Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bread Blogging: Garden Herb Bread

This is is adapted from Electric Bread, a great book full of good recipes for your bread machine. I do a lot of rustic loaves, but it's nice to pull out the machine once in awhile too, although I most often tend to start a batch on dough cycle, have it knead, and then do the final rise and bake in a regular loaf pan. Without further ado,

Garden Herb Bread

1 1/8 c. water, warm (~90 - 100F) 3 tsp active dry yeast [see NOTES] 1 c. white bread flour 1 c. whole wheat flour 1 c. amarath flour [see NOTES] 2 Tbs dry milk 1 Tbs honey 1.5 tsp salt 2 Tbs butter 1 Tbs minced fresh chives 1 Tbs minced fresh marjoram 1 Tbs minced fresh thyme [see NOTES]
  • If using a bread machine, pour the water in the dough bucket. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let the yeast bloom about five minutes. If mixing by hand, pour water into a large bowl, sprinkle yeast on top and let bloom five minutes. [see NOTES]
  • Keeping aside 1/4 c. of the white flour, add in the remaining ingredients and turn on the bread machine's dough cycle. Keep a close eye on how the dough's progressing, adding in extra white flour so that the dough is barely tacky. If mixing by hand, do the same -- keep aside some of the flour, add the rest of the ingredients and knead for ~10 minutes. I won't go into details of hand mixing -- please see Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. [see NOTES]
  • Let the dough finish rising in the dough cycle if you're using the machine. If hand mixing, scrape out the bowl, lightly oil it, plop the dough in, roll it around, cover with a plastic sheet and let rise in a slightly warm place for ~60 - 90 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Remove the dough from the machine or bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently pat into a rectangle 8" wide. Roll the rectangle up, pinching the seam as you go. Gently plop into a bread loaf pan. Spritz the surface with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave to rise until the loaf is about one inch above the lip of the loaf pan. This will take about 30 minutes if you used a bread machine (the dough will be very warm and the yeast very active), or about 60 minutes if you hand mixed.
  • Well before the loaf's rising is complete, preheat the oven to 375F.
  • When the rising is complete, remove the plastic, and set the loaf in the oven. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes until an instant read thermometer shows 195 - 200F in the center. Remove from the oven, wait five minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan.
  • Now comes the worst part. Let the loaf cool completely on a cooling rack. Avoid slicing into the loaf immediately because it's finishing up its baking as it cools. Slicing into the loaf right after it comes out of the oven will leave you with a slightly soggy center.
  • OK, you can't wait an hour and neither do I, but at least give it 15 minutes to cool. The bread will still be warm enough to melt some butter or margarine, but will have gotten past the slightly soggy center stage.
  • Amarath flour. Good stuff. From an ancient grain (woo, that sounds impressive!), it lends a neat, nutty flavor to loaves. Best used as 25% - 33% of the flour in a recipe. Find it at Trader Joes or better supermarkets.
  • Herbs. Try to use fresh herbs, but not everyone's got them at hand. 1 tsp dried (not ground!) of each would work fine, but be sure to smash the dried herbs in the palm of your hands before adding -- it helps to bring out the aromatics in the dried herbs. Cut the measurements to 1/4 tsp if you have ground herbs.
  • Yeast. Use a good quality yeast like SAF if you can find it. Fleischman's is fine, but SAF is a wonderful step up. Letting the yeast bloom, or proof, is a critical step in getting the best performance from it, especially if you store your yeast in the freezer.
  • Kneading/Mixing. Take care with the texture and feel of the dough if you're used to making rustic breads. Rustic doughs are sloppy sloppy wet wet mess messes. This loaf should be barely tacky at the most, and absolutely not sticky. Add more flour as kneaded. Heh.

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