Lesson in Baking Bread

So, as promised, I got a lesson from Jeremy in making bread, and it was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon.  He taught me his very specific way of making white bread and I took detailed notes.  So let’s start with a couple of points.  Jeremy bakes bread with a wire rack mold specifically for baking bread, which he sets on top of a pizza stone (I forgot to take a photo of this).  However, it is unnecessary to get all this equipment; you can bake bread using a regular cooking sheet.  All instructions that follow are Jeremy’s unless otherwise noted: he has developed a specific way of doing this and it works well, trust me.

Ingredients

-5 cups all-purpose flour

-1/8 cup oil (I used canola)

-1/8 cup white vinegar

-1 tbsp sea salt

-a little less than 1/4 tsp sugar

-1 3/4 cups HOT water (just let the tap run until you get it steaming)

optional: egg mixture-take one egg and beat with a splash of  milk

-1 tbsp active dry yeast

-1 tsp gluten

Before beginning, you can set the oven to 400 F and start to pre-heat for three minutes.  Then turn the oven off.  Why?  I dunno, but Jeremy does it.

First, take about 1 cup of the water and in a small container with lid, add the yeast.  You’ll see that this activates it and bubbles will form.  Give it a good shake until it “dissolves” (for lack of a better word).  In a big mixing bowl, combine everything, including this activated yeast mix.  Mix all ingredients together until you get a solid lump of dough.  If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment.  If you don’t, just use your hands until it comes together.  Cover with a tea towel and let the dough stand for 30 minutes.  Dough will almost double in size.

Mix dough again for five seconds.  Put the dough on a floured surface and knead a few times.  Shape it into a loaf form.  Using a knife, cut slits into the dough, about 3 cm in depth, like this:

Stretch out the log a bit and sprinkle some flour on top.  Leave to sit for another 20 minutes in the oven.  You can then brush the top of the bread with the egg mixture: this gives the bread a nice shiny finish when done-it’s optional.  Then, turn the oven on for 400 F and bake for 55 minutes: there is no need to pre-heat, just set the oven and bake the bread.

Once done, let cool for at least 5 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.  You will get a beautiful loaf of bread that looks like this:

See the shiny finish?  That’s from the egg mixture.  Now, Jeremy has a mixer that he uses, and I don’t (yet).  Several days after he taught me how to make bread, I did it myself and just mixed the dough by hand.  It just takes a bit of time to do so.  Also, I baked my loaf of bread on a cookie sheet.  Here’s how it turned out:

I was quite pleased; I baked this loaf of bread for Sunday brunch and I felt as though it redeemed my failed attempt at a chocolate tart from the night before (more about that later).  I was also pleased with the way this photo turned out.

Happy bread-baking!

EM

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Posted on April 7, 2010, in Baking, Recipes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. How important is the extra gluten?

  2. The key to baking bread is mixing the ingredients in a particular order.

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