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Slow + Simple :: How to make delicious homemade bread without a breadmaker




For years I've wanted to make homemade bread - not a quick bread and not a bread-machine bread, but a good old fashioned loaf that's made of simple, basic ingredients - flour, yeast, water, salt... A loaf that has substance and crunch and chew. My problem was two-fold: I was afraid and I am surrounded by some incredible boulangeries, some of the best around.

But in my own mission to try all those things I have wanted to try, take chances and conquer my fears, I decided I ought to try my hand at bread baking. I searched around for a recipe that seemed easy and fairly straightforward. The Kitchn seemed to have just the recipe was just what I was looking for. And so with the aid of my 15 year old daughter, we set out on an adventure!

We did what we were told... and then we botched it up and forgot a step... We continued on nonetheless...Our dough seemed a little sticky and I knew enough to slowly add flour to my mixture. Eventually it seemed perfectly pliable and less like glue... We tossed it into a bowl, covered it up and set it aside. I was amazed and thrilled when, a couple of hours later, I saw how much it had risen. I continued along, and decided that instead of a large loaf we would make large dinner rolls... We placed the roundish balls into the oven for about a half an hour... What emerged were little round bits of perfection... crusty, chew, airy, perfect!

We let the bread cool but too impatient to wait until dinner, we brought out our home-made butter and had a perfectly slow + simple home made snack.

Here is the recipe via The Kitchn - I've incorporated my own notes.

What You Need:

Water - 3 cups total
Yeast - 1 teaspoon total
Flour - 6-7 cups total
Salt - 1 Tablespoon

Equipment:
Large Mixing Bowl - We mixed the dough in our KitchenAid mixer, with paddle for bread on slow.
Spoon
Baking Pans (optional) - We used 2 parchment lined cookie sheets
Baking Stone (optional)

Instructions:

1. Make a Poolish (Optional) - In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, and 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix it for a few minutes, until it forms an elastic and smooth batter. Cover and let this sit for 2-10 hours. It will look like the picture above when it's ready. - We did NOT make the poolish.
Skip this step if you don't have time, but it's an easy way to add flavor and good texture to your bread. It's also a little insurance to make sure the dough rises! If you skip it, just add the ingredients into the main dough.

2. Measure the Water - Measure 2 1/2 cups (or 20 ounces) of water into a large bowl.

3. Measure the Yeast - Add a half teaspoon of yeast to the water.

4. Let the yeast sit in the water until it has dissolved. Don't be concerned if you don't see any bubbles at this point.

5. Add the Poolish - If you made a poolish, add it into the bowl now. - We skipped this step.

6. Stir the water, yeast, and poolish together until the poolish is dissolved into the water. You might see some bubbles and foam, but don't be concerned if you don't. - We did see the bubbles
7. Add the Flour Add 1 cup of flour.

8. Stir until a thick batter is formed.

9. Stir in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Salt can inhibit the growth of the yeast, so it's good to add a cup of flour first to give the yeast a little protection and then add the salt. We used sea salt

10. Add 4 more cups of flour and stir until the dough is too stiff to stir anymore. It's ok if there's still some loose flour left in the bowl that hasn't been incorporated into the batter.

11. At this point the dough will look shaggy and be very sticky.

12. Knead the Dough Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and scrape your dough on top. Begin kneading, adding up to another cup of flour if the dough is very sticky. - We had to add more flour, small bits at a time until the consistency was right.

13. The dough is finished kneading and ready to rise when it springs back when you poke it, if it holds its shape in your hands, or if you can form a "window pane" without it breaking (as in the picture above)

14. Put it in a large oiled bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. We forgot to add oil to the bowl!

15. Shape the Loaves - Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and turn the risen dough out on top. Divide the dough into two pieces and shape the dough into round loaves or sandwich loaves as desired. Let these loaves rise until they've nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour. We forgot this step and placed our dough right into the oven!!
16. Bake the Loaves - Preheat the oven to 450°. Quickly cut a few slashes 1/2-inch deep into the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife and place them in the oven. Round loaves should be baked on a baking stone while sandwich loaves in baking tins can be baked right on the oven rack.

17. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the loaves have developed some color on the crust, sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, and the inside registers 190° on an instant-read thermometer. Let the loaves cool before slicing into them. We baked our smaller rolls for about 20 minutes and even without letting the dough rise before placing it in the oven, the bread came out perfectly!


Looking back :: The Entertaining House's Humble Beginnings

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