Yet again, I have no pictures of the bread that I made this weekend. However, I figured that I would post about it before Asano-mama gives me flack for not mentioning it.
This bread recipe was the second one that I had ever tried (my first was rosemary focaccia that needed two attempts – I guarantee that everyone kills the yeast in their first breadmaking attempts). Beth Hensperger’s recipe is a great recipe for beginners in general. It’s a little faster than other bread recipes and pretty hard to mess up since kneading is not much of an issue. It’s available on epicurious.com and I am reposting it here with a few minor (really minor) changes.
1 tablespoon instant yeast (I use SAF)
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (use good quality ground ginger – the whole world depends on it)
1/2 cup warm water (comfortably warm to your skin – don’t go too hot or you’ll kill your yeast)
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used a light flavored olive oil)
4 1/2 cups (exact measure) unbleached all-purpose flour
… for equipment, I prefer to use one large mixing bowl, my dough whisk (a wooden spoon is fine), and one bread loaf pan (standard size).
Since I’m working with SAF instant, I like to mix the flour and the yeast together first. Activating the yeast is not needed. I took a bread baking class once upon a time, and the instructor recommended mixing the yeast and flour first always. You don’t want the yeast to come into direct contact with water/salt/sugar too quickly. I forget why exactly, but I can make up a reason if asked for one.
Then go ahead and throw in the rest of the ingredients. Mix it was well as you possibly can with your whisk/spoon. I promise that it’s going to get very sticky and thick quickly and that you’ll give up and use your hands shortly after. Oil your hands before touching the dough. It helps against the stickiness some. Ms. Hensperger seems to be of the opinion that you can beat the dough for 140 vigorous strokes. Maybe you can do it, but I can’t. It never seems to matter in the end though. You will have a very sticky dough that will look ugly. It’ll never have the smooth satiny look that other bread doughs have.
Take the dough and put it into your greased loaf pan. Do your best to spread it out evenly. Take some plastic wrap, spray a little oil on it (or coat it on with your favorite silicon basting brush as I do), and loosely cover the dough and loaf pan with the oil side down.
Let the dough rise. It can take as little as 45 minutes if you’re lucky. If you’re me, it takes an hour and twenty minutes. You want the dough to have risen enough to be almost even with the rim of the pan, and just lightly lifting up the plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake the bread in the lower half of the oven for 40-45 minutes. The bread should sound hallow if you tap it and the center should be 200F if you have a reliable thermometer. It took about 50 minutes in my oven. Your oven may vary.
When you take it out, let it cool for a little bit. Five minutes should be good. And then, slide the bread out. Let it cool completely (or as long as you can before you go crazy with a need for fresh bread). Even then, I bet the center will still be warm.
Things I like about this bread? The crust is good; it only needs one round of rising time; and the flavor is sublime. The ground ginger is almost delicate, depending on the taster. To me, it’s very gingery but not so overwhelming as to put me off. To my mother, it’s not gingery at all, but just a nice homemade white bread.
If you’re looking for it, here’s the link to the epicurious page with the original recipe. The same recipe can also be found in Beth Hensperger’s book. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/103217