April 7, 2011

Breads In The Oven!

We’re sitting at twilight in our living room musing about our adventuresome family past while a not-so-gentle rain falls outside our windows. We were playing our table talk game and one of the questions was, "What is your favorite smell?"
The responses.......Cinnamon, fresh rain, morning coffee brewing, newly cut grass, bacon sizziling, lavender, roses, the ocean, apple pie and bread baking! Oh yes, fresh bread in the oven! It is rustic, earthy and such a loving art! And so, this was our inspiration for the day!

A Maine House Mosaic

Tips On Baking Homemade Breads
Tip sheet from an old cookbook page, dated 1960

■Rinse out mixing bowl in hot water before mixing doughs in an effort to keep the active dry yeast mixture at the temperature at which it works best.

■During rising, dough should be kept at approximately 85° F. If kitchen is cold, place dough in a closed cupboard with a pan of hot water beside it. If dough is too cold it will not rise well and the bread will be heavy and solid with less volume than it should have. If dough is too warm the bread will have a “yeasty” flavor, and have a coarse, dry texture.

■Do not let yeast doughs rise more than double after shaping. They will fall, become coarse and very dry when baked.

■Use pans of the specified size to ensure best results. Changes in texture occur when pan sizes are not correct.

■Bake at specified temperature. In too hot an oven the loaf will be small with a hard crust often cracked along the side and the inside will be soggy. If the oven is too slow, the loaf will be too high with coarse dry texture and tough colorless crust.

■To prevent over browning, cover loaf or coffee cake with brown wrapping paper the last 25 minutes of baking.

"Over the years, our afternoon tea at the Jefferson Inn has grown in popularity. We offer numerous baked goods, but there are certain recipes that have been the crowd favorites, like the one included here." -- The Jefferson Inn, Jefferson, New Hampshire

Jefferson Inn Apple Raisin Bread
3 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apple
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Combine the apple, flour, baking soda, baking powder, raisins, nuts, salt, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 more minute, scraping the bowl constantly. Pour into two greased 9x5-inch bread pans and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans, then cool completely before slicing

Plain mashed potatoes create a fantastic breakfast bread, just made for butter and jam. If you prefer your spuds enhanced with garlic, chives, blue cheese, or bacon, this recipe will give you a more flavorful bread, great for leftover turkey sandwiches.

Estelle's Potato Bread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes (room temperature)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey)
1 packet dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (about 110°)
5 cups flour
Vegetable oil (for coating bowl and pans)
Flour (for dusting work surface)

In a small saucepan, melt butter in milk. Let cool to warm (110°) or room temperature. In the bowl of a standing mixer with dough hook, combine milk mixture with mashed potatoes, salt, sugar (or honey), yeast, and warm water. Add flour and knead with dough hook (or by hand) about 5 minutes, until you have a smooth and slightly glossy dough. Place into an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic or a clean, dry dish towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Oil two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half and knead 3 or 4 times. Shape each dough mass into a rectangle, about 9 inches long. Roll each one lengthwise into a log, and place seam side down into its own loaf pan. Cover with plastic or a clean, dry dish towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Heat oven to 375°. Bake about 30 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Turn onto wire racks and let cool completely. Serve with butter and honey.

"Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words.
 Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name."
from a café sign

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