Saturday, May 31, 2014

Updated Bread Recipe

For a very long time now, I have been making a version of my Mom and Grandma's bread that I have called My Kitchen Aid Mixer Bread. I changed things from Mom's/Grandma's original recipe such as using honey instead of sugar, 3 eggs instead of 3 egg yolks, and powdered milk instead of regular milk. The resultant mixture with the added liquid amounts (honey, eggs) needed a larger amount of flour to make the bread work. From Mom's original 7 1/2 cups of flour, I generally used 8 1/2 cups. Also, back when mom made this bread she usually used cake yeast. I have always used dry yeast packets as it is very difficult to find cake yeast.

My 40+ year old copy of Mom's bread recipe
While I lived in Guatemala, I made Mom's bread regularly, even when I had no oven, instead using a rack in an electric fry pan to bake one loaf at a time. At that time, back in the 1970s I made the bread by hand, kneading for 10 to 12 minutes. I learned what a really nice dough felt like and what to watch for. When I married my current husband, he bought me a bread machine, an early model by DAK. For a couple of years I used the bread machine relentlessly, cutting the recipe for Mom's bread roughly in half and letting the bread machine do the work of kneading and rising, though I always pulled it out to bake in pans in the oven. After a couple of years, my poor, overworked bread machine died. At this point, my husband finally convinced me to try a Kitchen Aid Mixer (I had declined earlier, thinking I didn't need one - HA. . .). Once I got the Kitchen Aid Mixer, I started making the full recipe again (4 loaves), and a whole new world of baking opened up. I loved that machine and used it for years, until I finally wanted to upgrade to the Pro 600 series with a bigger bowl. I gave my old machine to one of my daughters, who has it still, good as new.

It was during the time with my first Kitchen Aid that I really altered Mom's recipe to use honey and powdered milk. I had not used the order of mixing for a very long time. Mom's recipe called for cutting shortening (or butter or margarine) into the dry ingredients as for pie pastry and then adding the milk, yeast and eggs. I altered this to placing boiling water in the bowl of the mixer and adding a stick of butter from the fridge, with about 1/3 cup honey and salt. Once the liquids cooled sufficiently, I would add the dry ingredients (flour and powdered milk) along with the dry yeast which had been softened with a little warm water. Once these ingredients were all moistened, I added the eggs and then kneaded for 10 minutes. Mom's bread called for two rising times before forming into loaves. I followed this until "Instant" or "Quick-Rise" yeast started making an appearance, and then I switched to one rising time.

My Kitchen-Aid Mixer Bread

My Kitchen-Aid Mixer Bread
My Kitchen-Aid Mixer version, with ground flax seed added

Makes 4 loaves

1 stick butter
½ cup honey
½ tablespoon salt
3 cups hot water
2 cups bread flour
1 cup dry milk powder
2 packets instant dry yeast or quick rise yeast
3 eggs
6 - 7 cups more bread flour

In Kitchen-Aid, or other very heavy duty mixer, place butter, honey, salt and hot water, until butter is melted, or at least very soft. Allow to cool to lukewarm. In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the 2 cups bread flour, the dry milk powder & yeast; stir together to combine. Making sure the water in the mixer bowl is not too warm, add in the dry mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and turn on Stir or lowest setting possible to combine. Turn mixer to speed 2 to mix all dry ingredients in and then turn speed down to stir. Add in the eggs, and increase speed to combine well. Begin to add in more flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have added in 4 extra cups. At this point, watch carefully how the dough acts; start timing the kneading period for about 10 minutes from this point. The dough should remain soft, but not too wet. You will probably add in 8, possibly 8½ cups of flour total, but this will also depend on the ambient humidity level. If the dough gets too dry, it will try to climb right up the dough hook. This is more flour than was needed, but you will still get good loaves of bread - don't worry!

Drop the bowl down and remove dough hook. Allow the dough to rest for 1 - 2 hours, or until at least doubled in bulk. If using regular dry yeast, punch down and allow the dough to rise again, until almost doubled in bulk before proceeding.

Flour a surface and pull out all the dough, folding in and over on itself a couple of times. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Grease 4 loaf pans (4 x 8 or 5 x 9). Take one of the sections of dough and flatten it a bit with your hands. Begin rolling it from one end, tucking it in as you roll, to form a nicely shaped loaf. Place it in one of the pans, repeating with the other three sections of the dough.

If making Bread Bowls for individual serving size, each loaf sized piece of dough is further divided into 4 sections. Tuck the dough under until a smooth round ball is achieved. Place these 4 on a baking sheet, without crowding. If more bread bowls are needed, use another loaf or more, for 4 bowls per loaf.

