Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here is Bread...

Here is Bread, which strengthens man's heart,
and therefore called the staff of life.

-Psalm 104

I have been making bread for years. My mother-in-law gave me a new-fangled bread machine twenty years ago, which started me on this journey. My family didn't enjoy the loaves of bread so much, so I let the machine mix and knead, then I would turn the dough into delicious rolls. Every night we would eat fresh, hot rolls with our evening meal.

To this day, I rarely buy bread from the store. I shape big rolls for hamburger buns, long ones for brat buns, medium-sized for peanut butter buns for Tess' lunch, and small ones for snacking. My husband surprised me with a Kitchen Aid mixer for my birthday, so the bread machine went to the basement and now the dough hook does its thing. Being in school put a crimp on the bread-making, so I started buying it from the store, but no one would touch it! Over break I started baking again, and it just seems right to have fresh bread in the house. Now that I'm back in that crusty groove, I throw the ingredients in the mixer in the morning, let it rise while I'm at school, shape the rolls when I get home, then bake them before we sit down for our evening meal. Tonight it was chicken noodles with Focaccia Bread, my favorite.

Over the years, I've tweaked a basic recipe and use the same one for all my bread-making- the rolls, focaccia bread, and thick-crust pizza dough. Here's my recipe if anyone wants to try their hand...kneading is optional.

Focaccia Bread

3 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp. instant dried milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. bread machine yeast
1 egg
2 Tbsp. vanilla yogurt
5 Tbsp. olive oil
7.5 ounces water

I usually throw everything in the K.A mixer, attach the bread hook, lock 'er down, and turn it on (not over #2 setting). Then I walk away for about 6 or 7 minutes. When I return, I remove the bowl from the stand, cover with a damp towel, put the mixer bowl in a warm oven (turn it on maybe 1 or 2 minutes, then turn off), and let it rise.

After about 1 hour, I sprinkle corn meal on a half sheet pan, remove the dough from the mixer bowl onto the baking sheet, let it rest for 10 minutes, then proceed to push it to the corners of the pan with my fingers (sometimes I use a rolling pin).

For toppings, I sprinkle with olive oil, black pepper, garlic SALT, rosemary, and Asiago cheese.

I pop it in a preheated oven of 425 degrees and bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until golden. OMG! (I believe that's the first time I have ever typed that :o)

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