It’s been awhile since I have written but now it is bread baking season and I have no long camping trips planned. I have perused my cookbooks and have listed various dishes I want to cook and bake. Sometimes I find recipes of interest on the internet as well as other blog sites. I also have tried and true recipes that I repeatedly use. Not always of interest to write about. But then there is this…
It is important to use kitchen twine. I found that I did not have enough, 3 lengths of 24 inches, so used a length of cheesecloth for the third string. I had to carefully tweeze threads out of the indentations after baking but no real harm done.
The instructions were to tie the twine not too tightly. I think they must have made several loaves to get the right tension. I think I should have not used the cinnamon stick to hold up the twine. I probably thought that the bread would rise enough on the second rise to make it taut. But it did not. Still, it does look like a winter squash of some kind!
My cinnamon sticks are apparently too old. It did not fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma while baking.
I ate a wedge for breakfast and found it had good flavor and a dense texture, but not too dense.
This was baked with a new batch of yeast packets. I had baked a pumpkin yeast bread earlier in the month but found that the yeast had gone past…disappointing because it was less than a year old and I had it stored in the fridge. So if you have a big batch of yeast in a container somewhere check it for life before investing it in baking bread.
I store my instant yeast in the refrigerator and had paid no attention to the length of time it has been there. A thought came to me out of the blue that perhaps it is past its prime even though the breads and rolls I have been baking over the past few months do rise some. “Some” is what was concerning me. Why did not my bread rise to the heights above the bread pan as shown in recipe books?
I truly have no idea how long that yeast I have has been. It has been there throughout the course of the pandemic and before. I looked on the internet for information on how long instant yeast should be stored. I found information that recommended anything from 4 months to one year. Then I went and purchased a new batch. And then made a loaf of bread.
What a difference the new yeast made!
This particular bread was flour, salt, water, and yeast with a touch of milk. The dough rose significantly higher than my recent bread endeavors. The baked bread was above the rim of the loaf pan.
I have put the date on the container that the yeast is in and will endeavor to use this up within a year’s time. Now that I am retired I will have more opportunity to bake bread and other goodies.
It was a weekend and I wanted to bake. Bread should be better than cake when counting calories, don’t you think? I looked through several cookbooks and finally settled on one from my handy-dandy Fleischmann’s Yeast Booklet from long ago. I have wanted to bake this particular bread for a long time but have never done so. It looks like a cake and is in the “no-knead” chapter. One of my other cookbooks explained that the origin is probably French and is popular in the South here in America. The Smithsonian magazine site relates that she may be a French pastry chef who sought refuge in England or a different woman, or even from Sun and Moon as descriptive of appearance. Others say it was one of George Washington’s favorites. Read all about it here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/colonial-recipes-sally-lunn-cake-82438919/
Whatever its origin it sounds of interest to me and I set out to bake. No knead breads are batter breads. This recipe made one large loaf baked in a tube pan, the kind used for Angel Food Cake.
½ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F); I got to use my new instant read thermometer which was not very “instant”; hmmm?
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened oat milk)
½ cup softened butter; okay, I nuked it for 20-30 seconds ( this apparently is a no-no but works for me in a pinch)
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, well-beaten at room temperature; I put the eggs in a bowl of warmish water to take the chill off
5 ½ to 6 cups all-purpose flour
Put the warm water in the big bowl of the stand mixer (KitchenAid fitted with the dough hook) and sprinkle the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add milk, butter, sugar, salt and eggs and beat until well blended about one minute. Stir in enough flour to make soft dough. Cover, let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled, about one hour. So my kitchen is not a warm place. Hubby suggested I bring the bowl into the living room near the fireplace but I was afraid it would rise too fast. So I went off to the library and let it rise almost 1 ½ hours.
Grease well the tube pan. This needs to be a 10-inch pan and not a smaller decorative one. Stir the batter down, it basically needed to be gently pounded by the wooden spoon for this. My batter was all in one piece so I “poured” it into the tube pan and stretched it around to fit the circle. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
Thoughts: Also about food
I am hungry! I continue to count calories but find that I go over the weight loss amount regularly now. And it is not from the empty calories from drink. I’m not even eating a lot of sweets. How can I enjoy food and cooking this way? I don’t want to not pay attention to what I eat because I tend to put on weight that way. So far, I am not gaining but not losing either. Here is a typical work day’s food intake:
egg and cheese on English Muffin
leftover chili or vegetable curry, one cup
17 whole almonds
homemade sausage, peppers, and onions, one cup, if that
hamburger bun for sandwiching the sausage and peppers
handful of potato chips
dates for a sweet treat after dinner
glass of red wine at bar for Trivia night
Okay, so the potato chips were not the best choice. The dates add up as well but they are very nutritious. But this is not a lot of food. And this put me over the “limit” by at least 300 calories! Some mornings Hubby fixes oatmeal for me and sometimes I have yogurt for lunch. But I am still hungry.
One night we had grilled steak (4-6 ounces), sauteed squash, and Caesar salad with red wine and sat around the table having a nice conversation. The calorie count was over 50% of the allotted amount. And we only added a piece of fruit for dessert.
How can I keep this up? Yet I don’t want to give up. We’ll see at the end of the month what the scale says. Stay tuned.