Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bread, glorious bread!

Tonight's Menu

  • ropa vecchia
  • herbed peasant bread
  • big-ass salad
Tonight's main dish is courtesy of my pal Joke. I have made it before; my kids love it and have taken to calling it "meat spaghetti". It is way yummy.

The first time I made bread dough with my then-brand-new KitchenAid stand mixer, I immediately put my bread machine in storage. And then gave it to my brother and his wife not long afterwards. The thing that always killed me about making bread by hand, with my fibromyalgia and joint pain, was the stirring and the kneading. The KitchenAid does all that for me, so all I have to do is let the dough rise, punch it down, shape it, etc., none of which is any big whoop as far as I'm concerned.

Today was cold and rainy and generally crappy, weather-wise, so it seemed like a good day for a hearty meal with some homebaked bread. This is my go-to recipe. It's adapted from a recipe I found in Taste of Home magazine.

Herbed Peasant Bread

1/2 cup chopped onion
3 Tbs. butter
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. warm milk (120 degrees F)
1 Tbs. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
melted butter

Saute the onion in the butter over low heat until tender, then remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Place onion mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer w/dough hook attachment, adding milk, sugar, salt and herbs and mixing well. Mix in yeast and 3 cups of flour, scraping down bowl as needed. Continue mixing and kneading with the dough hook, adding additional flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove dough from bowl and hook and place in a greased glass bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down and shape into a ball on a greased baking sheet (or silpat). Cover again and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

Variation: after the first rise, punch down the dough and form into a braid, pinching the ends together and tucking them underneath. Do the second rise as above, but brush the dough with egg wash before putting it in the oven (and omit the melted butter afterwards). Tuck a few sprigs of fresh rosemary into the braid and it makes a lovely gift, or a nice addition to your holiday table.

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