Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bread Baking Made Simple

Buying bread that is not soft and squishy, has a decent crust, not only white flour, and does not need to be toasted to be edible is not as easy as one would assume, so I was delighted when I was pointed to the bread in 5 minutes video. It is an easy, no-knead bread recipe that only takes 5 minutes! The bread turned out great and I have been baking my own bread for the last few weeks.

Flaxseed & whole wheat bread
Whole wheat rye bread

The "master" recipe is super simple:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1.5 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/4 cups flour

Dump everything in a mixing bowl, stir with a large spoon until the ingredients are combined (no need to knead the dough), and let rise for 2 - 3 hours. After that, cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight or until read to use. The recipe says the dough can be in the fridge for several weeks, but I have never managed to keep mine longer than 5 days so far.

When ready to bake, take about half of the dough out with floured hands and stretch the dough from the top around the sides to the bottom to form a loaf shape. I usually do this approximately 5 times to get a nice loaf. Put the loaf on a dusted pizza peel and let rest for 40 minutes. I use cornmeal to dust the pizza peel, but I think regular flour or parchment paper will work as well. The pizza peel is used to later slide the bread onto the hot pizza stone. If you do not have a pizza stone and pizza peel, simply try baking the bread on parchment paper on a regular baking sheet. Place the pizza stone on the middle rack and an old baking form (I am using a pie pan) on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat it to 450F (232C). Once the 40 minute rest of the loaf is over and the oven is preheated, it is time to bake the bread. Dust the top of the bread with some flour and use a knife with a serrated edge to make one or several cuts in the top of your bread. The cuts should be rather deep (1-2 cm) to avoid the bread from braking when it rises in the oven. Put the bread in the oven and add 1 cup of cold water to the hot pan at the bottom of your oven. The humidity from the evaporating water will create a nicer crust. Be careful not to burn yourself when adding the water! Bake for 40 minutes and voilĂ  - there is your bread!

For the rye bread I used 1 cup rye, 1 cup whole wheat, and 1 1/4 cups regular flour. 1 cup = 236 ml, so if you are baking in Germany use any measuring cup with 250 ml and fill it to the line with flour (or water) to get approximately one cup. Probably any larger coffee cup would also work.

The flaxseed bread contains about 1/2 cup flaxseeds and half whole wheat and half white flour. Sunflower seeds also taste really well in this, and I just picked up some quinoa and chia seeds to try some new variations.

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