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Kindred’s Milk Bread

4 Jul

Oh milk bread. I had such high hopes for our time together. Alas, it all fell apart before it even began. . .
* first, I realized that I didn’t have a dough hook. Apologies for going there, but – d’oh!  I borrowed one from my neighbor which I knew immediately was way too small.  And yes, I tried it anyway, because as has been proven – I always learn from my mistakes that baking is an exacting science and not something that one can wing.
* second, I saw that my milk powder was not distributing evenly – rather sitting in clumps – large, hard clumps that I couldn’t really break up with my fingers.
* third, once the dough hook really, truly, honestly was not going to work (as I was incorporating the butter), I took the dough out and kneaded it by hand.  I am not sure if that was wise.
* fourth, it calls for extra large muffin tins – somehow in my mind that was just “muffin tins.” I realized as I portioned out the dough into the tins, that allowing them to raise for their second proof was going to be a huge problem. Now I had to scramble and drop in my little lumps of dough into a bundt pan, a la monkey bread. I had too much, so I also did a loaf pan. Good LORD, was I doing ANY of this recipe correctly?!

Needless to say, this will certainly need a second attempt once I have the right dough hook.

Multiple failures aside, the bread was delicious, so I can only imagine that when made properly it’s absolutely magical.

portioning out the d’oh

Recipe from Food52, helpful video here:

Makes 6 rolls, two 9- by 5-inch loaves, or 12 split-top buns

  • 5 1/3cups bread flour, divided, plus more for surface 
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup mild honey (such as wildflower or alfalfa)
  • tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
  • tablespoons active dry yeast (from almost 3 full envelopes – measure it out though, don’t just dump in 3 envelopes)
  • tablespoons kosher salt
  • large eggs, divided (2 eggs to go into the dough, 1 for egg wash before baking)
  • tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Flaky sea salt 
  1. Cook 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. Add cream and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves.  I drizzled the honey in slowly, so it really dissolved as I added it.
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry have taught me to put the yeast on one side and salt on the other – sure, they’re all getting mixed together, but yeast doesn’t like too much salt, and I figure it can’t hurt, so I do it.  Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.  I had to start my mixer off pretty slowly, or else my kitchen was getting a nice sprinkling of flour.  Once most of the flour had been incorporated I was able to turn up the speed another click to medium. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes.
  3. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. If making rolls, lightly coat a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Divide each piece into 4 smaller pieces (you should have 24 total). They don’t need to be exact; just eyeball it. Place 4 pieces of dough side-by-side in each muffin cup.
 If making loaves, lightly coat two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Nestle pieces side-by-side to create 2 rows down length of each pan.
 If making split-top buns, lightly coat two 9- by 13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a 4-inch long log. Place 6 logs in a row down length of each dish.
  5. Let shaped dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl to blend. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, 25 to 35 minutes for rolls, 50 to 60 minutes for loaf, or 30 to 40 minutes for buns. The top of my bread started to get too dark, so I had to cover with foil.  If making buns, slice each bun down the middle deep enough to create a split-top. Let milk bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack before turning out; let cool completely.

St. Pat’s Day Bread

21 Mar

Patrick is the Irish soda bread baker in the house, and rightly so.  It’s likely 100% in his blood, it’s only 17% in mine (thanks, Ancestry!).  However, it’s my challenge, and he was out of the house, so I needed to take the reins.  I knew I couldn’t compete with his soda bread, but I still wanted something “Irish” to go with our day after St. Pat’s feast.  Thanks to Sara Kate over at The Kitchn, I was off and running in no time.  Luckily, beer bread is the quickest and easiest of breads, and one I hadn’t tried yet.  I was expecting it to be quite dense, and hoping my darn oven cooked it all the way through. . .

The bread was indeed dense, but not uncomfortably so.  Joy of joys – adding a bit more cooking time did the trick and it was fully baked.  I think I’d recommend a little less sugar and a bit more chive.  The guys liked it, I thought it was just okay.  The people on the comments over at The Kitchn freaking raved about it, so perhaps I’m an aberration.   I think if I do something similar, I’ll use a different type of beer – someone had suggested a honey brown ale, and I think that could be great.

Cheddar & Chive Guinness Bread

makes one 8 1/2-inch loaf

2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle Irish stout beer
1 cup grated Irish cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup Irish butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, or coat with butter.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Get rid of that whisk, pour in the beer and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Fold in 3/4 cup of the cheese and the chives.  I mean, you * could * keep the whisk, but then you get gloppy beer dough all stuck inside the whisk, and what a pain.  A spatula is much easier.

Transfer the batter to prepared pan. Pour the melted butter evenly over top of the dough. Bake about 30 minutes then scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the top. Return the loaf to the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  I found the butter really pooled at the bottom underneath the bread, creating a dense, buttery base.  Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but you probably don’t need to smear more butter on this.  Though you probably will.

