Country Loaf

The Seattle sunshine is over. Yesterday it snowed/rained/hailed. I guess that’s what you call a wintry mix? Unpleasant, no matter what you call it.

I stayed in.

Today looks much the same – big low grey clouds, evergreens blustering about, and a chilly looking seagull glaring at me from a neighboring rooftop. The weatherman says it might snow and stick. That’s a big deal around here, as they don’t seem to have salt or snow plows or winter driving experience and they do have big, big hills.

Good days for baking!

I made bread.

And then I posed my loaf next to a rose and took goofy pictures of it. Can’t blame myself. Both were on the table. Both were pretty.

Recipe from Betty Crocker’s cookbook (Betty is very trustworthy). You can see the recipe online here.

What you need:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A good sense of fun and a willingness to mess up your kitchen

Now, Betty said to use bread flour because something something more gluten? And I had bread flour! But only 3 cups of it. I used all-purpose for the remaining 2 cups.

I think I used to be scared of baking, and bread baking in particular, because I thought I had to be very precise. I was wrong. Yes, you should follow the measurements. You do have to be sort of precise. But things usually work out if you make little errors, is all I’m saying.

This does not seem to hold true for pie crusts. Pie crusts still make me nervous.

Bread fear is conquered, pies are next on the list. Bring it, pie.

Ok, back to the recipe. Sorry.

Mix 2 cups of flour with yeast and sugar. Stir in the 2 cups warm water (I just used hot water from the tap). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.

It will look like this after 1 hour – big and bubbly.

Add oil and salt. Stir in remaining flour, 1/2 a cup at a time. Don’t worry if all the flour doesn’t quite incorporate. Mine had chunks of dough falling off. You’re about to knead the heck out of it, so  that will do the trick.

Flour a surface (like your counter) and knead, knead, knead!

You seriously do knead (hahaha) to knead if for about 7-10 minutes. The dough will become smooth and pliable as you do this – amazing!

Then plop your stretchy and smooth dough in a greased bowl, flipping it around to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for another hour or so.

It will rise.

Poof!

Ta-da!

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease the cookie sheet.

Now, dump your dough out of its bowl and form it into a ball. You don’t want to punch it down (I know, darn) and release all the air bubbles, but it will definitely deflate a bit as you form it into a nice smooth ball.

That’s ok, because we’re going to let it rise AGAIN. Told you this is a good dreary day activity.

Plop your dough ball on your cookie sheet and sprinkle a little cold water on it.

Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 425 and fill a small 9×9 dish with hot water. Put this dish on the bottommost rack of the oven as it heats, and leave it there throughout the bread baking. Having water in the oven helps make the crust crusty, I’m told. I just follow the rules.

When your dough is risen and your oven is hot (and Jupiter aligns with Mars), slice a few thin lines in the top of your dough ball, sprinkle with a little more cold water and a little bit of flour and then shove it in the oven.

Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown! It should sound hollow when you tap it.

Oooh.

Ahhh.

Yummm.

Slap on some butter and enjoy!

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127 thoughts on “Country Loaf

  1. That looks so good . I’m scared of baking as well . I try a little here and there but not much . I love how you add your little inputs in with the recipe !!!!! Thanks for sharing . The Pic is beautiful

  2. Looks so good! Gotta love good old reliable Betty. You have a great style of writing…dumping, plopping, and slapping. lol

  3. I loved your blog! I just finished subscribing via email (love that option!) and I’m going to share on my wall. I’d also like to invite you to join my FB blogging group, if you’re into that type of thing – it’s called Authentic Blogger and we have all types of blogs and people there. Great place to grow your readership! Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=212390481451

    Now, back to your blog. I’m still intimidated by this level of baking, but am determined to conquer the doubts. I have a bread maker, but that’s serious cheating, right? Plus, it always gets the crust too dark on the bread. I want to be in control of my crust! And the sugar and all the other ingredients. So, I’ll be back to visit here in the future. You write with what I call a twinkle in your literary eye and I enjoy that immensely.

    Namaste’,

    Dawn

  4. Dawn, from Healing Morning, told me to come over and check out your, Your good, I love your writing style. And your approach to cooking. I do pretty much the same with my blog and writing. It’s all about having fun in the kitchen. And your doing that. When you have time, I would like for you to come over and check out my blog and let me know what you think. I am going to do a post as to your blog. I may not do it today, But in the next few days I will. You have a really great blog.

