Sunday, January 30, 2011

Batter Bread to the Rescue

Batter bread, sometimes called spoon bread, is a variation on kneaded bread. If you like the aroma and flavor of fresh baked bread but don’t want to knead, then these Batter Bread Recipes are perfect for you. You can use a mixer or even stir the batter by hand using a wooden spoon. No other working or folding of the dough is required. Batter breads are faster to make than kneaded yeast breads.

Batter breads are made just like Quick Breads, with two differences. First, yeast is used instead of baking powder or baking soda, and second, the batter is beaten for several minutes so the gluten has time to form. Make sure you don't let the breads rise too long, or the structure will collapse. Follow the instructions carefully. If you have ever baked a cake or made muffins, you can make these breads.

You will have the same delightful aroma when baking batter breads as you do when you make other yeast breads, but the crust will not look as smooth as kneaded bread – it doesn’t affect the taste just the appearance - and the texture is usually a little more open. But the taste is still great. They are better when fresh-baked and best eaten the day they are baked. However, they are a great accompaniment for soup or stews and quick to stir together to add to a meal. The leftovers are great toasted.

Batter breads often contain different grains, sometimes whole grains, herbs or spices or flavors. They are a fun option to try and a great way for kids to begin learning to bake bread. They can be baked in any shape or type of pan; bread pans, cake pans, casserole dishes, pie plates, coffee cans, muffin tins, or other oven-proof dishes may be used. Fill containers half full to allow space for rising. They make fun “mini loaves” for kids to make or just to eat, and each person can have their own little loaf served with their meal.

Another fun option for batter breads is to serve them with herbed or flavored butters or spreads. They are great dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar too. These recipes are a fun alternative to kneaded bread. Personally I think the biggest selling point for me with batter breads is the flavor. I love the addition of herbs and spices and if you add dipping the bread or a special spread to go with it, I’m there. Add in the ease of preparation and I’m all over it. I think everyone should have their favorite batter bread recipe, a sort of go-to recipe for when time is tight and you want a homey tasty option. You can make these in your bread mixer if you want, but all you really need is a bowl and a wooden spoon and you are ready to stir it up.

Here are some different recipes for batter breads from a white bread to multi-grain with several other options thrown in. If you try the tomato pesto batter bread, it is awesome with the Pesto from Sam’s club and I didn’t even think I was a pesto person!

Four-Grain Batter Bread
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. to 2 3/4 c. white wheat flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/ 4 t. baking soda
4 1/2 t. yeast
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. oats
Grease two 8½ x4½ pans & sprinkle with cornmeal. Mix 2 c. all-purpose flour and 1½ c. wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, yeast in large bowl. Heat milk and water until very warm; add milk mix to dry ingredients. Beat with mixer on low until incorporated, then beat on medium for about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ½ c. wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, and enough of original whole wheat amount to make a stiff batter. Divide batter between pans and round tops as needed. Sprinkle with cornmeal and cover to rise for about 30 minutes or until batter is about 1” below top of pans. Bake at 400º for 25 minutes until light brown in color. Remove to wire rack and let cool.

Rosemary Peasant Bread
1 packet dry yeast (or 2 1/2 tsp)
2 c. warm water
1 T. sugar
2 tsp salt
4 c. flour
1-2 tsp. fresh Rosemary plus more for topping
Olive Oil, Corn meal, Melted butter and salt
Dissolve yeast in the warm water and sugar. Add flour, salt, and 1-2 tsp Rosemary and stir until blended, do not knead!! Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size. If using a bread mixer, leave the dough right in the mixing bowl with the lid on to rise. Remove dough; it will be sticky. Put oil on your hands for shaping the dough. Shape into 2 rounds on a cookie sheet lightly coated in oil and sprinkled with corn meal or shape on your Silpat. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam. Let it rise another hour. Brush each round with melted butter; lightly sprinkle with more Rosemary and kosher salt. Bake at 425º for 10 minutes, then 375º for 15 minutes more. Cool slightly, then cut into slices or tear chunks apart and dip in a bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For lower elevations add 1¼ c. additional flour.

