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.
-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.