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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finally, A Use for Red River Cereal

Red River cereal has been around since Adam was a pup.  Maybe longer.  I have never seen any real earthly use for the stuff.  I only know of one human being on this planet who actually eats this stuff in its intended form.  Then again, Bob is not your ordinary guy.  Just incredibly regular, I'd bet.

So, here's the recipe, very straight forward.  Begin at the beginning by boiling the kettle.  Make yourself a cup of tea while you're at it.

Combine the cereal and hot water and let it sit in a measuring cup.  I'd suggest a 2 cup one, as you're going to add some more stuff to it later.

All hail whomever created quick rise yeast.  In the great United States of America, this is known as Rapid Rise.  Same diff.

When you buy your yeast in handy dandy little envelopes, everything is done for you.  If you are willing to slave away with a set of measuring spoons and read the label, you can save yourself some cash.  Keep it in the fridge and it will last for eons.

Well, maybe not quite that long.  But a considerable length of time.

Pour in the salt.  Cute toddler not required.

Add the sugar.  This part is important.  Anybody remember why?  A quick trip back to our high school chemistry and biology classes will tell us that this is the yeast's food.  Wouldn't want it to go hungry now, would we?

And a little of this.  One cup, to be exact.

And a little of this.  In the end, about two cups.  But start with just one cup.  Then let your mixer run for a few minutes to combine everything nicely.  Princess smell testing the flour to ensure its freshness probably not required at your house.

Now here we have a nice little cooking gem, so oft forgot in today's world of modern ingredients.  Long before kumquats and kiwi fruit, molasses was a kitchen staple.  This is cooking molasses, a lighter, more delicately flavoured molasses.  Unsulphured, black strap molasses has a much bolder, intense flavour.  I actually prefer it to cooking molasses, but this is what I have in the house today.

True story - my grandfather used to feed black strap molasses to the cattle.  When my mother or grandmother needed some, one of us would be fetched to the barn with a container to bring some to the house.  It was considerably blacker than anything you can buy today, and stronger tasting.  And yes, the 45 gallon drum was kept in the barn, right next to the stalls.

Moving right along.

Add about 1/4 cup to the Red River cereal/hot water, along with 2 tablespoons of butter and mix the whole thing together.  Kind of like this.  Looks appetizing, doesn't it?

Don't answer that, Bob.

Dump this mixture into the flour/yeast mixture, along with one whole egg and one egg yolk.

Give it a whirl.  At first, it will kind of look like this.  Slowly add in up to one more cup of flour, until the whole thing comes away from the bottom of the bowl.  Don't set the mixer and walk away.  Overmixing is the bane of breadmaking.

Plop it out onto a parchment lined cookie tray.  I like to make it in two loaves, instead of one.  Try not to get the middle too much thicker than the outside edges.  It will make it difficult for the bread to bake completely through in the middle without the outside edges getting burned.

And you'll need one of these.  No, not the cute four year old or her adorable little brother.  The pastry brush, man, the pastry brush!

Add a splash of water to that left over egg white and brush it all over the loaves.  This is called egg wash.  Not to be confused with whitewash, which is generally only found in agricultural applications.  Sprinkle a little more cereal on top, just for effect.

See?  All nice and shiny.  Now leave it alone.  Don't worry about covering it, now that it's covered in the egg wash, it will not dry out.

After it has risen a good half hour or so, pre-heat your oven to 350 F and bake away.  A whole, single loaf will take about 40-45 minutes.  Two smaller loaves take a little less time. Be sure the top, middle section of the loaf is very firm.  This way you will be sure it is baked all the way through.

Wait until the loaf is completely cooled before slicing into it.  This loaf is actually a little underbaked, but delicious  nonetheless.

The outside slices are definitely baked through.  This bread provides a nice, heart accompaniment to a soup and salad meal.

It freezes well, just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil.  Oh, and clearly label it.  Wouldn't want to confused this silver disc in you deep freeze with the UFO someone stashed there last week.

And there you have it, a quick, easy supper bread that anyone will love.  Even these characters. 1. 2.
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