Hi Bread Heads,
Toast. I LOVE toast! Not as a way to salvage a past it's prime loaf, but on its own. I look for a change of texture, the bread should be crisp and my teeth should crackle through the slice of toast. It is better if there is a change of color. I like a medium dark - but not burned - color. Caramel notes dance across my tongue.
The only thing better than toast is toast with a good butter on it. Trader Joe's cultured imported French butter is excellent, but there are other great butters around. The butter should be melting ever so slightly.
Sadly, my otherwise excellent toaster oven just doesn't make decent toast. Honestly, can we talk? The toaster of my dreams is in my memory. It is an old Sunbeam toaster that my parents had when I was a kid. When you put bread in it, the toaster lowered it to be toasted. Smoothly. No pressing on a handle against a spring tension.
And then when the bread was toasted to even perfection the toaster slowly and smoothly raised the toast again. No "TWANG" of released spring hurling the toast upwards. Looking at the ads on eBay, it seems I'm not the only one who misses those toasters. I'm reluctant to spend THAT much money on a 70 year old used toaster.
So, I went ahead and bought Breville two slice toaster. The WireCutter says it's the bomb. It is beautiful, but even with 21st century computer technology I'm not sure it is as good as the ancient Sunbeam of my memory, of my dreams.
Part of the problem is that I've been making more and more whole grain breads. Whole grain bread takes a lot of heat to have a texture change, and more to brown. The line between that and burned is a very thin line indeed.
All that meant it was time to make some white bread. And since I didn't have any sourdough starter ready to go, I decided to make yeasted bread. I like yeasted bread almost as much as sourdough. People who think yeast bread has no flavor need to move to slow rises and preferments.
The first bread I made was our classic Yeasted English Muffin Bread. It is the second book in the Introduction to Bread Making tutorial. It's a great bread with wonderful flavor! Sadly, it didn't toast well. It stayed light in color. However, like English Muffins, it is awesome broiled in butter - nice color and great flavor.
The second bread I decided to make was James Beard's Basic White Bread, another nice white bread in the Introduction to Bread Making tutorial. It has milk in it. Yeast can't eat lactose, the sugar in milk, so when the bread is baked there is still enough sugar in the loaf for it to brown, and later to toast. It is a great bread! Beth commented that the current batch smells amazing!
The third bread was one Beth found while getting articles for our Facebook page, Bake With Mike. The bread is an Italian bread with a good bit of semolina in it, Altamura Bread. You can read about the bread at this travelogue style page, and see a biga based recipe for it here. The slices were a little long for our toaster, next time I'll make a pan loaf. The part that was in the toaster browned nicely! Here's a few pictures:
I mentioned our Introduction to Baking tutorial a few times above. I used to get lots of emails that read something like, :"I've never baked before and want to start baking sourdough breads with home milled flour!" Good heavens, one step a time, please! The tutorial gets people's feet wet in three easy recipes that makes them ready to move on to sourdough and beyond. If your baking skills aren't what you think they should be, the tutorial is a great place to brush up or level up!
In addition to loving toast and butter, I love cheese too! If you are in the Denton area, please look up the Ten : One Artisan Cheese shop. For a small shop, they have a great selection of cheeses, they can recommend cheeses, and they used to offer samples - we hope that day will come again. They used to have great classes and tastings in their store and now do them virtually as Facebook chats. The idea is to pick up your cheese and their recommended beer or wine pairing (if you imbibe), go home, and then tune in to the tutorial. We love the online classes almost as much as the in person classes!
Until next time, may your dough always rise, no matter how long that bottle of yeast has been lingering in the back of your fridge!
PS - Remember, today is 4-20. Please put some milk and brownies on the porch for Willie Nelson! -M
Due to the Covid-19 crisis. all of our classes are put on hold. We are looking into having classes online. We will send more information through the mailing list and on the Bake With Mike Class Schedule page as things change.
We are working on a video class, more details in the near future!