Thursday, October 14, 2010

For the Little Red Hen in all of us...Fresh Baked Bread...Recipes and Hints

There's nothing like fall for getting a gal in the mood to bake, is there? And baking bread just seems to be the most delicious idea of all...especially when you have a pot of soup bubbling in the crockpot. At the request of my niece Kara, I am posting 2 of my favorite bread recipes along with a few helpful hints.I like to use my bread maker to do the kneading and the rising of the dough. I don't have alot of arm strength, so kneading dough is not fun and therapeutic for me! Therefore I put all of these ingredients in my bread machine and set it for the dough setting, which takes 90 minutes.

Wheat and Honey Bread

1 and 2/3 cups tepid water
2 t. butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup honey
2 t. salt
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 t. active dry yeast

(Hint: I like to add more fiber and nutrition by substituting about 1/4 cup wheat germ and flax meal [together in the same 1/4 cup] for 1/4 cup of the white flour. Adds beautiful color and a nice nutty flavor.)

Let the bread machine do it's thing. (Hint: check on the bread maker as it mixes. If the corner ingredients don't get mixed in well, help it out with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. And if the dough seems alittle too dry, add a teaspoon of water).

Once the dough cycle has finished, take the dough out onto a pastry cloth dusted with flour or onto waxed paper dusted with flour. I like to cut the dough into 3 equal parts and form 3 cute little artisan-style loaves...oval and not too fat as they will swell when they rise for the last time. Then I take a sharp knife and cut 3-4 diagonal slices about 1/4 inch into the dough. Looks nice! Put the three loaves on a baking stone or on cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper if possible or just greased.) Cover with a clean tea towel and let them rise again til they are nearly double in size. (Hint: if I am in a hurry, I let them rise about 30 minutes then go ahead and bake them knowing they will rise more in the hot oven). Bake at 350 in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. You will know the bread is done when it is browned and when you can tap the top and it sounds a bit hollow. Take out out of the oven and rub a stick of butter over the hot tops. Will give the bread a moist, shiny, buttery appearance and taste! Enjoy one loaf today, freeze a loaf for later if you like, and most importantly, wrap up one loaf to give to a neighbor or friend. :) Homemade bread is a powerful hug and hello to those around us.

#2 Moist Cheddar Bread

1 1/4 cup tepid (room temp) water
2 cups whole wheat flour (if you don't have this, use all white flour)
2 cups white flour (to which I once again substitute about 1/4 cup Wheat Germ and Flax Meal for 1/4 cup of the white flour.)
1 cup shredded cheese
2 T. sugar
1t. salt
1 3/4 t. yeast

Again, layer all of these ingredients in your bread machine pan. Do not let the yeast come in contact with the water. Just make a 1/4 deep well in the dry ingredients at the top and put the yeast in that.

Send it through the dough cycle, checking the dough during the first 10 minutes to make sure it isn't too dry and is mixing together well.

When it completes the cycle, follow the above instructions for baking it. YOU, like the Little Red Hen, can bake an incredibly tasty loaf or 2 or 3 of homemade bread.


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