Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....
Monday, February 7, 2011
Foolproof Busy-Day Bread.....
I posted earlier about making bread for my family and want to share the recipe I use. It's always difficult for me to share recipes, because I'm a "throw it in" kind of baker, especially when it comes to bread, but this method I use is actually based on an episode of 'Cake Boss'. Some of you may have seen it; when Buddy and family went to Italy, they stopped in a bakery that makes bread daily in a centuries-old wood fired oven. The bread looked absolutely delicious, and although I don't happen to have a centuries-old wood fired oven handy, and in fact only have a years-old floor model from Sears electric oven, it still makes awesome bread! In the episode of 'Cake Boss', the baker was asked what their secret was. He answered that it was "the air" in that particular region of Italy that made the bread so great; alas, I have no Italian air, only Idaho air, but the bread doesn't seem to notice. I make all my bread dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer that was a wedding present, and is something I still use every day and couldn't live without, but you can certainly use a little elbow grease and mix and knead the bread by hand. I developed this recipe by listening carefully, or rather, reading the subtitles when the baker said "5 grams salt per kilo flour". A rough estimate of 5 grams is 4 teaspoons, and that's the amount of salt I use per kilo, which is about 2.5 pounds. This seems like a lot of salt, and I've actually found you can reduce it a little without affecting the recipe. I should also add that instead of bread pans, I love making bread in the traditional Italian fashion, round loaves which are formed by making a simple dough ball, smoothed over with ends tucked into the bottom, slashed on top once with a knife, on a baking sheet. Cornmeal is good to sprinkle on the greased pan, but I generally forget to do this, and it's not crucial. So here goes:
Busy-Day Italian Bread
2.5 pounds unbleached flour
4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. active dry yeast
Warm water (think warm bath temperature: 100-120 degrees)
Add the dry ingredients to a stand mixer bowl, or other large bowl. Mix with wire whisk. For stand mixers, use the dough hook attachment, add warm water while mixing on the lowest setting. By hand, add some water, then mix with a wooden spoon. When dough starts coming together and pulling away from the bowl, or becomes too stiff to mix with spoon, stop adding water and mix away until a soft, slightly sticky, smooth dough forms. With mixer, continue to mix with dough hook, which kneads the dough, for a few minutes, until everything is well mixed and the dough is smooth and while soft, is able to be removed from the bowl in a big dough ball and handled with floured hands. If you've added too much water, just add a bit more flour, but don't overdo it, it should still be a soft dough. If you're kneading by hand, knead your little heart out, it will take probably 10-15 minutes of vigorous kneading to reach the same point. Cover bowl and allow to double in size, an hour or so, then punch the dough down, divide it in half for two large loaves, form loaves on greased and cornmeal-ed baking sheet and cover with a towel. At this point preheat your oven to 400, and put the rising bread on top of your range, to allow the heat from the preheating oven to accelerate the rising process. The second rise is faster, in my oven the bread is ready to go as soon as the oven finishes preheating, probably 20 minutes to a half hour. Pop the bread in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. And that's all there is to it!
If anyone needs me to clarify anything or has further questions, please comment and I will respond with whatever help you need (short of actually coming to your house and baking the bread myself!). Enjoy!
I'm so sorry there are no pictures of this bread! I never thought to take any, but I will take photos later today when the bread for today is finished, to show!