Turn out and serve warm, sliced.  With butter, maybe.


Honey Whole Wheat Bread

3 Jan

A little Kerrygold and a drizzle of honey, and you’ve got yourself a tasty slice.

Here I sit, in jeans complete with two floury handprints on my rear, somewhat defeated by my first bout with bread.  Kneading is hard, y’all.  I never did get to the “windowpane” stage with my dough, but I think (?!) it was okay?  I mean, I’ve never done this before, how will I know?!  The recipe I’m using says nothing about testing it that way, but it seems like the standard if I’m to believe the contestants of The Great British Bake Off.  After 12 minutes of kneading, I was pooped!  Well, tired of kneading in any case, I’ve already mentioned patience is not a virtue I possess.  It’s my first go – we’ll see how it turns out, and I can try again and knead until I get the windowpane, and see how different it is, and then I’ll know, yes?  Science.  This is one of those times that I wish I had taken a class first, so I had some basic knowledge from a skilled bread maker. . .

Thanks to my bag of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour, I was lightly armed with all the necessary ingredients and a recipe for Honey Whole Wheat Bread.  Combine that with an excited husband, and one last day of holiday vacation, and I was ready.

Bread.  Round One.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 cup warm water (this means 100-110 degrees, not warm to the touch, which for a novice baker is not clear at all, and was luckily something I knew in advance)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one packet; which, thank God, since I did not measure this out at all, just dumped the packet in)
  • 1 cup milk, room temperatureimportant note since on my first round I did not use room temperature milk and tossed the whole thing to start over.  Yes, already.
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 tbsp salt (I used some local stuff I got as a Christmas present)
  • 2 3/4 c whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a mixer, (oh, how I wished for a pastry hook!!!!) combine water and yeast and set aside for 5 minutes.  Stir in milk, honey and oil.  Add all-purpose flour and salt.  Stir to combine, and give yourself the dough claw.  Add whole wheat flour and stir by hand (or with a dough hook – sob) until a dough forms, about 1 minute on low if using mixer.  ** looks like you can do this part with a paddle attachment in your mixture, but why gum it all up when your hand works just as well?  One less thing to wash!

Knead dough until smooth and springy, about 10 minutes on medium speed, or 10+ minutes of what is sure to at some point become zen-like kneading by hand.

Form dough into a ball and place in a large bowl lightly coated with oil.  Turn dough to coat.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

Transfer dough to floured surface.  Divide dough in half and form into 2 balls.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  Gently press and shape each ball into a 9×9 inch square.  Fold into thirds, like folding a letter.  Pinch the seam closed and place loaf seam-side down in prepared pan.  Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.  I ended up using a rolling pin to help me with getting 9×9 squares (I should note that I cannot roll or form dough into any particular shape on purpose without the aid of a cookie cutter – circles for pizza?  nope, I get oblongs and we call it flatbread; 9×9″ squares for this bread?  how do you feel about oblongs?), and lord knows if I did it right at all.  Pinch the seal closed?  What does that look like?  How do I know if what I’m considering a pinched closed seal is right?

warm and cozy spot to rise – note that one is doing a better job than the other. . .

Make 3 angled slashes on top of each loaf with a knife and place in oven.  Immediately reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool completely.  Makes 2 loaves.

why can’t you be more like your sister?

So, what do we know after Bread, Round One?

  • I did not manage any type of information retention when reading the recipe through. Twice. Good lord, what is wrong with me?  Room temperature milk means not straight out of the fridge.  If 2 1/4 tsp of yeast was not the entire packet, I would have been out of yeast and my bread plans would have been foiled.
  • Patience is a virtue – knead until the kneading’s done.  This is still unclear to me since I’ve seen the windowpane thing, but I’ve also read/seen that you just knead until it seems smooth and elastic, which I definitely thought mine was.  Does all bread need to make it to the windowpane stage?  Or is that just certain types of bread?
  • Those weird folds and crumples I got when shaping?  May have mattered since the finished product had some odd creases running through it, and as is evidenced above, one loaf had much better rise than the other.  I knew when placing them in the pans that one felt better – bread instincts are a thing.  But how do I avoid those?  Other bakers don’t baby their dough. . .maybe it’s just like having children and some just turn out better than others, even if you treat them the same?*
  • Maybe I should, I don’t know, watch one of the trillions of videos online or something.  According to the few I watched (after I tried it myself, of course), there are various techniques to getting your loaf ready to go into the pan, so I guess it’s not that important that things are “perfect” before then.  I didn’t learn how to avoid those creases, but maybe that’s just how bread goes?
  • Even a mediocre first run at making bread can still be pretty tasty.

* I don’t have children, but I realize that making bread is probably nothing like raising children.

