Instant-Potato Bread, page 66, August 23, 2017

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I am craving a hearty, simple loaf of bread and came upon this recipe as I perused the cookbook.  I usually like potato breads, and have everything on hand, so this is the winner.   The author comments that she used to avoid the use of instant potato flakes in her bread baking until being introduced to this recipe.  Now she always keeps a box of instant mashed potatoes on hand.

One thing mentioned in the recipe description is that potatoes stimulate yeast. As a result this tends to be a high-domed loaf of bread.  I’ve had one or two issues in the past with bread rising too much and hitting the top of my machine, and will be sure to keep an eye on this.  Another note about working with the potato flakes is that they will quickly absorb liquid. To avoid  a dry dough ball, be sure to add the flour to the liquid ingredients first.  This separation ensures that the potatoes will not soak up too much of your liquid ingredients while you’re measuring and adding the flour.

Into my bread machine pan I added 1 1/2 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of instant buttermilk.  (If you are using fresh buttermilk, change measurements to 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup buttermilk.) Next, I added 2 tablespoons, each, of olive oil and dark honey.  Following the author’s suggestion, I next added 3 cups of bread flour, followed by 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten, 1/2 cup instant potato flakes and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

I am using the basic cycle and medium crust setting.  The cookbook mentions that the dough ball, when tested, should be nicely formed, slightly sticky and stiff.  The stickiness it to be expected so there is no need to add additional flour.  ( The potato flakes will continue soaking up moisture during the rises.)

There is another note in the cookbook that I would like to share.

“This loaf can be baked on the Quick Yeast Bread cycle since the potatoes encourage the yeast.  (See your manufacturer’s manual for guidelines for adjusting the quantity of yeast when using this cycle.)”

As a reminder, the above quote is referring to the “Quick YEAST Bread” cycle, which is not the same as a “Quick Bread” cycle.

The loaf cratered again, but that didn’t affect the flavor.  This bread has a dense, moist interior with a crunchy golden crust.  Flavor-wise, it nicely combines honey sweet with buttermilk tang.

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Country Pancetta-Cheese Bread, page 378, August 2015

I really went off-recipe with this loaf, but I had some of the ingredients that are hard to find here at home, so I went ahead and used them.  The actual recipe called for a few different ingredients, and for the loaf to be shaped by hand and finished in the oven.  Here is what I did:

Before I started baking, I cooked 4 ounces of pancetta in a skillet until crisp.  After that finished cooking, I placed it on paper toweling to cool.

Ingredients were added to the bread machine as follows:  1 1/8 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 3/4 cups bread flour, 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 tablespoon gluten, a pinch of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.  I used the French bread setting and the medium crust options.

When the machine beeped between kneads 1 and 2, I added the pancetta along with 4 ounces of fresh, whole milk mozzarella, cut into small cubes.

I believe I made a mistake choosing the French Bread setting for this loaf.  The extra rise cause the loaf to touch the top of the bread machine, and then crater.

It was a very tasty loaf, though.  We sliced some and served with with fruit and cheese we had picked up at the farmer’s market in Olympia.  Not the prettiest loaf I have made, but very tasty.

Buttermilk Cheese Bread, page 372, August, 2015

The recipe for this loaf recommends serving it alongside a thick beef and barley soup, fresh ham, or simply using it to make an outstanding sandwich.

Into the bread machine, went:  1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 1/2 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast.

This loaf uses the medium and basic cycle settings on the machine.

Nearly every recipe in this cookbook recommends letting the completed loaf cool to room temperature before slicing.  As this was baking, though, it smelled so incredible that mom and I knew that we wouldn’t wait.

This loaf rose too high and touched the top of the bread machine, then it cratered.  Not badly, but it didn’t bake to that rounded top I would have preferred.  It is a lovely golden brown with noticeable flecks of cheese on the crust.  Soft, chewy and delicious, I am glad we didn’t wait.  There is something intoxicating about eating fresh, hot bread, dripping with butter.

Cracked Wheat Bread, page 129, July 26, 2015

Time to bake yet another high-fiber loaf to give away this next week.

This recipe uses molasses as the sweetening agent, so that will add an entirely different flavor profile to this grainy loaf.

An hour before I was to begin, I poured 3/4 cup boiling water over 1/2 cup cracked wheat in a bowl.  To that, I added 3 tablespoons molasses, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  That was then left to stand for 1 hour at room temperature to soften the grain.

After the hour was up, ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:  The cracked wheat mixture, 3/4 cup water, 2 2/3 cups bread flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon gluten and 2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast. (Depending on the instructions for your machine, just be sure to include the cracked wheat mixture as a liquid.)

The cookbook calls for this to be baked using the medium crust and basic bread cycle.  I really wavered about using the whole wheat cycle instead, but decided to follow the instructions.  Ms. Hensperger is the expert here.

I noticed as this was mixing and then kneading, that the dough ball looked really wet, so I sprinkled it with another tablespoon or so of flour and that seemed to help.  We shall see if that helped or hindered this loaf later on.

With just over an hour to go, the loaf looked beautiful through the window on the top of my bread machine.  Then, it cratered.  What a disappointment.  This could have been due to any number of things, the extra flour, the cycle I used, not adding enough extra flour, even my machine itself.  I will still use this as a loaf for someone else, just for someone who loves me enough to ignore a crater loaf.

No photos, you’ve seen one crater, you’ve seen them all.

Here are the results of the taste test:

“Good, I like the grains in it.  Needs butter.”

“Very good I put some mozz cheese on it and popped it in the toaster – I’m in love.”

“Chewy, I liked it with butter!”

Not a loaf, just a lesson to be shared

I was thinking about how many times I have ended up with “crater loaves.”  True, I can sometimes find some error to attribute it to, but to have it continue just seems wrong.  In the cookbook, Ms. Hensperger states that you need to follow the instructions for your bread machine as to the order of ingredients that go into the pan.  The instruction manual for my machine reads:

—FIRST, liquid ingredients
—SECOND, dry ingredients
—LAST, yeast

That is what I have been doing, but I really wanted to see if there was something the manual DOESN’T say.  Sure enough, I found it.  Thank goodness for Google and the King Arthur Flour websites.

Salt is a natural yeast inhibitor and if it mixes too soon with the yeast in your bread, it can negatively affect your rise. I also read that creating a “well” for the yeast in the top of the flour will keep it better separated from the salt.

I will be making a loaf of Beer Cheese bread later today and shall see if I have any better results by adding the salt before the flour and the yeast into a well, after.