Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Waiter There's Something In My...and it's a Whole Lotta Something

Andrew from Spitton Extra is hosting this round of "Waiter There's Something in My..." and... oh darn... that something is bread!

Meaning of course I had to jump right in and participate, because as you all know I'm all over any food blogging event that features bread and, as my good friend and fellow Daring Baker the ever spritely and humourous Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas says right in her header: "GO BIG OR GO HOME".

So, I went big..

with not one loaf of bread...

not two loaves of bread...

but THREE LOAVES of bread!!!

I typically make bread during my weekend home in Boston to take back to Connecticut for my work week. I like to have a piece of toast with blueberry and lime preserves or cherry butter each morning with a cup of tea at my desk for breakfast while I catch up on work emails or read a blog or two. This weekend, I had a massive moment of indecision. I wanted egg bread for sandwiches and toast for myself and I wanted to leave MBH some crusty sourdough to munch on during the week. Then there was the promised bread for Monday morning's project meeting; what to do?

Never being good at choosing just one option, I decided to make all three. So, before MBH and I wandered out into the gorgeous late spring weather on Sunday morning, I pulled out of the fridge my rather active sourdough starter and started a poolish for MBH's bread and the bread I would take to work on Monday. When I had that in our oven starting to do its sourdough thing (the oven was not on folks! Just the oven light to make a nice, warm, draft free place to let breads and sponges rise), I tossed some flour, yeast, a pinch of sugar and water into another bowl for a sponge to make my egg bread. Into the oven next to the sourdough poolish that bowl went and out into the bright sunshine MBH and I went...

And three hours later I came home to this:

Egg Bread Sponge

I don't really have a recipe per se for my sourdough breads. They are pretty basic: a poolish (1 cup sourdough starter, 1 cup water, 2 cups AP flour), salt, and approximately 4 -5 cups flour are the only ingredients. I make the dough, and put it in a big greased bowl to rise a first time, punch down the dough, form the loaf and then let the bread have a second shorter rise and bake. This time, for the Italian bread and rustic flat bread, I split the dough into two pieces after the punch down and formed a "Vienna" shaped loaf for MBH's Italian bread and a large boule that I didn't support with my brotform because I wanted it to rise but also spread for the rustic flat loaf. Getting those two loaves back into the warm oven for their second rise, I turned my attention to making the dough for the egg bread.

Most egg bread recipes call for long pre-ferments and since I had made a last minute decision (MBH would say my typical lack of planning) to make egg bread, I had to improvise. I have a no-fail recipe for basic white bread I use when I just want a quick loaf. It has never failed me and anyone else I've given the recipe to but I've never really played with the recipe. I've been meaning to but you know how it is with tried and true recipes; why mess with them? Doing some quick math in my head to figure out how much more liquid the eggs would add to the no-fail recipe and how much more flour I would need to add to compensate for the eggs, I decided to toss two eggs into the mix and see what would happen! The dough was definitely a softer dough and had a nice yellow tint. It also took a bit longer to develop elasticity and spring but when I put the dough into the oven for it's first rise, it looked right.

So how did everything turn out you ask? Well let's take a look!!

MBH's Italian Bread: I used an egg wash for this loaf. Nice crumb and just the right size of "holes"

Rustic Flat Bread

Rustic Flat Bread: Four slashes was all the ornamentation this loaf needed.

Holy Moly! Look at that rise on that loaf of egg bread!

I have to say the egg bread turned out to be a bit of a surprise for me. The dough didn't rise as much as I had expected in the first rise, but during the second rise it took off like gang busters. It was almost over flowing out of the loaf pan and then it had this incredible oven spring. I think this off the cuff egg bread will be a keeper recipe for me and I can't wait to try French Toast with the left over loaf this weekend!

Egg Bread

Breadchick's No-Fail Egg Bread

8oz water
2 eggs
2 tsp yeast
4 cups of bread flour (13% Gluten)
1/4 cup dry milk
3 tsp butter (melted)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar

Step 1: Sponge:
Mix 1 tsp yeast, 1 cup flour and the water in a 2 quart glass bowl or 2 quart plastic container. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and let it sit for 3 hours in 70 degree room. (This time will be longer in cool room or shorter in warmer room). Tip: If your oven has a light, turn the light on and put the sponge in the oven to rise.

Step2: Make the dough:
Reserve 1/2 cup of remaining flour and set aside.

Add the melted butter to the sponge and combine completely. Stir the eggs, one at a time into the sponge. Add the yeast, salt, sugar and dry milk and stir until yeast is mixed in completely. Add the remaining flour 1/2 a cup at a time (except for reserved flour) until the dough is firm but shaggy. Dough will feel very soft to tough. Sprinkle the reserved flour on a good clean surface and flour your hands to knead the dough; about 7 - 10 minutes or until you see the development of gluten. You may need to add more flour if the dough is too soft (clumps of dough sticking to your hands). Do this one spoonful at a time. Dough will be smooth and elastic feeling when it is ready. Put in oiled bowl or proofing container and let rise until double, about 2 hours.

Step 3: Form loaf
Punch dough down and press into rectangle about 12″ x 5″ Fold rectangle into 3rds and place seam side down in large greased glass loaf pan. Brush a little melted butter on top of loaf, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until top of loaf touches plastic wrap. Remove plastic wrap and let it rise until it is about 2" above the rim of the loaf pan.

Step 4: Bake
In 350 degree preheated oven, bake bread for 30 - 35 minute or until internal temperature is 190 degrees. If crust begins to get too brown, cover with foil until last 5 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and pan when done and let cool completely before slicing