Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bread and Sandwiches

Last night, we grilled pork tenderloin, using a smoky chile grill rub I purchased at the Alpharetta Farmer's Market. It was delicious, and for once we managed not to eat all of it. As we were wiping the last crumbs from our lips, I remarked "This would be great thinly sliced for sandwiches."

My husband agreed,"But we don't have any bread."

"I can fix that."

So today, I made bread again. All white flour this time, since I'm out of wheat. And I'm out of sugar too, so I used honey to feed the yeast. I split the dough into two batches, one for a regular loaf of bread, the other for rolls. The rolls became our sandwiches tonight.

They were the best sandwiches ever.

Actually, no. They just really put me in the mood for a cuban. The grilled pork and the roll were perfect. But I didn't have any cheese or ham. Next time. Next time.

There's really no reason to buy bread when I'm home in the summers.

My Never Fail Bread Recipe (Adapted from "The Joy of Cooking" 1975 ed.)

1 c milk
1 c water
2 tbls butter
2 tbls sugar
1 tbls salt
1 package active dry yeast
Appr. 6 c flour

Heat milk in sauce pan on stove, until hot but not anywhere near boiling. Add butter, salt, sugar, water. While that's going on, proof your yeast. Mix it with about 1/4 warm water and let stand about 5 minutes. Combine with milk mixture (in a bowl, presumably) and begin adding flour.

The flour is the tricky part. Add it about a half cup at a time until the dough won't take anymore. It never seems to be the same amount each time for me. Typically, I add a few cups of whole wheat flour. Doing that will make your dough feel tougher than just plain white bread and it won't rise quite as much. After you've gpt a nice, sticky dough, turn it out on a well floured counter top and start kneading.

There's no great secret to kneading bread. I fold the dough in half, smoosh it down, then turn it a quarter turn and do it again. I am told it's possible to overknead bread, but I never have. However, don't skip this step. This builds the gluten structure of your bread. If you skip it, you'll end up with a lead brick instead of bread.

Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size. Punch it down and knead it again. Let it rise, punch it, knead it. This is where you make the loaves. I put mine in greased loaf pans. For the rolls today, I sectioned off part of the dough, rolled it into balls, the placed on a greased cookie sheet. Let it rise one last time.

Preheat the oven to 450. Bread goes in oven for ten minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 and let it bake for an additional 30 minutes. For rolls, adjust times as needed. Bread is done when you pull it out ad it sounds hollow inside. For real. Knock on a loaf of fresh from oven bread sometime.

Let it cool before slicing and storing. Otherwise it gets all mushy.

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