Saturday, April 28, 2012

Breadmaking - the Simple Way

I had a bread maker early on in our marriage.  I used it several times right off, and then, I didn't use it much.  And then, I sold, I think in a garage sale, years and years ago. 

I made bread off and on over the years - by hand.  I generally used the white and whole wheat recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (mine is the 1991 version LOL). 

And then when I started this Simple journey back in 2007, I started making bread from scratch more often.  And I'd also picked up a bread maker again, and I used that sometimes too.  I got my bread maker as a gift new, but I often see them at thrift stores, so if you want to try one, you might want to pick one up at a thrift store and see how often you use it before you invest in a new one.  Or you may like your thrift store one so much, you stick with that one!

And then a year or so ago, I decided to make bread most of the time.  (I also started grinding my own flour - no, I don't have my own wheat grinder, but I have friends who are willing to let me borrow theirs! And bread made with freshly ground flour? Divine!!!) But I figured that there had to be a simpler way to do it, besides just using the bread maker.  Plus, I didn't really like using bread that was baked in the bread maker.  I didn't mind the mixing in it, but I hated losing the last two inches because of the bread maker blade, etc. or the shape.

First, I experimented with mixing the dough in the bread maker but then removing the dough, kneading it a few times, and placing it in a bread pan to rise again before baking.  It worked like a charm! It was moist inside, and just the right amount of crust on the outside.  So this is how I make bread when I want to have a traditional looking loaf.  It requires less than 5 minutes work on my part - just putting the ingredients in initially and then turn it on, and then taking it out and doing a minute or two of kneading.  Simple!! (See my recipe for traditional white bread mixed in a bread maker here. Oh, and if you have a stand mixer, here is a easy recipe for traditional bread. )

Oh, and another thing, you just HAVE to make your own butter! It couldn't be simpler - all you need is a food processor and a pint of cream (and two tablespoons of yogurt or sour cream if you want cultured butter).  Homemade bread with homemade better.  Seriously, a slice of heaven, I'm telling you.  (See my tutorial for making butter here.)

But I also kept hearing about no-knead bread, and I had a cast iron dutch oven, and so I decided to try it.  And while I love making traditional bread, I think that no knead better is the BEST! And if it is possible, it is even easier than the bread maker version! You put the 4! ingredients in the bowl (flour, yeast, salt and water) and mix it for a minute.  Then you put a lid on the bowl and let it sit for 18 hours.  Then you knead it a few times, put it in a dutch oven/deep dish baker, and let it sit for another 2 hours.  Then you bake at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes, and voila! The best bread EVER! (See my no knead recipe here.)

We use the no-knead bread for everything, and I love to do add stuff to it (a little rosemary and onion powder; a little sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary; substitute a little wheat flour; whatever you want!)
But I think a couple of my kids recent favorite is using no-knead bread for panini sandwiches.  I recently got a grill pan and grill press, and I can whip up panini sandwiches for them in less than 10 minutes.  They are SO good!

Grilled cheese in the grill pan.  No knead white bread with homemade butter. 

Grilled cheese sandwich in grill pan with grill press on top.  The grill pan and grill press are from The Pampered Chef

Not exactly a professional food blog shot or anything,  And this child prefers that the grill lines on his sandwich not be too dark. 

Flower finishing up her sandwich. 
You might have noticed that I said a couple of the kids, when I have 3 kids.  There is a reason for that.  Jelly Bean has a gluten sensitivity.  So I make gluten-free bread for her.  I often make her brown rice bread, but we also try some of the specialty flours (that are also gluten-free!) like amaranth or quinoa or spelt. We've tried the gluten-free store bought bread, and not only is it incredibly pricey, it is much more crumbly, dry, and tasteless than my homemade gluten-free bread.   (See my recipe for brown rice bread here.)

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