Bread


These rolls use a basic bread dough made by weighing the ingredients.  Flour is extremely difficult to measure consistently by the cup.  Any digital scale is likely to measure both in ounces and in grams.  Grams are particularly easy to use for bread baking because you don’t have to try to figure out pounds and parts of ounces.

Grams are small.  An ounce is about 28 grams.  A pound is about 454 grams.  The 600 grams of bread flour called for in this recipe equal about 1 1/3 pounds of flour or a little over a quarter of a 5 pound bag.

A batch of bread dough made with 600 grams of flour makes a good sized loaf of bread, two large baguettes, eight large kaiser rolls, 12 hamburger rolls, or 16 slider rolls.

This bread uses a method called “stretch-and-fold.”  This is an easy way to make bread without kneading.  After stirring the ingredients together, all you need do to develop the dough is stretch it out into a rectangle and fold it three times at 45-minute intervals.

This recipe calls for bread flour.  All purpose flour will result in a flatter, less chewy roll.  Whole wheat flour will result in a denser roll and needs more water than white flour.

Easy Slider Rolls (about 150 calories each)

Ingredients

  • 600g bread flour
  • 9g instant yeast
  • 9g salt
  • 420g water

Directions

Step 1
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Put a small mixing bowl on a digital scale and set tare to zero. Measure 600 grams (21 ounces or 1 pound 5 ounces plus a teaspoonful) into the bowl.
Step 2
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Pour the flour into a bread bowl. Measure the salt and yeast in the small bowl and add to the flour. Stir to distribute yeast and salt through the flour.
Step 3
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Measure and weigh the water as you did the dry ingredients and add it to the bowl.
Step 4
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Stir with a spoon or your hand until all the flour is incorporated into a ragged mass of dough. If it is difficult to incorporate all the flour, add a little more water. A too wet dough is better than a too dry one. Don't worry at this point about lumps.
Step 5
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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave alone for 45 minutes. Unless your kitchen is exceptionally cold, all this can occur at room temperature. At the end of 45 minutes, the dough will have grown a little bit and started to have shiny or stretchy looking patches.
Step 6
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Coat a work surface and your hands with olive oil and flop the dough on the oiled surface.
Step 7
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Stretch the dough out into a rectangle about 12" x 16" and take this opportunity to use your fingers to squish or pinch any flour lumps to incorporate them into the dough.
Step 8
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Fold the dough in thirds as you would a letter to go in an envelope.
Step 9
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Fold the dough in thirds the other way to get a misshapen ball of dough.
Step 10
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Put this lump folded side down in the bowl and recover with the plastic wrap. Leave it alone for another 45 minutes.
Step 11
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Do a total of three folding sessions followed by 45 minute waits. At this point, the dough should be smooth and have grown significantly.
Step 12
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Form the dough into a loaf or cut into 8 or 12 pieces for large sandwich rolls.
Step 13
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For sliders, cut the dough into 16 pieces, adding and subtracting snippets of dough until the blobs of dough are roughly even in size.
Step 14
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Pull the sides and top of the dough around to the bottom to form a ball. Evenly space the rolls on a baking sheet. Using parchment paper assures the rolls won't stick. Another way to prevent sticking is to dip the bottom of each in cornmeal, semolina, or other coarse meal. Let the formed dough proof for 25 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400F.
Step 15
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At this point, you have several choices. You may cut a cross into the tops of the rolls with scissors to encourage "oven spring" (the additional rising bread can undergo in the oven).

You may glaze the outside of the rolls with an egg wash (an egg or egg yolk lightly beaten with a teaspoon of water) and stick seeds to the egg wash. The possibilities are endless.
Step 16
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Bake the rolls for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature measures between 200F and 210F.

This bread proves that bread really does need only four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. But, oh, what a difference the flour makes. This loaf was made using NYB Euro-Style Artisan Flour, a mix of several flours.

Supper tonight was chicken salad sandwiches.  Sometimes simple food is just the best.  Chicken breast meat which was steamed without seasonings,  chopped celery, Hellman’s mayo, salt and pepper, all on this wonderful chewy white bread.

For the full recipe see its bread notebook page or click on the “Bread Notebook” tab at the top of any page to find a list of pages for the different breads.

Patient readers of this blog have noticed the long hiatus. I’ve still been cooking and have accumulated knowledge to share here. Much time has been devoted to learning more about bread making and experimenting with different methods and flours. After enjoying throw-stuff-in-a-bowl-get-some-sort-of-bread chaos, I’m ready to settle down and learn some of the intricacies that result in delicious yet predictable loaves of bread. I’ve learned from reading the blogs of many fine bread makers that bread fanciers benefit from keeping a notebook similar to the notebooks of wines tasted by oenophiles.

