Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Rustic Dinner Rolls

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup wheat gluten
2 tsp. salt
Cornmeal for dusting

In a small bowl, stir the yeast and water together and let stand until bubbly on the top, 2 to 3 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, gluten, salt and yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the mixture on medium-low speed to form a soft, smooth and elastic dough, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball, then return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, set in a warm place and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Gently punch the dough down to remove the larger air pockets, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and, with floured hands, gently shape each piece into a ball, stretching the sides of the dough down and under. Pinch the seam beneath each ball to seal it.

Dust the shallow dish of a round stoneware baker with cornmeal. Place 7 balls of dough in a circle, seam side down, and place the last ball in the center. Cover with the lid and let rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375 deg. F.

Transfer the baker to the oven and bake until the rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving.

Yields: 8 rolls

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Classic Sourdough Bread

2 cups lukewarm water (90 to 100F)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder or 1/4 cup dry
buttermilk powder

In a bowl, whisk together the water and yogurt. Add the flour and dry milk powder and beat until well blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart glass jar, ceramic crock or plastic container. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a double thickness of cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for 48 hours, stirring the mixture with a whisk twice each day. It will be bubbly, with a fresh sour smell and the consistency of pancake batter. A clear or pale yellow liquid will form on the top; just stir it back in. If the liquid is any other color (such as pink or green), discard the starter and make a new batch. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

To use the starter, measure out the amount called for in a recipe and let stand at room temperature until it starts to bubble, about 1 hour. To feed the remaining starter, add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, stir to incorporate, and let stand at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours to begin fermenting again. Store in the refrigerator, covered loosely. Makes 3 cups.


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tea Biscuits

1 cup butter
1 cup milk
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tarter

Mix all ingredients together. Make into a thin loaf and bake in flat, greased pan. Break into chunks. Serve warm with butter and honey.

Oven: 350 F
Time: 30 minutes (check after 20 min.)


Thursday, March 29, 2007


By the long process, there are two ways of combining the ingredients in order to make bread. One is known as the sponge method and the other as the straight-dough method.

The long-process sponge method is employed when sufficient time can be allowed to permit the natural growth of the yeast. To make bread according to this process, start it in the evening by warming the liquid and dissolving the yeast and then adding these ingredients to the sugar, salt, and fat, which should first be placed in the mixing bowl. Stir this mixture well, and then add one-half of the quantity of flour that is to be used, stirring this also. Place this mixture, or sponge, as such a mixture is called, where it will remain warm, or at a temperature of from 65° to 70° Fahrenheit, through the night. In the morning, stir the remaining flour into the sponge and knead for a few minutes the dough thus formed. When this is accomplished, put the dough in a warm place and allow it to rise until it doubles in bulk. When the dough is in this condition, it is ready to be kneaded again, after which it may be shaped into loaves, placed in the pans, allowed to double in bulk again, and finally baked.

The long-process straight-dough method is a shortened form of the method just explained. It does away with the necessity of one kneading and one rising and consequently saves considerable time and labor. To make bread by this method, combine the ingredients in the evening as for the sponge method, but instead of adding only half of the flour, put all of it into the mixture, make a stiff dough at once, and knead. Then allow this to rise during the night, so that in the morning it can be kneaded again and put directly into the bread pans. After it rises in the pans until it doubles in bulk, it is ready to be baked.

The only disadvantage of the straight-dough method is that a stiff dough rises more slowly than a sponge, but since the entire night is given to the rising no difficulty will be experienced in carrying out this process. A point to remember, however, is that dough made according to this method must be kept warmer than that made by the sponge method.


In the quick process of combining bread ingredients, there are also two methods of procedure--the sponge method and the straight-dough method. The chief differences between the methods of this process and those of the long process are in the quantity of yeast used and the length of time required for the bread to rise. More yeast must be used and much less time is required for the completion of the entire process. This shorter period of time is doubtless due to the fact that throughout the process, whether the straight-dough or the sponge method is followed, the mixture must be kept at a uniform temperature of about 90° Fahrenheit.

The quick-process sponge method requires only about 5 hours for its completion, and the bread may be started at any time of the day that will allow this amount of time for carrying on the work. For this method, warm the ingredients and then combine the sugar, salt, fat, liquid, and dissolved yeast. Into this mixture, stir enough of the flour to make a sponge and put it where it will keep uniformly warm until it has about doubled in quantity and is full of bubbles. Then add the remainder of the flour, knead the mixture, and return the dough thus formed to a warm place. When the dough has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl to the kneading board, knead it slightly, and then shape it into loaves. Place these into the pans, and after allowing them to rise sufficiently, bake them.

The quick-process straight-dough method differs from the quick-process sponge method in that the entire amount of flour is added when the ingredients are first mixed, with the result that a stiff dough instead of a sponge is formed. As has already been learned, this stiff dough rises more slowly than a sponge, but it requires one rising less. It must be kept at a uniform temperature as much of the time as possible, so that the rising will not be retarded. When it has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl and knead it. Then shape it into loaves, place these in the pans, allow them to rise sufficiently, and proceed with the baking.