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It’s been cooler, and very wet this week, so bread baking is in full force at my house. Lucky for you because that means the next chapter in the The Fear Not Bread series has arrived! I know you’ve been on pins and needles waiting for the next installment. Earlier in the week we started with a super easy cheesy beer bread. It’s so easy and quick to throw together that I know y’all  have tried it. You friends and family are singing the praises of  your bread making skills. Am I right?

Herb Batter Bread takes the ease of a beer/soda bread a step further in that it’s simple to put together, but it uses yeast. I know. I said the “y” word. If you have a yeast-phobia, don’t let this bread intimidate you! Yeast doesn’t have to mean bread making is an all day affair. The batter will need to rise a few times, but there is still no kneading required. So relax, take a deep breath, and give it a try.

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1-1/4 oz. pkg.)

1 1/4 C. sifted all-purpose flour, divided

1C. white whole wheat flour (King Arthur, or use regular whole wheat)

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbls. granulated sugar

2 Tbls. grated onion

1 Tbls. dried dill weed (or crushed dried rosemary, or dried thyme)

2 Tbls. butter

1/4 C. very warm water (120 to 130 degrees)

1 C. lukewarm small-curd cottage cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

Melted butter

Kosher salt

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I make 99.5% of my bread with my stand mixer.  I am kind of lazy and it does all of the work for me. My first Kitchen Aid died after one to many double batches of pizza dough. It was a terrible way to go, poor thing. I mourned for over a year, during which time I had to use a hand mixer. Worse yet, sometimes I was forced to use my hands.  It was barbaric… completely barbaric!! I must have moped around long enough, because Bacon Slayer took pity on me…

..and bought me a new one  for our 10th Anniversary. I just love that man–he knows me so well. It’s so pretty! And red. With flames! Don’t you wish your mixer was hot like mine? (Name that tune.)

That said, you can certainly use a hand mixer to make this, or any other bread. Batter breads can be mixed with standard beaters on a high speed. Heavier yeast breads are mixed starting with standard beaters, and switching to dough hooks later. So if you don’t have a stand mixer, you still have no excuse not to make this bread.  Do it! (Name that movie. Aren’t I full of pop-culture today.)

Measure 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the baking soda, yeast, sugar, salt, and dried dill. I really like the fresh flavor that the dill gives this bread, but you could substitute whatever herb you like–rosemary or thyme are equally delicious.

Pour in the warm water. The water should be very warm to the touch, but not so hot that you can’t keep a finger in it without scalding yourself. Warm water gets then yeast a little frisky. Hot water kills yeast. It’s an important distinction.

Now add the room temperature butter. Never use margerine, because margerine is evil. Repeat after me: butter is good. Remember that always.

Mix it all together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Looks kind of like a spinach dip, eh? By the way, this bread loves spinach dip.

Add the lukewarm cottage cheese and the beaten egg. I usually take the cottage cheese out of the fridge and nuke it for about 30 seconds or so to take the chill out. Then I let it hang out on the counter until I’m ready to use it.

Add the grated onion and a 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. For those of you keeping score, that means you’ve used 3/4 cup of the all-purpose flour so far, so you have 1/2 cup left to use later.

Stir the mixture on high speed for 2 minutes. Then add the remaining 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, and 1 cup of white whole wheat flour. Stir it on medium speed until it’s happily incorporated. The batter will be stiff.

I use white whole wheat flour because it is ground a bit finer than your traditional whole wheat. You still get the rustic nuttiness that the whole wheat imparts, but with a lighter texture. You can use entirely all-purpose flour if you prefer–the end result will be even softer.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then put  a clean towel over the whole thing to seal in the warmth.

Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk–about an hour to an hour and a half.

Stir down the dough, and plop it into a well greased 2 quart casserole dish. Cover that with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Allow to rise again, until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Spraying the plastic wrap is important because it will keep the dough from sticking to it during the second rise. If you forget to spray the plastic wrap, the dough will stick, and when you pull it off, the dough will deflate and need to rise again…not that I’ve done that 6 or 7 times or anything.

The dough should rise over the lip of the casserole dish. Lightly brush the top with a little melted butter. I use about a tablespoon or so.

See all that buttery goodness pooled up on top of the dough? That’s the stuff dreams are made of, right there. Here’s the most important part of the entire recipe. This will make or break the flavor of the bread. Sprinkle a heavy pinch of kosher salt over the melted butter. The salt makes it. I wouldn’t lie to you.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until very brown on top. Place casserole dish onto a cooling rack and cool bread completely in the dish.

Taking the bread out of the casserole dish before it is completely cooled will cause it to sink a bit and lose it’s shape. And make your camera take weird, orange pictures. OK, not really. Remember, batter breads are essentially giant muffins–doesn’t this look like one huge muffin?

Herb Batter Bread is great alongside roasted chicken, or any roasted meat. It also makes a great utensil to sop up dips, sauces, or soup.

Herbed Batter Bread

http://comfortablydomestic.com

Makes 1 Round Loaf

For Batter:

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1-1/4 oz. pkg.)

1 1/4 C. sifted all-purpose flour, divided

1C. white whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbls. granulated sugar

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbls. grated onion

1 Tbls. dried dill weed (or crushed dried rosemary, or dried thyme)

2 Tbls. butter, softened

1/4 C. very warm water (120 to 130 degrees)

1 C. lukewarm small-curd cottage cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

For Topping:

Melted butter

Kosher salt

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together yeast, 1/4 C. all-purpose flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, grated onion, and dill weed.  Combine warm water and butter, then add to yeast mixture.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.
  2. Add lukewarm cottage cheese, beaten egg and 1/2 C. of the all-purpose flour. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes.  Beat in remaining all-purpose flour (1/2 C.) and 1 C. white whole wheat flour until well incorporated.  Batter will be stiff.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  4. Stir down batter and transfer to a well greased 2 quart round casserole dish.  Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  5. Brush melted butter on the batter, and sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Cool bread completely in the casserole dish before removing to slice.
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