    Michael’s Kitchen

  5. Your bread looks Mah-la-lous!! Can’t wait to try. I have make yeast rolls and french loafs once-but am still working over my fear of baking bread. I always thought it was “hard” too. it isn’t and and I love your step by step! Thanks!!!

  6. love this blog on the baking of the bread. You sound alot like me, when its nasty out I love to Cook/Bake it up! I agree on the pie crust, so maybe the bread couldnt be so hard! I’m adding yeast to my grocery list and trying my hand at some bread this week! Plus i’m subscribing, I’d like to see more fun recipes!

  7. I loved your blog.. in another life about 40 years ago I was a baker and I feel the same way you do about pie crust. I actually think their haunted do not know by who or what but haunted.. maybe its Betty. I found you from Dawn wall ( authentic Blogger)

  8. This is fantastic! I hate going to blogs and discovering that someone has made bread, but used their bread machine to combine everything! I don’t have one of those thingamajig’s and love having great bread recipes (and directions – you’re funny!) that I can do all by hand!!! Thanks again!

  9. I love your intro about Seattle!!! Only because being here 2 years now I can relate to it all. What a great activity to do while in the gloom – I can’t wait to try this it looks so good.

  10. Your bread looks awesome with the beautiful rose! We have a common fear of baking breads, I’m glad to see you’ve conquered yours. I will have to try this recipe out.

    Best of luck with the pie crusts!! 🙂

  11. I love cooking and being in kitchen! When I get home from work you can find me in the kitchen and cooking dinner for me and my wife. It’s a great way to release frustrations and be able to smell the good cookin! What ya got cookin tonite!

  12. Seeing that loaf is making me hungry :). I may have to attempt making it – but not sure I could ever replicate the fantastic smells and tastes my mum used to create when she’d bake home made bread.

    Mmmmm… Thank you for stirring the memories.

  13. This looks incredible!! I’ve been playing with bread recently, but mostly with easy things like tortillas and pretzels and formless sorts flat loaves that are not incredibly pretty. This, though… this is art! Love the step by step instructions; I’m definitely giving this a go sometime soon. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  14. I seriously love to make bread..and love to eat it even more!! And that’s why I don’t make it all that often! But I’m thinking this weekend just might be time to make a loaf or two…

    Great pictures (I could almost taste your bread)…and a huge congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  15. I’m so excited to try this out – I love stumbling onto random wordpresses with cute/fun photos and good recipes!

    My advice on pie crusts – as long as you follow the recipe (and I recommend the most basic, from Better Homes & Gardens) and allow yourself to add or subtract water as needed (how dry the day is/how humid your kitchen is), just know that even if the dough doesn’t start out looking like it should, it’ll probably still turn out okay 🙂

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  17. I have never attempted to bake bread…or really anything for that matter. You have given me the confidence. And it looks so delicious for a cold ND evening. Maybe if I conquer it I too will try the pie crust…with my berries in the summer. Oh, I am feeling like Martha Stewert already.

  18. My 8-year-old says, “that looks sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    good (plus some extra o’s on the so).

    thanks . . . now I know how I’ll be spending another rainy saturday :)!

  19. Yum! I used to bake bread all the time, then life got in the way. Seeing your photos, inspires me to get back in the kitchen and start kneading. Nothing beats the smell of warm bread in the oven. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  20. I just discovered this week how much fun it is to make bread! I’ve baked 4 loaves in the past 4 nights… a garlic and kalamata olive bread, a rosemary bread, and two baguettes- one plain, and one with honey and craisins inside. Such an enjoyable, relaxing way to pass time, and so much better than (most) store bought breads! And the added bonus of knowing exactly what ingredients went into it. Your bread looks quite yummy, I will have to try the recipe soon!

  21. You’ve gotten a lot of praise for this posting and I will give you a little more! Great easy to follow recipe/post. You have a really fun writing style. Congratulations on getting freshly pressed!

  22. When I was 19 (a long time ago) I made a home made pie for Thanksgiving. The crust came out perfect light and flaky. I have tried and tried to make a crust like that again and to this day I haven’t been able to. I still haven’t given up though. I really wish now I had written down what I did. now my crust come out a little on the heavy side.

  23. i don’t cook – so don’t understand recipes! what i really wonder is how you write such a simple thing so beautifully!

    loved reading your post! 🙂

  24. That looks delicious and not to hard to tackle. I am a bit inhibited by baking myself. I made biscuits when I first got into cooking. The recipe said it made two dozen. I ended up with ten that if I’d dropped one on the floor would have continued on to China. Nice blog.

