So, I wanted to use up those four pounds of flour lurking in my cabinet as part of the Week of Eating In. Ambitious me decided that the best way to use it all up (without getting fat on cake) was to make bread. I mean, how hard could bread be? Its ingredients are fairly simple, after all: flour, salt, sugar, egg, yeast, water, oil.
I found a recipe (below) and I followed all instructions to a tee (which is a feat for me. Usually I dump everything in a bowl and then find out later that you need to “gradually mix in…”) and when the two loaves came out of the oven, oh, were they gorgeous. I triumphantly cut myself a warm piece. The texture was perfect. The shell cracked open and I was filled with memories of buying a fresh loaf of bread right from a Parisian bakery and laying on a picnic blanket by the Seine with friends to enjoy it. The way the soft inside pulled apart, it could have been in a Pillsbury commercial.
But here’s the thing – I couldn’t actually taste anything. My nose was still stuffed up, so as much as I savored it in my mouth, all I could say for sure was that the texture was really pleasing.
The next morning I cut a piece for Vicki and had her try it. She took a bite, chewing slowly. “Well?” I asked.
“It’s…. a little bit yeasty?” She ventured. A grin spread across her face, which – with Vicki – isn’t always a good sign. Often it means she has something not so great to say and is trying to couch it in humor. She tried to nonchalantly tear off a sheet of paper towel and wander away, but I saw as she turned away from me bent her head.
“Did you just spit it out???” I said.
I’m sorry! I just can’t stand the taste of yeast.”
Now that my nose has cleared up, I have to agree with poor Vicki. It is a bit yeasty. In fact, it’s not delicious at all. Vicki, who makes challah with her kids every week at the Jewish nursery school where she works, suggested I put the yeast in the warm water first to let it rise a bit before adding it to the flour. But what do you think?
Do you bake bread? Can you give me some tips? You can find the recipe here.
Actually, you know what? I’ll just put the recipe, from Learning to Live the Simple Life, right here for you. Thoughts?
The recipe I used is from my Betty Crocker’s cookbook.
Prep: 25 minutes; Proof: 3 Hours; Bake: 30 minutes; Makes 2 loaves, 12 slices each
3 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast
1 cup very warm water (120 – 130 degrees)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cold water
1. Mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minutes; scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scarping bowl frequently. Stir in remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
2. Place dough in greased bowl and turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until double. (Rising time is longer than times for traditional breads, which gives the typical French bread texture). Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched
3. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening; sprinkle with cornmeal
4. Punch dough dough and divide in half. Roll each half into rectangle, 15×8 inches, on lightly floured surface. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll and seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.
5. Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until double.
6. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle poppy or sesame seed.
7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Comments welcome! I want to get better at this. After all, I have three more pounds of flour to use…