Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Homemade Bread, Everyday


I fumbled around with lots of “easy” recipes for bread.  I love the process of bread making, and if it was just me eating it, it wouldn’t be so bad, but when you are cooking for a house of six, kneading a loaf or two of bread every few days is just somewhat unrealistic. That was the case too.  I would start off with a lot of gusto and finish with another loaf of store bought bread.  That is until I found the concept of refrigerator bread. 

6 ½ cups of flour  (The type of flour you use will determine the taste and texture of your bread.  We like rustic wheat bread so it is often 4 ½ cups whole wheat and 2 cups rye. )
1 2/3 Tablespoons yeast 
(5 teaspoons or two packets if you are using those)
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt 
(You can use whatever salt you normally use, but remember sea salt is saltier than table salt and Kosher salt is bigger than most sea salts.  Adjust salt to your flavor, but I wouldn’t use much less than the tablespoon suggested.)
3 cups tepid to warm water 
(Remember, hot water will kill the yeast.  It is better for the water to be too cold which will make the rise take longer, than for the yeast to be dead.)

Mix all of the ingredients together until combined and then let sit covered for about two hours to rise.  If you used colder water, the rise will take longer.  If the house is cold, the rise will take longer.  If the house is hot it may take less time.  Did you let it rise too long? Don’t fret.  The bread will turn out fine.

Move your dough into a non-air-tight vessel to store in the refrigerator.  Should hold about 14 cups (that is the size of the container I use and I don’t see it fitting in something smaller).  The dough will stay good in the fridge for about 2 weeks, though it will take on a sourer smell as it gets older.  This is okay.  I leave the remnants of my dough in the container to season the next batch with the sour.

After 3 hours of fridge time, you can bake.

Wet your hands and pull off a softball size (or bigger) glob of dough.  You are now going to begin to pull the skin of the dough down and around the loaf.  You are doing it right if it looks like uncooked crust, no tears.  The bottom is not important because that will even with baking.  Put the dough on a pizza peal covered in either rolled oats or fine cornmeal (or you can use a cookie sheet if you are lacking in the baking stone department) and let rest for 40 minutes.  The dough will not rise much.  Remember, this is a no-knead dough, so you are not going to get a light and fluffy bread, but something rich and rustic.  You are also going to need to get your oven up to temp at this time.  Mine takes about 20 minutes to achieve 450 F, keep this in mind.

Before you pop your dough ball in the oven, slash the bread at least in a cross with a floured or wet serrated knife to allow for expanding during baking, and pour a cup or two of water into a broiler pan (or something along those lines) that you can put on the rack under the rack holding your bread stone or pan.  Slide your bread off the peal and onto the stone (or put your cookie sheet in the oven) close the door and bake for about 45 minutes.  The bread should sound hallow when thumped on the bottom.  If you are using a bread pan (which you can do but just butter it thoroughly) you may need to cook the bread an addition 5 or 10 minutes depending on the type of pan.

Let your bread cool on a wire rack until it stops singing (that noise fresh-out-of-the-oven bread makes) or at least 40 minutes.  This helps the gluten set up.  Then enjoy with butter, homemade or otherwise.
Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

1 comment:

  1. Because you make it with wheat and rye, I've got to make it with like you do!! I'm off to buy the ingredients tomorrow! Thanks for posting. I want making bread to be part of our lifestyle and hopefully this recipe will make that happen!