a home cook with notions & an appetite
Two books came to my rescue when I got serious about wanting to succeed with bread. The first is an obvious choice: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. The second is one of those book that your pride tells you can’t possibly have good tips for the likes of you: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Baking. King Arthur supplied wonderful recipes and some great tips. The Complete Idiot’s Guide told me in plain talk about my yeast problem. Long story short, I was applying recipe rising times to instant yeast…times that should probably be cut in half. This was tiring out my dough and stopping that lovely oven spring/crumb/soft bread texture from forming.
One of husband’s favorite breads is cinnamon raisin. This is the King Arthur recipe list:
It’s a bit to gather, and husband at one point said the filling could have been easily doubled, but I promise that pages 206-207 of the King Arthur Baking Companion won’t steer you wrong (or the website, for that matter).
I should say I opted for potato flakes and used unsalted butter. Everything was at room temperature.
KAF gives you the choice of either mixing the dough ingredients by hand or by mixer. Guess which I opt for?
Excuse me while I get a little misty over ol’ blue…she died valiantly later that year in a second bout with pizza dough. For a few years, Kitchen Aid switched over to nylon gears and she just couldn’t handle it. While we were able to replace the nylon gears, it was never quite the same. We later opted for the bigger model and ended up with the company’s re-tooled metal gear version (“direct drive all steel-gears”).
So here’s my ball of joy. According to the directions, I’m supposed to let this rise an hour and a half. Per my Complete Idiot’s Guide (CIG), I should check on it in 30-40 minutes…
So CIG says if I can stick my finger in half an inch and it doesn’t spring back, I’m done rising – is that an innie?
It is – and it really is about twice as big as it was before. It could have gotten bigger and that would have been a huge problem. Basically, I would have tired out my yeast and there wouldn’t be anything left for my second rise. In the meantime, the cinnamon raisin filling was made by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor.
I roll out the dough so I spread the dough with egg wash and the cinnamon-raisin filling.
I actually made this a little bit simpler than it sounds – I laid my loaf pan at one end of the counter and rolled my rectangle towards it as a guide, keeping the width slightly narrower than the pan. The dough was very silky, so I really just sprayed some Pam on my kitchen island as the instructions did call for a “lighly oiled” surface. (You can see my loaf pan “guide” on the far left.)
Again, with the rising, I checked out the loaf in only HALF the time – and good thing! Doesn’t it look like I’m an inch above the pan?
I cover with the strusel (again, made quickly on the side) and I take it an extra step and split the top of the loaf. You can’t really see it, but I do it so the strusel will stay.
45 minutes later – and I HAVE OVEN SPRING – YAY.
Honestly, this was the turning point. The one where I said, “I can do this” when it came to bread. That small nugget of knowledge that I needed to let me know I wasn’t destined to continually fail at bread.
Gratuitous crumb shot. Because this is what we all find sexy about bread.