A departure from serious for a bit and back to the basics…..
woo hoo, I like food.
no time to mess about… read on
Ok that picture is not what this post is about, but it is a bit close. I make that bread often, tis an egg bread, braided. Not hard to do at all, and it is soooo yummy.
But this one is my basic bread recipe that I change up.
So first the basic recipe in no particular order.
7 cups of bread flour
2.5 cups of water, warm
2 tablespoons of white sugar
2.5 teaspoons of yeast
2.5 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
tada, pretty basic huh?
Now before we go into how I change it up. I best tell you the method.
The big bowl is metal, so I half fill it with hot water to warm it.
When the bowl has warmed, dump out the water, place the 2.5 cups of lukewarm water in it with the yeast and sugar. I stir it and let it sit until the yeast blooms, this means you see it come to life.
It doesn’t have to bloom this much, but it is great if you have patience to let it go this far.
I turn the speed to the first or slowest slot and let it go. when the flour has mixed enough I turn it to the second speed.
Then slowly add the other three cups of flour one half cup at a time, let it incorporate. If you add it too fast, flour gushes out and fills the room… and Aimee will give you one of those looks. Trust me, you don’t want to clean flour up from everywhere.
Keep the speed at the slowest setting until the flour incorporates with the water. Then add the olive oil and turn the speed to the second position. If the dough creeps up and over the hook, there is not enough flour in it, so turn it off, push the dough back down and add a 1/4 cup of flour and turn it on slow again. If the mixer is grunting or the dough looks dry you may need to add some water, a tiny bit, not much at all, tis easier to add tiny bits than to take them out…
So why is the recipe not more exact? why do you need to add flour or water?
Well you measured wrong. bol.. I adjust, not always, flour if packed in the cup, may cause you to add more, sometimes I need more liquid sometimes more flour, now I make this recipe different each time, so I am accustomed to adjusting as you will see soon, just go with the flow, if it is too sticky add flour, too dry add water.
The dough should be slightly sticky but not overly so. It should not stick to your finger if you poke it.
I take it out of the mixer now and knead by hand. Sometimes folding it on the counter sometimes in the air. Now if the bread is dry or just right I oil the counter with the handy spray to keep it from sticking, if the dough it too tacky I flour the counter to add more flour to the dough until it is not sticking to my hands. It is trial and error, but not hard to figure out.
Then I start smacking it hard against the counter, over and over, this creates the gluten strands to form in the dough to make it more elastic. I hold it up high and smack it down. Tis fun.
When you first take the dough out of the mixer and tug at it, you will find the dough tears off.
After kneading and smacking you will find it stretches but does not tear. Then you are ready.
I ball the dough up and place it in a lightly oiled large bowl , roll it around so oil covers the top. This keeps it from drying out and forming a crust as it rises. Cover it with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel.
Allow it to double or more in size, this will take an hour or three depending on how warm your kitchen is. You can also allow it to rise overnight in the fridge. The longer the rise, the more flavour that develops.
When the dough has done this rise, then flour a bit of kitchen counter lightly. Gently remove the dough from the bowl and cut it in half or thirds.
Take each section, one at a time and roll it out on the floured surface, I try to get it about .. hmmm converts.. 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Then I wet the top of the dough, not much, just a tiny bit and roll it up tightly, folding the ends in a bit. When it is round fold the ends over so you have a nice even log. I often roll it on the counter back and forth to shape it.
Place it on the flat cooking sheet that you already oiled. Often I sprinkle it with corn meal.
I use a spray oil to lightly spray the loaf now and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Make sure it is oiled or the towel or wrap will stick to the dough. This keeps a skin from forming that prevents the dough from rising.
Let it rise again, until more than doubled.
When this happens turn the oven on to 400. Put a large pan of water in the bottom rack, make sure the middle rack is in.. well the middle. Set the timer for 25 minutes. When the oven is at 400 in goes the yet to be bread.
I have a mist bottle that I spray the sides of the oven with, and the dough as well, I do this three times with three minute spaces between so the dough rises without forming a crust. Three times only.
When 25 minutes have passed I turn the oven off, set the timer for 5 minutes and leave it.
When that five minutes have passed out it comes and onto a cooling rack so it doesn’t burn on the cooking sheet.
Let it rest for a bit, as tempting as it is, if you cut it now, it will fold up.
Now the change ups.
White flour I change for half, whole wheat often, or a blend of white, whole wheat and rye. 12 grain sometimes too. Often with regular cake and pastry flour too.
Water can be changed for a bit of milk, but I never really noticed a better bread doing this.
Olive olive oil can be changed for butter.
White sugar can be changed for molasses, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup.
I want to try one soon using tomato juice instead of water, I need to find or make one, that has no salt though.
I often add things too, a pinch of nutmeg, just a pinch, it makes the brain pop the eyes open but not so much that you go..hey there is nutmeg in here, it is a teaser.
Basil, or onion powder
Bran or wheat germ, mixed in or roll the dough in it.
Onion flakes, roll the dough in them.
Cheese, yes, just cheese. Sometimes a bit during mixing, perhaps a cup. Shredded. Sometimes that and then instead of rolling into a loaf I ball the dough up into tiny balls and put it in a loaf pan, with bits of cheese and then more balls of dough, usually about three balls of dough high with lots of cheese between, onion often too, to make a great cheese bread. three or four layers of balls, with bits of cheese and even onion between them, it bakes into a loaf. Be sure to use a loaf pan!
Feta and black olives…… omg
Egg yolks, last week I added one yolk, and it made a creamy bread that was rich.
Yesterday I added two yolks and kept the whites. When the last five minutes were up I brushed the whites on the bread and back into the oven for that five minutes, it made a soft shiny crust that has a great taste. Mix a tablespoon of water into the whites first.
so this is what I ended up with.
no this isn’t my picture, I should have taken one, but the battery in my camera is not holding a charge I need a new one, we are still eating rock soup from going to the show twice in one week so a new battery is not happening now 😦 , but the trusty internet has pictures of everything. See how the egg whites make the bread shiny? mmmmmm tis good too.
Onion, or onion and cheese. The onion chopped fine, I usually cook it just a tiny bit first.
Garlic. lots of it mixed with the dough, the garlic roasts in the bread, mmmm tis so yummy.
Cinnamon and raisins, or currents.
mmmm, so many ways to change the basic recipe and have a very different bread. Bread is so easy to make, it gets easier each time you do it, and you save piles of money too.
If you want a crust that is not so crunchy, when it comes out of the oven, cover it with a damp tea towel for 5 minutes. Then you have a soft crust that is better for sandwiches.
The last five minutes you can brush it with egg whites, or melted butter, or spray it with the veggie oil sprays or even mist it with water to change the crust.
The egg bread that was pictured at the start of the post is a different recipe, Braiding it is easy to do as well, and that bread is GREAT!
oh no, my secret bread recipe is out. shhh don’t tell anyone.