The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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BeckyBaker730

I was in a baking mood today (well, on what day am I not?) so I decided to surf the net for an interesting recipe. I found this potato bread recipe on a website for a company that sells potatoes (convenient!). I adapted it to my tastes and the ingredients I had on hand. The recipe is as follows:

Honey-Wheat Potato Bread Makes 2 loaves (using 8x4x2" pans) 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into chunks 1 1/2 cups water 1/2 cup whole milk (approx.) 2 packages (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast 1 cup whole wheat flour 5 cups all-purpose white flour 3 TBS pure honey 2 TBS butter 2 tsp salt

Cook potato chunks in the water until they are tender. Do not drain! Reserve 1/2 cup of the potato water, and mash the potatoes with the rest of the water. Using measuring cup, add enough whole milk to potato mixture to make 2 cups of potato mixture (I needed about 1/2 cup of milk). Make sure reserved potato water is around 110 degrees F (if it has cooled too much, nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds until it warms up...if it is still too hot, wait till it cools). In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the reserved potato water. Add mashed potato mixture, the cup of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the white flour, the honey, the butter, and the salt. Beat on LOW speed for 30 seconds or until ingredients are combined. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat on HIGH speed for 3 minutes (set a timer!). Then, on low speed or with a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining white flour as possible. Turn dough out onto floured surface and continue to knead in the remaining flour until a semi-stiff dough is formed. Knead dough, without adding extra flour, about 8 minutes. Place in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Gently deflate dough, divide in half, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape dough into loaves or other desired shape, place in oiled pans, cover with plastic and let rise again till almost double, about 40 minutes. While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake loaves about 40 minutes. If crust starts to brown too much, cover with foil.

My husband gave me a mini digital camera for Christmas, just so that I can post photos of my baked goods. :-) Here are a couple pictures of my finished loaves...
Honey-Wheat Potato Bread
Honey-Wheat Potato Bread

As you can see, the loaf on the left rose significantly higher than the loaf on the right during the 2nd rise. I was not expecting this. The only thing I can attribute it to is that I had quite a time shaping the left loaf, and thus ended up having to knead the dough a little as I shaped it. The right loaf did not get the extra kneading after punching the dough down after the first rise.

We couldn't wait till these loaves cooled, they smelled so good! We each had a slice to sample from the smaller loaf, and the flavor is amazing. Pleasantly nutty (probably from the whole wheat flour) with a wonderful crunchy crust, but soft and tender inside. I'll be baking this weekly from now on, I think!

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BeckyBaker730

Today the start of my Christmas baking. First I will make the sponge and dough for the Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid. We're having that as part of our breakfast on Christmas morning. Then I am making Emeril's Cloverleaf Dinner rolls. I've made them once before and they are AMAZING! The best dinner rolls I've ever had. They have just a hint of sweetness to make them good with butter at dinner or jam at breakfast the next day. Those are for my Christmas dinner. And lastly I am making pizza dough for our Christmas Eve pizza. Nothing like homemade pizza and a good beer on Christmas eve.

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BeckyBaker730

The raisin bagels turned out superb! Thank you, Floydm, for posting the recipe and instructions. I am already eating my second one! They came out with a good chew on the outside, and softer in the middle. Tastes just like a bagel! The 1 cup of raisins was just enough....each bagel has a good # of raisins throughout. I think next time I make them I will add another teaspoon or two of cinnamon. I used 1 TBS in this batch, and while I could taste the cinnamon, it was not as prominent as I wanted it to be. All I did was add a little extra sugar and cut back on the salt a little. Then I stirred the raisins and the cinnamon into the sponge after adding the rest of the yeast and 1 cup of the flour. I wanted to make sure I got the raisins in before the dough got too stiff. Then I proceeded to work in as much of the remaining flour as possible. Next time I make bagels I'm going to try for a good "everything" bagel with onions, poppyseeds, and garlic. Yum!

I definitely think I am going to send my mom some bagels for Christmas. With this recipe I can boil and bake them early in the morning, let them cool, package them and then mail them later that same afternoon. I think they'll stay pretty fresh that way.

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BeckyBaker730

Finished with my bagels for the night. They are now resting comfortably for 20 minutes or so on a sheet pan in a plastic trash bag. When my kitchen timer beeps, I will put them in the fridge for the night.
A few interesting points:
1. I am aiming for a somewhat normal cinnamon-raisin bagel. I combined the recipe from this site with the cinnamon-raisin bagel recipe from fooddownunder.com, in hopes of achieving a balance between the two.
2. I could not for the life of me get that last 3/4 cup of flour into the dough. I think this might have to do with the addition of the 1 cup of raisins. Instead of 7 and 3/4 cups of flour, I ended up with an even 7, plus 1 cup of raisins and 1 TBS of cinnamon. They look and smell exactly like the cinnamon-raisin bagels I am used to, so here's to hoping they turn out good.
3. Kneading this dough is serious work! I like to knead by hand but this dough just about had me beat. Next time I may surrender and let my KitchenAid stand mixer handle it. It was fun though, especially because all the kneading started to break down the raisins a little, which made the dough smell amazing.
4. I have never made a sponge before tonight. I have to say that is quite possibly the weirdest thing I have ever produced in my kitchen! I'm one of those people who (as a kid) hid wet bread in tinfoil all over the house to make mold for science projects in gradeschool, so I am easily fascinated by weird science stuff. I had to take a minute or two to just poke at the sponge and marvel at the weird foamy texture. :-)

Well, my timer just beeped, so into the fridge they go.

