Posts Tagged 'bread'

How To Proof Yeast

I ran into some mental and emotional issues this year. Several times, I tried to make a recipe that included yeast. Each time I tried to make a “sponge,” the yeast wouldn’t proof. Even though I was using fresh yeast!

Proofing your yeast is a way to make sure that your yeast still lives and that it will work in whatever recipe you are using. A good sponge is, indeed, the proof of this.

Anyway, I was real frustrated and, needless to say, sad that my yeast was failing me. I was missing out on delicious goodies like cinnamon rolls and braided lemon breads and brioches. Hello.

Now, I could have been failing for a number of reasons. Mostly to do with the temperature of the water being perfectly correct. But! I recently read an article that talked about how in order for yeast to properly form a sponge, it needs to have sugars to feed on. The sugars make it grow–just another way yeast and I are so similar.

I feel like milk should have enough sugar in it to help the yeast proof? But don’t quote me on that, because I’ve tried it a few times. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But water definitely does not have sugar in it, so if that is the base of your proof, then you’ll need to add sugar.

This is what proofing yeast looks like.

Step One: Heat water until it is lukewarm. It should not be cold, but not hot. ‘Warm’ is maybe a better word thank ‘lukewarm’ to describe the correct temperature, but I don’t want you to get ideas and go on thinking you can use really warm water. It should be just warm.

Step Two: Stir in your sugar of choice according to the recipe until dissolved.

Step Three: Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the water. Some recipes call for it to be stirred in. Try and be as even as possible with your sprinkling.

Step Four: Wait 5-10 minutes until the sponge is foamy. Now you’re good to go!

You can succeed! The benefits far outweigh the three minutes of mental anguish you may have to endure as you wait for your yeast to proof. CINNAMON ROLLS.
L

Rando Tuesdays: Fake Frugality Continued – Wild Berry Betty & Vanilla Custard

With the exception of Famous Dave’s bread pudding, this recipe might be the best possible solution to the fact that you have yet another half loaf of bread in your bread box getting staler by the minute.

I did use a can of blueberry pie filling, but I topped it with a few wild berries for interest. They were frozen. It still worked out.

And have I mentioned custard to you yet? Despite rarely eating it while in England, I found myself getting a little homesick for it, so I whipped a batch together for the topping. You know, as a break from all the whipped cream/regular cream/hard sauce/icing I have been topping my fruit desserts with recently. It’s likely that many of you are thinking, “Why would you wreck the natural sweetness of a fruit dessert with such exorbitant richness??” And I say again to you, “There is nothing too rich for me.”

Sweetically yours,

L

Wild Berry Betty

Adapted from All Things Frugal

2 cups berries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup granulated sugar

juice of 1 lemon

4 cups bread cubes, about 1/2 inch square

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, white sugar and lemon  juice.  In another bowl, combine the bread cubes, brown sugar, and  cinnamon.  Fill an 8- or 9-inch square metal baking pan by alternating the  two mixtures, starting with half the blueberries, then half the bread cubes, and  so on.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Vanilla Custard

Adapted from eHow.com

2 cups milk

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Heat the milk for 2 or 3 minutes in the microwave. Whisk the eggs until smooth and add them to the milk.

Add the sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir that into the milk and egg mixture until dissolved.

Run the whole mixture through a strainer and stir again. Serve as desired.

Rando Tuesdays: German Bakes

Since I’m back in the country and I have a bit more time, I felt I should go back to posting four times a week. I just have a lot of feelings (name that movie). Speaking of movies, one of the deep realizations I had about myself this past year at Bible school was that I only quote from three movies: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Princess Bride. I don’t know why; I just know that it is true and that barely anyone my age knows quotes from those movies, which makes me one of those unfunny people who doesn’t know all the hilarious YouTube quotes/Will Ferrell quotes everyone quotes all the time. Whatever. I’m fine.

Anyway, this week’s Rando Tuesday is devoted to all the neat German bakery items I observed when I visited Nüremberg and Röthenberg. Every European country I visited had a different feel to its baked goods. In Germany, there were a lot of heavy breads and pretzels and things. This bakery was one of the famous ones in the area, and my sweet relative took me there one morning for breakfast.

We also had afternoon coffee and cake on days that we were out. I was in Bavaria, so there were a lot of cream cakes like this.

And also, basically every country I went to did croissants. I didn’t eat one here, though; I was saving it for France.

The other bonus about having foreign relatives is that they make a whole bunch of traditional, nice things for you. This is stollen, which is a traditional family Christmas bread. It was a heavy bread filled with dried fruits. Delectable!

Reveling in the random,

L

Pipe Dream #45: To Wipe Out Wonderbread – Braided Lemon Bread

I don’t eat bread very often. I usually have enough carbs in my diet (ahem), and plus, have you ever tried making a sandwich? If I go to Jimmy John’s, I’m not paying six dollars for a ham, tomato, lettuce, mayo and bread I could eat at home. I’m paying for someone to take all of those ingredients out of the fridge in single servings and arrange them. Making a good sandwich, like making a good salad, requires a lot of patience and creativity.

Wonderbread is basically horrible nutritionally and flavorfully. Give me something whole grain, with wheatberries in it or something.  I like to chew my bread, not have it dissolve in my mouth like so much angel food cake.

That being said, this lemon bread is not a superfoodwholegrainsubstantial bread. It is made with all purpose flour, and it is filled with lemon curd and cream cheese. Hello. I know I probably sound hypocritical right now. But this bread is part rustic substantial bread and part unhealthy goodness. So it is bad for you, but it won’t melt in your mouth. Man, I’m making this bread sound worse and worse. I should put this on my resume somewhere. Proficient public relations writer: cannot describe anything in an appealing way.

I’ll get lots of call-backs, I’m sure…

Point of the story, this bread is fabulous and decadent and almost wholesome. My family ate the whole thing when it was fresh from the oven. We couldn’t wait.

I apologize for the picture quality/lack of explanatory shots in this post. For a great tutorial on how to braid the loaf (man, I want that on a business card), click on the link in the recipe. SmittenKitchen does such a nice job of it. And also, this recipe includes lemon curd. You can find my recipe here or another recipe on the Ahnternit or buy some from your local grocer.

Braided Lemon Bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sponge
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough
Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pearl sugar* or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling

Lemon cream cheese filling
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) homemade (recipe below) or prepared lemon curd

Make sponge: In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.

Make dough in a stand mixer: Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. ??Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.

OR

Make dough by hand: Whisk together sour cream, butter, egg, sugar and vanilla in a large, wide bowl. Stir in sponge. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon as best as you can; you may need to get your hands in there to form it into a shaggy ball. Turn ball of dough and any incorporated scraps onto a counter and knead until a smooth, soft dough forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.

OR

Make the filling (while dough rises): Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.

Prepare bread: Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper, please; I did not and it led to all sorts of trouble. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling. Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese filling.

To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper; if you have a bench scraper, this is a great time to use it. Remove the four corner segments. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. You can tuck the last couple that hand off decoratively under the end of the braid.

Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.

Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash, and sprinkle with pearl or coarse sparkling sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.


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