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Cheap and Good: Bread – One Dough, Three Ways

bread So, we’re back in the kitchen and we’re going to make dough that we’ll turn into: bread for toast and sandwiches, cinnamon buns, and a sort of finger roll that can be baked in a toaster oven for those folks who are not in the mood to fire up the stove or it’s August and you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

If you are someone who feels you just can’t make bread – perhaps you’ve tried and it didn’t rise, or didn’t know when it was risen enough or baked it not long enough or too long, then go read through yesterday’s lesson:

Beginner’s Bread

Today’s bread is slightly different than yesterday’s example. This bread is slightly more nutritious. My ingredients list looks like this:
Wheat Flour….1/2 c. of whole wheat flour. The rest is regular flour (I’m using bread flour)
Yeast……………1T of dried yeast
Yeast ‘food’……..1 teaspoon of honey, because that is what I’ve got a whole lot of
Water……………Hottest out of the tap (if your water has been tested and is safe – otherwise, one part boiling water, two parts cold) – 1 C
Milk……………..1C – zapped for 1min. in the microwave so that it isn’t stone cold
Salt………………1 pinch
Fat………………..2 tablespoons of: olive oil or melted butter or other vegetable oil

Aunt Toby understands “Bread Fear.” We are all about the simple, controllable bread today – not the bread that you come back into the kitchen and find has taken over your stove, refrigerator and is crawling toward the dining room, looking hungrily at the dinette set. No, this is a friendly little bread that you can control and turn into things you and your family will love to eat.

Step 1: Preheat your oven a little bit so that your hand feels warm but not hot. Turn off the oven and close the door.

Step 2: Proof your yeast: Put a cup of the hottest water out of your tap (or one parts boiling water, two parts cold) into some sort of (heatproof!) vessel with 1teaspoon of whatever sweetener is your choice and 1tablespoon of yeast and stir that around. Put that into the stove for 10 min.

Step 3: Put 1 cup of milk (any type will do – full fat, 1%, you name it) into a microwave safe container and zap it for 1 min.

Step 4: After that 10 min. in the oven, take out the yeast/water/sugar. Sniff it and look at it. It should smell like beer and have a head like beer.

Step 5: Pour the milk and the water/yeast/sweetener into the big bowl.
Put in the flour. If you are using that ½ cup of whole wheat, put that in first; other wise, dump a good cup of bread flour in and slowly stir it around.. Put in your pinch of salt and your oil or melted fat.

Step 6: Keep adding flour and stirring it around until the dough (hey, you’re making dough!!) basically starts cleaning off the sides of the bowl. It will be sticky but it is now ready to knead.

Step 7: Clean off the kitchen counter. Dump a couple of cups of flour onto the counter and scrape out the dough from the bowl. Knead the dough and flour together. Your bread is ready to rise when it’s not sticky any more and you start seeing little blisters rising on the surface. Make your dough into a ball and put it in the bowl and cover. The ball of dough should be about half the size of the bowl.

Step 8: If your oven has cooled off, again heat it a little bit. Turn off the oven, put in the bowl and shut the door. Turn on the oven timer for 1 hour.

Go take a shower, clean up in the kitchen, read a book, play with your kids, watch a movie. Don’t mess with the oven or the dough. Leave it alone. After an hour, the dough should basically take up most of the bowl.

Take it out, punch it down, put out a little bit of flour on the counter top and scrape the dough out on top of it. Knead it a little bit with the flour to give it a bit of a rest.

You now have something you can turn into some really tasty things. Here is how I made the three things in the top picture. I divided the dough into thirds.

Loaf of bread: This is a small loaf. The bread pan is 7.5”x3.75”x2.25”. The bread dough rose 2” over the top of the pan, so the slices are going to be about 4”x4”. Grease the inside of the loaf pan and take one third of the dough. Roll it around on the counter a little bit until it is approx. the side of the inside of the pan and put it inside. Put that inside the oven. You’ll want to raise that for about 30 min.

