15 March 2018

Classic White Sandwich Bread

Classic White Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Classic white sandwich bread came to mind this week because I was craving simple bread and butter tea sandwiches with my tea. But I couldn’t actually make it (or anything else) because I just had hand surgery. Then I thought about the blog—what am I going to do about this week’s post?

I don’t like repeating posts, but under the circs, it seemed necessary. And besides, this bread was one of my first posts eight years ago, so none of you probably even saw it. But I wanted to tell you anyway, in the interests of full disclosure and all.

Unlike store-bought white bread, this bread is very flavorful. But typing with one hand is getting pretty annoying, so without further ado …

Classic white sandwich bread is something anyone who wants a reputation as a cook needs to master. Even if you really can't cook a lick, if you can make yeast bread everyone thinks you're some kind of cooking genius. Seriously, yeast bread (and pie crust) really impresses people. Master these and you'll be able to fake it as a cook for the rest of your life.

If you've never made bread before, just follow my can't-fail step-by-step below. If you prefer to use a heavy-duty stand mixer for mixing and kneading bread dough, here is the same Classic White Sandwich Bread - Stand Mixer Method.

Classic White Sandwich Bread

(Makes 2 loaves)

5 dip-and-sweep cups (25 ounces/709 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 ml) milk or water, room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) melted unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil

1 In large bowl (a straight-sided 4-quart bowl makes it easy to tell when dough has doubled), whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast. With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, stir in liquid and butter or oil until thoroughly mixed. Stir for 1 or 2 minutes, then stir in 2 1/2 cups flour a half cup at a time. Finished dough will be shaggy and sticky.

2 Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate for 24 hours. (Back when my grandmother made this bread, instead of using yeast, she would just keep back a small piece of dough from one batch to leaven the next, which also added flavor. In this updated version, I've added flavor by mixing the dough the day before.)

3 Remove dough from refrigerator and let rest for 1 hour to warm up a bit. Scrape dough out onto lightly floured (from remaining 1/2 cup) surface. Knead for about 5 or 6 minutes, adding more of remaining flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest a few minutes while you clean out and oil bowl for second rise.

4 Flatten out dough and continue kneading for another 5 or 6 minutes, or until dough is soft and smooth. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning dough to oil surface and pressing it flat. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm (82F/28C is ideal) place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. If house is cool, heat oven to 200F/93C, allow to heat for 2 minutes, turn off oven and put dough in to rise.

5 Lightly oil two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch (also called 1-pound) loaf pans. Turn risen dough out onto lightly floured (still from that remaining 1/2 cup) surface, flattening gently to break up any large bubbles. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Press each piece into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Fold in short ends of dough until piece is about 6 inches long. Roll from one rough edge, pinch seam to seal and roll gently to form a tight log the length of pan.

6 Place seam-side down in prepared pans and press dough into pans so that it reaches sides, ends and corners. Cover loaves with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough rises just above top of pans and springs back just a little when lightly poked with a floured finger. (I put the pans and a mug of hot water under an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet held up by a 1-pound can in each corner and covered with a towel.)

Classic White Sandwich Bread (this photo - improvised proofer) / www.delightfulrepast.com
Just one of the ways I improvise a makeshift proofer

7 During the last 20 minutes, heat oven to 450F/230C/Gas8. Put loaves in oven and reduce heat to 375F/190C/Gas5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until loaves are golden brown, shrink from sides of pans, and bottoms of loaves sound hollow if tapped. Remove immediately from pans and let cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Wrap well as soon as bread has cooled thoroughly. Store at room temperature or freeze in zipper freezer bags. Yields 2 loaves.

Classic White Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. 

08 March 2018

Perfect Scrambled Eggs - Review and Giveaway Le Creuset Nonstick Fry Pan

Perfect Scrambled Eggs - Giveaway Le Creuset Nonstick Fry Pan / www.delightfulrepast.com

Perfect Scrambled Eggs—Now there’s a claim! This is one of those dishes that even experts can’t agree on. It all comes down to what you like. If you are perfectly happy with your scrambled eggs, skip right on down to the Le Creuset pan. I won’t be offended.

