Thursday, December 11, 2008

Darien's Bread

The following is a guest post by my husband Darien.

My bread has been mentioned a few times in here and I figured for posterity's sake, I should probably write something up about it. I know this is going to seem long, but I promise you, it takes only about 30 min of actual work, and the results are completely worth it. This is probably like any standard water and flour recipie. I think the only difference is that I make mine very wet, like my grandmother did.

This recipie makes us 1 batch of rolls and 2 loaves.

6 Cups flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast (or 1 single use packet)
1 tsp salt
3-4 cups of warm water

Proof yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with sugar for 10 min.

Combine flour and salt. Once yeast is ready, combine yeast mixture, 2 cups of water and flour mixture in stand mixer. You may need to add water to make it more moist, depending on how wet you want your dough.
I like mine sticky wet, but not soupy. Let the dough hook on your mixer do it's thing for about 5 to 6 min on medium.
Put bowl in (cold turned off) oven. Take a baking dish of boiling water and put it under the bowl on a lower shelf. This will provide heat and moisture. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
When done, you can either punch down the dough and let it rise another 2 hours, or use it immediately.
I use it immediately, but the next steps are the same regardless.
On a large flat work surface, put a light layer of flour and dump out your dough. Depending on how wet your dough is will determine how much flour you need. You may need to add as much as a couple cups while you knead it.
Starting at the edges, fold the dough in on itself and then punch it down with your knuckles. Repeat this for about 5 min while adding flour until you have a soft, dry to the touch, springy consistency.
Now you can form into rolls, or loaves.
Lightly coat a circular glass baking dish with butter (or other baking lube). Form balls of dough. Typically I arrange them in a star shape, 5 around the edge with 1 in the middle, giving us 6 large rolls. I also will sometimes do 7 and 3. Let them sit, covered for 30 min to rise.
Loaves (in a pan):
For a loaf pan, take a section of dough and work it into a rectangle the length of the pan. Roll the dough into a large log and place in your buttered pan. You are looking for enough dough to be 1/3 to 1/2 the height of your pan. Let them sit, covered for 30 min to rise.
Loaves (on a baking stone):
work a large amount of dough into a ball by tucking the edges of it under itself. Put it on your work surface and, tucked side down, pass it between your hands in a circular motion, allowing the bottom to slide and the loaf to spin. This will tighten the seams and the skin. Cover your pizza peel liberally with corn meal and place the round loaf on it. Cover and let rise for about 30 min.
*Note just before you put this one in the oven, you will want to make 3 parallel cuts across the top, about a 1/4 inch deep. This will help the loaf from exploding.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake rolls for about 30-35 min, loaves for 35-45 min (or more for thicker crust). Technically, you should let them sit for at least an hour for the gluten to solidify, but I will normally rip open the rolls in about 20 min.

This seems long, but all in all, it's maybe 30 min of work involved.

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