More Of That Sweet Smell

So many of you were interested in my post on bread, I have decided to give you a couple more posts on this wonderfully  fragrant, touch of the past. I say the past because there aren’t many of us left who still “dabble in dough” at home and I do realize that time is the necessary evil. But to make bread just for the Holidays isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Sweet Semolina Batard-1 loaf
A Batard is a loaf of bread that is somewhat small than a French baguette. Many sources say many things about what a batard is but in the end, it just has to do with the size of the loaf. We DO know what semolina is though. It is the coarse grind of wheat, a high protein durum wheat, which gives bread, pizza crust and pasta a great color as well as earth flavor.

1 1/2 c. semolina flour
1 1/2 c. all- purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 oz. pkg. yeast

1 c. milk
1 t. real maple syrup
1 t. salt
1 t. olive oil (to oil the proofing bowl)

1 egg
Dribble of water
1 T. sesame seeds
You can do this by hand or by mixer using a dough hook. Here are the instructions using a dough hook on a mixer. Makes 1 large loaf

Put about 1/4 c. milk in a bowl and add yeast and maple syrup. When yeast has thoroughly dissolved add the flour and salt.  Slowly drizzle in the remaining 3/4 c. milk  while continuing mixing just until a soft ball of dough is formed. The dough should be slightly sticky but very easy to work with. You may or may not use all the milk.
On a floured surface knead the ball of dough for 2-3 minutes, turning over and pushing down with the ball of your palm. Form the dough into a smooth ball. Put 1 t. of olive oil into large proofing bowl. Dip a paper towel into the oil and carefully oil all sides of each bowl.. Take the ball of dough and place it into the oiled proofing bowl and then flip it over so that the entire ball of dough is covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours. When dough has doubled, remove and place on a floured surface and form the oblong shape you desire.  Place the loaf on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with 1 T. corn meal . Cover with a light towel or plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.. Let rise for about 1 hour minutes.
Whip egg with water and lightly brush entire loaf. Slash loaf with a sharp knife and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top . Bake at 350 degrees until loaves are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and completely cool before slicing.

Self-rising flour is all-purpose flour with added salt and leavening (baking powder). You will notice that recipes that call for self-rising flour do not call for baking powder.Make your own self-rising flour thusly:

For 1 cup self-rising flour use:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
Pinch of salt

All-purpose flour has a 10-12% protein content and is made from a blend of hard and soft wheat flours. It can be bleached or unbleached which are interchangeable.  However, Southern brands of bleached all-purpose flour have a lower protein content (8%) as they are made from a soft winter wheat.  All-purpose flour can vary in its protein content not only by brand but also regionally. The same brand can have different protein contents depending on what area of the country in the United States you are buying it.  Good for making cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries.

Cake flour has a 6-8% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is chlorinated to further break down the strength of the gluten and is smooth and velvety in texture. Good for making cakes (especially white cakes and biscuits) and cookies where a tender and delicate texture is desired.  To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour.  Make your own – one cup sifted cake flour can be substituted with 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch.

Pastry flour is similar to cake flour, although it has not been chlorinated,  with an 8-10% protein content and is made from soft wheat flour. It is soft and ivory in color. Can find it in health food stores or through mail order catalogs. To make two cups of pastry flour, combine 1 1/3 cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup (90 grams) cake flour. Good for making pastry, pies and cookies.

Self-Rising flour has 8-9% protein and contains flour plus baking powder and salt. I do not use this type of flour because I prefer to add my own baking powder and salt. Also, if the flour is stored too long the baking powder will lose some of its strength and your baked goods will not rise properly. If you want to make your own add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt per cup (130 grams) of all-purpose flour.

Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains.
It has a 12-14% protein content.

Flour is sometimes labeled pre-sifted. This means that the flour was sifted before packaging but it compacts during shipping and handling and therefore is no longer sifted by the time you get it home. So if your recipe calls for sifted flour make sure you sift it again. (If your recipe calls for 1 cup sifted flour this means you sift the flour before measuring.  However, if the recipe calls for 1 cup flour, sifted this means you sift the flour after measuring.) Sifting flour removes lumps and aerates it so that when liquid is added the dry ingredients will be fully moistened.

Proper measuring of your flour is important, as too much flour will result in a tough and/or heavy baked good. When measuring flour spoon your flour into a measuring cup and then level off the cup with a knife. Do not pack it down. As stated above, flour gets compacted in the bag during shipping, so scooping your flour right out of the bag using your measuring cup will result in too much flour.

Flour, when packaged, has about a 14% moisture content.   When stored, however, its moisture content will vary.  In general, the longer flour is stored the more moisture it loses.  This is why on a dry day using old flour your pastry will require more water than on a wet day using new flour.