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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TASTE
Tips for baking delicious no-knead yeast breads

 •  Rise up to batter breads

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A bread "sponge" of flour, brown sugar, yeast, warm liquid is set to rise.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Batter breads, which don't require kneading and go together more quickly than conventional kneaded breads, can save time while giving you that warm, bread-baking feeling and your kitchen that lovely yeasty aroma.

And batter breads are a good way to learn about yeast bread-baking without having to master kneading.

Some tips:

  • Work in this order read recipe carefully, line ingredients up on counter in order, make yeast mixture; while it's rising, measure out other ingredients and place in order of use. Then mix and beat batter. Planning and organization save steps and time, running back and forth to the cupboard.

  • A warm place for rising can be: in an oven that's been turned on to its lowest temperature for one minute, then turned off; or place the batter on top of the stove in between the burners and turn the stove on to pre-heat. In either case, cover the batter with plastic wrap or a light kitchen towel.

  • Pottery, rather than glass or metal bowls, holds heat longest, promoting the action of the yeast.

    Sally Lunn bread is rich enough to serve as a dessert, warm from the oven with fresh berries or other fruit and whipped cream or a drizzle of plain unwhipped heavy cream (a common approach in England). You can melt the butter in the milk on top of the stove or in the microwave, but allow to cool to lukewarm; if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast and the bread won't rise.

    JAMES BEARD'S SALLY LUNN

  • 1 package active dry yeast

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees)

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk

  • 1 stick butter, melted in the milk

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

    Butter a 9- or 10-inch tube pan; set aside.

    In a medium to large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl and allow to "proof" (grow bubbly and puff up a little).

    To this mixture, add the milk and butter and the salt and stir well to combine. Beat in flour, a half cup at a time, until you have a stiff but workable batter. (This may be done in a standing mixer with the dough hook.) Cover the bowl with a light kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes). Beat down the dough with a wooden spoon for a minute, then turn into the tube pan; place in a warm place to rise again to the top of the pan while you pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until the bread is a dark golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped (internal temperature 200 degrees). Turn upside down on cooling rack. Serve warm, if desired, or cool and slice; makes great toast the next day.

    Makes 1 ring loaf, about 10 to 12 servings.

  • Per serving: 250 calories, 10 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 6 g protein

    To make this savory mushroom-shaped white bread loaf, baking expert Beth Hensperger uses glass baking canisters instead of coffee cans, which can be hard to find in these plastic-dominated days and which don't have to be washed and rewashed to rid them of the coffee taste. She notes that the use of creamy evaporated milk (popular with Hawai'i home bakers in the early 20th century, too), "gives the bread an especially delicate, moist texture." You need 2 (13-ounce) coffee cans or 2 (4 1/2-inch diameter ovenproof glass baking canisters (try kitchen supply stores or KingArthurFlour.com).

    'MUSHROOM' LOAF

  • 1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast

  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk, regular, fat-free, or goat's milk, undiluted, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil or unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 1/2 cups (exact measure) unbleached all-purpose flour

    Make the "sponge": In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast, a pinch of the brown sugar, and the ginger over the warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    By hand: Combine the milk, the remaining sugar, salt, oil or butter, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour in a large bowl. Beat vigorously with a balloon whisk or dough whisk, at least 40 strokes by hand, until thick and sticky. Add the yeast mixture and beat vigorously for 1 minute more. Continue to add the remaining flour gradually, 1/2 cup at a time, then beat vigorously another 100 strokes, about 2 minutes. The batter will stay sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

    With a mixer: Combine the milk, the remaining sugar, salt, oil or butter, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed, or until thick and sticky. Add the yeast mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Continue to add the remaining flour on low speed, 1/2 cup at a time, then beat vigorously about 2 minutes on medium speed. The batter will stay sticky. Scrape down the sides with a spatula.

    Panning and rising: Generously grease the bottom and sides of the coffee cans or glass baking canisters. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 molds, filling one-half to two-thirds full. Use a spatula to push the batter into the corners and smooth the top with flour-dusted fingers. Cover loosely with plastic wrap lightly greased with vegetable oil cooking spray and let rise at room temperature until double in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour; the batter should be even with the rim of the pan and slightly lift up the plastic wrap. Do not let the dough rise more than double (overrisen loaves collapse during baking). If the batter overrises, scrape it into a bowl, beat vigorously about 20 strokes, then return it to the pan and begin the rising again.

    Baking: About 20 minutes before baking, place the oven rack in the lower part of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using glass molds). Bake until the top is crusty and dark brown, the bread sounds hollow when tapped, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 200 degrees. The crown will dome about 3 to 4 inches above the rim of the mold. Cool in the molds for 5 minutes. Turn the mold on its side and slide the loaves out onto a rack to cool on their sides for at least 2 hours. Serve slightly warm, sliced into thick rounds or cut into long wedges, with lots of butter.

    Store wrapped in a plastic food storage bag at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

    Makes 2 loaves, about 16 servings.

  • Per serving: 200 calories, 5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 5 g protein

    This recipe is my attempt to create something relatively healthy that resembles the flavor of the Milanese Christmas bread called panettone. A few guidelines: Use no more than 3/4 cup total dried fruit or the bread will be too heavy. The small amount of salt is vital. To reduce fat and calories still more, omit butter or use a less-fat margarine; use egg substitute instead of real eggs or cut the sugar by half or use Splenda for part of the sugar (but you need real sugar in the first step, the sponge, to feed the yeast). The batter may be moistened with almost any liquid (I've even used sour milk); any kind of extract may be used.

    BAKED OATMEAL ALLA PANETTONE

    For the sponge:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour or half whole-wheat and half all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast

  • 3/4 cup very warm water, milk or other liquid

    For the bread:

  • Vegetable oil spray

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar-type Splenda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

  • 2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine or vegetable oil (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon EACH lemon extract, almond extract, vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour or half whole-wheat and half all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup candied fruit (citron or orange peel preferred)

  • 1/4 cup raisins, currants or sultanas (dried white seedless grapes)

  • 1/4 cup Craisins (dried sweetened cranberries)

  • 1.5 ounce slivered almonds (5 tablespoons); plus additional for garnish

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oatmeal

    Make a sponge: In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, yeast and warm liquid. Cover with a light towel and allow to proof in a warm place 30 minutes or so, until the mixture is puffy.

    Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, a 9-inch round or 5 (3-by-5-inch) mini loaf pans with vegetable oil spray. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, combine additional flour, sugar or Splenda, salt, zest, beaten eggs, melted butter and extracts; add the sponge and beat well with mixer or wooden spoon. Stir in fruit, nuts and oatmeal, and mix well.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the batter in prepared pan or pans, sprinkle a few more slivered almonds over the top, lightly cover with a towel and place on top of stove (NOT on the burner that vents heat from the oven). Allow to proof 30 minutes, just until the batter rises a little.

    Bake in 350-degree oven for 20 to 35 minutes (depending on size of pan), until toothpick or bamboo skewer emerges clean from the center. Do not overbake or loaf will be dry (especially if you have omitted the butter). Cool on a rack. This keeps for a few days in a zippered plastic bag in the refrigerator.

    Makes 12 servings.

  • Per serving: 200 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 6 g protein

    Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.