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.



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!


Baking Goods

Easy organization.

We went grocery shopping today and stocked up on baking supplies.

Flour, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, cornmeal, raisins, dried cranberries.

We’ve got it all! Tidily arranged in mason jars.

Time to bake cookies!


Uh, no.

I forgot to buy eggs.

I’ll be back with cookies tomorrow.

Baking bread

The pizza dough’s done it.

It gave me confidence in sunshine, confidence alone, and me.

Mostly it gave me the confidence to try making more dough.

Bread dough.

Believe it!

Betty Crocker’s got the recipe!

Here’s what happened:

I walked to the grocery store.

It was a beautiful fall morning!

I bought 2 loaf pans. And a 12 pack of mason jars, but that’s a different story.

I almost bought 2 persimmons until I saw they cost $4 each. Then I decided against it and left the grocer’s with my pans and jars.

Back home, back to bread.

Naturally pure and wholesome. Just the way I like it.

Here’s what you need (besides wholesomeness, that is):

  • 6 cups bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, butter (cut into little chunks), and yeast  in a bowl.

Add the warm water – I just used water from the tap, not too hot, but pretty darn warm.

Mix for one minute.

Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, and continue mixing for about another minute.

At this stage of the game, your dough will likely look a fright, not totally combined, with chunks of flour listlessly hanging out in the bottom of the bowl.

Don’t worry. “Don’t worry” should definitely be a step in every bread recipe.

Dump your frightful dough and uncombined chunks onto a floured surface.

Start kneading. As you knead, combine the dough chunks into the bigger dough ball. Just work on it. Squish the dough, fold it over, squish it again.

Knead for about 10 minutes. Yes, 10. Don’t be wimpy. The dough will come together and feel solid and springy. Your arm muscles will feel solid and not springy.

Dough, mid knead.

Take your pleasingly combined dough, and put it in a greased bowl. You can use Pam or butter or whatever you want. I used butter. Flip your dough around so all sides get covered with grease of choice. Cover with Saran wrap.

Let your dough rise for about an hour.

Whoa! Now you have jumbo dough!

Here comes the best part!

Punch it baby!

Once you sock your dough and deflate it, turn it out onto your floured surface and separate it into 2 halves. Because I have 2 different size loaf pans, I made one half a little bigger than the other.

Roll out your dough into a rough rectangle. You can use your hands, a rolling pin, or in my case, a trusty pint glass. I always have one of those nearby!

You’re going to roll this up starting on the short side. Once you have a rolled up dough tube (ew), pinch the edge to seal the seam and fold the sides under a little. You can see photos of how to do that here – my hands were too dough-y to take pictures, sorry. Put this into a greased loaf pan, seam side down.

Once again, cover with Saran wrap and leave your loaves alone! They need to grow and recover from that punch you dealt them.

Let your loaflets rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and move your racks to the lower part of the oven – not the absolute bottom, necessarily, but low-ish.

What a big fat loaf! Time to bake it.

You can brush the tops with butter if you want. I wanted.

Into the oven!

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I baked mine for 27 minutes. You can tell they’re done when they are brownish and sound hollow when you tap on the tops. Tappity tap tap, done!

Your house will smell amazing.

Out they come!


Let them cool a little bit. And then slice away. Make sure you have butter handy.

Take pictures of your successful bread and brag about it on Facebook. That’s what I did.

Very satisfying.