Saturday, July 24, 2010

What’s for Breakfast?

With new camera in tow, I made my usual breakfast bread. We slice and freeze this loaf, pulling and toasting a piece to eat each morning en route to work. Usually peanut butter or someof my home-made jam is involved. Most recent jam involved black currants, but that’s a different story.

The loaf starts with the dry ingredients. I love spices, so breakfast bread is a creative outlet. A normal loaf has cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, orange peel and cardamom. Not many bakers use cardamom, but a smidge in your baking makes things taste as good as they smell. I hate it when a baked item smells yummy but tastes flat. Not so with cardamom. I use Penzey’s spices and extracts. They are high quality and you can buy in bulk. There is no middle man, so prices are great. For the cost of a small bottle of cinnamon in the grocery store, you can get a 4 ounce bag of very high quality cinnamon from Penzey’s. Who doesn’t have old spice jars to reuse? OK, if you are the ONE person who does not, you can buy it the first time ina jar, then refill it from the larger bulk bags. I use about 1.5 t of cinnamon and 1/4 t of everything else. If I can get TRADER JOE’S Pumpkin Pie Spice blend, I throw in 1.5 t of that as well. It is a wonderful blend for most baking, but seems to be available only around the holidays.

To the spices, I add 1.5 teaspoons of kosher salt (Morton’s), 2 Tablespoons of dry milk, 1 tablespoon of Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten for each cup of fresh-ground flour I will add and 1.5 cups of ‘store-bought’ flour, usually a bread flour like King Arthur or Gold Medal. Note: for bread-baking purposes, a cup is by weight, not volume, so one ‘cup’ at my altitude and humidity is about 3/4 of a normal measuring cup.

To this mix I add 3.5 cups of fresh ground flour. I usually mix at least 2 grains for more balanced proteins. Today it was rye and hard white wheat. If I have KAMUT on hand, I will throw some of that in the mix. I experimented with grinding popcorn the other day, so had a quarter of a cup to throw in. Occasionally I ‘ll throw in some buckwheat also, as it also has some differences that improve the nutrition of the loaf, which is the point in doing all this.

I’m currently using a small BACK to BASICS mill, which makes good flour. If you are feeding two, it’s fine. I’ve been looking at a larger mill from Lehmann’s. I had to return the one I bought as there was some odd problem. It could have been operator error, which would embarrass me a lot.

When I have other good dry additives on hand, I will throw some in before I leave the dry bin. My favorites include oat bran, wheat bran or almond meal. Today, it was almond meal, chopped dry ginger and some pecan pieces.
The wet stuff goes right into the zojirushi bread pan. 2 eggs, 3 T olive oil (if I have virgin coconut oil I will substitute 1T of this for 1 of the olive oil), 3T honey, 1.5 t of almond extract, and about 1.25 cups of warm water. I usually put the Pyrex measuring cup of water into the microwave for 30 seconds. This allows me to use the ‘quick’ cycle of the bread machine. That way if I make bread in the evening, I don’t have to wait up for it to come in before I go to bed!
After giving this all a little stir, I add the dry mix on top and add about 2t of RED STAR yeast.
I close the lid, set on quick wheat bread (2 hours and 8 minutes) and let it ROCK AND ROLL. I will check it often in the first 15 minutes. Between the altitude and the low humidity, adjustments are needed to almost every loaf. Sometimes it’s a tablespoon or two of water, other times it is flour. Once it has ‘cleared to floor’ of the bread machine, I leave it alone. By ‘clear the floor’ I mean that the beater bars are not surrounded by a soft dough and the mix has a soft but not too mushy texture.

Before I walk away, I chop some dried fruit. Today I used about half a cup of golden raisins, chopped dried pineapple and dried apricots for a total of a loose cup of fruit. When the zo beeped for additives, I dumped in the fruit and started doing other chores.
The scent of baking bread begins to permeate the house. Is there anything more wonderful? Yes! Enjoying the fruits of your labor!


No comments:

Post a Comment