Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wheat Loaves

This recipe comes from my Williams-Sonoma "BREAD" book.  I always flipped past it thinking it looked boring.  But then last weekend, I wanted to bake bread and didn't want to deal with a TON of rising time.  And I had all the ingredients.  So I went for it.  I am so glad I did!  It was incredibly satisfying and had amazing flavor, texture, density.  A keeper.

Here's how you make it.

You will need:

1 1/2 T active dry yeast
pinch brown sugar
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups tepid buttermilk (90 degrees F)
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup canola oil, plus extra for greasing
1 T salt
3 cups whole-wheat flour
3 1/2 - 4 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed

1.  Sprinkle yeast and brown sugar over water and stir to dissolve.  Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2.  In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, oil, salt, and 2 cups of the whole-wheat flour.  Beat on medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minute.  Beat in the yeast mixture and remaining whole-wheat flour and beat for 1 minute.

3.  Beat in the bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the bowl sides. Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed, adding bread flour 1 T at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth but slightly sticky when pressed, about 5 minutes.  This takes a bit of mess and some patience...

4.  Transfer dough to an oiled deep bowl and turn the dough once to coat it.  Cover loosly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

5.  Lightly grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide in half.  Pat each half into a long rectangle.  Fold short sides in like a letter, press to flatten.  Beginning at a narrow end, tightly roll up the dough into a thick log.  Roll back and forth with your palms until it is the length of the pan. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal.  Place the loaf, seam side down, in a prepared pan, tucking ends under to make a neat, snug fit.  Repeat with other half of dough.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch above the rim of each pan, about 1 hour.

6.  Bake at 350 degrees F until loaves are golden brown and pull away fromt eh pan sides, about 35-40 minutes.  Turn onto racks and let cool.


Buttermilk Country Biscuits

These are basically AMAZING.  Buttery, flaky, a little sweet, a little salty, a little crispy, very soft, wonderful alone, with honey, with gravy, with jam, with berries and whipped cream.  I think I am in love.  I don't have a picture... I get so caught up in eating them I forget to record what I am doing... sorry.  But here's how you make them. 

You need:

2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk

NOTE: you could substitute shortening for the butter if you wanted.  Or milk/cream for the buttermilk (if you do, omit the baking soda).  You can also omit the sugar... I like the sweetness but that is a personal preference.

Mix together the dry ingredients.  Then (this is a BRILLIANT tip that I got from a website) use a box grater to grate in the cold butter (i HAVE to try this for pie crust).  Work quickly.  Mix it in with your fingertips.  Add buttermilk and use your hands to mix it all together. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it down into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Fold in the short sides like you are folding a letter to put into an envelope.  Turn it 1/4 turn and pat it down again.  Repeat folding procedure.  Pat or roll out the dough to be 1/2 - 3/4" thick.  Cut into rounds and put on baking sheets. 

Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Eat warm!