Thursday, February 25, 2016

Home Bake Your Holiday Bread

Homemade bread makes any meal seem like a holiday meal.  Making bread can satisfy both the creative and nourishing intents.  To bake bread the traditional method, allow 3 hours of time between mixing and pulling the bread out of the oven.

There are 5 general steps to baking bread: 

  • Mixing
  • Proof #1
  • Punching Down
  • Proof #2
  • Baking 

Mixing in an electric mixer with dough hook in place

1) Combine 1-2 cups of the flour, dry yeast (active dry or rapid rise), and sugar in a mixing bowl. 
2) Add warm water to the bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
3) Add fat and salt to the bowl and beat on low speed for 2 minutes.  If the recipe calls for eggs, include those in this step.
4) Gradually add additional flour to the mix in 1/2 cup increments, beating on low speed after each addition until the dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the mixer.  This is the kneading process, which takes about 10 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula throughout the process to combine the flour.

Cool water slow the yeast.  Hot water kills the yeast. Use a thermometer to measure the water at 125 F.
Take the chill from eggs by placing in a cup of warm water to a few minutes prior to mixing.
In breads calling for milk, heat it to a temperature of 125 F. before adding to the flour-sugar-yeast mix.

If you do not have a mixer with a dough hook, use an electric mixer for steps 1-3 and add some of the additional flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand.  Flatten the dough, fold it toward you and use the heels of your hands to push the dough away.  Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat:  Fold, Push and Turn! Add more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.  This too takes about 10 minutes.

Proof #1     

1) Mist a large bowl (twice the size of the dough bowl) with an olive oil spray.  Turn the dough ball so that all sides are greased.  
2) Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth.  
3) Set in a draft-free area.
4) Allow to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punching Down

1) Put your fist into the center of the dough.  Pull the edges to the center.  
2) Turn the dough over onto a floured surface.
3) Shape the dough.  Place on greased baking sheet, loaf pan or other bread pan.
4) If a seeded topping is desired, brush the dough with egg-water mix.  Sprinkle with seeds.

Proof #2

1) Cover with a clean cloth.
2) Set in a draft-free area.
4) Allow to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

1)  Preheat the oven.
2)  Place baking pans on center rack several inches apart.
3)  When finished baking, remove bread from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Keeping it healthy

  • Make 1/2 the flour whole grain.  Whole wheat pastry flour produces a less chewy and tender bread.

  • Do not eliminate the sugar as it aides in feeding the yeast.   Choose the breads that do not require a sugared topping or powdered sugar glaze.

  • Use skim milk or soy milk in recipes calling for milk.  Use healthy fats.

  • Top with seeds prior to baking.  Poppy seeds and sesame seeds are old favorites, though hemp seed and chia seed work too!

  • Eggs produce a rich and colorful dough.


(2 large loaves)

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place:
3/4  cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry or rapid rise yeast

Heat water to 125 F.  Mix in saffron.
1 cup water
Pinch saffron
Slowly add to mixer.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.
Soak eggs in warm water to quickly bring to room temperature. Separate yolk from 1 egg and set aside.  
4 eggs

Add eggs, salt and buttery spread to mixing bowl. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
1/3 cup buttery spread
1/4 teaspoon salt

Gradually add remaining flour. Add 1/2 cup flour at a time to bowl while dough hook is moving.
2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cup all purpose flour 
Knead for about 10 minutes until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
Place in bowl misted with an olive oil spray.  Turn to coat all sides.
Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down.
Divide in half.

Divide each half in 2 pieces. One piece is 1/3 the dough, the other piece 2/3 the dough. Divide each piece into 3 and roll to 12 inch ropes.  Braid, starting at center.

Add smaller braid on top the larger braid.
Brush with egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water.
Sprinkle with seeds
Cover and let rise until double.

Bake at 400 F. for 20 minutes. 


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