Cinnamon rolls: Take the next third of the dough. Put a little flour on the counter, put the dough out on top of that and sprinkle that with a little flour also. Roll it out with a rolling pin until the dough is about ¼ in. thick. Oh, you don’t have a rolling pin? OK…do you have a wine bottle (full or empty)? Make sure it’s good and clean on the outside and use that instead. If the bottle is full, so much the better – when the goodies are done, you can also open the bottle of wine! Sprinkle all over the dough: cinnamon, a handful of sugar (brown is preferable, but white will do), chopped up nuts (if you like them; it’s not required), raisins (or currents or other dried fruit – even the stuff used for fruit cakes will do). Then, roll it up like your diploma and slice it to make rolls, about 1” thick. Place cut side down on a greased cookie sheet or in a cake pan. Now, put THAT into the oven to raise.

Italian finger rolls for the toaster oven: Take the next third of the dough, and roll that out like the cinnamon rolls (make sure the counter is clean – we don’t want bits of nuts and raisins in THESE rolls). Sprinkle this with dried oregano, basil and some parmesan or romano cheese. Roll up, cut into pieces and roll out a bit so that it’s about the size of a hot dog. Put on the greased baking sheet that came with your toaster oven and put THAT in the oven to raise. When the oven timer rings, all three of these should be raised enough. The bread will be way over the top of the pan; the cinnamon rolls will be little bit poofy and so will the finger rolls. Take all three pans out of the oven.

Set the oven temperature for 375 degrees and preheat. Set the temperature in the toaster oven for 350. There is usually no pre-heat on a toaster oven, so just leave that for a couple of min.

Toaster oven rolls: You’re going to have to watch this a bit. Toaster oven temperature controls are not as good as the ones in ovens. What you are looking for is browning on the outside and firming up, so, after 10 min., take out the pan and poke one of the rolls with your finger. If it gives, put the pan back and wait another 10 min. and check again. Twenty min. should be enough; 25 for sure.

Bread: If you are making a big loaf of bread (like, half the dough put into a pan bigger than the one I used), you can count on baking it for 30-45 min. at 375 degrees. The way you know it’s done is to take your fingers and flick it on the top. It should make a hollow sound. Take it out and put it on a cooling rack. If you don’t have a cooling rack, lay the pan on it’s side on a heatproof cutting board. Resist the urge to cut the loaf out of the pan and start eating it immediately – you will burn yourself. Show some restraint…and take out some butter or cheese.

Cinnamon rolls: These are as close to “fast food” as you can get: 15 min. baking at 375 degrees. Take them out and put the pan on a cooling rack. Again, resist the urge to dig in – that sugar gets very very hot and you will burn yourself.

Your biggest challenge will be waiting until they are cool enough to eat – use the time to clean up, pour the wine, and smell that heavenly smell.

Some “Aunt Toby Hints”: if you are going to make your own bread, you may as well “make every calorie count.” Make sure you work as much nutritional advantage into that dough that you can. And as readers know, I am a big proponent of getting the most protein “bang for the buck” as possible. American “general purpose flours” are actually not very good – unlike Canadian general purpose flours, which test out at 14% protein. Ours are really quite bereft. So, how do you put protein into your breads? Put one or more of these in right at the beginning.
Substitute this for some of the flour:
Dried Milk or Dried Dairy Whey……………up to 1 cup of flour
Soy flour………………………………………….no more than 1/3 c. (it gets very “beany”)
And add-ins like: chopped or slivered nuts, sunflower and other seeds, oat meal

Another thing to remember is “keeping qualities.” There are ways to make your bread stay fresh longer. Commercial bakers use all sorts of additives; we can use honey or molasses as a sweetener – they are both hygroscopic.
Always put in a couple of tablespoons of fat

For richer dough than this one for sweet rolls, heat your milk with a half a stick of butter (make sure when you put it with the yeast that it is not too hot), put in 1-2 eggs and, depending on whether or not you will be filling it (like with the cinnamon rolls), ¼-1/2 c. of sugar or honey.

(originally published at Oxdown Gazette)

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