The Simple Elegant Glory of Homebaked Bread

I can’t explain to you why it took so long for me to start baking bread. Well, maybe I can – I thought it was hard. I was so very, very wrong…

See – I was somehow convinced that baking bread required some kind of unholy alchemy. You know, the lighting of candles, burning of incense, much incantation chanting and whatnot and then ‘poof’ your loaf rises.

Turns out it’s almost bonehead easy and satisfying in a greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts kind of way…and you can let a toddler help you with it (good-parenting bonus!!).

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I’ve been on a bit of a back-to-basics kick lately and trying to do stuff the way our not-too-distant ancestors did them – mainly I’m brewing beer and hard cider and baking bread, and I may finally get around to getting that garden started this year…I guess that means I’m focusing on the fermentation side of things (sauerkraut is on the to-do list now) and I’ve had a bit of an eye-opening experience with it all.

Coupled with the new KitchenAid stand mixer this newfound desire to throw technology aside (and then blog about it, go figure) I decided to figure out how to bake bread. The exception is sourdough – I’ve made a couple of really excellent sour-smelling starters that never rose at all.

So, back to basic bread. In my googling for research purposes (not to be confused with normal, everyday pointless googling) I found this amazing website that was full of great advice and a good recipe to start with.

The recipe I’ve finally settled on is this ‘a one here:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. Unrefined Cane Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Bakers Yeast
  • 4 cups Unbleached Flour
  • 2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

With a mixer this is shockingly easy to make, much like this:

  1. In the mixer’s bowl combine the warm water, sugar, and the yeast and whisk it all together
  2. let it rest 10 minutes then dump in all the rest of the ingredients
  3. mix it with the dough hook on low for a few minutes until the dough ball comes together (you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water or flour depending on how it looks)
  4. switch the machine to the second speed setting and let it knead for another couple minutes.
  5. dump the ball out into your toddler’s freshly washed hands, add a bit of Olive Oil to the mixing bowl and dump the ball back in
  6. swirl the bowl with your hands so the ball rolls around and gets covered with the oil (so it won’t stick to the sides of the bowl as it rises)
  7. set the timer on the oven for 2 minutes an set the oven to the lowest setting
  8. when the timer goes off turn off the oven, cover the bowl with a towel and stick it in there, set the timer for 30 minutes
  9. when the timer goes off again the doughball should be about double the size it was (if not, let it go for another 10 to 15 minutes), dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
  10. get your toddler to help you knead it a few times and to help you shape it into a loafy shape, I like to cut 3 slices in the top of the loaf which is not only functional but pretty, too
  11. stick the loaf on a cookie sheet, cover it with towel and put it back in the oven – set the timer for another 30 minutes
  12. when the loaf has doubled in size again take the towel off, turn the oven to 350°, and set the timer for 30 minutes
  13. the bread is done when it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped with the back of a knife

Oh man oh man oh man…

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