Why BAKE Bread When You Can PLAIT Bread!

Honestly, I’m not good with bread.  I know lots of people who can make it, but each time I try, I find fault with it.  I’ve no instincts about mixing, kneading, rising, or anything.  I mean, my bread is edible, but it’s nothing to write home about.

So, in the interest of having fresh bread in my apartment, I bought a bread maker.  The transaction was simple enough – I just had to:

  • search for a good bread maker on sale
  • purchase said bread maker
  • once home, realize that the guide for the bread maker doesn’t include simple recipes
  • search the interwebs for a basic white bread recipe
  • fail to realize that the recipe is for a bigger bread maker until you see it mushroom over the top
  • get your sister to send along her recipes for a bread maker
  • realize that you don’t like the shape of the bread pan, so figure out the dough-making setting
  • make more bread, because you live for trial and error

 

Now let’s go back to a few days ago.  The conversation in my head went like this:

  • 8am: I’m low on bread.  I should make some when I get home from work
  • 5pm:  Why don’t I do a plaited* loaf?  I bet there are instructions online!
  • 8pm:  Is it going to rise more?  Will I be able to use this loaf for sandwiches?  My whole reason for making bread was to make sandwiches.
  • 10pm:  This bread is Bake-Off worthy!

If you ask me, it turned out pretty darn good – which is amazing considering that I lost track of how much flour I was putting into the pan, and had to keep checking on it to make sure it wasn’t too doughy or too stiff**.

I went with 3 different recipes – one bread recipe, one instructional on plaiting, and one on baking the loaf.  The bread recipe was a basic white that wasn’t intended for the bread-machine, but I layered the ingredients the proper way and it all worked out.

The plaiting instructions said that the dough should have time to rest as you’re plaiting it, but I didn’t want the strands to rise too much on their own, so I went faster than the recipe instructed.  Trying to stretch the dough into strands was more difficult than I thought it would be – I was worried I’d tear the dough, but when I tried to roll it, it wouldn’t roll. Somehow I managed to get 4 strands each about 15″ long.

The baking recipe said to let the bread rise on a baking sheet, and it said nothing about covering it with plastic.  My instincts said that should I cover it with plastic, but I held back, and it rose pretty well.

When I sliced into it I was worried that the bread would break apart, but it was only difficult for the first few cuts.  The middle pieces were bound together better than the end pieces, so they’ve been easier to cut.  It probably helps that the bread has been sitting for a few days.

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White Bread:

  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4g yeast

Once the dough setting is finished, take bread out and let rest for a few seconds.  Then, separate the dough into 4 equal parts.  Roll the parts out into strands (the longer the strand, the thinner the bread will be).  Then plait the dough.  The 4-strand recipe I used came from this website: How To Braid Bread.  Try to make the plaits tight, so that the bread with bind together easier.

braidedbread01

Once that was done, I switched to this recipe: 8-Strand Plaited Loaf.  I let the loaf sit on a floured baking sheet for an hour to rise, then bushed with a beaten egg (if you want your loaf to look great and have a shiny brown top, don’t skip this step).  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.  Once removed from the oven, tap the bottom to see if it sounds hollow – if so, it’s baked!  Go you!

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*I’ve already been informed by a friend that in Canada we call it Braided Bread, but I’m learned about this on British TV, so I can’t stop calling it Plaited Bread.

**Next time I make bread I’m going to pre-measure my ingredients.  It worked out this time, but next time I might not be so lucky…

 

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Homemade Bread

I seem to be in a ‘make all the things I never wanted to make before’ mood these days.  Pies, tarts, bread…  What’s next?  (Oh man, it’s choux pastry, isn’t it? I’m not ready yet! I need more time!)

I was getting frustrated with having to walk to the grocery story for bread – bread which I could make myself if I bothered!  I don’t live near a grocery store, and I always squish the bread on the way home, so this was truely in my best interest.

I also have memories of when my mother used to bake bread.  She would make it in a large white plastic bowl & cover it and put it in the dining room to rise.  And she would always make small buns for my sister and I, so that we had something fresh to eat out of the oven.

Plus, homemade bread tastes better for some strange reason.

I found the recipe online, and it looked simple enough so I thought it’d give it a try.  I’m all about the simple, as you probably know by now.

The first issue I came up against was when it was time to incorporate the flour.  I always have this problem, even with pizza dough.  Bread is not my strong suit.  I tried to mix all the dough in the bowl by stirring, but I think I might have to use my hands more, and possibly do some of the flour-incorporation on the counter.  Notes for next time!

My second issue was that I thought I had 2 bread tins, but I didn’t*.  I only had 1 regular loaf tin, and two mini loaf tins.

Always check your equipment before you bake.  Ingredients, time, & equipment.  Be prepared!

After filling the big and both small tins, I still had dough left over.  So what’s a Newfoundlander** to do?  You guess it – TOUTONS!

touton1

I’m not going to lie to you – this was my first time frying toutons (because bread).  There was no recipe***, so I was flying by the seat of my pants.  I wasn’t sure if I had to make them into shapes and let them rise again, but I did it just to be sure.  They were a bit thick and I think I had the heat in the pan too high, but in the end it’s just salty, fried dough.  I also need to buy some molasses for future attempts…

Back to the bread – which I think turned out pretty well, all things considered.  I could see a few flour-spots (where the flour hadn’t fully incorporated), but the loaves made a hollow sound when I tapped them on the bottom.  I took the small loaves out a few minutes before the big loaf, but I think I’m safe to leave them for the full time.

bread1-turn
I can’t rotate the picture for some reason.  (*shakes fist at technology but that doesn’t solve the problem at all*)

Once the buns are out of the oven you can brush some butter on top to give them that shiny, greasy look, or you can not.

Not quite perfect, but good enough for a first attempt.  Also, homemade bread = yum!

*the recipe is for 2 loaves, which is great for a single person who doesn’t want to be drowned in bread

**I haven’t lived in Newfoundland for years, but I was born & raised there.  You can take the girl out of Newfoundland, but you can’t take the Newfoundland out of the girl.

***I didn’t even stop to look up a recipe online. What was I thinking?!