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Monday, June 4, 2018

HERB BUNS Recipe ~ 1 dozen buns

This recipe is from my ‘Gold Medal Century of Success Cookbook’ cookbook and makes a tasty Supper Bun.

I try to bake my breads on laundry day … that way I can rise them atop the warm clothes dryer ;-)

HERB BUNS Recipe ~ 1 dozen buns

1 pkt. active dry Yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp. bulk dry yeast) * 1 cup warm Water (105 to 115-degrees) * 1 tsp. Caraway Seed * ½ tsp. dried Sage leaves * ¼ tsp. ground Nutmeg * 2 TBSP. granulated white Sugar * 1 tsp. Salt * 1 Egg * 2 TBSP Shortening * 2-1/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose Flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add caraway seed, sage, and nutmeg; stir in sugar, salt, egg, shortening and 1 cup of flour. With electric mixer and dough hooks, beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. With rubber spatula, scrape batter from sides of bowl; cover and let rise in warm place until double in size – about 30 minutes.

Towel covered basket covering rising batter atop warm clothes dryer

Stir down batter by beating it with a large spoon about 25 strokes. Spoon into a greased 12-muffin-cup pan; filling each cup about half full. Let rise until batter reaches tops of cups – 20 to 30 minutes.

Buns rising ... again under the towel covered basket atop warm clothes dryer

Heat oven to 400-degrees. Bake buns 15minutes.

Remove from oven and cool.

WHITE BREAD: Basic Master Recipe ~Makes 2 loaves/regular sized

This recipe is from my ‘Fannie Farmer Baking Book’ cookbook and makes a wonderfully fluffy white bread that will not fall apart when handled. This recipe makes a classic American white bread, in the rectangular loaf shape, which is delicious for sandwiches, toast, toasted cheese sandwiches, and to eat plain with butter with meals. It is a well-balanced loaf; the small amounts of sugar and salt called for bring out its natural flavor, and the milk tenderizes it, keeping it fluffy.

NOTE: Bread takes T.I.M.E. to prepare, so be prepared to spend MOST OF YOUR DAY in the kitchen …

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: A saucepan of at least 1-qt. capacity; a mixing bowl of at least 6-qt. capacity; a liquid measure of at least 1-qt. capacity; a set of dry measures; a set of measuring spoons; a smooth, flat kneading surface – like a board, a countertop, or marble slab; a dough scraper or painter’s spatula; a rubber spatula; two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2” loaf pans; a cooling rack (optional); a standing electric mixer with a dough hook (a regular electric mixer w-dough hooks, or a food processor)

¼ cup warm Water * 1 package dry Yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp. bulk dry yeast) * 1-3/4 cups Milk (prepared dry milk will work just fine) * 2 TBSP Butter (1/4 stick) (or vegetable shortening, or oil) * 2 TBSP granulated white Sugar * 2-1/2 tsp. Salt * 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose Flour

Warm the water; pour into bowl and cool to a temperature of 105-degrees. Add yeast and stir well – let stand to dissolve for about 1 minute or so.

Heat the milk to 105-degrees (be sure that it is not hotter at the bottom of the pan), then pour it over the dissolved yeast. Add the butter (or shortening or oil), sugar, salt, and 4 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously for at least 1 minute. You will now have a thick, rough, probably lumpy batter, not stiff enough to hold its shape outside the bowl.

Stir in enough of the remaining flour – ½ cup at a time – to make a stiff but not dry dough; it should collect in a damp and shaggy mass around the dough hooks and clean itself away from the sides of the bowl. It will definitely be cohesive enough now to hold together on the kneading surface. You should have at least 1 cup of flour remaining to add to the dough as you knead the dough.

Dust the kneading surface with ¼ cup of flour and turn the dough out onto it, cleaning the bowl completely with a rubber spatula. The dough is now ready for the comfortable, rhythmic motion of kneading it. Bear down on the dough with the heels of your floured hands and push it away – then fold it partially back unto itself and give the whole mass a quarter turn; it should be soft, sticky, and quite messy, but kneading will soon transform it into a collected ball of dough.

Repeat pushing, folding, and turning again and again; using a dough scraper if you wish to clean the surface as you knead. *I was told by a master baker decades ago that the best way to knead bread was to work out your frustrations on the dough as you work it … IT WORKS! Following that advice, I began turning out beautiful loaves of bread: before I was not working the dough hard enough*

As you work, the dough will absorb the flour – sprinkle on about 2 TBSP at a time, when necessary, to keep the dough from being too sticky or “tacky”. After you have kneaded it for 1 minute, stop and let the dough rest for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid so further kneading is easier. (It is okay to rest the dough longer, but if you do, cover it with an inverted bowl to prevent a crusty skin from forming on the dough)

After the rest, resume kneading for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic; when you have kneaded enough, the dough will no longer be sticky and flaccid, but will become shiny and resilient. Sometimes small blisters will appear on the surface – a sign that you have kneaded enough. Test by pressing the heel of your hand firmly and deeply into the dough – hold it there 10 seconds; if it comes away clean, that is another sign that you have kneaded enough.

