More bread!

I’ve been on a kick of making everything from scratch and I’m still trying to find a bread recipe that I like, especially for whole wheat bread, which so far hasn’t been wildly successful, but hasn’t been horrible either.

Today I decided I’d try the King Arthur recipe for whole wheat bread. I didn’t have instant yeast and the instructions on the blog post wasn’t all too consistent with the process I’ve been following on other recipes, so I modified the steps to be more consistent with what I’ve been doing. The recipe called for taking 2T of water from the existing recipe and putting it in a separate bowl with the yeast to proof. The recipes I’ve read all tell you to do this with the entire portion of water and whatever “sweetener” is being used. In this case the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of honey. I made this recipe twice today and the second time around I just did the honey in the water with the yeast and let that proof, before adding the remaining ingredients. It worked out great.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups water (Luke warm, 105 degrees)
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup dry milk powder
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour mix*
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Proof the yeast with the water and honey (add water to bowl of stand mixer and add honey, stir thoroughly and then add yeast). Once frothy/bubbly (roughly 8-10 minutes) add remaining ingredients and knead on second setting for 6-8 minutes. The dough should pull off the sides and not be too sticky. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil, place dough in bowl, and set (covered) in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Rising dough, about 1 hour 15 minutes in

Take dough out and shape into a log that’s roughly 8″ long. Grease a bread form lightly with oil and place dough log inside. Allow to rise again (covered) until the dough is about an inch over the rim (1-2 hours again).

White whole wheat loaves, should’ve weighed for equal sizes

Preheat oven to 350 before bread reaches 1″ over edge. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes (or until the top is a golden brown) and then cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes (until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit). The first time I made this I made one loaf out of the dough and the second step (to cover it) took about 30 minutes. The second time I made it I separated dough out into two loaves and it took about 18 minutes to get to 190 degrees.

  
*I made a mix of 1/3 cup bread flour to 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour, this worked well, but the second time I made the bread I used just white whole wheat.

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Making tortillas

Growing up we lived all over and my mother was always big on trying local recipes. When we moved to California, of course she had to find a good tortilla recipe. I’m not a huge fan of the store bought tortillas, as a result, and decided I was going to make those for dinner tonight. Not only are they simple to make and taste better than anything you can buy in the store, but it’s much cheaper too.

Tortillas all have the same base ingredients: flour, salt, oil/fat/shortening, baking powder, and water (as hot as your hands can handle). 

The ingredients I used this time:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup shortening (diced)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3-3/4 cups hot water

Place flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, add shortening and mix (I used my pastry blender) until crumbly and it looks kind of like wet sand. Add in hot water, I didn’t add all, but ended up using almost all of it. Mix this by hand until you can form a ball of dough. Let dough sit for 20 minutes. After the dough has rested make 12 equal sized balls of dough and roll these out into your tortilla. It’s best to roll them out one at a time (meaning roll one out, throw on skillet, and while that one cooks start rolling another one). Heat up a large skillet to medium-high (I set my mine to 7.5 on a scale of 1-10) and place a rolled out tortilla (8-9 inches in diameter) onto it. Cool for 30-45 seconds and then flip and cook for another 15-20 seconds. It’s best to do this with a helper, but is doable alone. I place a dish towel on a plate and then cover each tortilla as I work through them, but if you’re making these in advance it’s ok to just put them on an uncovered plate.

I’ll post pictures shortly, as I was so focused on making them that I forgot to get some shots.

  

Bread bread and more bread

I’ve been on a kick, lately, to find the best bread recipe. The bread I like, from Calandra’s bakery, is $4.49 and we go through a loaf in about 3-4 days (so that’s $7 a week, or $28 per month, give or take). In addition, Mr. Man Cold has declared that he doesn’t like the fact that his “wonder bread” doesn’t go “bad”. He doesn’t eat bread very often, so the change in cost, for him, actually goes up a bit (well, the price of bread, but the health benefits go up too, less processed crap). I’ve been trying to convince him, for years now, that the breads he likes aren’t good for you, but I guess he had to figure that out on his own. 