White Batter Bread
This recipe makes 1 large loaf or divide in half 2 for smaller loaves. Reduce baking time if making smaller loaves.
4½ c. White Bread Making Flour
2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 pkt. yeast
1 t. bread enhancer (optional but will improve cell structure if used)
1 T. oil or softened unsalted butter
2 c. warm water
Add the water sugar and yeast to a small bowl and stir until dissolved. Place half the flour in a large bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients and whisk together to ensure an even distribution. Add yeast mixture and oil to the flour and mix well for 3 minutes. If hand mixing mix for 5 minutes. Add remaining flour and mix for another 3 minutes (5 minutes if by hand). The mix should have the consistency of a thick batter. Cover the bowl with plastic and put in a warm place until the batter has doubled in size, approximately 30-60 minutes. Knock the mix down by stirring with a spoon and then pour into a large well greased baking tin. Cover the tin with plastic and place in a warm place until the batter has again doubled in size. While the batter is rising pre-heat the oven to 425º. Once the batter has doubled, place it in the center of the hot oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When bread is done, the loaf will sound hollow when thumped. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

Herb Batter Bread
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (2 ¼ t.)
2 c. very warm water
3 T. sugar
1 T. salt
2 T. shortening
1/2 t. each; dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil (If you're using fresh herbs, the equivalency ratio is about a teaspoon of dry to a tablespoon of fresh. The flavor is more concentrated in the dry so you need more fresh)
4-5 c all-purpose flour
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixing bowl; stir until dissolved. Stir in sugar, shortening, herbs, 2 c. flour and salt. Beat about 3-4 minutes or until batter falls in "sheets" from the spoon. Beat in enough remaining flour to make stiff batter. Cover, let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 40 min. Stir down; turn into greased 9x5x3" loaf pan. Let rise about 20 minutes. Bake at 375º for 30-40 minutes. Remove from pan and cool before slicing. You can make this in your bread mixer if desired.

Favorite Batter Bread
1 ½ c. water (120°-130°)
1 T. Vegetable oil or Shortening
3 ¼ c. Bread Flour
½ T. Salt
1 ½ T. Sugar
2 ¼ t. Active Dry Yeast
Butter as desired
In large mixer bowl, combine 1¾ c. flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water and shortening or oil to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, gradually stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes.
Stir down batter with a spoon. Spoon batter into a greased 8” x 5” bread pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until batter reaches tops of pans, 20 to 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan immediately; place on rack. Brush with butter; cool before cutting. You can substitute Instant (fast-rising) yeast for Active Dry Yeast. Y: 1 loaf

Tomato Pesto Batter Bread
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 T. sugar
¼ c. warm water
¾ c. milk, heated in saucepan
½ c. pesto (Sam’s club has pesto that is to die for)
2- 3 c. flour
½ t. salt
¼ c. finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 T. melted butter
Combine yeast, sugar, water, and milk in a small bowl; mix well and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. In a large mixer bowl, combine 1 c. flour and the salt; add yeast mixture, pesto and sun dried tomatoes. Beat till combined, then beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Add enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Cover dough and let rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 375º; heavily grease a 2 qt. casserole dish with unsalted butter or solid shortening. Stir down batter then pour into prepared pan. Let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from pan and brush with melted butter; cool on wire rack until warm before slicing.

Cheese Batter Bread
From Taste of Home
1 pkg. (¼ oz.) active dry yeast
1 c. warm chicken broth (110° to 115°)
2 T. sugar
1 T. butter
½ t. salt
½ t. poultry seasoning
1 egg, beaten
3 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1¼ c. finely shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Onion salt, optional
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm broth. Add the sugar, butter, salt, poultry seasoning, egg and 1 c. flour; beat until smooth. Add 1 c. cheese and remaining flour; stir for 1 minute. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Stir the batter down, about 25 strokes. Spread evenly into a greased 9”x5” loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and onion salt if desired. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices).

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