It’s been awhile since I’ve popped up a beautiful ol’ loaf of bread on the blog. Things have been busy and good bread takes time, love, and patience. Lots of it. But I was overdue to share some Panera love again and I figured, why not focus on the bread this go round? Because anyone who’s ever been to Panera knows that one of the best parts about the tasting experience is their fresh baked bread. Am I right? Panera passed me a few links to read regarding their bread making process and in perusing the site I was surprised to learn that all their loaves are made on location each night and every loaf uses unbleached flour. You had me at fresh and unbleached. I can only imagine the passion those bakers must have for the bread they create.
One of the links Panera shared with me was to their Baker’s Table website. I watched the video regarding fresh ingredients and decided that I needed to attempt my own loaf of fresh deliciousness utilizing the tips and tricks given by Tom Gumpel, Panera’s head baker. Some of the tips he gave included a trick for testing the dough to ensure complete fermentation, transferring your bread to a hot stone, and spraying the bread with water which creates steam and in turn creates a higher quality crust. Yep, I’d never utilized any of those tricks before when baking bread. It was time to take Tom’s advice to heart. After all, if you were offered the secrets to creating a loaf of bread as beautiful and delicious as Panera’s, wouldn’t you take them?
The loaf I decided to make was a basic yeast bread with a little orange essence and some dried cherries added in. I wasn’t going for a sweet bread, just a beautiful simple yeast loaf with a hint of fruit flavor to tickle the palate.
Start out with the basic bread ingredients; water, yeast, flour, and a pinch of salt.
Throw in some orange zest, a bit of juice and a cupful of dried cherries.
Knead that beautiful ball of dough and enjoy the feel of fresh bread in your hands.
Once you’ve finished kneading and you’ve formed your dough into a tight ball, another great “how to” tip I learned from the video, it needs to be set somewhere warm to rise.
While your bread is resting you should do the same. Have a cup of tea, surf around the The Baker’s Table website, and then come back and see how busy your bread has been.
Punch it back down and shape it once more into a tight ball. Score it on the top and set it aside, covered, to rise a second time.
Once it’s risen and ready to cook, spritz the loaf and the inside of the oven with water and then place it in to bake.
And tell me that isn’t a beautiful loaf of bread right there.
Even though no sugar was added, the orange and cherries gave it a subtle sweet taste. Served up with honey butter, it was absolute bread and butter heaven. I credit Tom Gumpel for all the fabulous tips he provided on achieving the perfect loaf of bread.
Now let’s wrap this up and have a slice of warm fresh bread, shall we?
Cherry Orange Bread
Total Time: 2 Hours 30 min
11/2 Cups Lukewarm Water
1 Packet Yeast (21/4 tsp)
3 Cups Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Orange, Zested
1/2 Orange, Juiced
1 Cup Dried Cherries
Mix together the water and yeast. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
Add in the salt and the flour, one cup at a time. Combine to form a rough dough ball.
Now add in the zest, juice, and cherries.
Combine the ingredients and bring your dough ball out to a well floured surface. Dough will be moist.
Knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes and add in additional flour as necessary. I probably ended up adding an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup while kneading.
Let the dough rest covered, in a warm dry place for at least one hour or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough back down, reform a tight ball and score bread. Let rise a second time.
Once bread is ready to be baked, spritz with water and transfer to oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Note: I am currently working on an ongoing project with Panera Bread. As a result, I have been compensated for my time and expenses, however my thoughts and opinions are completely my own.