I am Portuguese.
That means that I probably talk too loud, have a lot of excess energy and my relatives include “cousins” that have no blood relation but whose families came over the Atlantic on the same boast as my family.
It also means I love bread.
Like … bread and butter is the ultimate comfort food, especially when the bread is still warm, the butter has melted and it is accompanied by good conversation and great coffee.
Sometimes the conversation need not be there at all.
Just the bread and butter.
Sometimes with goat’s cheese. Oh yum …
But bread, it is always thought, is super hard to make. There’s the temperature thing, the whole lot about rising dought and worse, waiting for the rising to dough to double and then the whole bakign things – and how is it that you know it’s cooked through? And what is this kneading thing? It looks like your grandma is punching the dough like a punching bag – she even looks angry (though when you point this out, she looks confused than laughs at you because you’re silly.)? Oh goodness, the sheer overwhelming steps of it all – maybe we can go artisan, grab a loaf of that hardened looking dusty braided bread stuff at the grocers and pretend it’s homemade? I mean, we can stick it in the oven just before company arrives – they’ll never know that these baguettes were store bought!
I was one of those.
I looked at bread and thought “Nope – not happening.”
I mean seriously, why go to all the trouble when Dempsters has ready made loaves waiting on the shelves for you?
Oh yeah, because it tastes better.
And it isn’t that hard once you break it down.
Let me show you:
Bread is not easy – nothing in life is easy though, except getting taxes. That’s pretty easy. Ugh.
It is easier than you think.
The internet is rife with simple bread recipes – instructions for no-knead bread, baguettes, challahs and peasant breads, as well as seed breads, gluten free alternatives and even things like fried or candied bread. The novice bread maker may have some trouble figuring out what’s for her or him – I mean, how do you know if a crock-pot bread is good unless you try it out, right?
So let’s start simple – a quick French bread that will balloon in the oven just so, and be easy to cut into slabs for sandwiches or weekend french toast.
You will need:
- 3 1/2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 c. warm (but not hot!) water
- 1/4 c. sugar
- generous pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 egg white, slightly beaten
This is a quick bread, so you start off by taking half your flour and mixing it with all the other ingredients (don’t over mix!) and then letting it sit in a relatively warm place for an hour. I usually cover my bowl with a damp tea cloth.
Uncover, sift in the rest of your flour slowly and knead dough into a sticky ball, then cover it with that damp cloth and let it alone for another 30 min.
Shape into a sort of oblong rectangle and place onto a greased cookie sheet.
Slit the top with a good knife or scissors – for that French look do so diagonally.
Brush over the top of the dough with the egg white and set the oven to 375F. Let the dough sit for 8-10 minutes.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 10.
Slice it up and lather on the butter! Enjoy!
This bread takes about 2 hours or so when all is said and done and it comes out with a crispy crust and soft inside. It’s perfect for sandwiches, and we made grilled cheese (with brie and turkey), nutella and ricotta and figgy jam sandwiches for ourselves.
- Make sure the water is warm, but not hot – we want to activate the yeast not kill it
- Knead only until the dough comes together as a sticky ball – over kneading will lead to a tough bread
- Can be gluten free – the ratio is generally 1:1, GF flour to regular flour, and there are some great GF flours out there!
- I made this into a rectangle, but little boules or a series of little rectangular (like subs) bread might be a good go too.
Feeling better about bread? I am just hungry it seems …
Well, leave your questions if you have any and have a wonderful time making your own bread!