Monday, June 4, 2012

A Tale of Two Breads

To say that I was excited when King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast agreed to sponsor Virtual Potluck is an understatement. If you've spent any time at all on this blog, you know that I bake a lot of bread. And I love both companies.

There's a giveaway for you down below the recipes, but let's get to those recipes first. I made two different breads - or, really, I made 3 breads, but there are two(ish) recipes.

One of the items I got to work with from King Arthur Flour was a fresh sourdough starter. The starter came with instructions for reviving it, and at one point, starter needed to be discarded.

But that seems like such a waste. At that point, the yeast isn't lively enough to get a loaf of bread to rise real well, but it's got a lot of flavor. So instead of tossing it, I added it to another batch of bread dough I was making. It was sort of a slap-dash recipe, but the bread was good. If you happen to have half-started starter, keep in mind that you can add it to a normal bread recipe and just cut back on the water and flour to compensate.

Once I got the starter properly fed and ready to go, I made some sourdough rye.

Oh - and a side note about sourdough starters. It's traditional for people to name their starters. All of mine (I have a few ...) are named Mongo, but with variations. So there's Oregon Mongo and French Mongo, and Drunken Mongo ... so I named this new starter Prince Mongo. 

Sourdough Rye with Caraway

2 cups lively sourdough starter
1/4 cup baker's special dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups rye flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Combine the starter, dry milk powder and 1/2 cup of the rye flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir to combine and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 1-2 hours. It will be very bubbly.

Add the remaining 1 cup of rye flour, the salt, oil, and caraway seeds. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is elastic. It won't be completely smooth because of the seeds, but the dough itself should be smooth and stretchy.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour. It might be longer, depending on how active your starter is - or isn't. Time isn't important - but you want the dough to double.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack in the oven. Sprinkle flour (or better yet, rice flour) in a banneton. Or if you don't have a banneton, you can use a bowl lined with a lint-free kitchen towel. Sprinkle that cloth with the flour.

When the dough has doubled, flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Shape the dough into a round and seal the seam at the bottom. Place the dough in the prepared banneton or bowl and cover it with a clean towel. Set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

When the dough has doubled remove the cloth cover - and this is the tricky part - flip the dough onto the hot baking stone. Quickly slash the top of the loaf and bake at 350 degrees until the bread is nicely browned, about 35 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the oven and let it cool on a rack completely before slicing.

Bread Machine Oat Bread

I used to think bread machines were too much of a crutch. I mean, I like using my stand mixer and my food processor to knead dough, but I thought bread machines were one step too far. Yes, I was a bread-machine snob.

But after I started writing more bread recipes, I decided that I should at least try a bread machine, so I could convert recipes if I wanted to, and I could create a few recipes specifically for bread machine users. So I borrowed a machine and made a brick. I found a slightly better machine at a thrift store and made a nicer brick.

Finally, I got a pretty good machine, and realized that there's a time and place when a bread machine makes sense. Like when I want bread for dinner, but I won't be home at the critical times for rising, forming and baking. Or when I've got a dozen other things going on in the kitchen and I don't want to make space for kneading and shaping bread in the middle of some other messy work.

And the bread machine does a nice job of kneading the bread and taking it through the first rise without me having to pay attention to it. I can listen for the beep, shape the bread, and let it rise before the bake.

This bread has a good dose of healthy oats. And of course, it's easy to make.

The only trick is that different bread machines suggest adding ingredients in different orders, but the important one is the yeast. Some suggest that the yeast should be added first, while others say it should be added last. Follow your machine's instructions for that.

Oat Bread (in the bread machine)

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup baker's special dry milk
2 1/4 cups (10 1/8 ounces) bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water

Put all the ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.

Press buttons. (Beep-beep. Boop-eep-eep.) I set mine for a medium loaf, light crust regular bread cycle, which takes 4 hours from start to finish.

When the bread is done, remove it from the machine and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.

And now for the giveaway: (giveaway has ended)
  • From King Arthur Flour, the winner from Cookistry will get a dough whisk, a coupon for a bag of flour in the supermarket, fresh sourdough starter, and the same baker's special dry yeast I used in my recipes.
  • From Red Star Yeast, the winner with ALSO get 3 strips of yeast, a bread pan, and apron and a bread knife.
The other participating Virtual Potuck bloggers are giving away similar - but not completely identical - products from these two companies. For a complete list of the participating bloggers and a preview of their recipes (and a whole bunch of useful links from the sponsors), check out the roundup post right here.

 To enter the giveaway:
  • Leave a comment here telling me what you would name a sourdough starter, if you had one. This is your mandatory entry.
For your optional entries, do any of these. (And make sure you come back here and comment that you have done these things. One comment for each entry. If you leave one comment for all, it will be just one entry.)
  • Pin any one of the bread photos from this page to Pinterest.
  • Follow King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast on Twitter
  • Tweet a link to this contest.
  • Stumble this post.
And that's all, folks. One comment for your mandatory entry, and four more optional entries. Good luck!

Contest begins as soon as this posts and ends on Saturday, June 9 at midnight, mountain time.

But there's MORE!

There are other Virtual Potluck members who are also giving away goodies from our generous sponsors. Check out the roundup post (just below this one) for a complete list!)

For my participation in this event, I received a number of products from both King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.