But if you’re not quite sure your scrambled eggs really are the be-all and end-all, stay with me here. Of course, all you’ll get is my opinion. For every so-called expert who insists you must do or add something, there is another of equal stature who insists on just the opposite.

I like scrambled eggs that finish in soft, fluffy folds rather than tiny pieces of egg that look like a pile of gravel on the plate. They should look slightly moist, but not wet or gooey. If they look matte/dry or, heaven forbid, browned, they are overcooked and rubbery.

How is this "perfection" accomplished? I’ll tell you in the recipe, but let’s start with the pan. A slope-sided (rather than straight-sided) pan of the proper size for the number of eggs is key. I’m usually scrambling 4 to 6 large eggs, so a 10-inch pan is perfect.

Should you beat the eggs in a bowl or right in the pan? Beat them in a bowl, vigorously, with a whisk, for 30 seconds or so, right before you pour them into the heated pan. Add milk, cream or water? None of the above! Just eggs. Salt or other seasonings? No. Just eggs.

The Pan

As I’ve said before, such as in my How to Make Crepes post, maybe it's one of those anti-everything all-natural organic old hippie chick things, but I'm not crazy about (translation: I hate) nonstick pans. But ... I do use a well cared for, high-quality nonstick pan for a few things—omelettes, scrambled eggs, crepes and pancakes (or gluten-free pancakes).

My everyday skillet is uncoated tri-ply stainless steel, my preferred pan for cooking steaks, chops, anything I want to brown. And I’ve actually perfected the art of cooking eggs in it with almost no sticking, but it takes a lot of concentration! The nonstick version doesn’t give me a problem even if I’m distracted or half asleep!

And, squeamish as I am about ingesting chemicals or fumes, I’m quite confident that a properly used and cared for, high-quality nonstick pan used occasionally is not going to hurt me. Of course, I treat my nonstick pans properly because I also don’t like having to throw things away because, as you know, there is no "away."

A few general tips for using a nonstick pan:

Unlike with other pans, never preheat empty or over high heat. Rub a little oil or butter (I use about 1/2 teaspoon) onto the cold pan—don’t use cooking spray—and heat over low to moderate heat.

Use non-metal utensils that are not sharp or rough so as to not scratch or nick the nonstick surface. Once you’ve damaged the nonstick coating, it’s all over for that pan.

Allow to cool completely before immersing in water or filling with water. Hand-wash with a sponge or cloth. And never stack another pan inside a nonstick pan. If you must stack, put a dishcloth between the pans.

Now for the recipe. Oh, and do tell me how you like your scrambled eggs. And be sure to enter my giveaway of a Le Creuset Stainless Steel 10-Inch (26 cm) Nonstick Fry Pan, a heavy tri-ply pan that retains and distributes heat evenly so there are no hot and cold spots!

Perfect Scrambled Eggs - Giveaway Le Creuset Nonstick Fry Pan / www.delightfulrepast.com

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

(Makes 2 servings)

4 or 5 large eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 In 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter.

Note: Actually, Number One is make sure everything else is ready and the diners are at the table before you even start. If you're having toast or whatever, it needs to be done before the eggs go into the pan. There's nothing worse than scrambled eggs that have been waiting around!

2 In a 1-quart bowl (I use a 4-cup glass measure), whisk the eggs vigorously for 30 seconds or so.

Note: I had a friend who insisted that whisking the eggs right in the pan with a fork was the way to go, but her scrambled eggs always had white streaks - a big major unappetizing no-no for me. 

3 When the butter is bubbling (but not browned), pour the eggs into the center of the pan. Do not stir.

4 Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, until eggs begin to set at the edges.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs - Giveaway Le Creuset Nonstick Fry Pan / www.delightfulrepast.com
The eggs pictured in this post are actually not as "Perfect" as usual because I cooked them a little too long before starting to push them around with the silicone spatula. But that's how it goes when you're trying to cook and photograph at the same time!

