Breaking Bread

When your next dinner party rolls around, treat your guests to the ultimate in comfort food with a batch of homemade bread fresh from the oven. Make one (or all three) of these recipes provided by local bakeries for an experience that is guaranteed to warm your kitchen and your spirit.

Spinach and Feta Focaccia 

The baking wizards at Sisters in Thyme Deli (306 E. Commercial St., Springfield, 417-873-9224, sistersinthymedeli.com) combine the earthy flavor of spinach with the salty goodness of feta to create a focaccia bread that tastes great on its own or as the base for a sandwich. Pair the bread with sliced turkey, provolone and herb mayo for a simple but tasty sandwich. 

Yields one loaf, serves 20

 

Ingredients

2 pounds and 4 ounces of bread flour

2 teaspoons pink Himalayan Salt 

½ cup sugar

2 packages of yeast 

19 ounces warm water

1 cup feta cheese

2 large handfuls of baby spinach 

Olive oil 

 

To prepare

Preheat oven to 400˚F. In a mixing bowl add flour, salt, yeast, feta and spinach. (Save a small amount of cheese and spinach to top the bread with.) Mix using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Add water and mix until flour is incorporated into dough. Attach dough hook and knead until dough is smooth. Place dough into a greased bowl and turn dough over so the top is oiled. Cover and let rise until dough has doubled in size. Spray extra-large cookie sheet with cooking spray and place dough on it. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough until dough fills the sheet. Brush olive oil on top and sprinkle with reserved cheese and spinach. Let dough rise until it doubles in size again. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until bread is light brown. 

 

Pumpkin Swirl Sweet Bread

A slice of this pumpkin bread and a cup of coffee is the perfect way to make your morning routine a little bit sweeter. Pumpkin Swirl sweetbread is a fall favorite at Neighbor’s Mill Café & Bakery (1435 E. Independence St., Suite 110, 417-720-4162, neighborsmill.com.)

Yields two loaves

 

Ingredients for dough

3 cups white sugar

1 cup canola oil

1 cup eggs (approximately 3–5 eggs)

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

¾ cup water

3½ cups all-purpose flour 

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

 

Ingredients for swirl 

½ cup soft cream cheese

½ cup sour cream

1 egg

¼ cup white sugar 

 

To prepare

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mix by hand all wet ingredients plus sugar (be careful not to overmix). Add dry
ingredients and
mix until well incorporated. Let dough rest for at least 10 minutes. Divide in half and set aside. Mix together all ingredients for the swirl. Divide the batter in half and set aside. Grease two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans. Spoon half of the dough into each pan. Use one half of the swirl batter to make an “X” on top of the dough in each loaf pan. Starting at one end of the pan, take a knife or spatula and swirl the dough and the batter together. Bake for one hour and 25 minutes or until top of breads spring back at touch. 

 

Olive Bread

A healthy dose of olives elevates this bread from The Artisan’s Oven (2016 E. Commercial St., Springfield, 417-885-5030, theartisansoven.com) from a run-of-the-mill white bread to something special. 

Yields two loaves

 

Ingredients for biga

Editor’s note: Biga is a pre-fermentation traditionally used in some Italian breads that adds flavor and helps preserve the bread. 

⅓ cup flour

⅓ cup water 

½ teaspoon instant or dry yeast 

 

Ingredients for dough

5 cups flour

3 cups water

¼ cup honey 

½ teaspoon instant or dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup extra virgin or pure olive oil 

1½ cups pitted, chopped olives of your choice 

 

To prepare biga 

Place water in a stainless, glass or earthenware bowl. Drop in the yeast and let dissolve. Stir to disperse then add flour. Stir with a spoon until a sticky mass forms and flour is wet. Cover and let ferment overnight at room temperature. Make sure the bowl has room for the mixture to rise. 

 

To prepare dough 

Place flour and biga in a mixer or mix by hand if necessary. Add yeast and honey. Set mixer to low speed, gradually adding water until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If mixing by hand, you want to be able to pick up dough cleanly from the counter without it sticking to you or the counter. If too wet, add flour. If too dry, add water until flexible: The dough should be easy to handle. Rest dough at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Mix again for two or three minutes on low speed, adding salt. Mix at a medium speed for two to three more minutes. Check to make sure the dough stays the proper consistency. On low speed, add the olives, allowing them to disperse evenly. Then add the olive oil. Once the oil is absorbed completely, place dough in a container large enough to accommodate three times the dough volume. Allow to rise for one hour. Knead some air out of it, give it a few folds and place back in the container for another hour. Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Divide the dough into two equal parts. Shape into a ball, tucking loose ends underneath. Place on an oiled cookie sheet or parchment with a damp cloth or plastic wrap cover. Allow to double in size. Transfer gently to a baking stone or baking pan and bake at 375˚F for 20 to 25 minutes. Check doneness by tapping the bottom of the loaves with a spoon, listening for a hollow tone.

 

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