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Homemade bread

By Staff | Aug 12, 2016

THIS RUSTIC, white bread has maximum flavor because the dough is allowed a long, slow rise.

he tips and simple bread recipes in this article will inspire beautiful loaves and a whole new outlook on baking.

This article includes recipes for a crusty white bread and a deeply flavorful multigrain bread.

Yeast tips

Yeast is active in dough at any temperature above freezing up to the oven temperature that finally kills it.

Yeast needs time to create good flavors.

Experiment with long, slow fermentations (12 to 20 hours). This means experimenting with a small amount of yeast in the dough – no more than one-half to 1 teaspoon per pound of flour – and dough rising temperatures from the low 70s down to those of your refrigerator.

Yeast companies report that most of their customers are more interested in speed than taste.

Instructions on yeast packets reflect this priority.

If the yeast should be hydrated in water, then use warm water, as the packet directs.

But if the yeast should be stirred directly into the flour, then, don’t use water that is above 80 degrees.

The worst that can happen if you use water cooler than the yeast manufacturer recommends is that less yeast will come back alive in your dough than the manufacturer anticipated.

This means your bread will take longer to rise from a given unit of yeast, but because a longer rise is associated with better flavor, that is a good thing.

If you’re in a hurry, use warm water.

No need to knead

Many think breads require much less kneading than tradition suggests – or even none at all.

The recipes in this article are all no-knead recipes.

As many bakers are now discovering, kneading is not necessary for the development of a wheat bread’s gluten structure.

In fact, the gluten network develops during fermentation.

To achieve breads with a good final form, you can give the dough a few folds as you form the loaf.

Folding is particularly effective in strengthening the gluten structure of softer dough.

Crusty white

bread recipe

This bread is made with fairly wet dough, which is a requirement if you want big holes in the crumb, and it’s leavened with a small amount of yeast, which provides the opportunity for a long, cool rise.

Ingredients and supplies:

1 pound unbleached white flour

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups water

Baking stone or cookie sheet

Pizza peel or heavy piece of cardboard

Note: If rehydrating yeast with water, subtract the amount of water you added to the yeast from the 1 1/3 cups in the recipe.

Directions:

Starting the night before baking day, in a large mixing bowl use your hands to mix the flour, yeast, salt and enough water to a form a soft and sticky dough, though the exact consistency may vary with the flour used.

Cover, and let the dough rise at room temperature. When you get up in the morning, wet your hands, lift dough onto a flat, wet surface, then gently stretch it and fold it in half 2 to 4 times.

Return dough to the same bowl, cover, and let it rise until it has doubled in size.

If you take the temperature of the dough with an instant-read thermometer and it’s below 70 degrees, you may want to put it in a warm place, otherwise the rise may take until the afternoon.

While the bread is in its second round of rising, line a bowl that will comfortably hold double the amount of dough with a cotton or linen cloth heavily dusted with flour.

When the dough has doubled, gently turn out onto a work surface, and with wet hands and a dough scraper (if you have one), stretch and fold, and turn two to four times until the dough begins to stiffen and assume the shape of a ball.

Place ball into the bowl on the well-floured cloth. Cover, and let rise until the dough has almost doubled again, 1 to 4 hours depending on room temperature.

Turn onto a well-floured pizza peel or a well-floured piece of heavy cardboard.

Slide onto a baking stone or cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 500 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden brown on top and the bottom crust is hard and thumps like a drum when you tap it (about 30 to 40 minutes).

Set to cool bottom-up for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Note: Adding humidity to the oven always improves bread crusts.

To achieve this, try keeping a pan filled with water in the oven while baking.

Opulent farmers’

bread recipe

This recipes is for a hearty, 3-pound loaf with one part wheat flour, one part rye and one part barley.

This dense, whole-grain bread has sweet undertones from the rye, made more complex by the wheat and barley.

Like all whole-grain breads that are largely based on grains other than wheat, the dough has a sticky crumb until the finished loaf has rested overnight.

Ingredients and supplies:

2 cups whole-wheat flour

2 cups whole-rye flour

2 cups whole-barley flour

11/8 teaspoon dried yeast

2 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 cups water

Baking stone or cookie sheet

Pizza peel or heavy piece of cardboard

White flour for dusting formed loaf

Note: Sift out larger grains for a slightly lighter loaf. If rehydrating yeast with water, subtract the amount of water you added to the yeast from the 2 3/4 cups in the recipe.

Directions:

Starting the night before baking, in a bowl mix the wheat, rye and barley flour along with the yeast, salt and enough water to form a supple yet firm dough.

After mixing, work over the dough with wet fists for half a minute or so until it has a satiny feel.

Cover and let rise at room temperature.

The bread will not double, but will get noticeably softer.

In the morning, with wet hands, gently de-gas the dough, cover and let rise again.

After a few hours, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently shape into an oval or circle.

Dust with flour and set aside to rise.

Gently lift the bread and place it on a well-floured pizza peel or a well-floured piece of heavy cardboard.

Slide onto the baking stone or cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the baking temperature to 350 degrees.

Bake for an hour, then lower the temperature further to 325 degrees.

Bake for about another hour and 15 minutes (thump on the bottom of the bread; it’s done when it sounds hollow).

When done, remove from the oven and let cool, bottom side up. Do not slice until the next day.

You will find that the bread’s flavor improves for several days after baking.

Store it wrapped in a towel.

Excerpted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To read more articles from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, visit www.MotherEarthNews.com. Copyright 2011 by Ogden Publications Inc.

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