Bread Maker Recipe – Italian Bread

January 28, 2010

Italian bread is a challenge when using a bread machine. It has no sugar. That's really odd for bread machine recipes. How is the yeast supposed to do it's thing fast enough without it? Well, let me tell you. It "does it's thing" just fine. This recipe reminds me of the old saying, “Cooking is art, baking is science, bread is magic.”

This white flour loaf rises incredibly well, even without the sugar, and creates a wonderfully soft crumb, with a slightly crunchy, chewy crust (the darker the crust setting the more crunchy/chewy). The first time I made it, my wife told me, “Well, it really is white bread. You know, soft like store bought white bread. I don't think you'll like it.” She was wrong. Yes, the crumb was very soft, but this has so much more flavor than the commercial crap at the grocery store. It's not only great for dipping in olive oil, it's great for sandwiches.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3 cups white flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon dough conditioner
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

Place the ingredients in the loaf pan in the order recommend by your bread maker. The main point is to isolate the liquid ingredients from the yeast. Use the French loaf cycle. Set the crust color to whatever you prefer. I like medium for this bread.

Photo by Oscar Martinez

Bread Maker Recipe - Cracked Wheat (Bulgur) Bread

January 20, 2010

Buglur wheat is made mostly from various wheat strains (mostly durum wheat) that has been crushed, parboiled, dried, and partially de-branned. Cracked wheat is similar to Bulgur, but has not been parboiled. Both are whole grains and highly nutritious.

Adding either to a bread maker recipe is going to increase the nutritional value of the bread, but also add a wonderful texture and slight nuttiness. I think it's a great choice for people who use bread makers (like me) who want to increase the amount of whole grain fiber in their diets. Making wonderful 100% whole grain wheat bread in most bread makers is a real challenge at times, that is if you want it to be something more than a dense, gummy brick at the end of the baking cycle. Adding cracked wheat or bulgur to the bread increases the whole grain fiber without sacrificing a soft chew.

1 cup warm water
1/4 cup cracked wheat or bulgur wheat
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon dough conditioner
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Add the ingredients into the bread pan in the order listed, or the order your bread maker recommends. I don't think the order matters too much, as long as you put as much distance as you can between the yeast and the water.

Set the bread maker for the “wheat” cycle and set the crust to whatever setting you enjoy most (I prefer light or medium for most things. If you're using cracked wheat, set the delay timer for at least 30 minutes so the cracked wheat can soak and soften, or you'll end up with cracked teeth, not just cracked wheat. Bulgur has already been parboiled so you shouldn't need to set a delay for *most bread makers.
*Many bread makers have a built in delay to warm the water for the wheat cycle. If your bread maker doesn't have a built in delay for the wheat cycle, you may want to set the delay timer , just to make sure, when using Bulgur wheat. Experiment with your bread maker and let me know how it goes.

Photo by Rob Owen-Wahl