Pasta and Bread: Breaking Away from Boredinbedland

I woke up with fever and body aches yesterday so I had to call in sick. The way I felt was just like when I had my flu shot last year. But I didn’t get my flu shot or haven’t yet. Blame it on the weather! So I was in bed the whole day and thankfully, I felt better this morning although still a little bit woozy. I found out so when I went out to get fresh air. I started watering the grass but I had to stop because I started feeling dizzy. So back to bed I went and napped for an hour. I woke up feeling better and bored so I thought I’d visit the kitchen; break away from Boredinbedland and see what my energy will prod and inspire me to make. Pasta is still tops in terms of ease in preparation so I made a quick pasta dish using pennette- these are smaller pennes in case you’re wondering; and a spicy meat sauce using ground beef, garlic salt, chili flakes, honey mustard, ground pepper, mushroom spaghetti sauce, quick melt cheese and grated parmesan cheese.

What matches pasta best but some nice bread? But I don't want garlic bread this time and decided to make simple sweet bread instead. It’s been a while since bread came out of my oven and since I’m still trying to feel better, I opted for the simplest recipe but I assure you, this sweet bread are not lacking in taste and texture.

They’re buttery with the right amount of sweetness with a nice crust outside. I made a dozen rolls and two braided ones. You can tell from the looks of my braided bread how impatient I am in braiding so they came out uneven but you will not be disappointed with the taste.

Sweet Bread

1 cup milk
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar and butter. Heat until slightly warm to the touch then remove from heat and stir in the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Mix in the eggs, oil and the yeast mixture. Mix until dough becomes a sticky mass. Transfer dough out onto a generously floured surface and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil.

Place the dough into the bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and rest in a warm place for about 1 hour. (This procedure is actually to allow the dough to rise but this one did not rise significantly even after sitting for an hour).

Grease a cookie sheet or 9x13 inch pan. For plain rolls, punch down dough and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and place them into the greased pan side by side.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until rolls are golden brown.

For the braided bread:

After resting the dough for an hour, punch dough down (push all the air out). Divide dough into 3 strips and roll into logs. Lightly butter a cookie sheet and place the pieces on the sheet. Pinch three of the ends tightly together and braid the strips, pinching the opposite ends together when done (tuck the pinched ends under for neatness). Brush with milk for a glossy finish.

Note: The dough did not double in size even after allowing it to sit for an hour but the bread came out soft and somewhat dense inside but crusty on the outside even when they cooled down.

To make the dough rise beautifully: Do not mix all the sugar to the yeast-milk-butter mixture; just a tablespoon and then add the rest when the yeast becomes really foamy after ten minutes.


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