Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Bread Saga, Part 5: More Basic White Bread

Bread's a great practicing recipe. Not just to practice baking, but horn. I mean, you mix some stuff together, let it rise for an hour. Hey look, an hour of Ewazen! Punch it back down, let it rise again. Vivaldi! Into the loaf pan for half an hour. Back to Ewazen! Bake for 35 minutes. Fripperies! Ethel and I love baking bread together!

This recipe is similar to the last white bread I tried. It's from the same book, uses the same instructions, it just happens to make two loaves. To be honest, I couldn't really taste the difference. It mixed up nicely, and baked just as well as the last time. Pop the other half in the fridge, good to go!

But an hour later, something was wrong. I looked in the fridge, and the other half of the dough EXPLODED! I mean, dough's supposed to double if it's warm, this stuff tripled in the fridge! I punched it back down and popped it in the freezer to try and make it stop freaking out. It did, but the second loaf didn't rise and bake up quite as well as the first. Next thing to research; how to store dough!

Beginner's White Loaf
From Bread by Sarah Morgan

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water with 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
3 tbs shortening
5-6 cups flour

Makes two loaves

In a large saucepan, heat milk to scalding, but do not boil. While it is still hot, add the shortening, salt, and tablespoon sugar. Stir well and set aside to cool. Dissolve yeast in the warm water with the 1/2 tsp sugar. The sugar is to proof the yeast. Singe yeast is a glutton for sweets and starches, the mixture will begin to bubble, usually in 5 to 10 minutes, as the yeast eats on these - which shows that it is indeed alive. When the milk has cooled to lukewarm, combine the two mixtures, add the egg and start beating in the flour. Beat in flour, either by hand with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer. The beating or kneading of the dough stretches the gluten in the flour, which holds the gas produced by the yeast and thus acts as a framework for the rising dough. Beating the dough performs the same purpose as kneading, and therefore when the dough is sufficiently beaten, it seldom needs beating.
When the dough becomes too thick to beat, add a little more flour by mixing with the hands. As soon as the dough has reached a moderately firm stage and is still pliable and elastic, turn it into a large, well greased bowl, turn it over once o grease the top, then cover and set aside in a warm spot to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour or a little longer.
If you are especially ambitious and full of pep, you may want to knead the dough as well as beat it, before placing it in the bowl to rise. Kneading is nothing more than punching, folding, turning, squeezing - just getting the "feel" of the dough.
When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down to its original size, turn it to make sure the top is greased, cover and set side again to rise until doubled in bulk, The second rising is not always necessary, and it does take time - however, I consider it worthwhile in many instances. When the dough has doubled a second time, turn it onto a floured surface, knead slightly and form into a loaf. Place in a well greased loaf pan; cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk.
Brush the loaf with melted butter and bake in a preheated oven at about 375 for about 35 minutes or until the bread is brown and slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Another method of testing doneness in loaf bread is to thump the top with the fingers. If it sounds hollow it is done. Remove from pan onto a cooling rack; then cut a slice while it is still very hot and enjoy the fruits of bread baking!

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