Friday, January 24, 2014

Milk Bread for “Chowdah”

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. – Joseph Campbell 

Forgive me. My loaf is lop-sided because I didn't level the dough out
as well as I should have before 2nd rise.

Let’s face it, the weather’s turned to winter again. Big blizzard here the day before yesterday. I would imagine, like me, most people started their day with shovel in hand.

When you go to bed...
I would also imagine that many people turned to tried and true hearty favourites for dinner last night. One class of those go-to cold weather foods is often soups, chowders or stews. Things with a lot of broth or creamy liquid.

When I was young my mom and dad used to put some wonderful dishes like that on the table. I didn’t think they were wonderful at the time. Luckily with age comes appreciation.

Corn chowder, fish or lobster, ham and potato, and of course Maritime down-home beef stew.

Just as common on the table was some sort of hearty bread or rolls to help you sop up all those juices. It was a "must."

And what you find in the AM.
Oddly, you really can’t use just any bread for "sopping." Pre-sliced from the store usually doesn’t have enough body to stand up to getting wet. You sop up all those delicious juices and then your bread falls apart. That sucks.

That’s where this recipe comes in. This is not a light, fluffy bread. It’s heavy. Perfect for bringing to the table for chowder.

Although excellent sliced and toasted or for sandwiches as well, it’s born to be dunked. It may sound odd to use powdered milk, but it works. If you’re looking for a bread recipe for a “chowdah” night, give this a try. At two loaves it makes quite a lot.

You can mix before bed and deal with it before work, or mix just before you go out the door. The mixing can get a bit messy, so if you have any children hanging around enlist their aid. They’ll love it!

These loaves are not shaped, so they end up being a bit flat on top and therefore square. Great for sandwiches...

Before 2nd rise in 5x9 pans. 8x4 will make taller loaves.
Milk Bread for “Chowdah”
Prep: 10 min  |  Raises: overnight  |  Yield 2 loaves
6 cups flour
1 cup powdered skim milk
1 tbsp yeast
2-3/4 cup water, 110°F
2 tsp salt

Mix all of the ingredients, except for the water, together in a large bowl. Add the water and mix with a spoon. Then get in there with your hands. It will be sticky and wet. Squeeze the dough with your hands for about 5 minutes. It will not get smooth.

Cover with plastic and a towel and let rise for 6-8 hours. Oil the top to minimize sticking to the plastic. Go to work, to bed, or shopping for the day.

Turn the risen bread out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 1-2 minutes with a little more flour. Cut in half. No need to shape.

Place each half in well oiled 4x8 or 5x9 loaf pans, cut side up. Press the dough out to get into the corners. Let rise for a further 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425°F and bake for 35 minutes. The loaves will sound hollow when tapped and be quite brown on top. Turn out onto a rack and let cool.


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