Quick and Easy White Sandwich Bread

What a day it tuned out to be! School was out again.. We had big fat snow flurries raining down on us, and school was out once again for the second week in a row. Three kids and a dog on a snow day at home.. This should read like a movie. Instead my kiddos acted as if they were handed the elixir to life and my furry went to play in the flurries and in the process got all covered with snow. Dug a nice trench in the backyard with all the  madcap running in it as well. I on the hand decided to cozy up on the recliner with a steaming hot cup of coffee and a book. The first part, I did get to, but since snoozies snuck up on me the book remained unread. Lunch called and there I was looking at the remains of a sad looking loaf of bread and decided to wolf down a semi – naked burger. You know, burger – the normal and all with a yummy patty sandwiched  between 2 slices of bread. Of course loaded with spinach and jalapenos and more. And then you go the carb less route, basically burger without the bun! So therefore by the power of interpretation, a semi naked burger would be when you run out of bread and have only one slice of it !

And thus was born the necessity to bake this afternoon, cause the other option would have been to run to the store . And that would happen only if you would have been able to bribe me with a million bucks and a steaming hot mug of latte. Since it did not, here we are baking bread!

So there you go, for one of the most easiest and most versatile sandwich bread that is pillowy soft and has a fantastic crust and crumb for such minimal effort. Have it plain or toast it and slather it with butter and jam . For the more adventurous, make thick slices of these and make fresh french toast. But make no bones about this, for this might be plain fare, but it appeals very well to all.

Slice think or thick - you choose
Slice think or thick – you choose

Ingredients:

  1. Unbromated and Unbleached  APF    :            3 +0.5 cups reserved as required
  2. Very warm water                                    :            1¼ cups
  3. Instant acting dry yeast                         :            2 ¼ tsp. or 1 sachet of it.
  4. Sugar / Honey/ Agave                           :            2 Tbsp.
  5. Oil                                                             :            ¼ cup
  6. Salt                                                            :            1½ tsp.
  7. Milk ( optional)                                       :            1 Tbsp.

Method:

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in 3 cups of flour, sugar and salt and using a flat beater mix it well.
  2. Next add in the dry yeast and stir in well using the flat beater.
  3. Add in the oil and water simultaneously and using the flat beater mix it in thoroughly.
  4. Now switch to the dough hook and knead it for about 4-6 minutes until you get a nice smooth dough. Add in more flour from the reserved 1/2 cup if required.
  5. Rest it in the bowl for about 5 minutes or so.
  6. Take it out on a greased surface ( I typically spray the surface of my kitchen counter and dump the dough in it) and roll it out to form a rectangle and make a log. Pinch the ends of the seam and the sides and place it seam side down on a greased baking pan of 9 by 5 inches.
  7. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise in warm, draft free zone for about 25 minutes or until doubled in volume.
  8. Meanwhile pre heat the oven to 375 deg F.
  9. When dough has sufficiently risen, make a couple of gashes ¼ inches or so deep or make one slit down the center using a very sharp knife and place it in the oven after giving it a milk wash.
  10. Bake for about 25-28 minutes . Do the tap test – bread when tapped should sound hollow.
  11. Let it cool thoroughly before slicing.

 Substitution: Sub out 1 cup of  APF with one cup of white whole wheat flour. The remaining 2 cups would remain APF . It works very well.

Quick Herb Sandwich Bread – One hour bread!

When the going get’s tough, the tough get going!

When we run out of bread at 6 Am, we bake to have a fresh loaf by 7.30 AM … So espoused the sleep deprived brain of mine!

 Now most people do not claim to be sane at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, but hey I never claimed that part of my brain – you know the part when the saner actions originate from, that part was particularly alive and kicking generally.  My four legged addition to the family, a particularly feisty puppy of 5 months old decided 5.40 AM WAS THE PERFECT TIME TO CATCH UP ON THE BARKING OF AN ENTIRE DAY! YIPPE, YIPPE , YAY YAY! Let’s wake up the entire neighborhood ! Now before sleeping tykes get rudely roused ( though I have told them to just put a pillow on their heads and get back to sleep, training the puppy at work and all ) I was up in any case at 5.30 ( blame the body clock!), so keeping me company when I embarked on this madcap adventure  of a bit of this and bit of that , yielding in a successful kitchen experiment was M, my furry companion!  I so totally envy her, after all the rabble rousing bark and her business attended to, she was happily curled up near the vent of the heater, just occasionally raising her head to see to what’s happening and most of the time though happily content to be! Just be.

