Posts Tagged ‘homemade bread’

How to make artisan bread: Part 2

After viewing bread-making pics, have just realised that I am definitely NOT the most graceful or elegant baker. Sadly, far from it. If I was Martha Stewart, show ratings would probably go haywire by now. That aside, let’s proceed.

Basic yet delish recipe:

5 cups flour (makes quite a large loaf!)
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp instant yeast (you can go up to 6 tsp if you like it more yeasty)
max 1.5 cup of other grains, cereals, herbs

First step: Throw dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Not rocket science yet.

2) Get a smaller bowl and mix together:

2.5 – 3 cups of luke warm water
1/4 cup honey OR 4 tsp of sugar (mix with water)

3) Make a well in the dry stuff and pour about half of the liquid in. Start mixing until the dough is smooth-ish but still pliable. I used a spoon, and then my hands. If it’s too wet/sticky, add a bit more flour. Work fast so that the water doesn’t completely cool down right away.

4) Now listen carefully: place the ball of dough on a plate or something, clean out the bowl and then grease it lightly. Put the ball of dough back in.

5) Loosely place a cloth (eg: a clean dishtowel) over the bowl and place it in the oven. Fill a mid-sized bowl with boiling water and place that in the oven too, towards the back. Close the oven door and leave it to rise for about an hour and a  half. DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON!

6) Shortly, you’ll notice your kitchen starting to smell absolutely fantastic. You should now have a lovely risen dough. Here’s my dough’s instant before/after makeover:

7) Get a large surface to shape the dough. If you don’t have a really gigantic chopping board, then disinfect your kitchen countertop properly, spread some flour on it and more flour on top of your dough as well. Now turn it out onto the surface/counter. It shouldn’t give you much resistance at all, getting out of the bowl.

8 ) While you’re going to be working on the dough, turn on the oven to 180C/350F and put your bread baking stone in there so that it warms up. Remove the bowl of water that we’d put in earlier.

mmm doughy…

9) Treat this dough like your baby. That means no fists, no kneading and definitely no punching. You want to keep the air in. Very gently, fold the sides of the dough underneath itself and shape it into a loaf. Cut a slit down the length of it, or cut a few diagonal slits  spaced apart. Coat with a milk or egg wash, and decorate with oats or other grains/flakes/seeds/herbs etc.

10) Sprinkle some cornmeal or flour onto the bread stone in the oven. Carefully slide the dough onto a chopping board or some sort of portable surface and then slide it over to the bread stone.

11) Bake for an hour. Use a cooking thermometre to check the temperature. Take the bread out when it’s about 90 – 95C and let it rest outside for a grill. Don’t start slicing until it’s cooled down, or else you’ll lose a lot of the moisture. Voila!

Lastly, to keep the bread after it has cooled completely, wrap it up tightly in the cloth, then double wrap in a plastic bag and store in the fridge.

If there’s something else you could learn from this post, it’s this: don’t bake while wearing dark clothes.

p.s. In the unlikely event that you completely botch up the bread, do what I did with horribly dense experimental buckwheat loaf last week: make a bread pudding! Warm bread pudding with pistachios and caramelised brown sugar topping. Love it!

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Pirate Latitudes
Michael Crichton

Pirates. Galleons. Stolen Booty. And the delightfully dastardly Cap'n Hunter. It's all there. Thoroughly enjoying this one!
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