THE FIRST RISE: Allowing the dough to rise gives it time to ferment, develop, and expand. Most recipes say to let dough rise in a “warm place”, and 75 to 85-degrees is ideal. *I rise my bread either in the oven warmed by the interior light bulb … or atop my dryer under a towel-covered basket while doing laundry: the loaves rise perfectly. When my mother did her bread, she would put her loaves atop the refrigerator, covering them loosely with a slightly damp towel so the rising bread would not stick to the fabric*

Dough rising in the oven

Wash the mixing bowl, dry it, and grease the inside right to the top with shortening. Put the kneaded dough into the bowl and turn it so it is entirely coated with the shortening, which will keep the dough surface from drying out. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth and set to rise where it won’t be disturbed, until it doubles in bulk- about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature. Since rising times can vary, the best guide is how much the dough should rise … so, when you set it to rise, estimate how full the bowl will be when the dough has doubled in size: judge with your eyes where the dough rests in the bowl now and how much it should double when it is swollen and puffy.

Risen dough

PUNCHING DOWN THE DOUGH: Again, do not be gentle! After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Punch it, pummel it, and knead it for about 1 minute. Do anything you have to to work out the air and return it to its original, unleavened size before it doubled in size.

FORMING THE LOAVES: Grease the interior of the loaf pans thoroughly so the bread, when cooking, will not stick to the pans. Divide the dough into two equal piece. Gently stretch the pieces as you begin to roll them into oval loaves the approximate length of your pans. At the end of the dough, pinch the ends closed and pinch the bottom seam together; and place in the prepared pan, with the seam down. The dough should just touch the sides of the pan. If it doesn’t, or the shape looks rough and uneven, push, and pat with your fist to even it out. The pan will be filled about 2/3’s full.

Repeat for 2nd loaf.

SECOND RISE: Cover the pans with a clean cloth or dish towel, and place them in a warm spot. Let the dough rise again. The second rise will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the dough is puffy and swollen, and forms a dome, or ‘blossom’, over the top of the pan, it has risen enough.

Loaves covered w-bowl rising in oven

PREHEATING THE OVEN: In the yeast-bread recipes, I have not noticed a separate step to the instructions concerning the preheating of the oven – primarily because it is difficult to predict exactly when the final rise will be completed and how long your oven needs to reach the baking temperature. Most ovens will preheat in about 10 to 15 minutes … BUT KNOW YOUR OWN OVEN. After you have baked a few loaves, you will be able to guesstimate sufficiently well what the loaves will look like 10 to 15 minutes before they are ready to bake. Preheat the oven then to 350-degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle level. If you are not up to guessing, just preheat the oven 30 minutes after you have formed the loaves, and the oven will surely be ready when it is time to bake the loaves.

BAKING THE LOAVES: Uncover the pans and place the bread on the middle rack of the oven. Almost immediately there will be a sudden rise in the dough, known as “oven spring” – and the dough will continue to rise a bit more. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes in a glass pan … 45 to 50 minutes in a metal pan.

TESTING FOR DONENESS: When done, the loaves will have shrunk slightly away from the sides of the pan, and they will be well browned. If the sides and bottoms are soft and pale, the bread probably needs to bake a bit longer; about 5 to 10 minutes longer.

COOLING THE BREAD: While warm from the oven bread is a tasty temptation (and we have done our share of being lured into temptation; LOL) the bread texture is best if it cools before you slice it. Turn the loaves out of the pan and let them sit on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours. When completely cool, wrap each loaf in an airtight plastic bag. For storage longer than a few days, refrigerate or freeze the bread.

FREEZING YEAST BREAD: Homemade breads are among the best things to keep in your freezer. If frozen properly, they will taste almost freshly baked when reheated and served months later. The most important point in freezing is to wrap the bread (whole or sliced into individual slices) well and seal it thoroughly. An initial covering with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, followed by a secure wrapping with foil, gives the best protection. Label and date everything you freeze.

REHEATING YOUR YEAST BREAD: If you want to freshen or reheat a frozen loaf of bread, there is no need to thaw it first.

Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. If you are reheating a crisp-crusted loaf, remove the wrapping, place it on a baking sheet, and heat for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. If it is a soft-crusted loaf, unwrap it and brush away any ice crystals; then either rewrap it in foil or place it in a brown paper bag with the top folded down to seal, and heat for 20 to 30 minutes. To test if a loaf is thoroughly thawed, stick a sharp knife into it and hold the blade there for a moment – if it comes out cold, the bread needs more time in the oven.

You can also reheat bread to serve it warm at the table. Portions of loaves (and small muffins and buns) reheat best when sprinkled with a few drops of water and wrapped loosely in a brown paper bag. Place in a preheated 325-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.