Posts Tagged ‘Baking: Bread’

This weekend I had a special new adventure: I made bread for the first time! Proper bread, I mean, not the cake-like quick breads we all know and love. This was a whole new world of prepping yeast and waiting with baited breath to see if your efforts paid off and your dough rose like it was supposed to (I hear it’s absolutely heartbreaking when it doesn’t) and that your bread all works out. Luckily, I had success with this lovely Swedish Cardamom Braid my dear friend Rachael recommended we make as my beginner bread. This recipe comes to you from The Complete Book of Breads and I tell you, it is wonderful. Dense for a bread due to it’s high butter content, studded with golden raisins, and nice and spicy! I’m told it’s a little dry, but that’s what jam and butter are for, right?

Swedish Cardamom Bread

2 packages of dry yeast
1/2 cup of warm water (for yeast)
1/2 cup of milk scalded (heated to just before boiling)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) of unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs (room temperature)
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cardamom

  • (Note: We used 4 heaping teaspoons of cardamom! If you want a little more of a spicy punch, go for it! But I also recommend you add a touch more salt for a counterbalance, because the salt will bring out the flavor of the bread).

3/4 cup seedless raisins
Egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with a splash of milk)

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over your warm (about 105-115F) water and beat with a whisk or fork until the granules dissolve. Note: Too hot of water will kill your yeast! So it should be warm to the touch, but in no way boiling or steaming. Yeast is tricky!
  2. In a mixing bowl, pour milk over sugar, salt, and butter. Stir to soften and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add the yeast mixture. You will know your yeast is active if the mixture looks frothy. If it doesn’t look ready to you, give it some more time! If there is no bubbling at all, your yeast might have gone bad and you should start afresh. 
  4. Add cardamom, raisins, eggs, and 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
  5. Add the next 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time. If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes too difficult, then use your hands to knead. If using a mixer, this would be a good time to switch to your dough hook attachment. The dough should form a rough mass and clean the sides of the bowl as it mixes and it will not be sticky due to the large amount of butter.
  6. If kneading by hand, use a strong push-turn-fold action on a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic (this is about 5 minutes on high with your dough hook). Wonder Baker Tip: Not sure what smooth and elastic is? I’m told that the way to find out if your dough is ready is if it feels like your earlobe! So give your ear a tug and compare.
  7. Place your dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, storing in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  8. Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down firmly to work out the air bubbles.
  9. Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide into two portions. Then, take one half and divide into three equal parts and roll them into fat tubes.
  10. Now it’s time to braid! First, line your three ropes up. Then, swing the right (or top) rope over the middle, then the other outer rope over that. Continue folding the ropes over each other and finish by tucking the strands in at the end and pressing the dough together. Repeat with the other half of the dough until you have two braided loaves. Here, have some helpful (hopefully!) pictures:(sorry for the blur! Rachael is a very fast dough braider)
  11. Now it’s time to cover our shaped loaves with wax paper and let the dough sit again, for about another hour. This is the second rise! (my dough braids were not perfect, but that’s okay!)
  12. Preheat your oven to 350F. Then, brush the tops of your loaves with the egg wash.
  13. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the crusts are a rich brown and a toothpick comes out clean and dry. Check on them early so you don’t over-bake them, but you will probably need more than 45 minutes (we did).
  14. Remove the bread from the oven and, handling the loaves delicately, transfer to a cooling rack before serving or packing up.

You can see where I missed some spots with the egg wash and our raisins got a little toasty on the top, but the bread is wonderful and lovely and oh so good! It was an easy bread dough to work with and it has wonderful flavor, so give it a shot for some happy eating 🙂

It’s October! Well, I guess it’s been October for half a month now, but that’s beside the point. It was about time I got to some real fall baking and busted out the cans of pumpkin puree. When it came down to asking what pumpkin-y treats to make first, the choice was pretty much made for me by my insatiable family. There was no other option but a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread I had clipped out of the Betty Crocker Fall Baking Catalog (that’s the one with Bakerella on the cover, in case you didn’t know!). Sure, it’s not really a “bread” in the sense that it has no yeast, but it’s a moist and dense bread-like loaf cake and I think we should be able to call it whatever we want.

Wow, look at that big can of pumpkin! I didn’t use all of it in this bread, but that’s a story for another blog post. Also there shouldn’t be salt in that picture, but there should be eggs. My mistake.

After you set your oven to 350F, take a 9×5 loaf pan, or as close as you can get, and grease the bottom up. I didn’t have any real butter, so I had to use Pam. I don’t think anyone ever really notices though.

Toss a stick (1/2 cup) of softened butter into a bowl

And dump a whole cup of sugar on top

A cup of pumpkin goes right on top. Pumpkin is not the most pleasant smelling squash, but at least it tastes good when it’s all cooked up

After you’ve cracked in your two eggs, you’ll get this exciting and colorful mess. It’s about to get a lot messier though.

We were actually preparing two batches of pumpkin bread in two separate bowls! This one, as you can clearly see, we mixed with an electric hand beater. But we also tried mixing another one completely by hand to see if we got any different results in the texture.

But it proved to be quite difficult mixing by hand, we couldn’t get all the butter broken up

So we had to take the hand mixer to it anyway. It looks much more smooth now.

Add 2 cups of flour to your orange mush

1 teaspoon of baking soda

A heaping teaspoon of ground cinnamon

And a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Pumpkin pie spice is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, so you could really just toss a pinch of each in there if you don’t have any premixed. I love the contrast in the spice colors, baking is so beautiful!

The electric mixer will make all sorts of fun shapes in your bread dough

And this time we did manage to get an even blend with a plain wire whisk! They look pretty similar though, but who knows how they’ll bake.

Oh boy chocolate chips! A cup of mini-semisweets is a whole lot of chocolate chips, but I would like to think no one here has a problem with that

Look at that gorgeous dough. Halloween colors!

Dump the whole bowl into your loaf pan. Shake it out, scoop it out, whatever works! You might have to spin and bang the pan on the counter to get it even.

Pop your bread right into the oven where it will stay for 55-65 minutes! As a Wonder Baker Tip, always use the smallest of the recommended times, or even smaller if you think you have a real hot oven. Baked goods can always be put back into an oven, but once something is burned there’s not too much you can do.

Bread success! If your toothpick comes out clean, it’s done! I really love that crack in the top

And look at those fine crusty sides. If they’re a browner than the top or bottom, that’s nothing to fear.

Inside is a chocolate chip minefield! We cut both loaves open and found that the one mixed with the whisk didn’t rise quite as much as the one baked with the electric mixer, but other than that there was really no textural difference. The taste was truly fantastic with the pumpkin pie spice adding a great spicy punch that didn’t get overpowered by the chocolate. My dad’s serving recommendation is to pop the loaf in the freezer and let it sit for just a few minutes before slicing and enjoying. Though it’s great at any temperature, especially with a pumpkin spice espresso!

Oh, wondering about those cookies in the background there? Well stay tuned, for fall has only just begun and there are more fantastic pumpkin treats to come!

Happy Eating!

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