Apr 25 2008

Outback Bread.

Published by at 9:36 am under Recipes

When The Man and I eat out, we usually go to Outback Steakhouse, because he has a jones for their bleu cheese dressing, and I have a jones for their Bushman Bread. The other day I went looking for a way to reproduce the bread at home and The Secret Recipe Archive showed me two different recipes. I tried one of them today. What I ended up with was a loaf that was similar to the ones served at Outback, but still a very good loaf of bread. If you’d like to play along at home, you’ll need:

  • 3 packets dry yeast (not quick rising, just plain old dry yeast)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 tbsp. salt (I use kosher salt)
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups all purpose flour
  • Some cornmeal, for dusting the loaves

To start, you’re going to “bloom” the yeast. Take 1/2 cup of warm (not hot, warm) water and put it into a small bowl. Slowly stir in all the yeast. I dumped it all in at once and ended up with a big yeast clump. Don’t be like me – go slowly. Once all the yeast is dissolved, add 1 tbsp. of sugar and let it sit for around five minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it has a head on it like a glass of beer. This means the yeast is chowing down on the sugar and farting out gas. Yum! If your yeast isn’t farting, it’s possible your water temperature was not right. You’re aiming for around 90-100ºF (37ºC) for that water. Too hot, and you kill the yeast. Too cold, and they don’t wake up.

While the yeast is blooming, get a large bowl (or the bowl for your mixer, if you’re using a mixer) and put in the rye flour, molasses, salt, and oil. When the yeast/water mixture is ready, add that as well and stir to combine. Begin adding the AP flour slowly. Keep adding the AP flour until the dough is smooth and pliable, and not VERY sticky. I don’t think it’s possible to get this dough to be totally unsticky because of the major molasses content, but you want it as close as possible. I used around 2 3/4 cup flour.

At this point, I took the paddle attachment off my KitchenAid stand mixer and switched over to my bread hook for the kneading. If you’re doing this by hand, you’re going to knead for 4 minutes. If you’re using your mixer, you’re going to let that go on Low (with the hook attachment) for 4 minutes.

Once you’re done kneading, oil a large bowl, place the dough inside and flip it over so the oiled side is up. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put in a warm place (my oven has a Bread Rise setting, so I used that). Let it rise until it’s double. And just so you know, this dough is THICK and HEAVY, which means if you test it as you usually would (i.e. poke it with a finger to see if the mark stays), you’re going to notice that it feels as though you’re trying to get cement to rise. Don’t worry – that just means you have to eyeball it. Does it look like it’s doubled? If so, take it out. If not, give it another 1/2 hour and check it again. I let mine rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Once the first rise is done, punch the dough down. Don’t you love punching down dough? It’s almost as satisfying as popping bubble wrap. For those of you who have made bread before, the punch down may also feel a little weird. Not a soft collapsing of dough, per se, but more like giving the Heimlich maneuver. I got a very audible THBPT! when I did the first punch, which was pretty funny and made me laugh.

Now you need to decide what form your bread is going to take – you can put it in mini-loaf pans, or in a normal loaf pan, or freeform it, or whatever. I chose to form it into two round loaves, so that’s the instructions you’re getting. If you chose the smaller loaves, you’re probably going to want to shorten up the cooking time by 10 minutes or so. Someone who is wise in the ways of recipe adaptation can comment if they have a better idea.

OK – second rise time. Get your bread into your chosen receptacle, or form it up how you want. I divided mine and formed two roundish loaves, placed them on a greased cookie sheet, lightly dusted them with cornmeal, and popped them in my oven for a proofing. Which means: I placed a cookie sheet on the lowest rack and fill it with boiling water. Then I put my dough on the middle rack and shut the door. The recipes always say to cover your dough with a damp cloth for the second rise. I tried that once. Have you ever gotten raw bread dough on a cloth? It doesn’t unstick real easily. This way, you get the humidity and don’t have to tear a cloth off your dough. Anyway, let it rise again until it’s double. This time it shouldn’t take as long.

Once your dough is doubled, heat your oven to 375º (or 190.5ºC). Put your bread in and bake for 30 minutes (if you’re doing round loaves like I did) or until it sounds hollow when it’s tapped on.

I ate the bread with plain butter for the first serving, and I noticed a strong molasses undertone. Not unpleasant, but not exactly what I was going for. In order to attempt to cut the molasses taste, I made up a batch of sweet butter, like what you get at Outback. I just guessed on this, although it came out pretty darn good-tastin’:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • about 1 tsp. of honey (or one squeeze, if your honey comes in a squeeze bottle)
  • about 1 tsp. of light brown sugar

Put it all in a small bowl and mix with your hand mixer. Or if you can’t find the machine part to your hand mixer (like I can’t), use your stand mixer. Sure it’s like using a steamroller where a hammer will do, but meh. Whipped sweet butter is worth it.

I think the bread is MUCH better with sweet butter. It is hearty, dense, a little crunchy on the outside, and filling. I recommend serving with stew, ribs, steak, or anything that has enough of its own flavor to stand up to the bread. Of course, eating it on its own is perfectly acceptable.

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