Roll up your sleeves for bread

January 5, 2017

Cathie Campbell/For The Madera Tribune
For centuries, families have appreciated the aroma and taste of homemade bread.

I remember a time, when my boys were little, when we sat down to snack on some of my homemade bread, fresh from the oven. It wasn’t just one time, as I made bread every week back then. But this one time, we enjoyed it with homemade butter and homemade wild elderberry jelly. What an exquisite treat that was!


If you would like to bake your own bread this winter (and many of you already do, even all year long), I thought I would present some recipes you can look over and see if any of them will inspire a baking day for you. It’s hard to beat the aroma of bread baking in the oven, but one thing might beat it: that first bite of still-warm bread, with butter melting on it, with or without any jelly.


Note:  When I have loaves of bread cooling on wire racks, I like to cover them with a clean, cotton tea towel. If I am making a French or Italian bread and I want that crust to stay crunchy, I leave the towel off.


Tie on your favorite apron and let’s bake some bread!
 
Basic bread


1 package (1/4-oz.) active dry yeast


2 1/4 cups warm water (as directed by yeast package instructions)


3 tablespoons sugar


1 tablespoon salt


2 tablespoons canola oil


6 1/4 to 6 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
 
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Beat mixture until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.


2. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours (or less if you are using Rapid-Rise yeast).


3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 before it is time to bake the bread.


4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the loaves look golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from loaf pans and allow to cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.
 
Bread with everything


1 package (1/4-oz.) active dry yeast


3/4 cup warm water (as directed on yeast package instructions)


1 cup warm milk (same temperature as water)


1/4 cup butter, softened


2 tablespoons sugar


1 egg yolk


1 1/2 teaspoons salt


4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


1 egg white


2 teaspoons water


1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt


1 teaspoon dried minced onion


1 teaspoon each caraway, sesame and poppy seeds
 
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the warm milk, butter, sugar, egg yolk, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.


2. Turn the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.


3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough into thirds. Shape each into a rope about 20 inches long. Place ropes on a large greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 before it is time to bake the bread.


4. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix egg white and water; carefully brush over dough. In another small bowl, combine salt, dried onion and seeds; sprinkle over bread. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Makes 1 loaf.
 
Whole wheat bread with honey and sunflower seeds


2 packages (1/4-oz. each) active dry yeast


3 1/4 cups warm water (as per yeast package)


1/4 cup bread flour


1/3 cup canola oil


1/3 cup honey


3 teaspoons salt


6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups whole wheat flour


1/2 cup sunflower kernels (unsalted)


3 tablespoons butter, melted
 
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the bread flour, oil, honey, salt and 4 cups whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in sunflower kernels and enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.


2. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.


3. Punch dough down; divide into three portions. Shape into loaves; place in three greased 8-by-4-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 before it is time to bake the bread.


4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until bread turns golden brown. Brush loaves evenly with melted butter. Remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool. Makes 3 loaves.
 
Roasted garlic and herb bread


2 medium whole garlic bulbs


2 teaspoons olive oil


1 package (1/4-oz.) active dry yeast


1 cup warm water (as per yeast package)


1 tablespoon sugar


1 teaspoon salt


2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


2 tablespoons minced fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage)


2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram (or 3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram)


1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed)


2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1 tablespoon butter, melted
 
1. Preheat oven to 425. Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off garlic bulbs; brush with the olive oil. Wrap each bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake the garlic in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until softened and starting to caramelize. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Squeeze softened garlic into a small bowl; set aside.


2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt and 1 cup of the flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.


3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray or olive oil, turning once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, add the sage, marjoram and rosemary to the reserved roasted garlic.


4. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface then divide the dough in half. Roll each portion into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle. Spread garlic and herb mixture to within 1/2 inch of edges. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam and ends to seal.


5. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place loaves seam side down on pan; tuck ends under. With a sharp knife, make several slashes across the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 before it is time to bake the bread.


6. Bake bread in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks; brush with butter. Makes 2 loaves.

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