Easy and (relatively) Quick Bread

I love bread. I especially love fresh-baked bread. I have no bread machine though, and I thought kneading was complicated and I was afraid of it. I bought some yeast when we first moved into this house because oh, I’m gonna start making our bread! Except I never did. So I had all the ingredients just hanging out in the cabinet forever and then some chick on facebook said “Oh I got a bread machine for Christmas! What are some recipes?” and then I got the craving again.  I looked for help from Mr. Bittman in my cooking Bible, How To Cook Everything, but found no love. At least none I wanted to try. I turned to google and found a recipe from fiveeurofood.com.

Surprise! It turned out GREAT! I did tweak the recipe just a tad bit but mostly it’s still the one Charles posted on his blog.

Ingredients:

400 grams bread flour

250 ml warm water

4 Tbs honey

1 tsp salt

8 grams yeast

1/4 cup powdered milk

1/4 cup olive oil

 

Add the powdered milk, honey, yeast, and a spoonful of flour to the water and stir.  Leave that to bubble and spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Add the oil and the salt to the flour to the bowl and mix. The bowl should be three times as large as the amount of dough you’re going to make, and you should be able to eyeball it from the flour.

Once the wet mixture starts bubbling (or after about five minutes) pour it into the flour and stir. Once you’re able to get all the loose flour off the bottom and sides, form it into a ball and spray the dough and the sides of the bowl with cooking spray.  Cover with a sheet of waxed paper, also sprayed with vegetable spray.  Put the bowl in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes or until it has risen at least twice as big as it started out.

Here’s what it looks like at first.

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I keep my pizza stone in the bottom of my oven. When I start making bread I turn the oven on for about 7-10 minutes and then turn it off.  I put the dough in there to rise and I leave the door cracked. The pizza stone holds enough heat to keep the dough rising.

This is what mine looks like after it rises.

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Take the dough out of the oven (or microwave or off the dryer or wherever you put your dough to rise). If you do what I do and use the oven, turn it back on while you knead it to reheat the pizza stone.

Here’s the dough pre-knead; it’s full of bubbles and really soft.

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Put some flour on the counter and use a spatula to scrape the dough onto the flour.  Flour your hands and knead the dough til it’s elastic. For me it takes about 4-5 minutes.  Now I’m not a bread dough wizard so I’m not positive what elastic even means. I figure it means knead it until it’s not squishy and full of yeast bubbles, so I knead it until it’s not like it looked in the bowl any more. Now turn the oven off. Spray the bowl with cooking spray again, and put the flour with the seam (from kneading) on the bottom of the bowl.  Cover with the oiled waxed paper and put it back in the oven to rise again. Don’t forget to leave the door cracked!

Here’s what it looks like after you knead it. Elastic-ey!

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When the dough rises 2-3 times its size again, get it out and knead it again. Preheat the oven to 400° and spray the pan (or pans) you plan on using for the bread.  I use my wok because it  is huge and I only have to dirty up one thing, but you can use 2 large loaf pans too.  Knead the dough again, and put it seam-down in the pan. Cover it with an oiled piece of waxed paper and a dry towel and let it rise one more time. Watch it carefully or it will overrise; this happened to me and it fell and wasn’t nice and fluffy. It still tasted fine, but the texture was a bit dense.

Once the bread has risen to 2-3 times its original size, you can slice the top in an X if you want (I use scissors when I do that), and put it in the oven. You should know your oven; it takes mine 20 minutes.

When the bread is nicely browned on top and makes a hollow sound when you thump it, it’s done! Get it out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.

I only let it cool enough to eat; I hear it’s easier to cut when it’s cooled but I’ve never been able to wait that long.

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Yum!

 

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