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Posts tagged “bread

A saturday in the kitchen : French Bread.

Saturday was quite lovely, the sun was shining out and for the first time in quite a while, it was real California weather. I had no plans, and while thinking about what I was to spend my day doing I realized I hadn’t made bread in at least a month and a half…this was far too long for a baker! I got out the “American Cooking” cook book and decided to make French bread. French bread is so much fun to make, so simple! Six ingredients and that is it.

Here is the recipe I used :

   

The recipe is pretty simple, you start by dissolving the yeast in warm water (around 105-115) no warmer no cooler! You don’t want to kill the yeast but you need it to activate. Then you add the sugar and (I personally always wait to add the salt till I start adding the last of the flour) just because salt can kill yeast and I’m paranoid…I have found that with this recipe 4 cups of flour works much better than 4 1/2 cups. With this recipe you don’t knead the dough before letting it rise or put the dough in a clean greased bowl to rise, you leave the dough in the original bowl. Before I leave my dough to rise in the microwave (that’s just where I’ve always let mine rise) I always let the microwave run for two minutes and then put the dough in, this helps the dough rise faster and in most cases cuts the rising time in half! 

before

after 🙂

 

 

After the dough has risen get a large cutting board or clean surface and lightly flour it, then cut the dough in half and take on half and start rolling it out to a rectangle at the shape of 10 inches by 14.

Then start rolling the dough from the broadest side and pinch the dough together, then start shaping the dough in to an 18 inch long loaf  and place on a prepared pan that is greased and lightly covered with corn meal. Repeat with the next piece of dough. Take a knife and slash the bread four times.

 Then cover the dough with a towel and let rise in a warm spot till doubled in size. After the dough has risen again and is finally ready to be baked pre heat the oven to 425 and lightly brush the loaves with ice water. When the oven is ready bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 325, brush with ice water again and let finish baking for 40 minutes. When the bread is done it will be golden, and when tapped on the bottom it will sound hallow. Make sure that the bread is spread out far enough away from each other so that the heat can circulate other wise the bread will bake on top but not on the sides or very middle. When the bread is finished let cool for about 10 minutes and then dig in! This bread is awesome, I made three small loaves and gave two away to my neighbors.

I hope you all have an awesome Monday and amazing week!! 🙂

beautiful


An adventure in making Challah (bread)

Yesterday I had the entire day free so I decided I would try making a new bread…simple enough right? noooo! Challah bread was a challenge! Not making the dough but braiding the dough. I have made pretzels a million times and bread with twisted tops but never something like this.

Now I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the braiding quite right but I’m okay with that, it was my first time and learning how to braid the bread was sorta frustrating (I had a little breakdown haha) so I’m just glad it came out looking that good.  When the bread was finally done I grabbed a giant slice, this was the best bread I had ever made!! Everyone needs to make this bread at least once because it is gorgeous! So here is the recipe  🙂

I got the recipe from my Grandma’s cookbook “Essentials of Baking”

for this recipe you will need:

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup warm water (around 110-115)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs and 1 for the glaze
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • poppy seeds if you want

Start by dissolving the yeast in warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of flour, salt, and the butter  until the dough comes together. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic (you can pull the dough without it breaking off and everything’s worked in) around 7 minutes. Do not add to much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 2 hours until its doubled in size (I always let my dough rise in the microwave).

at the beginning

2 hours later

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, punch down the dough and roll out on to a clean work surface (don’t flour the surface, you’ll want to but it’s not needed trust me 🙂 )

To make the 4 strand braid’s, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces with a sharp knife

 and using your palms start in the center and working outward, elongate 1 piece by rolling it gently against the work surface with even pressure until you have formed a rope as long as the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces. And this is where it gets difficult..

Line up the 4 strands in front of you horizontally, Cross the strand farthest from you across the other 3 strands so that it is now nearest you. Then cross the strand that is now next to it across the other 2 strands away from you. Position the outside strands so that they are away from the center ones and position the center 2 strands perfectly horizontal. Bring the strand nearest you down between the 2 horizontal strands. Bring the strand farthest from you up and across the opposite side. Again, bring the strand farthest from you down between the 2 straight strands. Bring the strand nearest you up and across to the opposite side. Starting from the strand nearest you, repeat the braiding until you reach the ends of the ropes. Pinch them together and at the bottom and tuck the strands under at the ends.

Place the braided loaf on the prepared pan and cover and let rise again for about an hour until it doubles in size, and is spongy to touch.

Preheat the oven to 350 and brush the bread with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the seeds,

ready for the oven

bake the braid until it is nicely brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. After 30-35 minutes take out let cool on a wire rack..wait about 15 minutes before cutting in so your bread doesnt dry up.

Before I tucked the strands under the loaf I cut off some excess and used it to make some knots that came out beautifully after 25 minutes in a 350 oven.

If your bread does start to brown and get dark too early just cover it loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking…I had to do  this with mine.

🙂 I hope you all continue to have an awesome week!!


