Bread Baking: Fast and Slow Sesame White Bread

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

This recipe is all about technique. The ingredients are very simple, and very similar to my basic, everyday bread recipe that I use when I don't want to think too hard about ingredients.

My original plan was to come up with a recipe for a fast loaf that still had good flavor. Since a short rise usually results in less flavor, I fudged a bit by using honey and sprinkling sesame seeds on top. While a great idea, it didn't work out as planned.

The first time I attempted my quick bread, I completely forgot about it. About 90 minutes later, I remembered. Oops. It wasn't a fast bread that day but sure was an easy method and nice loaf of bread. I made the bread again and stuck with the timetable. With a timer right next to me, I managed to make the bread on schedule.

And gee whiz, it worked well enough for me to give a thumbs-up to both variations. Except for the time difference, the breads are made the same way.

The kneading can be done in a stand mixer or by hand. Because of the nice wet rest, the gluten is well-developed before you need to knead, so it doesn't take much work to finish the dough.

As far as the results, in a side-by-side taste test, the bread with the longer rise was better, but both were very good.

There were some other subtle differences, but overall were more similar than expected. My husband couldn't even tell the difference.

So what have we learned? For a faster loaf of bread, the short version works. On the other hand, if you want a dough that can sit around for a long time, the long one adds more flavor. Can't argue with that.

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.

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Bread Baking: Fast and Slow Sesame White Bread

About This Recipe

Yield:Makes 1 loaf
Active time:35 minutes
Total time:2 hours (short version) to 3 hours (long version)
Rated:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 11 1/4 ounces (about 2 cups) bread flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • Egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Sesame Seeds

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 1/2 cups of flour in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a mixing bowl, if you will be hand kneading. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes (for the short version) or 90 minutes (for the long version). Or, really, any time in between. At 30 minutes, the mixture will be very lively and bubbly. At 90 minutes it will have rising in the bowl and will be bubbling somewhat violently; it may have started to collapse, but that's fine, too.

  2. 2

    Sprinkle some corn meal on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the salt, butter, and remaining flour, and knead with the dough hook, or by hand, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Flour your work surface lightly and turn the dough out. Knead briefly, then form the dough into a log about 12 inches long. (Yes, this is correct - there is no rise after adding the last of the flour) Seal the seam at the bottom and place the dough, seam-side down, on the prepared pan. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.

  3. 3

    When the dough has risen, brush it with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Slash the dough down the center and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Let the loaf cool completely on a rack before slicing.

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