Category Archive: Bread Baker’s Series

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to review the new cookbook, Put An Egg On It by Lara Ferroni.  It was filled with fantastic recipes featuring one of my favorite foods:  eggs.  I loved it so much that I was thrilled to be presented with the chance to review a second cookbook from the Sasquatch Books catalog.  I was even more excited when I learned that it was a cookbook that focused on the use of one of my favorite tools in the kitchen:  a cast iron pan.

The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne contains over 90 recipes that all utilize a cast iron skillet.  These recipes represent the full range of dishes from breakfast fare to hearty dishes to serve at your family’s dinner table.  This beautiful book also includes helpful information to guide readers through the process of selecting a cast iron skillet, seasoning its surface, and caring for it properly.

The recipe featured on the cover caught my attention right away.  The pecan sticky buns looked amazing in the pan and on the plate.  I couldn’t wait to open the cover and read the recipe.  After I had read that recipe, I continued on through the entrees, vegetables and sides, and delectable looking desserts.

All of the recipes looked delicious, but I was drawn to the idea of making my family’s favorite cinnamon rolls in our own cast iron skillet before diving in and trying a new recipe.  I wondered if using my favorite pan would make any difference in the cinnamon rolls I was planning to serve for dinner.

After the first bite, my family proclaimed that these were the most delicious cinnamon rolls that I had ever made.  As dinner went on, so did their happy comments.  By the time the last bite had been enjoyed, they were all inquiring about when I would be making these Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Caramel Sauce again.

I promised that I would make this recipe again soon.  I want to share the recipe with you first so that you can make them yourself.  These cinnamon rolls are delicious and sure to delight your friends and family.

The giveaway that accompanies the recipe is also sure to make one lucky reader’s day!  When Sasquatch Books offered to send a copy of The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook to one of our readers, I decided to invite a few of my favorite products to join in the fun.  I can’t wait to share them with you.

The Mind to Homestead added a handmade crocheted cast iron skillet handle cozy made from a pattern that they offer in their Etsy shopCoffee on the Porch contributed a generous three pounds of their delicious, small batch roasted coffeeGrandparentsPlus2 contributed a handmade, quilted mug rug perfect for resting your coffee cup on.   The winner will also receive an 1840 Farm fabric coiled 8 inch trivet from The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy that we made to coordinate with the skillet handle cozy.

I hope that you’ll enjoy making these cinnamon rolls and that you’ll take a moment to enter to win our fabulous prize package.  The giveaway is open to residents of the United States.  Entries will be accepted until midnight on Tuesday, January 28th.  One winner will be randomly selected using Random.org and notified via Email.  Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
serves 4-6

I like to use our WonderMill to mill our own organic, non-GMO flour for this recipe, but there’s no need to pass up making these rolls if you don’t have the ability to mill your own flour. You can substitute high quality whole wheat flour or All-purpose flour. 

I find that adding Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer helps to create lighter dough and improve the overall texture of the rolls.  If you don’t have it on hand, you can simply omit it from the recipe.  The resulting recipe will still be absolutely delicious. You can learn more about the dough enhancer in my recipe for our Farmhouse Country Loaf.

Dough
¼ cup (2 ounces) warm water
1 Tablespoon (20 grams) molasses
1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
¼ cup (2 ounces) warm milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (240 grams) All-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, cut into small cubes

Bourbon Caramel Sauce
½ cup (96 grams) brown sugar
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon bourbon

Filling
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, softened
¼ cup (48 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (48 grams) brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.  If you don’t have a proofer, you can provide the dough with a warm, draft free location to rise.  Additional time may be necessary for the dough to rise sufficiently, but the cinnamon rolls will taste equally delicious.

In a large bowl, combine the warm water and molasses, stirring to dissolve the molasses.  Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and set aside to bloom as you measure the dry ingredients, approximately five minutes.

Measure and combine the flour, dough enhancer, and salt in a bowl.  Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients and evenly distribute the salt throughout the flour.

When the five minutes have elapsed, whisk the liquid ingredients and then add the warm milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk until the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Add the dry ingredients in one addition to the yeast mixture.  Use a dough hook on a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, mix until a shaggy dough forms.  If you are using a stand mixer, continue to mix the dough on the lowest setting for 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms before beginning to add the butter slowly.  Add the butter a piece at a time, allowing the mixer to work the dough between each addition.  Continue to mix until all of the butter is incorporated into the dough.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been brushed with butter or oil.  Place the dough in the warm proofer or a draft free spot to rest and rise for approximately 60 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead lightly before returning the dough to the bowl to rise for another 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

As the dough is rising for a second time, prepare the bourbon caramel sauce.  Add the brown sugar, butter, honey, maple syrup, and bourbon to an 8 inch or 10 inch cast iron skillet.  Place the skillet over medium high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, approximately five minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the caramel to cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon for the filling.  Ideally, the butter should be soft enough to spread across the dough easily without stretching the dough.  If it needs a bit of encouragement, a fork can be used to mash it onto a plate before rolling out the dough.

When the dough has risen sufficiently, transfer it to a floured surface.  Lightly flour the surface of the dough before using a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle approximately 18 by 12 inches in size.

Using a pastry brush or your hands, brush away any excess flour from the surface of the dough.  Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter.  Begin rolling the dough from one long side of the rectangle to the other, forming a tight tube and brushing away excess flour as you roll.

Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into rolls approximately 1 ½ inches in width.  Gently transfer the individual rolls to the cast iron skillet, placing each one cut side down on top of the bourbon caramel sauce.  Continue until all of the rolls are evenly spaced within the skillet.

Place the skillet in preheated bread proofer or a warm, draft free location to rise for another 30-60 minutes or until the rolls have expanded to fill the pan.  As the rolls rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.  Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned and slightly firm.  Remove the skillet from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes.  Using oven mitts and a healthy dose of caution, carefully cover the skillet with a larger plate or pan and turn the skillet to release the cinnamon rolls.

Remove the cast iron skillet, scraping any caramel from the pan.  The bourbon caramel sauce will now be on the top surface of the rolls.  Serve the rolls while still warm and enjoy every last bite!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2014/01/cast-iron-skillet-cinnamon-rolls-with-bourbon-caramel-sauce/

The 1840 Farm Daily Loaf

This loaf is the daily, go to homemade bread here at 1840 Farm.  We begin almost every morning with slices of this delicious bread lightly toasted, buttered, and topped with our favorite homemade preserves or local honey.  For dinner, a thick slice of this loaf makes the perfect base for savory open faced sandwiches.  When topped with our savory Heirloom Smoky Tomato or Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam, a bit of melted cheese, and a sunny side up egg gathered fresh from our coop, it’s a dinner that the whole family is happy to see served at our farmhouse table.

This bread dough is simple to prepare, making it a lovely introduction to bread baking for a beginning bread baker.  The dough is sturdy and elastic, responding very well to kneading by hand or with a dough hook on a stand mixer. Whether you are a novice or accomplished bread baker, I hope that you will give this loaf a try and share it with your family.


These are the tools and ingredients that I use to create this loaf in our kitchen.  Clicking on the links will take you to exterior sites in order for you to learn more about each product. Some of these links are of the affiliate variety. Those links have not influenced my honest opinion or recommendation of these products.

 



1840 Farm Daily Loaf
makes 2 loaves

I like to mill our own organic, non-GMO flour to use in this recipe.  There’s no need to pass up trying this recipe if you don’t have the ability to mill your own flour. You can substitute high quality whole wheat flour and All-purpose flour.  I like to include Simply Omega-3 ground flaxseed in this loaf to add a boost of nutrition and a slightly nutty, earthy flavor to the finished loaf.  You could substitute ground flax or wheat germ if you prefer or omit it from the recipe.

I find that adding Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer helps to extend the shelf life of my homemade loaves by several days, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can omit it from the recipe.  The resulting loaf will still be delicious, but the texture will be slightly more dense and the shelf life will be several days shorter.  You can learn more about the dough enhancer on my recipe for our Farmhouse Country Loaf.

2 cups (16 ounces) warm water
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup (6 ounces) plain or vanilla yogurt
3 1/2 cups (420 grams) whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups (420 grams) All-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Grandma Eloise Dough Enhancer
1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 Tablespoon Simply Omega-3 flax seed
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Melted butter for brushing the finished loaves if desired

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, combine the warm water and honey, stirring to dissolve the honey.  Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and set aside to bloom as you measure the dry ingredients, approximately five minutes.

Measure and combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients and evenly distribute them throughout the flour.  When the five minutes have elapsed, stir the liquid ingredients and then add the yogurt.  Mix until the yogurt is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Add the dry ingredients in one addition to the yeast mixture.  Using a dough hook on a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, mix until a shaggy dough forms.  If you are using a stand mixer, continue to mix the dough on the lowest setting for 5-10 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms before turning it out onto a floured surface and kneading by hand until it passes the windowpane test.

If you are mixing the dough by hand, turn the shaggy dough out onto a floured surface or dough mat.  Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, until it passes the windowpane test, approximately ten minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it is ready to be shaped into loaves, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, form the dough into a ball and allow it to rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes.  After the dough has rested, divide the dough into two even balls.  Shape each ball into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan.

Using a sharp knife, make several slits in the surface of the loaf.  Scoring the loaf will allow the dough to rise and bake evenly without breaking the beautiful top crust.  Set the loaves aside to rise in a proofing chamber or a warm, draft free location.  Allow the loaves to rise until they have reached a height of approximately one inch above the top edge of the loaf pans.  Using my dough proofer, this takes about one hour.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to put it to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.

Once the loaf has risen sufficiently and the oven has reached temperature, transfer the loaves to the oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning at the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaves are fully baked, they will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove the fully baked loaves from their pans to a wire rack. Top the loaves with melted butter if desired and  alow them to cool completely before slicing or storing.

Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.  You can also learn more about My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients and share your own with me.


This recipe is part of The Bread Baker’s Series, a collaborative series of posts from Kitchen Kneads and 1840Farm.  It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series. Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series. If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/12/the-1840-farm-daily-loaf/

My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients

I love everything about making bread from reading about it in my favorite cookbooks to milling the fresh flour and making a beautiful loaf to share with my family. I also love to write about bread in our Bread Baker’s Series, sharing recipes and techniques for making delicious loaves of artisan bread at home in your own kitchen.

I am often asked by readers about the equipment and tools that I use here at 1840 Farm. The products in the gallery below are the same models that we use every time we make a loaf of bread here in our farmhouse kitchen. I know firsthand that they are of the highest quality and will help you to turn out beautiful loaves to serve at your family table.

