Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our daily bread

I had a long list of things to do while on vacation last week. One was to bake bread.

It's not easy to find time to bake bread, even if you're using a bread machine to make your dough. My machine requires 90 minutes for the dough cycle. Then the loaf has to rise on the counter for about 45 minutes. Then there's another 30-45 minutes baking time, depending on the bread. It's easy to run errands during the 90-minute rising cycle, which is what I did Thursday morning with my first loaf.

Because it had been so long since I made bread, I had a hard time choosing which recipe to use. I couldn't remember which ones we liked best! So I went to an old an reliable recipe, Honey White Bread. This is one of the first recipes I made when I got my machine about a dozen years ago. That bread machine has been so good to me!

The recipe is one of several in the cookbook I made for my family some years back. In the recipe note, I mention how I like to start the bread at lunchtime and let it bake during the afternoon, getting ready just in time for supper. That's when I used to let the bread cook in the bread machine. I don't do that anymore. Instead, I let the machine make the dough, and then I put the dough in a bread pan for the second rising and cook it in the oven.

The Honey White loaf is so simple to make. The hardest part (and that's not even hard) is scalding the milk, which I do totally by smell, by the way.

My tips for this recipe include giving the bread pan (I use glass) a light rub of butter before placing the dough in to rise and taking the bread out about 5 to 10 minutes before it's finished baking and brushing on a little more butter. The extra butter gives the bread a wonderful taste as well as a golden brown crust.

The bread is delicious straight from the oven, but the texture stays tender and tasty hours later. I also love making cinnamon toast and French toast with this bread on the second or third day -- if there's any left!

We enjoyed the first loaf so much that I made a second the next day, and on Sunday, I made a third loaf, this time an oatmeal bread recipe I first made years ago that I found on a bag of King Arthur bread flour.

I think I've shared the King Arthur recipe before, but it's so good that I'm including it again today. King Arthur Toasting and Sandwich Bread is another delicious bread either plain or toasted and is a favorite at my house. I've also used this dough to make a delicious cinnamon bread.

I don't know how much longer I'll have this bread-baking bug. My son has already mentioned that he wants his favorite herb rolls, and I'm eager to try a new pizza dough recipe. So I guess I'll keep baking!

King Arthur Oatmeal Toasting and Sandwich Bread
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoon honey (Can also use brown sugar; I use honey)
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
Place ingredients in bread machine pan in order suggested by manufacturer. Program to dough setting. Check from time to time to see if flour or water is needed. Finished dough should be soft and supple.
When cycle is complete, place on floured surface and shape into log. Put in loaf pan greased with butter. Cover with towel and let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour or until 1 to 2 inches above rim of pan. I let my bread rise in the oven. Just before the dough cycle is complete, I turn the light on in the cold oven and place my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup inside, filled with boiling water. That makes a warm, humid place perfect for rising dough.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Yields: 1 loaf.
King Arthur Flour Company

Honey White Bread for Bread Machine
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I always buy salted.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast or active dry yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour (King Arthur is best.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Scald milk. Remove from heat and add butter and honey. Stir until butter melts. Cool to room temperature.
Add milk mixture and other ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Might need to add extra flour.
Set machine for dough setting.
When completed, remove dough from pan. Shape into rectangle and roll in jelly roll fashion, pinching bottom seam. Place seam-side down in bread pan prepared with a light coating of butter. Let rise in warm place for 30-45 minutes. I let my bread rise in the oven. Just before the dough cycle is complete, I turn the light on in the cold oven and place my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup inside, filled with boiling water. That makes a warm, humid place perfect for rising dough.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with butter. Return to oven for about 5 minutes or until done.

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