Daily Bread That's Too Easy  

Posted by Dave in

First things first. Get yourself some store bought ice cream in the big plastic 5 quart bucket with a nice resealable lid. Oh come on now, it won't kill you, you probably ate it all your life before you were "enlightened" and started to follow more sensible diet routines. Oh, go ahead and get one from a less enlightened neighbor or relative then if you must, because these buckets are just right for recycling and it won't matter if you ruin it. Anyway, back to the recipe...

In the (now empty) bucket mix (with a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or your hands)

  • 2TB yeast
  • 2TB honey
  • and 2 cups warm water
Put the lid on the bucket and wait about 5 minutes - you'll see foam starting as the yeast activates. By the way, I know that's a lot of yeast, so you can cut it back if you want, but I like to use whole wheat flour, and I also am usually pressed for time. Less yeast equals more time to rise, more yeast feeds my power trip in a most satisfying manner.

Now add about
  • 1 - 2 TB Salt (sea salt is nice here)
  • 4 -5 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
Mix the works with the spoon or spatula until it start coming together into a big lump, then oil your hands a bit (I like olive oil here) and knead it right in the bucket. As you knead, the dough will get stickier. That's OK. If it gets hard to handle, dip your hand in the flour and rub them together to loosen the stuck on dough, then dust a bit more into the bucket. Don't get it real dry, just enough to manage it.

After 5 or 10 minutes (or 3 if that's all you can stand)pick up the dough in one hand and rub a bit of oil around the inside of the bucket. Plop the dough back in, put the lid on, set in a warm place and wait about an hour. Because of all the extra yeast in the recipe, it is not quite as sensitive to temperature as many other recipes might be.

When the dough looks to have risen to about double its former size (maybe the time it take to go fetch the kids from their town activities), or when it tries to blow the top off of the bucket, oil your hands again and pull it out. Without working it much, gently shape it into two loaves, or a loaf and some rolls or whatever, and place on a greased baking sheet dusted with a little flour, and sit the whole works somewhere warm again. Its nice to cover it with some oiled plastic wrap or a well floured towel, but that seems like a lot of work, and this is supposed to be easy.

Preheat your oven to 450 F

Whatever you decide, let it sit until it has risen about double again, or as long as you can stand to wait then stick it in the oven for about 20 or 25 minutes. Don't judge it solely by color, it will vary. Rather when the time comes, pull one out and feel it for solidity and thump the bottom (hey this is a family blog). It will sound a bit hollow and crusty when it is done.

Don't be afraid to vary the ingredients, the methods or the times, and don't obsess about the measurements being precise. Make it work for you. Your only investment is the plastic tub and few ingredients, and you can toss the works with no shame. And consider, If you make this every couple of days as I do, you will be looked upon as some hero. Don't worry, I won't tell how easy it really was.

Some Variations to Get You Started:

Try mixing the works in your food processor. It will only have to knead for maybe 2 minutes, then you can still raise it in the ice cream bucket. Make sure your machine can handle the load though. If it slows or sounds labored, or if it smokes for gosh sakes, stop it!

Try add in a bit of sugar, say 2 TB, and making into rolls or maybe hot dog or burger buns. They will get a bit darker, but the taste is worth it. Plus you get to sneak a bit of whole wheat into your family.

Put a pie pan in the oven (on a lower rack) while it is preheating, when you put the bread into the oven, quickly pour a bit of hot water into the pie pan to make steam. It will help the bread to rise even more, and it can't hurt. Also it looks and sounds impressive.
A bit of oil added to the dough after mixing will add flavor and texture, but it will sometimes make it heavier.

If you store the bread on the counter or in a bread box it will stay crusty, if you put it in a lidded container, (like your bucket) or a recycled plastic bag, it will get and remain soft for several days.

Mix up a batch right now, get used to it, then experiment and have fun.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 7, 2008 at 1:57 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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