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BeckyBaker730

I'm working on some bagels right now, using the recipe on this site and a few ideas from the fooddownunder.com website. My sponge is rising at the moment. At 7pm I can move on to step 2. I love the idea of beginning bread at night and then making something fresh in the morning. One of my favorite recipes is for buttermilk bran muffins. They keep for 3 weeks in the fridge and you can scoop just what you need to make a few fresh muffins every morning. The recipe comes from Linda Larson at Busycooks.About.Com. So yummy! The buttermilk really gives these muffins a great flavor.

Make Ahead Bran Muffin Batter 5 cups flour 15 oz. box bran flakes cereal with raisins 3 cups sugar 2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 4 eggs, beaten 1 cup vegetable oil 4 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, cereal, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine. Add beaten eggs, oil and buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Cover bowl tightly.

You should chill this batter in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using. The batter will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
When you're ready to bake the muffins, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops spring back when touched lightly with fingertip. Makes 48 muffins.

Note: I've made this batter 3 times now, and each time it comes out amazing. But, be forewarned that the buttermilk will give the batter a rather funky smell in the fridge. It freaked me out at first, and I thought that after only 2 days my batter had gone bad in the fridge. Not so...it's just the buttermilk reacting with the other ingredients. I went on to use the batter and found out that it was perfectly fine, not spoiled at all. It really does last three weeks...well, it might even last longer, but I don't know because we always end up using all the batter well before the 3 weeks are up!

Well, I'm off to finish step 1 of the bagel-making process! Hopefully these will turn out well...I haven't had a good bagel in months. I had to do the instant yeast/active dry yeast conversion, because all I had on hand was active dry. With any luck I got the measurements right, and tomorrow morning I can bake up some toasty goodness for breakfast.

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BeckyBaker730

Homemade pizza is a major comfort food for my husband and me, and we really need it today. The holidays are wonderful and all, but sometimes they come with a little too much family strife. The family politics this year are pretty bad, and we're both getting down about it. So I decided a little dough-kneading and cheesy wonderfulness was in order. My pizza dough is rising right now. I started making my own crust several months ago, after I finally got sick of the cardboardy taste of those prepackaged "just-add-water" mixes. My basic recipe is from AllRecipes.Com, but I tweaked it a lot over the number of times I've made it, so it's turned out better each time. It's very similar to the recipe in the "Pizza Primer" on this site, although from looking at that recipe it looks like mine makes half as much dough. As it is, mine makes 2 large pizzas with thicker, chewy crusts, or 4 small thin and crispy pizzas. I do wish I had a peel and a stone to cook it with, though. I just stretch the dough to fit my cookie sheets, so sometimes the bottom of the crust cookes a smidge unevenly.

I think tomorrow I will try the bagel recipe from this site...I LOVE bagels, but always thought they would be ridiculously hard to make (frankly, it was the boiling that always scared me a little). After reading through the Bagel recipe, I think I could probably make a decent batch tomorrow. My husband, a fan of "everything" bagels, would flip out if I figured out how to make a decent bagel from scratch. They are so expensive in the stores around here! To me, there are few things quite as wonderful as a toasty bagel with a little cream cheese and a cup of coffee in the morning. Or any time of day, really.

Anyone have an idea how long homemade bagels will stay fresh? I thought it would be nice to send my mom some homemade bagels for Christmas. Suggestions for wrapping/packaging them? I wanted to bake her something homemade as a gift this year, but she really watches her eating and avoids sugary things, so I didn't really want to make her cookies, fruitcake, or banana bread. Anyone ever tried mailing homemade bagels?

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BeckyBaker730

Just thought I'd post my first entry to introduce myself. My current baking projects include a selection of cookies which I am baking as gifts for my family, and several breads for Christmas. I plan to use the Blueberry Cream Cheese braid recipe from this site for my Christmas morning bread.

Things I bake the most often are: homemade pizza crust, biscuits, and cloverleaf dinner rolls. I also like to make a couple of loaves of bread on the weekends.

One of my baking struggles is sourdough bread. I don't even really like sourdough bread, but I got hooked on the idea of making bread without yeast. After messing up my first attempt one Saturday morning I became determined to make it right. It was me vs. the sourdough starter. I still have not won that battle! I stick mostly to yeast breads and quick breads.

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