Time for an Equipment Change

I was looking over my previous blog posts and realized I have been dealing with A LOT of cratering issues.  I have tried changing the order of ingredients into my machine, the placement of the machine in my house, the freshness of ingredients in the machine, even tried changing up some of the ingredient amounts.  What I haven’t tried is . . . a new machine.

Being without much money, I knew I couldn’t afford to buy a new bread machine, but someone locally posted that they had a “gently used” Zojirushi they were selling for $30.00.  I figured I wouldn’t be out too much money if it didn’t work.

The sky has cleared and the birds are singing.  I have done 3 test loaves with this machine (just for my own use, not for the blog) and each has been perfectly lovely, with a tall, rounded top and beautiful crust. Hooray.  I am now ready to get back on track with this blog.

The Zojirushi also has some features that my Oster doesn’t.  There are “Jam” and “Cake” settings.  To attempt the jam and quick-bread recipes before, I had to wait until I was visiting my parents so I could use mom’s machine.

I will definitely keep my Oster around as a back up, but I feel better using the ZO at this point.

When I finish up the loaf I baked yesterday (Basil White Bread), I will get baking for my blog again.

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Franskbrod, Page 74, March 24, 2018

First of all, this loaf is actually “Franskbrød” but I could not figure out how to get the correct character in the title.  This is the most common white bread found in Scandinavia, and although the name literally translates to “French Bread,”  it contains an egg, so it technically doesn’t qualify as a true French Bread.  Ms. Hensperger notes that she adapted this recipe from one written by Beatrice Ojakangas.

I am in the mood for a simple white bread, I am out of both milk and butter, so I needed a recipe that calls for neither.

I placed my ingredients in the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup water

1 large egg

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon gluten

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

I am using the French bread cycle on my machine, although the basic cycle could be used as well.  I am also using the “medium” crust setting.

Please note, that because this loaf contains an egg, you should not use the delay timer.

This is a lovely loaf of bread, light and chewy on the inside with a crunchy, golden crust.

IMG_9402

I have tried it a couple different ways, so far. I had my first slice, still warm, dipping bits into Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Oil.  Wow.  Now, I’ve just had another slice drizzled with wildflower honey and served with a cup of tea.  I can understand why this is a popular bread in the Northern European countries of Scandinavia; it is simple and hearty, with a crust that should stand up nicely to being dipped in a bowl of hot soup or stew.  (Hmm, guess I know how I will be eating my next piece.)

 

Venetian Panettone, page 523, December 24, 2017

I am making this recipe for our family’s Christmas Brunch. There are instructions in Ms. Hensperger’s cookbook for baking a single large loaf or 2 smaller, freeform loaves.  I am making the smaller and will only include those instructions in this post.

In a small bowl, I placed:

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup minced dried apricots (could also use orange confit)

2 tablespoons candied citron (could also use minced dried pineapple)

I tossed the dried and candied fruit with 2 tablespoons of flour and set it aside.

Into the bread machine went the following:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons honey

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 large egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (could also use Fiori di Sicilia)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour

3 tablespoons vanilla sugar

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

The machine was programmed for the dough cycle and started.  I then set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes.  After the timer went off, I unplugged the machine and allowed the dough to rise for 1 hour and 15 minutes. While the dough was rising, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepared a lightly floured mat to work on. According to the cookbook, the dough should have risen until it was nearly to the top of the pan.  It hadn’t, so I have it another 30 minutes of rising time before progressing to the next step.

After it had risen, I turned the dough ball out onto my floured mat and patted it into a large rectangle.  I sprinkled the floured fruit of the dough and folded it over, kneading gently to distribute the fruit.

The next step was to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and to form those pieces into 2 tight round balls.  I placed the balls onto the parchment covered baking sheet 3 inches apart and using kitchen shear, but an “X” 1/2 inch deep into the top of each loaf.

I then covered the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour.

About 20 minutes before baking, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees.

When the loaves had sufficiently risen, I used the kitchen shears to “redefine” the X on each loaf.  I then inserted a 1/2 tablespoon piece of butter into each cut. The loaves were then baked for 30 minutes.

panettone

These loaves have a golden brown crust and chewy interior.  It was not too sweet, and the flavor was lovely.

 

Portuguese Sweet Bread, page 514, December 22, 2017

Yet another loaf for gifting at Christmas, this loaf is supposed to be reminiscent of a Portuguese holiday bread known as Pão Doce. Ms. Hensperger recommends serving it toasted for breakfast with jam or lemon curd, but mentions it is also good with a sweet wine for dessert.

Into the bread machine, I added:

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons water

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon instant potato flakes

2 teaspoons gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

This loaf requires the dark crust setting and can be baked using either the Basic or Sweet bread cycles.  I used Basic.

portuguese Sweet] Oh, boy, this one really reminds me of Hawaiian Sweet Bread.  The lemon and vanilla flavors marry well and this texture is tender and slightly chewy.

