The Edible Bracket 2011

Last year's winners of the MNCAAPG Best Bracket contest are back. This March Madness season, we will be documenting foods associated with the competing schools. Consider it March Madness, Top Chef Edition.

University of Kansas Jayhawks (Lawrence, KS): Sandwich Bread

sliced bread

There’s a lot of wheat in Kansas.  Kansas is, in fact, known as the “Wheat State.”  So presumably there’s also a lot of bread in Kansas.  This recipe is the kind of classic white bread that we think would go over well in Lawrence, KS. 

We were going to list some fun facts about wheat in Kansas culled from this insane field guide produced by the Kansas Field Office of the US Department of Agriculture, but we got sidetracked by the fact that this guide describes every crop of wheat grown in Kansas from 1918 to 2009.  That’s 91 years of wheat crops.  (Is this what the DOA spends its time doing?)  What we did learn is that in 2009 Kansas produced 369,600,000 bushels of wheat.  We were kind of like “whatever, how big is a bushel anyway?”  But then we learned that a bushel of wheat makes 42 pounds of flour.  So that’s 15,523,200,000 pounds of flour.  Fun with math.

Anyway, this was the first time we ever baked a loaf of bread, and it was super easy and super delicious.

King Arthur Flour’s Classic Sandwich Bread

3 cups unbleached King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup 1% milk
2/3 cup hot water
4 tbsps. melted butter
2 tbsps. sugar
1 1/4 tsps. salt
1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tbsp. warm water

Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl (mixing the cold milk and the warm water together to make a lukewarm liquid before adding them to the rest of the ingredients).  When the ingredients form a coherent mass take them out of the bowl and put on an oiled surface.  Then knead and knead and knead.  (It felt like this took a long time.  It was actually 8 minutes.) 

kneading bread

Oil the bowl everything was mixed it, and place the freshly kneaded mass back in the bowl.  Cover with saran wrap and let rise for about an hour and a half (longer if the dough is rising in a colder room, and for less time if in a very hot room.  The kitchen in our apartment is very, very cold—especially during the blizzard that was raging outside, so we took the bowl into Anna’s much-warmer bedroom.)

Anyway, once the dough gets puffy, take it out of the bowl and shape into a log about 8 inches long, and put it into a lightly greased loaf pan.  (Note: the recipe calls for an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.  We only have a 9 x 5 inch pan, which worked well enough, though the bread might have more prettily poked over the top of the pan, and looked more like sandwich bread, if the pan had been a bit smaller.)  Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and let rise again until the bread reaches the top of the loaf pan.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  (The KAF website also had the helpful tip of tipping the bread out of the pan and thumping the bottom of the loaf to listen for hollowness, which apparently indicates readiness.  We figured this wouldn’t work at all, but it turns out bread sounds really hollow when thumped.)  Let cool or—if you’re like us—cut immediately, burn your fingers multiple times, and spread with butter.

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