Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bread Experiment 1

After successfully making a few different bowls full of dough using the standard recipe, this time I tried something new...

I picked up a bag of White Whole Wheat King Arthur Flour today!  I mixed up a batch of dough with 3c KA AP Flour and 3 1/2c WWW.  Then I decided to see what would happen if I also added a half cup of ground flax seeds...  this is what it looks like after a few hours of sitting on the counter:

Friday, July 8, 2011

More Bread!

So, here's the post I promised.  The other night I decided to mix up a batch of pizza dough instead of what I've been doing and the kids and I are in <3.

I'll share the recipe here, but if you need the method please go here.

3C warm water
1 1/2 T kosher salt (1 T if you're using table salt)
1 1/2 T yeast (one packet will work if you don't have a jar, it's a little less but still rises fine)
1 T sugar
1/4C olive oil
6 1/2C flour

Mix it all together, let rise for two hours on the counter, then move to the fridge.  I really felt like this one needed the time in the fridge.  The recipe that I used initially said to sub 1/4C of water out for the oil, but I accidentally just ADDED the oil instead of subbing - my conclusion is that this is a forgiving recipe.

To make the flatbread pictured at the top of this post I did this:
Preheat to 450.  Tear off a hunk of dough and drop it onto a well-floured counter top then squish it flat with a rolling pin (flip it over now and then, makes the process easier).  I rolled it stretched it, then tossed it a few times (kids thought that was really great) because I think it's fun (and it really stretches the dough better in my opinion).  I put it on my silpat covered baking sheet and brushed it with olive oil, then sprinkled on some garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and dried oregano.  Bake for 15-20.  If you eat dairy, sprinkle a (very) little mozzarella on during the last few minutes.

Also, just to see what would happen...  I formed a boule and baked it as well.  It needed less time than I expected, but this little experiment resulted in something I didn't expect: a more loved loaf than the original.  You see, the only complaint over the original is that Princess Spritely had a difficult time with the crust.  It was too... crusty.  THIS one, however, made her a very happy girl.  Jupiter agrees that the much softer crust is preferable, so it appears this will be our regular recipe.

I'm excited to tinker with this.  I think it will be fun to make some stuffed breads and I have ideas for rolling it out pizza crust style and covering it with the stuff I used for the flat bread then rolling it up pinwheel style to make an herb bread to serve with warm olive oil.  Ultimately, I hope to sub out some of the AP flour for some whole in order to increase the nutritional value...  King Arthur Flour has a whole white wheat that I'm really interested in trying, I've read that people are subbing that cup for cup with good results - perhaps I'll pick up a bag when I'm at the shops next.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

I've never made bread before.

Okay, that was a lie.  I have a breadmaker and have used it a handful of times - growing up, my Mom used.hers.a.lot.  I thought I would too but here's the deal, the loaves that I turned out were just *okay*.  Here's the other deal, cleaning that thing was just a hassle.  If you know me, it doesn't take much for me to feel like something is a hassle.  While the little stir knob thing in the bottom of the breadmaker might not be a big deal for someone else but for me that was just a deal breaker.  I don't even KNOW what is so irritating about it, but it just makes me crazy.

I've also made some pretty great Olga's-like flat bread (sweet and soft and oh man what a recipe!).  Beyond this though, I've not ventured into bread making.

Until now.

Well, until a couple weeks ago.

About two years ago I stumbled across a post talking about bread on Mother Earth News.  I thought, "Wow, that looks so easy even I could do it!" and promptly filed it into the part of my brain labeled "Stuff that is cool and looks fun but will never actually get done" and called it a day.  A couple weeks ago, I accidentally stumbled on the same recipe on a foodie forum and felt like kismet was knocking.  So.  I looked around my kitchen and lo-and-behold I had everything to make the bread (even yeast, which is weird because I never have that...).  I mixed up a batch after the kids went to bed, let it rise a couple hours (when it tried to escape my bowl and have a party on the counter I decided it was bakery time) and then tossed a hunk of dough in the oven for 40 minutes while I worked on a website.  The rest of the dough got a layer of plastic wrap and found itself nestled onto the bottom shelf of my fridge.

