Sunday, May 15, 2016

Best. Bread. Ever.

One of the best things (and there are thousands of things) about being at home is that I've finally gotten the hang of making our daily bread.  I've tried for years to make a decent loaf of bread.

This started about 15 years ago when I was in still in college and I wanted to learn to bake.  I enlisted my grandma's help.  Grandma was (before dementia crept in) a cook if there ever was one.  A farm wife with many children, there was nothing in the kitchen that she didn't excel at.  Breads, cakes, frostings, fried chicken, Sunday lunches.. she had command of that kitchen.  So it was Grandma that I went to for help.  I remember making a rosemary flat bread, a nice rye bread and a cinnamon raisin bread.  Then I moved away.  I worked in bakeries. I moved back.  I didn't care about making bread.  By the time I did care again, grandma was no longer baking and I was left to my own devices

Many, many sad loaves followed over the years.  Loaves that involved kneading and careful shaping.  They were always edible but noting exciting.  Then I read in Mother Earth News about that crusty bread you make in a dutch oven that took something like 18 hours.  What I make is basically that loaf, but with more yeast.

3 c flour, a tiny pinch salt, and a big spoonful of yeast go in the mixer.  Add honey and 1.5 c liquid ( I use a mix of dairy and water). Stir. Cover. Wait until doubled (about 2 hours).  Pre-heat oven to 450 with your lidded baking device of choice inside.

I use this cast iron guy I got on clearance at Tractor Supply for like $5. 

When pre-heated, oil pan with butter and dump dough in pan.  Cover and bake for 30.  Uncover and bake another 15.  This produces the most amazing, crusty bread ever for about 5 minutes work.

Look at that crust! 

That crumb!

So finally my quest for a reliable loaf has ended.  This is good for sandwiches, dipping or just eating with butter.  I also like to do variations on this.  A good one is to cut the regular flour with wheat, add good glug of molasses and then stir in dried cranberries and sesame seeds before baking.  Yum!

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