Book Review - Prairie Home Breads

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Symbolic of home & hearth, a good loaf of bread nurtures the soul as well as the body."

I am a bread baker. I love to bake bread and have a few books on the subject. I really didn’t think I needed another one. After all, I’ve been baking bread for years and have some wonderful recipes to choose from. That is what I thought. Years ago, I bought Judith M. Fertig’s book Prairie Home Cooking. I love that book. I make many of the recipes in that book on a regular basis. All that being true, I did not ever see the point in checking out her Prairie Home Breads until I recently came across a copy of it at our Public Library. Shame, shame on me for such arrogance. I have really missed out on a treasure. Lucky for me (and my family), I’ve added Prairie Home Beads to my collection now.

In Prairie Home Breads, culinary expert Judith Fertig showcases 150 splendid recipes for a variety of different breads. Categories of breads include Yeast Breads; Naturally Leavened and Slow-Rising Breads; Whole-Grain Breads; Rolls and Buns; Quick Breads, Muffins, & Popovers; Scones, Biscuits, Crackers, and a Soda Bread; Coffee Cakes and Pastries. The recipes range from simple family meal favorites, to celebratory breads ideal for even the most festive occasion. The recipes are complete, easy to follow, and include ingredients accessible to even the most novice kitchen chef. A strongly recommended addition to any cookbook collection.

The Miller’s Cinnamon and Raisin Bread

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry instant, rapid-rise or quick yeast
2 large eggs, beaten

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until warm (100 degrees). Remove from the heat and add the butter so it melts. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 3 cups of the flour, the brown sugar, gluten, cinnamon, salt and yeast. Using the paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, beat in raisins, then beat in the eggs and warm milk until you have a soft dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. Or turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and set aside. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Shape dough into a loaf and place into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and sounds hollow when lightly tapped on the bottom; an instant read thermometer inserted into the center should register 190-200 degrees. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.