I've joined the Tuesdays with Dorie blogging project. Twice a month, I'll be baking and blogging about it. We're using the book, Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and Julia Child. Want to join in the fun? Check them out here.
White Loaves. Okay, not the most exciting recipe title ever, but check out this beautiful baby. This is a pretty basic white bread, but there's no denying its appeal. This will make great toast, terrific sandwiches and awesome french toast. Want more? I can imagine it in a chocolate-hazelnut bread pudding or a spinach-gruyere strata. Let's get baking.
This is a direct-rise bread. No sponges or starters to worry about, so it's a great one for beginners. The recipe directs you to put 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. After 5 minutes, the mixture will look "creamy" according to the book.
I think it looks like the foam from a latte. Mmmm. Coffee would probably go great with this bread in the morning.
Next, we add all of the other ingredients, except the butter, and mix on medium. I used half KA bread flour and half KA all-purpose. I resisted the urge to add wheat germ, potato flour or dry milk powder. (I bake a lot of bread and often tweak recipes. But I am resolved to follow each of these recipes exactly as written. At least the first time...)
This recipe suggests that you can mix the dough in the machine for half the time and hand knead for the rest. I like to knead, so I did half and half. Check out that gluten!
Time to get my hands dirty. As you can see, this dough is a little sticky. I held a 1/2 cup of the flour back, to dust the countertop with. You don't want to knead too much flour into a dough like this, or the bread will end up dry. I put the dough back in the machine and beat in the butter.
Here's the dough, ready for its first rise. The recipe calls for a buttered or oiled bowl. I always use Pam (or other non-stick spray.) Don't forget to give the top of the dough a squirt. See you in an hour or so.
Check it out. Do NOT leave this dough for more than an hour. This bad boy was ready to ooze across the kitchen.
I dumped the dough out onto the counter, cut it in two with my trusty scraper, and patted each piece out to a 12" x 9" rectangle. Yes, I used a ruler. Because I am
a nerd detail-oriented. Yes, that's the stainless steel ruler that I got in art school (many, many years ago).
And they're ready for the second rise. I know that looks like gratuitous product placement. Trust me, KA flours are really worth the extra cost. They never let me down. And no, they are not paying me to talk them up.
45 minutes later, my oven is preheated and they are ready to bake. A tip here: don't ever skip preheating your oven, especially when baking with yeast. A hot oven ensures "oven-spring". That's a fancy baker's term for "the yeast knows it's dying so it gives one last gasp and pumps your bread full of carbon dioxide gas." You could've lived without that knowledge, right?
And 50 minutes later, here they are! As promised, they did indeed rise very high. Aren't they pretty? The recipe is very specific about letting them cool almost completely, so hands off for at least an hour (or in my case, overnight.)
The next morning, they were very tasty with butter and jam. And it was great with my coffee. I'm going to try to make panini out of them tonight. The crust is pretty firm and the crumb is even with no large air bubbles, so panini should work. I'm thinking prosciutto, comte, and caramelized onions. BTW, my husband and (picky, 5-year-old) son both gave this recipe a big thumbs up!