Tuesday, February 03, 2009

White Bread

I received a beautiful book this Christmas from my Son and Daughter in-law titled "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" by Peter Reinhart.   I think this is one of my most treasured books yet.   This White Bread recipe has 3 variations, this is variation 2.

4-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, margarine, or shortening, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature

1. Mix together flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a 4 quart bowl.  Pour in the egg, butter, and enough milk until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball.  If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more milk until the dough is soft and supple. 

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook of a stand mixer), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, and supple, and tacky but not sticky.  Continue kneading for 6-8 minutes.  (in the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. 

3.  Let dough rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature).

4.  Remove dough and divide in half.  Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap .  Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

5.  Shape into loaves by flattening dough with your hand,  folding in the edges to make an even sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.   Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  The loaf will spread out as you roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8-9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place each loaf in lightly oiled  8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. 

6.  Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  Proof the dough at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size. 

7.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Brush the top of loaf with a beaten egg if desired, or score the loaf down the middle and rub a little vegetable oil into the slit.

8.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and sides.  

9.  Remove  them immediately from pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

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