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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

~Toast and Tea~ Rainy day combo for the ages!

More rainy day recipes...  Good excuse to be in the kitchen I guess!

Good, old-fashioned whole-wheat toast and piping hot tea is good anytime but I think it tastes that much better when its really pouring.  And, of course, as the tenth Doctor would say "Good cup of tea! Super-heated infusion of free-radicals and tannin, just the thing for healing the synapses..."  Timelord regeneration or just old rainy day blues, a nice hot snack and a cup of tea can do you good.  Today I looked and was bereft of a good loaf of sandwich bread so I made some of my own:

~Basic Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread~

3.5 C Unbleached Bread Flour
1 C Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour
1.5 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
1 Large Egg, beaten lightly
1/4 C + 1 Teaspoon Cultured Butter, melted
1 C Purified Water + 3/4 C Whole Milk (warm 108f)

SPECIAL TOOLS:  2 8.5" x 4.5" Loaf Pans  

Yield: 2 Loaves

This is a recipe I adapted based partly on a basic white bread from one of my favorite all time bread books - the BBA (Bread Baker's Apprentice), a few online recipe hunts, and some of my own tricks.  For one, I always proof my yeast in warmed water first.  You should also measure out your yeast first and let it come to room temperature before use so it can activate faster in the dough.  On that note, lets get going:

Start by combining flours, salt, and half your sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  

In a medium bowl, combine water, remaining sugar, and yeast and stir well, making sure to get all the yeast in the liquid not stuck to the side.  Let the yeast hydrate and proof until it forms a think, frothy foam.  Combine melted butter, egg, and milk and add to the proofed yeast.

Make a well in your dry mix and pour in the wet ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon or on medium-low speed on a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment until just combined and hydrated.  I needed to add a tiny bit more water to hydrate the dry bits at the bottom.  After all the liquid is absorbed, let your dough rest for 15 minutes in another common variation - the Autolysis stage:


In the tomato tart post, I talked about how
overly stretched gluten chains are the culprit in the case of chewy/bready pie crusts.  In the case of breads, we not only want the glutens to form but we get one extra step that helps the process.  That step is called Autolysis or "self splitting."  In the world of bread, this means the breakdown of starches and proteins in the flour through the action of its own natural enzymes (amylase and protease respectively.)  This results in the formation of less complex (less complex = more flavor) sugars and the reformation of complex protein structures into simpler gluten forming proteins (mostly glutenin.)  These processes are usually expressed during kneading but there is a dark side...  When you knead, you also expose the bread to oxygen and that can cause problems.  Just like in your body, oxygen (normally O2) can become unstable and destructive O, also known as free radicals and just as in your body, these free Os can work against you, causing the breakdown of all those helpful and tasty sugar and protein structures you want even as you build them.  Dough Autoloysis gives you a big head start, reducing kneading and rising times and thus reducing oxygen exposure!  A short 15 minutes and you get improved crumb, better bubbles, better crust better flavor...  world of difference!  Autolysis!  It's Science!


After your dough is rested, remove it to a floured work surface and knead smooth for 10 minutes or until it reaches 85f and passes the "windowpane" test.  

The test is to see if the glutens are stretched and structured properly.  Take a small piece about the size of a large marble and gently stretch and squeeze it thin as possible.  The dough will have passed the test if you can stretch it thin enough to see plenty of light through it without breaking.

Round off your dough and place it in a large, lightly oiled bowl to rise.  Let the dough rise 2.5 to 3 hrs until doubled in size at least.  Remember that the size not the time is the pressing factor here.  Remove the dough to a clean surface and cut in half, being gentle as to not degass the dough too much and cut it into 2 pieces for loaves.  Shape the pieces into boules by rounding and pinching the sides under to stretch the top and form a shinier crust.  Place into 2 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pans to rise at room temperature until doubled in size again.  Preheat your oven to 350f. Eggwash (1 egg plus + equal parts milk) and bake 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven, until the loaves reach a 180f internal temperature with a nice golden brown crust.  Depan them and cool on a wire rack for at least 40 minutes before slicing.  

There really isn't a smell quite like buttery bread in the oven to brighten up your day.  I think it's kinda the equivalent of cookie dough rivaling the actual cookies it becomes.  This bread makes great toast but has enough structure for sandwiches, even makes good french toast!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting...this is a great recipe for a rainy day! can't wait for it to rain again so I can try it...! Well done