Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bread!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to bake bread. Not banana bread, but a proper bread that can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch. I wanted to make something that can be enjoyed with preserves or scrambled eggs, something simple yet satisfying. I leafed through my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and decided on the Pullman bread. It’s your standard loaf of bread that most of us (I think) grew up with and the perfect all-rounder. Nothing too exciting, but it was what I craved.

I get nervous whenever I have to bake with yeast because there is always the risk that the rising might not happen, which is exactly what happened with my first attempt. The result was a solid, dense loaf that really did not make me too happy. My second try was a much bigger success and we enjoyed the fruit of my efforts throughout the following week.

I do not have a Pullman loaf pan (they have a lid that closes, resulting in a flat-top loaf) but this was not a problem as you can bake it sans lid and get a rounded top this way. It takes a while to prepare the dough, about three hours and then you still have to bake it, but enjoying your own homemade bread is certainly worth it. Another change I made was using brown bread flour instead of regular bread flour as we prefer brown bread.

To make this bread you’ll need:
675g brown bread flour
3.5 teaspoons instant yeast
1.5 teaspoons coarse salt
1.5 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 and ¾ cups warm water
Vegetable oil for the mixing bowl and pan

The process:

Combine all the ingredients except the oil and water in the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the warm water and beat on lowest speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic and uniform in color. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed by hand until it forms a smooth bowl. Put the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place or until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Punch down, pull in the sides and turn it over smooth side up, cover again and let it rise until double in bulk.

Brush a loaf pan with more oil to coat. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. One of the long sides should face you. Starting at the top, roll the dough towards you into a tight log. Pat in ends to make it even and gently roll it back and forth to seal the seam. Place it seam side down into the pan, cover, let it rise in a warm place until it almost touches the top, while preheating the oven to 220C.

When it’s done rising, remove the plastic wrap and bake, rotating halfway until the loaf is light golden brown, about 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C and bake for another half hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let it cool completely, before slicing.

I would love to make this bread more often, but as I said, it takes a little time, and there are so many others I want to try! Hopefully I can share some more soon.

1 comment:

Suzana said...

Bread is indeed a wonderful food! I love the soft looking slices of yours. And with cheese... YAM.

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