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Posts Tagged ‘yeast bread’

Bread from Your Small Kitchen Garden

My friend on Twitter, @Mamapigeon, specifically asked about bread I was baking back in early September. This post explains how to make that bread. Follow me – @cityslipper – on Twitter or leave comments on this blog, and you can help determine the content of upcoming posts.


Not the applesauce and brown sugar loaf I describe in this post, but this is a typical loaf of bread shaped and baked according to instructions in this article.

Bread? Am I really going to tell you how to make bread from stuff you grow in your small kitchengarden? Well, actually… sort of. No, I don’t think you should grow wheat, grind it into flour, and make loaves (though you would gain my admiration if you did this). Rather, I’m going to share a “recipe” for using homegrown produce when you make your own yeast bread.

I put recipe in quotes because I don’t have a recipe. I long ago learned that when you mix flour, yeast, and liquid and store the mixture under favorable conditions to sustain life, you end up with bread dough (in most cases). Bake the dough and you get bread.

Apple Brown Sugar Loaves

Typically, I use at least some oil when I make yeast dough. About a month ago, I decided to use, instead, applesauce that I’d canned last season. The jar was half-empty and I wanted it out of the refrigerator. I used too much brown sugar as sweetener, added an unusual number of eggs, and ended up with two very tasty, chewy loaves of bread. Here’s how:

  • Measure 1.5 Cups of white (unbleached) flour into a very large bowl (if you’re hand-mixing) or into the large bowl of your Stand Mixer if it can handle bread dough. This will be a very heavy, stiff dough, so your mixer will get a workout.
  • Add one Tablespoon of active dry yeast (one packet) to the flour and whisk it around.

After initially whisking together 1.5 cups of flour and a tablespoon of active dry yeast with the wet ingredients (3/4 cups of warm water, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1 cup of applesauce… and four eggs), I add two more cups of flour and put the stand mixer’s dough hook to work (left). I run the mixer on its lowest setting and let it work all the flour into the dough. The dough will still likely be sticky (middle), so I add another half cup of flour—one tablespoon at a time—while the mixer runs. I let the dough absorb each tablespoon of flour before adding the next one. At least once while adding flour this way, I stop the mixer and scrape the dough off of the dough hook.

  • Into a container that can hold three or four cups of liquid, measure about ¾ Cup of hot tap water, ½ Cup of brown sugar, and one Cup of smooth apple sauce. Mix this until the brown sugar dissolves.
  • Add the wet mixture to the flour and yeast and whisk till all the flour is absorbed.

Continue to sprinkle tablespoons of flour into the mixing dough until the dough gathers around the dough hook without sticking to the sides of the bowl. I increase the speed of the mixer from time-to-time to make sure the dough gets beat around a bit. When the dough has a surface stickiness, but doesn’t actually stick to your skin, let the mixer knead it for a few minutes, then remove the dough from the hook.

  • Add four eggs to the mixture and whisk thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work.
  • Add flour to the mixture. Start by adding 2 cups of flour and mixing it in. Use a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks to do this… or let the dough hook on your stand mixer do the job.
  • Add more flour and mix it in… Best to work in about half-cup increments, adding flour, mixing, adding flour, and so on. When the dough becomes too heavy to mix with a spoon, you’ll need to dig your hands in and knead in flour as you add it. Eventually, the dough will become cohesive and stick to itself rather than to the bowl or to your fingers.
  • Test the dough after each addition of flour. You’ve added enough when the dough’s surface is a bit sticky but the dough doesn’t actually stick to your fingers. It may absorb close to six cups of flour in all (the 1.5 you started with, and about four more as you mix the dough).
  • Once you finish adding flour, continue to mix the dough for two or three minutes in your stand mixer, or to knead it if you’re mixing by hand.
  • Oil a baking pan heavily. I use a large, round pizza pan, but I recommend using an air-bake cookie sheet; it’ll help protect the bread from burning.
  • Pull the dough ball apart into halves. Return one half to the mixing bowl while you work with the other half.
  • Roll half the dough between your hands to smooth it out and to shape it into a cylinder… you could roll it on the counter as you might to make worms or snakes out of clay, but it saves cleanup to keep the dough in your hands. The cylinder should be about two or three inches in diameter and from seven to twelve inches long.
  • Lay the dough cylinder on the baking pan so that it is one-third of the way from an edge of the pan to the pan’s other edge.
  • Shape the second half of the dough and put it on the baking pan a third of the way in from the pan’s other edge.

Liberally oil a baking pan, split the dough in half, and roll the halves into tubes. Then use a sharp knife, or a scallop-edged knife to make five 1/4 inch deep incisions along the top of each loaf.

  • Make 5 slashes on a bias along the top of each loaf. I’ve found a scalloped-edged knife works best for this.
  • Paint the loaves with a generous coating of melted butter or olive oil (olive oil’s better for you).
  • Set the pan in a warm place so the loaves can rise. I usually turn on the oven for about 2 minutes, turn it off, and slide the baking pan in. The short burst of heat lingers and helps the yeast grow.
  • When the loaves are at least twice as big… and as much as three times as big… as when you first formed them (usually in 45 minutes to 1.5 hours), heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (if the loaves were rising in the oven, remove them before heating the oven).
  • Bake the loaves for 18 to 20 minutes… 25 minutes if the loaves are very large. I usually set a timer for 9 minutes and examine the loaves at that point. If they seem to be quite brown already, I turn the heat down 25 or 50 degrees. In any case, I rotate the pan so the loaves cook more evenly.

Paint the loaves with oil (I use olive oil), and set them to rise in a warm place. After 45 to 75 minutes, the loaves will triple in size (these didn’t quite make it before I had to bake them)… bake them in a 375 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes… 25 minutes if the loaves are particularly large. After baking, immediately move the loaves to a cooling rack. Try to eat this stuff while it’s still hot.

Generally, a loaf that’s 6 inches wide and about 3.5 inches tall cooks well in 18 minutes. However, with four eggs in the dough, I’ve seen loaves grow much wider and taller, and these need more cooking time. When the loaves have a pleasing brown crust, pull one away from the other and look at the bread along the newly-exposed edge. If that bread doesn’t appear fully-cooked, push the loaves back together and slide them in the oven for another five minutes.

Cool the loaves on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving. Use a serrated knife to cut slices. Store what you don’t eat in the first sitting in an air-tight container only after the bread cools to room temperature; when you store a loaf that’s still hot, it can develop very soggy spots.

Here are a few other ways to use applesauce in bread; these are quickbreads rather than yeast breads. Let me know if you try any… or leave a comment with a link to your favorite apple bread recipe:

  • Recipe: A Crime Against Apples – The past week has been gloomy, rainy, and gray, and yesterday I decided it would be the perfect day to turn these apples into applesauce and applesauce bread. I after I had peeled and chopped the apples I discovered, horror of all …

  • pecan applesauce bread – i have had this bread recipe for so many years i can’t remember where i found it. it is still just as delicious today as it was when i first made it years ago. i enjoy it best with coffee for breakfast! 2 cups all-purpose flour …

  • applesauce bread – mix together the dry ingredients. add the wet ingredients, mixing well. if desired, sprinkle cinnamon sugar (liberally) over the top of the bread before baking. (a crumb topping would be great too!) bake in 2 greased loaf pans at 350 …

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