Tag Archive: bread

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/

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/

Winter Bread Baking

I love to bake bread. I enjoy the entire process from mixing and kneading the dough to baking the finished loaf.  While the bread bakes in the oven, the entire farmhouse takes on the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread.

During the long New England winter, it can be a challenge to make fresh bread here at 1840 Farm.  We really do reside in a farmhouse that dates back to the 1840s.  We love its charm and character.  We have learned to accept its drafty kitchen.  I have refused to accept that it takes hours to allow bread dough to rise in our kitchen during the winter.

When it comes to bread baking, a drafty, chilly kitchen can be a game changer.  Fresh dough needs warmth and moisture in order to rise properly.  For this reason, bread bakeries invest in high tech proofing cabinets.

These cabinets perfectly regulate both the temperature and humidity to encourage fresh bread dough to rise.  I don’t have a proofing cabinet, but I was relatively certain that I could simulate one.  It was time to do a little experimenting.

First, I attempted to leave the bread to rise while resting atop one of our pellet stoves as it ran to heat the house.  The temperature on top of the stove was barely higher than the rest of the room and there was no moisture to speak of.  My bread dough took nearly as long to rise in this location as it did sitting on the kitchen counter.

My second idea was to warm my oven slightly before turning it off and allowing the bread to rest inside to rise.  This technique was more successful.  I was forced to decide between removing the loaf from the oven while preheating it to the proper baking temperature or leaving the loaf inside while the oven heated.  I was still looking for a better option.

I found the answer a few steps away from the oven.  It was time to see what kind of environment I could create inside our microwave.  I placed a Pyrex, microwave safe two cup measuring cup filled with water in the microwave.  I warmed the water until it was boiling before swiftly opening the door and placing the pan of dough in the microwave with the hot water.

I quickly closed the microwave door, trapping the warmth and moisture inside with the fresh dough.  In less than an hour, I cautiously opened the door to survey the results.  To my great delight, I found dough that had risen to the height of its pan.  It was glistening with moisture on its surface and ready to be transferred to the preheated oven.

It’s been years since I discovered this technique and I can’t imagine how many times I have used it since then.  Even in the summer, I find that dough rises more steadily and predictably while in the microwave.

Don’t take my word for it.  Instead, take a look at a side by side comparison of a recent loaf of bread before and after its time in my microwave proofing chamber.

    

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/01/winter-bread-baking/

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls at 1840 FarmFor the last few weeks, I have been trying to find inspiration for a new bread recipe to share during the Farm Chick Chit Chat Bread Bake Off.  I have several bread recipes in my collection, but I wanted to create a new recipe to share.

I didn’t have to wait long for inspiration to strike.  Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily mentioned that she had made a delicious cast iron skillet bread and shared a photo.  As soon as I saw her beautiful loaf, I knew that I wanted to try her recipe for myself.  I had a feeling that it just might help point me in the direction of that new bread recipe I was hoping for.

A few hours later, I was in our farmhouse kitchen with my two children surrounded by the ingredients to make her Cast Iron Pan Cloverleaf French Bread.  We modified the recipe slightly to fit the ingredients we had on hand and the pan that we were using.  As it baked in the oven, the whole house took on the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked bread.

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls at 1840 FarmThe loaf was delicious.  It garnered rave reviews from everyone gathered around our table that night and the following evening.  In fact, it was such a hit that we made it again, this time arranging individual portions of dough in the pan to resemble a sunflower shape.

Then the idea for my new recipe finally came to me.  I wondered if I could take the recipe and transform it into a skillet full of cinnamon rolls.  There was only one way to find out.  It was time to head back into the kitchen.

We baked the rolls on Saturday evening and then warmed them in the oven on Sunday morning.  We added a drizzle of vanilla icing to the warm rolls right before serving.

I am happy to report that the cinnamon rolls were a hit with the whole family.  They are sure to become a regular feature on our weekend breakfast table.

