Friday, January 2, 2009

Super Easy Bread

I love handmade bread (I hate homemade bread machine bread), and it is pretty much the easiest thing in the world to make. The bread below is AWESOME for paninis made with a small Foreman grill - will talk about that in a separate post.

Super Easy Bread

One small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup
One large bowl
A a slightly damp, warm kitchen towel
Pizza peel (helpful but definitely not necessary)
Pizza stone (also helpful but not necessary; if you don't have one a simple baking sheet will do).

SMALL BOWL: (combine and let stand)
1 cup warm water (not hot or you will burn the yeast but not cold as you will "stunt" the yeasts growth)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast

3 cups flour (unbleached white all purpose)
1 tsp salt (i use regular old table salt)

You are going to drizzle and work olive oil into the flour mixture until it forms beads of flour. You then add in the water mixture and work with your hands. The dough should be rather sticky. Gradually add in (probably about a tablespoon at a time) of flour until the dough is smooth and workable. Once you get the dough to the right consistency coat it with a thin layer of olive oil, cover it with your damp towel, and put it in a warm place (an oven turned off for example) for probably about an hour.

Once the dough has doubled in bulk, remove it from the bowl and knead it (working in more flour as needed - again, only a tablespoon or so at a time) for 5-10 minutes until it is elastic. Form it into a round and let it rise again (I would do this on a lightly floured pizza peel) for probably 30 minutes. You are looking for the dough to double again. Go ahead and preheat your oven (and stone if you are using one) to 425. While the oven is preheating, the round will probably become stuck to the peel so lightly pull in the edges so that it comes free and reform it, lightly coating it in flour. Once your oven is preheated, transfer the round to the stone in the oven (or if you are using a baking sheet pop that in) and cook for 15 minutes, then (without opening the oven) reduce the heat to 350 for about 30 more minutes.

This recipe sounds incredibly complicated, but really it isn't. It may take you a try or two to get right, but once you do; it will become second nature.