Bread is a staple of the American diet and can come in all shapes and forms. But, within America there are essentially only three basic types of bread recipes: yeast bread, baking powder bread, and pastry.
Yeast bread, better known as the classic loaf of bread, involves the use of yeast, rising potentials, and takes the most time in general. Yeast bread is, however, the most commonly consumed type of bread in the nation, in one incarnation or another.
Baking powder bread is most commonly known as ‘biscuit’. That’s because that’s the form it most commonly takes in American culture, the baking powder biscuit. It is, however, used for a lot more than the traditional breakfast biscuit. This category of bread recipes also includes baking soda bread recipes and egg bread recipes.
Pastry, also called pastry shell, pastry dough, and many other things, is the simplest form of bread, containing in it’s most basic form only three ingredients: flour fat, and water. It is the classic category of unleavened bread recipes. It is used for everything from making pie shells, to tortes, to puff pastry. Small alterations make a huge difference with this one, as well as the way in which it’s handled and prepared. Some recipes, like pie shells, call for handling the dough very sparsely, while other recipes, like puff pastry, call for working the dough quite a bit. Though this is the simplest categories of recipes it is also the hardest to true master.
6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
In large bowl, combine 2-1/2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat water, milk, and butter until very warm, but not hot. Gradually add mixture to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of stand mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2-cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.
Slowly add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that does not stick to your fingers when touched. Using bread hook, let run on low for about 8 minutes to kneed. Turn out onto floured surface and chape into ball.
Place kneaded dough ball in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 60 minutes.
Shape, let rise again, until double in size, and bake according to selected preparation below.
Cooking Times and Temperatures:
Loaf Bread – 400 degrees for 30 minutes
Soft bread Sticks – 400 degrees for 15 minutes
Focaccia – 400 degrees for 15 minutes
Dinner Rolls – 375 degree for 20 minutes
Recipe makes 2 regular loves of bread.
Basic Baking Powder Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
In medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Sift twice. The sifting is very important. Using freshly washed dry hands or pastry knife work in butter until mix is smooth and feels like ‘almost damp’ flour.
In small bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Add egg and milk mixture to dry mixture using fork to turn dough. Kneed lightly in bowl, then turn out onto heavily floured surface. Pat down with hands or use a rolling pin to flatten dough, fold, turn, repeat. Continue folding dough until several layers have formed. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick.
Cut biscuits using floured biscuit cutter or knife, then place on baking sheet. Dough can be re-folded and cut until it is all used.
Bake on middle rack of preheated 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes depending on size of biscuits. Be careful not to over cook. Let sit 5 minutes and serve. Recipe makes 15 average sized biscuits.
Basic Pastry Crust
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups shortening
7 tablespoons cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
Combine salt and flour in large bowl. Using pastry knife, cut shortening into flour, folding frequently to mix ingredients, until shortening is the size of very small peas.
Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork and pressing dough balls to the side of the bowl, until all the water is used up. Fold dough in bowl once or twice, but do not handle too much.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and use floured rolling pin to roll out until 1/4 inch thick. Fit to baking pan or tin. Pierce with fork several times (about 1 inch apart). Fill with pie filling or pre-bake.
Note: To pre-bake place tin foil over bottom of shell and weight down with something like rice or resting stones. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove tin foil after 6-8 minutes.
Recipe can be used as a quick pastry crust for turnovers and similar recipes. To do this simply fold your dough several times when you roll it out. Recipe makes one single-sided pie crust.