Light Wheat Bread

Husband really loves the strawberry & almond bread I’ve been making, but I wanted to try something new.  Back to The Bread Bakers Apprentice I went.

This recipe is from The Bread Bakers Apprentice.

No substitutions were made.

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Light Wheat Bread

2 1/2 c unbleached high gluten or bread flour – I used bread flour
1 1/2 c whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tblsp granulated sugar or honey – I used honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tblsp shortening or unsalted butter at room temperature – I used shortening
1 1/4 c water, at room temperature

Stir together the high-gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4 quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the shortening, honey (if using) and water.  Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball.  If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water.  The dough should feel soft and supple.  It is better for it to be a little too soft than to be too stiff and tough.

Sprinkle high-gluten or whole-wheat flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook).  Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky.  Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine).  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

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Remove the dough from the bowl and pres it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches long.  Form it into a loaf.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8.5×4.5 inch bread pan.  Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Forming the loaves: Flatten the measured piece of dough with your hand, folding in the edges to make and even-sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.  Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  the loaf will spread out as your roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8 to 9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

Proof at room temperature for approximately 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and back for 30 minutes.  Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven.  The finished loaf should register 190 degrees in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferable 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

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cartoon-strawberry-9I laughed when this loaf came out of the oven.  It reminded me of the Muppet loaf of bread that showed up on Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.  This is a great standard loaf of bread.  Toast, sandwiches, whatever.  This is a great recipe to have on hand!

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Portuguese Sweet Bread

At my church in California, we used Kings Hawaiian Bread for communion.  Taking a small piece from the sweet loaf was a wonderful reminder of the sweet sacrifice made for me.  I really wanted to try this recipe, but put it off because its a 7 hour process.  Seven. Hours.  But I had a free day and thought, “what the heck?”.

This recipe is from The Bread Bakers Apprentice.

No substitutions were made.

portuguese sweet bread 1

Portuguese Sweet Bread

Sponge
1/2 c unbleached bread flour
1 tblsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 c water, room temperature

Dough
6 tblsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 c powdered milk
2 tblsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tblsp vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 c unbleached bread flour
6 tblsp water, room temperature

Egg Wash
1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp water until frothy

To make the sponge, stir together the flour, sugar and yeast in a small bowl.  Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are hydrated and make a smooth batter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the sponge gets foamy and seems on the verge of collapse.

To make the dough, combine the sugar, salt, powdered milk, butter and shortening in a 4 quart mixing bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer).   Cream together with a sturdy spoon ( or the paddle attachment) until smooth, then mix in the eggs and extracts.  Knead by hand (or switch to the dough hook attachment) and mix in the sponge and the flour.  Add the water, as needed to make a very soft dough.  The finished dough should be very supple and soft, easy to knead, and not wet or sticky.  It will take 10 to 12 minutes with the electric mixer and close to 15 minutes by hand to achieve this consistency. (Dough with high amounts of fat and sugar usually take longer to knead because the gluten requires more time to set up.)  The finished dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

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Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 2 equal pieces.  Form each of the pieces into a boule.  Lightly oil two 9-inch pie pans and place 1 boule, seam side down, in each pan.  Mist the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the pans with plastic wrap.

To form at Boule (Ball)
a. Gather the dough to form a rough ball.
b. To create surface tension, stretch the outside of the dough into a oblong shape, being careful not to squeeze out the gas trapped in the dough any more than necessary.
c. Repeat this stretching motion, bringing the opposite ends together to make a ball. Tighten the surface tension by pinching to seal the bottom of the dough where the creases converge.
d. Seat the boules aside for proofing or to rest for further shaping.

Proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough fills the pans fully, doubling in size and overlapping the edges slightly.

Very gently brush the loaves with the egg wash.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Bake the loaves for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they register 190 in the center.  After 30 minutes, check the loaves and rotate 180 degrees, if necessary for even baking.  Because of the high amount of sugar, the dough will brown very quickly, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is done.  It will get darker sa the center gradually catches up with the outside, but it will not burn.  The final color will be a rich mahogany brown.

Remove the bread from the pie pans and place on a rack to cool  The bread will soften as it cools, resulting in a very soft squishy loaf.  Allow the bread to cool for at least 90 minutes before slicing or serving.

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cartoon-strawberry-9The name says it all, this is a sweet bread.  Personally, I think its a little too sweet, but then I slathered on some butter and it all evened out.  There is a suggestion in the book to use this bread as french toast, this WILL be happening soon.  I would also like to try and use this dough for either dinner rolls or sandwich rolls.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I would really like to better my bread making skills.  Which means I wanted to find a good instructional book and I also need (no pun intended) to bake a lot of bread.

The book I purchased was “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread”, by Peter Reinhart.  This book covers it all.  Differences in types of flours, weighing vs measuring your ingredients, tools and wonderful recipes.

I decided to start with the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread and see how it goes.  The only substitution I made was pecans for walnuts.

cinnamon raisin bread 1

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

3 1/2 c unbleached flour
4 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 tblsp shortening, melted or at room temperature
1/2 c buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 c water, at room temperature
1 1/2 c raisins, rinsed and drained
1 c chopped walnuts – I used pecans

Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk and water.  Stir together with a large spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients come together and form a ball.  Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems to sticky or too dry and stiff.

Sprinkle flour on a counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook).  The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky.  Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture.  Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 to 8 minutes).  Sprinkle in the raisins and nuts during the final 2 minutes of kneading (or mixing) to distribute them evenly and to avoid crushing them too much.  (If you are mixing by machine, you may have to finish kneading by hand to distribute the raisins and nuts evenly.)  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

cinnamon raisin bread 2

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and form them into loaves.  Place each loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan, mist the tops with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Forming the loaves: Flatten the measured piece of dough with your hand, folding in the edges to make and even-sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.  Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  the loaf will spread out as your roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8 to 9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lips of the pans and is nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Place the loaf pans on a sheet pan, making sure they are not touching each other.

Bake the loaves for 20 minutes.  Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven.  The finished breads should register 190 degrees in the center and be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides and bottom.  They should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.

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Immediately remove the breads from their pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferable 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

Another trick that adds flavor is to brush the tops of the baked loaves with melted butter as soon as they come out of the bread pans, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.  When they bread cools, the top will have an additional sweet and crunchy flavor burst.

cartoon-strawberry-9I used my mixer for kneading the dough and then kneaded in the raisins and pecans by hand.  My bread didn’t quite pass the windowpane test, but it was close.  In the future, I would knead the dough a little longer.  Mixing in the raisins and pecans was a bit messy, but fun!  And the smell of melted butter poured over hot bread?  Pure heaven.  This recipe made two loaves, so I was able to give one away for a yummy birthday present.  This bread is worth the time and effort needed.

Oh, and then husband and I made french toast with this bread… (coming on Friday)

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