The rest is history.  My house smelled SO. GOOD. and the second it was cool enough to touch I tore a piece off and ate it.  Talk about amazing.  Talk about easy.  I saved enough for breakfast (so WHAT I ate half the loaf, I was HONGRY!....... okay, it was just that good) and the kids promptly requested that I never buy a loaf of pre-sliced again.  Now, if I could only be as successful with slicing as I am with baking, and we'd be good to go!

While I did use this exact recipe to make a pizza one night with the most delicious results I've ever had in a pizza (also made my own sauce for the first time that night - I think that made a huge difference), it produced a SERIOUSLY crunchy crust.  I'll be posting a modification of this recipe that I used this week and we all devoured in short order.  It's stellar.

Basic Bread Recipe

Into a 4C Pyrex Measuring Cup:
3C warm water (just warmer than your body temp is perfect)
1 1/2 T kosher salt (if you use regular salt, please reduce the amount!)
1 1/2 T yeast (If you're not measuring from a jar, this works out to be a packet and a half.  One packet is sufficient, that's what I've been doing and the results are equally delicious.)

Into a 5qt bowl: (I use a stoneware one that was my Mom's but I'm stealing it for good mwahaha)
6 1/2 C Flour (Apparently I like to add notes in parentheses.  I don't have anything special to note here, but I didn't want the flour to feel left out.)

Now, dump the water/salt/yeast mixture into the flour.  Grab a large wooden spoon and stir until you don't see any floury areas, then rinse off the spoon and cover your bowl with a loose piece of plastic wrap or something (not tight because you need to let the gas from the yeast escape) and walk away.  Really.  Just leave it alone.  If it helps, pretend the dough is cranky and needs a nap - just leave. it. alone.

Depending on how cranky your dough is warm your kitchen is, your dough should be happy and ready to use anywhere from 2-5 hours.  Generally, I set a timer for 2 hours and then toss the whole thing into my fridge.  You COULD rip off a hunk and bake it right away if you want, but the flavor will be better tomorrow.  Promise.

Inpatient aren't you?  Okay - I usually can't wait either, so here are the baking instructions for those of you who camp with me in Needbreadnowville.


Grab a small handful of flour and dust over the top of your dough, this will help prevent sticking- to you and your choice of sharp implement with which you will sever said dough.  Grab a nice, big handful of dough and pull straight up, then use a serrated knife (or kitchen scissors if you, like me, also prefer to run with scissors) to separate the oven bound from the fridge bound.

Form a boule.  If you don't know how to do this, watch a quick video on Youtube.

Set a timer for 20 minutes.  When that time is up, toss a metal pan on the lowest rack of your oven, make sure there's a rack in the middle to put the bread on, and preheat your oven to 450.  Set the timer for another 40 minutes.  When THAT time is up, score your dough (I use scissors, but by now you know why) after sprinkling a little flour on top if you like the looks of that and toss it in the oven.  Pour a cup or so of water into the pan on the bottom rack, the steam does nice things to your bread.

I bake mine for about 30-40 minutes.  When it's done let it cool on a wire rack.  I store mine on the counter with a floursack towel wrapped around it.  A loaf in our house only lasts a day, maybe two if it's lucky - I bake almost daily.  Dough is happy to hang out in the fridge for up to two weeks and the flavor develops as it ages.  ALSO - Don't bother washing the bowl in between batches of dough!  Scrape all the remaining stuff into the new dough and the flavor will have a head start (a la sourdough).

If you have a difficult time imagining what's going on here, a simple Youtube search will provide a wealth of visual learning opportunities - that's what finally got me going, I couldn't seem to just look at the recipe and imagine it working.

This method and recipe results in a VERY crusty loaf.  If you want softer bread, wait a little bit and I'll post that recipe too.