Simple Milk Loaf {Recipe} {BOM}

The January BOM (bread-of-the-month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers Group is a recipe that many of my baking acquaintances make on a regular basis. In fact, several of them bake this bread weekly as their everyday sandwich bread. I was excited to try this recipe and actually  made it twice — once in a regular loaf pan and a second time as a double recipe in a pain de mie pan.

Milk Loaf Proofed in Pan

 

Pain de Mie Milk Loaf

 This is a delicious bread that’s great for toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese, and French toast. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s perfect for a daily bread.

Simple Milk Loaf

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp instant yeast
12 oz whole milk, at room temperature, plus extra for brushing
3/4 oz golden or maple syrup, or honey
9 oz plain white (all-purpose) flour
9 oz strong white (bread) flour
1 ¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
olive oil, for greasing
flour, for dusting

Method:

1. Simple mixing method: place all ingredients in bowl of mixer. Mix with dough hook until it comes together in a shaggy mass. Cover the bowl and allow dough to rest for ten minutes. Mix on low for ten seconds. Cover bowl and allow to rest for ten minutes. Continue with step 6.

2. Traditional mixing method: Place the yeast, milk and syrup into a large bowl and whisk together.

3. Add the flour and salt and mix with your hands to bring together as a soft, sticky dough.

4. Pour over the warm melted butter and mix this into the dough with your hands, then cover the bowl and leave to stand for ten minutes.

5. Grease your hands and a flat clean surface with olive oil. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for ten seconds, then form the dough into a smooth round ball. Wipe the bowl clean and grease with olive oil, then return the dough ball to the bowl and rest for a further ten minutes.

6. Repeat this ten-second kneading and resting process every ten minutes twice, then allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

7. Grease a deep 5×8-inch loaf tin and dust with flour. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shape into two balls and place side-by-side into the loaf tin. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for one and a half hours, or until almost doubled in height. About 20 minutes before the bread has finished rising, preaheat the oven to 410°F.

8. Brush the top of the loaf with a little milk and place into the preheated oven to bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is a shiny dark brown and the loaf has come away from the sides of the tin.

9. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

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Recipe: Maple Oatmeal Bread — September BOM

The September BOM (bread of the month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group is Maple Oatmeal Bread, a recipe posted by Floyd at The Fresh Loaf. This is an easy and delicious recipe. It comes together quickly with ingredients you most likely have on hand.

 

Maple Oatmeal Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1 package dry yeast
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
5 cups flour

  1. Put the oats into a bowl. Pour the boiling water over the oats and set aside for an hour.
  2. Mix the yeast, syrup, salt, and oil into the oats. Mix in 3 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl and let rise for an hour.
  3. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is the correct consistency. Knead for 10 minutes. Cut the dough into two pieces, then shape it into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 – 50 minutes.

While the oats soaked in the water, I assembled the remaining ingredients. I substituted instant yeast for the active dry yeast. Referring to my yeast conversion chart, I knew I needed just shy of two teaspoons of instant yeast. I mixed the dough, which was very wet, as it initially had only three of the five cups of flour in it.

I set the dough aside to rise for an hour. I was surprised that it didn’t rise very much, maybe by about 40-50%, but I decided to move forward with the recipe as written.

After the dough rested for an hour, I mixed in the remaining flour, one-half cup at a time. However, after mixing in the remaining two cups of flour, the dough was still quite wet. I decided to add extra flour as I kneaded the bread. I kneaded in flour — a lot of flour. I didn’t measure it, but I would guess I kneaded in at least an additional two cups of flour. I reread the recipe several times to try to figure out what happened, but I’m sure I followed the recipe to the letter.

Even after adding so much flour, the dough was quite wet. I was able to shape it into loose loaves and transfer them to the pans before they spread too much.