French Loaves with a twist top

Yesterday I went  shopping with my friend, as I was getting ready I grabbed my boots and threw one of them on the bed while I put the other on and a giant spider crawled out of my boot and onto my bed!!!! As I started to scream it ran under my sheets and I couldn’t find it so I called my dad and asked him to bring home one of those bug bomb things. When I arrived home I decided I would spend the day making bread since I was much to terrified to go in my room. Before I started I ran in my room grabbed my thermometer, my american cooking cookbook and my camera..I then (with the help of my dad) covered my computer and radio and printer with towels and set off the bug fogger. With that whole spider scare behind me I headed out to my kitchen and started making bread..now I havent made bread in a few months so I was terribly excited. I looked through my cookery book and chose French Loaves with a twist top, bread that is amazing toasted with honey.

So I started making the bread and of course I put on some music (you must have music on when you bake and cook). Now when you cook the music has to be (of course this is just my opinion) Big Band music…but when you bake…thats when you turn on some rock music..any type..Yesterday I turned to an awesome band called “Flogging Molly”. It is SO much fun to bake when Flogging Molly is on..I really cant explain why..just go and bake with Flogging Molly on and you’ll get it. Anyways I get the butter melted and the milk warmed and then combined and I pour it over the yeast and then mix till its dissolved. I then go out to the freezer in the garage and get my giant bag of flour and add in the 2 cups..then mix…then 2 cups..then mix..then again 2 cups, when it’s all combined I add in the salt last..just because im paranoid the salt will still kill the yeast so I always add it last. I the set the dough on a cutting board..wash the bowl, spray it with cooking spray..place the dough in the bowl and put a towel over the top and let rise for an hour (I always let mine rise in the microwave). No Reservations…here I come (:

After waiting close to an hour I check on my dough again…

Its ready!! I wash my hands, lightly flour my cutting board and turn the dough out on to it. I knead the dough until it’s absolutely perfect..meaning its smooth and there are no lumps and its soft and perfect. Then I cut off the 1 cup of dough (for the twist top) and then cut the dough in to equal halves. I then take one piece of dough and form in to an oblong loaf and then set it on the pan I already greased..I then do the same with the other half of the dough. Then this is the part that was most difficult for me the first time I made this bread…the twist top..(this gets easier after you’ve made pretzels a few times) anyways you take the extra dough and divide it in half..then you take one half and roll it out as long as you can get it..I then like to pick it up and stretch it out (softly) with my hands until it is double the size of the oblong loaves. Now you get to twist it YAY! haha, I put my pointer finger in the middle, then sharply twist it..then just keep twisting it till your done and place it one the bread

Now you set the bread aside and let it rise until doubled in size (about 30 to 50 minutes)..after waiting you beat one egg and brush the bread with it..then you slide the bread in the oven at 350 degrees and bake (the book says 20 but mine takes 30) for 20-30 minutes and then you get this.

Allow the bread to cool for at least 20 minutes (if you cut it too soon the bread will dry out) and then enjoy! This bread is beautiful!! it’s a pretty sweet bread so it doesn’t go well with soups but its amazing with breakfast or as a snack.

Oh and back to the spider..later when it was safe to go  back in my room and I was pulling the sheets off my bed to wash em I found the spider..dead..under my covers so its all good haha (:

Have an amazing weekend!!!

Oh and Daisy..my lovely dog, of course joined me in the kitchen while I made this bread :).


Fresh Bread

I love baking..it is without a doubt my most favorite thing in the world to do..I would rather spend a day baking than anything else..even exploring and I love adventure. When ever I am asked what my specialty is..or what my favorite thing to bake is I always answer the same….bread.

Now..why bread? why not a pastry or a tart or a pie?

I choose bread because its amazing..so simple yet when its fresh out of the oven with a drizzle of honey on top its my favorite thing to eat. Making bread is fun also, I love kneading the dough, and checking on it to make sure its rising not to fast and not to slow. My favorite bread to make is cinnamon swirl bread because i love that the work isn’t over when the bread is done rising. When the bread is finished rising roll it out in a perfect rectangle and then mix cinnamon and sugar together..i then brush a bit of water on the dough then sprinkle the beautiful mixture of sugar and spice on the dough. After rolling it up in a loaf shape and pinching the sides..you then wait an hour for it to rise again…then finally, finally! you get to bake the bread but then it’s another 40 minutes till you get to smell it and even then you need to let it sit and cool for a few minutes..if you don’t your bread dries out. Another amazing bread to make is french bread with a twisted top…that’s the one that’s best with spot of honey on top. The cookery book that I get all my bread recipes from is “The illustrated encyclopedia of American Cooking”

 Hands down..the best cook book I own..amazing recipes and the way its organized is ex. Cinnamon then it tells you everything about cinnamon and then it lists recipes with cinnamon. The pictures look super late 60’s or early 70’s and they are kind of shaky but there cool and they make me laugh.

But back to bread..the best thing in that book…the recipes for bread.

If you have never had fresh bread..the thing you need to do is set a weekend day aside and bake the day away..you will not regret it, after you make your first loaf of bread what really amazes you is that you made it..you made the crust..YOU made crust! AND then you will become even more amazed when you make a sandwich with your own bread.

So take the time and make yourself a loaf of fresh bread..you havnt truly tasted bread until you’ve tasted fresh homemade bread.