I received a call from my son Thursday evening. This is a somewhat unusual occurrence as the last time I spoke to him was on the occasion of his 31st birthday back in early February. In our defense, we are both busy professionals working much more than your typical 40-hour work week, so we don’t have a lot of spare time for idle chit-chat.
We exchanged pleasantries and got caught up on the latest antics of their new pet Rottweiler, Ton Ton, when he popped the question. You know, the one you always expect when your offspring call you because they never call you unless they … wait for it … want something. But this time, my son surprised me. He wanted my Italian Herb bread recipe.
Seriously? This was too easy and too good to be true.
I spent most of Sunday baking. First I tested a new bread recipe (see previous post on the Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread recipe). Terry and I wanted to have Italian for dinner, so I decided to make some Italian herb bread. I reviewed my two ‘stand by’ recipes, Italian Supermarket Bread and Rosemary Sourdough, and decided I really needed to program my Zojirushi for a custom dough cycle (less kneading, more rising). I couldn’t find the print edition that I received with the BB-CEC20 bread machine (I filed it away with all the other appliance manuals), so I downloaded a searchable copy (aka as a PDF file).
My daughter continues providing meals to her father (and I benefit as well). One of her suggested menu items happened to be stromboli. She called her boyfriend last night for the recipe, but he had a bad day at work so supper at the Moss Home quickly became leftovers. Rachelle called me later while I was out at the grocery store picking up items for today’s return of the chicken pot pie. She needed French bread to make her stromboli. I told her I needed a minimum of three to four hours to make that type of bread. I asked her if I could make some French bread on Sunday afternoon so she could make the stromboli on Monday. She agreed and eventually left to spend the evening (and night) with friends.
Monday morning, I reviewed the stromboli recipe via the King Arthur Flour web site. I placed the ingredients for the dough in my bread machine and added time to the dough cycle so that the dough would be ready for Rachelle around 4:30 p.m. I went merrily off to work and called her at 3:00 p.m. to make sure the bread machine started on time and that the dough looked like it should. She told me it looked great and smelled wonderful.
I got home at my regular time and the stromboli was already baking in the oven on parchment paper on the pizza stone. The house smelled glorious. Within a half hour, we took the baked stromboli out of the oven and let it rest and cool for ten to fifteen minutes. I sliced it while Rachelle heated up some marinara sauce. We each enjoyed at least two slices, if not three.
Later, after we’d stuffed ourselves, Rachelle realized she should have let the stromboli rise before baking it. Neither of us had thought about that and had not allowed for that second rise time in our evening dinner planning. Next time, we’ll definitely let the stromboli rise for at least a half hour or longer. This recipe is a keeper!
I spent the day baking bread. Always enjoyable for me and any of my house guests. The aroma of baking bread permeates our home.
My first loaf of the morning I made for my father. Since our family is celebrating Christmas (by opening presents and feasting on an Italian themed dinner) tomorrow, I wanted to make a fresh loaf of his favorite: White Sandwich Bread <= (click link for recipe).
The third and final loaf will be Rustic Sourdough, modified to mix and rise in the dough cycle of my bread machine. The original recipe from King Arthur is really a double batch (makes two loaves) and I would have to drag out my Kitchen Aid mixer to accommodate five cups of flour and the other ingredients.
Once the loaves are all baked and cooled, I will take some photographs and post them below.
I made a mistake, however, in reading the ingredients and used two tablespoons of sugar instead of just two teaspoons. I may have to try again today. My other modifications to the recipe are listed below in bold:
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water; or substitute Quick Shine
In a large bowl, stir together all of the dough ingredients till cohesive. Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and supple, adding more water or flour as needed. I used my Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook. I let the water, sugar and yeast proof for 5-10 minutes in the bowl while I measured out the other ingredients.
Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until it’s doubled in bulk. I let it rise for about 90 minutes (mostly because I was preoccupied watching a movie).
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth 16″ log. Place the logs into the two wells of a lightly greased Italian bread pan, cover, and let the loaves rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. I love my Italian bread pan (see photo above).
Brush the loaves with the egg wash (or spray them with Quick Shine), then sprinkle heavily with sesame seeds. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. For the crispiest crust, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and allow the bread to cool in the oven. I brushed with an egg-white wash and sprinkled liberally with sesame seeds. I also scored each loaf three times with my razor-sharp lame. Again, I misread the directions and baked at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. I spritzed the oven every five minutes with water from a spray bottle to encourage a crispy crust. I also let the loaves cool in the oven.
We enjoyed some home-made baked Italian sandwiches courtesy Terry’s early life experiences working for his father at the Grinder Man in Wichita, Kansas. Terry’s dad conceived, owned and operated several Grinder Man sandwich shops in Wichita during the 70s and 80s. Sadly, only one remains open now.