Monday, February 16, 2009

Kneady Friends...

(From L-R Jori, Kelly (with baby Georgia) Beth, Me and Betina)
Last week the Lovely Sue(not pictured, due to her early departure and my failure to catch her) arranged for a group of us mommies to get together for a bread party in her amazing kitchen.
It was our normal bike-buddy group, gone bread baking instead of riding.

Sue not only organized the bread day, but she acquired for each of us a set of these awesome industrial bread pans from her brother who owns a bakery. I love how they match my counter tops...A perfect addition to my kitchen. Now I just need to have the local welding shop break them up into two's...too bad I don't have a cutting torch, I could do it myself.

I love making bread. I have done it since I was about 8 years old and although I hated it at the time, I am grateful that my hands have developed a love/need for playing with dough. I began back then with a simple whole wheat bread recipe that I would make once a week or so as a "chore". Since then It has evolved into many different forms of bread. It includes rolls, hard breads, sweet breads(although I don't get to knead them), pita, pizza, pretzels etc. I rarely get intimidated by a bread recipe and generally find that making some new kind of bread is exciting. Yeast breads are my favorite. I love the smell, texture and process of them. The one thing I would say that I have not delved into is the sourdough world, that I leave to my sweet spouse who does it so well.
The other day I was thinking that if I had to be a servant in a house I would hope that my one and only chore would be the bread making!
Here is a picture of the kids helping out with the pretzel making.
Each of us brought a loaf of bread to share, with the recipe (that is, I don't have Beth's recipe but when I do I will post it). It was fun to see the difference in the breads. We also made soft pretzels and pitas while we were there.

Here are the loaves that were the back was Jori's, then mine, Beth's, and Betina's.
All were delicious and slightly different. The first 4 are my recipes (some taken from various places...sources not posted...I'll find them later. Just be happy I'm posting this!)

Pita Recipe
Makes 8
2-1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for sprinkling while kneading & rolling out dough (I use about ½ wheat)
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)

Lay aluminum foil across bottom rack of oven in the lowest
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the oil and water. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for three minutes, then stir in the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be a rough, shaggy mass that will clean the sides of the bowl. If the dough is moist, add a small amount of additional flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 6 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. I patted the dough into a circle cut it into eighths (as if cutting up a pie).

Roll into balls, dust lightly with flour, and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball into a disk. Finish with a rolling pin, flattening the dough into a disk about 6" in diameter and 3/16" thick. Their thinness is more important than making them perfectly round. Irregularity adds charm.

Roll out two at a time and place on the foil in the oven.

Bake for 3.5 to 5 minutes, or until they are puffed. (mine usually never go longer than 4 min)

Repeat with the remaining disks. Letting the oven re-heat back to 500 degrees before doing the next two pitas.

When you remove the breads from the oven, stack them up and wrap them in a large piece of foil. This will keep the dough soft while the tops fall, leaving a pocket in the center. Cut them in half (so you can fill the pocket) and serve warm or at room temperature, or let cool, wrap tightly in aluminum foil, place in a zipper bag, and freeze. Thaw frozen pitas before using (this only takes about 5 minutes at room temperature). To reheat, stack several in a pile, wrap with foil, and place in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Soft Baked Pretzels

1 Tbsp Yeast

2 Tbsp Brown sugar

1 1/8 tsp. salt

1 ½ c. Warm water

3 Cups all purpose flour (or I like to use 1 cup wheat flour and ½ cup wheat gluten four to replace some of the white flour)

2 C. Warm water

2 Tbsp Baking soda

Butter (for basting the tops when finished

Kosher salt/ Cinnamon and sugar to top pretzels.

In a large mixing bowl, add yeast, brown sugar and salt. Test water temperature with thermometer. When it reads 110 degrees, add to bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add both types of flour and stir well. Place dough on floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. ** (To knead dough, press down on dough with your palm, fold the dough over and rotate 1/4 turn, repeat until dough is ready.) Grease a large bowl. Place dough in bowl then turn dough upside down to coat the surface. Cover with a towel and let rise for one hour in a warm spot. Combine 2 cups warm water (test again for 110 degrees) and baking soda in an 8-inch square pan. After the dough has risen, divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 1.5 foot rope, ½ inch wide. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on cookie sheets with parchment paper and let rise 15 to 20 minutes. Bake at 450 F for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and then sprinkle with coarse salt or cinnamon sugar.

Laurel’s Kitchen Oatmeal Bread (with nuts)

2 cups leftover oatmeal

2 3/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons active dry yeast * (Next time I may add an additional ½ tsp)

1/2 cup warm water (about 105-110 degrees)

3 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup oil

5 cups finely ground whole wheat bread flour (I ended up using more)

½ cup toasted walnuts or sunflower seeds (I used a mixture of the two) Next time I will also put in some flax seed.*

If you use leftover oatmeal, bring it to room temperature.

Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water.

Mix the honey, salt and oil into the oatmeal and add the mixture to the yeast. Mix well. Begin adding flour one cup at a time. If the dough is very stiff, resist the temptation to add more water just yet -- the dough will draw water from the cooked oatmeal. However, if the dough is unincorporated and is more like chunks of wet flour, add 2-4 tablespoons of water and mix thoroughly.

