English Muffin Bread

I have another special breakfast to share. Having a treat to start the day brings a little sunshine. 🙂

I am not really a bread person, but I do really enjoy English muffins. I often have a whole wheat “British muffin” from Trader Joe’s for breakfast. Naturally, this bread full of nooks and crannies caught my eye.

The recipe is from Shauna Sever’s Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland. It is easy and relatively quick to prepare, with only one rising time. She suggests baking the loaf in a German Rehrucken (crimp loaf pan) or standard loaf pan. I baked the loaf in my favorite Pullman loaf pan and modified the baking time accordingly.

The original recipe recommends making it a day ahead to serve it toasted the next day. We ate warm from the oven, slathered with salted Irish butter and our homemade strawberry-vanilla bean jam. We did toast the leftovers! Perfect.

Yield: One loaf

  • nonstick cooking spray, for pan
  • 3 T (30 g) yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) warm water (110° to 115°F/43° to 46°C)
  • 3 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 cups (384 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (225 g) well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 T plus 1 tsp (32 g) vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 T unsalted butter, melted
  1. Lightly spray a 9×5-inch (23×12.7 cm) metal loaf pan, German Rehrucken crimp loaf pan, or Pullman loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Wipe away any excess that pools in the edges.
  2. Dust the pan all over with about 2 tablespoons of cornmeal; tap out the excess.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let rest for a couple of minutes.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, the remaining 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  5. On low-speed, stir in the buttermilk, oil, and finally the yeast mixture. Mix until incorporated. (It is very important that the buttermilk is at room temperature so that the dough can rise well.)
  6. Increase the speed to high and mix for 1 minute, stopping halfway through to scrape down the bowl. The dough will be soft and sticky.
  7. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan.
  8. Oil your hands lightly and pat the dough gently and evenly into the pan.
  9. Sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of cornmeal.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled and the dough comes about 1 inch from the top of the pan, about 1 hour. (I used a proofing oven.)
  11. During the rise, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400°F/200°C.
  12. Bake the bread until golden and risen, with a hollow sound when tapped int he center, 22 to 25 minutes for a standard or crimped loaf pan, or 18 to 20 minutes for a Pullman loaf pan. The internal temperature should register at least 190°F/88°C on an instant-read thermometer.
  13. Turn out the bread onto a wire rack. Brush lightly all over with the melted butter. (I only brushed the top.)
  14. Let cool completely before slicing- if you can wait!

Light Wheat Sandwich Bread

This sandwich bread was so pretty! It also sliced like a dream. 🙂

The recipe is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I weighed the flours and used coarse salt. I mixed and kneaded the dough in a stand mixer and used a proofing oven as well.

The original post had a link for the windowpane test– which was quite helpful! I added additional kneading time to my dough after it failed the test.

Yield: One 2-pound loaf

  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz) granulated sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz) coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 oz) powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz) instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) water, at room temperature
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the high-gluten/bread flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter, honey (if using), and water.
  3. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed 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 that to be too stiff and tough.
  4. Using a dough hook, knead the dough on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes. (To knead by hand, sprinkle flour on the counter, and transfer the dough, and begin kneading, adding more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F.
  5. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. (I used a proofing oven for 1 1/2 hours.)
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long.
  8. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it.
  9. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.
  10. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan; the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
  11. Proof at room temperature for approximately 60 to 90 minutes (final rising times vary), or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan. (I used a proofing oven and the dough was ready in about 45 to 50 minutes.)
  12. Preheat the oven to 350° F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. (I used the true convection setting.)
  13. Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  14. Rotate the pan 180° for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished loaf should register 190° F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  15. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

Italian Easter Bread Wreath

Happy Easter! I made this sweet and tender orange-scented bread to serve for breakfast with our hard-boiled Easter eggs. The texture was similar to panettone without the dried fruit.

As an aside, I have to share a photo of my Easter cat with his catnip carrot. ❤ We are all very festive in my house!

Because I live in fear of overbaking my sweets, I was disappointed that this loaf was slightly overdone after I had already significantly reduced the baking time in the original recipe. :/ Don’t worry! We still gobbled it up, but, I modified the recipe below. The sweet orange glaze made it a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I weighed all of the dry ingredients and used vanilla and orange extract instead of Fiori di Sicilia. I also reduced the baking time and tented the loaf during baking. Pretty.

Yield: One 10-inch round loaf

For the Starter:

  • 120 g (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) cool water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

For the Dough:

  • 269 g (2 1/4 cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 67 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange extract or orange oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional (I omitted it)
  • grated peel of 1 large orange

For the Glaze:

  • 113 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating
  1. To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
  2. Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together. (I used the beater until the dough came together and the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough.)
  3. Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
  5. Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  6. Bake the wreath for 10-15 minutes, then tent the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-15 minutes. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. (I baked it at 375°F for 15 minutes, and 350°F for 10 minutes and the internal temperature of the loaf was 205°F.)
  7. Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
  8. To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
  9. Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Portuguese Rolls

My husband came home from work with special homemade rolls that one of his co-workers had brought in for a pot luck celebration. We couldn’t believe that any of them were leftover! They had an amazing texture and were absolutely delicious.