Do you have a favorite bread baking tool or specialty ingredient to share?  I would love to learn more about them, so please leave me a comment.  I’m always looking for new ways to improve my bread baking skills and would love to hear more about your favorite products.

I have provided these links to enable you to learn more about the tools and specialty ingredients that I personally use here at 1840 Farm. These links will transfer you to exterior sites in order for you to learn more about each product. Some of these links are of the affiliate variety. Those links have not influenced my honest opinion or recommendation of these products.

 

My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients

 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/12/my-favorite-bread-baking-tools-and-ingredients/

Cinnamon Babka

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the holiday season at your family breakfast table, look no further.  You simply can’t do better than homemade Cinnamon Babka.  While I have made this loaf innumerable times, my family still gets excited at the promise of a loaf of Cinnamon Babka on our breakfast menu.

Babka is a European delicacy and seems to be made in as many different versions as there are countries in Europe.  References to Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark, and Israel are abundant.  Different fillings are used and different shapes are made of the finished loaves.  You’ll even find it called Baba in some countries.

No matter the geography where it is found, this is a bread used to celebrate holidays and mark special occasions.  Once you have tasted it, you’ll understand why.

I can’t claim that this is a truly authentic version of Babka. I can promise you that it is delicious and sure to please the family and friends gathered around your holiday table.

 


These are the tools that I used to create this loaf in our kitchen.  I have provided these links to enable you to learn more about the tools and specialty ingredients that I personally use on a daily basis.  These links will take you to exterior sites in order for you to learn more about each product.  Some of these links are of the affiliate variety.  Those links have not influenced my honest opinion or recommendation of these products.


Cinnamon Babka
makes one standard sized loaf

I like to use my stand mixer to work this dough.  I find that it does a wonderful job of incorporating the butter evenly.  While I use freshly milled whole wheat flour, you can substitute a high quality store brand of flour if you don’t have access to a mill.  If you don’t have Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer or vital wheat gluten, you can omit it from the recipe.  The resulting loaf will still be delicious, but the texture will be slightly more dense and the shelf life will be several days shorter. Cinnamon is my favorite Babka filling, but fresh preserves or chocolate ganache can be substituted with equally delicious results.

DOUGH
1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
1 Tablespoon honey
1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (150 grams) Whole Wheat flour
1 1/4 cup (150 grams) All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Grandma Eloise Dough Enhancer
1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten
6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, cut into small cubes
FILLING
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) softened butter
1/2 cup (96 grams) brown sugar

If you are using a dough proofer, which I highly recommend, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, combine the warm water and honey.  Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and allow to rest for approximately five minutes as you assemble and measure the dry ingredients.

After five minutes have passed, add the egg, vanilla extract, and salt to the bowl with the yeast and whisk gently to combine thoroughly.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir to form a shaggy dough using the dough hook on a stand mixer.

Continue to mix the dough until it begins to transform into a smooth ball of dough and pull away from the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer running, begin to add the small cubes of butter individually and slowly, allowing each cube to be smashed against the side of the bowl by the dough before the dough seems to absorb the butter.  Should the dough break, or fall apart, during this process, don’t panic.  Simply stop adding butter and allow the machine to knead the dough until it is again a smooth, elastic ball of dough.  Add the cubes of butter until they have all been incorporated.  Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.  If you prefer, you can perform the final kneading by hand.  At the end of kneading, the dough should pass the windowpane test.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it is ready to be shaped into loaves, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, form the dough into a ball and place it in a large, lightly oiled bowl.  Place this bowl in your proofer or another warm, draft free spot in your kitchen.  Allow the dough to rest and rise for approximately one hour.  To determine if the dough is ready to proceed, simply poke your finger into the dough until it touches the bottom of the bowl.  Remove your finger and observe the ball of dough.  The indentation made by your finger should remain.  If it does, proceed to the next step.  If not, allow the dough to rest and rise for another 30 minutes before attempting this test again.

In a small bowl, combine the softened butter and cinnamon.  Stir to make a smooth paste.  Measure the brown sugar and set aside.  Prepare a loaf pan by applying a thin coat of butter, oil, or pan spray.

When the dough is ready, place it on a dough mat or a lightly floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that is approximately 10 x 20 inches in size.  Using an offset spatula, gently spread the cinnamon butter over the surface of the dough taking care not to stretch or tear the underlying dough.  Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the cinnamon butter.

 Using both hands, begin to roll the dough from the long side, keeping the dough taught.  If you have ever rolled a batch of cinnamon rolls, this is the same technique.  Continue to roll the dough and filling, keeping the roll as tight as possible.

Once the dough is in an even roll, form it into an “s” shape.  Using your hands, roll this “s” towards you, pressing the dough together.  Pick up the ends of the roll and twist the dough several times before placing it in the prepared loaf pan.  Place the pan in your proofer or warm, draft free location.  Allow the bread to rise until it is approximately 1 inch above than the sides of the pan.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone and oven thermometer, this is a great time to put them to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.  An oven thermometer allows me to ensure that my oven is heating to and holding the correct temperature.

Once the loaf has risen sufficiently and the oven has reached temperature, transfer the loaf to the oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning at the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaf is fully baked, it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and the surface of the loaf will be an even golden brown.  Remove the fully baked loaf from the oven to a wire rack.    Allow the loaf to cool for ten to fifteen minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely before storing in a plastic bag or container.

Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.


