Surviving the Polar Vortex: Bread on the Fly (sort of)

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The winds in the Polar Vortex are allegedly slowing down and temperatures in Chiberia are jumping from -14F to a balmy 14F. One can only hope.

I fed the last bit of bread in my apartment to the birds who apparently didn’t seek warmer temperatures at a lower latitude.  Since my courage has only allowed me to venture a block outside my apartment and without a grocery store within a reasonable distance, I have been forced to make bread myself.

And of course I need it now. But with the time yeast needs to develop into a proper carbohydrate-rich butter vessel, bread is an all-day affair. How could I speed up this process so that I can have toast to accompany my soup by lunchtime?

America’s Test Kitchen had the answer. A really excellent, soft, delicious answer.

I got this from Cook’s Illustrated. I tweaked it a little.

“Quick” Sandwich Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Rye flour
  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 3 TB unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 TB honey
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg beaten with a tsp of water and pinch of salt

Dissolve salt in two TB of water. Set aside.

Place flours and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low for a half a minute or so to distribute the yeast. Add the remaining water, 2 TB of the butter and honey. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for four minutes or so occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and set aside in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size (about 20 minutes, but longer if the room is chilly like mine).

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Preheat oven to 375F.

Spray a loaf pan (9” or thereabouts). Return the bowl to the stand. Add the salt water to the dough and mix on medium speed for about a minute and a half until the water is incorporated.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Cover with plastic and set aside in a warm place for about a half an hour. Remove the plastic and let it sit for another 15 minutes or so until the top of the dough is level with the pan.  Brush the top with the egg wash.

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Place in hot oven and let the magic happen for about 30 minutes. Check to see if it’s done using an instant read thermometer — should be about 205F. If it’s not done, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

When it is done, remove the bread from the pan (it should slide right out) and brush the remaining butter over the entire loaf.

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This bread is soft and supple and absorbs butter like it’s a wheat sponge. I did not eat it with meat and mayonnaise between two slices, so I cannot attest to whether or not it’s good for a sandwich, but it works in every other form bread can take.

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It’s so good it kept my mind off my cabin fever. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make some cheese since we’re in the middle of a Velveeta shortage.

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