It's been 10-15 below zero lately, or for people who use metric, 23-26 below 0 C. I did catch the cold everyone else in the family had. So I haven't wanted to even consider going out of the house.
We ran out of bread a couple days ago. So I talked E through baking a couple loaves.
We decided on a herbed bread in rounds instead of the normal sweet white loaf I bake.
2.5 teaspoons yeast, or 1 packet if you use packets. 2.5 teaspoons is slightly more then one packet,but bread is forgiving.
1 tsp. sugar
1.5 cups of warm water
4-5 cups of flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. salt free Italian seasoning or other dried herb salt free seasoning you choose. I used a salt free pesto seasoning I got clearance priced a couple months ago.
You'll also need a bit more olive oil, a bit more seasoning, and if you'd like, parmesan cheese.
Stir sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let sit until it dissolves and foams up just a bit.
Mix the first 3 cups of water, oil, salt and seasoning into the water/yeast mix and keep adding flour until you can stir anymore. Flour your hands lightly, and knead in more flour until it's smooth and elastic. It's really hard to explain what exactly you're looking for, but it should be a workable ball that's not sticky. You'll probably wind up using 4.5 cups of flour, but that could vary by humidity.
Oil ball of dough lightly, and cover with a dishtowel. I usually do all my mixing and kneading in a big glass bowl, so I just cover the bowl.
Let rise in a warm draft free place for an hour. Check to see if it's doubled in size by poking it with a fingertip, if the indention stays, it's doubled.
Punch it down. If you're doing this with a 13 yo who watches too many action flicks, giggle quietly to yourself while she goes Xena on the ball of dough. Divide the ball into 4 parts.
Sprinkle flour on 2 baking sheets, and form 4 balls with the dough, and put them on the baking sheets, pat them down roughly flat and about an inch to inch and half thick, cut crosses in the top with a sharp knife ,oil the tops, and sprinkle on more seasoning, and a bit of flour. Cover and let rise an hour. Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
Put loaves in the hot oven, and sprinkle a little water on the floor of the oven to create some steam. I'm not sure if this is actually completely necessary, but it was part of the recipe we adapted, so we did. Close oven, bake for 15 minutes, then pull out, sprinkle the tops with parmesan, rotate the pans, and close it back up and bake until golden, about 10 more minutes. Tap tops to see if they sound hollow, if they don't, bake 5 minutes more, check again.
Keep your wooden spoon handy to keep people off it until it sets 5 minutes.
Turned out nice and crusty. Yum yum! I think I've decided to start baking bread fairly regularly again, but baking bread isn't economical unless you buy ingredients in bulk, so I need storage for flour first.
I was trying to explain the difference to a friend between using a bread machine and doing it by hand, and it's hard. There is of course, a texture difference, and a real difference in crustiness if you bake it in the oven, but I can't really explain the satisfaction you get when you do it by hand, how good it feels to knead the dough, and watch it rise. How lovely it is coming out of the oven. My mom had a bread machine that my dad has offered me, and I plan on picking it up soon so E can make a loaf that way and see/feel/taste the difference.
I'd never watched E knead her pizza crust before, so I didn't realize she didn't know how to knead properly, so I worked with her on that yesterday while we baked bread. On how to fold in more flour, not to tear the dough while working it, and how to tell when it was just right. It was a lot of fun.