With the blizzard(s) that have smacked Oklahoma in the last two weeks, the store shelves are bare of certain staples. Like milk and eggs and butter. And for the love of dawg: BREAD.....what? There was plenty of the GOOD bread in the bakery, and plenty of bread making ingredients, but that horrible white "just past dough" bread had flown off into the wilds.
Yes, I have a distinct bias against what is laughingly sold in our grocery stores as bread. If you use it to sop up the juice from your roast, it turns into a slimy disgusting mess. For the love of all that is GOOD, peaple, make bread. It's easy, it takes very little time, and it's SO much better.
But, Brat, you have to do all that kneading. And that hurts my wrists (shoulders, little finger). BAH, I say, BAH! The book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has forever changed that. The basic recipe has been posted on-line in several locations, and I'll post my version here. Let me just say, that if my twelve year old can master this bread, so can you.
Basic Recipe3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (buy it by the pound folks. really)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups of flour (UNBLEACHED all purpose) Notice, I did NOT say to sift this.
a little cornmeal
2 cups hot water
1. Mix the yeast into the water and add the salt. Use a REALLY BIG bowl. Like Huge.
2. Scoop the flour into your measuring cup using a spoon, and use a knife to level off the top. Add flour cup by cup into the water, and mix it. You may or may not need to use that last 1/2 cup or so. The dough will be much wetter than you are used to. This is fine. By now, you have invested, at most, ten minutes. Or if you are REALLY smart...make the kids do it.
3. Cover the bread and let it sit there and do its thing for a couple of hours. At this point, you can make a loaf, or you can cover it with a lid and put it in the fridge. I'll assume you want to make something now.
4. Flour up your hands. Spread some flour on the top of the bowl of dough, and scoop out the bread. Here's a video that shows how it's done. Form your loaf, and let it sit for 30 to 40 minutes. (Sprinkling cornmeal on the surface where you are resting your loaf is a good idea, but flour will work in a pinch.)
5. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500F, with your pizza stone inside (middle). And the pan that your water will go into (lower).
6. Slash the top of your loaf artfully. I have not has sticking problems, but I use a regular knife, not a serrated one. Flour the top of the loaf a bit if you are using a serrated knife. Gently move the bread from the board you had it on, into the oven onto your pizza stone (that is on the middle of the oven). Pour the hot water into the pan (sacrifice a cheap roasting pan to the bread gods. Really, it makes that much of a difference).
7. Bake at 450F for 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size loaf you are making, and the composition of said loaf.
8. Remove from oven, allow to cool, slice with a serrated knife (yep, trust me, it's MUCH easier), serve with dinner. Oh, who are we kidding here...if homemade bread survives in your house longer than 5 minutes when made one loaf at a time, you are obviously single. Or at least not attached to the crew I am. The bread usually doesn't have time to get from oven to cutting board before the vultures are circling and ready to drop and devour the entire loaf in 2 minutes.
This bread is crunchy with a great texture, and it makes the whole house smell AWESOME!
VariationsI know, I know. This is what you were waiting for. Right? I can hear them now. But BRAT, bread loaves are great, but you can't make hamburger buns, flat bread, garlic sticks (insert your random choice here) at home. Wanna bet?
With the basic recipe, we have made buns for our pulled pork sammiches, flat bread, garlic sticks, rolls, pizza dough and badness knows what else. In the books, there are a LOT more recipes. I don't use them...because I don't own the books. Hey, single income here. The book budget is overrun with home school books.
You don't like white bread. Or don't want to eat it for whatever your reasoning is. Fine, no problem, they wrote Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Me, I just substitute in some whole wheat flour for some of the white flour. If you are making whole wheat bread (no white flour), you probably need some wheat gluten to help it rise.