I have been watching recipes for bread for a long time. My mother used to make homemade bread all the time, so I grew up with something that spoiled me. Now that I am older, I have been trying to figure out how to do it more easily. Below is my first experiment.
The book that contains the unmodified recipe is The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg. It has some great ideas and recipes but I hadn’t tried anything until this week. The recipe doubles as a quick bread recipe as well as amake-ahead recipe (not as fun as giving brownies in a jar as gifts, but there is some potential).
You Will Need
- Glass jar (like a Mason jar) and lid if you with to make ahead
- Parchment paper
- Baking stone, cast iron skillet, or bread pan
Make this ahead and store in a glass jar if you wish to have it ready for making or give as a gift:
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose or bread flour
- 2 t active quick rising dry yeast
- 2 t salt
- Optional – 1-2 T vital wheat gluten. This is added to give the loaf smaller bubbles and a firmer feel, or what they call crumb. I use this in all my homemade bread so added this. Your bread may look different than the picture below if you choose not to use it, but it will not change the flavor..
Add the following when you are ready to make bread. Put the dry ingredients or dump your mix into a large bowl and add the following:
- 1 ¼ cups warm water
- 1 T of raw apple cider vinegar.
- Mix the wet ingredients until all the dry ingredients are gone. This is only one loaf so you can mix by hand without having to involve a mixer for less clean up.
- Place in a warm location and cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rise 1½ hours (window sill, warm oven, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees If you wish to use a baking stone to bake your bread, heat it up as well.
- Punch down the dough and remove it from the bowl. Using your hands, pull the sides of the dough down and to the bottom until you have a round loaf. Place on a piece of parchment.
- Baking methods. All work well, but the baking stone and cast iron skillet give the bread more of a rustic look. If you want it to look like a traditional loaf, use the bread pan.
- Use a baking stone (any of the larger sizes will work).
- Use a large cast iron skillet (this is the method I tried as I use my pan for deep-dish pizza regularly. I did pre-heat the pan like was recommended for the stone, but think I would not do it that way next time).
- Use a bread pan.
- Let the dough rest 40 minutes.
- Just before baking, cut the top three times with a knife along the loaf, then dust the top of the dough with flour.
- Transfer the dough using the parchment onto the baking stone/cast iron pan/bread pan.
- Bake for 24-30 minutes (your oven and personal taste will dictate this. I used 25 minutes the first time and that was fine for me).
- Carefully remove the parchment paper from under the hot loaf. I have found if you wait for the loaf to fully cool the bread may harden around some of the paper, making removal challenging.
- Now, you are supposed to let bread cool before you cut into it, but come one, who can wait if there is butter near by?
Here is what the bread looks like after coming out of the oven. As I used the cast iron skillet, it tended to spread wider than it would have in a bread pan. A stone would do the same thing. Very rustic looking, for sure.
Here is a picture of what the inside of the loaf looks like.
The bread has a good taste. I was thinking the apple cider vinegar might give it a sourdough-like taste, but it did not. I have found it good for toast and plan to try some sandwiches with it. By heating up the cast iron I got a very thick bottom, reminiscent of a rye bread, so will try it without that next time.
Enjoy, and let us know your successes and changes. As my daughter and I say, “recipes are just suggestions”.