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I don’t know about you but my family time growing up was typically spent on the couch, with large bowls of popcorn, watching Star Wars. All four of us sitting there – me with a pillow to hide behind when Luke fights the monster in Jabba’s palace – just munching away and not really talking or interacting with each other at all (hmm…). We, of course, didn’t have actual store-bought copies of the movies though. Instead we had some (completely legal I’m sure) taped over VHS versions, which included a never before seen moment of intergalactic fuzz part way through the first 10 minutes of Empire Strikes Back (I didn’t see the movie in its entirety until just a few years ago).

I doubt my parents were intentionally trying to make a geek out of me, but it worked. I like most things intergalactic space travel or Middle Earth oriented. I didn’t necessarily mean to make bread in honor Darth Vadar and his offspring, but marbled rye does have both a light and a dark side. And it was recently national Star Wars Day (May the 4th… may the force…) so I think it’s fitting.

In case you actually read my blog regularly, no, this is not the bread from Tartine (I still haven’t gotten around to starting that yet). But this bread does involve using a yeast starter and forces you to go through the 12 steps of bread baking.

  1. Scaling
  2. Mixing
  3. Fermentation
  4. Punching down
  5. Portioning
  6. Rounding
  7. Resting
  8. Makeup and panning
  9. Proofing
  10. Baking
  11. Cooling
  12. Storing

While this seems like a lot of work to do, it’s really not that bad. But I’ll be honest with you, this is a two day process, or at the least one very long day. You aren’t actually in the kitchen doing things for two days, it’s a waiting game. You mix something, wait. You mix something else, then wait again. You do something else, then wait yet again. Making bread isn’t complicated, it just requires you to plan. But it’s all worth it. Nothing smells better than fresh bread baking. And since everyone thinks it’s super complicated, you’ll look like a genius! 😉

Marbled Rye

Now before you do anything, make sure you have everything. It sucks to get part way through something and realize you don’t have enough flour. You also need a kitchen scale for this that has a metric function.

Rye Starter

  • 9 3/4 oz light rye flour (10 oz would be fine)
  • 6 grams fresh compressed yeast (or 3 grams instant yeast)
  • 8 oz warm water (warm to the touch is sufficient)

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a spatula. You could use a stand mixer for this but it isn’t necessary. A rye starter is typically pretty stiff but I wanted a wetter dough so I upped the water quantity. Make sure there aren’t any dry or wet spots in the starter, it should be uniform.

Leave the starter in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 6 – 24 hours. I let mine sit for an entire day. 6 hours is probably pushing it. 12 hours is most likely sufficient but I wasn’t about to start making bread at midnight. Different starters behave differently. Some get all airy and foamy, some don’t appear to change much at all. The rye starter will be noticeably bigger, but it won’t be all foamy and bubbly. Below you can see what it looked like when I first mixed it and then the next day.

Light Rye Dough

  • Half of the starter, about 8 1/2 oz
  • 6 1/2 oz warm water
  • 1 T pure maple syrup (or molasses)
  • 12 oz bread flour
  • 4 grams fresh compressed yeast (or 2 grams instant yeast)
  • 3/4 T salt

Dark Rye Dough

  • Half of the starter, about 8 1/2 oz
  • 7 oz warm water
  • 1 T pure maple syrup (or molasses)
  • 12 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 4 grams fresh compressed yeast (or 2 grams instant yeast)
  • 3/4 T salt

You have to mix the two doughs separately, but the process is the same for both. Do the light one first obviously so you don’t get brown flecks in the dough. I weighed everything directly into my mixing bowl, but feel free to scale it out separately and then add it.

Place the bowl for your stand mixer on the scale and tare it (set it back to zero). Measure in your starter and water, then add the syrup. Sift in the flour (and cocoa for dark) and then add the yeast. Using the dough hook, start mixing the bread on the lowest speed. Begin adding the salt to the dough once it starts forming around the hook, about 20 seconds or so.

