Rise to the challenge with 'Everyday Bread'
If the baking terms “autolyse” and “hydration levels” make you want to run for the hills, you are not alone. The internet is a wonderful source of information on most any subject, but the information is scattered and takes time to sift through. If your goal is to produce a simple loaf of homemade bread, you’d better spend your time in the kitchen rather than in front of a screen.
America’s Test Kitchen has just come out with a new book that has all the answers to your bread questions in one place. Whether you are a beginning baker or one with years of experience, “Everyday Bread” has something to offer. It presents seven core dough recipes ranging from classic dinner rolls to Instagram-worthy artisan loaves. Each of the core recipes has variations, with 100 recipes in total.
At the beginning of the book, there is an explanation of the different types of flour and the chemical process of what happens in the bread-making process. In addition, with each recipe is a paragraph explaining why the recipe works. The goal is to produce a confident baker who knows that each step is done for a reason.
At the end of the book is a complete nutritional breakdown of each recipe. This is helpful for people monitoring calories, sodium, carbs or fiber intake.
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Often home cooks shy away from bread baking because of time constraints. “Everyday Bread” provides time tables for each recipe and explains how to make the bread on your schedule. Assembling a batch of rolls the night before and putting them in the fridge for a slow rise, for example, ensures that you can serve a freshly baked treat for dinner.
Another impediment to home baking is the need for special equipment. If banneton or cloche are not in your vocabulary or your cupboard, “Everyday Bread” understands. The only equipment needed for the recipes is a regular loaf pan, a Dutch oven or a cast iron frying pan. A stand mixer may be useful, but doughs can be mixed and kneaded by hand as well.
Below is a recipe for oatmeal sandwich bread. If you are looking to seamlessly put more fiber in your diet, this is the bread for you. It is a versatile bread that keeps well, and it will work well with any type of sandwich.
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Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
- 2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour
- 1½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1¼ teaspoons table salt
- ⅔ cup (2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup (4 ounces) boiling water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- ⅔ cup (5⅓ ounces) whole milk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
Make dough: Whisk together flour, yeast and salt in bowl of stand mixer. Stir oats, boiling water and butter together in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed and oats have cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Add milk and honey and stir to combine.
Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add oat mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes.
Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough clears sides of bowl (it will still stick to bottom), about 8 minutes, scraping down dough hook halfway through mixing.
Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds.
First rise: Place dough seam-side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 to 1½ hours.
Shape dough: Grease 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter (side of dough that was against bowl should now be facing up). Press and stretch dough into 8-by-6-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed and place loaf seam-side down in prepared pan, tucking ends as needed to match size of pan and pressing dough gently into corners.
Second rise: Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until loaf reaches 1 inch above lip of pan and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your finger, about 1 hour. (Loaf may be refrigerated immediately after shaping for at least 8 hours and up to 16 hours; let loaf sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)
Bake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mist loaf with water and bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers at least 205 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on wire rack, about 3 hours, before serving.
Why this recipe works: Sandwich bread shouldn’t be heavy, and the addition of oats in this version makes it anything but — the bread is tender and fluffy and captures the sweetness and nuttiness from the oats without displaying their more robust texture. Incorporating the oats as meal made with boiling water and butter makes the loaf moist but not leaden and distributes the oatmeal throughout. Some honey complements the oat flavor.
This bread works with just about any sandwich, from a simple PB&J to a turkey sandwich with all the fixings. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, increase the shaped rising time and start checking for doneness 10 minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.
High-protein King Arthur Bread Flour works best with this recipe; other bread flours will suffice but the loaf will be squatter and more dense.
For an accurate measurement of boiling water, bring a kettle of water to a boil and then measure out the desired amount.
— Recipe reproduced with permission from “Everyday Bread” by America’s Test Kitchen.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at email@example.com.