After 45 minutes proofing time, the loaves hadn’t risen much, so I expected quite a bit of oven spring. I might have let them proof longer, but it was late, and I wanted to bake the dough and get to bed.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, the loaves rose quite a bit in the oven, which indicates to me that they were underproofed going in. The next time I bake this bread, in addition to cutting back the water by 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup, I will allow the dough to ferment and proof until it nearly doubles.

Despite the issues I had with this recipe, the result was worth the effort. As you might imagine, the maple smell while the bread baked was amazing. It even drew my 13-year-old out of her “cave”! The bread was delicious fresh from the oven, the crumb was soft and slightly sweet, and the crust had just a bit of crunch to it.

But it was the next morning when this bread really started to shine. It made the most amazing toast. Slathered in butter and smelling of warm maple syrup, it was all I could do not to eat an entire loaf for breakfast.

This is definitely a recipe worth making again, even if it might take a little experimentation to get it just right.

Seven Grain & Seed Bread {ModBak}

I’ve been fascinated with multigrain bread since I read Peter Reinhart’s Bread Upon the Waters, in which he analogizes the bread baking process to his spiritual journey, and carries that metaphor through the book using his recipe for struan. Whether it’s called grain and seed bread, multigrain bread, or struan, this is one of my favorite breads to bake and eat.

In fact, Peter’s Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire was one of my favorite recipes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and I went on to create my own sourdough grain and seed bread recipe. So it should come as no surprise that of the recipes in the Breads section of The Modern Baker, this is the one I was most excited to try.

Because this recipe has a lot of ingredients, I felt it was important to use mise en place. This was all the more true since I upped the ante by making this an 11 grain and seed bread. Nick suggests adding black sesame seeds and brown rice to the recipe, which I decided to do. And since I keep two-ounce packages of mixed red, brown, and black rice in the freezer for making struan, I ended up adding four additional ingredients.

I began by making a soaker with the oats and rice, which I mixed with boiling water.

While many recipes require an overnight soaker, Nick’s recipe calls for using the soaker as soon as it cools. Although he doesn’t say what temperature to cool it to, I figured I would bring it to around 110° F, the same temperature as the water called for in the recipe.

After the soaker had cooled, I measured the water. The recipe said to add the yeast to the water, but I accidentally put it into the soaker.

Oh, well. No harm done, since both the soaker and the water were added to the mixed flours.

The ingredients were mixed briefly, then allowed to autolyse for 20 minutes.

After four more minutes of mixing, I put the dough in an oiled bowl to ferment.

The dough doubled in just over an hour.

After the bulk ferment, I pressed the dough out into a rough rectangle, which I then divided into two pieces. As has been the case with most of the recipes in this section, this dough was quite slack, so shaping was a challenge. And it didn’t help that I found the shaping instructions in the book a bit confusing. The results of my first attempt (on the left) weren’t pretty. I caught on by the second loaf, which came out looking a little better.

I allowed the dough to proof for about an hour, by which time it had crested well above the tops of the pans.

I baked the loaves for about 30 minutes, until they were golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 185° F.

So, did these loaves live up to my expectations? In a word, yes. The crust and crumb were soft and chewy, the texture of a good sandwich bread. And the taste was amazing — complex, nutty, slightly sweet. It was great plain, with cultured butter, and as a base for sandwiches.

This is definitely my favorite bread in this section of the book (so far) and one that I will make again.

Instant Sandwich Bread {ModBak}

The sixth recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge is Instant Sandwich Bread. Although I have to say it was unlike any sandwich bread I’ve ever made. It’s baked in a sheet pan, so you don’t slice it like a loaf of bread. Rather, you cut squares like you would a sheet cake, then split the squares laterally to use for sandwiches.

This is another bread recipe that is mixed in a food processor. I have a Cuisinart 11-cup food processor, which I believe is standard size for most home kitchens. There is a 14-cup model, but I don’t know anyone who has one in their kitchen. Except, apparently, Nick Malgieri.

As I began to mix the ingredients in the food processor, it seemed too full to me. But I pressed on. The dry ingredients were OK.

