Monday, January 21, 2013

Country White Bread

1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Here are the directions EXACTLY as they come from the book that accompanies the bread machine:
  • Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.
  • Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.
  • Use your finger to form a well (hole) in the flour where you will pour the yeast.  Yeast must NEVER come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients.  Measure the yeast and carefully pour it into the well.
  • Snap the baking pan into the bread maker and close the lid.
  • Press "Select" button to choose the Basic setting
  • Press the "Crust Color" button to choose light medium or dark crust.
  • Press the "Start/Stop" button.
Here is how I actually made the bread:
  • Looked up the recipe for Country White Bread in the book that goes with the Oster bread machine your daughter gave you because you want to try to do this right the first time.

  • Scrap that idea because you also want to use the Kefir your sister gave you to make the bread sort of be like a sour dough bread.
Isn't that little snowman jar topper cute?

  • Strain the Kefir grains from the Kefir your sister gave you. 
I don't think you are supposed to use a metal strainer but that is all I have and the Kefir seems to be holding up well in spite of my inadequacy.

  • The Kefir grains feels like a little rubbery, pellet-like thingy.
Sitting on top of my stubby little finger is one of the Kefir grains.  (I cannot be satisfied to simply mash the curd stuff through the strainer with the spatula, I have to reach into it and feel around and grab the grains out with my fingers.)

  • Put all the Kefir grains in a pint jar and fill it till it is about 2/3 full with milk.  Return the cute little topper and rubber band to the top of the jar and set it aside on the counter.

  • Stir the remaining liquid (looks sort of like mushy curds and whey) till it is a buttermilky looking sort of stuff.
  • Pour one cup of the strained liquid from your Kefir into the bread pan.
  • Add 1 1/2 Tablespoon softened (room temperature) butter.
  • Add one beaten egg that has been allowed to come to room temperature.
I just dumped all this in around the little stirring arm there in the middle.  I so, so wanted to stir it all together, but I decided this first time I would sort-of follow the instructions...

  • Dump in 4 cups bread flour.
  • Carefully measure 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons (because you looked at your hand-dandy conversion chart on the fridge when you realized you didn't have a half Tablespoon measuring spoon and learned that 3 teaspoons equal a Tablespoon and did the math) sugar and dump it atop the flour.
  • Carefully measure and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  • Use your finger (I washed my hands good after I finished handling the Kefir...and before I handled it, too!  I really did!) to make a well in the flour.
  • Carefully measure and add 2 teaspoons active dry yeast.  Then, realize that there is only a smidge left in the packet you opened and dump that in, too.
  • Get so involved in carefully measuring (because you hardly ever do that) and forget to take photos.
  • Snap the baking pan into the bread maker and close the lid.
  • Press the Select button and choose the Basic setting.
  • Press the Crust Color button and choose light crust.
  • Press the Start/Stop button and watch through the little window on top as everything begins to stir around.
  • Get a cup of coffee and begin to straighten up the kitchen where you have spilled flour, Kefir, etc.
  • Hear a horrible noise that sounds like the bread machine is getting ready to launch the bread pan into outer space and rush over to see what is wrong. 
  • Realize that the bread pan must be pushed down pretty forcefully to be 'snapped into place' and push it down into place so it will stop being jostled all over the bread machine.
  • Finish up the kitchen clean-up, put a load of clothes in the washer, make the bed, etc. for about a half hour before you wonder what is going on with the bread and stroll in to check it out.
  • Look into the bread pan and think, "My goodness that looks awfully dry..." 
  • Look in the book to see what should be happening and notice the chart that says the dough is kneaded for the second time and decide to add some more milk...and some more...and give it a stir with your rubber spatula...and add some more milk till the dough looks...well, like a dough ball.  (Sure wish I had taken photos!)
  • Leave the machine alone for a while.  (After all, the whole process takes three hours!)
  • Get a pot holder and remove the bread pan immediately when the machine beeps at the end of the three hours.
  • Dump the loaf of bread out onto a plate.
  • Use a table knife to remove the mixing/kneading paddle from the loaf of bread.

  • Curse and drop the paddle onto the counter because you should have realized that something metal or ceramic or whatever it is made of is going to but ultra hot and burn your hand!
  • Briefly let the directions of the book which say let the bread rest for fifteen minutes flitter across your brain.

  • Slice a piece off and taste the bread!
Note:  The bread is quite dense and has a sourdough sort of flavor.  I like the color of the sides of the crust, but the top is not quite as brown as I would like.  It is done and tastes OK.  It just isn't as aesthetically pleasing as I'd like.  Next time I will not use quite as much flour and add a wee bit more milk (even more than I splashed in during the kneading step).  All-in-all it was a fun experience and I'm looking forward to trying out more with this handy-dandy machine!

P.S.  Does anybody know why sometimes Blogger won't let me change the size of my photos?  I am frustrated with this and have tried several times to enlarge the photos in this post!

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