Seen as my “name” is Baking Nana I thought I would start off with a post about baking bread.
Yeast can be intimidating, but it does not have to be.
There are a lot of methods and types of bread but they all utilize the same basic ingredients.
Bread flour, yeast and water and a little practice is all is takes.
How simple is that?
OK – Not convinced, let me show you how easy it can be.
Like I said, you just have to have flour, yeast, salt and water.
I buy my yeast in bulk, hence the jar.
To cut costs I buy my unbleached bread flour in 25 lb bags. A 5 lb bag of flour is less than $3.00 so if you want to start on a smaller scale it is still very affordable.
Mix flour, salt, yeast and water together until it forms a shaggy mass
There is no need to knead the dough.
(Don’t you love the pun….)
Cover the bowl and let it sit – that is all – just let it sit, on the counter – ignore it.
The next day or whenever you get around to it….. dump it out.
I use a full sheet silpat baking mat – but any clean surface will do.
The dough is going to be very sticky so whatever surface you use, flour it well.
Gently pull the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter.
Fold the dough in thirds again so it looks like a rough square.
Gently turn the dough to make a round.
At this point, spray a 1/2 sheet or parchment paper with cooking spray and place the dough on it to rise for an hour or two, until doubled in size. Cover it with a floured cloth or sprayed plastic wrap.
Let rest and rise while you pre-heat your oven and baking vessel to 450.
Place into the oven a dutch oven or heavy lidded pot. I use a Le Creuset like this one.
Now this is where it can get tricky – the pan is really hot – use good potholders!
Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat proof surface.
Carefully plop the dough into the hot pan, cover with the hot lid and into the 450 oven for 20 minutes covered. Remove lid and bake an additional 20 – 30 minutes.
The internal temperature of the bread should be at least 200 degrees.
Place bread on a cooling rack, covered with a clean cotton towel for at least 20 minutes.
This rest / cooling time is important because the bread actually finishes cooking.
Slicing while too hot will make for a gooey smashed loaf of bread.
Slice and enjoy!