But when I added the water and yeast, and then turned on the machine, my problems began.

The liquid came shooting out of the top and bottom of the machine. But at this point, I was committed (or should have been), so I kept processing until the dough seemed well mixed. Moral of the story: unless you have a 14-cup food processor, I would recommend mixing this dough in your Kitchen Aid or by hand.

The dough didn’t seem to have suffered too much for the loss of water, so I turned it out into a bowl and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Then I pressed the dough into the pan, where it proofed for an hour.

I baked the bread for about 25 minutes, until it was puffy and golden brown.

My daughter loved this bread. She didn’t use it for sandwiches; she just cut chunks and ate them. I made one sandwich (pictured at the top of the page). It was good, and I can see how this loaf might work well for making party sandwiches. But to be honest, it didn’t rank among my favorite sandwich loaves, and I doubt if I will make this recipe again.

Pain de Mie (A Fancy Name for White Bread)

As fate would have it, as we near the end of our Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge journey, in which we have baked everything from French and Italian breads to celebration breads to breads filled with meat and cheese, for the fortieth bread in the Challenge, we hit on a very simple (some might argue too simple) white bread. The French call it pain de mie, which translates to “bread of the crumb” but is really just a fancy way of saying everyday sandwich bread.

I wasn’t as ambivalent about this bread as some BBAers, like Paul from Yumarama. In fact, I really liked it toasted with homemade jam. But I can see his point. It’s not what you expect this late in the game. This is more of a first-loaf, getting-your-feet-wet kind of bread. I know the recipes are in alphabetical order. Still, it felt like a bit of an anticlimax to be making such a basic loaf the 40th time out.

I baked this bread twice: once using variation #1 and a second time using the sponge in variation #3. I used my Pullman pan both times, although the second time I didn’t put on the lid. Here’s how the first version came out:

Note that the Pullman pan gives you a perfectly rectangular loaf, and nice, square slices of bread. Perfect for sandwiches, but not so artisanal looking.

Version #3 starts with a quick sponge. Unlike the typical preferment, the sponge is only allowed to ferment for about an hour before it is mixed into the dough. Otherwise, it is a fairly standard enriched dough. It kneaded beautifully and had a nice texture.

I didn’t divide the dough after it fermented, as the Pullman pan requires almost 3 1/2 pounds of dough per loaf.

When I made version #1, I allowed the dough to rise until it was about 1/4-inch from the lip of the pan, then I sprayed the lid with cooking oil and slid it on the pan. I began preheating the oven at that point, and baked the loaf with the lid on for about 20 minutes. I removed the lid and allowed the loaf to finish baking.

With version #3, however, I decided to use a Dutch crunch topping, which meant I couldn’t use the lid, as I was afraid the topping would all stick to the lid and probably burn. For the Dutch crunch, I used cornmeal, flour, yeast, salt, oil, and water. I brushed it on after the bread had proofed in the pan, shortly before I put the loaf in the oven.

Pain de Mie - Proofed, before Dutch Crumb

Pain de Mie with Dutch Crumb

 I baked the loaf at 350 dF for 20 minutes, turned it 180 degrees, inserted a probe thermometer, and continued baking until the internal temperature reached 187 dF.

Check out that crazy oven spring! The top of the loaf was about 1/8-inch below the top rack. And it baked over the sides of the pan quite a bit, too.

As far as taste goes, version #1 was a decent, but not remarkable, loaf of white bread. Fine for sandwiches or eating toasted with jam. Version #3 was still not an out-of-the-ballpark bread, but it was much tastier than the first version. I’m not sure whether it was the sponge, Dutch crunch, or a combination of both. I suspect they both played a role in the flavor of this bread. Again, it was a good sandwich bread and great for eating toasted with homemade jam. And it was tasty enough to eat toasted with just butter.

I will make this bread again, as I enjoy making pain de mie to use for sandwiches and toast. I’ll definitely use version #3 again. And probably Dutch crunch, too. I might try using the crunch with the lid on just to see what happens.

