Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Herb and Onion Bread

When was the last time you baked bread?   What's that?  Can't quite remember?  Oh wait, you've never even tried to make bread?  I haven't baked bread in quite a while either.  It's not for the lack of desire, it's more like I just don't have the time.  Bread baking requires a day spent at home.  When I was a little girl snow days were bread baking days.  I have fond memories of walking into the house after a day of playing in the snow, to a warm kitchen filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread.

As a matter of fact, my mother only baked bread on snow days.  Maybe a snowstorm meant we wouldn't be getting our bread delivery that day.  Back then, we used to have bread delivered to the house. The Dugan's Bakery truck, a.k.a. the Dugan man would deliver baked goods to our neighborhood once a week.  I loved the Dugan man.  What's not to love?  A good looking man in a uniform would ring the doorbell bearing crumb cake, chocolate cupcakes and bread.  I think I had a crush on him.   I remember inviting him into our house after Christmas to show off my new toys.  Either he was truly a nice man and liked kids, or he feigned interest, a shrewd business move.  Be nice to the kids, and mom buys more.

The Dugan man is long gone, and most of the bread we eat today comes from the grocery store or an occasional bakery purchase.  But nothing can quite compare to a loaf of homemade bread.  I recently resurrected an old bread recipe I used to make.  The recipe comes from an almost 40 year old cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure, that I've had since my Santa Cruz days.  It's not your typical bread recipe.  From start to finish it takes less than 2 1/2 hours to make, and most of it is rising and baking time.  It goes perfectly with a piping hot bowl of soup.  A turkey sandwich made on this bread tastes just like Thanksgiving.  Give it a try.  It's quick. It's easy. It's delicious.  Start it late in the day while you are making dinner and serve it warm.  If you're a newbie to bread making, its a great place to start.  I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer, but you can easily mix this by hand.

Herb and Onion Bread
Adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups white or whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
Heat milk in a saucepan, dissolve sugar, salt and butter in the heated milk.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. 
In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
Using the paddle attachment, add the milk (it should be about 100-110 degrees), flour. onion and herbs to the dissolved yeast.  Mix until dough just comes together. Take the paddle attachment off and replace it with the dough hook. Mix for 2 minutes until smooth. (or stir with a wooden spoon until smooth)

Put a tablespoon of canola oil in a bowl, and swirl it around to coat bowl.  
Put dough in bowl, and turn dough to coat with oil.  Cover bowl with a kitchen towel.  Let rise in a warm place until triple in volume, about an hour.

Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan (or spray with Pam)
Punch down, and using the dough hook, knead for 2-3 minutes until smooth and elastic. (by hand, mix vigorously with a wooden spoon and knead for 3 minutes).

Stretch the ball of dough to fit into the prepared loaf pan.
Cover pan with towel and allow to rise 20 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour until brown.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes and serve warm.

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