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls
serves 6

This is a fantastic recipe to make with children or a bread baking novice.  Kneading the small portions of dough is easy to master.  By the time you have kneaded and formed twelve rolls, you will have mastered both techniques!

12 ounces warm water
1 teaspoon honey
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups (480 grams) all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (144 grams) dark brown sugar

1 Tablespoon butter, melted
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine water and honey in a large bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over the liquid mixture and allow to rest for five minutes.  At the end of five minutes, the yeast should be foamy.

Add the melted butter and salt to the yeast mixture.  Mix to combine.  Add the flour, mixing until a shaggy dough forms.  Divide the dough into twelve equal portions.

Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter.  Using a pastry brush, butter a 10″ cast iron skillet.  Reserve the remaining butter and set the buttered skillet aside as you prepare the rolls and filling.

Make the cinnamon filling.  In a small bowl, combine 4 Tablespoons melted butter with the ground cinnamon and brown sugar.  Mix until it forms a smooth paste.

On a lightly floured surface, knead each portion of dough until it comes together into a smooth ball.  Set aside and repeat until all twelve portions of dough have been kneaded.

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Using your fingers, gently stretch one ball of dough slightly.  Place 1 Tablespoon of the cinnamon filling on the dough and pull the edges around the filling, pinching them together.  Place this round roll in the middle of the buttered skillet to serve as the center of the flower.

To form the petals, stretch the next ball of dough into an oblong shape.  Add a Tablespoon of filling on the dough before pulling the edges around the filling and pinching them closed.  Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.  Arrange the eleven oblong rolls around the perimeter of the round roll in the center of the pan to look like the petals of the sunflower.

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Brush the top of the rolls with the remaining melted butter used to butter the skillet.  Using a very sharp knife, cut a slit in each roll from the center of the pan outward in order to allow the dough to rise.  Place the skillet in a draft-free place to rise for one hour or until the rolls have risen to the top of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Prepare the icing by combining 1 Tablespoon of melted butter with powdered sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl.  Mix until completely smooth.  Drizzle over the warm cinnamon rolls before serving.

The rolls can be baked a day in advance.  Allow to cool completely before covering the pan with aluminum foil.  Before serving, place the covered skillet in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until warmed through.  Remove the pan from the oven and top with the vanilla icing.  Serve warm.

You can open a printable PDF of this recipe by clicking on the link below.
Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/01/skillet-cinnamon-rolls/

For the Love of Fresh Bread

I love to bake fresh bread for my family.  We eat around food allergies and Type One Diabetes here at 1840 Farm, so bread from the local bakery simply isn’t an option.  Instead, we bake our own and control the ingredients and carbohydrates so that the whole family can safely enjoy great tasting fresh bread.

I have even incorporated bread baking into our homeschooling activities.  We have studied yeast and learned about gluten.  We’ve stood in our farmhouse kitchen making loaves of bread together.  In fact, we’ll be back in the kitchen this afternoon making tomorrow morning’s breakfast loaf.

I want to ensure that both of my children learn to make their own bread.  It’s a family tradition that dates back to my Great grandmother who passed it on to her own daughter.  My Grandmother loved to make fresh bread.  In her later years, she made loaves of bread to share with us every Friday.  We would come home from work and school to discover which recipe she had made and then enjoy the bread all weekend long.

I’m always looking for a few new bread recipes to add to our collection, so I am eagerly anticipating the Farm Chick Chit Chat Bread Bake Off on Tuesday, January 15th.  I’ll sit down at my laptop that morning with my cup of coffee and look through the entire collection before deciding which recipe to try first.

Signup for the Farm Chick Chit Chat Newsletter by visiting our Facebook page and clicking on the “Newsletter Signup” link so that you don’t miss out on the recipes from the Bread Bake Off.  Join in our conversation on Facebook with me and the other contributors and homesteaders.  I’ll hope to see you there!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/01/for-the-love-of-fresh-bread/

The Best Way to Store Fresh Bread

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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.



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

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