Homemade Sandwich Bread

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I may never go back to proofing yeast and kneading and punching and kneading some more. Why? Because the Artisan Bread In Five Cookbook has changed the way I bake. I bake in quantity with such ease. I made three loaves of sandwich bread from this 5 minute dough I made yesterday. You simply measure the ingredients, mix it up and let it set on the counter for 2 hours and stick in your fridge. The next day or up to 4 days later, you can make 3-4 loaves or 1 loaf at a time. I’m spoiled.

Because I’m a freezer cook, I always choose the abundance route. I made two loaves and one free form loaf so you could see the process. I sprinkle flour on top of my dough and  visually split the entire amount of dough into thirds. I flour my hands and form them gently into loaves and place them in a sprayed pan or make a cute round loaf. I set mine on parchment paper. I allowed the loaves to rest for 2 hours. The authors suggest at least 1 1/2 hours of resting time. Slash the free form loaf before baking.

Bake at 450 for 45-50 minutes. I brushed mine with honey butter and let them cool in the pans for fifteen minutes and then transferred to a cooling rack. I allowed them to cool completely and then sliced with an electric knife. I have a guide which helps with thin equal slices. A serrated knife will work also. Even when I sliced my bread, it was slightly warm.

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When it’s completely cool, I wrapped in plastic wrap or foil for the freezer. Double wrap in regular foil or slip the loaf into a gallon size bag for extra protection. I reused a store-bought bread bag and we’ll eat this bread in the next 2 days.

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If I don’t have plans for sandwiches in the next 2 days, I freeze mine. Thaw prior 12-24 hours at room temperature prior to making sandwiches, french toast, Pananis and more. Reuse the ends or old bread by grinding in a blender and store in your freezer for fresh bread crumbs. Or cube and toss with olive oil and seasonings and bake to make homemade croutons.

I used the canola oil recipe, but I’ve also used the olive oil recipe. This dough works well for calzones, pizza, stromboli and cinnamon rolls. See Artisan Dough 101 post for a measuring and mixing tutorial.

Imagine having loaves of fresh homemade sandwich bread in your freezer. You might give one away since you’ll have more than one loaf if you attempt this recipe.

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Artisan Bread Dough 101

 

Are you like the little red hen? Have you always wanted to make homemade bread, but didn’t want to take precious time to savor just one loaf? I’ve discovered an easy dough, mixed in 5 minutes, that makes four loaves of bread and much more. Let me share a 101 tutorial to get you excited and say, “I can do that.”

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First, it’s important for you to remove your flour from the original 5 pound bag. Place it in a canister of some sort. This allows you to stir your flour and do the scoop and sweep method easily without making a mess. Wonderful white whole wheat flours to try are King Arthur white whole wheat or Eagle Mills white whole wheat blend or you can mix unbleached all-purpose and white whole wheat flour half and half in recipes. Regular whole wheat ground from red berries works, but you will have a heavier denser product.

Gently stir your flour with a large spoon and lightly spoon it into your one cup measuring cup. Don’t dip and pack it in. This is where a lot of people make a mistake. When you dip and pack it down, you’re over measuring. Imagine the extra flour you’ve measured when you’ve dipped and packed seven times. Yep, that’s why the product is dry. So, lightly scoop and sweep the excess off with a butter knife.

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Continue measuring all your dry ingredients in this plastic shoe box. For this canola oil recipe, I’ve measured 7 cups of flour, 1-1/2 tablespoons yeast *(2 packages of yeast), 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten. Whisk the dry ingredients together.

*I buy my yeast at Sams in bulk, 2lbs for $4. It lasts me over a year. Each pound is vacuum sealed. You can store yeast in the freezer. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick this item up for you if you don’t have a membership. Or split with someone. You’ll be making a lot of bread.

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Another important step is to use your glass measuring cup for liquids. This is the most accurate way to measure liquids. I measure 3-1/2 cups lukewarm water and bend down at eye level to see if the bottom of the liquid touches the 3 -1/2 mark. You’re not going to get an accurate measure if you hold it in the air and look because the water is moving.

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Add this water to your dry ingredients.

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Stir with a large spoon until thoroughly mixed and there are no dry patches. You’re not kneading the dough, only mixing until it’s incorporated.

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Your dough should look sticky, but not dry and not too wet. However, this dough is forgiving, especially if it’s on the wet side. I’ll show you after the rise. Cover it with the lid and allow it to rest at room temperature for two hours.

Your dough will rise after 2 hours and collapse in the fridge. It’s best chilled in the fridge for a few hours before you work with it. I usually let mine sit in the fridge for a day before I make something. You can freeze this dough and thaw 24 hours hour before baking day. I’ve done this and had the same great results. I’ve found my dough to be on the sour side, which some like sourdough, after day five. 100% white whole wheat sours quicker than a mixture of half and half or the Eagle Mills flour. I find the flavor the best within 3 days after the dough is prepared. That is why I usually make all my products at once and then cool and freeze, plus it’s convenient, time and money saving.

Freezing: Dust portions with flour and freeze separately in quart size bags. Thaw 24 hours in the fridge before baking day.

