Saturday, January 2, 2010

Homemade Bread

I have been absolutely dying to try baking bread. My husband and I love bread plus we are carb-a-holics and the thought of warm, home-cooked bread right out of the oven for dinner sounded amazing to me. The only thing holding me back was the fact that I had a minor fear of working with yeast. Or more specifically screwing it up. I also worried that baking bread would be time-consuming and something that you would have to plan way in advance and then stick to a strict time table if you wanted to enjoy it. But I had heard rave reviews about the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. I've read about it on several blogs and I thought it would be a great book to try out getting started with yeast. The recipes in this book are very user friendly and allow you to make the dough and bake bread in as soon as 2 hours or up to 2 weeks later! I was hoping to get for Christmas but I didn't. But I did get gift cards so I ordered it right away! Should be here Monday!

However, I was too excited to wait and the master recipe from the book is available all over the internet. It's called a boule, which is just the French word for "ball" and is a traditional rustic loaf shape. I tried this for dinner recently and
we were both blown away by how great it was! Please try it! It's amazing and so simple to do.

Simple Crusty Bread
(Recipe adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, published by NY Times)
Yield = Four 1-pound loaves.
Recipe can be
easily doubled or halved.

3 cups lukewarm water (a little warmer than body temperature, about 100ยบ F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (or 2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt

6 1/2 cups
unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Cornmeal for the pizza peel.

1. In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough. (Note: You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches of flour. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.)

2.Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.
After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. (Note: The dough will be less sticky and easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.)

3. Before baking, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface liberally with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

4. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. (Note:
The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.)

5.Place the dough on the pizza peel. (Note:
If you aren’t planning on baking the bread on a pizza stone, just let the dough rest on a cornmeal-covered cutting board.) Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.

6. Twenty minutes before baking, p
reheat oven to 450 F. If using a pizza stone, place on the center rack of the oven. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

7. Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone with a quick jerking motion.
(Alternatively, butter a Pyrex dish or baking pan and place the bread in the pan.) Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

One final note! As a result of the baking frenzy this holiday season, I was starting to run very low on all-purpose flour. So about 1/4 of the flour I used for this recipe was whole wheat flour, rather than all purpose. The bread was still amazing but I have a feeling it was slightly denser than if I had used all AP flour . . . which I will do next time since I have finally replenished my stock. Oh, and yes, there will definitely be a next time!


No comments:

Post a Comment