Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Round Bread

I'm Lorie, and I blog on Fridays at The Paisley Cupcake

I spent nearly 20 years as a SAHM. You can imagine that living on a single income with 4,5 and then 6 children was quite a struggle at times, and I learned lots of tricks for stretching my food budget. For many years, I made all the baked goods for my family. I got quite good at making bread and rolls, not to mention cookies, brownies and other treats.

At one point, I didn't have enough bread pans for all the bread I needed to bake so I improvised by using juice cans. The result was so good, that I tossed the one or two cheap bread pans I had and just baked in cans for several years. My girls were famous at school for having round sandwiches. I chuckle now, because they used to BEG me to stop making homemade bread and please just buy the Wonder Bread all their friends had.

The bread I bake in cans is better so much better than the same recipe (sometimes the same batch of dough!) baked in traditional loaf pans. I suspect it has to do with the weight of the bread as it rises, keeping itself in check? The texture of bread baked this way is wonderful and is perfect for slicing for sandwiches or toast.

Here is a mini-tutorial on making "round bread".

First, buy some juice in 46 oz cans. Twenty plus years ago, this was much easier to do. I went searching for juice in cans recently, and the only kinds available were tomato and pineapple. Everything else is in plastic bottles nowadays, it seems.

Consume the juice inside the can (watch for some pineapply recipes in the future as I struggle to use several cans of pineapple juice). Then remove the top of the can and the label and wash the can and let it dry. When removing the label, make sure you remove all the adhesive too, or it will smell up your kitchen the first time you bake in the cans.

Make your favorite bread dough. Here is a simple one that I've used for many years:
• 2 cups hot water (as hot as you can get from the tap)

• 2 TBSP active dry yeast

• 1 TBSP salt

• 1/4 cup sugar or honey

• 2-3 TBSP butter or margarine

• Flour to make a soft dough (perhaps 5-6 cups). I usually use 50/50 white and wheat

Mix 2 cups whole wheat flour with the yeast, salt and sugar (if using).

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, add butter and honey to hot water.

Once butter melts a bit, add liquid to the flour mixture and beat well. This is your sponge.

Let your sponge proof (leave it alone and let it bubble and rise). This step serves two purposes. First, it assures that your yeast is active, preventing you from going to all the trouble of making bread that doesn't rise. Second, it adds greatly to the flavor of the finished product. Let it proof for as long as you have the time for, up to 3 hours or so, but no less than 20 minutes. (this is a 20 minute sponge. You can see that it's puffed up a bit and there are lots of bubbles.)

Beat down your sponge and add more flour until you have a dough that is soft but not sticky. I'd like to be more specific, but it's really a hands-on process. You want the dough to hold its shape, but not stick to your hands. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, either by hand or with a dough hook or food processor. If you're using a dough hook, you want it to clean the sides of the bowl as it mixes.

Place dough in a warm place, covering with a clean towel if necessary and let rise until double in bulk. Then punch down and form into loaves. This recipe makes 2 large or 3 small loaves.

For round bread, just form the dough into a ball

and drop into clean, well greased juice can (I sprayed it with Pam).

Let rise until double in bulk, then bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the can for 10 minutes or so. Don't let them sit in the can too long, or the bottoms will get soggy. [nothing worse then a soggy bottom, neh?] Cool completely on a cake rack before wrapping or freezing.

As an added bonus, the ridges from the cans make decent cutting guides.

It makes wonderful toast!


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