Monday, November 19, 2012

Conquering Bread Baking

Bread and Water are the one things that are Universal all over the World.  Everyone eats some version of Bread and needs water to survive at minimum.   So why did most of the people in the World stop making it at home and relying on Commercial Bakeries?  My mother never knew how to make Bread but she did know how to bake a cake which is just a sweet bread without yeast basically.

I have been cooking since I was about 12 but I never learned how to bake bread and on my few attempts I produced results but never felt like I mastered it.   Baking is an art and also Science.  You have to get all the elements right to produce a decent loaf of bread.

I attempted 2 recipes a couple of weeks ago and one was a total failure but I managed to rescue it somehow and the other was ok.   After that attempt I went to see Chef Michael Smith at George Brown College and he talked about Baking Bread and said that there was a no knead method that seems to becoming a trend and that he makes this recipe a few times a week and says he doesn't buy commercial bread anymore.  These photos are of my attempt a few weeks ago.  Once recipe said to mix the yeast and water seperatley but I didn't like this method and had to fix it.

The reason I have been interested in baking bread at home is because one day I thought about what it took to have bread stay soft and mould free for weeks and one day I read the ingredients and realized that there were only a small amount of actual real natural ingredients but when you make bread at home all you do is add Flour, salt, yeast and water.   That's all you really need but you can always add different flours and other ingredients for flavour.

Baking bread at home isn't a quick thing unless you use a bread machine but in my attempt to make Chef Smith's no knead recipe I found that you can make a decent loaf of bread with a few ingredients and some time.

Here's the recipe I used:

3 cups of All purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Active Yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 5/8 cup of Warm Water.


Whisk the Flour, Yeast and salt together in a large bowl until everything is distributed through the flour.
Add the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.

That was it for the recipe that I had but I found that it was very sticky so I added more flour until it came together a bit better.   I would recommend experimenting with the flour amount.

Also I would recommend adding a bit of olive oil and then covering with plastic wrap to prevent a crust forming and then adding a tea towel over it.   Or I think you could just add a damp tea towel to keep it from drying out on top.   It didn't recommend that but when I did it a crust formed on top and this is important on the first rise because when you get to the second rise the crust gets mixed into the middle.

I mixed the mixture on saturday morning and then early on sunday morning I punched it down and let it rise another couple of hours.   I added a bit more flour and then formed it into a ball and placed it on a baking sheet and let it rise again before baking it to make sure it rose as much as possible to get a light bread.   I would also recommend adding an egg wash and you can also add something like sesame seeds on top for some extra flavour.

You basically need about 12-18 hours of first rise and then 2-3 for the second rise.

I baked it at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes I think.   It recommended 45 minutes but I found it cooked way faster than that.   Always watch you first batch and don't rely on the recommended times because every oven works a bit differently.  Cook it until it's golden brown and there is a hard crust and it's hallow inside when tapped.    Let it rest a bit before cutting it.

I wasn't sure it was going to work.  I didn't know if it was going to be uncooked inside but it totally worked.

My conclusion:  You Can Bake Bread at Home and save money and skip the preservatives.   Just plan your bread in advance and have a bit of patience.

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread in the house and the taste of bread right out of the oven still warm with butter slathered on top.

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