Bread #41 Sarabeth’s House Bread

I have been thinking lately… why so many breads?  Why?  For this is surely a hefty resolution I have been quite adamant about keeping, so how come?  Of course I have pondered this before and it seems that each time I come up with a different logic.

But, this time I think I have figured it out once and for all.

Each time, I stand in front of my cook book filled window frame, sighing and squinting trying to decide where I shall find my inspiration for the day, a little man no bigger than two and a half feet tall, with a dirty blonde mushroom cut, comes and stands beside me.  Silent.  Sometimes he asks, “What kind are you making today mama?”.

This question usually elicits a simple response.  We take a few books down and drool over the gorgeous loaves and their possibilities.  And then, we begin.  My sweet boy perches on the counter kneading his little piece and playing with the spices while I step over my other little cherub time and time again as he “mixes” some concoction of his own.

Perhaps, this is the thing their first memories will be made of.  Perhaps the yeasty smell of dough rising will remind them of their old mama one day.  Maybe the sight of a home-made bagel or slice of toast will bring back a flood of memories of their first days walking around this here life they live.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

For it is true, so many days, I wonder if I fail them.  So many times I think to myself, “Now, I could have done that quite differently.”  Or I silently scorn myself for losing my temper.  Or I wish I had taken that incident more in stride.  You get the idea.

But, while so many moments are hurried and frazzled (or perhaps filled with guilt), with two little ones in tote, these days of bread rising and baking are good.  Maybe even peaceful.

The most recent loaf was mixed up for the vegan and dairy intolerant of the crowd at a recent pot luck the boys and I went to.  The ladies there were oh-so-sweet, a breath of fresh air really.  Us girls are like that aren’t we?  It seems like you get a group of ladies together, with kind hearts, and there is no end to the amount of sweet words that flow around.  It is really something.

This loaf is tweaked a bit from its original Sarabeth’s House Bread.  She included sunflower seeds and I just didn’t have any.  But, I did have pumpkin seeds so I chopped and sprinkled and it turned out just fine.

Sprinkle 3.5 teaspoons of yeast over 1/4 cup of warm water.  Add in 2 cups of cold water and 1/4 cup of honey when the yeast begins to froth.  Combine 3 cups of wheat flour, 2 1/4 cups of bread flour, 2 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal (stone ground grits here), 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, and 2 tablespoons of crushed pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.  Slowly add the yeast mix.  When it becomes to difficult to stir place on a dusted with flour surface and knead away.  Five or ten minutes should do.

Let it rise in an olive oiled (or buttered if dairy is ok with you) bowl for about an hour until its doubles.

Cut the dough in half and flatten out then roll into a loaf, sealing the sides as you go.  Place in an oiled bread pan and let rise in a plastic bag with a tall cup of hot water holding the middle of the bag up.  This is a fantastic way to let all your bread rise I have found.

After about 45 minutes your bread should dome over the top of the pan.  At this point brush them both with a beaten egg quite thoroughly.  If you would like coat the tops with pumpking seeds.  I found that to be a delicious addition in one of my loaves.  The picture doesn’t show it, but this was such a good loaf I made it twice, the second time experimenting with the pumpkin seeds.  Finally, place them in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Cool and slice.

I always try to reach back for my first memories.  I try so hard my brain hurts.  And as far as I can tell, it is either riding on the bike seat past mackerel cove with my dad, or tasting sand at the beach for the first time.  Whichever happened first, they both bring a smile to my face.  What is your oldest memory?  

Bread #31 Cinnamon Raisin- and the psychology of bread

The return home to the land of bread and the baking of it in a kitchen a bit too tiny and far too hot for this southern temperature was the first thing on my list of things to do as we returned our lives back to the normal rhythm.   Despite humid air so thick and heavy it is entirely possible I drip dropped a couple of forehead beads into these last few loaves I must admit, it sure does feel nice to be back.

When surrounded by my Yankee friends (and loving every second of it), one particular lady friend happened to mention something to me that took me aback.   After some time to digest, I decided she is nothing if not exactly correct.  She told me yes, she likes the blog (woah.) and yes, she reads it (sweet!), but being truthful with me, she admitted its a little bit frustrating to see all these damn breads I keep making.  It is not so much as the bread, as the time it takes to make I believe that frustrated her.  When looking back at this massive undertaking of a new years resolution, and writing 31 in the title I realize that this is exactly how it looks.  I appear to be one of those super-moms who has two little ones running around, an apron tied on, and a fresh loaf of bread coming out of the oven at all times.  But you must know, it is only how I appear.  On paper.

Without dismissing my efforts, I explained to her quite the different scenario….

These 52 different loaves that (will) come out of our oven and into our mouths is my sanity.  Photographing them, documenting them, and critiquing them (and of course thoroughly enjoying them) is my religion.  For now. It is what a girl who is busy at heart but has little to do, who cannot sit still, who just needs to keep going; it is what she does when there is an easy route down the road to boredom and loneliness but she refuses to take it.

It is the quarter of an hour it takes to pound the gluten into submission that with a few bit of heave ho and touch of taking myself less seriously that brings me back to reality.  Every single time.

To express it in a way I never could, I will take the words of my girl Fiona (and I am pretty sure this was said by Popeye too)- “I am what I am cuz I does what I does.”  Well, If that doesn’t explain it, then I don’t know what can.

I love bread.  It keeps me out of the doldrums.  It is exciting.  It is delicious.  It smells lovely and homey and fresh.  It warms my whole soul when I put my boys down at night, pour a tall glass of wine, pull that warm wafting loaf out of the oven, slice, slather and savor.

I think she got it.

With that, I chose a nice and cozy loaf this time around.  (And two more to follow in the next few days… already made just need to be reported upon.)  Rather than roll up your cinnamon and raisin mix in a swirl, this one just kind dove kneads it right in.  And it turns out, I like that just fine.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1. Soften 3 teaspoons of yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water for about five minutes.  Add 3/4 of cold water with 3/4 cup whole milk (is there another kind?), 3 tbs. sugar and whisk away.

2. Sarabeth gives directions for using your standing mixer.  If you are lucky enough to have one (I am out of luck these days), buy her book.  I am sure you can afford it.  (That is a joke!  Don’t worry!)  But for everyone else, I have included the way I did it.  Old fashioned and sweaty.  Just the way it should be.  Mix 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups all-purpose flour with 2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon and 1.5 teaspoons of sea salt.  Combine and begin kneading.  Knead in one softened tablespoon of butter.  Then another.  And a third.  Knead for about seven minutes more.  I like to set a timer.  It makes me feel accomplished.  In the last minutes knead in 1 cup of seedless raisins.

3. Turn into a buttered bowl and let it rise for about 1.5 hours.

4. Cut dough into two and let sit for fifteen minutes covered.

5. Butter two bread pans and fold each envelope style (rectangle turned folded into thirds sealed thoroughly).

6. Let rise once more with a big plastic bag over both and a hot cup of tall water underneath until the bread is about one inch over the edge of the pan.  This took about an hour.

7. Brush with a beaten egg and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  I took the bread out of the pan and sent them back into the oven letting the crusts crisp up for the last three minutes.  Rap em’ up and make sure they sound good and hollow.  Cool as long as you can handle it.

8. Devour.

This one makes the most magnificent  french toast imaginable.

Good day to you.  And may there be good bread too. 

P.S.

My Cat Rules.