Thursday, April 3, 2008

White Bread

I almost titled this post, “The Best (White) Bread (I) Have (Ever) Made (Yet)”: a small attempt to acknowledge the many wonderful and untested bread recipes in existence and my own bread making naiveté. A little background …My oldest friend (not in years lived, but in years counted as my friend) stopped by a couple of weeks ago for a baby viewing and mentioned some “time-off” she has coming up. In thinking about what to do with her time, she thought she might make bread. This is one of the little things that holds us together as friends…it is comforting to know there is someone else out there who thinks about their time and their bread as I do. If I have the time, I love to make bread. Simple. Rewarding. Delicious. And thrifty too.

Now why white bread? I will admit I never buy the stuff, and in the grocery store naturally gravitate towards the darkest grainiest loaves on the shelf. I have been making various bread recipes over the last couple of months and so far haven’t found my “favorite” wheat loaf recipe, but will keep you up to date on this, as I think I am close… So this recipe is based on a Potato Bread recipe in The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown. I adapted the recipe for a stand mixer and recommend checking on the loaf after only 45 minutes of baking, rather than 1 hour, as it might be done sooner. The recipe uses 1 ½ to 2 cups mashed potatoes, which of course you can use from a previous meals leftovers (It is a family rule to NEVER run out of mashed potatoes at dinner!)

Cut a thick slice of this bread while it is still warm, slather it with butter and enjoy … I savor this moment as the purest reward for my bread making patience.

A - I hope you get the time to try this out.

Potato Bread

I buy the yeast and dry milk in bulk from the natural grocery, which saves a little money. I also keep all the rising in the original mixing bowl ... which saves a dish.

Servings: 2 Loaves
Cost: ~$2.50
Time:~ 4 ½ hours, 45 active

2 cups warm water
1 ½ Tbls or 2 packages dry yeast
¼ honey
1 cup dry milk
3 cups unbleached white flour
4 tsp. salt
¼ cup oil
1 ½ - 2 cups cooked mashed potato
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup or more unbleached white flour for kneading

In the large bowl of a stand mixer whisk together water and yeast until yeast is dissolved. (note about “warm water”: I try to get the water so it feels just hot to the inside of my wrist) Add the honey and dry milk, and stir to combine. Stir in the flour and beat well with a spoon (100 strokes). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Using the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, fold in salt, oil and potatoes. Add 3 cups flour. Once the flour is incorporated, switch to the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes (alternatively, incorporate ingredients with a spoon and knead by hand for 10 minutes). Add additional flour as needed so that dough forms a ball around the dough hook and is not sticking to the bowl. Remove bowl from the mixer. You can transfer the dough to an oiled bowl to rise or cover the dough in the stand mixer bowl and let rise for 50-60 minutes until doubled in size. Once the dough is doubled in size, punch it down by kneading it for 1 minute within the bowl, cover and allow the dough to rise for 40-50 minutes until doubled in size. Once the dough is doubled in size, punch it down by kneading it for 1 minute within the bowl and separate into two equal sized balls. Shape each ball into a loaf and place into loaf pan. Let rise for 20-25 minutes, or until top of dough is above the rim of the loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pans on middle shelf of the oven and bake until golden brown on top and “hollow” sounding when tapped, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove bread from pans and place on wire rack to cool.


sugarpockets said...

I've actually been baking a lot of bread lately as well. Have you tried the no knead bread recipe? You can modify it using half/ quarter wheat flour and the rest bread flour and it turns out pretty good. I recently got The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhardt and am planning to try out the wheat bread recipe (as well as the bagel recipe) soon. I will pass it along to you if it is any good.

Emily said...

I have heard great things about Peter Reinhart's book ~ and PLEASE do let me know how the wheat bread goes. Does it take more than 24 hours? And the no knead recipe - for a while there I was making it quite regularly and loved it! mmm, maybe I will start a loaf right now... thanks for reminding me about it! Take care, Emily