5 When the edges are starting to set, draw a heat-resistant silicone spatula across the bottom of the pan. Uncooked egg will flow into that area. Wait several seconds. Repeat a few times, forming large curds.

6 When the eggs look about one minute away from done, take the pan off the heat; the eggs will continue to cook. Plate; sprinkle with salt and pepper; garnish with chives, cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or tarragon, if you're being fancy; and serve right away.

Giveaway Le Creuset Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan / www.delightfulrepast.com
Don't forget to Pin it!

Le Creuset® Nonstick Fry Pan Giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents* 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person, plus see below for ways to get up to two bonus entries). First comment should be about the first thing you'll make in your 10-inch nonstick fry pan. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday March 14.

* If you are outside the US but would like to have this sent to someone you know in the US (you would have to send them a gift card separately on your own), go ahead and enter!

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday March 15. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday March 18, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

For up to two bonus entries (each in a separate comment):

  • follow Le Creuset on Twitter and leave a separate comment below with your Twitter name. (Must include Twitter name!)

Disclosure: Le Creuset provided a pan for review purposes and one for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!

01 March 2018

Banana Upside-Down Cake

Banana Upside-Down Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Banana Upside-Down Cake came up into my “queue” because I’ve been craving bananas lately. Wonder what that means? Anyway … I’ve made my Small-Batch Banana Muffins a couple of times lately (love them!), so thought I should do something different with the bananas today.

Usually, if I add nuts to an upside-down cake, it’s walnut or pecan halves worked into the pattern of the fruit on the bottom (that will be the top), but I had finely diced walnuts left over from my muffin-making and thought I’d just throw those into the batter.

If you’re allergic to nuts, you can leave them out of the recipe without having to make any adjustments to it. We enjoy the cake with some unsweetened (you might prefer lightly sweetened), softly whipped cream. A 1/8-of-the-cake serving comes in right at my daily sugar allowance!

If you like it, I hope you'll share the link on your social media and with all your friends, relatives, coworkers and assorted pets! And do leave a comment and tell me about your favorite ways with bananas or whatever! 

Banana Upside-Down Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
Don't forget to Pin and share!

Banana Upside-Down Cake

(Makes one 8-inch round cake, 8 servings)

9 tablespoons (4.5 ounces/128 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/2 firmly packed cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) dark brown sugar
3 medium (about 18 ounces/510 grams, total unpeeled) perfectly ripe bananas
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) finely diced walnuts or pecans, optional
2 teaspoons aluminum-free non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml), room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease a 2-inch deep* 8-inch round Pyrex baking dish or cake tin with unsalted butter or cooking spray. Line the base with a round of baking parchment. In small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, mix the brown sugar into it, then spread the mixture evenly over the baking parchment. Place banana halves, cut side down, in a pleasing pattern over the sugar. Set aside.

* It is important that the pan be 2 inches deep. If it is shallower, the batter might run over. 

2 In 1-cup glass measure, stir cider vinegar into milk; let stand a few minutes while you proceed with recipe. In mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute to blend. Add the 5 tablespoons softened butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for 1 1/2 minutes, then add the egg and mix 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Note: Or do it by hand, as I usually do. Just whisk together the dry ingredients; use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients; add the milk, egg and vanilla; beat by hand for a minute or two. Couldn't be easier!

3 Spread the batter evenly over the bananas. Run a knife through just the batter, not disturbing the bananas, a couple of times to break up any large air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes. Do not underbake. You're going to be turning it out onto a plate while it is hot, so a nice crusty top (that will be the bottom) is not a bad thing!  

4 Remove from oven, loosen edges with knife, and invert immediately onto a plate. Let it cool completely before serving with whipped cream (unsweetened or lightly sweetened, with a dash of vanilla extract).

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites.

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