Monday, January 3, 2011

Bread in general

Is there anything like a great warm homemade bread and butter?  In my books?  Nope.  I love bread, I always have and I always will.  And I really enjoy making bread, I don't think anything comes close to the whole satisfying process.  From the moment you open that little package of yeast, the aroma hits you and grows with the bread.  There are so many great bread recipes, I have found this one that I make every year for Christmas morning.  It is in the Better Homes and Garden Cook book and it has never failed me.

The recipe is for sweet rolls which I have made as well many times.  But for the Christmas bread I simply prepare them differently the ingredients are all the same.

Sweet Rolls

2 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast

Heat and stir 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 tsp salt to 120-130 degrees.  Do not overheat or you will kill the yeast and you will have flatbread.  Add this liquid to the flour mixture and add two eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer or Kitchenaid 3 minutes on high.  The more you mix the better with bread.  Add another 2-2 1/3 cup flour until you have a nice soft squishy dough.

Knead with bread attachment if you have one or turn onto a floured surface and workout your arms.  Knead for at least 5 minutes or until your arms feel like they will fall off.  Shape into a ball and place into a well oil bowl, cover with clean dish towel and place somewhere warm.  I usually turn the oven on for a few minutes then turn it off and let the bread rise in the slightly warm oven. 

Once it is double in size punch it down, literally.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Then roll the dough out as flat as possible, butter it leaving about 1 1/2 on one side not buttered.  Spread a good amount of brown sugar, nuts of your preferance and cinnamon.  I braided the one above, so only put the filling in the middle.  I cut the sides to give me braidable pieces.  Or you can roll it up and make a donut shape with it.  Cut a few slots in the top to let steam out and it looks nice.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 min until golden brown.  Drizzle with powdered sugar and water and spread nuts or cherries on top. 

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