So, it is cold outside. Like, really cold outside. Freeze-the-balls-off-a-brass-monkey cold.
When I am cold, and trust me it isn't often, I want stew or soup with fresh bread. I want the house to smell all cozy and stuff my face with bready goodness.
I am awful picky about bread. (To be honest I am picky about anything I put in my pie hole...and yes I am thinking about what you think I am thinking about) I don't really care how is looks per se, but I care about several things:
1-Chewy and kinda crusty on the outside, but not overdone like some of these artisan breads, or what some bakeries pass off as artisan breads. Making it like concrete and only about half mixed does not an artisan loaf make.
2- Soft, light and fluffy on the inside. I like farm breads and all but I can't get past the feeling you swallowed a brick after eating it.
3- It has to smell like bread dammit!
So I messed about with several recipes, as I always do, and found many issues with the stuff out there. I had a hell of a time trying to find one that would satisfy all three. I found one recipe where the texture was PERFECT, and the taste was assertive but not bad. It just smelled like rotting feet when you cooked it.
I think I have something that resembles French Baguette. And here is a picture of George Takei with a baguette in his lap because I needed something totally random.
|Courtesy of www.baguettemenots.com|
2 cups water at approx 110
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
By now you all should know the drill. Mix these three things up, and wait for the yeast to make yeasty fart foam on top of the water. If it doesn't do this you have probably either used dead yeast, water was too cold, or water was too hot so you killed the yeast
|Yeast fart foam. Nuff said.|
5 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tsp sea salt or non-iodized salt
This may seem a little strange, but for whatever reason the iodized salt leaves a weird taste. I like the sea salt better, and it doesn't have to be fancy. I use cheap stuff. No need for weird volcanic pink or black salts. You're making bread. To eat. No one cares what color your salt is. (I never understood those anyway. People will make anything into a big deal. Weirdos.)
Mix this up with the dough hook.
You then put this in a greased bowl, someplace warm until it doubles in size.
|Please ignore my diet coke in the background.|
I don't think these pics thru when I take them.
After you have done the second rise, plop this on a lightly floured surface. Then cut this in half. If you look closely you see the dough is smooth textured now, more like pizza dough would be.
Now roll out half the dough into something that loosely resembles a rectangle. If there are some holes in this, that is fine. This isn't like a pie crust where anything is going to spill out of the dough.
Now roll it up as tightly as you can. This is where I have to remind myself that it isn't about how it looks, it is about how it tastes.
Now let them rise...again...while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You probably should cover these with a towel or something so they don't dry out.
|This shitty picture brought to you by|
a person with floury hands, and a filthy oven.
|Another shot of my inability to clean my damn oven.|
I threw the loaves on the pizza stone for a few minutes to harden up the bottom. It really only needs a minute or two or it will burn the bottom. If you don't do this, you will not be taunted by John Cleese or anything. I have the stone so I use it.
|Cutting board courtesy of my German cabinet maker.|
What is SOOPER awesome about this bread is that the moment you can touch it, you can eat it. It is way better fresh and warm.
So there ya go. You can now stuff your face with bready goodness too on a cold day with a bowl of Potato Soup or chili or something.
|Courtesy of IMDb|