With today’s loaf of oat honey bread, I’ve embarked upon creating my notebook here on the blog so I can share it with you and so I will know where it is when I’m looking for it. (Those who love me know how I tend to lose anything I set down. ;-) )

Click here to see the recipe and evaluation for oat bread sweetened with honey (pictured above). Or, at any time, click the “Bread Notebook” tab at the top of any page and you will find links to the recipe/evaluation entries.

Unlike a sourdough starter, a biga is a fresh starter made the night before you intend to make bread.  Biga is Italian; the French equivalent is a poolish.  As with anything bread, there are literally hundreds of recipes and learned discussions of these fresh bread starters on the web.  This is my simple method that resulted in a wonderful light white bread.

Ingredients:

—For the biga—

  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 envelope rapid-rise yeast

—For completing the bread—

  • 4+ cups bread flour, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Directions:

  1. Approximately 15 hours before you intend to bake the bread, make the biga.  In a large bread bowl, stir together the biga ingredients.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 to 12 hours at room temperature.   The biga will increase in size and will be covered with bubbles making it resemble the raw side of a pancake that is ready to turn.
  2. Stir down the biga.  Stir in 3 cups of flour and 1 cup of water until a ragged mass develops.  Flop this onto a well-floured counter.
  3. Knead (push and fold) approximately 100 strokes, adding flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter and your hands.  Use as little flour as possible.  Too much flour results in a heavy bread.
  4. Put 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the bottom of the bread bowl.  Roll the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl.  Turn it over to coat it with the olive oil.  Tightly cover with plastic wrap and place in a  warm place to rise.  A cold oven with the light turned on works well.
  5. Allow to rise until doubled (1 to 2 hours depending on temperature).
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  7. Punch down the dough and form into 1 large load, 2 smaller loaves, or 8-12 rolls.  Alternatively, stretch into a flat rectangle for focaccia.  Line the pan you choose with parchment paper to prevent sticking.  The loaves pictured above were made in a French bread pan.
  8. Brush the second tablespoon of oil on the loaves to enhance the crust.
  9. Bake 1 hour (less time for rolls).  The bread is done when it is golden and a rap on the bottom results in a hollow sound.

Semolina flour and olive oil give this loaf a wonderful taste and tender crumb.  Cut wide pieces off and split crosswise like an English muffin to make sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 envelope fast acting yeast
  • 1 cup luke warm water (less than 110°F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups bread flour + additional for dusting the kneading surface
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + additional for coating bread twice
  • Optionally, dried herb seasoning, grated hard cheese, or other flavor enhancement to sprinkle on top before baking

Directions:

  1. In a 2-cup measuring cup, stir yeast, water, and sugar together. Allow to sit and develop bubbles while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, mix bread flour, semolina flour, and salt.
  3. Pour yeast mixture and olive oil into flour mixture and stir until a ragged mass is formed.
  4. Dump this dough onto a floured surface, such as a counter, and knead to mix thoroughly. Once all the ragged pieces are incorporated, knead (push away and fold back) 200 strokes, flouring your hands and the counter as necessary to prevent sticking. The dough will remain grainy due to the semolina flour. Form into a ball. Your ball will have a smooth side and a broken side.
  5. Pour a little olive oil into the mixing bowl, and place the ball of dough in the oil, rolling it around to coat all surfaces. Rest the ball, broken side down in the bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Allow the covered bread to rise in a still, warm place, 1-2 hours. It may not double in size but that is okay. An oven with the light bulb on works well. The cooler the rise, the slower it will be but do not put the dough in too hot a spot or you will kill the yeast.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the dough out into a 7″ x 12″ rectangle or until the dough is a bit less than an inch thick. With the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes about 1 inch apart in the top of the bread. Allow it to rise for another hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  9. Coat the top of the bread with olive oil. Optionally top with dried herbs, cheese, smoked salt, garlic flakes, or other flavoring of your choice.
  10. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Cool on a rack. To use for sandwiches, cut in rectangles and then crosswise to open as you would an English muffin.

Nothing warms the house like the smell of pumpernickel bread cooking in the oven.  Lace it with caraway seeds and the smell is even better.

Though hard to find in the grocery store, pumpernickel flour and rye flour are easily obtained via the internet.   There are many vendors and I have been happy with both My Spice Sage (free shipping on $40 orders) and Barry Farm Foods.

