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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Peasant Bread, Page 199, August 7, 2017

This loaf is referred to in the cookbook as “a simple country bread.”  Instead of butter, this recipe uses olive oil as the fat element, so it is considered a “lean” bread.   Ms. Hensperger notes that the final product will vary slightly depending on the type of olive oil you use.  French is acidic and fruity, Spanish, smooth with an olive flavor, Greek is thick and robust while Italian is fruity and clean.  I am varying the recipe a bit more by using a rosemary-infused Greek olive oil I have on hand.

Into the bread pan, I placed the following:

1 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 1/4 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast

The dark crust and French bread settings are recommended.  However, it is noted that you can use the basic cycle provided you stop the machine after the second knead, unplug it, and start the cycle again, which will allow the addition knead required for French breads.  The dough ball should be smooth, slightly moist and springy.

Once the cycle was completed, I immediately removed the loaf to a wire rack and let it cool.

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This loaf baked up nicely with a golden crust and rounded top.  I didn’t notice a strong rosemary flavor or scent, but I did appreciate the flavor imparted by the olive oil itself.  This recipe produced a chewy, delicious and flavorful bread.  I may try it in the future with another variety of olive oil, just to see if I can discern a difference.  If any of you try making this, let me know what olive oil you use, and how it turns out.

Pain D’Ail, page 343, August 3, 2017

“There are five elements: earth, water, air, fire and garlic.” — Louis Diat

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This recipe uses freshly peeled garlic, but if you prefer a more subdued flavor, you can used roasted garlic.  I had some fresh garlic I wanted to use and thought this loaf sounded delicious.  According to the cookbook, it is good served with roasted meats and rice casseroles.  I look forward to trying it with pasta as well.

The first step was to set 3 tablespoons unsalted butter aside to soften.  When the butter was ready, I peeled 4 garlic cloves and pressed them directly into the butter.  Then I mashed them together, well.

The prepared garlic butter went into the bread machine pan first, followed by 1 1/2 cups water and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt.

Next, I added 4 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.  I made a small well in the top of the dry ingredients, into which I added 2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

This loaf requires a “medium” crust setting and the “French” bread cycle.

WOW!

I may have met my version of ambrosia here.  This loaf is incredible.  Just enough garlic to be present but in no way overwhelming.  After tasting this, I may try making it again with roasted garlic, just to see how that turns out.  I can’t imagine it could be an improvement though.  This is really tasty.  The crust has a nice crunch to it and the bread itself is soft and just slightly chewy.  Great served warm with a little butter, but I plan on serving it for dinner tonight with some pasta bolognese.  This bread just cries out for sopping up the remaining sauce from a pasta bowl.

So, so good.   So, so garlicky.  So, so going to make this one again sometime.

Coconut Milk White Bread, page 60, July 13, 2017

I thought this sounded like an interesting twist on the standard milk bread, and one I will be able to enjoy myself.  However, I will be headed to my parents’ home in a few days so if any is left over (and if I remember) I will bring along the leftovers.

“The two basic items necessary to sustain life are sunshine and coconut milk.” – Dustin Hoffman

There are a few notes worth mentioning with this recipe.  First, be sure to use coconut milk and not canned cream of coconut.  Second, before opening your can of coconut milk, take a moment to shake it well since the solids may have settled toward the bottom of the can.

The coconut milk replaces the need for any additional fat or sugar in this recipe, since it naturally provides both.  According to the cookbook, this loaf is perfect with Thai, Caribbean and Creole foods.

I am making a 2-pound loaf and put the ingredients into the pan in the following order:

1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten

2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast  (if you are making this with bead machine yeast, use 1 tablespoon)

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

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Now, officially I was supposed to let this get to room temperature before slicing it, but it smelled so good, I couldn’t wait that long.  This loaf is tender, flavorful and soft.  There is no flavor of coconut at all, but that is not really surprising.  This one is definitely a keeper.

Tomato Bread, page 346, June 29, 2017

I have always been a tomato fan, and ate them like apples when I was little.  This recipe looks intriguing and thought it would be a nice summer-time loaf.   My mouth is already watering thinking of cheese or bacon and avocado sandwiches, or even croutons made using this bread.