Thankfully, she was happy to share the recipe with me. 🙂 I’ve made them several times. Easy and perfect.

Yield: 8 rolls

  • 250g bread or all-purpose flour
  • 200g cold water
  • 10g bread yeast
  • 5g coarse salt
  • 10g granulated sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. (I use a stand mixer and knead the dough on medium speed for 2-6 minutes.)
  2. Lightly oil the top surface of the dough and turn to completely coat the outside of the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a proofing oven or warm spot for 1 hour.
  4. Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces.
  5. Roll into rounds or oval shapes.
  6. Place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Let rest for 15-20 minutes in a proofing oven or a warm spot.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees, preferably on convection, for 15-20 minutes.

Easter Challah

Happy Belated Easter!

I was so proud of myself because I learned how to make a four-strand braid to make this special loaf. 🙂 The challenge in the original recipe was to learn how to make a six-strand braid, but a four-strand seemed like enough of a challenge at the time. 😉 I loved how it looked too.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I modified the braid and used a proofing oven. I learned the four-strand braiding technique from Tori Avey.com. This link actually has very useful steps for several challah braiding techniques.

Challah is best eaten the day it is made. Because I made the challah the day before Easter, we ate it toasted with butter and jam. I thought it was a perfect holiday breakfast along with our colored Easter eggs. Lovely!

For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 17 ounces (4 cups) unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T instant yeast
  • cooking oil spray, for coating the bowl

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 T water

To Prepare the Dough:

  1. Weigh out 17 ounces of flour; or measure 4 cups of flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. The more accurately you measure your flour, the better your bread will be; too much flour will yield a dry, heavy loaf.
  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients, except the cooking oil spray, and mix to make a rough dough.
  3. Knead the dough — by hand, using a stand mixer, or in a bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough. It’ll still have a slightly rough surface; that’s fine. (I kneaded the dough in a stand mixer using a dough hook for about 5 minutes.)
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  5. Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours. (I placed the bowl in a proofing oven.) It won’t necessarily double in bulk, but should become noticeably (if not dramatically) puffy.
  6. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
  7. You may braid the challah the traditional way, into a three-strand braid. I chose a four-strand braid. (Instructions for these and a six-strand are in the link above.)
  8. Divide the dough into four pieces, or into equal pieces for desired braiding techniques. A scale is a big help in dividing the dough evenly.
  9. Shape each piece into a rough log.
  10. Cover the logs with plastic wrap, and let them rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  11. Roll each piece into a long rope. Your goal is ropes about 20″ long; if the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover it and let it rest again for about 10 minutes, then resume rolling. The short rest gives the gluten a chance to relax.

To Make a Four-Strand Braid:

  1. Pinch together the ends of the strands so that all six strands are joined at one end.
  2. Take the strand furthest to the right and weave it towards the left through the other strands using this pattern: over, under, over.
  3. Take the strand furthest to the right and repeat the weaving pattern again: over, under, over. Repeat this pattern, always starting with the strand furthest to the right, until the whole loaf is braided.
  4. Pinch the ends of the loose strands together and tuck them under on both ends of the challah loaf to create a nice shape.
  5. Gently pick up the braided loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

To Finish:

  1. Cover the braided loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it’s very puffy, 90 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature or in a proofing oven.
  2. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  3. Whisk together the large egg and 1 tablespoon water to create the egg wash. Brush this glaze over the risen loaf.
  4. Nest the challah on its baking sheet into another baking sheet, if you have one. This double layering of pans will help prevent the challah’s bottom crust from browning too quickly.
  5. Put the challah into the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes. If it’s a deep golden brown, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. If it’s not as brown as you like, check it again at 30 minutes.
  6. Once you’ve tented the challah, bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf looks and feels set and its interior registers at least 190°F on a digital thermometer.
  7. Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.

Note: Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage. While challah does tend to dry out after a day or so, it’s always good toasted or made into grilled sandwiches or French toast.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Babka and Easter Paska

Three Years Ago: Easter Babka

Four Years Ago: Low-Fat Oat & Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

Five Years Ago:

24-Hour Pizza Dough

IMG_8729

I rarely vary my pizza dough recipe. I make a whole wheat crust, in the bread machine, and it takes 1 hour 40 minutes- completely unattended. After reading the information about making homemade dough in this Brooklyn pizzeria cookbook, I felt like I was shortchanging myself and I had to try a new dough recipe.

I pretty much knew this already, but rolling out the dough using a rolling pin is criminal as well! I always had trouble really stretching the dough to achieve my desired size without rolling it. This recipe has very specific instructions regarding stretching the dough- which worked PERFECTLY! No more rolling pin for me! 🙂

This dough was more labor intensive and had to be planned in advance as the crust is made at least 24 hours in advance, but it was very tender and tasty! This recipe was adapted from Roberta’s Cookbook by Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini, and Katherine Wheelock, of Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY.

