Everyday Breads with Chef Susan Holding

Julia Child’s White Bread

2 1/2 cups water (105-115 F)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

7 cups bread flour or all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/4-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl and mix with yeast and sugar til foamy.

Let sit for 5 minutes until creamy.

 

Put the yeast mixture, rest of the water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour into the mixer with the dough hook. Mix slowly until blended then add the rest of the flour. Increase speed and scrape down the sides til the dough comes together. (If it doesn’t add a tbsp of flour at a time til it does.) Add salt and mix at medium speed for 10 minutes (or do half in mixer and half kneading) til dough is smooth and elastic.

 

Back in mixer add butter 1 tbsp at a time (dough may come apart, but mixing will pull it back together).

 

Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball then place in a large buttered or oiled bowl. Turn dough so it is completely coated in the fat, then cover in plastic for 45 minutes to an hour, til it has doubled in size at room temperature.

 

Butter / grease 2 loaf pans. Deflate the dough, cut in half and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle. With the short end facing you, fold the dough into thirds like a sheet of paper to go into an envelope, creating a roll. Pinch the seam closed, and pinch the ends enough so it will fit in the loaf pan. Drop in the loaf pan seam side down, and repeat. Cover the loaves with buttered plastic wrap and allow to rise again in a warm place (80°F) for 45 minutes, until they double in size.

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the rack in the center of the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes til they are honey brown. Immediately turn out of pans onto a rack to cool.

Soft White Dinner Rolls

·       1 Packet “highly active” active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast; or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

·       7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*

·       3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

·       1 1/4 teaspoons salt

·       3 tablespoons sugar

·       6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

·       1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

·       1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

*

Directions

1) If you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.

2) Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a smooth dough. If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 5 to 7 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. In a bread machine (or by hand), it should form a smooth ball.

3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Rising may take longer, especially if you’ve kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy.

4) While the dough is rising, lightly grease two cupcake pans.

5) Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 16 pieces, then divide those pieces into thirds

6) Shape each piece into a rough ball by pulling the dough into a very small knot at the bottom, then rolling it under the palm of your hand into a smooth ball.

7) Place 3 small balls in each compartment of the cupcake pan.  To make the rolls “pull-apart”, brush with butter before placing in the pan.

8) Cover the pan(s) with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise till they’re very puffy, and have reached out and touched one another, about 1 hour. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

9) Bake the rolls until they’re a deep golden brown on top, and lighter on the sides, about 25 minutes.

10) Remove the rolls from the oven, and after 2 or 3 minutes, carefully transfer them to a rack. They’ll be hot and delicate, so be careful. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Seven Grain Honey Wheat Bread

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45

degrees C)

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

1/3 cup honey

5 cups bread flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

1.  In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

2.  Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour.  Place in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

3.  Gently ease dough from bowl and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.  Slash tops if desired.  (You can brush tops with egg wash or bake without egg wash and brush loaves with butter when the loaves come out of the oven.)   Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Pita Bread

Pita bread is another ancient flat bread made from the same sort of dough that pizza and focaccia is. It’s the way it’s baked that creates the pocket. Here’s a recipe for the kind of pita you’ll find on the grocery shelf. (For those of you who are aficionados of whole wheat flour, you can substitute 1 or 2 cups of King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for an equal amount of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (just remember to put the whole wheat flour in the sponge).

2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 packet or scant tablespoon active dry yeast

5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 scant tablespoon salt

Pitas are best made ahead of time so they’ll have a chance to cool and deflate before you fill them. So if you’re going biking or hiking on the weekend, you’ll probably want to make them up during the week.

If you work away from home during the day or even if you work at home, you can make up a sponge, with about half the flour. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going. When you get back to the sponge later on, add the salt and enough flour to make a dough that is a bit stiff, one that you can easily knead by hand.

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and bouncy, adding only enough more flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Give it a rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten and make it more cooperative about being shaped. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and then roll each piece with a floured rolling pin, or a pin with a cover, on a floured surface into a circle about 6-inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. You may need to let the pieces rest occasionally to relax the dough.

Sprinkle baking sheets with cornmeal, and place two circles on each. Or place circles on pieces of parchment paper. Let the dough circles rest here for at least 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to a hot 500°F.

When the pita circles have finished resting, place the baking sheet on the oven bottom or, if this is not possible, on the lowest rack. If you’re using a baking stone, make sure it’s on the oven floor, or on the lowest rack. Use a peel to transfer the pitas-on-parchment to the stone. Close the oven door and keep it shut for 1 minute. Don’t peek or the pocket may not form. It’s this initially fast, hot searing of the outside dough of the pita that makes it separate from the inside. The carbon dioxide gas created by the yeast expands inside and accentuates the separation until the pita blows up like a balloon and the pocket is created.

At the end of the minute, place the sheet on a rack higher in the oven and continue baking anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes, until the pitas have blown up into balloons and are lightly browned. If the pitas baked right on the stone, you’ll probably want to transfer them to a baking sheet, which is already in place on the oven rack, for this second part of their baking. When they’re done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the pitas off and let them cool. They will probably deflate somewhat after cooling. Once they’re thoroughly cool you can press more air out of them so they take up less storage room.

Bibliography

Hensperger, Beth. Baking Bread- Old and New Traditions (Chronicle Books, 1992).

 Novak, Paul.  A Baker’s Dozen of Daily Breads & More (Only Connect Publications, 1991).

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/cgibin/htmlos/0961.5.136842056410434111

Visit Chef Susan’s blog, Little French Bakery to get more great recipes and see more beautiful photos!

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