Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Quest For Homemade Bread

I am an amazing cook and baker but when it comes to bread I fail miserably. I have no idea why but as far back as I can remember if a recipe calls for yeast and tons of waiting around for dough to rise then I end up with a bread brick. For all other baked goods I am the master. It might have something to do with my lack of patience or my hatred of yeast, I am not sure but my quest for homemade bread is not going well. 
I decided to use a bread mix the other day hoping that its helpful suggestions and corner cutting would end this bad luck. As my college students often say, it was an "epic fail". I followed the directions but the darn dough would not rise. In the end I had yet another bread brick. 
I am considering a bread machine or perhaps a recipe with out yeast or watching a bread guru. If you have any helpful suggestions about how I can overcome this issue it would be a great help!

Don't forget that you have until noon today PST to enter the organic giveaway!


  1. Anya, before I give one of my favorite recipes, let me ask you how exactly are you treating the yeast? If your breads come out hard you are maybe putting more yeast? I usually put yeas and some lukewarm water and a pinch of sugar in a cup, let it rise for about 15 minutes and then add it to the flour, no matter what the recipe calls for. And you should mix it with a wooden spoon, that is obligatory.

    But now, off to the recipe, have you heard of No-Knead Bread? I love to bake and my breads come out awesome BUT I am in love with this recipe, not only because it doesn't require kneading, but because it comes out really tasty and reminds me of my childhood.

    Try it out and I guarantee you that you will be successful at last!

    * 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping dough (430 gr)
    * 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (such as Fleischmann's RapidRise brand)
    * 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste (1 tbs)
    * 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons tepid water (345 gr.)
    * Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

    In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.

    Turn dough out on a lightly floured work surface; sprinkle dough with a little more flour, and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

    Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously dust a cotton (not terry cloth) kitchen towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another kitchen towel and let rise for 2 to 3 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

    Here is a video: http://youtu.be/13Ah9ES2yTU

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks! I will give it a try this week and let you know how it goes!

  3. Anya, I have forgotten the last part of the recipe, here it is:
    At least 30 minutes before dough is ready, preheat oven to 230 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic; anywhere from 31/2 quarts to 6 or 8 quarts) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that's OK. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is nicely browned. Cool on a rack.

    Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, New York City

  4. Totally relate with this one. I LOVE homemade bread and yet making it tends to make my blood pressure rise each time as I'm afraid "will it rise?" Never know. If you find a true winner let me know! I have tried several recipes on allrecipes.com that have been successful once or twice. Let me know if you want me to pass them along.

    Also, am new follower from the hop! Hope you'll visit me at Considering The Fields! Have a great day!