Back in the 1970’s when my mother had a problem losing weight, she said that the hardest thing to give up, and the thing that made her fat, was bread. Now, I don’t know how true it is that bread made her fat, but I do know that giving up bread is a difficult thing to do!
There are so many different types of breads to choose from – crunchy and soft, sweet and sour, dark and light, rich and lean. All delicious.
I’m not much of a bread baker, but I have tried my hand at a few. I admit to using a bread machine quite often, but not always.
One that I make in my bread machine most frequently is called a rustic Italian loaf, although the results – while tasty – aren’t like any Italian loaf I’ve seen before. It’s easy to put together, and doesn’t contain dairy, which is important to me, and uses oil rather than butter. This recipe makes a 2# loaf, although my Cuisinart recipe booklet also helpfully provides quantities for 1# and 1-1/2# loaves. Put the ingredients into the bread bucket in the following order, and use the French/Italian Bread program:
1-1/4 to 1-1/3 cup room-temperature water (depending on the weather)
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
4 cups (17 oz) bread flour
1/2 cup unprocessed coarse wheat bran
2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tb sesame seeds (optional)
I also add a heaping tsp of diastatic malt powder. According to KAF, “Diastatic malt powder is the “secret ingredient” savvy bread bakers use to promote a strong rise, great texture, and lovely brown crust. Especially useful when flour does not have barley malt added, as is true for most whole wheat flour and many organic flours.”
My recipe calls for 1-1/2 cup of water, but I had a problem with the loaf over rising and then collapsing, leaving an unsightly indentation in the top of the loaf. The problem disappeared after decreasing the amount of water. The malt powder helps too.
I highly recommend weighing flour, rather than measuring, as the amount can vary widely depending on how packed the flour is. Flour should weigh about 4.25 ounces (120 grams) per cup. I have a small digital scale that measures pounds, ounces, kilograms and grams.
I also frequently make an Italian Panettone bread in the bread machine, and it turns out surprisingly well, although a little more dense than I would like. I’m planning on making an overnight slow-rise version that isn’t made in the bread machine, and I have obtained some of the disposable paper pans to bake it in. Panettone is a delicious rich bread that is good plain, or toasted with butter. Here is the recipe I will be using:
It requires a long rise of the sponge or “biga”, and the dough is a bit sticky and tricky to shape, but the results are delicious! You can see in the photo that even KAF’s rolls are not perfectly shaped.
I am learning as I practice making my own bread, and I am now much more confident and willing to try something new. At Easter time I made my first loaf of braided Challah and, although not perfect, was pretty good. Next time I will add another rise for a better crumb.