Allow the loaves to rise until they have risen just above the pan tops or about doubled in bulk. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread for approximately 30 minutes. Bake Bread Bowls for about 25 minutes, until nicely browned. Once removed from the pan, the loaves sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Turn the loaves onto racks to cool. When making the 4 loaves, I usually freeze three until needed. 

At times when making the bread I would add in things like wheat bran for fiber, or wheat germ for flavor and nutrition. I started adding in ground flax seed more recently. I have used the basic recipe and turned it into many things over the years, but the recipe was sound and it was delicious. Then about a month back my sister in law brought me some bread baking books, and I started reading Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" and it is changing my way of looking at bread making. Rather radically.

Challah, made recently

A little over a week ago I made Challah from this book. I had never made Challah before, but the recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice was similar to Mom's bread in that it is a rich dough. It was similar to Mom's bread recipe, but with some specific differences. I wondered if somewhere in this book there was a recipe that would be close enough to Mom's bread that I could use the techniques used for Challah in the book. The Challah bread had the most beautiful dough I had ever worked with, and the crumb of the finished loaf was so fine and light. Searching the book page by page, I came across a recipe for Cinnamon Rolls/Sticky Buns; this dough recipe was about ½ the size of Mom's recipe, but had all the ingredients. I doubled the recipe to see how the ingredients stacked up against Mom's recipe. Boy, oh boy was it ever close. Yesterday I made the bread. The method for making the dough was different even from Mom's method, and one I had not used before. It called for creaming together the butter, sugar salt and dried milk powder, adding in the eggs and then the water and flour with instant yeast. 

My Updated version of Mom's Bread
My Updated version of Mom's Bread
Following this method, the dough kneaded beautifully. One thing I did that I have never done before was follow the ingredient amounts by weight. I keep seeing this reinforced in any serious baking book. Measure by weight, not by volume. I used the weight measurements and was surprised at how many differences in amounts turned up because of this.

Again, the dough's spring and resilience boded well for the finished loaves. Reinhart's method calls for two rising times, despite the instant yeast. The first rising  is to reach just double the volume of dough; the second rising calls for 1½ times the size. Both times it worked perfectly. The finished loaves came out with a slightly different texture than the Challah, but still with the light springiness and fine crumb. It is so fine and delicate; the loaves came out perfectly. The differences are subtle, but working with this dough was a joy. I do believe I will be using this new method from here on out. I am using the amounts in the recipe that came out from my use of weight vs volume, so many of the ingredients will have odd amounts, using < for "minus". I am adding the weight measurements in parentheses. My normal method for measuring flour is to scoop in the bag, gently sprinkle the flour back into the bag, then scoop the fluffed flour and level the cup. Even with this, I still needed only 6½ cups of flour to make 2 pounds rather than the 7½ the recipe called for. If using milk instead of milk powder, just omit the milk powder at the beginning and use the measure for the water, heating the milk to 90 to 100 degrees to add after the eggs.

Mom's Bread Updated

My Updated version of Mom's Bread
My Updated version of Mom's Bread

Makes 3 loaves

1/2 cup <2 tablespoons sugar (4 oz)
3 teaspoons <1/4 teaspoon salt (.5 oz)
8 tablespoons butter (4 oz), room temperature
8 tablespoons dried milk powder (2 oz)
2 large eggs
2 cups water, 90 - 100 degrees (16 oz liquid)
6 1/2 cups flour (2 pounds)
4 teaspoons instant yeast (.44 oz)

Place the first 4 ingredients in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer and cream them together. Once well combined, add the eggs, one at a time until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and yeast. Pour the water into the creamed mixture and gently stir to just loosen, then add the flour mixture and knead with the dough hook for 10 to 12 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 14 minutes, or until the dough is firm and tacky, but not sticky. Grease a large bowl or dough rising bucket and place the dough in the container, turning to grease all sides.

Cover and let rise for 1 hour, at which time it should have doubled in size. Turn out on a counter or board and knead out all the bubbles for 2 minutes. Return to the container and allow to rise again for about 60 to 90 minutes more or until tripled in volume. Turn out onto a counter or board and divide into three equal portions. Gently press out each portion into a rectangle; try not to completely deflate the bubbles. Roll into loaves and set in greased loaf pans and allow to rise again, until at least doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if Convection). Set loaves to bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Internal temperature should reach about 185 degrees. Turn loaves out onto racks to cool completely before cutting.

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest

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