Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey Bread!!

Because you asked, and because I'm a people are the step-by-step instructions to make your own turkey....bread.

Start with a ball of bread dough.  Any kind you like.  We love french bread so most (OK all) of my bread creations are made from french bread dough.  I love, LOVE, LOOOOVE my breadmaker, so I always throw the ingredients into the breadmaker and put it on the 'dough' setting.  It does the work for me so I can go shopping for coordinating outfits for our upcoming family portrait.  And then grocery shopping.  In two hours!  Because I got to go ALONE!!  Normally I would have milked this opportunity for as many hours as I could before recieving the inevitable text from my husband.... "ETA?" 
But I had bread dough to come home to.  And I was already 45 minutes late...Ya, I was shocked, too. 
Back to the bread.

My bread had dried up just a smidge so working it was a little more difficult than usual.  But it turned out fine in the end.  Kinda.  You'll see.
Divide your dough into two pieces.  About 1/3 and 2/3 size.  Just pinch it off with your thumb and forefinger like I'm doing here.
Put the 1/3 size dough ball to the side.  That's your turkey's body.  With the 2/3 dough ball, you're going to divide it into about eight smaller dough balls.  Just keep pinching it in half until you get eight. 

There's no need to make them perfectly uniform in size.  This is just a place to start.  You'll adjust your bird to your own asthetically pleasing rendition of a turkey as you start to lay it out.  I change my mind all the time.  And then I change it back again.  Because I can. 

Take one of the small dough balls and start rolling it between the palms of your hand for form a "snake" kinda thing.  Mine was about 8 or so inches long.  And make one end kind of pointy while leaving the other end kinda roundish.  These are your turkey feathers.

Do this a bunch of times with all the dough balls and arrange them artfully into a fan shape with the pointy ends pointing toward the center.  I do this on a baking stone but you could use a cookie sheet or whatever you have.  I also adjust the size and number of my feathers as I place them on the stone.  Just divide your dough balls in halves or thirds or whatever you feel will do the job.  I do what I like.  You can, too.

Now retrieve your 1/3 size dough ball (turkey body) and sqeeze a chunk off to make a turkey head.  A ball the size of a tangerine should do it.  Set it to the side.  Take the remaining dough and smash it nice and flat with your hands.  Shape it up a bit so that it looks nice and proportionally accurate compared to the fan of feathers you just created.  Place it at the center of the fan so that the body is overlapping the pointy ends of the feathers by at least an inch.  Reshape it if necessary.

Take the last dough ball and pinch off two small chunks about the size of almonds.  With the large piece you're going to form a head and neck.

With the two almond sized peices you're going to form a beak (pinch off a tiny bit and make a little cone shape) and two wattles.
Place accordingly.

When you attach these pieces, you need to press them together so that they will stick to the dough and not roll off.  With fresh, moist dough, this is easy.  When you go shopping and come back late to drier than preferred dough, its a bit of a challenge.  A little water on the fingertips while you're pressing and shaping should help.
Put a cheesecloth or kitchen towel on top and let it rise for an hour.  OR...cheat like me.  While you're shaping your dough turn your oven on to 200 degrees.  When you're finished, cover your bird, turn OFF your oven, and put the bird in the very warm oven for 30 minutes.  Works like a charm.   

Nice, moist dough will rise up beautifully.  Drier than preferred dough will rise up like mine.  Kinda crackly.  Its called "rustic."  There, you're saved.

Now heat the oven to 350.  While you're waiting for it to heat up, prepare a little egg wash.  Separate one egg and beat the white part with a teaspoon or two of water.  Brush the bird generously with the wash being careful not to put too much pressure on the dough as you brush.  You just spent 30 minutes (or an hour) letting it rise.  You want it to stay nice and fluffy. 

Put it back in the oven for 25-30 minutes depending on how dark you like your crust.  I took mine out a bit early cause my husband and kids claimed to be withering away from starvation.  They're so dramatic at meal time. 
Now remember how I said my dough was a bit dry and that you should press the dough bits together firmly so that they'll stick and not roll off of each other?.....This is what I was trying to avoid.  Dry dough + slippery egg wash = misplaced beak and wattle    :(


And since I don't have a beautiful picture of a perfectly shaped, deliciously golden brown, turkey bread, I'm offering you THIS perfect, golden brown turkey instead.

             French Bread Recipe
1 3/8 cups warm water (115-125 degrees)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Throw it in the bread maker according to your machines directions.  Or.... add yeast to warm water and olive oil.  Let it sit for 5 minutes to activate.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate all the water into the flour mixture.  Cover and allow to double in size for about an hour.  Punch it down and knead for 15 minutes. Cover and let rise again for 45 minutes to an hour.  Proceed with turkey bread instructions.  

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