This recipe is part of The Bread Baker’s Series, a collaborative series of posts from Kitchen Kneads and 1840Farm.  It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series. Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series. If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/11/cinnamon-babka/

Oatmeal Bread

I first made a version of this recipe back in the 1990s. In March of 1995, a recipe for Oatmeal Bread from Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont appeared in Gourmet Magazine.   Gourmet was my source for culinary inspiration and I decided immediately after seeing this recipe that I would give it a try.

At the time, we called Kansas home, but I was drawn to all things New England given my fond memories of time spent in New Hampshire with my Mom visiting my Great Grandparent’s home in the White Mountains.  Fast forward to the present and we have been living in New England for over a decade.  I have even been fortunate enough to enjoy la meal at the Trapp Family Lodge while visiting Stowe.

So many years have passed, but we still enjoy this bread recipe just as much.  I have made a few changes to the original recipe over the years.  Some of them are subtle like my addition of vital wheat gluten and dough enhancer to lighten the final loaf.

A few other changes are more recent and significant.  They both involve the use of our WonderMill.  Lately, I have been including our own freshly milled organic, non-GMO whole wheat flour and oat flour when making this bread.  The resulting loaves have a lovely rich, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness from the oat flour.

I am always amazed when a recipe can hold our attention through the years.  This one certainly has and it is a permanent fixture in our homemade bread rotation.  I can’t predict what the next decade holds for me or my recipe collection, but I am willing to bet that I’ll be making this bread in 2023!

Oatmeal Bread
Adapted from Oatmeal Bread Trapp Family Lodge from Gourmet Magazine, March 1995
makes 2 loaves

There’s no need to pass up this recipe if you don’t have the ability to mill your own flour.  I made these loaves for years using store bought flour with excellent results.  You can substitute high quality whole wheat flour and  for both the whole wheat flour and increase the All-purpose flour by 1/2 cup as a replacement for the oat flour.  If you don’t have Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer, you can omit it from the recipe.  The resulting loaf will still be delicious, but the texture will be slightly more dense and the shelf life will be several days shorter.  You can learn more about the dough enhancer on my recipe for our Farmhouse Country Loaf.

1/2 stick (2 ounces) butter, melted
1/4 cup (48 grams) brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) old fashioned oats
2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) warm water
5 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
1 cup (60 grams) oat flour
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups (300 grams)All-purpose or bread flour
4 teaspoons Grandma Eloise Dough Enhancer
2 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
beaten egg or melted butter for brushing the dough if desired

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, oats, and hot water.  Mix to combine.  Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and set aside for five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients.  When the five minutes have elapsed, stir the liquid ingredients and then add the dry ingredients in one addition.  Mix using a spoon or clean hands until a shaggy dough forms.

Remove the ball of shaggy dough from the bowl to a floured surface.  Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary, until it passes the windowpane test, approximately ten minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it is ready to be shaped into loaves, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, form the dough into a ball and allow it to rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes.  After the dough has rested, divide the dough into two even balls.  Shape each ball into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan. If desired, brush the top of each loaf with a little beaten egg or melted butter.  A few oats can be sprinkled on top to garnish the finished loaf.

Using a sharp knife, make several slits in the surface of the loaf.  Scoring the loaf will allow the dough to rise and bake evenly without breaking the beautiful top crust.  Set the loaves aside to rise in a proofing chamber or a warm, draft free location.  Allow the loaves to rise until they have reached a height of approximately one inch above the top edge of the loaf pans.  Using my dough proofer, this takes about one hour.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to put it to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.

Once the loaf has risen sufficiently and the oven has reached temperature, transfer the loaves to the oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning at the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaves are fully baked, they will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove the fully baked loaves from their pans to a wire rack.    Allow them to cool completely before slicing or storing.

Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.


This recipe is part of The Bread Baker’s Series, a collaborative series of posts from Kitchen Kneads and 1840Farm.  It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series. Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series. If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/10/oatmeal-bread/

Wholegrain Buttermilk Biscuits

Fall is in the air here at 1840 Farm and another homeschooling semester is underway.  This year, one of our homeschooling goals is to spend more time together in the kitchen baking and cooking.  We’ll be learning the basics and adding in a few family and holiday favorites for good measure.  We’ll also be sharing many of the recipes and techniques with you so that you can try them in your kitchen.

I decided to start with a simple recipe and a bit of kitchen science for good measure.  So, we gathered around our kitchen table to learn more about baking soda and baking powder.  You can learn all about the subject by reading my post:  Kitchen Science:  Baking Soda vs Baking Powder.

In my opinion, few recipes highlight baking powder in the way that a great homemade biscuit does, so we started gathering our ingredients and preparing to make a batch of buttermilk biscuits from scratch.  In moments, we had our ingredients and tools.  We were ready to mill a batch of organic, non-GMO flour, make our own baking powder, and finish the biscuits by using a biscuit cutter that had been passed down from my Great Grandmother.

 First, we milled a batch of whole wheat flour using our WonderMill.  If you don’t mill your own flour, a high quality whole wheat flour can be substituted or you can use All-purpose flour if you prefer.  We mixed up enough fresh baking powder for each child to make their own batch of biscuits and started weighing our ingredients.

Then it was time to mix up the dough and break out our rolling pins.  We talked while we rolled out the dough.  We couldn’t help but discuss the generations of our family that had come before us as we used a biscuit cutter that showed signs of wear from its decades of use.  I watched them fill with pride as they gently transferred each round of biscuit dough to the baking pan.

