Wednesday, January 13, 2010
White Bread 101 (for Soup-in-a-Loaf)
One of my favorite meals is soup-in-a-loaf. A thick, creamy soup works best. The Chicken Wild Rice Soup from this blog works great! I tripled the yeast bread recipe and made 11 small loaves.
White Bread 101
Makes 1 large loaf or 3-4 small loaves
3 cups (12 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons (1 ¼ ounces) sugar
2 - 4 tablespoons (1-2 ounces) butter, softened
¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) nonfat dry milk
¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) potato flour OR 1/3 cup (3/4 ounce) potato flakes
1 1/8 cups (9 ounces) lukewarm water
Mix together half the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, dry milk, and potato flakes. Add butter and water. Mix well (for about 2 minutes). Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. You should not need all the flour. At this point, the dough will have barely come together and be extremely rough-looking. You can give the dough a twenty minute rest (called the autolyse) to allow the flour to absorb the liquid fully, making it easier to knead and less likely that you’ll add too much flour during kneading. This step isn’t crucial, and can be skipped if you’re in a hurry. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and knead the dough until it’s smooth and supple. Be careful not to add too much flour during kneading—the more flour you add the heavier and drier your final loaf will be. The dough will become more and more elastic as you develop the gluten, until eventually it should feel soft but springy. Take a break at about the five-minute mark; giving the dough a five-minute rest at this point allows the gluten to relax, making the kneading a lot easier. Put the kneaded dough into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise, at warm room temperature, until it’s puffy and almost doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and squeeze it gently to deflate it. Remember to treat your dough gently—rough treatment toughens the gluten and makes it harder to shape. Shape the dough into an 8-inch log or divide into smaller pieces if making smaller loaves. I used 8-ounces of dough for most of my small pans. My pans that are slightly smaller only required 6-ounces of dough. Shape each portion of dough into a log (roll out and shape as for a full-size loaf). Transfer the log to a lightly greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with greased plastic wrap and allow the bread to rise till the outer edge has just barely risen over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the pan and bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 10 to 15 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly (my small loaves only bake about 20 minutes). Remove the bread from the oven, take it out of the pan, and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. After 15 minutes brush it with melted butter if desired; this will give it a soft crust (I don't do this step).