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Your dough will look like this once it’s risen.

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Baking Day: I dust the portion I’m using with flour. If I’m using all the dough, I dust the entire top. If I’m using one portion, 1/3 to 1/4 of a pound, I dust that portion only. I flour my hands and pinch it off. If my dough is on the wet side, I add more flour as necessary. If it’s on the dry side, less flour is needed. The stickiness of the dough depends on the humidity.

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I take the portion I’m using and proceed to quickly shape a round ball and tuck and turn as I go with floured hands. I don’t knead it, simply make it smooth. I put mine on a floured silpat. A piece of parchment or wax paper or tupperware mat works, too. Parchment is handy because it can go straight into the oven. Roll it out into a rectangle if you’re making cinnamon rolls . I bake immediately after I’ve prepared it.

I allow bread loaves to set at room temperature up to 2 hours. The authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, recommends 1-1/2 hours, if you’re making a free form loaf or sandwich loaf.

Check out all the posts on Artisan dough on this site and the different products you can make. I make crusty authentic Artisan bread without the oil, sandwich thins, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon bread, pizza crust, calzones, naan and more. The original cookbook, is available at most public libraries. Also, the author’s website, artisanbreadinfive, is helpful with videos.

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I hope this post inspired you to try this easy 5 minute dough and bake homemade bread. I also hope it inspires you to give a loaf away because you will have three to four loaves when you make this recipe. I’d love to hear your comments and share my experience making this dough for three years.

This post linked to Amy’s Finer Things.

Frozen, refrozen, refreeze: USDA Question Answered

 Blue Question Mark

We all have burning questions we’d like to ask the experts. I went straight to the source for mine. I contacted the USDA for the following question, because I’ve done it for years, but I wanted to make sure I was passing along tips that were safe for your family.

Q to USDA:

Is it safe use cooked chicken (previously frozen) in a recipe and refreeze it, if it were frozen within a 24 hour period?

For example, I make my own shredded cooked chicken. I like to make chicken enchiladas with the chicken already cooked and frozen. Would it be safe to refreeze a casserole with this same chicken?

A from USDA:

Thank you for writing the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long  a food is frozen it will be safe to eat. If you thaw a food safely (in the refrigerator) it is safe to refreeze it because it has always been at a safe temperature, that is, a temperature too cold for bacteria to grow. The only thing affected is the flavor (it may not taste as good) or it could dry out.

In the case of your chicken enchiladas, if the chicken is still frozen when you assemble the enchiladas and freeze them there probably won’t be too much effect on the quality since the chicken won’t thaw before you put it back in the freezer.

Sincerely,
Food Safety and Inspection Service

My tip of the day: Cook your meat or poultry, cool completely and package in convenience form (1-2 cup portions in quart size bags; I add extra broth to my chicken to keep it moist), then prepare two (one for now and one for later)  chicken enchilada casserole or stromboli or calzone on another day and refreeze the meat . Just make sure it gets back as soon as possible to prevent bacteria growth. Bottom line is cooked meat can be refrozen, but keep it at a safe temperature, and don’t let it go over the 2-3 day limit.

Food safety information is also available 24/7, by going to “Ask Karen,” our automated virtual representative at www.askkaren.gov. You may type your food safety question directly into the automated virtual representative feature.

Do you have a burning question to ask the experts? Go ahead and “Ask Karen”. I did.

Helping Others In Need

We’ve all had a crisis in our family at some time and we’ve needed help. Mom on a mission is partnering with BBC (our local church) to help a family who needs help. A mom with four children under the age of 8 (one set of 4 year-old twins), is left behind. Her husband passed away due to flu complications and we would like to shower this family with God’s Love.

How can you help if you are a mom, single, or male or female? You can help by donating a frozen meal to this family. We’re accepting donations for several weeks to pack as much love as we can into their freezer. We will have the drop off times and dates as soon as we get more information, but pray for this family and pray how your food can impact others. Contact st.king@hotmail.com if you would like to donate a frozen main dish casserole or food gift cards.

**If you’re preparing a casserole, please wrap unbaked casserole tightly in heavy-duty foil or double wrap in regular foil. Label the following on the foil with a sharpie marker-

Your casserole name, Directions: Thaw 24 hours, your baking time (please add 15 minutes to the original recipe time)

TIP: If you are making more than one casserole for your freezer, what I like to call double bubble, you need to maximize your space. If you’re not using prex lidded baking dishes to freeze, then you need a method for keeping those precious casseroles from collapsing. I use either a small cooling rack (dollar store racks work great) or a flexible chopping board in between the aluminum pans. This allows them to freeze solid without a lid and you can slide it out once it’s frozen. Just make sure your foil is heavy-duty or you’ve double wrapped with regular foil.

Use this method if you are freezer cooking with a group and you’re transporting your casseroles home. Hey, what a great idea, cook and have a play date with one or two friends and make food for your family and others. Did you know we also serve the Steadfast home in Asheville, a women and children’s shelter once a month. We’d love to have your help this month.

Have you ever cook and played?

