Project Wonderful

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Advisory Bread

It's rare that we get any significant weather here in Austin, so when we get the occasional winter storm (which I absolutely love,)  my head starts thinking about how to make the day at home fun. One of the best ways to have fun and stay warm is to bake something!

So we dug through the pantry and found a box of  Fleischmann's bread mix. This was something we grabbed from the clearance shelf of our HEB a while ago and tossed it in the pantry for occasions such as this.

There are plenty of bread recipes out there (and I will be submitting another one soon) but for a quick and easy thing to do on a cold stormy night, this can't be beat.

So with Ray LaMontagne blasting out of Pandora, and the sleet bouncing off the covered plants outside, we set about the business of baking bread.

Let's crack open that bad boy and see what's inside. 

Not much. 

So you start by adding the yeast.

Then the sugar.

Then add 1 cup, plus one tablespoon of hot water. They recommend 100 - 115 degree water. 

OK, I don't understand the whole "plus one tablespoon" thing. Why can't you set the mix so that you only need one cup? It can't be that difficult to alter the ingredient amounts.

Science, bitches!

Stir that nasty looking mixture together and then let it sit for three minutes. 

The yeast will re-animate themselves like little eukaryotic zombies and attack the defenseless sugar crystals in an epic battle of fermentation.

The bubbles are their victory cry.

Every recipe can be improved so we improved ours by adding orange zest and candied cranberries, as was suggested by the box.

I love the Microplane zester. It's an amazing tool.
It was even cool when it was just a wood rasp, but it's so much better now.

Calling them "sweetened cranberries" instead of "Craisins" makes the whole thing sound much more sophisticated. Remember, most people don't realize how stupid easy it can be to make bread, so anything you can do to that will easily impress your friends should be done.  This inst "bread from a mix," this is an "artisan multi-grain loaf with orange zest and sweetened cranberries."

Anyway, add the Craisins to the mix.

Then add the flour mix a little at a time. 

Stirring everything together evenly. 
It won't be long before you have a gloopy, shaggy mess of awesome staring right back at you

Because when you stare into the awesome, the awesome stares into you. 

Now take that gloopy pile of awesome and with all the dexterity of a Ph.D.,  place it carefully into a greased baking pan. You'll probably need a little flour to keep it all from sticking. 

Now you have to cover it and let it sit in a warm, draft-free place for about 25 minutes. Remember, this is a recipe that doesn't require kneading, so this means you are relying on the yeast to do all of the work in turning this into bread. It helps to give it a fighting chance. 

Make it look purdy by cutting a few lines into the top. 

I brushed a little butter over everything as a final touch once it was ready to go.

Toss this mess into the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. 

And the end result is pretty astonishingly good. 

The whole house was filled with not only the amazing smell of fresh baked bread, but bread with a hint of orange in it as well, which is exactly what you are shooting for when its 34 degrees and miserable outside. 

We had ours with some leftover pot roast as we sat on the couch and watched Netflix. It's the perfect way to celebrate those rare winter weather moments.  


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