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Posts Tagged ‘bread’

Yeast can be intimidating.  It’s a living organism, and as such, can be temperamental. Forget a packet in the fridge for a couple months, and it may commit suicide. Mix it with too-hot liquid, and you can kiss it goodbye.  And as I recently learned, if you neglect a batch of yeast dough for too many hours, bad things can happen.

When it comes to rising, bigger is not always better.  Don’t let your yeast go crazy like this.

A good rule of thumb in baking is that it pays to follow the directions.  Yeast is no exception.  Knowing its finnicky reputation, I tackled this honey oatmeal bread with trepidation. The first time I made it, I whipped up a batch shortly before dinner. Since it was my first time, I followed the directions closely. It turned out great, with a lovely loaf shape and a faintly sweet, creamy crumb.   The oatmeal gave it some heft, without making it too dense. Bread nirvana!

The second time I tried the recipe with more time to kill and ignored the specified rising times.  A little longer couldn’t hurt, right?

Wrong.

I ended up with a flat-topped, funky, yeasty-tasting loaf.  Was it edible?  Sure. But pretty—or scrumptious?  Definitely not.  Oh, the disappointment.

I’ve made this bread three more times following the directions and finally have the hang of it.  If I, the baking-challenged, can tame the wild yeast beast, you can too.  So have no fear.

Just be sure to follow the directions.

This is my favorite bread recipe so far.  I hope you love it as much as I do. Special thanks to TrishUntapped for sharing the inspiring recipe.

(Adapted from Kitchen Aid, via TrishUntapped)

-3/4 c. water
-1/4 c. honey
-2 Tbsp. butter
-3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (can substitute up to 1 c. whole wheat flour)
-1/4 c. quick-cooking oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
-1 tsp. salt
-1 (1/4 oz.) package active dry yeast
-2 eggs, divided
-1 Tbsp. water

1. Heat the 3/4 cup water, honey, and butter in small saucepan on low heat until very warm (ideally 120-130F).

2. Place flour, oats, salt and yeast in mixer bowl. Mix on low speed 15 seconds or until combined.

3. Using dough hooks, gradually mix in honey-butter mixture. After one minute, add ONE whole egg and mix one minute longer.

4. Continue mixing 2 minutes more, or until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Mix 2 minutes longer until dough is smooth, elastic, and all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

5. Using a spatula, scrape any dough clinging to the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a round with the spatula.  Cover bowl with a damp towel (not terry cloth) or plastic wrap.

6. Let rise in warm, draft-free place about 1 hour, or until nearly doubled. The dough is ready when you press two fingers into it, and it holds the indentation (see below).

7. Gently punch down dough. With a rolling pin, roll out into a rectangle on a floured cutting board or counter top. Roll up from the short end like a jelly roll and tuck the ends under.

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I’ll never forget the first (and last) time I made biscotti.  I was a budding young bakestress of 16, eager to whip up some of those exotic-looking cookies I’d seen at the new Starbucks in my town.  I slaved all afternoon, digging out the anise seeds from the pantry depths and laboriously stirring the thick dough, toasting almonds, baking, slicing, and baking again.

They were a disaster: dense, rock-hard, anise-heavy, floury, and altogether not very good.  At first, I thought it was me, but the store-bought variety were equally disappointing.  What exactly about this stuff was supposed to be appealing?

I’d given up on enjoying toasted treats with my tea until recently.  My colleague Elena brought in sukhariki, or “Russian Biscotti.”  I didn’t expect much, but hey, I’d skipped breakfast and couldn’t afford to be picky. 

Russian biscotti

What a revelation!  Light and crisp, the sukhariki were closer to super-toasted raisin bread than their doughy Italian cousins.  Elena explained that the name simply means “dried bread” in Russian, but these were something special.  Thin-sliced and toasted to an appealing dark amber, studded with raisins, and dusted with sugar, sukhariki were the perfect crunchy complement to breakfast tea. (more…)

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