Saturday, November 6, 2010

4-3-2-1 Bread

If your only experience with yeast is brewing beer, you're missing the point. Yeast is one of the greatest gifts on this planet. Wine, Beer, Rum, Whiskey... Bread. All of these things do not exist without yeast. Man alone can not create alcohol... and in this post, man alone cannot create good bread without yeast.

After a recent trip to {warehouse store of your choice}, the wife picked up a 50lbs bag of flour for less than $12. I know what you're thinking, "50lbs of flour, I'll never go through that!". Yes you will, as honestly this is my second bag.

I did a lot of elaborate recipes at first; pizza doughs, cinnamon rolls, artisan herb breads, croissants (be prepared for 2 days work). At the end of the day, I wanted to create a stable, easy to make, and easy to remember recipe for a damn good bread. Behold.

You'll need 1 9x5 loaf pan, some non-stick spray (or some oil and a paper towel to grease said pan), and the following in a mixing bowl;

4 - Cups Flour
3 - Tsp Sugar
2 - Tsp Yeast (* A Fleischmann's ActiveDry 4oz jar is cheap)
1 - Tbsp Kosher Salt

* - Believe it or not, you can brew with this in a pinch. No, your beer won't come out tasting like bread. It's a good backup when a starter goes bad.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of warm water into a well in the flour and place in your electic mixer until all has come to a sticky dough (you can do by hand if you don't have a stand mixer, no big whoop).

Once incorporated, lightly flour a clean surface and kneed dough a few times until smooth. Its not rocket surgery, just flatten and fold over half a dozen times.

Place dough into the greased loaf pan and place in a warm place until the dough has risen to the level you are satisfied with (hour or two). Bread (yeast based) will not rise anymore than it has already risen when placed into an oven. That process would require baking powder and that is another post that you can find on another blog. So, the state that it is in when you put it in the oven is the state it will be in when it comes out (more less).

Once you are satisfied with the rise, preheat your oven to 350 (325 for convection). If desired brush on an egg wash (1 egg & 1tsp water), sprinkle on some sesame seeds, and toss the loaf into the fire.

Wait 25-30 minutes until nicely browned and remove to cool. A suggestion, as hard as it may be, wait until the loaf pan has completely cooled to the touch to remove, it just works easier that way. Then again, like early beer, do whatever you want. Its bread at this point right?

Well, my rambling aside, I hope you find this recipe for a damn good bread to be as easy and delicious as I do. Sometimes things don't need to be so difficult to be rewarding. Like brewing, the more bread you bake, the more familiar you'll become with how the fermentation process works, and hopefully something tasty to satisfy those late night munchies after enjoying some good homebrew.