Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN: "Fancying Up" a Loaf of Bread

As someone who regularly makes my own bread, a homemade loaf is an easy gift for me to give. Most people are thrilled to receive a freshly made loaf of bread, and what is a simple gift for me to prepare is one that is deeply appreciated by the recipient. When I'm going to make loaves for gifting, I like to make them a bit fancier than my typical sandwich loaf. Here are a couple of ways to do that:

For each loaf, use 1/3 of a recipe of Whole Wheat Refrigerator Dough (the dough should have already completed its first rise in the fridge)

1. Twisted Loaf

Divide your hunk of dough into two equal pieces and roll out into logs a few inches longer than the desired length of the finished loaf (my butcher knife is in the photo just for scale)


Twist the two dough ropes around one another, then tuck the ends underneath

Place in parchment-paper lined loaf pan to rise.

2. "Casserole" loaf

Take your hunk of dough and form it into a large, loose ball. Place in a greased shallow round casserole dish and press dough into the dish so it covers the entire bottom. Cut a few deep slits in the dough to make an attractive design.

To make the loaves even more special, I finish them with an egg wash (beat an egg then brush over top of loaf with a pastry brush) and sprinkle with a seed mixture (I use equal parts sesame and poppy seeds).

Here are both loaves in the pan, ready for rising:

After an hour of rising, they look like this:

And after baking, the finished product:

Not only does a homemade loaf make a great hostess gift, it can become the centerpiece of a food-filled gift basket. Next week I will share some suggestions for homemade accompaniments to give along with your lovely loaf!

I shared this at the GCC Recipe Swap and Friday Favorites.

Previous "Gifts From the Kitchen":
Puppy Chow
Candied Peanuts

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