HOSSACK: When the doughing gets tough . . .
I’ve cut a corner. Cheated. Taken a liberty.
Hold the lash, though. My baking friend, Susan, has already made sure I’ve spent some time twisting on a fork for it.
But, I’ll confess anyway: For the last decade or so, I’ve used a breadmaker at least twice a month.
Not for baking.
Whatever claims are made on the box, breadmakers are not equipped to produce a finished bread, unless a tinny-tasting, sunken-crusted, feeble-crumbed loaf is the goal.
Then, by all means, breadmakers make bread.
Still, when it comes to making the dough itself, I’ve often enough, lazily, let the machine do the kneading and timing.
I’ve been spoiled by its regulated proofing cycle that beats setting a bowl of dough to rise on a drafty, often air-conditioned, countertop.
But, then, like all guilty pleasures, the time of my little indiscretion came to an end.
It was an end heralded by a knocking sound coming from the motor.
Not a gremlin, having fed on breadcrumbs after midnight. Just a piece of machinery, past its prime or worth to repair.
For a while, this meant developing gluten the old-fashioned way.
Like my grandmothers before me, I rolled up my sleeves and floured my hands, something I’ve always done periodically because plunging wrist deep into a ball of warm dough is one of the most satisfying experiences a bread-lover can have.
After a while, though, I began to miss the convenience of set-it-and-forget-it dough making. Especially on Fridays, which, in our house, is pizza night.
So, when a sale flyer advertised the newest model of our old breadmaker, we made room in the equipment pantry.
Soon, Pizza Friday was again a matter of measuring and moving on to something else that needed doing — like roasting tomatoes for topping.
That is, until . . .
Isn’t there always an until?
In this story, the until came several months after unwrapping the new machine.
Having merrily kneaded away at several successful batches, I was preparing for another Friday by filling the bowl with water, sugar, salt, oil, flour and yeast.
I set the timer.
I turned around.
And, although the smoke alarm didn’t go off minutes later, when the machine’s heating coil shorted out and began to send up a ribbon of smoke, it very soon would have.
Back to the store it went.
Yes, I miss it.
No, I don’t think I’ll ever trust another.
APPLE STRUDEL RECIPE:
1 cup warm milk
1 tbs active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (cooled)
2 large eggs, well beaten
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg and 1 tbs milk for egg wash
Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar in the warm milk. Set aside ten minutes to proof, until foamy.
In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, sugar, butter, eggs and salt. Add flour and bring together with a fork until dough begins to form. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-7 minutes to form a soft, elastic dough.
Transfer to a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled; about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare apple filling:
1/4 cup butter
5 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
5 medium apples, cored, peeled, chopped
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir with a wooden spoon. Add apples and sautee, stirring, until tender-firm; about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll one half into a 12x12-inch square. Spread with half the apple mixture, leaving a border on all sides. Roll up and transfer to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough and apples.
Cover rolls and let rise until about doubled.
Beat an egg together with 1 tbs milk. Using a pastry brush, brush egg over tops of rolls.
Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes, until golden. Transfer to cooling racks.