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Posts tagged “yeast bread

A saturday in the kitchen : French Bread.

Saturday was quite lovely, the sun was shining out and for the first time in quite a while, it was real California weather. I had no plans, and while thinking about what I was to spend my day doing I realized I hadn’t made bread in at least a month and a half…this was far too long for a baker! I got out the “American Cooking” cook book and decided to make French bread. French bread is so much fun to make, so simple! Six ingredients and that is it.

Here is the recipe I used :

   

The recipe is pretty simple, you start by dissolving the yeast in warm water (around 105-115) no warmer no cooler! You don’t want to kill the yeast but you need it to activate. Then you add the sugar and (I personally always wait to add the salt till I start adding the last of the flour) just because salt can kill yeast and I’m paranoid…I have found that with this recipe 4 cups of flour works much better than 4 1/2 cups. With this recipe you don’t knead the dough before letting it rise or put the dough in a clean greased bowl to rise, you leave the dough in the original bowl. Before I leave my dough to rise in the microwave (that’s just where I’ve always let mine rise) I always let the microwave run for two minutes and then put the dough in, this helps the dough rise faster and in most cases cuts the rising time in half! 

before

after 🙂

 

 

After the dough has risen get a large cutting board or clean surface and lightly flour it, then cut the dough in half and take on half and start rolling it out to a rectangle at the shape of 10 inches by 14.

Then start rolling the dough from the broadest side and pinch the dough together, then start shaping the dough in to an 18 inch long loaf  and place on a prepared pan that is greased and lightly covered with corn meal. Repeat with the next piece of dough. Take a knife and slash the bread four times.

 Then cover the dough with a towel and let rise in a warm spot till doubled in size. After the dough has risen again and is finally ready to be baked pre heat the oven to 425 and lightly brush the loaves with ice water. When the oven is ready bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 325, brush with ice water again and let finish baking for 40 minutes. When the bread is done it will be golden, and when tapped on the bottom it will sound hallow. Make sure that the bread is spread out far enough away from each other so that the heat can circulate other wise the bread will bake on top but not on the sides or very middle. When the bread is finished let cool for about 10 minutes and then dig in! This bread is awesome, I made three small loaves and gave two away to my neighbors.

I hope you all have an awesome Monday and amazing week!! 🙂

beautiful

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An adventure in making Challah (bread)

Yesterday I had the entire day free so I decided I would try making a new bread…simple enough right? noooo! Challah bread was a challenge! Not making the dough but braiding the dough. I have made pretzels a million times and bread with twisted tops but never something like this.

Now I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the braiding quite right but I’m okay with that, it was my first time and learning how to braid the bread was sorta frustrating (I had a little breakdown haha) so I’m just glad it came out looking that good.  When the bread was finally done I grabbed a giant slice, this was the best bread I had ever made!! Everyone needs to make this bread at least once because it is gorgeous! So here is the recipe  🙂

I got the recipe from my Grandma’s cookbook “Essentials of Baking”

for this recipe you will need:

  • 2 packages of active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup warm water (around 110-115)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs and 1 for the glaze
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • poppy seeds if you want

Start by dissolving the yeast in warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of flour, salt, and the butter  until the dough comes together. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic (you can pull the dough without it breaking off and everything’s worked in) around 7 minutes. Do not add to much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 2 hours until its doubled in size (I always let my dough rise in the microwave).

at the beginning

2 hours later

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, punch down the dough and roll out on to a clean work surface (don’t flour the surface, you’ll want to but it’s not needed trust me 🙂 )

To make the 4 strand braid’s, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces with a sharp knife

 and using your palms start in the center and working outward, elongate 1 piece by rolling it gently against the work surface with even pressure until you have formed a rope as long as the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces. And this is where it gets difficult..

Line up the 4 strands in front of you horizontally, Cross the strand farthest from you across the other 3 strands so that it is now nearest you. Then cross the strand that is now next to it across the other 2 strands away from you. Position the outside strands so that they are away from the center ones and position the center 2 strands perfectly horizontal. Bring the strand nearest you down between the 2 horizontal strands. Bring the strand farthest from you up and across the opposite side. Again, bring the strand farthest from you down between the 2 straight strands. Bring the strand nearest you up and across to the opposite side. Starting from the strand nearest you, repeat the braiding until you reach the ends of the ropes. Pinch them together and at the bottom and tuck the strands under at the ends.

Place the braided loaf on the prepared pan and cover and let rise again for about an hour until it doubles in size, and is spongy to touch.

Preheat the oven to 350 and brush the bread with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the seeds,

ready for the oven

bake the braid until it is nicely brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. After 30-35 minutes take out let cool on a wire rack..wait about 15 minutes before cutting in so your bread doesnt dry up.

Before I tucked the strands under the loaf I cut off some excess and used it to make some knots that came out beautifully after 25 minutes in a 350 oven.

If your bread does start to brown and get dark too early just cover it loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking…I had to do  this with mine.

🙂 I hope you all continue to have an awesome week!!