Cover the mixing bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. This will allow more water to be drawn from the oats and will allow for better gluten formation.

Knead the dough for about ten minutes until soft and supple. If the dough is still too stiff (i.e. when you pinch a chunk of the dough you feel it in the muscles in your hand) add a little more water gradually either by wetting your hands as you knead or by sprinkling a teaspoons or two onto the dough as your mixer kneads. Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place**. After about an hour, gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn't fill in at all or the dough sighs, it is ready for the next step.

Press the dough flat and divide in two. Shape it into balls and let them rest, covered, until very much softer, 10-15 minutes. Shape gently into hearth-style or standard 8"x4" pan loaves. If you'd like, sprinkle a greased loaf pan with rolled oats before placing the shaped loaves in them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Let the loaves rise once more in a warm place until they test ready and bake about 45 minutes.

* Mix in 2-3 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts when you shape the loaves for a nuttier flavor and a boost of omega-3s. (Next time I am going to add the nuts just after adding the flour. They seem to be better incorporated that way.)

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

Yields 3 loafs

3 Cups warm water

2 Tbsp yeast

1/3 cup honey

5 Cups Whole wheat flour

3 Tbsp butter melted

1/3 cup honey (I sometime omit this for a less sweet bread)

1 Tbsp Salt

3 ½ C. Bread flour

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Let stand until bubbly. Add 5 cups of flour, mix well. Mix in butter, and optional additional honey, and salt. Mix well. Add additional 2 cups of flour. Continue to knead bread adding flour a half cup at a time until dough is soft to the touch and pulling away from bowl. Soft like a baby’s bum, but not sticking to your fingers. It should have just a slight little stick to your finger before it pulls away.

Place upside down in a greased bowl and turn over. Cover with a grocery bag and let rise in warm place until doubled. (Thanks to Allison for informing me I forgot to put in the following directions!)

Remove from bowl, divide dough into 2-3 portions ( depending on size of pans, three small/two large) and knead into nice smooth loaves tucking the edges into the bottom of the loaf. Place in pans, smooth side up. Let rise again for another 30 min or until dough is coming above rim of pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes; do not over bake. Lightly brush loaves with butter. Cool completely.

Jori's Flax & Sunflower seed bread

1 1/3 c. water (or warm milk)
2 1/4 t. yeast
1 t. salt
2 T Butter softened
3 T. Honey (You can substitute molasses)
1 1/2 c. Bread flour
1 1/3 c. Whole wheat flour
1/2 c. flax seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add butter & Honey. Add remaining ingredients. Knead dough for 10 min. Let rise 1-2 hours. Bake in 2 loaf pans at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Betina's Fabulous Honey Oatmeal Bread
2 1/4 c. Water
1 c. Honey
3/4 c. oil

Warm honey and water in microwave for 2 min.
Add oil

5 C. Wheat Flour
3 C. White four
1 C. Gluten (sometimes called gluten flour)
2 C. Oats
3 tsp. Salt
6 1/2 Tbsp Yeast

In Kitchen Aid put the wheat flour, gluten, oats, salt and yeast. Mix well.
Add warmed wet ingredients to mixture
Mix with dough hook thoroughly
Add white flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides, I don't always add the full amount.
Knead with Kitchen aid 2-5 min until "it's just the right consistencey" ha. Whatever that means.
Spray K-aid bowl and dough with Pam
Wrap a plastic grocery bag around k-aid bowl (this creates a warm humid place for it to rise better). Let rise for 1 hour, or double in size.
Knead dough with hands, divide into 4 equal parts and place into small greased bread pans.
Second rising- 1 hour, or until doubled in pan.
Bake 350 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from pans and cool on cooling rack.


Maren and Blake said...

I am so glad you posted these recipes. I have wanted to pita one for some time. You better believe I will probably screw something up, but we will see.

Jen said...

how much did seeing that first picture make me want to get on a bike and ride with those girls?! i am sad i'm up here in alaska and not around for a mother's day ride...of course, this year may be difficult for that anyway...but still!

what a great day! i love that picture of betina with all the kids- and she looks awesome. i hope i look that well-rested and content with a newborn!!! and i was SHOCKED to see how poppy has grown!

thanks for the recipes! this is on my list of things to learn how to do better. i go in phases in bread making- but i'm learning that practice makes perfect. i don't think i will ever delve into sourdough- too complicated- but i do love it.

Suzie-Q said...

Looks like so much fun. I don't know if I could knead the dough, I don't feel very strong that way.
It does look worth a try though.

Allison said...

I really want to try the whole wheat bread recipe--I've been looking for a good whole wheat recipe for a long time!

I need some clarification on the directions though. Do you bake it in the bowl you let it rise in or do you separate it into loaves afer rising in the bowl and let it rise again? Or do you separate it into loaves right after the kneading, let it rise in your pans, then bake?

Perry fam said...

I just wanted to let you know how awesome you are...I took my first spinning class on Sat. and it so kicked my butt!!! I'm so impressed that you do it pregnant and all!!! Good luck and I hope your little bun pops out soon! I love bread!