Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bread recipe

Now that I tantalized you all with bread goodness but made you do your homework to get the recipe, I decided to just share my own even-easier variation.

What gets easier than 5-minutes-a-day bread? Well, that timeframe depends on you making up a batch of four to eight loaves at a time, storing it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and taking out what you need when you need it. But that takes up a lot of storage space. And there's this ticking clock for using up your bread. I've made seven loaves this week and that's just an insane amount. I normally don't need more than a loaf every week or two.

So, I scaled down the recipe to make either one large or two small loaves, and skipped the whole storage/refrigeration part of the deal:

  • 1 cup room-temperature water
 (neither hot nor cold to the touch)
  • 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour, pushed slightly against side of bag when measuring (10.8 oz)
  • optional: dried herbs, finely diced garlic, shredded cheese, diced mushrooms, etc.
The flour is the tricky part, because a cup of flour is supposed to be 5 oz, but depending on how you measure it, the cup will be anywhere from 4 oz (sifted) to 6.5 oz (packed). If you scoop out of the bag, pushing against the side a little but not cramming it, you get a slightly heavier cup of flour at 5.5 oz, which happens to be perfect for making the measurements come out simple in my reduced recipe. (Otherwise you have to do 2 1/6 cups.)

You'll need:
  • 5-quart mixing bowl
  • spoon
  • parchment paper
  • pizza stone
  • pizza peel
  • pan for water
  • cooling rack
  1. Measuring and stir all the ingredients, in the order given, with a spoon in the mixing bowl until just combined. (If you want to add a few teaspoons of flavorings like dried herbs, diced garlic, etc., do it at this stage as well.)
  2. Loosely cover and let rise for two hours. (Dough will be very sticky, so don't cover with a towel or anything that will droop in and touch the dough. I use a large cutting board.)
  3. If desired, add any chunky ingredients like mushrooms (3 large, diced) and/or cheese (large handful) and stir again, deflating the dough.
  4. Place on parchment paper and mold into whatever shape you like. You might be limited by the fact that the bread is very sticky (your hands will get a coating on them as you work) and somewhat limp. But you can do rounds and tubes pretty easily.
  5. Add a moderate amount of shredded cheese on top if you like, enough to cover it.
  6. Let loaf sit for 30-35 minutes, preheating the oven to 450˚ while you're waiting, having placed a pizza stone on the upper rack and a pan to hold water on the bottom rack.
  7. Pour one cup of water into the pan (it will start steaming immediately) and then slide dough onto pizza stone. Bake for 30-32 minutes until browned and hard on the outside.
  8. Let cool on cooling rack until it can be handled (15-20 minutes) and serve warm, OR, let cool completely and bring it to a party later on!
Total time: 3 hours and 15 minutes; actual time in the kitchen probably 10 minutes or so.

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