Country Bread

I have wanted to do try my hand at homemade bread for SO long, and like most things you put off for a long time, I found there was nothing to be scared of at all. Don't believe the hype, baking bread is actually really simple and easy. At least this recipe is. There is no labourious kneading or special equipment required, just a few extra pantry items and a lot of waiting while the yeast does it's thing. I got the recipe from Carla, which I've reproduced below, but be sure to head over to Carla's blog before you start baking, as she has great pictures and notes of the entire process.

That being said, I have a few notes of my own. I should warn you that my bread didn't rise nearly as much as Carla's did. As you can see from her pictures, her bread was overflowing out of the pan and onto the counter, whereas mine had barely reached the top of the pan! After much worrying, Googling and texting, we decided that it was because my kitchen is pretty cold. I moved the bowl to a warmer spot and then went shopping. Haha! I basically let it sit for an additional 3 hours – it rose a little more, about an inch above the pan, but at this point I was tired of waiting, so threw it in the oven, and it came out beautifully. Again, no need to worry. I've since discovered a much better proofing method whereby you warm your oven up to about 200 degrees, then turn it off and insert your bread bowl with a damp tea towel covering it. Works like a charm.

This is a dense, hearty bread that goes great with any dish that needs "sopping up". We've used it to clean our bowls of clam chowder, stew and pasta, and enjoyed every last bite. We've made this bread twice and Mike had the great idea of topping one loaf with an egg and herb mixture before popping it in the oven, which added amazing flavour (see last photo). And, you know, nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread floating through your house. We're in the home stretch of winter here, and this is the kind of comfort food we need to get us through it!

Country Bread
via Chef Michael Smith

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup any multigrain mix (I used Red River cereal)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups warm water

In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients together, evenly distributing the salt and yeast throughout the flour. Pour in the warm water and stir with the handle of a wooden spoon until a moist dough forms. Continue stirring until the dough incorporates all the loose flour in the bowl, 1 or 2 minutes in total. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 18 hours. The dough will double in size and bubble (don’t worry if you don’t see this happening – I didn’t notice a difference in the dough until the 18 hours were up), and long elastic gluten strands will form without laborious kneading.

Knock the dough down and toss it with a splash of vegetable oil, evenly coating the dough ball. Form it into a 9- x 5-inch (2 L) loaf pan and, without covering, rest it a second time. In 2 to 3 hours it will double in size once more.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). When the dough is ready, bake for 45 minutes. (This will result in a crunchy crust. If you prefer your bread softer, bake at 400 for about 35-40 minutes.)


De Facto Redhead said...

Go, bread!!!!

Jill said...

I'm not a breadmaker either - Carla says I have to try it - someday.....until then I'll wait for her to make some more...