Breads


This is a very easy bread recipe…it comes together quickly, is pretty forgiving, and tastes wonderful!  Growing up my mom made a lot of bread – enough that I never knew you had to store whole wheat flour in the freezer…she used it quickly enough that it never went rancid.  I got a big surprise with an old bunch of flour and a very disgusting batch of blueberry muffins; suffice to say that I am not allowed to send baked goods to work with my husband anymore.  Anyway, this is my favorite of all the types she made.  It makes good rolls, but I personally prefer the loaves.  It makes absolutely amazing toast. 

If you’re looking to decrease the white flour and increase the whole wheat, you’ll probably have to make some adjustments.  I’d use whole wheat pastry flour in place of the white, rather than using all whole wheat (the pastry flour is finer).  As I experiment, I’ll keep you updated.

I make my bread (almost all the way through) in an electric mixer.  I have a relatively tough Kitchen Aid with a dough hook, but if you have a less powerful mixer, just mix until you hear the mixer start to labor, then finish the mixing by hand.  Part of the fun of making bread is getting your hands in the dough anyway.

PS: I really, really want to make this bread today….it’s snowing and it would be a perfect day for the smell of bread proofing and baking.  But, my hands hurt too much to do the kneading today.  So, I promise some good pictures once I’m back in a state to make it again. 

Mom’s Three Grain Bread (makes 2 9×5 loaves)
Ingredients:
2 pkg. dry yeast (1 pkg=2 tsp)
3-4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. shortening
2 Tbs. white sugar
1 Tbs. salt

To Prepare: Combine yeast, 1 cup of white flour, wheat flour, and rye flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. 

In a saucepan, combine milk, sugars, shortening, and salt.  Heat, stirring, until warm (110-120 degrees F), and shortening is melted.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture, beat.  Gradually add enough white flour to make dough consistency (2-3 cups).  I usually remove mine from the mixer when it starts balling up and climbing the dough hook.  At this point it will still be quite sticky; form it into a ball, flatten the ball, and sprinkle with some of the additional flour.  Knead to combine.  Continue kneading and adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky and has an elastic (but not leathery, if you hit leathery you’ve gone too far) feel. 

 Form into a ball, place in a greased bowl.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until double.  Punch down; form loaves or buns.  Place in greased pans.  Rise again until doubled. 

Bake at 375 degrees 15-20 minutes.

*If your kitchen isn’t warm, I find the best way to “proof” the dough is to place it in the greased bowl, and then put it in your oven, with the oven turned off.  Place a casserole on the bottom rack of your oven, fill with boiling water (just put an electric or traditional kettle on to boil when you start kneading the dough).  Close the oven – you now have an ideal environment for proofing bread: warm and moist.  (I learned this technique watching Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” on the food network – genius!).

*The purpose of the damp towel is to keep the top of the dough from drying out and forming a crust, which will keep the dough from rising.  You shouldn’t need this if you use the oven method, but I usually give the top of my dough a quick spray with cooking spray, just as insurance.  This keeps it nice and moist, and gives it a beautiful golden color when it bakes.

This is a recipe that is very close to my heart.  First of all, this is not what the average American thinks of when someone says “pudding,” this is actually a savory recipe that resembles a popover.  While the recipe is super simple, and the results can be very impressive, it does require some self-control. 

I grew up eating Yorkshire pudding and roast beef.  It was our holiday meal, and often our birthday meal (when my mom would make us whatever we wanted for dinner and dessert).  A traditional Yorkshire pudding is made in one dish, but I’m including a couple variations below.  Now the fun part.  Yorkshire pudding has always inspired much angst and competition in my family.   Grandma’s was always glorious and high, Mom’s often fell flat.  Mom now uses a different recipe, but I’ve always been able to get good results from Grandma’s original recipe (ha!).  The good news is that even if your Yorkshire crashes, it will still taste good.  An authentic recipe would use beef drippings to grease the pan, but since my roast beef recipe makes its own gravy as it cooks, I don’t ever have pan drippings.  Shortening works fine. 

The two most important parts of this recipe are the resting period for the batter, and not opening the oven door.  If you don’t have a window in your oven, cross your fingers and pray.  You can open the oven once, close to the end of the cooking time, but you will probably lose volume as a result.  Also, almost any vessel with straight sides will work, but don’t use Pyrex!  Because the pan has to be preheated mostly empty, using a Pyrex pan could be very dangerous (they can explode if heated empty).

Yorkshire Pudding
Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 Tbs. shortening
shake of salt

To Prepare: Place 2 Tbs. shortening in an 8 x 8 inch pan, or a 9 inch cake pan, or distribute in over-sized muffin tin. 

Beat eggs with milk, add flour and salt.  Let sit for 20-30 min. while you finish preparing dinner. 

Place pan in oven and melt shortening.  Add batter to hot shortening.  Cook for 45 minutes at 425-450 degrees (lower for a darker pan).  Don’t open the door!  The pudding is done when the sides have risen and are a deep golden brown.  Serve immediately with roast beef and gravy.

*Variations: Add 1 tsp or so of fresh chopped thyme or sage to batter.  I have also put a small bit of goat cheese or blue cheese in the bottom of the pan after pouring in the batter.  This makes for a very different flavor, and it’s quite yummy.