Freezing Bananas-Convenience Slices

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How many times have you thrown brown bananas away because you didn’t know what to do with them? Here are a few ideas to tantalize your taste buds: strawberry banana smoothies, chocolate banana smoothies, banana nut waffles and chocolate chip banana bread–just to name a few.

You can freeze bananas whole or into convenience slices. Sometimes, I prefer to freeze them whole (skin and all) when I plan to bake with them later. You have to thaw the whole banana for about a half hour, but the skin preserves it better and keeps them from getting mushy as they thaw. Proceed to mash for baking recipes. The cold bananas will make your batter cold, allow it to set a room temperature for about ten minutes or add about 5 minutes to your baking time (just take note when using frozen bananas).

Convenience slices work much better for smoothies. They blend easier than whole–and no thawing necessary– they add a nice texture to smoothies without adding ice.  Here’s how you can make your own convenience bananas. Slice overripe bananas on a chopping board that will fit into your freezer.

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Arrange them in a single layer and allow them to freeze a couple of hours or overnight (just remember to bag the next day).

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Remove the slices from your chopping board with a metal scraper or spatula and slide right into a freezer bag for smoothies. 

Tip: You could add strawberries or other frozen fruit if you like and write the amount of liquid to add for a homemade version of a Yoplait smoothie package sold in stores for $2.50-$2.99 bag. Your older child or husband could conveniently make smoothies without having a recipe because the directions would be on the bag.

What’s your method for freezing bananas? Or have you thought of it?

Freezer Cooking Class-Week 4

Things didn’t work out as planned this week due to sick kids, but freezer cooking class went on without me. And freezer meals are so helpful during times like this. Big thanks to Ouida and Stephanie for leading our class.  The ladies made no cook manicotti and Asian Honey marinade for the meat of their choice.

Next week the ladies are making southwest burritos. I’m giving them a choice of Southwest Wraps (no prep work involved) or Amy’s brown bag burritos (with little prepwork using ground beef). They will bring their ingredient filling and we’ll fill and wrap burritos together for the freezer. Ladies attending should bring items from class 4 supply list, in addition, to the recipe of their choice above.

We’ve been talking about deceptive cooking-adding carrot or sweet potato, zuchinni or whatever you like in the freezer meals we’re preparing. I’ve been graciously gifted with the Double Delicious Deceptive Cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld. This will be a giveway to one blessed winner next week (plus I owe you a thawing box giveaway too).

I’m looking foward to another great class with these sweet ladies. Please comment here how your freeer cooking and menu planning are going. We’d all benefit from any tips/tricks/snags/ you have. God gave, us ladies, the gift of sharing!

How to get everyone to drink their spinach

Yep, I can get everyone in my family to drink spinach (except the baby–she wouldn’t drink it in her milk–or would she?;) How? I put a handful of spinach in my smoothies. Remember my kids are not the best vegetable eaters in the world, so I counteract by doing more deceptive cooking and pureeing. Thanks to my new blender, which I received for Valentine’s Day, I’m back in the smoothie bar business.

I’ve owned two Cuisinart blenders and they have both burned out. One was new and one was used. The new Cuisinart blender did very well and pureed spinach and ice wonderful. The second used one which had a lower voltage and did not do as well. My hubbie bought a Kitchen Aid this third time around and I used it three times the day after Vday. Now you can see why the Cuisinart might have burned out after several years. I do some serious blending and pureeing around my house with four kiddos. I know a Vitamix would crank out some serious whole food smoothies, but that’s a hopeful purchase one day.

Here’s the easiest recipe in the smoothie business. My three year-old calls thems smovies, so move over regular smovie and get ready for the new healthy one.

I use the basic recipe which consists of sliced frozen bananas, frozen strawberries and orange juice. You can substitute fresh fruit and add crushed ice during summer months when fruit’s in season. I like to use up my brown bananas and slice and freeze them individually for smoothies. This makes the smoothie sweeter without having to add any extra sweetner like raw sugar or honey-but use it if you have to. Use whatever fruit you have on hand-fresh or frozen strawberries-go with the season.  I also add a handful of superfood, spinach. Popeye would agree with me. My kids never complain when I have a super blender that makes it silky. I use the entire leaf, stem and all 🙂

You can substitute milk in place of oj if you prefer a frosty consistency rather than a slushy. Try it both ways for fun!

I used to call this the Tinkerbell Smoothie when my daughter was very young and then we called it the Incredible Hulk smoothie when my son came along. Smoothies may have a slightly green tinge, depending on the amount of spinach you add. That’s why we called it Tinkerbell for girls and Incredible Hulk for boys. It’s just a fun name if they ask why it looks a little green, plus you can talk about all the wonderful powers of the characters.

I’ll share my peanut butter banana chocolate smovie with spinach, of course, later this week 🙂

Printable Tinkerbell or Incredible Hulk Smoothie recipe is linked to Frugal Friday

What’s your favorite smoothie? Have you thought about duplicating it at home? Better yet, have you thought about making individual freezer bags with directions to add  liquid ingredients. This is my next freezer to do. No one has to ask you how to make them. They just add the liquid amount on the bag. Pop the bag back into the freezer for the next refill. Smoothie bar is open!

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