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Home baking of bread deserves its own group!
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Adrian - I am so going to try these tomorrow!!! Thank you. Will report back!
This is in response to Shellie's question about biscuits from some time ago.
"I need assistance. When my Gram made biscuits, they were like a food group. She could even shove a hunk of cheddar into the biscuit, bake it, and it would melt in your mouth. I have experimented and worked at this, and mine are still wimpy. Suggestions?'
I struggled with this for a long time myself. Two or three things make a real difference, one especially so.
In the first place, I sift my ingredients together. This seemed to make a difference when I went to it some time ago. Admittedly, I haven't revisited it for a couple of years.
The next thing that I am positive makes a difference is to make sure the dough is wet enough. Without enough moisture, the baking powder can't work.
The last, biggest thing is central to all biscuit making. Every recipe cautions not to over-knead the dough. Over-kneading builds too much gluten. The dough can't relax and rise. Having made obviously flat biscuits, assuming I over-kneaded, I went to great lengths to barely keep the dough together. I found the opposite can also be true. Under-kneading leads to inadequate gluten formation and the gas from the baking powder escapes.
I did happen to have rice flour around, which has no gluten. I added 25% rice flour into the all-purpose unbleached white flour (locally grown and processed). The rice flour drops the gluten content. Everyone who makes whole wheat bread knows this effect. I repeated the same technique with whole wheat flour, 25%. Doing this it is almost impossible to overwork the dough. I actually found that when I re-roll the scraps, they actually bake up just as high, if not higher, than the first cut biscuits.
My goal was to train myself to recognize the right texture when working with 100% all-purpose flour, but the whole wheat biscuits are so much healthier, I've just stuck with those.
I am afraid I am pretty bad at capturing recipes - I mostly work from memory, but below is the recipe I typically use, or would use if I went in the kitchen right now:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450F
Add the lemon juice to the milk and give a quick stir
Sift together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cut the butter into 1/2 Tbsp pieces and add to the dry mix. Knead or cut in the butter until uniformly distributed.
Add the milk, thickened with lemon juice (buttermilk works, too). Stir together until a wet dough forms. The dough will hydrate slowly, so you don't really need to add much more flour. Knead the dough together.
Turn onto a well floured surface. Pat flat with hands until about 1/2 an inch thick. I've found a long strip actually maximizes the number of biscuits I get on the first cut.
Cut out biscuits and place onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. I usually brush the tops with milk to get right of the extra flour.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.
I'd love to hear if this works for anyone else. Let me know!
Appleblossom - This looks like the same recipe I shared 2 weeks ago from Laura Calder (French Food at Home) on cooking channel TV. I found that by forcing the proof and not allowing patience that the bread loses some of its quality.
Easiest no-knead bread recipe ever!
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 cup water
Whisk flour, salt and yeast together. Add the water and mix together till the dough looks like a "shaggy mess". Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp for 12-18 hours. Heat stove to 450 and pre heat your cast iron pot for 30 minutes. During the pre-heating of your pot, place your dough on a well floured surface and shape into a ball. Once shaped place the plastic wrap from the original bowl over it and let sit till the pot is done preheating. Once the pot is ready, place the dough ball in it and place cover on top (use pot holders, who would have though that cast iron is hot at 450! i swear sometimes i wonder...) Bake for 30 minutes at 450 and once it is done, place on an area that won't be affected by heat and take off lid.
It has the consistency of an english muffin, it is soooooo yummy!
I have tweeked it a bit by force proofing it in the oven for 8 hours at 175 degrees (till it rises 2x the size) and added milled flax seed to it. The bread had a denser, less airy consistency which is more of what i like in a bread.
The Miracle Boule
TOTAL TIME: 15 hr 10 min
Inactive Prep:14 hr
Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups/375 ml water to blend. What you'll have is a wet, shaggy, sticky dough, but not so wet as to be batter. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest in a warm place for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. It's ready for the next step when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Flour a work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Sprinkle over a little more flour and fold it once or twice. Cover with the tea towel and let rest 15 minutes.
Using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel with cornmeal, wheat bran or flour and lay the dough on it, seam-side down. Dust with more cornmeal, wheat bran or flour. (You need quite a lot because you want to be sure the dough doesn't stick to the towel). Cover and let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, the dough will be more than double in size.
Half an hour before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Put a 2-liter cast-iron pot or Dutch oven (cocotte) inside to heat.
When the dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough into it, seam-side up. (It will look messy, but this is OK.) Shake the pot to settle the bread evenly. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is nicely browned, another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Thanks Ryan I go to king arthur site for recipes also - they have such good ones.
Pretty easy recipe:
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of warm water (some used for yeast proof)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 packet Red Star Quick Rise Yeast
Baked at 350° for 30-35 mins
I will say baking a simple bread is a lot easier than thought.
Hey Ryan - Lookin Good! have you posted the recipe anywhere?
My newest loaf of bread! I got it to rise this time and is amazing!
It's nice to meet you.
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