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.
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.
Slap on some butter and enjoy!