Sandwich bread: baking for my new home on the web

To warm up my new virtual home I decided to bake some delicious bread for you. I have been experimenting with this bread for quite some time and now and I am confident I have a great recipe for you to bake your sandwich bread at home and forget the store bought one.

And let me give credit where credit is due.  Adriano’s blog Profumo di Lievito is the main reason why my bread is now consistently turning out great. So if you can read Italian hop over by Adriano and start baking!

And last but not least, let me thank Manu from Manu’s Menu for passing me a couple of great awards right on the day I came to this new home on the web.

Sandwich bread: baking for my new home on the web

Sandwich bread: baking for my new home on the web

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb all purpose flour
  • 1/2 lb bread flour
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup oil or butter (optional)
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • pinch of salt

Directions

    1. Mix the two flours. Put half of the total amount of flour in a bowl and mix it with 1 cup of water in which you had dissolved the yeast until well combined. Cover the bowl wit plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 2 hours.
    2. After 2 hours add the rest of the ingredients: salt, the other half of the flour, water and the oil/butter. You might need to add slightly more or less water depending on the absorption capacity of the flower. The objective is to get a smooth, elastic and non sticky dough. Again cover with plastic foil.
    3. Let the dough rest and rise for another hour and then put it on the counter. flatten it by pulling on the borders and the fold in three. put back in the bowl to rise covered for another half hour.
    4. After half hour turn on the oven at 375F and place a pot with water on the bottom. The steam will help keep the crust soft as you bake your bread. Form the dough into a long roll about three times the size of your loaf pan, fold in three and put in your loaf pan to rise.
    5. By the time your oven is ready, the bread should have more or less doubled. Put the loaf in the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
    6. Take the bread out of the pan and let cool down wrapped in a clean tea towel.
    7. If you keep the bread in a ziploc bag, it will last up to a week. It get a bit soggy by the end of the week, but it will still be great if you pop it in the toaster for a couple of minutes.

Notes

  1. I often play with the flour and with the liquid. you can safely substitute up to half of the flour mix with whole wheat. I also played with rye, but there you shouldn’t go past 7 oz. out of the total 1lb of flour, otherwise the bread doesn’t rise properly.
  2. For the liquid you can use milk, buttermilk water pretty much interchangeably. I don’t see much of a difference
  3. If you are watching fats you can easily leave out the butter and oil. Again no great changes.
  4. Of course you can add all the spices and flavorings you like. Seeds, nuts, herbs, spices and dried fruits are all great additions to the bread. Just pick your favorites.

The Perfect Biscotti

Biscotti is an Italian cookie which is twice-baked. It makes a wonderful snack and is a great accompaniment to coffee, tea or wine. It is a light and textured cookie and makes a great alternative to the more sugary cookies available at the local supermarket. With biscotti you can really experiment with the ingredients: you can add chocolate chips, any time of nut, and even dried fruit like cranberries. Here Eva shows us her recipe for biscotti. We’ve tried many different biscotti recipes and found this one to be the best.

  • 2 cups of corn oil
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 5 1/2 cups of flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup of sliced almonds or sesame seeds (to roll your biscotti logs)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush your large pan with oil.

Using an electric blender, mix together 2 cups of corn oil and 2 cups of sugar. Add the zest of 1 orange and continue mixing. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla and then add the six eggs. It’s best to crack each egg into a small bowl and then add the eggs to the mixture one by one.

In another bowl add 4 teaspoons of baking powder to 1 cup of flour and mix together, and then add this to the egg mixture. Slowly add in the remaining 4 ½ cups of flour to the mixture. Continue working the dough with your hands.

On your countertop sprinkle some of your almond/sesame seeds in front of you. Take a large handful of the dough mixture and roll it into a log on your countertop, rolling it onto the almonds/sesame seeds. Be sure to oil your hands before handling the dough; the oil makes it much easier to work with the dough and keeps the dough from sticking to your hands. Continue working the dough into logs and place these on your greased pans. Sprinkle any remaining almonds on top of your biscotti logs.

Bake in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the biscotti logs from the pan and place them on a cutting board. Slice the logs into diagonal pieces and place these pieces sideways on your pan and put it back in the oven at 250 degrees for another 30 minutes to dry them out.

These biscotti are wonderful served with Greek coffee!