Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baking Bread

I hope you will forgive me, but this is my first attempt at "monitizing" this blog by setting up links to Amazon.com for the books I mention.  Amazon will probably skim information about you if you link through here, but if you already use Amazon, this is probably not such a big deal.

Here's the main part of the meal for our most recent Sunday Super Supper Squad.  The bread is the basic recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day and the Provencal Chicken Stoup is from Rachael Ray's Book of 10.
I love to make bread.  It is so relaxing and it really doesn't need to take a lot of time.  Here's the recipe for the basic bread dough. I think it works better than the basic recipe in the original Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (which I wrote about in 2008) does.  It may be the addition of Vital Wheat Gluten (I found it at Whole Foods, but it is available through other sources.)  Check out the authors in this video to help you get through the process a bit better (I use a container like the one in the video that I picked up at Smart & Final, but I noticed it is available through Amazon as well.)

5 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (I use white whole wheat flour from Trader Joe's)
2 Cups White Flour
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons Granulated Yeast (2 Packages Fleishman's)
1/2 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
4 Cups Lukewarm Water (approximately 100degrees)

Mix all ingredients with spoon in large container.  Cover loosely and let raise for 2 hours on counter, then put into refrigerator to rest overnight (or for up to 2 weeks.) (It can be used after the initial rising, but it will be sticky and not have as much flavor than if it has some time to develop in the refrigerator.)

When you are ready to make bread, cut off a piece of approximately 1/4 of the volume/weight.  If too sticky, dust hands and dough with flour. Quickly shape into a round or a baguette and place on parchment paper (which I put on a pizza peel.)  Let raise for 90 minutes.  Then brush top with water & sprinkle with choice of seeds (poppy, sesame, etc.) Slash top in three places to help steam escape.

While dough is rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  I use a baking stone in my oven, which gives the best results.  Have the stone in the middle rack of the oven.  Place 1 cup of hot/boiling water in a broiler pan on the lowest shelf of the oven to make steam (I've been known to spill some water on the bottom of the oven to really bring up the steam when I put the bread in to make a crunchier crust.)

When oven is preheated, slide the dough on the parchment paper onto the baking stone and close the oven.  Bake 30-35 minutes.  Bread is done when it sounds hollow when thumped.  Remove parchment and cool on rack.

Zoe Francois, one of the co-authors of the book, has a blog you can read here. It has a lot of great recipes. I only wish I had enough time to try them all.

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