Friday, August 21, 2009

Favorite Bread Recipes - and Books!

A friend just asked for my favorite bread recipe. I think I mentioned that we've made all of our own bread since I left work when Mxyl was born. That's a lot of bread recipes! How to choose? She relented and let me choose a sweet and a savory recipe.

I could eat this every day and not get tired of it. This is from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads which I got out of the library enough times that I eventually bought it! There aren't any eggs in it, it's from a B & B in Egg Harbor, Michigan. The weird rising pattern gives it a lovely texture.

Egg Harbor Bread
3 T sugar
1 T salt
2 1/2 c warm water
2 T soft (even melted is OK) butter
5-6 c bread flour
2T instant yeast

Dissolve the sugar, salt and yeast in the water. Add the butter. Stir in 3 c of flour and mix until absolutely smooth (100 strokes by hand, 2 minutes by mixer). Add flour 1/2 c at a time. Knead 10 minutes. This can also be done in a food processor if you have a plastic dough blade), add ingredients in the same order and process 60 seconds instead of kneading.
The secret to this dough is that it rises 5 times (but only for a total of 1 1/2 hours). You punch it down after 30 minutes, then again every 15 minutes for an hour. Then you shape it into loaves and let it rise again until doubled (45 or 50 minutes). Then bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. I often let it rise in the pans for 30 minutes, put it in the cold oven and then turn it up to 400.

This is heaven for breakfast. We often have it Christmas or Easter morning. It's from the same book. I actually like a lot of recipes from Beard on Bread (another library find), but these are my absolute favorites!

Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread
6 c bread flour
2 T instant yeast
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/4 c warm milk
1/4 c soft butter
1 T grated orange peel
3/4 c orange juice (or 3 T frozen concentrate with some warm water added)
1 egg room temperature
Filling: 1 T cinnamon mixed with 1/2 c sugar
Frosting: 1 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
4 t orange juice

Mix 2 c of flour with the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the warm milk and mix until smooth. Add the butter, orange peel, OJ, and egg. Mix well, then start adding flour 1/4 c at a time. Knead 8 minutes (or use food processor). Let rise one hour, then preheat oven to 375 degrees. Punch down the dough and gently pat it into a 15'' by 7" rectangle (you may need to let it rest 5 or 10 minutes for the gluten to relax). Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and roll up, sealing the end with a little water. Bake, seam side down in a greased loaf pan at 375 for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 325 and bake for 20 more minutes. After they cool, mix up the frosting and frost! It doesn't keep well because of the egg in the batter, but I bet you could give a loaf as a gift, freeze it (before you frost it), or make fabulous french toast from the other loaf! I usually make it the night before I want it.

I would also just like to add that the book I learned the most from was Crust and Crumb. It explained so much of the science of bread making that I was able to design my own recipes, even though I don't generally use the recipes from that book. Even if you just like to eat really good bread, it's a deeply satisfying read! Tomorrow, I'll post some of what I learned from it.

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