The light dough will be a tad wetter than the dark dough and will need a little help during mixing because of this. Knead the dough for a minute or so and then stop the machine and use a bowl scraper to get under the dough blob and flip it upside down. You want to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and not getting mixed in. Knead it for a little bit longer. You’re looking for a uniform dough, not any wet or dry spots, everything appears to be thoroughly mixed and the gluten structure is coming together. A properly mixed dough should be smooth and supple. Since the light dough is a wetter dough, it won’t be so smooth and supple, but you can see what it looks like in the photos below.

Once it’s mixed, transfer it to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment until double in size, about two hours but this depends on the temperature of your ingredients and the room in which the dough is fermenting. To check to see if the dough is ready, dip a finger in some flour and then poke the dough. If the hole you made doesn’t start closing back up, it’s ready. If it does close back up, the yeast is still doing its thing in there so let it be.

Repeat this process with the dark dough.

Punching, portioning, rounding, resting, makeup and panning

After the dough is fermented it’s time to punch it down, and no this does not mean make a fist and plow into it like you just ran into Emperor Palpatine. Grab your bowl scraper and get it under one side of the dough, pull up and then fold over and down towards the center. Do this three more times, like you’re wrapping a package. This expels the gas that has been created inside the dough and equalizes the yeast.

Now dump the dough(s) out onto the counter. You’ll need some flour for the light dough but probably not any for the dark dough. Portion each dough in half, I believe mine were about 14 oz each, give or take half an oz. Grab each ball of dough and use both hands to round it into a ball. To do this, fold it into itself kind of like you did during the punching stage. Flip the side with the seems over so that it’s facing the surface. Cup your hands around the dough and move your hands in a circular motion while pressing down and around firmly. You’re looking to create a smooth surface all around the dough, except for perhaps a pucker on the bottom side.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes to allow the glutens to relax.

A side note real quick, dough dries out quickly. Always cover it whenever you aren’t working with it. Also, you’ll notice during bread baking that you go through enough plastic wrap to cover an entire space station… to avoid this I use (and reuse) a clean trash bag. Less waste and a lot less hassle.

To makeup the dough, flatten each ball into as much of a rectangle as you can get it. I used my hands but feel free to break out the rolling pin. I got each dough blob about 3/4 inch thick, but thinner would be better. Now take a dark rectangle of dough and place it on a light rectangle.

So this is where you “marble” the bread. This is also where I screwed up my first loaf. There is, obviously, more than one way to mix the light and dark doughs. On my first loaf I decided to just roll it up like a burrito. This will work, but only if your dough is wide enough to do a few rolls (hence the thinner is better from earlier). My first loaf looked like this:

The second picture shows how I pinched all my seams together, which is very important. If you don’t pinch your seams together, they are likely to split apart during baking, making things a bit ugly in the end.

On my second loaf I stacked the dough like before, but then cut it in half and placed one half on top of the other. I then did this a second time, flattened it out a bit and rolled it up again. I obviously have seams exposed on this one, but I couldn’t get around it.

Place both loaves in their pans, seam sides down, and cover with plastic wrap.

Proofing, scoring and baking

Now you have to let the bread proof until about double in size. You can do the finger poke text again here if you want. This will probably take about an hour or so. If you under proof the bread, it will tear during baking. If you over proof your bread, it will actually shrink during baking. Fun, fun.

Before the bread’s ready to go in the oven, preheat it to 425.

When it is ready, brush the tops with some soy milk and then score it with a sharp knife or a lame (pronounced like Tom). I just did five slashes across the top, but feel free to make any design you’re capable of. You can also throw some caraway seeds on top at this point. I’m not caraway’s biggest fan so I left them on the shelf.

Place both loaves in the oven and bake until golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them with your finger. Mine took about 45 minutes but every oven is different. You can even take its temperature if you’re really worried, but you’ll need a digital thermometer. Lean breads should reach an internal temp of about 205 – 210 when thoroughly baked. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack when they’re done.

