Donna- “I’d like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Peggy Calhoun for her article on bread baking. She presented this in such a way that even a true beginner could bake a loaf of bread. Her pictures will make your mouth water.”
Author – Peggy Calhoun
I was inspired to make bread when my favorite little bakery went out of business. They made the most wonderful tomato basil baguettes and asiago cheese bread.
I was bound and determined to make my own bread for over a five year period with no luck. This bread baking was just too complicated…or was it?
Finally, a friend suggested it was about the easiest thing you could do in the kitchen. Just toss all your ingredients into a bowl, stir it up, knead it, let it rise, punch it down and shape, let it rise again and bake.
Here is my basic recipe which is easily altered. This may not be the correct way, but we like it and this is what we eat!
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 TBSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 TBSP active dry yeast
1 TBSP steel cut oats (for baking sheet or pans)
non-stick baking spray
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, water and yeast. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too sticky add more flour. If dough is too dry add more water.
On a lightly flour dusted board, knead dough 7-10 minutes. Use the heel of your hand to squish, push forward, and fold. Rotate the dough and repeat squish, push forward, and fold. The dough will change in texture and become smooth. Shape into a ball form, and return to bowl. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes until doubled in size.
Punch dough down with your fist and shape. This recipe will make two baguettes, two loaf pans, one round or football shaped, or one batch of dinner rolls.
Prepare your baking sheet with baking spray and 1 TBSP steel cut oats sprinkled on it (this will give a nutty flavor and coating to bottom). Place loaves on baking sheet or in loaf pans, let rise another 45 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use a very sharp knife or blade to make four diagonal scores on top about 2″ apart. Bake 25-27 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, brush tops with melted butter. Bread should be brown and crusty, sounding hollow inside when tapped with finger. During baking, if your bread smells like it is burning, do not be alarmed. This smell is your steel cut oats toasting. Do not open oven door while baking as you will get a sudden drop in temperature. Remove bread to cooling racks when done baking.
Tomato Basil Baguettes: Add 3 TBSP tomato puree and 1 TBSP fresh basil, finely chopped or 2 tsp dry basil. Shape into two baguettes. Cook side by side on baking sheet.