I recently finished reading a book I thoroughly enjoyed, called Bake and Be Blessed (affiliate link here and throughout the post). Trevor received it during his Confirmation and I finally got around to reading it. It's an unusual book in the best of ways and I wish I'd read it sooner.
Bake and Be Blessed was written by Dominic Garramone, who successfully merged careers as a Catholic monk, priest, PBS star, and cookbook author. Father Dominic has an excellent writing style and is an interesting person, to say the least. He got a degree in theater before becoming a monk and now has two masters degrees.
Bake and Be Blessed is part spiritual guide, part cookbook, and part memoir. While I am not Catholic, I found his teachings and reflections to be relevant and helpful. His recipes are appealing, his baking techniques informative, and his personal stories are very interesting. It's a quick read, yet promotes deep thinking.
There aren't very many recipes in the book - only 6, I think. I started with Father Dominic's recipe for Streamlined White Bread. This yeast bread is beaten rather than kneaded, so there is less active time involved. It felt very strange spreading a yeast batter into pans rather than kneading a soft dough and forming it into beautiful loaves. This is how my bread look just after I put it in the pans. (They're sitting on a plant stand in a sunbeam to rise.)
I didn't have a lot of hope that those jagged tops would smooth out beautifully when the bread baked. Indeed, I was correct. The finished bread will not win any beauty contests.
It might win a taste contest though. This bread is delicious and has a great crumb. The recipe below makes one loaf. I doubled it, because two loaves are better than one and there's no extra effort.
Streamlined White Bread
by Fr. Dominic Garramone
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. warm water
2 T. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
2 T. granulated sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
Sprinkle the yeast over warm water in a medium bowl; stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy. Add oil, salt, sugar, and half of the flour. Using a heavy wooden spoon, beat 200 strokes (or beat on medium speed of an electric mixer about 2 minutes). Add remaining flour and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Cover bowl with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled.
Beat the batter about 25 strokes, then spread evenly in a lightly greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Let rise, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes, or until the batter just reaches the top of the pan. (Do not allow to over-rise or the bread will collapse during cooling.)
Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 45 to 50 minutes or until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool on a wire rack.