This is a loaf that can be made using the machine’s delay timer, but I am opting to make it using the basic program.  I am also making a couple changes to the recipe, because it calls for a small amount of whole wheat flour which I don’t eat, and the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes I have on hand contain garlic and herbs.  (I think the garlic and herbs will only add to the loaf, so I am unworried about that change.  I know that whole wheat flour is slightly lower in protein than bread flour, so I hope that substitution in this small an amount won’t negatively affect the finished product.  In the recipe below, I will list what I put in the pan, with the actual recipe ingredients in parentheses.

I put the ingredients into my bread machine in the following order:

3 tablespoons imported Italian tomato paste (the cookbook states that you can use standard canned tomato paste if the Italian is unavailable, but that the Italian can sometimes be found “stashed at the deli counter.” I found mine online.)

854693000102-mutti-double-concentrated-tomato-paste-in-tube.jpg1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, with their oil (Here is where I used tomatoes with garlic and herbs.  I also realized, as I am typing this, that the recipe calls for 1/3 cueae59e68-092c-4053-8558-7f435da98265_1.cebd291101106a824433ed896ace135e.jpegp, not 1/2 cup.  Hmmm, I really need to get my act together here.)

 

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 1/4 cups bread flour (Here, the recipe calls for 2 3/4 cups bread flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)

1 1/2 tablespoons gluten

2 teaspoons SAF yeast.

I then set my crust on medium and started the “Basic” cycle on my bread machine.

Well then, I just snuck a peek at the dough and it is a lovely red color and smells like tomato soup.  Let’s just hope my changes (and accidents) don’t cause any problems.

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As you can see from the photo, this loaf is intensely red.  The tomato flavor is just as intense as the color (good if, like me, you love tomatoes.)  I do wonder if it would have been a little milder had I got the amount for the sun-dried tomatoes correct. The bread is moist and delicious with a crunchy crust and bright bites of sun-dried tomato throughout.

Just a note, and I know this will seem trivial based on the fact that I got the measurement wrong anyway, but the “with their oil” direction regarding those tomatoes drove me a little nuts.  How much oil from the jar was I supposed to include?  Did this just mean I was supposed to NOT rinse the tomatoes, but forgo  purposefully including the oil from the jar?  Should I have made sure to get a lot of oil?  I spooned tomatoes and oil into my measuring cup, but was unsure if I had the proportions correct.  As with most bread I bake, as long as it tastes good, which this does, I am calling it a win.

Greek Bread, page 55, February 22, 2016

I’ve been on a bread-baking hiatus for the past several months, so I am coming back with what sounds like a simple, tasty bread from the “Daily Breads” chapter of Ms. Hensperger’s book.  The dairy element in this recipe is evaporated goat’s milk.  It is mentioned that evaporated cow’s milk can be substituted, but that this is more “authentically” Greek.  The author also warns against substituting regular milk for evaporated because you will miss out on the sweetness.  This recipe uses a little bit of whole wheat flour, but I doubt it is enough to cause me difficulties, so I will be keeping this one for myself.

First into the bread machine pan goes 1 cup of evaporated goat’s milk.  (This didn’t use the whole can, so anyone out there how a suggestion for using a small amount of EGM, I am all ears.)  Next comes 1/3 cup water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.  Flour for this loaf is 2 1/2 cups of bread flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour.  (According to the recipe, you can substitute 1/4 cup whole grain spelt flour for the whole wheat flour.) Then I add 1 1/4 tablespoons of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of gluten, 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons SAF yeast.  This loaf uses the “Basic” and “Medium” settings on my machine.

I forgot how great baking makes my house smell; this loaf is rising beautifully and shows no signs of the dreaded “crater loaf.”

My plan for dinner tonight is homemade chicken noodle soup, and I think this bread ought to be great served alongside it.

The machine finished its cycle and I put the bread on a rack to cool while making my soup. It is a really pretty loaf of bread. It has perfect air pockets and the taste reminds me a little of a sourdough, owing to the goat’s milk, I’m sure.



All in all, a very tasty bread to restart my baking.

The soup’s pretty good, too. I used a recipe titled “The Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup” by Gina Nistico from the February/March 2016 issue of Taste of Home Magazine.  It makes a huge pot of soup, so my freezer will be full for a good long while.

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.