Amish Friendship Bread

30 Dec

A fantastic holiday treat and a fun way to share with like minded, baker type friends – Amish Friendship Bread is a time tested classic.  The only problem?  Waiting for someone to give you a starter!!!  The last one I received must’ve been 6 or 7 years ago and that’s just mean.  My stepmom swears by a recipe that has pudding in it (?!), but the one version I made did not involve pudding.  Here is a pudding inclusive recipe that also features some good Q&A about substitutions and such.
AllRecipes also features a recipe with tons of reader comments that may be helpful.
This starter will yield enough batter to make yourself a loaf and share with three of your friends.  Be sure not to use metal bowls or mixing tools for this – plastic, glass and wood only!  You can dress this bread up however you’d like.  We’ve done apples and raisins, chocolate chips, and my stepmom even did banana.
Now I don’t recall needing to refrigerate this bad boy – despite the milk. . .someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think refrigerating it makes the yeast lazy and slows down the fermentation magic.  Put it in the fridge or freezer only if you’re not baking your bread on day 10.

Super Secret Starter:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (warm means 110 degrees F when you’re working with yeast if you didn’t know – I sure didn’t the first time I encountered this direction)
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup of warm milk (110 degrees F again)

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes or so, stirring well.
In a medium-large bowl, combine the flour and sugar mixing together to prevent lumps.
Slowly stir in the warm milk and the yeast.  Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap – it will go all bubbly and exciting as the yeasties chomp on all that sugar.  This is Day One of your bread.

Amish Friendship Bread (directions to include with the starter you share with your friends)
Note: The batter can be left in a bowl, covered, to do its thing.  If you’d prefer to give these gifts in a Ziploc bag, that works too – in that case you can just “massage” the batter around in the bag.  After day five you’ll probably need to “burp” your bag so you don’t come home to an exploded Amish mess.

Day One – the day you receive the starter (unless you’re told otherwise by the giver!)

Day Two – stir the batter
Day Three – stir the batter
Day Four – stir the batter
Day Five – Add 1 cup each of sifted flour, sugar, and milk
Day Six – stir the batter
Day Seven – stir the batter
Day Eight – stir the batter
Day Nine – stir the batter
Day Ten – Add 1 cup each of sifted flour, sugar, and milk.  Separate into four, 1 cup portions and give three to friends.  With the fourth portion, do the following:
Add 2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Using a fork (yes it’s okay to use metal now), or wooden spoon, beat by hand until well blended.  Add any additional treats now (raisins, nuts, etc.).
Grease two loaf pans with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes to an hour until sides have pulled away and a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool and remove from pans.

Zucchini Bread

24 May

While we’re talking zukes, who doesn’t freak out over a scrumptious slice of zucchini bread? No one I know!!! Well, once you’ve convinced them to try it if they’re all veggie averse. Next experiment might be a recipe for white cupcakes that’s been healthified by using zucchini to moisten the batter rather than oil. Even I am skeptical, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2-3 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F ( 165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt and nuts; stir into the egg mixture. Divide batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until done.

To healthify this one or just jazz it up, you can do the old applesauce (oooh, or cinnamon applesauce!) in place of oil trick (I’d only do half though – if you try to go with NO oil you won’t be that pleased with your results), and try adding other favorite dried fruits or coconut, additional spices like nutmeg, and even chocolate chips. Mention of streusel topping ran rampant on the review boards, but since I’d be trying to go healthy with this, I’d personally skip it.
Many of the reviewers on Allrecipes suggest using more zucchini than is originally called for – up to as much as a full extra cup in fact.
A vegan chimed in as well, suggesting substituting 3/4 cup of applesauce for the 3 eggs and using whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour, and then just using 3/4 cup of oil because of all the applesauce (she used safflower). I am certainly going to go with the whole wheat flour.
So many options!!!

07/05/09 UPDATE *******
2 c wheat flour
1 c AP flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c apple sauce
1/4 c Canola oil
1 c toasted walnuts & pecans, chopped

* half of this batter went into a loaf pan

With the remaining batter, I halved that again and to one portion added 1 tsp orange juice (freshly squeezed – I wanted zest too but don’t have a freaking zester, can you believe that crap?); to the other portion I added one quarter of a Granny Smith apple, chopped small. I put these into mini muffin tins and topped the orange side with vanilla sugar, and the apple side with cinnamon sugar. And crossed my fingers because I know baking is finicky and I completely screwed with the recipe above. . . .
The minis were done in 20 and I let the loaf cook for another 40.
The orange version wasn’t orangey enough for me, so I made up a quick glaze using freshly squeezed orange juice that I cooked down with a pinch of vanilla sugar, and then, because I have NO icing sugar in my house, but luckily some Pillsbury vanilla frosting, a good glop of that until I had a nice smooth and thin orange glaze. I drizzled this over the top and called it done.