If you are not into making your own bread, why not start! It isn't nearly difficult as you many think and once you get started, it actually becomes fun. This Rustic White Bread Loaf Bread is a great one to go with soups and stews with the winter months ahead.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was in the habit of making bread. A lot of bread. Then, like so many things in life, it felt like a chore and I stopped. It just kind of drifted into the distance and almost didn't even become a memory. A lot of years passed like this with zero bread making. It just felt must easier to run down the road to the bakery and stock up on as much bread as I needed. And it's cheap to boot! Then one day this past spring, I decided to dust off that old bread pan and give it a whirl again. Guess what? It's become a habit again and I try my best it make it when I can. Try really being the opportune word here.
Does anyone remember those stress balls? It was almost like a ball of play dough but much harder and you could squeeze it till the cows came home to relive stress. Yea, well I was given one at Christmas in my stocking back in high school. I wore that thing out faster than it took the icicles to melt on the roof that year. High school is tough. As I am being reminded once again years later with a 15 year old in tow. Maybe she needs a stress ball in her stocking for Christmas.
My point is that making bread is a little like that. A great stress reliever. So, if there's a lot of bread making going on, I must be stressed. Well, hopefully not all time. Seriously though, there is something about kneading dough that is relaxing. Kind of like stroking a cat. I saw an article somewhere recently about how cat owners are far calmer than non cat owners. I didn't write the article, I just read it. If there is any truth to that theory, I must be 100% zen because I have four of the furry creatures. Ummmm.
So, between making bread and cat stroking, I am a sea of calm. I am laughing on the inside right now.
In any case, I seriously have been on the bread making wagon of late and I do love it. I have been trying out new recipes and revisiting some of the ones with cob webs growing over them. Some failures and some successes and it's all good.
This particular recipe was a hit with everyone in the house and I always call that a success. The kids loved it for toast and even sandwiches. The outside of the bread was a little crunchy and the inside dense enough but also a little airy. It really is a great bread and I have made it about half a dozen times to date. In fact, I have it filed in things to make this weekend.
If you are new to making bread, don't be scared off. Like I said earlier, it really isn't that difficult. It is always 100% successful? No. But what is really? I always say, it if it worth eating, it's worth putting the work in. Okay, not always, but when there's time.
Bread is one of those things that you learn as you go. It is a science but also a little creativity and you own personal touch goes a long way as well.
This is a pretty basic bread recipe and could be a good one to try if you are just starting out. The recipe is pretty straight forward and shouldn't cause too much stress.
If you look into the recipe below, you will see that I talk about rising times for the dough. This really does vary from time to time. It usually depends on how warm your room is that you have the dough resting in. In the summer I have no problems whatsoever making bread, but in the winter, I do put the dough next to a heater or the wood burner if it's going. I have had dough rise in as little as 20 minutes before. As well, I have had to wait as long as an hour and a half. So, you just have to watch it. A good rule of thumb is that the dough is ready when it has doubled in size.
Okay, time to get your bread making on. Have a great stress free day!
Rustic White Bread Loaf
Makes 2 loaves / Prep time: 20 minutes / Rise time: 2 hours / Bake time: 15 - 18 minutes
4 Cups/500 grams of strong bread making flour, a little extra for dusting
1 heaping tablespoon of dry active yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 Cup/115 ml of warm water
1 Cup/235ml of extra water
In a medium bowl, combine the warm water with the salt, sugar and yeast. Stir well and leave until it becomes active. This usually takes 5 minutes or so and you will notice it starts to foam when it is ready.
In a very large mixing bowl, add your flour. Make a well in the middle and when the yeast mixture it ready add it all at once. With your fingers, start pulling in the flour to the yeast mixture in the middle. Continue doing this until all the flour is incorporated into the yeast mixture. Now start to add the extra cup of water that you have. Add little bits at a time and knead as you go. You want to end up with a soft dough like consistency, not too sticky. So, you may or may not need all the water. Once you have incorporated all of the water and you have a dough like consistency, turn the dough out to a floured surface and stretch it out a little and fold it in on each other. Kind of like folding up and envelope or a sheet of paper. Turn it over and repeat these steps a few times. Continue to knead for a few more minutes until the dough is elastic and springs back when touched.
Form it into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm room to rise between 1/2 hour and one hour. It will double in size when ready.
With your risen ball of dough, gently punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface once again. Shape it into 2 long loaves. Do this by stretching one of the balls length ways and fold the dough into the middle. Continue doing this until you have a elongated dough roll. It should be about 10 inches long. Repeat for other dough ball. With a sharp knife score or make slits in the top of your dough. Place the loaves on a large greased baking tray. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm space. Again, this will take about 1/2 hour to one hour or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and place the rack in the middle of the oven. When bread is risen, place them in the oven and spray the oven with water. This creates steam with helps give them a crunchy outside texture. Bake the bread for about 15 minutes or until golden and sounds kind of hollow when tapped.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. These can be served straight away or put into zip lock bags and frozen for up to one month.
Click the downloadable link below to print recipe!
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