Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun with bread dough

There is something about shaping dough that I like. I remember well how much fun it was to get up early and make bread art. I did a giant shaped turkey for thanksgiving one year when I was growing up.  Whimsy Bread was the recipe I used then.  I believe it is from a 1970s sunset magazine issue...

I wish I had a picture of that giant Turkey bread loaf! This is a bear along the same lines, but not as cool...

Whimsy Bread

Source: Ask .com


1 pkg yeast
1/3 c milk
¼ c warm water
¾ c soft butter
½ c sugar
½ tsp salt
5 eggs
About 4 ¾ c flour

In a mixer, blend yeast and water. Let stand 5 min. Add butter, sugar, milk, salt, and eggs. Add 2 c. flour and beat on medium for 10 minutes. Mix in 1 c. flour on low until thoroughly moistened. Stir in 1 ¾ c flour (do not knead). Cover air tight and let rise 1 ½ hours. Beat to expel air, turn out onto a floured board.

Overlap two baking sheets, cover with foil and butter.

Tips on shaping: The dough will expand, so make the shape skinnier. Butt pieces close together if joined, leave 2 inches if separate. Snip dough for surface detail. For attached stuff, set into holes in punched dough.
Cover shaped dough, let rise 30 min. Brush w/1 egg + 1 tsp water mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. Let cool on pan 10 min. Slide onto wire rack to cool or tray to serve warm. Cool completely before wrapping. To warm: 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dinner Rolls... the easy way

In an attempt to fill my family's bellies with less expense, I have been messing around with breads... This was the best success yet.

I stumbled across the recipe on Nancy's Recipes and had to try it.... EL YUMMO!

Awesome Bread Machine Rolls
1 cup water
2 Tbs butter, softened
1 egg
3 1/4 cups bread flour (start with 3 cups and see if you need the extra 1/4 cup ~ I always need it)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp yeast
Put all ingredients on the pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Use the dough cycle.
When finished, pull apart into 15 (or more) balls. Place on greased cookie sheet 2″ apart and brush with melted butter. Cover and set in slightly warm place to rise for about 30-40 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.
Bake at 375ยบ for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove and brush with butter again.
Makes 15 or more depending on size.
This dough was LOVELY straight from the machine... All I did was shape it in to a strange version of Parker rolls, rise again, and bake. They were fabulous.

I found a nice place ( Bread Machine Digest ) with all those spiffy "how to form rolls" instructions. I have been fascinated by these diagrams since I was a kiddo leafing through my mom's Betty Crocker & Tassajara Bread cookbooks.

Friday, February 11, 2011

After school snacks.... Pretzels!

I was shocked by how much more food my children need now that they are not being taught at home. Since they have PE (hockey, volleyball, tumbling, dodge ball) twice each week, and twice per day field recess, they come home each day from school ravenous.

My car just after pickup sounds like this:

Mom: Hi kiddos! How was your day?
L & C overlapping: , Mom! I'm hungry! Can we go to McDonalds?
Mom: NO!!
L&C I am thirsty! Can we have a snack?
Mom: YES, but only when we get home.
L&C: But we're STARVING!!!
Mom:I think you'll make it home before dying...
L& C: I did good on my quiz, so can I have a candy bar?
( I did this for the first month if they did well on their Bible verse test, and now it is coming back to haunt me)
Mom: NO FOOD TILL WE GET HOME!!! You may have a healthy snack then...
L& C: We're/I'm soooooooooo huuuuunnnnnggggrrryyyyyy...!!!!!!!!!

I inform them of the punishment that will occur if they speak about it again until we get home, and after chatting briefly about school, I turn up the radio and enjoy the clouds & birds on the way home.

We didn't really eat many snacks until school started. For C's first grade class, they asked me to send 2 snacks per day for her. I began packing lunches that included a juice drink, sandwiches, and 2 other snacks. The class policy was no sweet snacks, so the oatmeal cookies I had planned were out. We then switched to store bought snacks which although SUPER yummy, were a bit more than I would like to spend... 2 bags of chips, per kid per day = way too much money on chips.

Lately I have been sending maybe an apple, and a slice of homemade bread. Today I began learning a new addition to the snack arsenal... Homemade pretzels...! I prefer to buy snacks, but this is MUCH cheaper (about $1.54 total) and not that hard. The most time consuming part is the kneading and rolling of the pretzel dough into ropes that makeup the pretzel shape... plech!

We'll see how the starving students like them....

Soft Pretzels
2 1/4 tsp Yeast
1 1/2 C. Warm water
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
4 1/2 C. Flour
1 egg (lightly beaten for glaze)
Coarse salt

1. Mix yeast, water & sugar in bowl. Allow to stand till foaming (about 5 minutes)
2. Stir in flour & salt. ( I think slowly is better)
3. Turn out onto lightly floured board or counter and knead about 8-10 minutes till smooth and elastic
4. Divide into 16 pieces (cover & keep the ones you aren't working with yet from getting all dried out... )
5. Roll each bit in to a 20" rope , and form into a pretzel shape ( or letters, etc.)
6. Place each as you make them onto a lightly greased baking sheet, cover and let them rise for 20 minutes.
7.Preheat the oven to 425 and brush the egg onto the pretzels, sprinkle with salt (or something else, like cheese, etc)
8. Bake for 15 minutes or till lightly brown. Cool on rack

OK, I messed this up and they still came out yummy, I just dumped all the flour in the bowl at once. This meant I couldn't mix it all into the dough properly, and it was REALLY hard to knead. Sometimes the amount of flour in bread recipes needs to be tweaked. I have a dry cold house, and I usually need less flour than called for.

Anyhow, this made kneading a nightmare.... I did it though, and then when I was doing the rolling out, I forgot to keep the balls of dough moist... I had to use water on my hands to roll them out, and used the counter with a bit of moisture on it.

Then to get the dough to rise well in our icebox house, I heated the oven to 170, left it on for 5 minutes, turned it off, let it cool a bit, and popped in the rising dough. I am not sure how long to hold the door open for, but this is the only way to get the dough to rise here. Well, the only Mark proof way.. (Our radiators are too close to the ground for safe dough rising) I have also heard of using a heating pad, and a couple towels under the pan, but we don't have one.

So you can flub it up a bit, but the pretzels still are yummy!

Just before baking:

My cost per batch is about $1.54, or about 10 cents per pretzel. (40 cents per day) The cost of the single serving chips is about .36 per bag, or 1.44 per school day

You could lower this by using different toppings. I figured the cost using roughly 2TBS coarse sea salt, but you could use regular salt, or just use cinnamon sugar, Parmesan, etc