Is there anything better than fresh baked bread? No. The answer is no. There's something so comforting and nurturing about it. Some people have to hide sweets from themselves, they over do it on chocolate. I have to hide bread from myself. My last meal? A really, really good piece of bread with some french butter. Pure heaven. Okay, so you get the idea...I like bread!
I have always wanted to make bread, but never learned how to do so properly. My attempts before resulted in hard, semi-cooked, inedible loafs that bf pretended he didn't hate, yet only took one bite out of. This weekend, I set out to change that!
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They say necessity is the mother of invention. I'm going to say cold New England weather is the mother of invention. We had run out of bread....funny story....before the bomb cyclone whatever thing hit us, I had actually gone to the store with millions of other people to buy milk and bread. I don't know why, we just do it, ya know? Anyways the store literally had sold out of bread! We only had four pieces left and I needed them for grilled cheese, so we've been on a bread fast. Which is probably a good thing if I'm being honest. Okay, back to the original story. We had run out of bread, and while the stores had been restocked, it was just too cold to leave the house.
While my cabinets didn't have bread, they did have all the elements to make bread... so now was as good a time as any to learn, and let me tell you...I'm never buying store bought again. This bread is crusty on the outside and chewy (in the best way) on the inside. It has great flavor and would be great for anything from a sandwich, to a crostini, french toast, or yes just warmed up with a pat of butter. It's frankly "da bomb (cyclone)"...see what I did there?
It is super easy to make especially if you have a dough hook, but I'll be honest it does take a long time. There's lots of rising. Honestly though? It's worth it. My inedible loafs in the past had been made from "no rise" or "no knead" recipes. Kneading isn't that bad, I don't know what the big deal is, and the multiple times it rises is what gives it its airy loveliness. Just be sure to plan things out. I thought we'd have bread in two hours, it really was closer to four, but again so, so, worth it!
I tried something new with this post so you can follow the instructions below, or watch the video! This recipe is made in a dutch oven like a le creuset so you will need that. Since I was videoing, I didn't take pictures throughout the process, so the recipe is sans picture!
For this recipe you will need:
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus some to sprinkle)
1 1/2 cups water
Optional (but not really optional cause it won't taste as good without it): Olive Oil
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook put in your flour, yeast, water, and salt. Mix away until the dough forms. It is done when you can pull on it and see through the piece you pulled on.
Remove the bowl from the stand and cover with plastic wrap or a pot lid (if you're like me and ran out of plastic wrap). Let it rise for two hours until doubled in size. You'll know it's done when you can poke it and it doesn't spring back.
While the dough is rising you can do a few things. You can clean your house, paint your nails, catch up on Netflix...the world is your oyster my friends.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out (fancy cooking way of saying dump it) on a floured board and knead away! I actually enjoyed kneading, it got out a lot of pent up energy from being stuck in the house. Once you have finished form the dough into a rough ball and cover it with a towel. Let it rest for 10 minutes (this is actually a very important part because you are letting the gluten relax.
While the gluten is relaxing, coat the inside of a dutch oven in vegetable oil. If you don't have a le creuset that's okay, there are so many great dutch ovens out there. As long as its a heavy, oven proof pot it will work.
Form the dough into an even tighter ball and place in the dutch oven. Cover it, and let it sit for one hour. This is where I started to wonder if this whole thing was a mistake...another hour? Trust me...it's worth it.
Once that hour is up, you're finally ready to start baking! Set your oven to 450 and coat the outside of the bread in olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt according to taste. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Once 30 minutes is up, remove the cover and set the temperature to 375. Let it continue to bake until a lovely golden crust is formed. Remove from the oven and turn the bread out (it should pop right out) onto a cooling rack.
Now for the toughest part of all... you have to let it rest on the cooling rack for 30 minutes. I know...I KNOW...your kitchen smells like lovely delicious bread and you can't eat it yet. This is a very important step though, because the bread is still cooking internally. This is the secret to crusty yummy outside, and delicious perfectly cooked soft inside. Who knew? (Obviously not me before this).
There you have it! You have made bread! There's something very "I'm a provider" about this moment isn't there? Like if another bomb cyclone winter apocalypse hits, you will be okay! The best part about this recipe is that it's a starting point, there are so many options. I think this would be great for a party sprinkled with rosemary instead of salt and dipped in olive oil. I may also play around with a small dutch oven that I have and try to make bread bowls. There's so many choices. Honestly though, this + good quality butter...see ya later...it's too good! While I can't say I've sworn off of store bought bread, this will definitely be a regular (read weekly) thing in my house!
Do you have a favorite bread recipe?
For the original recipe click here.
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