Yield: Makes 2 rounds of dough, enough for 2 (12-inch) pizzas

  • 153 grams (1 1/4 cups) 00 Flour
  • 153 grams (1 1/4 cups) King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
  • 8 grams (scant 2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 2 grams (scant 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast OR 4 grams (scant 1 teaspoon) fresh yeast
  • 4 grams (scant 1 teaspoon) good olive oil
  • 202 grams (1 cup minus 1 T) lukewarm water

IMG_8726

To Make the Dough:

  1. In a bowl, thoroughly combine the flours and salt; make a well in the center.
  2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the yeast, olive oil, and lukewarm water.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the well in the dry mixture and begin mixing the two together with your hands, gradually incorporating the dry into the wet. This process will be more like mixing than kneading.
  4. After about 3 minutes, when the wet and dry are well combined, set the mixture aside and let it rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. This allows time for the flour to absorb the moisture.
  5. Flour your hands and the work surface. Gently but firmly knead the mixture on the work surface for about 3 minutes. Reflour your hands and the surface as necessary. The dough will be nice and sticky, but after a few minutes of kneading it should come together into a smooth mass.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, shape them gently into balls, and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 24 and up to 48 hours before using. This process, called proofing, allows for the fermentation that gives the dough structure- which results in a chewy, pliable crust with great flavor.

To Make the Pizza:

  1. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature, ideally at least 500 degrees F. (My oven has a “Stone” setting as well.) Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven, if set to “Stone”, otherwise place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. Let the oven heat for 1 hour.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and the work surface.
  4. Using your fingertips, push down any bubbles in the dough. Then use your fingertips to push down on the round of dough, from the center out to the perimeter, to encourage it to spread out.   Notes: Don’t push the dough out- any pushing or pulling you do to it will cause it to toughen, which is something to keep in mind throughout this process. Be gentle with the dough. If you push it too hard or over stretch it, you can’t just re-form it into a ball and reshape it. It will become stiff and hard to work with and you’ll have to toss it out and use a new ball of dough. So take your time. spend a minute or two gently flattening the dough ball into a disc shape before you move on to the next step. The goal is a round 12-inches in diameter, no less than 1/8-inch thick in the center. The edges should be slightly thicker than the center. (It will be thicker than pizzeria pizza dough because it will cook at a lower temperature for longer.)
  5. Now the dough is ready to be “Slapped Out” (another term for letting the crust form itself). It lets gravity do the stretching and shaping of the dough. Pick up your disc of dough and hold your hands parallel to the floor. Then squeeze your fingers together and curve them so that your hands are like paddles. Drape the dough over one hand and flip it over to the other hand in a smooth motion. Continue moving the dough slowly back and forth, rotating it 90 degrees every few seconds so that you end up with a circle. It will start to stretch. After 1 to 2 minutes, you should have a round of dough that’s about 12 inches in diameter.
  6. Transfer it to a floured (I use cornmeal) pizza peel- preferably a metal one- and gently push out any edges that need pushing to make a better looking circle.
  7. Top the dough immediately after transferring it to the peel so that it doesn’t start to stick, and pop it in the oven the moment it’s topped; it will get soggy otherwise.
  8. Carefully slide the topped pizza onto the stone and bake it for 5 to 7 minutes (watch closely!), until the crust is bubbling up and beginning to turn golden.
  9. Turn on the broiler and broil the pizza for 1 to 2 minutes, checking to make sure the cheese doesn’t get too brown, until the crust is golden and starts to char in a few places.

Whole Wheat Spicy Herb and Garlic Bread Loaf

IMG_8633

I initially made this bread to serve with a simple pasta dish, but thankfully we had leftovers the next day to use to make delicious gruyere grilled cheese. 🙂 This loaf is my first entry in the Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 at The Novice Gardener: posting a dish using both yeast and herbs. Was it cheating (or exceptionally clever?) to use a bread machine? 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Scientifically Sweet, via Foodgawker. I modified the recipe to make it more garlicky and less spicy. I also adapted it to bake in a bread machine, used a combination of whole wheat and bread flours, and added olive-oil to the dough. Easy & tasty!

Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf

  • 1 ½ cups tepid water, no hotter than 110 degrees F
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for the dough, and 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the top of the loaf
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 6 oz white whole wheat flour
  • 10 oz bread flour
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse salt, for sprinkling, to taste, optional
  1. Measure all ingredients into bread machine pan in the order suggested by manufacturer. (My machine suggests to place all liquid ingredients in the base of the pan, followed by the dry ingredients, and finally to place the yeast in a well on top of the dry ingredients before processing.)
  2. Process on whole wheat bread cycle; use medium/normal crust color setting.
  3. 30 minutes before the end of baking, brush the top of the loaf with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  4. Remove bread from pan; cool on wire rack.

IMG_8660

”Fiesta Friday Challenge #1"

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