A lot of Christmas going on at my house! And one of my favorite parts is buying all the ingredients (mostly organic) and baking all this bread. Anyone I run into this time of year is likely to get a loaf! Just made another batch a few minutes ago. I use a technique called rapidmix, where all the dry ingredients, including the yeast, are stirred together, and then the butter and liquid (milk or water) are heated, and added to the dry all at one time. The big industrial size mixer Brian bought me several years ago then goes to work.
After the dough is pulling away nicely from the side of the bowl, I turn off the mixed, add more flour (I usually use 3 different kinds, and add the fruits and nuts, mixing and matching (dried cherries, blueberries, currants, dates, apples, raisins, golden raisins, almonds and pecans this year). The mixer goes back on for a few, and then I turn the dough out onto the butcher block and knead until it pushes back and is smooth.
I also use a technique called coolrise, which makes it possible to produce fresh hot bread most any time. I let the bread rest on the board for 20 minutes, then form it into loaves, cover with wrap, and stick them in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. Where it rises some more, albeit slowly. But the yeast is eating the sugar (not too much in my self-invented recipe), and good stuff is happening to the dough.
When I’m ready to bake, the dough gets taken out of the fridge for a few minutes, to get used to being at room temperature, and then gets put in the oven for about 45 minutes, give or take. The whole house smells like fresh bread for days and days.
The loaves have to rest again for a few minutes after coming out of the oven – to get themselves cool enough to cut. It can be hard to wait – especially because I’m always finding wonderful kinds of butter, which I love on warm bread.
Ahhhhhh. It’s Christmas time.