  25. The bread is really delicious looking! It is fun to make your on bread. There are so many possibilities that you can create from the dough. All you need to do is use your creativity.

  26. I love your open and friendly style in writing about baking; you make it sound fun! (The kitchen is my battleground.) I saw Julie & Julia yesterday and this blog reminds me a lot of Julie’s blog on cooking. Great job! 🙂

  27. Beautiful post…I love crusty “Old World” or “European” style breads…so very theraputic to make bread, and you’ve done a great job with the pictures. Bet your house smelled (smells?) heavenly! There is nothing in this world that is as tasty as warm, crusty bread fresh from your own oven. The photos are lovely and your text is beautifully written. Congrats on being “freshly pressed!”

  28. Looks beyond amazing! My friend and I are currently living in South Korea and we are missing the wonderful bread of the homeland…your pictures and recipe are quite inspiring…maybe I’ll just have to go to the super market with my dictionary and see if i can find all the right ingredients! love it. – natalie

  29. I haven’t tried bread yet. Even in a bread machine. This makes me want to try it! With one change.
    This is a plumber speaking! Use cold water for ALL cooking and baking not hot water from the tap. Cold is better for you. Just trust me on this, I won’t go into details, or you can look it up.
    Congrats on being FP!

  30. That IS a good looking loaf! I have never made the leap into baking bread but it’s tempting… old Betty’s recipe seems like a good start. Thanks 🙂

  31. Oh my goodness that bread looks amazing! Could it be because I am watching my carbs?? Or that I just absolutely love bread?? Whatever the reason it made me want to pull out my Betty and go baking!!! I have my original Betty Crocker that my mom gave me for a wedding shower gift 29 years ago. I have a newer version but always seem to go back to the old falling apart one ….thanks for sharing! Love the rose, too!

  32. Does your area give any rise to problems with making break from scratch as you have so much dampness?

    I recall those days when my mother put a damp tea towel over the dough and placed the bowl beside a heat grate for the dough to rise. And then the baking of the break. Wow…there’s nothing else like the smell of fresh rising bread baking in the over.

    And your pictures are so well thought out. I love the rose.

    twitter.com/Geotravel

  33. You just hit one of my passions….FRESH BREAD!
    There’s nothing quite like it…I’ve had it in Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, the Phillipines, Hawaii, basically anywhere I go I MUST try the bread!
    And this loaf looks…well, it looks like I’d want it to be my lunch right now!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed…or, in this case, Freshly Baked…:)
    Dug
    http://thf2.wordpress.com

  34. You are right about the small errors: last night I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, and usually when I bake I measure and level the flour, because I’ve heard that you can really mess something up if you aren’t precise, but last night I was ready for my cookie fix, so I just scooped and dumped the flour, and guess what?? the cookies were still delicious! Kudos on your lovely loaf!

  35. Your bread turned out great. I haven’t made bread in about a year. I should make this. You did a great job making it. I’ve made a lot of videos on Youtube on the different breads I have made.

  36. That loaf looks delicious, I’m looking around for nice bread recipes at the moment for a base of a cheese boule, you’re number one so far!

    Also, what type of pie crust you scared of making? shortcrust or filo? If it’s filo even the pro-chefs buy it in! Apparently it’s no better if you make it. Shortcrust isn’t too difficult, you can do it!

  37. I feel exactly the same way. Making bread is a joy, the smell, the feel of the dough. Pastry is scary. Good luck with that, but I’ll stick to the stuff from the freezer.

  38. I meant to mention something on the pie crust thing and forgot. My mom was known for her pies, particularly her crust. We all thought she had some top secret recipe because it was so light and flaky. One day she told me her “secrets” were the crust recipe on the Crisco package, using half crisco and half real butter and Ice water.

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  40. So I’ve now used your blog twice to make bread. Thank you so much for posting it (a printout of it is clips to ny fridge, lol). I love to make bread just typically do the cheater kind due to the ease, but this is so much more fun. My co-workers and family have started placing orders for a loaf all to themselves.

  41. This looks fantastic, Lisa! You might just get me back to baking, with inspiration like this. Have you heard of Barbara O’Neal? http://www.barbaraoneal.com/She's one of my current favourite authors. She’s got a book called How To Bake A Perfect Life, featuring an artisanal-bread baker. Just lovely! If you haven’t already read her, check it out – I think you might enjoy it.

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  44. Pingback: baking | bread with roasted garlic & chives. | walk in love.

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