Here are my cousin, Faye’s thoughts:

“The next time you make your Portuguese Sweet Bread, try is as bread for French Toast. AWESOME!  I tried it as is and with jam, and the flavor was so good as it but also made great French Toast. Yum!”

Dutch Sugar Loaf, page 434, December 21, 2017

This recipe sounds interesting. Crushed sugar cubes baked into a loaf of bread?  We shall see.

The first step in preparing this loaf is to place 2/3 cups of sugar cubes in a heavy clear plastic freezer bag and, using the smooth side of a meat mallet, crack the cubes. You want them still to be chunky (no smaller than 1/4 cube).  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and a small pinch of ground cloves to the bag and toss to coat.  Set aside.

The following ingredients go into the bread machine pan:

1 1/8 cups fat free milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon gluten

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

This loaf uses the “Sweet Bread” and “Medium Crust” settings.  Five minutes into the kneading segment, I sprinkled half the sugar and spice mixture over the dough.  Three minutes later, I added the rest.

This smelled great while it was baking, the cinnamon scent permeated the house.  It baked up well rounded with a dark crust.

dutch sugar]The blend of cinnamon and sugar flavor here is amazing.  Throughout the loaf there are these moist, sugary pockets and the whole loaf tastes like cinnamon toast.  This is another loaf that I think would make wonderful French toast.

Cranberry – Golden Raisin Bread with Cardamom, page 443, December 20, 2017

I am gifting bread to a few people this Christmas and this is the first loaf I am including in the gift baskets.  I will write all these recipes as I bake, but will not post them on the website until after Christmas.

According to Ms. Hensperger, traditionally Scandinavian Raisin Breads include cardamom.  I am used to raisin breads spiced with cinnamon, so it will be interesting to see how this loaf differs from what I know.

Because I am baking several loaves, then gifting them all later, I want to be sure not to allow the bread to dry out.  Here I am paraphrasing the author’s instructions for freezing bread:

First, be aware that freezing bread at home will keep it fresh for a maximum of 3 months.  Longer than that, and your bread will definitely become stale.  To freeze bread or rolls, first bake and then cool completely at room temperature.  (If your recipe calls for glazing or icing, that should not be done before freezing, but just prior to serving.)  Once the loaf or rolls are completely cooled, wrap whole or pre-sliced loaves first in good quality plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil or a plastic freezer bag.  (A double layer or freezer bags is also acceptable.

To thaw, let the loaf or rolls stand at room temperature for about 3 hours.

That said, I placed my ingredients in the bread machine in the following order:

1 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

After selecting the light crust and sweet bread settings, I measured out the cranberries and golden raisins to add later in the cycle.

When the machine indicated the point between kneads 1 and 2, I added:

2/3 cup golden raisins

2/3 cup dried cranberries

This loaf baked up beautifully, with a rounded dome and golden brown colored crust.  I didn’t think to take any photographs of this one though, and this is one I haven’t been able to taste test.  I spoke with one of my recipients today and she will let me know what they think after they try it.  I will update this post at that time.

 

Amaretto Bread, page 518, December 20, 2017

This is another of my “Christmas Gift” breads this year.  This recipe includes both amaretto liqueur and eggnog so it will taste, I hope, delicious and be reminiscent of the holiday season in every bite.

The note included by the author mentions that if your eggnog is thick, you may need to add another tablespoon or so to the amount listed.  I have kind of a standard commercial eggnog here, so I will be using the amount from the recipe.

The first step in the preparation of this bread is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  While that is heating, coarsely chop 3/4 cup (3 ounces) whole almonds.  Then, spread the almonds evenly on a clean baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Into the bread machine pan went the following:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon commercial eggnog

1/4 cup amaretto liqueur

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces  (can substitute 2 tablespoons almond oil)

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

Set crust for medium and use the “Basic” bread setting.  When the machine beeped indicating the cycle point between Knead 1 and Knead 2, I added the chopped, toasted almonds.

As the loaf baked, it smelled really lovely. I noted the eggnog scent more than the amaretto, though.  The finished loaf had a dark crust and nice dome shape.

amaretto

This recipe recommends a dusting of Almond Confectioners’ Sugar prior to serving.  I prepared the sugar using the following recipe, and planned to include a small container with each gift.

Place 1 cup blanched almonds in the workbowl of a food processor with 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar.  Process until finely ground and fluffy.  Add another 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and process until a fine powder is created.  This created a fluffy sugar that, stored in an airtight container, will keep at room temperature for up to 1 month.

That shared, I totally forgot to include any of the Almond Sugar with the gifts, so now I have a rather large container of Almond Confectioners’ Sugar here at home that I have to figure out what to do with.

This loaf is only slightly sweet with a soft, chewy texture.  The flavor is good, but it doesn’t scream Eggnog or Amaretto.  I enjoyed it, and would make it again.

I got a couple quotes from my cousins, Cathy and Michael on this loaf.

“Delicious Toasted!”

“It is great toasted with honey and butter.”