I learned working in a bread factory that, even when made with precise measurements in a controlled environment, weather, temperature, and other factors affect the bread.   Thus, measurements given for flour and rising times in bread recipes are always approximate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rounded cups bread flour
  • 2 rounded cups pumpernickel flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher (coarse) salt; less if you use table salt
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 to 2 cups rye flour, whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, or additional bread flour
Put the bread flour, pumpernickel flour, salt, yeast, and caraway seeds in a large bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Add the molasses and the water and stir to mix. You should have a ragged dough. If the dough is very dry, add water, 2 tablespoons at a time. If the dough is very sticky, add the rye flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
Dust a clean counter top with rye flour. Flour your hands. Dump the dough and any loose flour onto the counter. Work the dough with your hands until it comes together.
Knead dough approximately 100 strokes, adding flour to the counter as necessary to prevent sticking. At this point you will have a relatively smooth ball. The dough will always be somewhat grainy due to the coarse pumpernickel flour and the caraway seeds.
Place the ball of dough back in the bowl. Moisten the outside with a spray bottle or your wet hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, quiet place to rise. An oven with the light turned on works well for this. The cooler the rise, the longer it takes. Too hot a rise will kill the yeast. Allow the dough to rise 2 to 3 hours or until it doubles in size.
When the dough has doubled in size, knead it a few more times to redistribute the yeast and form into an egg-shaped loaf. Line the pan with parchment paper. If the dough is stiff enough to maintain its shape, use a baking sheet. If it is too soft to maintain its shape, use a pan with sides to give it vertical support.
Optionally, score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife or scissors.  Spritz with water.  Let rise a second time in a warm, quiet place.  This second rise is likely to take less time than the first.
When the bread has risen to at least twice it’s previous size, preheat the oven to 440°F. Optionally, paint the loaf with olive oil, an egg wash, milk, or water to achieve the crust you want. Put the bread in the middle of the hot oven and turn the temperature down to 350°F. Bake for 50 minutes.

The bread is done when a tap on the bottom of it results in a hollow thump.

Sometimes we hunt for a flavor that wowed us and seemed simple to replicate, only to find that prey elusive.  Such prey was the intensely cheesy flavor of the cheddar biscuits I had, years ago, in a middle-of-nowhere restaurant in North Carolina.

Today, I think I finally guessed the answer.  Bill looked up from his biscuits and said, “This cheese is really good!”  It’s the same chunk of grocery store cheddar we’ve been hacking on all week.

So what’s the secret?  Mustard powder.  Just a couple pinches.  And the biscuits don’t taste of mustard, they scream C-H-E-E-S-E!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder.
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 box (8 oz.)  Jiffy buttermilk biscuit mix or your favorite biscuit mix
  • 1/2 cup milk

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Combine flour and mustard powder in a dry mixing bowl.
  3. Toss the diced cheese in the flour mixture until most pieces are lightly coated with the flour and not stuck together.  Your fingers may be the best tool for this.
  4. Add the biscuit mix and the milk.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Divide the resulting lumpy dough into 8 pieces and roll lightly in your hands to form balls.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper* and space the balls at least 1 inch apart on the paper.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes until slightly browned.
  9. Let cool a  bit but they are best served still warm.

*Parchment paper is recommended for this because even the cheese doesn’t stick to it!  If you don’t use parchment paper, you may use an un-greased pan but make sure to loosen the biscuits from the pan while they are still hot and the cheese is soft.

Buck Wheat BreadWhen I start a loaf of no-knead bread, I stand over the bowl and contemplate what is available to throw in it. When the resulting loaf is particularly good, Bill says, “Why don’t you put this in your blog so you will remember it?” Well, the present loaf fits that category! We just got a new box of various flours and cerials from Barry Farms so yummy buckwheat breadmakings hit the bowl.

Measurements for no-knead bread need not be precise. As you make loaves you will develop your own feel for flour/water proportions. A relatively dry dough makes a denser bread. A wet dough rises higher and results in very moist bread. I vary according to whim. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 slightly rounded cups bread flour
  • 1 slightly rounded cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 slightly rounded cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat cereal
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 envelope instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Procedure: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands if necessary to get all the dry ingredients fully incorporated in the dough.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a cold oven with the light on.
  3. Let rise for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Stir down to redistribute the yeast.
  5. Flop the dough into a pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Cover loosely and let rise again for a couple of hours
  7. Remove the risen loaf from the oven and preheat to 440°F
  8. If you are using an uncovered pan, loosely place a sheet of foil on top to prevent the top from getting too brown.
  9. Bake 30 minutes with the cover on and 20 minutes with the cover off.
  10. Remove from pan and peel off parchment paper to cool.

