Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls, page 356, November 19, 2017

I am ready to tackle recipe two in my Thanksgiving pregame lineup.  I’ve actually never made yeast rolls before, bread machine or otherwise, so this is totally a new experience for me.  We are having 8 for Thanksgiving dinner and this will provide 2 rolls per person.  I originally thought to make 2 batches, but have since changed my mind.

This recipe can be made using any winter squash you prefer.  You can use canned/pureed or cook and puree your own.  I am taking the slightly easier route of using canned pumpkin to save a little time.

Ingredients went into the bread machine pan in the following order:

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (again, any winter squash puree you enjoy can be used here)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons salt

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar (I am using light)

1 Tablespoon dried orange peel

2 1/4 teaspoons SAF yeast

I programmed my machine for the dough cycle and let it begin. While the machine was working, I took the opportunity to grease 16 muffin cups and set them aside.

When the machine beeped at the end of the cycle, I removed the dough to a lightly floured work space.  The dough was then divided into 4 equal portions, with each of those 4 being again divided into 4.  (I now had 16 portions.)  To make the cloverleaf style roll, I then divided each of my 16 portions into 3 equal pieces, rolled each piece into a small walnut-sized ball and arranged each group of 3 into a muffin cup.  Once the muffin cups were filled, I loosely covered them with plastic wrap and set them aside to rise until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes).

While the rolls were rising, I preheated my oven to 375 degrees, Fahrenheit.

Once the oven was heated and the rolls were sufficiently risen, I ended up baking them for 17 minutes (the recipe says 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.)  I then immediately removed the rolls from the pan and set them on a rack to cool completely.  Since I am making these ahead of time, once they are cooled, I put them into airtight containers in my freezer to be reheated on Thanksgiving day.

They baked up large and fluffy, and I will post photos and reviews after the holiday.

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Not a great photo, but I forgot to take pictures until this morning and these are the only leftovers.

These were really delicious; ever so slightly sweet with just a hint of orange flavor and the delightfully yeasty smell that only seems to come from homemade baking. My sister made black-eyed peas as part of our Thanksgiving feast and several  our cousin, Mike, really liked using these rolls to dunk in that yummy broth.

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Yogurt Bread, page 54, November 13, 2017

I had my sister over for a visit not too long ago when I cooked Lebanese food one day.  (We try, every once in a while, to have a day where we have a meal from another country.)  That said, I was left with some plain yogurt now nearing its expiration date and I came across this recipe in the cookbook.  Ms. Hensperger recommends using this bread the day it is baked and that it is a “perfect sandwich bread”.

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

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

3/4 cup water

2 tsp. salt

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 Tbl. gluten

2 tsp. SAF yeast

 

This loaf uses the basic bread and dark crust settings.  It is noted that the you should not use the delay timer when making this loaf.  Another thing worth mentioning is that your dough ball will look sticky.  There is no need to add additional flour, as the stickiness will correct itself during the kneading process.

As this was baking, the smell reminded me quite a lot of some sourdough breads I have baked in the past.

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This loaf is really lovely, the crust has a slight snap, but the interior of the loaf is moist, chewy and delicious.  I tried a slice with just butter and it was great, but I also made a grilled cheese sandwich later in the evening and a fried egg sandwich this morning, both of which were perfect on this bread.  I really can’t express just how much I like this loaf; it is very slightly sour and delightfully soft and chewy.

Beer Bread, page 67, November 11, 2017

Fall has fallen here; everything is gray, wet and windy, perfect weather  for homemade soup and bread.  I started a batch of split pea and ham soup in the slow cooker this morning and realized how good that will taste with some freshly baked bread.  Flipping through the cookbook, I came across this recipe and think it will be an ideal November supper.

Now, if you are an aficionado of beer, you can choose anything, dark or light, domestic or imported, and know that it will uniquely change the flavor of your bread.  I am not, however, a beer aficionado, I am not even a beer fan.  That said, I had an old can of Budweiser in my fridge left over from “heaven knows when” and that is what I am using.  (Hipsters and beer-snobs, scoff if you must.)

First step was opening the 12- oz. can of beer and pouring it into a bowl for a couple hours to go flat.

After the beer was sufficiently “flattened,” I poured it into the bread machine pan.  To that, I added 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 1/2 cups bread flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons of SAF yeast.

This loaf used the basic cycle and the dark crust setting.

Unlike most recipes in Ms. Hensperger’s book, this one doesn’t call for the addition of gluten.  My assumption is that the beer makes up for any deficiency.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence.” — M.F.K. Fisher

The yeasty beer smell while this was mixing, kneading and baking was really mouth-watering.   I tried a little slice warm with butter and it is a tasty loaf, slightly sweet with great crumb and crust. I didn’t really get a flavor that screamed “beer” to me, but that could change with a different, more flavorful brew.

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As you can see from the photo, this loaf definitely did NOT crater, which is nice, after the last several fails. I’m not sure to call what did happen here, but it isn’t a crater.

All in all, this tastes incredible and went so well with the homemade soup.  I will make this one again.  I might even buy a bottle of beer specially for it, instead of using some ancient can from the back of my fridge.

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.

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.