So that first loaf I did, the one that I screwed up? It didn’t “marble” at all. I knew this was going to happen before I baked it, but the doughs had already clung together and I didn’t try very hard to take them apart and re-work them. We can call this Tunneled Rye. 🙂

The second loaf turned out much better. It actually looks “marbled,” which is always a plus when you’re making marbled rye bread.

I did, however, still manage to screw this one up a little bit. Either it was under proofed just a tad, or it was because I had seams on top from mixing the two doughs together (or likely a combination of both), but it tore in the oven. It’s still sliceable and edible of course, just not as pretty as it could have been.

This bread has a moist, fairly tight crumb and an adequate crust (but isn’t overly crusty).

Because this bread is homemade, they’re isn’t much in the way of preservatives in it so you might find yourself hard pressed to eat both loaves before they stale too much. You can cut the recipe in half of course, but who wants to go through all that trouble for one loaf of bread??? The nice thing about bread is that you can freeze it. Place one loaf in a plastic bag, or wrap it well with plastic wrap, and toss it in the freezer. You can thaw it by just setting it on the counter for a few hours or tossing it in a warm oven for a bit. It’ll taste the same as it did the day you made it!

Be weary of the fridge though. While freezing temperatures stop the staling process, moderately cool ones cause breads to stale quicker. It’s best to just leave the bread on the counter, wrapped well, if you aren’t freezing it.

Well I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. I’m not sure which took longer, making the bread or typing this post out. 🙂 But the sun is shining outside right now and I think I’m going to go take advantage of that. Definitely let me know if you make some marbled rye, and what technique(s) you use to marble it.

Have a great day, and may the force be with you (and your bread).

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Sometimes you pick up a book that changes everything. Sometimes you indulge in the feeling of the smooth cover under the palm of your hand. Sometimes you read the first page, and fall in love.

I think people often take for granted the skill of writing a cookbook. I also think everyone thinks they can write a cookbook. Anyone can publish anything these days, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Just because you can cook, doesn’t mean you have the ability to write about it. And make me want to actually read it. I have cookbooks that I don’t ever look at. Cookbooks that I’ve never made one simple little recipe out of. Not that anything’s wrong with the recipes, I guess, but they just don’t intrigue me.

I like a cookbook that I can sit down with on the couch and read like a novel. Something that peaks my interest so much I don’t want to put it down. It takes more than ingredients and instructions to make a cookbook, just as it takes more than some food and a few tools to make dinner. There’s skill involved in both cooking and writing, and Tartine Bread delivers both.

I’d been meaning to get this book for quite some time, but as usual there’s more things to pay for than what I have to pay with so it got pushed to the back burner. But I recently graduated from culinary school (yay!) and hence received a gift card. So with this gift card I bought Vegan Pie in the Sky, The Flavor Bible and, of course, Tartine Bread.

Bread is something that seems to mystify most people. How can you take three simple ingredients and make such vastly different products with them? Why does it turn out different every time it’s made? And who actually has time to make their own bread?

I’m not a fabulous bread baker by any means, but I’m not mystified by it either. I love bread. And I also love making bread. I achieve fairly good results with typical sandwich breads, flat breads, ciabatta, focaccia, etc, but I’ve yet to create that dark, thick crusted, moist chewy crumb, gaping pocket filled bread that you find in artisan bakeries. But this will hopefully not be the case for long.

Chad Robertson, the writer of this book and baker/ proprietor of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, did the entire world a favor when he published this book. Seriously. Many bread baking books don’t really enable the home baker to achieve the same results as one would in a commercial kitchen. But this was Chad’s aim, to create a method that would work for anyone in any oven, even my rink-dink piece of %#*@ oven.

Chad spent the last twenty years studying, testing, baking, eating, breathing bread. That type of dedication should be admired by everyone, but especially anyone who’s ever dabbled in bread baking. Bread baking isn’t a quick task. You can just throw some flours together, toss in some yeast and add a little water and find out in an hour if it turned out alright. It’s quite time consuming and extreme patience and a profound love are definitely a necessity.

