Baking bread from home has been growing in popularity around the globe during this time of great pause. It is an age old tradition that aside from growing your own grain and using rocks to grind it, hasn’t changed all that much over the years. The ingredients are simple, healthy and inexpensive. Nothing quite compares to the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven. If you haven’t yet given bread baking a try, it’s easier than it looks and the taste of homemade bread is well worth the experiment and the wait!
Baking bread has become the new normal in our house. We have even created quite the routine. Ava helps me in the evening prepare the sourdough starter and mix our sandwich bread to sit overnight. Lily has become the official ‘artisan crusty bread’ maker. We have done plenty of experimenting with a variety of recipes from books and online. Not all our bread making has been a success. We’ve made some beautiful looking sandwich breads that have unfortunately crumbled into pieces when we cut them! We also made some pretty hideous looking bagels, but fortunately they didn’t taste as bad as they looked! It truly has been trial and error, but thankfully we have found some wonderful bread recipes that we are sticking too and thought we’d share with those who are tempted to give it a try!
Our favorite and easiest artisan style crusty bread recipe comes from a website I stumbled upon in my bread making searches. This recipe is from a site called Jenny Can Cook. She has a lot of easy recipes and videos that are helpful. For the 3 Cups flour we usually use 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat. Also, just a note about the water tempature – don’t get scared off if you don’t have a thermometer to test your water temp. We don’t have one, but we have been just fine with a water temp that is warmer than luke warm and just under boiling.
No Knead Crusty Bread
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (aerate flour before measuring)
- 1/4 teaspoon yeast, active dry or instant (1 g)
- 1 teaspoon salt (6 g)
- 1 1/2 cups hot water, not boiling (354 mL) – I use hot tap water – about 125-130° F
- (about 2 Tablespoons extra flour for shaping)
- Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir in water until it’s well combined.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours dough will become puffy and dotted with bubbles. Transfer it to a well-floured surface and sprinkle dough with a little flour. Using a scraper fold dough over 10-12 times & shape into a rough ball.
- Place in a parchment paper-lined bowl (not wax paper) and cover with a towel. Let stand on counter top for about 35 minutes.
- Meantime place Dutch oven with lid in a cold oven and preheat to 450° F. My oven takes 35 minutes to reach 450°.
- When oven reaches 450° carefully, using oven gloves, lift the parchment paper and dough from the bowl and place gently into the hot pot. (parchment paper goes in the pot too) Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove lid and parchment paper. Return, uncovered, to oven and bake 10 – 15 more minutes. Let it cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Kid Chef Bakes, has been a true gift during the slower pace we now have at home. Nanna’s seem to know just what to send when you’re dealing with a pandemic! The kids and I have baked a lot of recipes from this book and they have all turned out great! The recipes are easy to follow and most ingredients seem to be things you’d have in your pantry. Our favorite bread recipe from this book is the focaccia bread. We make it at least once a week and it’s eaten right up.
For the Bread:
- 1 Cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 (1/4 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon table salt
For the Topping
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or dried Italian herb mix
- Stir together the warm water, sugar and yeast, then let it sit for about 5 minutes
- Add 3 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl. Mix until well blended. (We do this by hand). Add more flour as needed, a little at a time, until a dough forms. Continue kneading for about 4 to 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the dough, turn to coat, cover with a dish towel and place in a warm, dark, draft-free place to double in size, about 2 hour.
- Generously grease the baking sheet with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the dough out into a long oblong shape about 1/2 inch thick. Cover loosely with a dampened dish towel or plastic wrap and return to a warm, dark, draft-free place for 15 to 20 minutes to rest and rise slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place the oven rack at the lowest level.
- Remove the towel from dough and using your fingertips, gently push down on the dough to leave slight dimples. Brush 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the dough. Lay the onion slices on top. Sprinkle the cheese, garlic 1/2 teaspoon of salt (we love course salt), black pepper and the rosemary and/or Italian seasoning.
- Bake on the lowest oven rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Another great bread recipe from the Kid Chef Bakes book is the pizza dough. Very basic, easy pizza dough recipe that rolls out well and tastes great. Leo has been very excited about making pizza often and is a big help in the kitchen these days. I think it takes a great man to learn his way around the kitchen – so I’m very proud of my little guy and his interest in learning to cook and bake! If you haven’t ever made pizza dough from scratch, this recipe is for you! Buon Appetite!
Homemade Pizza Dough
- 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided flour for dusting the work surface
- In a large bowl, add 2 3/4 cups of flour and the yeast, sugar and salt.
- Add the water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl. Mix until the dough forms a soft ball. Mix in additional flour as needed.
- Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic 6 to 8 minutes.
- Grease a large bowl with the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the dough, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap of a dish towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to double in size, about 1 hour.
- To transform the crust into a pizza, roll out the crust thinly on a floured surface, transfer to a greased baking sheet, then top with desired toppings. Bake at 400 degrees until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. (I usually put my pizza crust in the oven for about 5 minutes while it is warming up to start to bake the dough. I then take it out and add the toppings and put it back in for another 5 plus minutes until crust looks a little golden and cheese has melted).
We also continue to make sourdough sandwich bread every other night from a very basic no knead bread recipe. We use a sourdough starter for this one. If you haven’t yet explored making and maintaining your own sourdough starter it is actually less intimidating than it sounds once you get the hang of it. Our original starter developed a pretty funky smell, so I tossed it out and started a new one. I read more about maintaining your starter and so far so good.
Basic No Knead Sandwich Bread:
(Do this before bed)
Mix 3c flour (I use 1c WW and 2c Bread flour), 1tsp salt, 1.5c water and 1/4c starter (which I stir into the water first). Cover the bowl and leave in a warm spot overnight.
In the morning, knock it back and let it rise for 60min, then knock it back again, shape and put in greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise to almost cresting the pan, but not quite…about 20-30min depending on how warm the space is. I do it in the oven with the light on.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425F, flour the top of the loaf and snip to score (I go lengthwise, but you can do a few short diagonal ones, too) and put pan in over COVERED! You can use another loaf pan (I do this) or make a foil tent, but give the bread room to grow. Bake 20min, then uncover for 10min.
Here’s to Making Some Memories – Nourishing the Heart & Soul – Enjoy!