Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yeast and Wheat

After being inspired to try my hand at cinnamon-raisin bread for... oh, probably a month, I finally made a loaf! I posted a photo of this bread last night, and a recipe  was (lovingly) demanded...
Sunny- here's your proof. 

Cat’s Basic Bread
(heavily adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros)

I’ve made the below bread many times, the original loaf that Tessa made is light, white and lovely.  I wanted something darker, so I’ve been tweaking my flour & sweetener more towards wheat and molasses. The below recipe is full of suggestions, mostly because this loaf is rarely replicated in any identical way.  I follow the bones, but let the kitchen goddesses lead the way as I mix, so my notes are NOT precise, but they work for me). Bread is my comfort, as I make it, and yes, as I eat what I have made.

1 cup warm milk (comfortable to your fingers, not hot, just above room temp.) (If you’re out of milk, you can use just water, or a water-cream combo… it makes the bread less rich, but still good)
2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast (or one ½ oz. packet)
2 tablespoons of honey (local is better! Trust.)
3 2/3 cup flour (I usually use something roughly like 1 2/3 cup wheat, 2 cups unbleached all purpose, but this time I did 1 cup wheat, 2/3 cup spelt, 2 cup white…or something like that, I’m not the most specific baker when it comes to flour combos, I just aim to hit the total, with the majority being white, to make sure all the glutens and things are happy.)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted (sometimes I use 2 eggs total instead of butter… if I’m running low on butter I’m saving it for the toast!) (Or if I’m just not feeling like putting extra butter in the loaf, because I know how much I enjoy slathering on later).
*optional and totally worth it- 1 tablespoon sorghum molasses (this molasses has made me SPOILED for the stuff you can find in grocery stores- if you see local molasses, BUY IT. Worth its weight in flavor-gold)

Raisin Bread filling
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional… but really, you want it)
As much cinnamon as you can handle
At least a ½ cup of raisins. (I’m guessing here, I didn’t measure)

In a smallish bowl, combine the milk, honey, molasses and yeast. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly and activated.
While the yeast is doing its science dance, combine your flours and the salt in a large mixing bowl (use a sifter if you have it).
In your measuring cup (if safe) microwave the butter to melt, approx. 40 seconds does it for our machine. (You can get fancy and melt it on the stove in a pan too, if you’re anti micro.)
Gently whisk the egg into the butter until combined, and add to the flour.
By now the yeast should be ready to go! Hooray! Add it to the flour and mix it up into a dough.
If you mix by hand like me, last night I discovered my spatula makes a great mixing tool when combining dough until I can knead it without becoming a doughy mess myself. (Don’t forget to take your rings off!)
Knead into a tight dough mound, put it back in the mixing bowl if you did all that work on the counter, cover and let the loaf rest & rise for 1 ½ - 2 hours in a warmish, draft-free, animal/kid safe spot.

After it’s risen and at least doubled in size, punch it down in the bowl, and dump it on your floured surface/counter. Pat (use your muscles!) it out into a rough rectangle, and then use your rolling pin to REALLY get that thing flat, not pizza flat, but flat. You’ll know, I trust you.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a perfect rectangle, mine was more of a rough rectangle blob with a pointy end.
Sprinkle your sugar/ cinnamon mixture evenly across the now flat loaf, add more of either if you need it. Evenly distribute the raisins as well.
Grease & flour your loaf pan, I used coconut oil with much success this time around.
Starting at the nice end of your “rectangle”, tightly roll the loaf into a log, tucking any raisins that escape back where they belong. Place a hand on either end of the loaf (where the spiral will be) & compress it as you tuck the top of the log towards the bottom.  Place it in your pan, seam down, and SMUSH it as much as you can (I don’t know why, it just felt right).
Cover again and set a timer for 20-30 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn on your oven to 375 °.
I’m assuming your oven will take 20-30 more minutes to get up to heat, if your loaf hasn’t risen much, you can let it go longer.
Pop your loaf into the center of the oven, and bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on how dark you like your crust. Carefully remove it from the pan and tap the bottom, it should be solid & sound nice and hollow. 
Congratulations! Your bread is done. Please try not to burn yourself cutting the first piece.