Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Farmhouse White Bread


        I've mentioned before that when I'm stressed I tend to bake. I've been stressed lately. My newest obsession is bread baking and no joke, I have baked 10 loaves of various types of bread over the last month. The joy it brings me is almost on the total ridiculous scale..but it's true. 


       I get the most absolute joy out of watching a simple mixture of flour,sugar,yeast,salt and warm water come togther and produce something that resembles a miracle. The idea is always in the back of my mind that no matter what our food budget looks like..I can bake bread and we'll always have something to eat. I have baked this bread once a week for over a month now. We love it that much. It produces a wonderful round loaf that begs to be sliced thick and slathered in butter..or eat it plain, I've done that numerous times..or slice it and top it with your favorite pizza ingredients,throw it under a broiler until the cheese melts and listen to your family ooh and aah over it. Pizza bread as we now call it is our current favorite. I've made a hawaiian version a meat lovers version and a veggie version. This bread is sturdy enough for anything that you might want to top it with. It's moist,firm,soft and just wonderful.


      Here is the loaf I made yesterday and tried to get all artistic like with carving my initials into it before baking. This is a very easy loaf of bread to bake. It has a 3 hour rise time,a 30 min resting period after you shape it into a loaf, and then it's baked. It's not hard. I promise.

Farmhouse White

1 cup COLD Buttermilk
2 TBS Honey
2-1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1 Egg
2 TBS Canola Oil
1-1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
3-4 cups Bread Flour..I use All-purpose with no problems
1 TBS Cornmeal
2 TBS Milk

In a large bowl,combine cold buttermilk,honey,and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy,about 30 minutes.

Add egg,1 cup flour,and salt;stir to combine. Add enough remaining flour to create a frm dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large bowl that has a tiny amount of oil in the bottom. Place the ball on the oil and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free spot until doubled in volume,about 3 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper;dust with cornmeal. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and shape into a smooth,round ball. Place onto prepared pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick spray ( you dont want the plastic wrap sticking to your dough!),set aside and let it rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preaheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Place an oven proof pan on the very bottom of the shelf to use as a steam bath later on.

Take the plastic wrap off of bread and brush milk lightly over the loaf. Using a serrated knife or xacto knife,slash a a design into the top of the dough,about 1 inch deep ( I've done a cross,initials and slashes.) Place bread into the oven and then quickly pour some water into the pan on the bottom..quickly close the door so that you don't lose any of the steam. The stream will create a wonderful artisan crusty top on your bread while keeping the inside moist.

Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom,about 30-40 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before eating.

*** Another version to this bread it so bake it on a pizza stone..which I do. Place the pizza stone above the extra pan for water and allow it to preheat in the oven for 30 minutes. Slide the bread on the parchment paper onto the pizza stone,pour the water in the bottom of the pan and quickly close the door.**

** Depending on your humidity you may or may not need more flour when kneading the bread. I live in a humid place so I always need the top amount of flour thats called for in a bread recipe. If your dough is to sticky then you need to add more flour..a tablespoon at a time until you get a moist soft dough. If you add in to much dough it will become tough and hard to knead.**

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: The Everything Bread Cookbook