Some food, some drink.
A loaf of bread - the highest and best use for fresh dill.
Abstract: That semi-noxious plant and tomato
hornworm honeypot otherwise known as dill
is thriving in our garden plot. Because nothing perks up food like
fresh herbs, I took the opportunity to bake one of my favorite bread
In a quest for the taste of a childhood favorite, I tracked down the recipe for Cottage Dill Bread waaaay back when I first started messing around with a bread machine. In the process of my gaining confidence with baking in general, I've adjusted this recipe so as to make it versatile enough to be made by machine or traditionally (and forgiving enough to be baked on my gas grill).
Purpose: My bread machine was the set of
training wheels I needed for me to gain self-assurance with
bread-baking. After a while, I learned that even when my bread
machine was utilized to make the dough, oven-baked loaves turned out
consistently better. Before I knew it, my bread machine was becoming a lousy excuse not to use my stand mixer.
After reading two
books that essentially spelled out what I had learned, I came to understand that good bread is as much the chemistry of the ingredients as it is the art of the craftsman. Bread is forgiving. It doesn't always look the way you want it to, but it seldom tastes bad if ingredients are properly measured and handled. Upon this epiphany, things get a whole
lot easier, and situations like substitutions and dough-handling are no longer scary prospects.
The wind decided to quit blowing things around for a few days as of late, and I take that as a signal to cook outside. If your grill offers good temperature control, there's really no reason bread can't be done outside as well. It was a nasty-hot day when I baked this time around, and having that fresh loaf for sandwiches that evening made a light dinner something special.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Add the ingredients in the order listed to the mixing vessel. Knead in a stand mixer with the dough hook for 10 minutes. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place for 2 hrs. Using plenty of bench flour, shape & put on a pizza peel dusted with additional rye flour. Preheat an oven with a baking stone to 350F, adding an additional 10 minutes of preheat to ensure the stone is up to temperature. Slash loaf with a sharp serrated knife & transfer to the stone. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is a rich golden-brown. Let cool completely before slicing if you can wait that long.
- If you plan on baking bread and you're serious about an evenly-baked loaf enrobed with plenty of golden-brown crust, you need to buy a baking stone and a pizza peel. I actually have two stones, one that I keep out in on my grill, as well as another for use in the oven.
- If you're using dry herbs instead of fresh, cut the amount of dill weed in half.
- I measure the flours by weight, but if you're too cheap to go and buy a digital scale, you can measure by volume if you give the lidded flour container a few good shakes, scoop out more than what you need and level the heaping cup with the back side of a butter knife.
- This is a pretty wet dough, and that's ok. Don't panic when it sticks to absolutely everything. Just keep all the surfaces it comes into contact with well-floured.
- The original recipe didn't call for rye flour, but the hearty tang of rye is a flavor soul-mate with both onion and dill.
- This bread has some serious dairy in it. The fats and proteins in the milk, cheese and butter keep the finished bread super-soft with a fine crumb and serve to make the crust brown wonderfully.
- The slashing before baking not only tricks-out your baked goods, but also gives the bread room to grow, thus controlling where the inevitable blow-out takes place. Make the cuts deep with a good serrated bread knife. A longitudinal cut down the center of the loaf is less flashy but might be more effective.
Results: Although this recipe started out as a
bread machine recipe, and can certainly still be made that way,
the take-home point is that the dough for just about any good bread recipe can be done either way (actual baking's another story). Just keep in mind that that the yeast has to work a
bit faster in a machine, so you might have adjust the microbial critter content in some
cases to get desired results. That said, I use the “rapid-rise”
aka “bread machine” yeast for just about everything and
it hasn't lead me astray yet.
My white-bread-loving wife adores this bread, and that's saying something. My kids eat it too, despite (or maybe because) of the “green things” floating around in there. The soft and even texture make it a safe choice if you'd like to try something a bit more artisan without raising the ire of the bagged-bread posse. It's almost a shame I had to do the bread on the grill this time, as the aroma of a golden-brown crust mingling with fragrant dill is something you'd want bottled. This is a superb sandwich bread, but my favorite way to devour half a loaf at a go is with the occasional schmear of butter.