones at many specialty grocers and kitchen stores, as well as online. I often see unfinished quarry tiles recommended as inexpensive alternatives to commercial baking stones, although an unfinished tile is a bit more likely to become brittle and break-able over time. The thickness of the tile should not have an impact on the results, so choose a stone that fits in your oven well and is light enough that you can handle it easily.
It’s funny what inspires you to bake, sometimes. This Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia was inspired by some really, really mediocre bread that I was served at an Italian restaurant recently. It is completely unlike that bread, and it was the fact that I was wishing for some good focaccia with lots of garlicky olive oil that make me come home and bake my own.
I started out with a plain focaccia dough that had a little bit of olive oil in it, and added in fresh rosemary and sauteed garlic to give it a little more of a savory flavor. Both elements really complement the olive oil’s fruitiness. The finished focaccia isn’t the thick, cut-in-half-to-make-sandwiches focaccia. It is thinner and bakes up to be soft in the center and crisp around the edges. For me, this is the perfect kind of focaccia for dipping into seasoned olive oil when you want a snack before dinnertime.
It doesn’t take too long to make this bread from start to finish, but you will need to allow some time for the bread to rise, so if you want to serve it with dinner it is best to start a couple hours ahead of time. While I used fresh, you can easily substitute dried spices into this recipe and still get a good result. Use about 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary and 1 tsp garlic powder. I don’t like to overdo it when I’m using dried spices in breads because they can go from subtle to overwhelming pretty quickly. This bread is at its best when it is freshly made, but you can store the leftovers in an airtight container, then pop them in the oven for 5 minutes at 350F to crisp it up again the next day.
No-knead bread is simple, but when I heard the promise of No-knead Dinner Rolls in an issue of Everyday Food, I was hooked. Dinner rolls always sound simpler and less complicated than baking a full loaf of yeast bread, much like baking a batch of cupcakes just sounds less labor-intensive than baking a multi-layer cake. But like the cupcakes, it turns out that making dinner rolls can take just as much time as the full-sized variation because you have to do all the same work leading up to putting the bread in the oven. A no-knead variation would let you skip messy steps, like kneading dough and getting flour all over the counter. So, I got out my mixer and set to work.
It turns out that the recipe is really only no-knead if you have a stand mixer. If you do, slap that dough hook on and you will only have to shape the bread before baking. If you don’t, I really recommend kneading the dough a little bit because it is very difficult to simply mix it by hand, and kneading it a bit gives it a better texture. Don’t get me wrong here: this recipe really isn’t very much work at all and it makes good rolls – it’s just not entirely no-knead for everyone!
Still, they’re easy to make. These are not as light as some dinner rolls I’ve had, but because they’re more substantial I think they go great with heavy sauces and chilis. You can even use leftovers for some really nice sandwiches! They have a nice buttery, slightly yeasty flavor to them. Since they’re baked in a 9x-13-inch pan, you pull them apart when serving, which means that every roll has nice, soft sides ready to be buttered and enjoyed.