So baking isn’t your bag. I don’t know if it is for a lot of guys. I want you to consider the end product of this week’s recipe from contributor, Melissa Goncalves – bread. People all over the world love their bread and butter; hot and fresh out the kitchen (just caught you singing to the R&B Pied Piper). So while baking may leave you confined to strict recipe directions and measurements, there’s all kinds of freedom with the accompaniments added later on. Alright, nerd – drop some bread science on us.
Want to dazzle her (or anyone) this weekend? Well, then, I suggest you bring home the bread and butter, literally. It seems quite appropriate for us to redefine the age-old saying. Baking bread is one the most self-sufficient acts one can undertake. It’s not for the faint of heart. It is for those ready to tap into the collective culinary wisdom the world has given us throughout time. Not convinced? Think about its prevalence in our lives, and how knowing how to bake bread could catapult you into culinary stardom amongst your people. Bread, in all its beautiful forms, is the staple food across many a cuisine. Baguette. Ciabatta. Naan. Sourdough. Dinner Rolls. Walk the world over, and you will find some rendition of leavened or unleavened bread. Historically it has been the frontrunner of meals, not to mention, symbolic as life itself. Baking bread will give you the culinary know-how that will begin your personal liberation from mass-produced food industry. Immediate Bonus? Freshly baked bread is insanely delicious and your apartment will actually smell like heaven. It is true.
Yeast Bread-not only does it make the best toast you will ever have, but its not complicated. Its precise directions will have you set up for success. Really, it just requires some time and elbow grease. Additionally, I love how it lends itself to various sweeteners so you can pretty much use what you have in your pantry to make it.
Some Additional Inspiring Words from a Master:
Like thousands of cooks of my generation, I have in my kitchen an ancient volume of The Tassajara Bread Book, its cover gritty with flour, its spine cracked from use, its pages stained with molasses, and dog-eared with decades of perusal. It is the book that taught me how to make bread and its simple wisdom has been present in every loaf I have baked. I will recommend it with enthusiasm to a new generation of cooks – Steve Raichlen, author of The Barbeque Bible
Tassajara Yeasted Bread
From New York Times
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast (2 packages)
3 cups lukewarm water (85 to 105 degrees)
1/4 cup honey, molasses or brown sugar
1 cup dry milk
7 to 8 cups whole-wheat flour
4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup oil or butter
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water, for egg wash
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in water and stir in the honey and dry milk. Stir in 4 cups of the flour to form a thick batter and beat 100 strokes with a spoon. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes, then add the salt and oil and an additional 3 cups of the flour and knead until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead on a floured board, using about 1 cup more flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking, for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Let it rise for 50 to 60 minutes, until it is doubled in size. Punch down and let it rise again for 40 to 50 minutes, until doubled in size.
Shape into two round loaves and place them on a baking sheet. Let them rise for 20 to 25 minutes. Coat the top of each loaf with egg wash. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until golden brown.
Yields 2 loaves
Really is there anything else better than butter? I have quite literally stated that a slice of bread and butter, and excellently brewed cup of coffee could carry me through my days. It is yet another easily made, commonplace food that we with which we have lost touch. It never even occurred to me that I (me, myself, and I) could make my own butter. That was, of course, until I started making it in a well-known Brooklyn bakeshop. It was my favorite item on the task list. Seriously it is like magic. In just a few minutes, you are able to take a liquid and make it into a sweet, unctuous, spreadable, delectable solid. Want to know what is more delicious than baking your own bread? It is making your own butter. Dazzle factor for your lady fried would include the following: after you have turned cream into butter, scoop the butter into a piping bag, with a star tip and pipe precious butter stars onto waxed paper. Place the wax paper on a tray and freeze or refrigerate for a half hour. Remove star-like butter forms and place them daintily on a slice of newly baked bread.
2 cups of heavy, cream at room temperature
¼ teaspoon of table salt.
Pour the cream and salt into a food processor, and turn on the processor. The cream will go through two stages. First stage: whipped cream. Keep processing until the cream separates.
When the cream separates, there will be a yellow butter that forms up around the blade and butter milk that looks like milky water. Strain the butter in a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the buttermilk for another use . (Such as buttermilk scones, let’s talk about the resourcefulness of it all!)
Next, wash out the butter. Returning the butter to the food processor, add 1 cup of cold water and process or 20 seconds. Strain in the mesh strainer, discarding the water. Repeat 3 more times, or until the water is almost clear after process. Viola you have butter!
*Butter will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
From Food Network
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup currants (optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream, for brushing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add butter and mix with your fingertips to a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix just until combined. Add currants, if desired.
Transfer dough to a floured board and divide into 2 parts. Roll each to 3/4 inch thick rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges and place slightly separated on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the cream, and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm, split in half with butter and marmalade.