baking bread winterLogically I know that after a full December of cookies, cakes, pies, and even a few Yule logs, the last thing I should be doing is obsessing about bread. Unfortunately I made the mistake of walking by a little bakery one day and they were making sour dough bread. After that all I could think about was bread and filling my kitchen with the same heavenly scent of baking bread.

So I dusted off my bread maker, got out my loaf pans, and dug into some dough. In no time at all I had bread baking in my bread maker and my oven, and although we’ve been in the middle of a cold snap on the West Coast, my entire kitchen felt warm and cozy. Instead of suffering from the post-Christmas blues, I was enjoying a cozy winter afternoon.

The entire country continues to be buried under a layer of snow, so if you’re looking for something fun and, in my opinion, therapeutic to ward off the winter blues, try these bread recipes. Digging your hands into dough is fun, and you’ll have bread loaves to spare if you want to share with friends.

beer bread recipeEasy Beer Bread With Parmesan and Garlic

This is an easy bread if you’ve never made bread before. Make sure you use a stout ale or something strong, because a light beer won’t be as flavourful. Photo and recipe from telegraph.co.uk.

Ingredients

260g (9½oz) plain flour
100g (3½oz) wholemeal plain flour
2 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp polenta or cornmeal
1 tbsp baking-powder
60g (2oz) granulated sugar
1 garlic head (about 6 or 7 cloves), peeled
55g (1¾oz) Parmesan
2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
330ml (11fl oz) beer (I use a mix of Sierra Nevada and Blue Moon)
60g (2oz) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 190°C/ 375°F. Grease a 9 x  5in loaf pan.

Sift the flours with the polenta or cornmeal in a large bowl. Add the baking-powder, sugar and one teaspoon of table salt to the bowl. Stir well.

Finely chop the garlic, remove any rind from the Parmesan and grate it finely. Add the garlic, Parmesan and herbs to the bowl and stir well.

Slowly pour in the beer and mix with a spoon until the dough has absorbed the liquid. Let it sit for a few minutes before spooning the thick dough into the pan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and pour over the dough.

Cook for 50 minutes to an hour, until the top of bread is golden brown and the loaf is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Serve warm with lightly salted butter.

honey breadButtermilk and honey bread

Comfort food at its finest, this buttermilk and honey bread is slightly sweet and amazing with your morning coffee. If you don’t have buttermilk you can add one tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 3/4 cup of milk to make one cup of buttermilk. Photo and recipe from food.com.

Instructions

3⁄4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1⁄2 cups warm buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
6 -6 1⁄2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 egg, to glaze

Directions

Lightly spray two small or one large loaf pan with non stick cooking spray or coat with melted butter.

Set them on a baking sheet and set aside. In a kitchen aid mixing bowl, hand whisk the water, yeast and sugar together and let stand for 2 minutes.

Stir in buttermilk, butter, honey, salt and half the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon.

Fit machine with a dough hook, then kneading, add in more flour as required to make a soft, but firm dough, about 8- 10 minutes.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise 45- 90 minutes until doubled in size. Gently deflate dough and divide into two or keep as one loaf.

Shape into oblongs and place in prepared loaf pans. Insert loaf pans into a large plastic bag and let rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.

Glaze well with a beaten egg. (You can also brush loaf with melted butter).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place breads in oven and bake about 45 minutes until well browned. Turn breads out onto a cooling rack and cool well before slicing.

100% Whole Wheat Bread Maker Recipewhole wheat bread

Making whole wheat bread is challenging. It took a lot of tries to finally master it, and I really think the key to making it moist is the combo of oil and honey. Photo and recipe from kingarthurflour.com.

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, Premium Whole Wheat Flour, or Organic    Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup sunflower, sesame or flax seeds, or a combination, optional
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten, optional; for higher rise
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Instructions

To make bread in a bread machine: Put all of the ingredients into the bread pan in the order listed. Program for basic white bread (or for whole wheat bread, if your machine has a whole wheat setting), and press Start.
Remove the bread from the machine when it’s done. Either turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool; or turn it out of the pan, place it back in the machine (atop the structure that holds the pan), crack the lid open about 1″, and let it cool right in the cooling-down machine. This helps prevent the crust from wrinkling as the loaf cools.
 To make bread by hand: Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and just slightly tacky, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough and shape it to fit a greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. Let it rise, covered, until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 minutes, or until a digital thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf reads 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, remove it from the pan, and cool it on a rack.

Try it and you’ll see; it’s really easy to make bread. If you need a small appliance or kitchen gadget to get started making bread, here are a few of my favourites:

 

bread maker
A bread maker fills your home with the amazing scent of homemade bread
 

loaf pan
A high side loaf pan gives your bread loaf room to rise

 

 

Every slice will be perfect with Harold's bread slicing guide.
Every slice will be perfect with Harold’s bread slicing guide.

 

 

Main image from http://anamericaninsicily.com