Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bread, in general

Wow, so I love bread. I'm talking about homemade bread, made with whatever you want and then eaten with jam or cream cheese with cucumbers or peanut butter. Strangely, I don't even like regular bread. I never buy it from the store, and until it occurred to me that I could make my own I never ate it. Loaves of bread accidentally purchased by visitors would grow moldy in my cupboard, despite my best efforts to eat them.

But this is different.

pumpernlicious with cucumbers

Everyone already knows of my love for quick breads (see banana bread, soda bread). This week I have moved on to yeast breads. First endeavor: black bread, which is basically a stronger version of pumpernickel. This bread is rather dense but still gives a nice crumb. I followed this recipe almost exactly, and was shocked by my success.

Update: I've made this bread about five times since, and I've adapted the original recipe enough to justify typing it up here. I use it so often that I keep the (modified) measurements posted on my fridge:
Recipe: black bread
(makes one loaf)
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
0.25 cup warm water
1 cup water
1/8 cup molasses
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp (28g) butter
0.5 oz (14g) unsweetened chocolate
0.5 tbsp instant coffee powder
0.5 cup all-purpose flour
1.25 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 cup rye flour
0.5 cup bran
1 tbsp caraway seeds
0.25 tsp fennel seeds
0.5 tbsp salt
0.5 to 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • Stir the yeast, sugar and warm water together in a small bowl, and do not disturb until the mixture has about doubled in size and looks frothy.
  • Sift together the all-purpose, rye and whole wheat flours.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate, then mix with water, vinegar, molasses and coffee powder. Allow the liquid to cool off before proceeding to the next step.
  • Add one cup of the flour mixture, along with the bran, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, salt, and shallots, to a large bowl. Add the liquid from the previous step, and the yeast. Mix.
  • Continue by adding flour to the large bowl, one half cup at a time. Keep going until a cohesive mass is achieved, i.e. the dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl as you stir it. The dough should be pretty sticky, but firm.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is springy/dense/until your hands are tired.
  • Place the dough (should be in the shape of a ball) in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour until it has doubled in size.
  • Gently deflate the dough, then form it into a loaf. Position your loaf in a greased loaf pan, then cover and allow it to rise (again) to twice its size. At this point you can preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes. It should have a deep brown crust. Be sure to check on it half-way and three-quarters through the baking time, just in case it's an early riser (HA).
I really encourage you all to try making your own bread--read these bread-making tips for solid advice. The one I found most helpful was placing a shallow dish of water on the bottom rack of the oven for the first 15 minutes of baking. Often I have problems with the crust hardening too soon (before the loaf fully expands), but the water adds extra moisture in the oven to prevent this.

I will continue to document my bread exploits here--in particular I'm hoping to develop some original recipes.

1 comment:

  1. if I am becoming Indian, you are definitely becoming Russian.