That evening, we gathered around our family table and enjoyed the biscuits as the centerpiece of our meal.  They were delicious used as the bread for our heirloom Green Zebra Tomato BLT sandwiches.  They had a light, flaky texture that was just as delicious when enjoyed for breakfast the next morning, warm with a pat of butter and drizzle of our own maple syrup.

These biscuits were so popular that we have already enjoyed them a second time.  I’m quite certain that we’ll be making them again soon.  I hope that your family will enjoy them as much as mine did.

Buttermilk Biscuits
makes 8 biscuits

The key to making a light, flaky biscuit is to mix the dough enough to break the butter into very small pieces without mixing it so much as to develop the gluten in the flour.  Don’t worry, there’s a simple trick to ensuring that you achieve that state consistently when making biscuits.  Simply grate the butter before adding it to the dry ingredients.  While it may sound unconventional, grating the butter makes all the difference.  The butter will be in small shards and easily distributed through the dry ingredients with little effort.

Take care not to over flour the dough while rolling.  Too much flour will create a dry, heavy biscuit.  I like to use a seasoned french rolling pin or silicone covered rolling pin and rolling mat when making biscuits.  Both are less likely to need excess flour in order to prevent sticking.

1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (120 grams) All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons baking powder
6 Tablespoons butter, grated
3/4 cup (6 ounces) buttermilk

In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, and baking powder..  Use your dry fingers or a whisk to combine the dry ingredients before adding the grated butter to the bowl.  Using your fingers, gently toss the grated butter and the dry ingredients until the small shards of butter are evenly distributed through the dry ingredients..

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients before adding the buttermilk all at once.  Use a spoon or your hands to mix the dry ingredients into the buttermilk.  Continue to mix until the dry and wet ingredients are fully combined .Take care not to overmix, stopping as soon as the dough is evenly moist.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Add a sprinkling of flour to the top of the dough and pat into a rectangular shape.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 1/2 inch thick. Fold the top third down to the middle of the dough.  Fold the bottom third up to the middle of the dough.  Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll until 1/2 inch thick.  Repeat this folding and turning two more times.  The folding and turning will help to create buttery layers in the dough and yield a very flaky biscuit.

Roll the dough into a final rectangle 1/2 inch thick.  Dip a biscuit cutter in flour and cut out each biscuit, disturbing the dough as little as possible.  Gently transfer each round to a baking tray or pan.

Place the pan of biscuits in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the butter to solidify.  Take any remaining scraps of dough and gently shape into a rectangle before wrapping with plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator.  If allowed to rest, this dough can be rolled and cut into biscuits or pressed into the bottom of a pie pan to serve as the crust for sweet or savory dishes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove the biscuits from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature as the oven preheats.  Transfer the biscuits to the hot oven.  Bake for 12-16 minutes or until lightly browned with a dry exterior.  Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter if desired.  Serve warm.

Related Posts

  • 70
    Have you ever been in the midst of mixing together the ingredients for a recipe only to find that you are missing a vital component?  I'm sorry to say that I have on more than one occasion.  In fact, a few weeks ago, I discovered that the can of baking powder in our pantry did…
    Tags: baking, powder, recipe, food, farm
  • 50
    I adore fresh pie.  I love to make it as much as I love to enjoy a slice with my family.  One bite of a freshly baked berry pie and I am magically transformed to a time and place deeply imbedded in my childhood.  I simply can’t eat a slice of berry pie without thinking…
    Tags: recipe, food, farm, baking

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/09/wholegrain-buttermilk-biscuits/

The Bread Baker’s Series: Sourdough Bread

Trying my hand at sourdough bread has been on my baking To Do List for years.  Each fall, when my bread baking kicks into high gear, I recommit myself to trying my hand at capturing and using natural yeast to make sourdough starter.  I’ve never managed to actually take the plunge.

I have been armed with the necessary information and equipment.  I’ve got my WonderMill at the ready to make fresh whole wheat flour for the starter.  I also have a 260 page cookbook dedicated to baking with natural leavening.  I’ve just never been ready to completely cast aside my faithful active dry yeast for fear that the resulting loaf of bread would be a disappointment.

Those days are over.  In the coming months, I’ll be trying my hand and nurturing a sourdough starter and baking loaves for my family’s table using natural leavening.  It wasn’t the cookbook that changed my mind, although I plan to use it as a resource as I embark on this journey.

Instead, it was a lovely recipe shared by Kitchen Kneads as part of our Bread Baker’s Series.  Dawn’s recipe for Mouse River Homestead Bread incorporates both a sourdough starter and commercial yeast.  It looks delicious and seems like the perfect recipe for me to finally try making a starter.  I can’t wait to take the first bite of this bread and start planning the next sourdough recipe to try!  Visit Kitchen Kneads for the recipe.


This recipe is part of The Bread Baker’s Series, a collaborative series of posts from Kitchen Kneads and 1840Farm. It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series. Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series. If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/08/the-bread-bakers-series-sourdough-bread/

Farmhouse Country Loaf

I have already admitted to you how much I love to make bread.  I enjoy making the simplest of quick breads to brioche loaves and babkas that require a full day of preparation and baking.  I also enjoy making rustic, everyday loaves.

