Culinary school didn’t teach me how to bake. OK, that’s not really true. My Baking class taught me how to bake . . . in a restaurant. Of course, the purpose of culinary school isn’t to teach you to be a home cook, or a food blogger. It’s to teach you how to cook in a restaurant, so that’s exactly what they did. We used a live sourdough starter for all of the baguettes and bread loaves we made, and we had a (too nice) instructor who made sure to tell us when the dough was proofed enough, and when it should come out of the oven. Thus, very little of the skills I learned in that class translated to just baking a loaf of bread at home for my husband and I.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 was to improve my yeast baking skills. Nine months later, I’m learning how to raise my first-ever yeast bread baby. I decided to start with a basic beer bread, but use pumpkin beer as the beer to be all seasonal and such. And honestly? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I was expecting. If I can do this, anybody can, trust me. Here’s how it went down.
The most important step of any recipe is the first step: gather your ingredients. Be all French about it and say you’re gathering you’re mise en place. Realize that you only need half the pumpkin beer for the bread, so you can drink the other half. Toast yourself that you’ve completed the first step.
Stir together some all-purpose flour and rye flour in a bowl. In a small saucepan, warm beer, water, honey and butter until the mixture is between 100 and 110 degrees F. Use your (preferably purple) kitchen thermometer to verify.
Whisk together warm beer mixture, some of the flour mixture, 2 envelopes Fleischmann’s® Active Dry Yeast, salt, caraway seed and garlic powder until smooth. Stir in additional flour until a soft dough forms.
And I knead you now tonight. And I knead you more than ever. Softly sing a bread-making-themed version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to yourself while you knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it’s nice and smooth.
Shape the dough into a ball and press it into a greased baking pan. Cover it, put it in a warm place and go watch some bad TV while it rises for about 45 minutes.
When you return, it will have magically doubled in size. Do a little dance, because so far, you are doing it right. Brush the dough with a little bit of melted butter and sprinkle it with pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds), if you want.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bread is baked through. Remove it from the pan and let it cool a little bit on a rack. But serve it warm and slather it with butter. Because warm bread + slathered butter is really what baking is all about. To tell you the truth, this bread was even better than my favorite brewery’s beer bread. Even if most of the pepitas fell off the top when I sliced it (oh well). Not too shabby for meeting my new year’s resolution, right?
While I had so much fun baking this bread last week, I know that not every family is as lucky as mine. All across America, families are struggling with hunger and children are often hit the hardest. That’s why Fleischmann’s® Yeast is launching the Baking A Difference campaign to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.
If you like to mix up treats in the kitchen, then we challenge you to bake for someone you love and bake a difference. Consider hosting a bake sale to spread the word! Inspire family, friends, teachers, neighbors and others to get involved in the campaign. Collectively, we can all harness the power of baking recipes and bake a difference together to end child hunger in America. For more information, visit http://www.breadworld.
As a Become a Better Baker Blog Ambassador, this post was sponsored by ACH Foods through their partnership with One2One Network. Posts like this help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.