The book explains everything, from the tools you’ll need and the process involved in making and maintaining a wild yeast starter, to baking and subsequently eating the bread. There are also recipes for things like bruschetta, panzanella, gazpacho and affogato. And what’s really genius is his idea of making bread to be ready for dinner, not breakfast. Professional bread bakers typically have horrid hours because everyone wants to buy bread in the morning. Why? I don’t know because honestly most people don’t really need their bread until lunch or dinner. As a baker, I think the dinner thing an excellent idea. 🙂

But what really makes the book, aside from his excellent writing style, are the pictures. Lets face it, we all like books with pictures in them. Especially food books. I’ve actually put cookbooks back on the shelf because there weren’t enough pictures. People want to see what they are about to create. And with bread making it’s even more important to be able to see what exactly it is that you’re supposed to be doing, or how it’s supposed to look when all is said and done.

Chad’s friend and early apprentice Eric Wolfinger did the photos for the book and they are simply phenomenal. Even if you have no interest in making bread, it’s worth it to buy this thing just to look at the photographs. They are really quite beautiful.

I’ve never had to opportunity to visit the Tartine Bakery in San Fran, but hopefully one day not too awfully far away I’ll be able to enjoy bread of a similar quality from my own oven. I plan on getting my starter going in the next day or so, and I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, try not to drool on your keyboard as you peruse pictures from this book. 🙂

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You know, sometimes when I wake up at 3:58 in the morning on my day off, I wonder if I seriously pondered the implications of being a baker before diving into the field… Did I? Nope. Not. At. All.

There should be an occupational hazard list they give you when signing up for pastry school that includes things like, “Indefinite failure to sleep past 5am, Possible career as hand model eliminated, and Probability of arthritis: 98.6%.” Fortunately (I think), they don’t tell you any of these things. But it’s not like it would have stopped me if they did. I just need some Ambien, a periodic spa day for my hands and about 5 heating pads paired with a bottle of Ibprofen. 🙂

I’m still happy to be a baker though, in spite of all its woes. One thing I love making is bread. And one thing my husband gets tired of is trying to make sandwiches out of irregularly shaped loaves… but he’ll get over that.

Lately I’ve been making a lot of naan. No, I don’t have a tandoor oven; which is probably a good thing because it might set this 125 year old house I live in on fire. I wouldn’t mind having a wood fired oven, but that’s also not going to happen. Actually, I’d be happy with a normal sized oven, but I make do with my rinky-dink mini version. Some girls dream of having a big house with a white picket fence when they grow up. I dream of being able to put a full size sheet pan into my oven (guess we all have our priorities).

But my oven doesn’t really matter here. I like to make my naan on the stove top, in a dutch oven (or french oven or enameled cast iron pot). This bread is super easy to make, very versatile on flavor and only takes a couple minutes to cook. I like to make a big batch of it, portion it into rounds, and store them in to the fridge until I’m ready for it. Since there’s hardly any yeast in naan, it’ll keep in dough form for several days, even a week. You can freeze the dough blobs but it’s honestly better to make the bread and then freeze it; I’m not a huge fan of freezing dough as it tends to affect the quality of the finished product in a negative manner.

I know most people probably don’t want to have to make their bread every time they want to munch on some hummus or make a panini, but this stuff is honestly best the day of. It’s still edible the day(s) after, but it’s pleasant chewiness becomes a bit of unpleasant rubberiness. So, if you cook it all off, warm it back up in the oven to reverse some of the staling.

You can use any mixture of seeds, herbs and spices in this bread – just make sure they go together. Like don’t put fennel, basil and dill in at the same time. I’ve made it with poppy seed, cumin and fennel, or dried chives, fennel and marjoram, or basil, oregano and thyme, etc, etc, etc. Also, I like to use whole wheat flour to make it “healthier,” but feel free to use all bread flour.