Voilà! Sweet, dark, buckwheat bread.

It’s been months since we bought a loaf of bread.  No knead bread is now part of our regular routine.  I do still vaguely measure the flour and water but otherwise I mostly dump handfuls and dollops of ingredients in the pot. I’ve found that not preheating the pot avoids too dark a crust and we like to have something sweet in our bread.

If you need encouragement to try it, watch Jacques Pepin make what is the simplest of versions.  His requires a better no-stick pot than I have!

My basic formula is:

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups other flour or combination of flours
  • 1 envelope fast-acting yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar or other sweet ingredient
  • Other additions as desired
  • 2-2 1/2 cups water

 The basic method:

  1. Stir the chosen ingredients in a large bowl until moistened.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Ignore 6-10 hours.
  4. Stir down.
  5. Re-cover and ignore for another 1-3 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  7. Flop dough into a greased pot with lid.
  8. Bake 30 minutes with the lid on.
  9. Remove the lid and bake another 20 minutes.
  10. Remove from pan and let cool on a rack or stove element. 

Flours:

  •  I use King Arthur bread flour.  Not only is it readily available in local grocery stores but it is bromate-free.
  • Whole wheat flour is easily obtained at the grocery store.
  • More unusual flours include semolina flour, rye flour, oat flour, potato flour, graham flour, buckwheat flour, and the like.  These are less likely to be found in grocery stores.  I order from Barry Farms which has an amazing variety of flours.  When I get my order, I transfer the flour from the plastic bags into disposable plastic containers.  I then cut the labels off the bags and tape them to the tops of the plastic containers with transparent packing tape. These stack well and, being translucent, make it easy to see how much I have left of each kind.

Other ingredients:

  • White sugar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, honey, etc.
  • Corn meal, rolled oats, wheat flakes, oat flakes, etc.
  • Dried or finely chopped fresh dill, rosemary, etc.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.
  • Chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Raisins, minced garlic, olives, etc. (Add these wetter ingredients at the “stir down.”)

So, each time I make a loaf of bread, I improvise depending on what strikes my fancy.  We love variety.

  • Anadama lemon rye is 2 cups bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup rye flour, 1/2 cup corn meal, the zest of a lemon, and molasses for sweetening.  It’s also good without the lemon.
  • Sesame seeds go well on a bread made of 3 cups bread flour, 1 cup semolina flour, and white sugar.
  • Dill goes well in bread made with 2 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup potato flour and white sugar.
  • 2 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and dark brown sugar makes a wonderful grainy bread.
  • Make chewy homemade hamburger rolls by using all bread flour and shaping the dough into rolls to rise after the stir down.  These take less time to bake.
  • Here’s no knead cinnamon rolls.

Right now, there’s a 1/2 bread flour, 1/2 rye flour dough rising with some spices in it (ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger), sweetened with honey.   This should make great toast for breakfast tomorrow!

Having not grown up with dumplings in soup, I’m not really in favor of gummy dumplings.  But after many pleas from hubby, I decided to try a two-step cooking process.  It worked!  The dumplings were moist yet fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • Hearty soup.  I used leftover ham & pea soup that I didn’t whir with the blender so it had nice chunks of carrot in it. Most any stew will do.
  • Jiffy buttermilk biscuit mix.  Of course you could do homemade biscuits but why when these are so easy and fairly inexpensive?
  • Water for the biscuit mix.

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven as indicated for the biscuit mix.
  2. Bring the soup to a boil on top of the stove.  Use an oven-proof pot with enough room to add the dumplings.
  3. Mix the biscuit mix & water as instructed on the box.
  4. With floured hands, roll the dough into 16 balls (similar in size the smallish meatballs).
  5. Flatten each ball to a small 1/2″ thick disk.
  6. Drop the disks, one at a time, into the boiling soup, distributing them throughout the surface.
  7. Carefully move the hot pot into the oven and cook as indicated on the biscuit mix box.

As you drop the disks of dough into the soup, they will sink.  Almost immediately, they will start to float.  By the time you take the soup out of the oven, all the dumplings will have floated and the soup will be covered with a soft layer of light dumplings!

With preheating & preparations, this takes just 20 minutes to prepare.  Allow a little extra if you need to thaw the soup.  Stick to your ribs good!

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