Thursday, October 14, 2010

Brrrrr. It's chilly.

I caved in.  Every year I try not to put the heat on until Oct. 15.  No good reason, just an attempt to be frugal.  I almost made it this year except that it is 62 deg F in my house and I'm chilly.  So, I just put it up to 65, and I can smell that warm air, and it's getting a bit warmer.  But I came close to that Oct 15 moment.

Yesterday I finished up the bagels.  Well, old bagels get like hockey pucks, at least they're supposed to get that hard, and I didn't want my tasty bagels to get to that point.  So, I sacrificed and ate the last couple of them.  And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Then I baked some cinnamon bread.  We're about half through it, and it's wonderful!  Mmmmm.

The normal bread pattern plus I added 3 TB of nonfat drymilk powder for extra tastiness and nourishment, and dumped in a bit of Ceylon Cinnamon, and then rolled it out when it finished rising, and spread a little bit of melted butter and sprinkled on some cinnamon/sugar.  We are talking delicious here.

Here's my formula for my everyday bread.  I knead in the bread machine, but you can do it by hand, in the KitchenAid, in the food processor.

1 cup warm water
1 tsp Diamond Kosher salt (less sodium than table salt, and still as good)
3 cups flour, either all-purpose or bread flour, depending on what kind of bread I'm making.            
1 tsp yeast, the kind that goes into a machine.  Nope, you don't need more. 

I add biga, or nonfat dry milk or buttermilk powder, or different flours, herbs, seeds, whatever I want.  I use King Arthur flour almost exclusively.  It's good stuff and employee owned.  White, brown sugar, or honey if I want a sweet dough.  I haven't tried agave syrup, although I should since it's very low on the glycemic index.

I use only one tsp of yeast.  Many, many years ago, I would use a yeast packet, and my bread always tasted too yeasty.  So one day I got brave and went down to a teaspoon.  Bread tastes wonderful, rises well, and I never add any more yeast unless I'm making a very sweet dough, in which case I add maybe 1/8 tsp more.  I buy my yeast in bulk, also from King Arthur.  One pound of Fleischmann's yeast runs me about $7.95, and easily lasts a year.  I keep some of it in a jar in the refrigerator, and the rest in the freezer.  If you bake a lot of bread, buying in a one-pound package is the way to go.

I generally use white flour, but will substitute white whole wheat flour, or rye or semolina or oat or whatever is around.  I don't like whole wheat bread.  Really don't like it at all.  I know, it's good for me.  Piffle.  I eat bread because I love it, not as a form of medicine.  And besides, when I snack, it's not because I'm stomach hungry, but becase I want something in my mouth.  Ergo, I make bread that I love.  Food police: too bad.

So, I mix up my dough, let it rise until it is where I want it to be, knock it down, shape it, cover and let rise about 45 minutes more.  After 30 minutes, I heat the oven to 500 deg. F.  Yes, 500 deg!  When the bread is fully risen, then I slash it, smear something on it or not, put it on a piece of reusible parchment paper, which is on top of a cookie sheet, put it in the oven, shut the door, REDUCE the heat to 425 for regular breads, and 375 for sweet breads and bake it.  When it's done, I give it the "knock" test, i.e. I rap it with my knuckles and if it has that hollow sound, it's done.  Take it out of the oven, put it on a cake rack and let it cool.  The parchement paper comes in sheets and is totally reusible.  I have had my original 100 sheet batch for many years.  I don't bake cookies often, so it really lasts a long time.

Yes, I know all about baking stones, own one in fact.  And I do sometimes spray water to give it that steamy moment.  And I often let the dough or shaped loaf rise in the refrigerator to get that extra taste, but honestly, my parchement over cookie sheet gives me a great crunchy crust, and the bread really does crackle when I take it out of the oven.  I don't like very dark crust; it tastes burnt to me, so I don't bake my bread forever.  In fact, I don't do half the rules about bread baking.  I've been doing this for 35 years, and I think I have it pretty much down pat.  Except for getting real bagels.  That eludes me, but I love my crunchy bagels so much, that it's fine.  I read bread books all the time, and own a few amazing ones.  But the truth is that I never weigh ingredients, or follow formulas except for mine.  However, I do pay a lot of attention to the dough when it is beginning to knead, and add bits of water, or flour as I think the dough requires it.

On the needles:  My 2 latest projects.  The little blue scarf that I showed you yesterday.  I would have more done, but I needed a nap.

And the Janus Scarf, which is motoring along very speedily.  And it lives in this adorable sock bag that I got from ZigZag Stitches.  Cute, huh?

And now the house is warmer and I'm a happy camper.

Scrabblequeen - I am so sick and tired of "eat this; it will let you live 100 years more".  I want my food to be healthy and tasty, but I'm not going to eat 1/4 cup of something I don't like to live longer.  Enough already with the food scare of the week.

itsJUSTme - You just wish.  There are never any leftovers.  


Scrabblequeen said...

Love your sock progect your thoughts on the Food Police! I love whole wheat, my men don', I "compromise" and use the white whole we're all happy...or at least I think so. :-)

itsJUSTme said...

Let me send you my address in case you don't know what to do with future left-over bagles!!!

itsJUSTme said...

Hahahaha! Yeah I do wish!
Just had an Asiago bagel with cream cheese at Panera's yesterday! Yum


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