Monday, August 13, 2007
Let Them Eat Bread
We ran out of storebought bread yesterday, so today I decided to make some bread that would work for sandwiches. I used the very first recipe out of Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible, for White Mountain Bread. I usually have trouble (especially in our fairly cold kitchen) letting the dough rise enough so that the loaf will be of a size appropriate for sandwiches, but I think I found the key this time: leave the house! I went out on some errands downtown while the dough was doing its first rise, and it had definitely doubled by the time I got back. This might also have to do with some highly active yeast- I don't think I've been using hot enough water and my little yeasties aren't usually able to make enough babies. Today, I had just boiled some water, so I removed my quarter cup that I needed for the yeast, and ta-da! Ten minutes after mixing in the yeast and the sugar, I had a full cup of foam and froth. A veritable yeast orgy had occurred in that steamy bowl!
The cold kitchen makes for a very difficult second rise, after the bread has been split and put into the loaf pans. I've tried to remedy this by turning the oven on for just a few minutes, then popping the loaves (covered in a clean cloth) into the slightly warm oven. This works well, until you have to turn the heat up to preheat! Even so, my loaves turned out taller than any I've made in a non-professional bakery.
Instead of making these out of just white flour (unbleached, thankyouverymuch), I used a 1:2 ratio of whole wheat and white flours. This left the dough nice and soft, but added the lovely flavor of whole wheat. The recipe called for honey and milk, which also led to a very soft dough. I didn't want a wimpy bread, though, and about ten and twenty minutes into the baking, I opened the oven door and used a spray bottle to spritz the loaves with water. This simulates a professional steam oven, and gives the bread a really nice, crisp crust.
After letting the loaves cool, I ate a slice just slightly warm with butter, and another slice toasted with butter and (local!) Cascade Farms Blackberry Jam. Perfection.