So here it is, my version of a quick sandwich loaf with minimal ingredients and really yum results.

This is a super quick and equally delicious sandwich bread made in about 60 minutes flat! Yep, that’s right 60 minutes including the rising time and you have it ready to make a thick delicious grilled sandwich or an equally  yum grilled cheese one or just a plain fare of toast with a dab of creamy salted butter!

Please do note, the use of Instant dry yeast is what leads to the quick rising of bread and thereby eliminating the need for a second rise.

Quick bread : check  

Easy loaf : check  

No eggs : check  

Not too much oil or sugar : check  

One rise : check  

Perfect : check   

 

1,2,3
1,2,3
Sliced to perfection!
Sliced to perfection!

Ingredients:

  • Bread flour : 2.5 cups + 0.5 cup as needed
  • Water : very warm, 1 cup
  • Sugar : 1 Tbsp.
  • Olive Oil : 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp to grease the bowl
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili flakes : 1/2 Tbsp. ( optional)
  • Fresh and died herbs  of choice: 1/4 cup
  • Instant Active dry yeast : 1 packet  ( 1/4 ounce)

Notes : Do not have Bread flour? Have only All purpose flour? works fine too. Want to try whole wheat? Try mixing the flours half and half and give it a shot! Please do try and use unbromated, unbleached flour. If you end up using unbromated flour, then do knead a bit more.

Method:

  • In a wide mixing bowl or you stand kneader’s bowl add in 2.5 cups of flour, the herbs mix, the salt, sugar  and the instant dry yeast and using a paddle attachment or a whisk make sure they are thoroughly stirred and distributed.
  • Add in the 2 Tbsp. of Olive oil and stir it well too.
  • Replace the paddle to the dough hook and add in the very warm water and knead it well. Once the dough gathers, decide if you need to add a bit more . If so because the dough is too shaggy and sticky, add the extra half cup of flour in stages of 2 tsp. or so and bring it all together and knead very well for about 4- 5 minutes. The end result would be a very soft pliable dough, but definitely not tearing apart. A bit sticky is fine. Not adding too much flour and kneading it very well for about 4 minutes will definitely help the texture of the bread by yielding a light loaf.
  • Grease the bowl with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and shape the dough in a ball and place it in it and cover with your kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm dark place for about 20 minutes or until the dough is doubled in volume so. Make sure you have nice warm dark place to let your bread rise. If you think you are unsure about where to put it ordinate have a free draft free zone, preheat your oven to about 100 F or so. And turn it off.  The  residual heat in the oven can serve as a nice environment to let your bread rise.
  • After about 20 minutes, gently punch the dough to deflate it and shape it into a free loaf or shape it in your 9 by 5 bread pan. I used the  bread pan and greased it before placing the dough in it and flat patted it. No log formation , nothing. Just a free ball rolled up and then deflated and patted gently to fit the base of the 9 by 5 pan evenly.
  • UPDATE: Slash the top layer of the dough , 1/4 of an inch – make about 2 -3 of these atleast. this will help the steam escape and prevent your bread from splitting on the top.

Baking:

  • In the lowermost rack of your baking oven, fill a baking tray with very very hot tap water and place it.
  • Place your bread pan in the middle rack of your oven.
  • Now set the oven temp to 400 deg F and cook time to 40 minutes and start. Yes, you start with a cold oven !
  • In about 40-42 minutes, you will have a beautiful golden brown loaf with perfect crust.
  • When you tap the sides of the bread and it sounds hollow – you are good  to take it out and cool it.

Remove , let it cool and slice it thick for perfect toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese and more!

Dates and Nuts Sugar Free Roll ( Sugar Free Khajur and Nuts roll)

Dates and Nuts Sugar Free Roll- Khajur and Nuts roll… Royal Diwali Mithai with no added sugar and rich with nuts ! A sure crowd pleaser !

This recipe is a slight modification from my earlier one. Last year I had made the Dry fruits and Nuts Burfi and Ladoo.

Without much ado, here it goes. A sure winner in Diwali Mithai list!

