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Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breadsby Bernard Clayton
The First Loaf
Cookbook. London, 1670
This may be your first loaf of yeast-raised bread.
You want it to be picture-perfect when it comes from the oven — wrapped in a golden brown crust and, when cut with the knife, a creamy white slice that demands to be eaten.
Such a loaf is one that I use in teaching — developed over a number of years to best demonstrate how easy it is to make a loaf of bread. I like this loaf so much for sandwiches and toast that there is almost always a loaf, fresh or frozen, in the house.
Blend the dry yeast with the other dry ingredients — some of the flour, all of the sugar, salt, and nonfat dry milk — pour in the warm liquids, and the new bread-making process begins.
This loaf is not exclusively for beginners, I hasten to add, for many longtime home bakers have made it a tradition in their kitchens. It is also versatile. While the recipe below is for an all-white bread, it is a basic loaf that can be made into a dozen different breads. There are variations of this recipe throughout the book, including Kulich, Buttermilk Bread, and others.
For the first edition of The Complete Book of Breads I developed and wrote several recipes for the new baker, to introduce the more than 300 recipes to follow. I have put the best of each of those together in this one recipe. It is a valuable introduction to the basic ingredients that the home baker will use time and again.
The beginning baker is encouraged to read the preceding chapters on techniques, ingredients, and equipment leading up to this, the first loaf. And remember, too, that if the yeast is a new fast-rising strain, make allowances for the shorter rising times.
x INDICATES NEW RECIPE
x THE FIRST LOAF
[TWO MEDIUM OR THREE SMALL LOAVES]
5 to 6 Cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
2 medium (8"-x-4") or 3 small (7"-x-3") loaf pans, greased or Teflon. Refer to the Dough Volume chart (page 37) for other pan combinations.
BY HAND OR MIXER 15 mins.
In a large mixing bowl measure 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and dry milk. Pour the hot water into the dry ingredients and beat by hand or with mixer flat beater to blend thoroughly. Add the shortening; continue beating. Add 1 cup flour and with a wooden spoon beat 100 vigorous strokes, or for 3 minutes at medium speed in the mixer.
If by hand, continue adding flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and stirring with a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy mass. Work more flour into the dough with your hands if it is sticky.
If by mixer, attach the dough hook and add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a soft, elastic ball around the revolving hook.
KNEADING 10 mins.
If by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and begin to knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion. Occasionally bring the dough down hard against the work surface with a sharp whack! Do this several times during the process. If the dough continues to be sticky, add light sprinkles of flour.
If using the dough hook, continue to knead for 10 minutes. If the ball of dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add sprinkles of flour. Should the dough try to climb over the protective collar at the top of the hook as it turns, hold it back with the edge of a rubber spatula.
When properly kneaded the dough will be soft and elastic. It can be pulled into a thin sheet when stretched between the hands.
A caution: too much flour will make a hard ball that will behave poorly. Work 1 or 2 teaspoons water into the dough. By the same token, if the dough is wet and slack and difficult to handle, add 1 or 2 tablespoons flour.
BY PROCESSOR 5 mins.
Attach the short plastic dough blade.
Measure 3 cups flour into the work bowl and add the sugar, salt, yeast, and nonfat dry milk. Pulse to blend. In a small bowl or saucepan pour the hot water over the shortening to soften.
With the processor running, pour the liquid through the feed tube to make a heavy batter. Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until a soft mass forms and is spun around the bowl by the force of the blade. The dough will clean the sides of the bowl. With the short blade some flour may cling to the bottom of the bowl. If so, stop the machine and scrape the dry ingredients into the center and continue processing.
KNEADING 60 secs.
Process to knead for 60 seconds. Stop the machine; pinch the ball of dough. If it is dry, add a small portion of water and continue kneading. If it seems wet, add flour by tablespoons. The dough, when kneaded, will be somewhat sticky and very elastic. Light sprinkles of flour will make the dough manageable. Pull and stretch the dough between your hands to test elasticity; if necessary, process for a few seconds more.
FIRST RISING 1 hour
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap to retain the moisture, and leave at room temperature until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
(If prepared with a new fast-rising yeast and at the recommended higher temperatures, reduce the rising times by about half.)
SHAPING 10 mins.
Turn back the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Turn it onto the floured work surface and knead for a moment or so to force out any bubbles. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces with a sharp knife.
Shape each piece into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 2 or 3 minutes. Form a loaf by pressing the ball of dough into a flat oval roughly the length of the baking pan. Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam tightly to seal, tuck under the ends, and place seam down in the pan.
SECOND RISING 45 mins.
Cover the pans with wax or parchment paper and leave until the dough has doubled in volume, about 45 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 400° about 20 minutes before baking.
BAKING 400° 10 mins. 350° 25-30 mins.
Place the loaves in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350° for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Midway through baking and again at the end turn the pans end for end so the loaves are uniformly exposed to the heat.
(If using convection oven, reduce heat 50°.)
When the loaves are a golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom crust, they are done.
Turn out onto wire racks to cool. If you want a soft, tender crust, brush the hot loaves with melted butter or margarine.
This bread may be frozen for a later presentation — up to 6 months at 0°. Toasts beautifully.
Finally, if this is your first loaf, stand back and admire your creation.
Copyright © 1973, 1987 by Bernard Clayton, Jr.
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