Focaccia 04/08/2009
 


This in one of the most versatile breads I know. It makes the best sandwiches, amazing cheese toast, a pretty darn good pizza dough not to mention good ol' table moppin' bread.  I made this loaf specifically to go with my Stewed Curried Beans.
Don't let the recipe fool you, this is a very easy bread to make.  It doesn't take all day and you barely need to knead it!  mmmm ... Rhymes.  Sorry

     -Recipe Link


Ok, to start, cook the cornmeal and mix the other water, flour and yeast.  Those are mah bean in the background. I don't know why but I have a southern accent in mah head as I am writing this.
Anyway, Once everything is mixed together, add the cooked cornmeal to the dough.  Don't worry about getting it perfect.  Since the mixture is already warm, there is no need for a long fermentation time.  Just let it sit for 10 - 30 minutes.



Slowly add the salt and remaining dough leaving out a half cup or so.  Turn out and knead for 5 10 minutes adding the extra flour as needed.  Place in a container, oil, cover and let rise for an hour.
Once risen, fold over a few times and shape into a disk on a pan, cover and let rise for a hour and a half.



Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Before the loaf goes into the oven, dimple the surface with you finger or knuckle several times.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  I slash mine but it is not really necessary or traditional.

Bake until internal temperature is 205 degrees, or 22ish minutes or so.
As always, allow to cool and enjoy.  Obviously I could not wait!

     -Click here for Recipe


 
Zwieback 03/13/2009
 

Some of you may be familiar with Zwieback as a biscuit that is usually sliced and toasted like Melba Toast, and it usually is, but I find it a versatile and easy loaf that should replace "white" bread on most of our tables.  It can be made traditionally (two small rolls pushed together), as regular dinner rolls, as buns, or as any number of different styles of loaf.  It is fairly dense but not heavy so it's perfect for sandwiches and french toast; and it is nicely crusty but not so bullet proof that toast and Bruschetta are out of the question.  Here is how to make it:

     -Click here for printable recipe
      -PHOTO: Wikipedia, Article on Zwieback


Obligatory Photo of Ingredients!


Part 1:
 1     c     Milk
.25   c     Water or Coffee
 2     t      Sugar
 1            Package Yeast(Whichever type you have)
 5    oz.   All-Purpose Flour

Part 2:
.25   c     Melted Butter
 1            Egg Yolk (beaten)
.5     T     Salt
1T+1t      Sugar
13.5 oz.  AP Flour

Begin by mixing the first four ingredients from part 1.  Then stir in the flour.


Once mixed you will have something more resembling a batter rather than a dough.
Here is where patience become valuable.  Let it sit anywhere from 30 min. to 12 hours.  The longer it ferments, the more funky the flavors.  This step is what makes great bread.  The process will go faster with a heating pad placed under the work bowl.  I usually go for at least two hours, stirring every 30 min.  You do not have to sir that often but some stirring is necessary to spread the yeast around to new food sources.  If the dough is to sit any longer that half an hour, then cover it with a damp towel so it won't dry out.  I happen to have a closet with a desk near my kitchen so I can control the the temperature and humidity while fermenting and rising.


After fermenting, add the rest of the ingredients except half a cup, or so, of the flour.  When mixed, begin kneading.

Use the extra flour for the kneading surface and your hands.  As you knead, work in any extra flour you have. 
After all the flour is incorporated, knead until the texture of the bread changes.  Is should feel velvety, there will be a fairly noticeable change.


Time for the first rise.  Place dough in a straight sided container and rise until doubled in size.  You can use the heating pad again to speed things up but you will not get as much flavor development.  Or you can slow things down and put it it the fridge and get crazy flavor.
When doubled, take out and fold over a couple time and rise again.
After the second rise, form into whatever shape you want.  Place on baking surface and proof for 30 min.


Every bread I bake, I do the same way.  Preheat to between 350 and 400 degrees depending on how brown you want the crust.
After proofing, paint dough with either Olive Oil and Salt, Butter or Corn Starch and water slurry.  Slash.
Bake for ten minutes or so and remove and insert an over safe thermometer and bake to 200 degree internal temp is reached.

     -Click Here for printable recipe.
    
No I goofed on this one, I dropped my usual baking sheet, a two layer jelly roll pan, so I used a perforated pizza pan.  The loaf was too long for the pan, hence the creepy, sci fi worm shape to the final loaf.  Although I did like the extra crispy/flakey crust on the bottom.




DO NOT SLICE UNTIL COOL, at most 115 degrees.


 

    Baking Section

    I try to bake a loaf of bread a week, more if I receive requests.  This area probably won't have as many new posts as others on this site but anytime I try something new you can be sure I will bring it to you here.

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