Monday, January 14, 2008
I made bread! And I used the KitchenAid dough hook! And even though I flubbed the dough texture a little bit as a result, it tastes delicious!
I am really craving savory, herby, grainy breads lately, and I hope to spend the winter months merrily baking them. At the top of my list was this alluring dill bread from The Joy of Cooking via The Smitten Kitchen (where you will notice a heck of a lot more bread-baking expertise than you see here). I’ve seen many a dill bread recipe that contains sour cream, but this one appealed to me with its slightly healthier use of cottage cheese as a moistening agent, as well as honey instead of boring old sugar, and wheat germ for extra ethos.
Making the bread in the mixer saved me a lot of mess and elbow grease, but I should have added more flour to compensate for the fact that I wasn’t kneading the bread with floury hands on a floured surface. Since the KitchenAid method was less hands-on, I didn’t immediately notice that my dough was too shaggy and sticky until I started transferring it to the oiled bowl for the first rise. Granted, at that point I could have added more flour and kneaded it again, in the machine or by hand, but I decided I didn’t care enough. Better too moist than too dry, right? That’s me, Bookcook, slapdash and lazy since 1977!
Actually, the bread turned out perfectly fine for a nonperfectionist like me. The dough was so hard to work with that the loaf was rough and misshapen, but the exterior texture was perfect, crusty and golden and salty (thanks to the genius melted butter/salt wash). The interior was almost like a cake or a quick bread, maybe a bit too much on the gummy side where it should have been crumby, but I secretly enjoy slightly-underdone baked goods (whereas bread that’s too firm or dense or dry makes me want to spit it out after a bit of halfhearted chewing). Anyway, minor textural issues are nothing compared to the awesome flavor, savory with herb and onion and the perfect sweet/salty balance. I bet this stuff makes killer grilled-cheese sandwiches, and I intend to find out very soon, if I don’t eat it all plain first. This bread needs no butter or other adornment. A definite keeper.
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
½ cup warm (105 to 115 degrees) water
3 cups flour
½ cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1. Combine yeast and water in a small bowl and let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
2. Combine flour, onions, dill, honey, wheat germ, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Add the yeast mixture, the cottage cheese, and the egg. Mix by hand (or if using a mixer, on low speed) until the dough comes together, adding more flour or warm water if needed to achieve proper consistency. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand (or using the dough hook of the stand mixer on low to medium speed) until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn dough over once to coat it with the oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place (75 to 80 degrees) until doubled in volume, 1 to 1½ hours.
3. Grease a 9-by-5-inch (8-cup) loaf pan. Gently press the dough down, form it into a loaf, and place it seam side down in the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf with melted butter, then sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until the crust is deep brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 40 minutes (internal temperature of the loaf should be about 200 degrees). Remove the loaf from the pan, place it on a rack, and let it cool completely.
Yield: 1 9-by-5-inch loaf
Time: 3 to 3½ hours