This farmhouse country loaf is a staple here at 1840 Farm.   It incorporates the fresh eggs and goat’s milk that we collect from the heritage breed hens and Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats each day.  I also use our freshly ground whole wheat flour and corn meal in the dough.  In my opinion, a loaf of homemade bread made with freshly collected eggs, goat’s milk, and home milled grains can proudly wear the name “farmhouse country loaf.”

A few months ago, I had the good fortune to be asked by our sponsor Kitchen Kneads to review a few of their products.  One of them was Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer.   The product promised to help produce a whole wheat loaf with a lighter texture and longer shelf life.  It was hard for me to believe that a mere Tablespoon of the dough enhancer would make much of a difference in a batch of bread dough big enough to produce two loaves.

Yet, I was curious, so I followed the instructions on the package for dough enhancer and made a batch of our farmhouse country loaf dough.  I didn’t make any other changes to the ingredients or technique in order to test the difference the dough enhancer would make in the finished loaf.

To say that I was impressed is an understatement.  The dough enhancer made an incredible difference in the texture of the finished loaf.  The exterior was firm with an interior that was smooth and even.  As far as the shelf life was concerned, one full week later, the loaf was still just as delicious as the day it came out of the oven.

We enjoy this bread for breakfast each morning lightly toasted, topped with a bit of butter and fresh homemade preserves.   The loaf has the wonderful texture that is the hallmark of a wholegrain bread without being too dense.  When toasted, the cornmeal in the loaf delivers a lovely toasty crunch that makes this our favorite way to start our mornings on the farm.

This country farmhouse loaf is my family’s favorite homemade bread recipe.  I hope that you will give it a try and make it yours.

Farmhouse Country Loaf
makes 2 loaves

I like to use freshly ground Hard Winter Wheat flour and home ground cornmeal ground using our WonderMill in this recipe.  If you don’t have access to freshly ground flour or cornmeal, you can substitute high quality whole wheat flour and  cornmeal.  If you don’t have Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer, you can omit it from the recipe.  The resulting loaf will still be delicious, but the texture will be slightly more dense and the shelf life will be several days shorter.

2 cups (240 grams) All-purpose or bread flour
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (120 grams) cornmeal
1 Tablespoon Grandma Eloise Dough Enhancer
4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk
1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) warm water
1 large egg

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients.  Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl or small saucepan, combine the butter, honey, milk, and water.  Heat the mixture until it is warm but not hot.  If you have an instant read thermometer, you can use it to determine the exact temperature.  An ideal temperature for the liquids is between 105° F–115° F.  Stir to combine, ensuring that the honey has been incorporated into the warm liquid.  Add the egg and stir until the liquid is thoroughly combined.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until a dough begins to form.  Remove the ball of shaggy dough from the bowl to a floured surface.  Knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, until it passes the windowpane test, approximately ten minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it is ready to be shaped into loaves, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, divide the dough into two even balls.  Shape each ball into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  Using a sharp knife, make several slits in the surface of the loaf.  Scoring the loaf will allow the dough to rise and bake evenly without breaking the beautiful top crust.  Set aside to rise in a proofing chamber or a warm, draft free location.  Allow the loaves to rise until they have reached a height of an inch above the top edge of the loaf pans.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to put it to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.

Once the loaf has risen sufficiently and the oven has reached temperature, transfer the loaves to the oven.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, turning at the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaves are fully baked, they will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove the fully baked loaves from their pans to a wire rack.  Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter if desired.  Allow them to cool completely before storing.

Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.


This recipe is part of The Bread Baker’s Series, a collaborative series of posts from Kitchen Kneads and 1840Farm.  It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series. Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series. If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/08/farmhouse-country-loaf/

The Bread Baker’s Series: Heidleberg Rye Bread

Kitchen Kneads Heidleberg Rye Bread (Photo courtesy of Kitchen Kneads)

I love rye bread.  The earthy flavor is a wonderful pairing for our homemade strawberry jam for a wholesome breakfast.  I also like to top a lightly toasted slice of rye with herbed, salted butter and a paper-thin slice of radish fresh from the garden.

I have made several loaves of rye bread, but I was never able to perfect the texture.  While the loaves had great flavor, the were much more dense than I hoped for.  Thanks to our Bread Baker’s Series collaboration with Kitchen Kneads, I may have just found the recipe that can help me make a perfect loaf of rye.

I can’t wait to bake up one of these lovely looking loaves in our farmhouse kitchen.  The photo that accompanies the recipe displays exactly the type of texture I was striving for.  Dawn specifically mentions that this loaf is soft and “incredibly moist”.

This recipe is moving to the top of my menu to do list.  I hope that you’ll visit Kitchen Kneads to get the recipe so that you can try it along with me.  While you’re there, you ‘ll learn a few interesting nutrition facts about rye bread.  Here’s a hint:  rye bread isn’t just delicious, it’s also packed with nutrition.


It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series.  Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series.  If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/08/the-bread-bakers-series-heidleberg-rye-bread/

Perfecting a Homemade Loaf of Bread

I have already admitted how much I love to make bread.  There’s nothing about bread baking that I don’t enjoy. I love mixing freshly milled flour, yeast, and water to begin the process of making a loaf to serve at our family table.  Moments later, I feel the cares of the world melt away as I knead the shaggy dough into a smooth, elastic ball.

Sadly, home bread baking can also include disappointment.  I have made my share of homemade loaves that failed to deliver the uniform crumb and crust that I hoped for.  I have felt the heartbreak that comes from removing a leaden loaf from the oven after smelling the intoxicating scent as it bakes.

