Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homemade Bread from Scratch... twice

When I first sat down to write this post a few days ago, my bread dough was supposed to be rising in a bowl on the counter covered with a damp towel. What I didn't know at the time was that it wasn't rising. At all. All it became was a nasty ball of sticky dough, which I still desperately tried to bake, which then turned into a rock hard bread-like brick. I was deflated. I had written half a blog post all about how easy is it to make homemade bread and how we should try and eat more homemade bread instead of the frozen crap we get from grocery stores and their bakeries (yes, the Walmart bakery doesn't actually make anything, instead they get giant boxes of frozen white hockey-puck-shaped balls of dough and throw those in the oven. Some of the breads are even pre-baked and brown and need only to be warmed up. Sigh.), but alas I had failed.

But I am not a quitter. I may have possibly killed my yeast, or maybe it was just a bad recipe. Today, I got a new recipe and tried again... and this was my reward:

This bread is amazing. So freaking good... dare I say the best bread I've ever had? Yes. Yes I do. All it needs its just a little pat of butter... my mouth is watering just thinking about it. So good. 

Also, another bonus: this bread requires NO KNEADING! None whatsoever. Plus it uses just simple all-purpose white flour. You can't beat that. 

No need to knead artisan bread:
Makes 4-1lb loaves
-3 cups lukewarm water
-1 1/2 tbsp yeast
-1 1/2 tbsp salt
-1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
-6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-sprinkling of cornmeal 

Mix lukewarm water, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl (I used my stand mixer, but a large bowl and a spatula with a little elbow grease will work just as well). Add flour all at once and stir until there are no dry patches left. The dough will be very wet, this is good- do not add more flour. Let it rise for 2 hours in a bowl with a lid at room temp. Do not use a glass bowl, or an airtight bowl or your bowl may break. I used my stand mixer bowl and taped some saran wrap over it, but a very large Tupperware bowl will work too, or something of the like. 

After about two hours it will have about doubled in size. At this point you can either refrigerate the rest to bake at a later date, for up to two weeks. Or you can take a quarter of the dough (about 1lb, the size of a large grapefruit), and continue on...

About an hour and a half before you want the bread to be finished, sprinkle some cornmeal onto a wooden cutting board, or pizza peel, or if you don't have anything else, the back of a cookie sheet. Take the 1lb ball of dough and form into a loaf by tucking the edges under the ball. It's hard to explain, but basically, you want even smooth-ish sides. You probably will want to put flour on your hands for this. Let rise for half an hour. 

Put either a baking stone, or a baking sheet in your cold oven on one rack, and on the other rack but an empty METAL baking dish on the lower rack. Do not use glass or ceramic. I'll explain why later. Now, preheat your oven to 450*, leaving the dishes in there to preheat for at least 20 minutes. I left them in there for 30 mins. so the bread was ready to bake at the same time as the oven. 

Once the oven is preheated and the bread has risen/ it is slightly dry to the touch, take a serrated knife and slash a simple design onto the top of the loaf (tic-tac-toe, or just parallel slashes). I did this, but I just don't have a talent for it and it disappeared while baking, but that's okay, it tastes/feels the same. Slide parchment paper on to baking sheet, and then the loaf. Add one cup of water to the other baking dish on the bottom rack- be careful of splashes/steam. The steam will help create a beautiful crust. Close oven door and bake for 30 mins. Cool on wire rack until it's no longer very warm to touch. 

The dough rising on the cornmeal on a wooden cutting board

 Fresh from the oven- I literally giggled with glee when I saw how awesome it came out.
 It was a major victory for me

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Now to why you shouldn't use a glass or ceramic baking dish for the water... 

This is very cracked and those dots are water that burned to it. A metal baking dish would have been much better. This happens because the water is at a much lower temp than the dish. It's called thermoshock. However you need to preheat the dish to create the steam regardless, so I'd just suggest a metal dish. Oh well, I'll know better for next time. BTW this was a Corelle dish, so it was by no means a cheap wimpy ceramic- SO JUST DON'T DO IT!

Here's a glimpse at my first failed attempt:

Comment Questions:
1.What's your favourite type of bread? White? Baguettes? Fougasse?
2. Have you ever tried to make homemade bread? How'd it turn out?


  1. Mmmm homemade bread. Best bread ever.

  2. It looks wonderful.I followed you from the foodie blog roll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this Bread widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about making bread,Thanks!

  3. Sure, that's no problem! I'd love if you could help me get more followers- thanks!

  4. Looks fantastic and I'm going to try this! I haven't made home made bread without a bread maker yet but I have been creating my own recipes with my bread maker instead of using mixes, and I'm ready to move on to the "real thing"!

  5. @krystal: You should definetely try it! This recipe is much simpler than any other ive seen, and it tastes soo good! Take the plunge! Its worth it!

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