Monday, March 29, 2010

Let it Rise... or not.

I have been getting a lot of requests from friends and family for recipes lately. Some are looking to eat better, fresh foods, less packaged foods. Trying to cook from scratch. When Bruce and I first got married (okay, for the first years of our marriage) I could only cook something if it came in a box with directions on the back. And even then, the results were a iffy. My husband is a keeper - I don't think he complained once. :) It's been a long road, but I'm a pretty decent cook now.

I think Jack was a baby when I started baking bread. It was a simple goal: to make edible homemade bread. Nothing huge. Nothing fantastic like 'lose 20 lbs' or 'only eat local' or 'turn off the fridge' or 'learn to ride a unicycle'. Nope. I'm a simple girl. It was easy, too. I liked the slow pace, the patience. A little work now, wait a while, come back later, knead the dough, wait, come back, etc. I found it enjoyable.

Bread is simple. Water, flour, yeast, salt. Then I read the label on store bread. It must have 20+ ingredients! High fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and more. I couldn't believe it. That was really what got me started making my own food and buying less pre-packaged things. In Michael Pollan's popular book 'In Defense of Food' he suggests to read food labels and never eat anything with more than 5 ingredients. (It's a great book. If you're confused about food, the way to eat, what the right choices are, hope to shop. Read this. Seriously. It's fantastic. I can't say enough good things about it.)

Well, here it goes. These bread recipes are not my own. I've scavenged these from the internet and wrote them in my recipe book years ago. The original sources are lost (sorry), but it's bread. It's pretty basic. I'm not sure anyone can really claim it. ;) *if you plan on making a lot of bread, don't buy the packets, buy the jars.

NO-KNEAD FREE FORM LOAF BREAD (good for us lazy folk)
Makes 4 1-lb loaves (I makes 2 2-lb)

3 C lukewarm water
1.5 T granulated yeast
1.5 T sea salt
6.5 C unsifted, unbleached flour

1. Heat water to 100 degrees (I've never actually measured this, I just make sure it's warm)
2. Add yeast and salt to water in large bowl
3. Mix in flour - don't knead! the dough stays wet and conforms to container
4. Cover loosely (set a lit on top - don't use a screw top, it could explode from the trapped gases)

Refrigerate for at least 3 hrs before shaping (it can sit overnight).
You don't need to monitor the rising.

5. Sprinkle pan with cornmeal or spray with nonstick spray.
6. Sprinkle surface of dough with flour
-cut off section, gently stretch dough.
7. 20 minutes before baking preheat oven to 450 degrees F. with broiler tray on lower shelf.
8. Dust top of loaf with flour and slash with knife
9. Put in oven. Pour 1 C of hot water in broiler pan. Bake 30 min.
*bread will 'crackle' or 'sing' when done. put on rack to cool.
-extra dough can keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

I always makes this as 'Italian Herb Bread'. I mix up herbs - sea salt, pepper, rosemary, basil, garlic, oregano - in a small bowl and sprinkle it on the bread. I like to roll the dough in it so it gets evenly covered. Yum! Enjoy with real butter hot out of the oven.

I'll get the recipes for pita bread, hummus, pesto, crackers, chocolate zucchini cake (fabulous!), pizza dough, and more up in the coming weeks.


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