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BREAD BAKING NEEDN'T JAM UP YOUR WHOLE DAY

BREAD IN HALF THE TIME; Linda West Eckhardt and Diana Collingwood Butts; Crown Publishers; 1991; 344 pages; $25.

Bread baking, traditionally an all-day chore, can be speeded up by using modern appliances such as a food processor and a microwave, according to a new cookbook."Bread in Half the Time," suggests a way to make bread in 90 minutes without sacrificing the taste and quality of the homemade loaf.

"I challenge the belief that in order for bread to taste good, it needs a long time to rise," says Eckhardt.

The pair of bread bakers mix and knead small batches of dough in a food processor, then use the lowest temperature of a microwave as a "proofing" oven to raise the bread in less than half the time required by traditional preparation methods.

Detailed instructions on the dual-appliance process are included to ensure success in bread baking.

In addition to "Micro-Rise" process recipes, the collection includes 75 recipes adapted to the automatic bread machine, such as Country White Potato Bread, Apricot-Cream Cheese Braid or Finally Focaccia.

BREADTIME STORIES; Susan Jane Cheney; Ten Speed Press; 1991; paperback; 257 pages; $16.95.

If all these contemporary time-and-energy saving methods of making homemade bread wear you out, step back into a traditional collection of whole grain and whole wheat recipes that are low-fat, low-cholesterol and use a minimum amount of dairy products.

The author, a former staff member at the vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant, Ithaca, N.Y., details instructions for the beginning breadmaker and professional baker alike.

Despite the traditional recipe adaptations, the author discusses squeezing breadmaking into busy schedules.

Recipes for accompaniments to bread like soups, salads, pates and spreads are also included in the "Breadfellows" chapter.

Poppyseed Bread

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

7-71/2 cups whole wheat bread flour

2 cups milk

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1/4 cup mild-flavored honey

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup corn oil

2 eggs Heat water to lukewarm; add yeast and 1/2 cup flour. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Scald the milk and pour over the poppy seeds; add honey, salt and oil. Add beaten eggs, then enough flour to form a dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, add flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking. Cover and let rise about 2 hours; punch down and form two loaves. Let rise for about one hour, brush tops with egg/

water wash, sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Makes about 20 servings.Each serving contains 205 calories; 13 gm fat; 248 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol.

Apricot-Cream Cheese Braid

Dough:

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

21/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/4 cup water

1 egg

2 cups bread flour

Cream Cheese Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Apricot Filling:

1 package (8 oz.) dried apricots

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla Process dough according to the directions with the breadmaker. Or dissolve yeast, sugar and salt in warmed sour cream; blend in melted butter. Fold in beaten egg, water and flour to make a soft dough. Allow to rise until double in bulk.

In the meantime, process all ingredients for cream cheese filling in processor until smooth.

For apricot filling, bring the apricots and water to a low boil; simmer for 10 minutes, then let stand for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Blend apricot mixture with sugar and cinnamon; pulse until smooth.

Lightly grease 10-by-15-inch baking sheet; roll dough on lightly floured board to pan size and transfer to pan. Spread the cream cheese filling in a 4-inch wide strip lengthwise down the middle of the dough rectangle. Spread all of the apricot mixture on top of the cream cheese filling.

With a knife, cut the dough on the sides of the mixtures crosswise into 1-inch strips. Fold the strips across the fillings alternately, resembling crossed arms. Cover and let rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then glaze and eat the day it's baked. Makes about 12 servings. Each serving contains 321 calories; 11 gm fat; 134 mg sodium; 62 mg cholesterol.

Finally Focaccia

3 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal

21/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

11/4 cups warm water Combine all ingredients except olive oil; follow manufacturer's directions or combine dry ingredients with warm water, then blend in olive oil. Knead, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise until double, punch down and divide into two parts and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll and stretch each piece into a 12-inch circle. Place on pizza stone or pan coated with corn meal. Top with additional olive oil and kosher salt or optional fillings like cheese, pine nuts and herbs of choice. Set dough aside to rise until it looks puffy, about 10 minutes. Just before baking, dimple dough with your fingertips. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm. Makes about 12 servings or two 12-inch rounds.