                                          Prep time : 15 min                   Cooking time : 10 min                         Setting time : 1 hr                     Yield : 15- 20 pieces 

 

Happy Diwali 2014
Happy Diwali 2014

Ingredients:

  • Chopped Dates : 2 cups
  • Chopped Nuts : 3/4 cup ( mix of cashews, pistachios and walnuts)
  • Poppy seeds / Khus -Khus : 2-3 Tbsp.
  • Clarified Butter / Ghee : 1.5 tsp.

Method:

  • Chop the dates ( I used the sticky seedless kind) to yield about 2 cups of the chopped quantity. About 20-25 dates would yield this depending on the size and quality of the dry fruit.
  • Run it in the blender. This is going to be a slightly sticky mass. Do not over process it or add any liquid to this.
  • In a wok or non stick kadai, toast the poppy seeds on medium heat and keep aside. An easier option would be to nuke it in the microwave for about a min.
  • Also toast the nuts for a min or two. The result is 2 pronged – you get the crunch in the nuts and get rid of the raw edge of it too. Again do not over process it. Remove it and keep aside.
  • Next add in the 1.5 tsp. of ghee or clarified butter and add in the blended dates. Please process this on medium heat for about 5 min or so. You will notice the darkening in the color of the dates and a heavenly fragrance too.
  • Add in the nuts at the stage.
  • Make sure the nuts are distributed throughout the dates base. Now depending on the freshness of your dates, you might need to add in a teaspoon more of the ghee to bind it all together if required.
  • Turn off the heat and remove on to a parchment paper lined plate.
  • Let it cool for just a minute and roll out into logs of your desired thickness.
  • Coat it with the toasted poppy seeds and set it in the fridge for about an hour.
  • Remove, slice the logs to yield thick wedges of this .
  • Result is a delicious slice of dates and nuts without any added sugar!

Banana Cinnamon Quick Breakfast Muffins

Banana Cinnamon Quick Breakfast Muffins

Bananas again? I know what you are thinking. Seriously I am not obsessed with banana, more like trying to finish the remaining 3 sad looking ones – so speckled, that the splotches of brown are beginning to merge to become patches of brown and black on it. The heat and humidity of NC in fact encourages this organic progression at a more ballistic rate. In any case, I wanted to make this into something not terribly sweet and something moist and soft. And something that can be done in minimal equipment. So what do I use? My Magic bullet, a mixing bowl and a whisk. 

Simple, quick , delicious, not overtly sweet, laced with cinnamon and made absolutely moist by the bananas, this are perfect domes of indulgence on a Saturday morning!

Pretty pleased with myself, I dare say!

 Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour (self rising) : 1.5 cups
  • Baking soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Super ultra ripe bananas : 3
  • Brown Cane sugar : 1/3 cup
  • Egg: 1
  • Flavorless oil: 1/3 cup
  • Ground cinnamon powder: 1.25 -1.5 tsp.
  • Pure vanilla extract: 1 tsp.

 Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  • Line a 12 cup muffin or cupcake pan with paper liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the flour and soda and cinnamon powder to ensure they are thoroughly mixed.
  • In the large jar of your magic bullet blender or any blender, mush the 3 bananas very well to ensure no lumps.
  • Add in the tsp. of vanilla extract, sugar, oil, 1 egg and whip it all together for a couple of min or so.
  • The mix is now lighter in color and very creamy.( You should have this stage before mixing it in)
  • Add the liquid contents to the dry mix and whisk it all up very gently.
  • You will now have a very thick batter mix ready .
  • Now is the stage for you to add in any chopped nuts or choc chip if using.
  • Distribute the batter in 12 cups to about 3/4 full.
  • Bake it for 18-20 minutes until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let it cool for a bit in the pan, and then further more on the wire rack.
  • Slice, Inhale , Enjoy!

Pointers:

  • You might exceed the 12 cups if the quantity of your mushed bananas are a bit more. It happens to be the only variable that I did not quantify today.
  • Increasing the cinnamon flavor is totally personal.
  • Have a bit of a sweet tooth? Increase the sugar from 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Personally 1/3 looks fine to me.
  • Want to add Honey? Go ahead 1/2 -1/3 cup looks good.
  • Want to add a streusel topping? It will be awesome in this.
  • Nuts? Walnuts would be my first choice. Chopped and folded in the batter would be awesome.
  • Choc chips: 1/3 cup and it would be a real indulgence I would say!