Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11, 2013

This week I did prep for the weeks ahead. I cooked a couple of chickens, retrieved an amazing amount of meat off the bones, then made a few quarts of chicken stock!  It was extremely satisfying, and great to have dinner ready chicken on hand.  We made chicken soup on Wednesday with the stock and some of the chicken meat, and although I've made it before, this week the kids slurped down a few bowls each.  I was even light on the noodles and heavy on the veggies and they still were asking for seconds and thirds.  I admit it...I do love scratch cooking!

And if I am going to admit that...I will also tell you that I am in the midst of a sandwich bread experiment.  I made rolls earlier in the week to go with our pulled pork sandwiches, and they were a hit.  The really nice thing about the rolls was that I was able to customize the sizes - some large for Ryan, some much smaller for Liam, and any size I desired in between.  The kids loved them, and ate them for breakfast the next day.  I am posting them here, but I have a few other "hamburger roll" recipes to try.  Stay tuned...this one might be replaced (or have its keeper status confirmed!).

But, back to the sandwich bread experiment.  Ryan loves Wonder Bread, traditional white Wonder Bread.  The kids prefer wheat, I prefer rye, so we keep a few kinds of bread in the house.  You probably know, but Hostess closed up shop, so Wonder Bread is no longer available.  I've been picking up sliced Italian bread, but then this week decided to try my hand at making sandwich bread.  I picked up yeast at Costco (enough of the little packets...I am all in), pulled out a few recipes and gave it a try.  With my trusty thermometer I was able to ensure the correct temperature of the water and the yeast worked like magic.  They both smelled wonderful as the baked, and there is nothing really as delicious as warm bread out of the oven.   Picture this - Ryan, the older kids and I standing at the island eating the bread as quickly as I was able to slice it.  We were just going to share one piece, but I think we ended up eating about half the loaf.  The second loaf was also delicious, but I did favor the first.  Both recipes were very similar, but the ingredients differed slightly.  The first called for a touch of honey and nonfat milk powder, which was in my pantry this week, but isn't always.  The other called for ingredients likely always on hand, so although it wasn't the hands down winner, it was still very good and easy to pull together.

Yes...I dabble a bit with paleo and primal eating...clearly this week's recipes don't fit with those lifestyles!  But, we loved them, and if you ever thought about making bread, maybe give one of these recipes a try!  Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Quick and Easy Rolls
Sandwich Bread - version A
Sandwich Bread - version B

Quick and Easy Rolls

* 1 packet active dry yeast
* 1 cup plus 2 tbsp lukewarm water (110 F)
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp salt
* 3 to 3 1/2 cups AP flour (375 - 437.5g AP flour)

1. Dissolve yeast in water, then add the sugar and oil.  Let this stand for 5 minutes.
2. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.
3. Turn onto a floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes.  If desired, let the dough rise for approximately 30 minutes.  If not time to rise, divide the dough into 8-12 pieces. Shape each into a ball and place on a greased cookie sheet, about 3 inches apart.
4.  Cover and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes.
5. Bake at 325 for 8-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool and a wire rack.

These rolls were a bit dense.  I wanted to try the version without the first rise, and so that contributed to the "dense-ness" I believe.  When I make them again, I will use the optional first rise and see how that changes things.  They were very good for the pork sandwiches that we used them for, as the bbq sauce really soaked into the bread.  I think they would be lovely for hamburgers, or even could be shaped into hot dog rolls!

Sandwich Bread - Version A

* 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110 F)
* 1 tbsp honey
* 1 packet active dry yeast
* 1 3/4 tsp salt
* 2 tbsp soft butter
* 482 g bread flour
* 35 g nonfat dry milk powder

1. Mix all the ingredients in the order listed and knead to make a smooth dough.  You can need by hand, hand mixer, or stand mixer.  The dough should feel smooth and elastic when it is ready.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl.  Cover it and let rise for 60-90 minutes until it is quite puffy and near double in size.
3. Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a loaf.  Place the dough in a lightly greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.
4.  Cover the loaf and let it rise again for another 60-90 minutes, or until it has crowned 1- 1 1/2 inches over the rim of the pan.
5. Bake the bread in a 350 F oven for 35 minutes.  If it is browning too quickly, tent some foil over the top of it for the last 10 minutes.
6. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.  When it is completely cool, wrap it and store it at room temperature.

My bread never quite got that high over the pan on the second rise, even after 90 minutes.  When I cooked it I didn't need to cover it with any foil.  It was a little hard to get out of the pan, but it was very good.  I definitely will make this again, and see if  I can get it just right! 

Sandwich Bread - Version B

* 1 package active dry yeast
* 1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp white sugar (20 g)
* 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (110 F)
* 1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp softened butter or crisco
* 1 1/2 tsp salt
* 445 g bread flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Stir in the butter and salt and 1/3 of the flour.  Using a mixer begin the mix the dough with the bread hook.  Add the remaining flour and let it knead for approximately 8 minutes. THe dough should form and pull away from the work bowl.
2. Turn the bread onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand briefly to ensure it is smooth and elastic.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it to cover the entire ball with oil.  Cover the bowl and let it rise until doubled in volume, 60-90 minutes.
3. Deflate the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface.  Form it into a loaf, and place it into a lightly greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Cover the bread and let it rise until close to double in volume, 40-60 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
5. When you put the bread in the oven, immediately turn the oven down to  375 F.  Bake the bread for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.
6. Cool the loaf out of the pan on a wire rack.  When fully cool, wrap and store at room temperature.

We did enjoy this bread, but it was the runner up.  However, one of the major advantages of this bread is that you likely have all the ingredients on hand.