Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My First Homemade Bread

I made my first homemade bread yesterday, and boy am I proud of myself!  I'd been waiting for the humidity to go down, because I have heard you want a sunny day with low humidity for the bread to rise properly.  Well, yesterday was the first day to satisfy those conditions, and I was ready.  I had already selected a relatively basic Hearth Bread recipe from Landoll's Country Baking cookbook (an excellent book) so when the time was right I was good to go:)  I modified the recipe slightly by using bread flour instead of all purpose flour.

Here is the end result...looks good, doesn't it?  It tasted good too!
Country Hearth Bread

6 cups bread flour
2 packages dry yeast
2 cups water
2 tbls sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg white
2 tbls water

Stir together 2 cups of flour and the yeast
In a saucepan, heat water, sugar and salt until warm, 120 - 130 degrees.

Add the liquid ingredients to your flour/yeast mixture and beat until smooth. 

Gradually add the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.  I do not have a mixing bowl with a bread paddle, so I used my spatula and my hands, which worked just fine.

Turn onto a slightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 12 to 15 minutes.
I used the following technique, just because it was working for me, I didn't think to research 'how to knead'...first I made a long roll...
 ...folded it onto itself like this...
 ...and kneaded it into a roll again.  I did this for 12 minutes, when it looked quite smooth and felt stretchy.

This is the final dough. 

Cover dough and let rise 40 minutes...this was the start...
...this was at 40 minutes...while the lens is a little closer to the towel, you can still see how much it has risen...

...with the towel removed...compare this to the first loaf of dough, and you can again see how much it has risen...

Now you punch down the dough (this was fun!), punch all the air out of that lovely puff of dough...

Form into two loaves (I cut the dough in half, tri-folded each piece just as above, creating the seam).  Place them on a greased baking sheet, seam side down.  Make diagonal cuts along the top with a sharp knife. 

Beat together the egg and water and brush the tops of the loaves.  Then sprinkle cornmeal on top.

Let them rise to double in bulk, about 20 to 30 minutes.

I had originally put each loaf on its own baking sheet because I was afraid that when they doubled in size, they would not both fit on one pan.  But two pans would mean they would overlapped a little in the oven, making one tilt a bit, and I didn't like that idea either.  When they did rise, I transferred them onto the same baking sheet.  And they did fit.  I do believe however, this caused them to fall a bit; not enough to ruin the bread though!  Next time, I will start with them on the same baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven (I used 350) 45 - 50 minutes.  After 20 minutes of baking, brush the tops with hot water; brush with water every 10 minutes until done.  When I took the bread out for the first water brushing, I was surprised how brown they were, and how crispy the crust was already getting. 
When I took them out again 10 minutes later, they seemed done.  I did 2 "doneness" tests:
~ the thumb thump on the bottom (like you would a drum), if it sounds hollow, it is done, &
~ thermometer reading; at 190 degrees it is done (mine was reading over 200).
Definitely done!  Why they cooked so quickly, despite the lower temperature, is still a mystery to me, but I am really glad the recipe called for brushing with water, which forced me to keep a good eye on them!

And here they are, 2 lovely crispy crusted Hearth Bread loaves!

If you have never baked bread, I highly recommend it, at least once.  It was really not that difficult!  I can't wait for my next bread making adventure!  Do you have a favorite bread recipe you would like to share?

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

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