As the delicious smell of baking bread fills our farmhouse, I am always hopeful that the resulting loaf will be beautiful and delicious.  Perhaps the culinary anticipation makes a subpar loaf all the more disappointing.  I am happy to report that more often than not, the loaves that emerge from our oven are beautiful and delicious.  Yet, on occasion, a loaf falls far short on one or sadly, both of those goals.

When that happens, I am left looking for answers.  I attempt to pinpoint a reason why the loaf fell short of my expectations.  My search is in the hopes of learning something from the experience.  If I can determine where things went wrong, then I can use that knowledge to try and prevent it from happening when I bake the next loaf.

Avoiding those bread baking disappointments just got much easier thanks to Kitchen Kneads, our partner in the ongoing Bread Baker’s Series.  They have just published an amazing post that details the most common bread baking challenges.  More importantly, the post offers simple solutions to these challenges so that we can all do our best to avoid them.

You’ll want to pin, bookmark, or print their  How to Make a Perfect Loaf of 100% Wheat Bread post.  While you’re at it, don’t miss the link to their Easy 100% Whole Wheat Bread in 90 Minutes.  I tested the recipe here in the kitchen at 1840 Farm.  It was simple to make and delicious to eat.  It requires no kneading or shaping, making it the perfect starter loaf for those of you who are just beginning on your breadmaking journey.  The recipe is also ideally suited for those of us who wish we could make fresh bread more often but struggle to find the time in our busy days to do so.

The Bread Baker’s Series is just getting started.  There are many more recipes, tips, tools, and techniques to come in future posts.  At 1840 Farm, we’re proud to be collaborating with Kitchen Kneads on this series and learning from their years of experience supplying bakers with the best products and ingredients for ensuring bread baking success.

It’s easy to make sure that you don’t miss a single post in The Bread Baker’s Series.  Subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter or join The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Be sure to subscribe to Kitchen Kneads Email updates and follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

By following Kitchen Kneads and 1840 Farm, you’ll be the first to see each post in our collaborative Bread Baker’s Series.  If you have a great bread baking tip or recipe to share, we invite you to leave a comment and add your voice to the conversation!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/07/perfecting-a-homemade-loaf-of-bread/

The Bread Baker’s Series

I love to bake bread. I enjoy the process of mixing the individual ingredients and using my hands to transform it into an elastic, smooth dough. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when the risen loaves are transferred to the oven and begin to fill the farmhouse with the unmistakable scent of fresh baking bread.

My grandmothers were both bread bakers.  Perhaps that fact has something to do with my love for baking fresh bread.  While they were both accomplished bread bakers, they each had their own unique style.

My paternal grandmother baked bread out of necessity. With nine children to feed and a farmer’s budget to consider, baking her own bread was the best option. She was a baker of the artisan style. She didn’t weigh ingredients and didn’t need to. There was no recipe to consult or cookbook to draw from. Instead, her instincts told her when to add more flour and when to brush the excess aside. She believed in doing everything by hand, kneading each batch until her hands told her that it was perfect. Watching her mix, knead, and bake bread was like watching an oil painting take shape. It was pure art.

My maternal grandmother became a bread baker later in life. She baked bread for the pure pleasure of sharing a fresh loaf with her family.  Friday was bread baking day and we were always eager to see what type of bread she had made for us. She was a baker of the scientific method. She weighed everything meticulously and followed instructions to the letter. She chose to use a bread machine to produce her loaves. She made notes regarding each loaf, adjusting the recipe each time she made it until it was perfect.

I tend to fall somewhere in between them on the bread baking scale. I do weigh my ingredients in order to ensure a well-made loaf and to correctly calculate the carbohydrates in each recipe. I’m the first bread baker in my family to be pairing insulin boluses with bread slices for my child.  For me, measuring and precision are an integral part of the bread baking experience.

Yet I do love to experiment in the kitchen.  So, when our sponsor Kitchen Kneads offered to send me a few tools of the trade to evaluate, I jumped at the chance.  I’m always looking for new ways to improve my bread baking skills and this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do so.

When the products arrived, I got busy baking.  Then I got busy thinking as I often do when kneading a batch of bread dough.  What if I worked with Kitchen Kneads to share a whole series of bread baking posts with you?  Together, we could share tips, tricks, and recipes to help us all become better bread bakers.

Whether you are an accomplished bread baker or an aspiring one, I hope that you’ll join us to learn more about bread baking.  I also hope that you’ll share your best bread baking tips, biggest challenges and frustrations, and favorite recipes right here.  If you have a bread baking question or challenge, please leave a comment.  I’ll do my best to include each of them in the series.

The Bread Baker’s Series is a creative collaboration between 1840 Farm and Kitchen Kneads.  To make sure that you don’t miss any of the posts in The Bread Baker’s Series, subscribe to our posts via Email and become a member of The 1840 Farm Community on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can also follow the Kitchen Kneads blog via Email, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/06/the-bread-bakers-series/

The Best Way to Store Fresh Bread

cropped-BlogHeader.jpg

When I mentioned a few days ago on our Facebook page that the best way to store fresh bread was in a cloth bag, I had no idea that so many of my readers would ask the logical question:  “why?”  When I started to type the short answer, I realized something.  There is no short answer.

