Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rise and Shine White Loaves

Waking up at 5:30 with Roman has its up sides, like seeing the sun rise, hearing the first birds singing, and well, being awake before most everyone... Today we started off the morning by putting up some bread dough. We had a breakthrough of sorts in the kitchen. Normally Roman stands and jumps in his small playpen in the kitchen. This entertains him for only a very short time before complains to be held, and morphs his face into a silent cry which is too agonizing to bear. So, while I was kneading the dough, I decided to release him from captivity and set him on the floor with a container full of plastic tupperware tops and bottoms. Problem solved. Now onto the bread.

These white loaves come from Baking with Julia, a book in which she collaborated with America's best bakers. These loaves are soft and flavorful, thanks to the addition of salt and butter. I find Italian bread to be quite bland because it has no salt. That is fine if you are topping it with cheese, salami, tapenade, etc., but to eat plain, I like my bread with a little flavor. Hundreds of years ago, Italians stopped putting salt in their bread dough to avoid a tax on salt, and this just kind of stuck.

We started this dough at 6 am and by 10 it was cooling on the counter, just in time for Roman's nap. This recipe gives instructions for making bread with a mixer. I don't own one and I have always made bread with a trusty wooden spoon. It comes out fine and gives my right arm the extra muscle tone to match my left one, which I always use to hold Roman. Therefore I have adapted the instructions for simply using your own arm, the old-fashioned way.

White Loaves
Makes 2 1 3/4 lb loaves

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
7 cups (approximately( bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Mixing & Kneading
Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a large bowl and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Whisk to combine. Allow the mixture to rest about 5 minutes until the yeast is creamy. Add the remaining 2 cups water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour and stir. Then add another 3 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Stir until the dough begins to come together, scraping down the sides of the bowl and incorporating all the flour. Turn this out onto a floured board or countertop, Adding small amounts of flour to prevent the dough from sticking, break up the softened butter and knead this into the dough. This is messy, but just keep at it until the dough is smooth.

First rise
Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a buttered or oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let it rest at room-temperature until it doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Shaping the dough
Butter 2 loaf pans and set aside.
Punch down the dough to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Split the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, pat the dough into a rectangle about 9 inches wide and 12 inches long. Starting at the top of the rectangle, gently roll the dough up, then seal the seam by pinching together. Place the loaf, pinched side down, into the loaf pan. Repeat with second loaf.

Second rise
Cover the pans with a kitchen towel and let rise until they are growing over the tops of the pans, 45 minutes to an hour.

Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. They are done when they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove them from the pans and let them cool on racks. They should not be cut into until they are almost completely cooled. Waiting is the hardest part.


  1. I wish I was that productive at 5:30am! I can smell it through the computer...enjoy!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...