And lastly, a note on the yeast. Active dry and instant yeast are what you commonly find on the shelves at the grocery store. They will work in this recipe but you’ll need to cut the amount in half (which means going into gram land). I managed to procure some fresh compressed yeast from work. Fresh yeast, for whatever reason, is far superior to the dry stuff. It leavens longer than dry yeast and lends to a better tasting, more moist product. It, however, doesn’t keep very long so most people would end up throwing the bulk of it out. I’m told it’ll keep for a week or so in the fridge and still be effective. I read on the internet (so it must be true) that you can freeze fresh yeast for up to 4 months and just thaw it out before you need it… I’ll let you know how that goes for me next time I make bread.

Naan

  • 9 oz whole wheat flour
  • 23 oz bread flour
  • 1/4 oz fresh compressed yeast (about 7 – 8 grams)
  • 3/4 oz kosher salt
  • 3/4 oz seed/ herb mixture (or a few tablespoons…)
  • 1 C soy yogurt
  • 1 1/2 C water (room temp is fine)

Weigh out your dry ingredients, including the yeast, into a bowl. I know a chef instructor that would tell you to add the salt during mixing, but I haven’t noticed any ill effects from adding it with everything else.

Put the yogurt and water in the mixing bowl of your KitchenAid. Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet and knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes or so. The actual mixing time may vary. What you’re looking for is a nice, smooth, supple ball of dough. It should not be sticky and there shouldn’t be any dry spots. You want to mix it long enough to develop a strong gluten network, but if you mix it too long the gluten will break down and the dough will get all sticky and gooey and you’re screwed at this point. Put the dough in a large bowl (or be lazy like me and leave it in the mixer bowl), cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment until double (about 2 hours or so).

Once the dough has fermented, punch it down and portion it into rounds. A bench cutter is your friend here. For me, about 3 oz portions seem to be a good, single serving size. 3 oz also fits in my dutch oven and makes an excellent panini sandwich. Anyway, you won’t need any flour on the bench or counter for this. Just take the dough and cut portions off with a bench cutter (weigh them if accuracy if important to you). To round the dough, grab a blob and press it down a bit to expel some air and kind of fold it into itself. Flip it over so that the folded into side is face down and cup your hand around it. A 3 oz ball should fit in one hand, larger portions will take both hands. With your hand cupped over the dough, press down and move your hand in a circular motion. You’re looking to make a smooth surface all over the dough, a little pucker on the bottom is ok. If this sounds confusing to you go look on YouTube for some videos. There are a lot of ways to round dough so you’re going to find an array of videos out there.

Rounds that have been proofing in the fridge for at least a week (so they've expanded quite a bit)

Place the rounds on a parchment (or Silpat) lined sheet tray, cover with plastic wrap (I use a clean trash bag), and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Flattened rounds

When you’re ready to cook, spray a little bit of oil in your dutch oven and heat it over medium high heat. Grab a blob from the fridge, place it on the counter and use your hands to flatten it out as thin and large as you can get it. When the dutch oven is hot (not smoking, hot), peel the naan off the counter and lay it in the pan. Put the lid on it and twiddle your thumbs for a minute or two. Grab some tongs and flip the bread over. Let is cook for another minute or two, or until brown and puffy all over. Your going to have spots that are more cooked than the rest of it but that’s ok.

Naan cooking in the dutch oven

Toss it on a plate or the counter or what have you and make another one or just start chomping away.

Well, I think that does. I’m off to find another cup of coffee in hopes of staying awake the rest of the day. Happy Friday!

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Bread. Lots of it. I’ve always loved bread. And luckily I’ve always had the metabolism to allow me to eat a bunch of it without it really showing. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m seriously sick of bread. Seriously.

The past two weeks of culinary school have been nothing but bread. Whole wheat bread. Potato rosemary bread. Pitas. Pane pugliese. Ciabatta. Focaccia. Pain au Levain. Sourdough. Rye bread. Pane di como. Pizza. Etc. Etc. Etc. We’ve got more bread than we know what to do with. It freezes well, thank god, but we have a tiny freezer. It’s jam packed right now.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got baguettes, bread sticks, olive rolls, whole wheat rolls, butterbraids, pretzels, bagels and other items that I just can’t remember at the moment.