Baking and Cooking Glossary

One of the things I like about blogging is sharing some of the things I’ve learned about cooking and baking, including terms that can sometimes be confusing. I decided to start this glossary to collect some of these words and terms. I’ll add things here as I mention them in my blog and include links to this glossary from the blog entries, and vice versa.

There are a lot of food glossaries out there, and I have no intention of trying to make this one a complete compendium of cooking or baking terms. Rather, I want to use it to collect terms that come up in my blog posts. That said, if there are cooking terms that confuse you, drop me a line. I’ll try to add a definition.

baker’s percentages (or baker’s math) — in professional and artisan bread baking, recipes are conceived in ratios whereby the total flour in the recipe, by weight, is always 100%, and the rest of the ingredients are presented in relation to the flour weight. So, for example, if you are using 1000 grams of flour, and the yeast is given as 3%, then the recipe would require 30 grams of yeast.

fiori di sicilia — literally, “flower of Sicily”, is a flavoring extract with essences of citrus and vanilla. It can be used in place of vanilla and adds a wonderfully subtle flavor to sweet doughs.

full rolling boil — often use in jam and jelly making, the term “full rolling boil” means a boil that doesn’t subside when you stir the mixture.

herringbone cut — a method for cutting a boule that results in even-sized slices. (Click on link to see a pictoral demonstration.)

hooch — the greyish, brownish liquid that forms on the top of sourdough starter when the starter needs to be fed. Hooch is a result of alcohol production in the starter fermentation process. It can be poured off or stirred back into the starter. If it is poured off, the starter may require slightly more liquid when fed.

mise en placemise en place (pronounced MEES ahn plahs), literally “put in place” but more commonly translated “everything in place”, is a French cooking term, which simply refers to assembling all of your ingredients and equipment before you begin cooking. You read through your recipe, get out all your ingredients, measure, wash, chop, toast, bring to room temperature, etc., and get all of your pots, pans, bowls, utensils, and other equipment ready.

100% hydration — this term, used with sourdough starters, refers to the amount of water in a starter in relation to the amount of flour, both measured by weight. In baker’s percentages (see entry above), the flour is always 100%, and all other ingredients are measured in reference to the flour. So 100% hydration means that the weight of the water in the starter is equal to the weight of the flour. So, for example, if you feed your starter 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water, the starter would be 100% hydration.

pain de mie — is a fancy-sounding name for an everyday sandwich bread. Literally, it translates to “bread of crumb”; but most online French-to-English translators will return “sandwich bread” or simply “bread”. Pain de mie can be made with whole grain, but it is usually just a simple, white sandwich bread, often enriched with milk, butter, and sugar. It can be baked in a loaf pan or a Pullman pan (see below).

proofing box — a proofing box (sometimes also called a “proof box”) is sealed space where a baker can control the temperature and humidity in order to proof dough under controlled conditions. Generally, the temperature of a proofing box is kept around 100 degrees F, and the humidity at about 85%. (See how I simulate a proofing box in my microwave oven.)

Pullman pan — so named because it resembles the shape of a Pullman train car, this lidded, rectangular pan bakes a perfect pain de mie loaf (see above). Pullman pans come in many sizes, but a “standard” pan is about 13x4x4 inches and holds about 3 1/2 pounds (42 ounces) of dough.

soaker— in making a soaker, course-ground grains (e.g., cracked wheat, course-ground cornmeal, oats, etc.) are soaked in a small amount of water or milk overnight. This serves to soften and activate the enzymes in the grains, which improves the flavor of bread dramatically.

tacky vs. sticky (dough) — in bread baking, the recipe will often say that the dough should be either tacky or sticky. The easiest way to test this is to press your hand onto the dough and then lift it up. If the dough pulls up with your hand and then releases (so your hand comes away clean), the dough is tacky. If you end up with dough stuck to your hand, it’s sticky.