Monday, November 22, 2010

Fresh baked bread!

Is there anything better in the world than the smell of fresh baked bread? I can attest that there is not. It has been snowing here in Seattle all day long! This is very unusual for Seattle, but a great time to be inside baking some bread!!

This bread is an Italian bread and is similar to the "french" bread that they sell at most grocery stores. I am using it for my Thanksgiving day stuffing! I will cut it up into cubes and bake it in the oven until it is nice and dry! It seems like such a waste of a beautiful loaf of bread, but that the dressing will be just as good!

The Cast:
Mixing bowl or your kitchen aid with hook attachment
sheet pans
parchment paper
lame (if you have one)
plastic wrap
cooking spray 
thin kitchen towel
oven safe dish

The Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 teaspoon barley malt syrup
5 cups of bread flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

The Procedure:
 Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In your mixing bowl add the yeast and then pour in the lukewarm water and barley malt syrup. While this is blooming, measure out your flour and salt into a bowl. Allow the yeast, water and barley malt syrup to bloom until it is looking a little foaming on top and then add your flour, salt and olive oil.

Mix all the ingredients together and mix until the dough feels elastic. Another way to test this is to take a piece of dough and spread it with your fingers to see if the gluten is developed, if it is, it will stretch apart and not break.

After it is mixed and desired elastic consistency, spray your bowl with some cooking spray and put the dough in and wrap with plastic wrap. Let bulk ferment for at least an hour. My favorite place to let it bulk ferment is in my laundry room with the dryer running! It get's all warm and humid in the room, which is perfect for fermenting bread.

Once it has done it's magic in your laundry room, take it out of the bowl, expelling the gases and cut the dough in half. Roll the two pieces of dough into about 10"-11" loaves. Place on parchment lined sheet pans with the seam side down and cover with a thin kitchen towel and place back in your warm, cozy place. Again, it is going to take about 45 minutes to an hour for it to reach to desired "double in size".

Check on the bread at 45 minutes and then slash with your lame.

After slashing let them proof for another 10 minutes or so. Then remove the towel and place in 425 degree oven with your oven safe dish filled with about an inch of water. Bake for 25 minutes. The bread should be a nice golden brown on the outside and give a nice hollow sound when thumped. 

The end result will be two beautiful loaves of bread that you can proudly butter and eat! This bread is great for sandwiches, dinner bread and for just plain eating! Enjoy! 

Edited to add: If you brush the bread with a nice, thin layer of olive oil you get a nice chewy artisan like crust! 

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