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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kevin's Holiday Bread - recipe included

With the approach of the holiday season, many folks like to have a special bread, cake, or other bread-based treat on hand for a quick and easy, yet special, breakfast before/after present unwrapping, religious services, or for when visiting friends/family stumble down from guest rooms first thing in the morning.  This is my favorite creation because it's easy to make in quantity, can be made in advance (and lasts well for several days), and is super easy to serve individually to each family member/guest as they want it. A loaf of this bread is just as good frozen and thawed for use later, too.

This is a hearty meal-in-a-slice bread, only lightly sweet and fruity, and is at its perfection when toasted and generously buttered.

While this bread recipe calls for water I often use brewed Yerba Mate in place of half of the water. I encourage even folks who are not fond of Yerba Mate to give it a try in bread. It adds a depth of flavor to bread that is hard to define but which is quickly missed once tasted. It also adds a nice caffeine pick-me-up to the morning toast.

My favorite mate to brew for baking is Guayaki's Traditional blend.  It brews up strong flavored and smooth, perfect for a recipe like this.

Happy holidays from my household to yours!

Kevin's Holiday Bread

Recipe By : Kevin McKay
Prep Time: 2 hrs 15 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins | Makes: 2 loaves | Difficulty: Easy

Pour into bottom of mixer bowl w/ dough hook attached:
2 Teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

Dissolve together, let sit 5 minutes to proof the yeast, then add to mixer bowl:
2 Cups Water, warm (not hot)
4 Tablespoons Honey (or raw sugar)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast

Add dry ingredients in this order, w/motor running on medium-low:
1/3 Cup Zoom (see notes)
1/3 Cup 10-Grain Hot Cereal (or similar, see notes)
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
2 Cups chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
3 Rounded Tbsp Vital Gluten Flour (optional)
5 1/3 Cups (+/-) Whole Wheat Flour (substitute up to 3 cups of unbleached white flour if you want a lighter loaf)

--- Preparation & Baking---
  • Add additional flour or water (very little at a time) to achieve a barely-tacky dough that forms a cohesive ball around the dough hook. 
  • Continue to knead with dough hook on low speed (check mixer instructions for bread kneading setting) for 10 minutes (I start a 10-minute timer as I begin to feed the dry ingredients into the mixer). 
  • Cover with towel, still in mixer, and let rise for 60 minutes. Dough should have doubled in size. 
  • Turn dough out on work surface and punch dough down by hand. 
  • Split dough in half, shape into loaves, and transfer to two greased loaf pans.
  • Let rise for 60 minutes in a warm location. 
  • Place the loaves in the oven and then turn it up to 350° and set a timer for 35 minutes baking time (interior loaf temperature should be 200° when done, if checked by thermometer). 
  • Transfer to racks to cool.

This recipe is designed* for a Kitchenaid Professional 600 series or Cuisinart SM-55/SM-70 (or similar capacity). The larger motor in this model will handle a two-loaf whole grain dough. For smaller models of mixers, including the Artisan or Classic series Kitchenaids, I strongly recommend halving this recipe and doing one loaf at a time to avoid burning out the motor.

This recipe makes two standard-size bread loaves. I use Lodge Cast Iron bread pans (10-1/4-Inch by 6-1/8-Inch by 2-7/8-Inch).

Gluten Flour is a helpful addition for a good whole grain loaf of bread. It's not cheap (as flour goes) but without it you get a dense low-rising loaf. You can buy it at stores, often in bulk bins, or bagged at any grocery store that has (for example) Bob's Red Mill line of flours and grains.

Trader Joe's makes an Orange Flavored Dried Cranberries and a Dried Pitted Tart Montmorency Cherries, which I often use for this recipe.

Zoom is a Krusteaz brand of wheat flake hot cereal I use to give added whole-grain texture to my bread. Anything similar can be substituted. A couple of biscuits (crushed) of Shredded Wheat makes a great alternative as do quick-cooking oats.

Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain hot cereal is the one I use to give added whole-grain texture to my bread. Anything similar can be substituted.

Despite what some sources say, making bread isn't rocket science. I scoop my cups of flour (I don't weigh) and I don't worry about precision. It's easy to add a little more flour or little more liquid if I think the dough looks a little dry or wet. The bottom line is that you should end up with a dough that is firm enough to work with (shaping into a loaf) but moist enough to be just barely tacky to the touch. Anything even close to that is likely going to work just fine.

*For a bread machine: cut this recipe in half and add the ingredients to the pan in the order specified by your bread machine guide (usually wet, then dry). No further adjustments to the recipe should be needed.

*To do entirely by hand: Add ingredients in the same order and mix by hand, then knead by hand on a floured board for the full seven to ten minutes. Just substitute elbow grease everywhere you see the word mixer. ;-)
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