Sunday, December 1, 2013 0 comments

Sesame Seed Buns

I'm not going to apologize again for the long break in between my blog posts this time. Life is very busy for me and I just don't have the time to bake new breads every week!

This past (black) Friday, I ventured out to Half Price Books in search of a good deal on some cooking and bread baking books. I wanted to find a book that would help renew my interest in exploring new types of breads. And I may have found that book. Step-By-Step Bread has a bunch of images to help visualize each step of the bread making process, so it's a lot easier for me to understand what's going on! I've flipped through most of the book now and I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like the extra help.

Today, I decided to keep it simple: Sesame Seed Buns. These soft bread rolls are very easy to make and are great for packed lunches, hot ham sandwiches on a Sunday morning, or for sandwiching homemade burgers, preferably black bean burgers!

Sesame Seed Buns
(yields 8 buns)

450g (3 1/3 cups) white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried yeast
12 fl oz warm water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp sesame seeds

Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast into 12fl oz warm water and then add the oil. Then tip this liquid into the well and quickly stir together. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes, or until it is smooth. Shape into a ball by bringing the edges into the middle, then turn into a large oiled bowl. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, lightly dust a large baking tray with flour.

When ready, scoop the dough on to a lightly floured surface, dust with a little flour, then knead briefly. Pull the dough into 8 even-sized pieces, then shape into rounds. Place on to the floured baking tray, well spaced apart, then leave for 30 minutes, or until increased in size and pillowy. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Once risen, brush the buns lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds over each bun. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden, risen, and round. Lift off the sheet and cool on a wire rack.
Monday, September 16, 2013 0 comments

Split Tin Loaf

I'm sorry! It's been far too long since my last post. Yes, I've been making bread, but I just haven't had enough time to write about it.

This past week, I tried a familiar British bread: a split tin loaf. These loaves are baked in tins (pans) and the crust is slashed along the center before baking, creating a larger crust area.

A piece of exciting news this week: I am now in the possession of my grandmother's old KitchenAid stand mixer! I am beyond excited to get started with the bread hook attachment and I'll be sure to post pictures of it in my future posts.

Back to the finished loaf this week. Enjoy the recipe!

Split Tin Loaf
(yields 1 loaf)

5 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
4 tablespoons lukewarm milk

Lightly grease a 2-pound loaf tin. Mix the yeast with half of the water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture and remaining water into center of the flour, and using your fingers, mix in a little flour. Gradually mix in more of the flour from around the edge of the bowl to form a thick, smooth batter.

Sprinkle a little more four from around the edge over the batter and leave in a warm place to “sponge”. Bubbles will appear in the batter after about 20 minutes. Add the milk and mix in the remaining flour from around the edge. Mix to a firm dough.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press dough into a rectangle the length of the tin.  Roll up lengthwise, tuck the ends under, and place the seam-side down into the prepared tin. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 20-30 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size. Using a sharp knife, make one deep slash lengthwise down the center of the dough.  Dust with flour, recover, and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes more, or until golden brown, and sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.
Monday, July 8, 2013 0 comments

Healthy Banana Bread

When life gives you overripe bananas, make healthy banana bread!

Yes, I know. This isn't your typical bread that uses yeast as a leavening agent. This "quick" bread uses baking soda to rise during the baking process instead.

It also isn't your typical quick bread. Sure, this banana bread is moist, full of flavor, and easy to make, much like other quick breads. BUT there is no butter to be found! So go ahead and have a second serving.

I also wanted to give a shout out to my new bread knife for allowing me to cut prettier slices for my photos!

Healthy Banana Bread
(yields 1 loaf)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray, then dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugar, and mashed bananas together. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack and let cool completely.

Sunday, June 30, 2013 0 comments

Pretzel Loops

A recent trip to the local used bookstore and not a single copy of Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice or Artisan Breads Every Day to be found. No big deal though because I was able to find another book about making bread at home that contains over one hundred different recipes from all around the world. I can't wait to get started in that book!

But in the meantime, I made some delicious, traditional pretzels, in a not-so-traditional shape. And I probably spent a good half hour trying to come up with a decent name for them.

The most enjoyable part about making these was shaping the loops. It's done by simply creating a long rope of dough, folding it in half, twisting it in the air, and pinching the two ends together. As you can see, mine turned out great!

I was a bit torn on which toppings to use, so I decided to use sesame seeds on a few and sea salt on the rest of them. In the end, while the sesame seeds made the pretzels look awesome, they didn't add much to the flavor. I'll be sticking to a coarse sea salt in the future!

Pretzel Loops
(yields 8 pretzels)

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup + 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp baking soda
vegetable oil for coating
coarse sea salt, optional
sesame seeds, optional

In a medium bowl, add 1 cup of warm water, the yeast, and the sugar. Let it rest for about 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy. Add the salt to the yeast mixture and mix in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until the dough is soft but no longer sticky, using additional flour if needed. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let the dough rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a rope shape, about 2 feet long. Fold the rope in half and twist it, bring the ends together and pinch them to connect the rope. In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda and microwave it for one minute. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda water on both sides and place on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and/or sesame seeds. Let the pretzels rest for 10 minutes. Bake the pretzels for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Sunday, June 23, 2013 0 comments

Light Rye Bread

I originally got the idea to try a rye bread from my girlfriend. I don't have any preference either way for rye, but I figured it was a chance to break away from the French breads I have been doing the past few weeks. What I ended up with was, by far, the best and most delicious bread I have ever baked!

At the beginning of this month, one of the key bread baking utensils I did not own was a bread knife. After some research and learning, I decided to purchase the Pure Komachi 2 Series Bread Knife. One of the reasons I went with a cheaper knife is because several people I talked to mentioned that it was very difficult to sharpen a bread knife, so it didn't make sense to spend tens or hundreds of dollars on a really nice knife.

I am pleased to write that the knife I bought is working great and I couldn't be happier with it so far.

The added bonus? This knife looks pretty slick!

On to the recipe I used this week. One of the oddities of the recipe I used was the caraway seeds were marked as optional. Now I'm not sure about the rest of you, but when I think about a good rye bread, I think about that wonderful aroma and spice that comes from the caraway seeds. So I modified the recipe to make the seeds not optional. Enjoy!

Light Rye Bread
(yields 1 loaf)

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups of warm water
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread flour, more for kneading
1 cups rye flour
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp salt
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/8 cup vegetable oil, more for coating

Combine and dissolve the yeast and molasses in the warm water. Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl. Add caraway seeds, salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, rye flour and 1 cup of bread flour, mixing into the yeast mixture after each addition with a wooden spoon. Add more bread flour, a half cup at a time, until the dough is not so sticky and it is too hard to mix it with the wooden spoon.

Spread some bread flour onto a large surface and roll the dough onto the surface. Knead the dough by pressing down with the heel of your hand, stretching it, turning the dough a quarter-turn, pulling the dough back toward you and then pressing and stretching again. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, adding bread flour into the dough until it reaches the right consistency.

Spread some oil around a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it so it gets coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about an hour and a half. Gently press down on the dough so some of its air is released. Knead the dough a few turns and place the dough into an oiled bread pan. Cover with plastic and a damp cloth. Let rise again, for about 45 minutes, half as long as the first rising.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put the dough in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until done. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.