So, first up, MMC’s bread. He likes white, I needed a recipe that would somewhat mimic the softness of the store bought processed stuff, so I found Amish White Bread. (Note: I am not a fan of kneading, partly because having two little ones makes it virtually impossible to take that kind of time and I still have De Quervain, more commonly known as mommy thumb, that gets aggravated by any repeat actions, like kneading bread, crocheting, knitting, writing, etc, so I needed a recipe that could be done in the KitchenAid).

So, back to the bread. I found a decent recipe on Pinterest (I’ll post link with the picture). It’s very yummy, however it’s pretty high in sugar, so with each time I make it I decrease the amount of sugar by one tablespoon. MMC approved of the bread, but he either doesn’t have a very “refined” palette or he just doesn’t want me to keep changing it.  

Amish White Bread, recipe by Deep South Dish

Then came my turn. I love whole wheat bread, and so do the kids, so I needed to find something that would make all of us happy. First recipe I tried was supposed to be a simple, very little hands on action, whole wheat bread. This recipe did not turn out great at all, what probably contributed was that I needed to go grocery shopping while the bread was rising and was gone longer than expected. It rose nicely, but I think it rose too much and that messed with the consistency (it was very heavy and dense). I don’t even have a picture of it. The taste wasn’t bad, but it left wonting. 

Then I had an ah-ha moment and decided to modify the Amish White Bread to be whole wheat. I did a rough ratio of 2/3:1/3 whole wheat to bread flour. The bread came out delicious, but I still think the sugar content could be lower. It is lighter, in weight, than the bread I normally like, but I think it’s worth it. I’ve already made it twice and the second time I did 1/4 cup of sugar, instead of 1/3.  I also made them into mini loafs, which was fun (but I needed 6 mini tins and only had 4, so they were larger than I had hoped. I’ve since bought two more and will try that the next time around). 
 

Amish Whole Wheat Bread, modified recipe from Deep South Dish

And then… Sunday I decided I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, just to buy hamburger buns. MMC was at a conference and both kids were exhausted from visiting family the day before… So naturally I’ll make the bun myself. Sometimes recipes on Pinterest can be amazing and you strike gold, but sometimes modifications are required. We live on the east coast, in the northern part of New Jersey. The recipe I found was made by someone who lives in Arizona. The weather, here, has been all over the place (warm, almost summer like, to freezing/snow). This is key to note, because Arizona is a relatively dry place to live and NJ is not. The first time I made the recipe the dough was VERY wet and sticky. She states, both in her recipe and her vlog, that it needs to be, but I should’ve paid closer attention to the dough itself. She even shows you the consistency you’re looking for, which I kinda dismissed the first time around. She includes weights for the flour, but because of the different climates that goes right out the window and I needed more than the 3 cups she was stating.

A side note: The weight of the flour is, in my opinion, the only (and best) way to measure flour. King Arthur Flour is one of my favorite brands and they even have a helpful chart on their website. The basics is one cup of flour should weigh 4.25 ounces or 120 grams. When measuring flour you should ALWAYS fluff the flour with a fork or whisk, as the flour starts to settle over time and causes the measurements to be off significantly.

First attempt, they’re flat, Brioche Hamburger Bun, by Handle the Heat

I increased the flour the second time around and they turned out perfect. It helps to follow a recipe, but also to make sure you adjust for other variables AND read the instructions.

Success, Brioche Hamburger Buns, recipe from Handle the Heat

The hamburgers turned out perfect too (broil the in the oven for 5-6 minutes on each side). I do a mix of pork and beef, because it keeps the burgers a little more moist.

Hamburger on homemade brioche bun

Although the process for creating the hamburger buns was pretty time consuming (getting the recipe right), the end result was well worth it and I’ll be making these over the weekend, again, to have a stash available in my freezer.