Instead, there are several reasons why I believe that fabric provides the most hospitable environment for freshly baked bread.  Those reasons are altogether simple and complex.  The reason for my initial statement was the simplest of all:  my friend Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily had decided to treat me to one of her beautiful handmade linen bread bags.

A few weeks ago, we had been discussing the impending winter.  While neither of us was happy to accept that we would soon need snow boots to travel out to our coops and barns, we were both looking forward to a few cold weather pastimes.  One of those was baking fresh homemade bread.

I enjoy making bread, especially during the winter months.  During the long, cold winter here in New England I don’t need much encouragement to turn the oven on and commit to baking something for an hour or more.  Bread provides me with the perfect excuse to do just that.  Add in that it also provides fresh bread for my family to enjoy and you can see why I look forward to my cold weather bread baking.

I have been baking bread for my family for over a decade.  During that time, I’ve learned a few tricks, had a few failures, and developed several family favorite recipes.  I’ve also learned a thing or two about how to store fresh bread in order to preserve its texture and extend its shelf life.

There are several ways to store fresh bread.  There are also several decisions to make before doing so.  The first decision involves the use of refrigeration.  While it seems logical that fresh food will remain fresh longer if kept in the refrigerator, bread should always be kept at room temperature.

Obviously, the spoiling process occurs much more quickly in a loaf of fresh bread.  Whether it is of the homemade variety or purchased from a local bakery, these loaves typically do not contain preservatives.  Without preservatives to slow down the process, it doesn’t take long for the fresh bread to spoil.

In spite of this, bread should not be stored in the refrigerator.  The cold environment in the refrigerator will dry out the bread and ruin its texture inside and out.  In fact, a process called retrogradation takes place when bread is stored in the refrigerator.  Retrogradation is the term used to describe the crystallization of the starch molecules in bread or other baked goods.  This transformation is six times more likely to happen at refrigerated temperatures versus room temperature.

While the risk of molding is greater in a loaf of bread held at room temperature over a few days, refrigeration for a few hours can completely destroy the crust and crumb of a loaf.  When this information is taken into consideration, it seems obvious that fresh bread that will be eaten quickly should be stored at room temperature.

If you find yourself with fresh bread that will not be consumed in a day or two, fresh bread can also be frozen.  Frozen loaves should be allowed to thaw at room temperature and reheated briefly in a warm oven.  The warmth of the oven will help to liquefy the starch crystals within the bread and help to return its crust and interior to its original texture.

Now that we understand where we should keep our bread for both short term and long term storage, it’s time to decide what to store the fresh bread in.  Our best options include bags made from plastic, paper, or cloth.  Each material serves a different purpose and results in a different outcome for the loaf of bread inside.

First, let’s start with plastic.  I can’t help but think of sandwich bread when picturing a loaf stored inside a plastic bag.  There’s a perfectly good reason that sandwich bread is so closely associated with its plastic bag storage.  Soft sandwich bread and its plastic bag are a perfect match.  The plastic bag serves two purposes with regard to the spongy textured sandwich bread.

Because the plastic does not breathe or allow for the passage of air in or out of the bag, the loaf inside tends to resist drying out.  This helps to maintain the loaf’s soft texture.  During the natural process of trace amounts of moisture dissipating from the loaf, that moisture is actually trapped inside the plastic bag.  Therefore, at least some of that moisture is returned to the loaf, helping to keep it soft.

For sandwich bread, a soft crust and spongy interior are both admirable traits.  For a fresh loaf of crusty Italian bread or a French baguette, it is a disaster waiting to happen.  The same trapped moisture that keeps the sandwich bread moist destroys the crispy texture of the bread’s crust. Ironically, as the crust softens and overly chewy

Baguette or crusty loaves are better suited to storage in paper or cloth bags.  Both of these offer an environment that allows the dissipating moisture to exit.  While the bread will eventually become stale, the texture of both the exterior and interior will stand a much better chance of lasting a day or two.

Between paper and cloth, cloth is the clear choice for me. In my experience, loaves stored in paper tend to dry out more quickly than those stored in a cloth.  In fact, before I received a linen cloth bread bag from Lisa, I sometimes kept bread wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.  I think that you’ll agree that her beautiful bread bag is a bit more stylish.

In the end, great bread isn’t meant to be kept long term.  It’s meant to be enjoyed as soon as you bring it home.  The Europeans are far ahead of us on this tradition.  They view day old bread as a component for soups, bread puddings, croutons, and bread crumbs.  Day old bread is the very reason that Panzanella was born.  What better way to utilize slightly stale bread than by allowing it to absorb the delicious flavors of tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and vinegar?

Of course, I am speaking of Europeans who live in urban cities and can walk to any of a number of bakeries that produce delicious breads that can be purchased and enjoyed daily.  I don’t have that luxury, so I try to keep a loaf or two in the freezer and store today’s fresh bread in a cloth bag for tomorrow.  If I store it well, I have the option to warm it slightly in the oven and serve bread that is still delicious.  Of course, if it’s heirloom tomato season, I just might make Panzanella.

Now that you know how to store fresh bread, you need a good recipe for a homemade loaf and a fabric bread bag to store it in.  You can see the recipes from our Bread Baker’s Series and browse the selection of bread bags from Fresh Eggs Daily.

If you’d like to learn more about My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients, visit my post.  You can also leave me a comment and introduce me to your favorites.



To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/10/the-best-way-to-store-fresh-bread/

Older posts «