Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday Bread Baking

Yesterday turned out to be a nice day to bake bread. The morning was cool, and it was supposed to rain, so I wasn't planning on working outside. DH asked me to make muffins, but being low on milk and not being able to get it until Monday, made it pretty much impossible. The dairy only bottles milk on Mondays and Thursdays, so we wait until those days to get milk. It's a fresh as it gets. Thursday wasn't a possibility, because of the kids' evaluations, so we just decided to stretch it out instead of buying commercial milk.

I felt badly that DH wasn't getting his muffins, so I asked if he'd liked something like a Danish instead. Would you believe he had no idea what I was talking about. I felt just awful that all these years I was married to him that I never made him anything close to a Danish. What's worse is - my grandmother always made all kinds of yummy things, and I never did for my family. Well, that just had to change!

First thing I did was start 4 loaves of wheat bread. We ground the wheat - making it half red and half white hard wheat. While that was sitting in a bowl to rise, I did the dough for making a sweet dough braid filled with homemade preserves and cream cheese.

Peaches 'n' Cream Braid

Place the following in your mixer using the dough hook:

1 1/2 cups very warm water (110-120 degrees)
3 Tbsp. dry milk powder
2 cups unbleached flour
2 Tbsp. yeast

Mix on low until combined. Add:

3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil

Mix until combined and then add unbleached flour - 1 cup at a time (up to 6 more cups). Add until you end up with a soft workable dough. Knead for 2 minutes with KitchenAid on #2 or on medium speed with another mixer for 5 minutes.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal parts. (Weigh to get more accurate sizes). Roll each on into a 9" x 12" rectangle. Spread 1/3 of filling (see below for recipe) and approximately 1/2 cup of an all fruit peach preserve (really any flavor works with this recipe - we used homemade peach jam on 2 of them, and some homemade strawberry rhubarb on the other.) Make cuts into dough at 1" intervals along the long side of the rectangle - keeping about 1/2" away from the filling (this prevents leakage). Fold and overlap the strips diagonally over the filling in a braid-like fashion. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. This braid doesn't raise much until it goes into the oven, where it will make a lovely size bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done. Drizzle with a mixture of Confectioner's sugar, a little milk and a couple of drops of almond extract (make it a pretty thick spreading type consistency) while the braids are warm. You can also sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.

Filling Mixture: Blend 8oz cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice until smooth and creamy.

After I set aside the braids to rise, I shaped the wheat bread into 4 1-1/4 pound loaves. They rose and baked just in time to put the braids in. They all turned out lovely, and while I was getting things set up to take a photograph, the crew came in hungry for dinner, and spied the bread. So much for a photograph this time! LOL

**Graphic from **

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