The good news is that I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot about making bread. I’ve been making my own pizza dough, pitas, tortillas and sandwich bread for quite sometime, but I’ve never had anybody show me the right way to do it, and the internet is crammed full of people telling you the wrong way to do things (not that they do this on purpose, they just don’t know any better). For example, you don’t actually “punch” your dough down. You fold it; three times actually. And recipes that tell you to “rest for 20 minutes” really aren’t guiding you in the right direction because for them it might take 20 minutes, but your kitchen might be cooler so it could take 30 minutes. And technically resting is what happens after you punch down, portion and round your dough (and you only want to rest for 10 minutes). The resting that takes place once you’ve formed your bread is called proofing.

So it’s been a wonderful learning experience. It’s also been an eye opener for me, in regards to seeing just how much you can accomplish in a small amount of time. The other night I mixed, fermented, folded, portioned, rounded, rested, formed, proofed and baked two breads, formed, proofed and baked another loaf, made three different pre-ferments (yeast starters) for bread to be made the following day, scaled out ingredients and had my dishes and work bench clean all within three hours. I was really quite tired afterward. =) But it’s great to be pressed to the limit sometimes so you can see what you are capable of. But now I’d like a vacation. I very long one. Full of mai tais and sun tan lotion.

I’m not going to write out recipes for all these breads but if you’d like one of them or need info on how the process works please feel free to email me. AND… I just might get the chance to bake something at home next week, so there’s possibly another blog post in the immediate future. =)

Until then, have a great weekend! And enjoy the sun, if your city is so kind to give you any (Portland’s being a little stingy with it… still).

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Is it weird to have affection for bakeware? You know, like your favorite flip flops or that old ratty t-shirt that’s just now getting to the right stage of worn out. I’m not hugging my pans or telling them stories or anything like that, just really quite fond of a couple of them.

In the past I’ve been the type to just go to the evil superstore and grab whatever was the cheapest and would suffice for whatever I was needing it for. But now I’m getting to the point where I’m becoming more selective. Sometimes this occurs out of necessity, like when you finally buy a Silpat mat but then can’t find a pan ANYWHERE the right size for the damn thing. But really it’s because I’ve come to the realization that there’s a reason, at least in part, for certain pans costing more than others. No I don’t know the actual scientific reasons behind certain pans baking bread better than others, but who needs science when you have fresh, crusty French bread that’s still warm and soft in the middle?

Thanks to a gift card from one of my sisters-in-law, I recently became the proud owner of this pretty little French bread pan from Williams-Sonoma:

I’ve made bread before of course, but never French bread so I was pretty excited to get into the kitchen and go to work, even though I spent the entire day before attempting to make a puff pastry. Just FYI, bread is MUCH easier to make than puff pastry.

French Bread

So this recipe is a cross between the recipe on the back of the rather sticky label that was affixed to my pan and the French-Style Bread recipe in the Beard on Bread cook book. Both recipes seemed to have called for way too much flour though, but perhaps this was due to the type of flour I used. If you use regular AP flour you might need to add a cup more than what it says below.

  • 2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 3 & 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 T sugar (raw, organic)
  • 4 & 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • a bit of soy or almond milk (for the “egg” wash)

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water with a small whisk or a fork and let stand until foamy, 10 – 15 minutes.

Put the salt and 4 cups of the flour in your KitchenAid Stand Mixer bowl, or a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Once the yeast has proofed, add it slowly to the flour, with the dough hook attached and the mixer on Stir. Increase speed to 2 and add flour by the 1/4 cup until the dough comes off the sides. I barely got another 1/2 cup of flour in before the dough looked like it had plenty of flour; the recipes called for up to 6 cups of flour. Let the mixer continue for about 7 minutes or so, then remove and finish kneading the dough by hand for a few more minutes – I think it’s better to finish the kneading manually so you can get a feel for the dough’s texture and elasticity. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let it sit for about an hour.

