Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fresh Baked Dilly Bread

Well foo. A small bout of food poisoning (not from my own cooking; stop laughing!) put my good intentions to get back on schedule to waste. Bleargh. Oh well. Here's a recipe post a day or two later than planned. I hope you all enjoy it!

This particular recipe has been in the family for a while. My grandparents used to make this and my mom's been raving about it for years. I had never had it before, but I do have access to all my grandparents' old recipes. That, combined with some texting to my mom/consultant, enabled me to recreate their process.  She seems to think it turned out pretty well. It was certainly tasty and delicious. Fair warning, this is not a difficult recipe but it does require a significant time investment for rising of dough.

What You'll Need
Large mixing bowl                                                       Measuring cups
Small bowl                                                                   Wooden mixing spoon
Measuring spoons                                                        Plastic wrap
Mortar and pestle                                                         Round casserole dish
1 packet dry active yeast                                            1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup warm water                                                   1/4 tsp baking soda
8 oz small curd cottage cheese                                    1 1/2 Tbsp dill seed, divided
2 Tbsp sugar                                                               1 egg
1 Tbsp butter, soft + some for greasing                     2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Now Let's Make Dilly Bread!
Start by making sure you have a warm, dry place around 85-90 F to place the dough while it rises.  If you don't (I live in an apartment that's generally cold and drafty), you can set your oven on warm and put it in there. I also find (if its not summer) that a car parked in the sun does the trick. Warm on my oven is about 100 F so I let it heat, then turn it off, then repeat until the dough has had enough time to rise.

Measure out 1/4 cup warm water and pour it into the large mixing bowl. Make sure the water is very warm but not very hot. You want to activate the yeast, not kill it (like a visit to the spa instead of the Sun). Add the yeast to the water, sprinkling it evenly along the surface and allow it to soften. Softening yeast is a fancy term for letting it foam (I like to picture a little yeast disco). Leave your yeasty water alone for about 10 minutes, and when you come back it should be nice and frothy. If it's not, throw it away, get new yeast, and start over.

Beginning to foam
While you're waiting for your yeast to froth, measure out 8 oz of small curd cottage cheese (at least 1%; none of this nonfat junk, please) into your small bowl. Heat it to lukewarm in the microwave; about 20 seconds out to do the trick.

Then, measure out and add to the small bowl 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp soft butter, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda. Don't bother mixing it yet, this is just a prep bowl. If you're using a stand mixer, don't worry about having soft butter, but if you're doing it by hand it's a must.

Add 1 Tbsp of dill seed to the small bowl. Put the other 1/2 Tbsp of dill seed in your mortar and pestle and grind until partially crushed. You don't need to go for a powder, but you want all the seed to be broken up. This releases more of the dill flavor into the bread. Add the crushed dill seed to the small bowl.

Crush, crush, crush
By now, your yeast should be foaming. Add the small bowl of ingredients to the yeast. Crack your large egg into the bowl as well. Mix the ingredients together until everything is well blended. You'll especially have to watch that egg, as the whites will resist mixing with the other liquids (snobs).

Dental floss, anyone?
Begin adding your flour to the liquid mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. I find that by the last addition I have to get in there with my hands because the dough begins to get stiff and hard to mix with the spoon. Make sure as much of your flour gets squished into the dough as possible. By the end, you should have a rounded floury ball of dough. If, for some reason, you find that your dough is too wet, you may add and addition 1/4 cup flour; just be careful.

 After addition 1                                                  After addition 2
 After addition 3                                                  After final addition

Place the dough ball in the center of the large bowl and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap (ie attach the wrap firmly but don't vacuum seal the thing). Place the bowl in a warm place and allow it to rise for 50-60 minutes. The dough should double in size and be nice and light.

Bundled up and ready to rise
While you wait, grease the bottom and sides of your round casserole dish with butter. I use a 9", 2 qt. round dish.  Once the dough has risen, stir it down and turn into the casserole dish. Let it rise for an additional 30-40 minutes in a warm place until the dough is light.

First rise
Stirred down
Second Rise
Bake at 350F for about 30-40 minutes until bread is golden brown.

Extract carefully with butter knife and fingers
Cut, serve, and nom!


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