I spent yesterday afternoon in the french country kitchen of a bread master. Between the chickens, beehives and vegetable garden right outside the patio door, my brother and his wife
have the DIY thing down to a science. Together, they make Chip and Joanna Gaines look like DIY amateurs.
I figured if I spent some time there by the new year I’d be making bread like a boss.
As Bill mixed and waited and baked and waited I drank herbal tea and snacked on a tray of healthy baked goods Sherry had made.
The room filled with the yeasty scent of baking bread and we chatted about the science of creating the lean dough for artisan bread. As Sherry stated, creating the perfect healthy mixture for the dough and baking it into a crispy crust with a porous inside is an art form.
And as a thank you to my faithful readers, I wanted to share my twin’s secrets on how to make a great loaf of delicious homemade bread.
Like any other good thing in life start with a good quality flour. Bill used a mix of Jovial flour, Organic sprouted spelt flour and whole wheat. One cup each.
He recommends using an electric mixer vs. kneading to save the extra time and trouble.
Next pour one cup of warm water into the empty mixer. Add 2 tsp. of quality active dry yeast into the water. Activate the yeast with a “dash” of sugar, honey or maple syrup and wait from 3 - 5 minutes for it to bubble.
When the yeast is happy and bubbly add the 3 cups of flour. Sound like fun? It is. Here’s one of the master bread maker’s secrets ~ when you add 2 tsp of salt do not allow it to touch the yeast. Apparently, this will kill the yeast action and cause the dough to lose it’s “rise.
Next, turn the mixer on low with your bread hook secured and watch the dough take shape.
As the wet flour shapes into a ball begin to add more water a tsp at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. This takes patience and time. Another tip from the bread master ~ the wetter the dough the fluffier the bread. However, the wetter the dough the stickier your flour mixture will be. The mixer should be going about 10 minutes until the lean dough is ready.
Jovial flour and spelt flour produce a low gluten bread. If you’re like me, the less gluten in bread the happier my tummy will be. So be careful to develop the gluten in the above mixing process by testing the elasticity of your bread dough. If it breaks easily when pulled it’s not ready.
Now, cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap (so it doesn’t stick) and set aside until it doubles in size or for one hour, whichever happens first.
The oven needs to be preheated to the highest temperature ~ 550 on my bro’s oven.
Another great tip to create a crusty loaf is by placing a cast iron pan in the oven while it’s preheating before the dough goes in. Shh…I’ll tell you why in the following paragraphs. Remember, I write suspense.
Here comes the fun part. Spread some corn flour or All Purpose flour on a wooden cutting board or other clean surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Carefully remove the mixture from the bowl without pressing out the fluffiness/ air bubbles.
Shape into a rectangle by pulling on the outer corners of the bread dough. Now remember making those paper airplanes when you were a kid? Here’s the next part. Fold over the top right corner like you would for the airplane. Next fold the other corner so that the sides meet and a point forms up top. Next, take that point and fold it about halfway down.
Next, starting with the point to roll the soft mixture into a long log. Press the seam where the dough meets at the end of the log, and voila!
Place onto a parchment paper covered upside down cooking sheet, a loaf pan or if you’re fancy a v-shaped bread baking pan.
It’s time to wait for the dough to rise yet again. After 20 minutes or so it should have risen enough.
Finally, the tip I promised you. As you place the prepared bread dough into the blast furnace, er, preheated oven, throw a handful of ice cubes in the heated cast iron pan next to it to create steam.
In 10 minutes, turn the oven to 425 and enjoy the heavenly scent of baking bread fill your home.
The bread should be done in 25 minutes. Your hard earned product is ready to slice and enjoy.
Have a happy and healthy New Year from our family to yours!
3 cups flour ( All purpose, whole wheat, Jovial, organic spelt )
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp sugar, honey or maple syrup
2 tsp. salt