After an hour, or when it has doubled in size, punch the dough down, knead it a bit and then return it to the bowl and cover again it with the plastic wrap and towel. Let it rest for another 30 minutes or so.

Now take the dough, divide it in half and roll each half out into a log about the length of the pan. Place a clean kitchen towel in the pan and sprinkle it with flour. Set the logs of dough in the pan and cover with another towel for about 20 minutes.*

After 20 minutes, turn the oven to 425. Either flip the loaves off of the towel into the pan or carefully lift them with your hands onto the pan (you obviously can’t put a kitchen towel in the oven). Make about 5 slashes in each loaf with a sharp knife and then brush it with the soy milk. Wait 20 minutes then put the bread in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it.

Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting into it, or just go ahead and burn your fingers if you can’t wait.

I always find it funny how bread can taste so different from one loaf to the next when so many of them are made from the same basic ingredients. This stuff was so good we even got the butter out (I never put butter on anything). We ate it with some soup but I think there are French bread pizzas and some bruschetta in our future.

Do you have a favorite bread recipe or an item in the kitchen that you are most attached to?

 

* This step was per the people at Williams-Sonoma. I kind of think the towel is unnecessary. Perhaps try spraying the pan with non-stick cooking spray or sprinkling cornmeal on it to prevent the dough from sticking and just go ahead and put it straight on the pan. My assumption with the towel is that it’s to prevent the dough from sinking through the holes and/ or keep it from drying out on the bottom. Next time I’ll try it without the towel and let you know how it worked out.

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I say potato bread!  I’m not sure how you make “actual” potato bread as I never looked up a recipe, but this stuff tastes fricken spectacular.  The first batch I made was better as I think it had less flour and more salt, but the 2nd go round is still blog worthy.

A few weeks ago I tried to make this focaccia recipe I found somewhere that had olives and tomatoes all over the place.  As many things do, it turned out better in my head than in my oven.  But!  There was a comment left by somebody on that post talking about adding boiled potatoes to bread dough… I just so happened to have like 8 potatoes from my CSA share, so into the kitchen I went!

This bread is light and moist and the crust somehow manages to obtain an almost perfect level of crunchiness.  Gary and I went through the last loaf in about 3 days.  We’re hoping to keep this little guy around long enough for his mother and sister to try… (we’ll see how that goes).

So, without any further him hawing, here’s what you do.

Potato Bread, adapted from the Urban Spork

  • 2 medium potatoes (yukon, red, what have you)
  • 1 – 1.5 C water
  • 2 & 1/4 t yeast (or a packet)
  • about 2 C AP flour & 1 C wheat flour
  • about 1 T kosher salt

Dice up the potatoes, through them in a sauce pan and cover with water.  You can peel them if you like but that always seems unnecessary to me.  Boil the potatoes until they are soft (like you’re making mashers), about 10 – 15 minutes.  Once done, pour them into a blender and puree them until smooth.  I measured about a cup of water (used the remaining potato water actually) at this point and added it to the blender.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast.  Pour in the potato puree and mix with a spoon until the dough is evenly wet – you might need more water here.  You aren’t going to get a solid ball of dough; it’ll be sticky and look messy.  Cover with plastic wrap and lay a towel over it.  Let it rise about an hour or two and then stick it in the fridge for awhile or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, pull it out of the fridge, cover your hands with flour and quickly make a loaf(ish) shape out of the dough and place it in a pan.  I used a round spring form cake pan.  If your dough’s a little too wet it won’t hold the shape so put it in a pan small enough to contain whatever shape you’re going for.  Throw some flour on top of the dough and cut a crisscross shape into it .  This might just be for looks, but I’m thinking there’s a higher purpose here.  Wait 20 minutes.

Now, preheat the oven to about 450 degrees.  I put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven as it’s supposed to help the texture of the bread (not sure if I’ve really been successful with this part or not).  Once another 20 minutes has expired, put the bread in the oven.  Mine’s usually done in 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and tuck in!

I’m going to try to make a gluten free version of this at some point, I just haven’t gotten there yet (sorry Rach).

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