Monday, October 22, 2007

Bread Baking

There is nothing like a homemade loaf of bread, and to have it warm with butter, is like having a slice of heaven on your plate. Besides the wonderful taste, baking your own bread is so much cheaper - easily getting 3 loaves of home made for the cost of one loaf of store bought. If you usually purchase the expensive whole grain breads, you will save even more to make your own.

I prefer the flavor and texture of kneading and baking the bread in the oven, however, there are times that I'm so busy or the kitchen work area is taken up with other things, that I can't easily make it like my grandma used to. A bread maker has been a great blessing on those days. I never realized that, until this past summer, our bread maker died and I was determined to do everything else and on top of getting the bread baking done. Canning jars were all over cooling or set to be filled, washed, etc. and every work space was loaded with something. Our kitchen is small and with no work area to knead, I really had to put things off. The freezer was full, so I couldn't bake bread and freeze it, so, we ended up buying bread. Yes, I hang my head in shame, because the stuff my dear husband brought home from the store was very expensive, and certainly didn't even resemble bread. It was awful - and a premium price.

My husband decided that enough was enough and surprised me with a very nice bread machine! So we are now back to home made and healthier bread - all the time. Everyone is truly thankful :)

This morning, I decided to get up extra early and start a loaf of raisin bread so when everyone got up they could have a nice hot piece before going about their daily duties. Usually, I will just set the timer so that the bread is done when we need it, but this recipe has milk in it, and the raisins are to be added at the second kneading. Yes, you can put them in at the beginning, but they get chopped up more, and just aren't as pretty to look at. Everyone was thrilled with waking up to the wonderful smells of cinnamon through the house.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons organic sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Put all ingredients in pan in order listed or according to your maker's manufacturer's directions. Select the white bread setting and bake on light to medium color crust. Use the 1 1/2 to 2 pound loaf setting.

At the beginning of the second kneading (or at the beep) add:
2/3 cup raisins

When the bread has finished baking, I will take it out of the pan and put in on a cooling rack, and brush with butter, then allow to cool. By brushing the finished loaf with butter, you will end up with a nice soft crust.

After the raisin bread came out, I put in a loaf of my husband's favorite bread, Drew's Famous Onion Dill Bread. This recipe came from the DAK Turbo Baker IV recipe book. The DAK (which we fondly called R2D2) was our first bread machine, and that machine lasted over 10 years. It would have kept going, but the pan inside broke, and it cost much more to replace the pan than to just purchase a new bread maker. We then bought a Toastmaster that did well, but didn't last nearly as long - two if I remember correctly. We are now on our 3rd machine - a Sunbeam and it is working well and makes larger loaves.

Drew's Famous Onion Dill Bread

Mix together and warm until lukewarm:
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons organic sugar
3 Tablespoons minced onion
2 Tablespoons whole dill seed
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter

Pour the above mixture in your bread maker pan. Add:
1 unbeaten egg (room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Bake on the white bread cycle using the light setting. Use 2 pound loaf setting. Remove from pan, place on wire rack and brush with butter.

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