There are times when I stand in the grocery store bakery staring at the $7 loaves of artisan crafted breads and I wonder if there is an actual bread artisan in the back baking them. Then I read the ingredients and realize that no bread artisan would put the ingredients listed in their bread so as I stand and dream up a sandwich in my mind I decide of course to bake my own bread.
People seem to believe that baking bread is hard, really it’s quite easy. I think the hard part of bread baking is patience. Waiting for the dough to rise as your home fills with the smell of yeast eating sugars, then rising into a mountain of glutinous delight! I love to spend an afternoon milling about my house while I wait, patiently.
Kneeding my hands into the dough, flour flung, I feel like a sculptor.
Yesterday, desiring a sandwich I decided to make a simple loaf of sandwich bread, plain ol’ white bread that I could toast, “butter”, jam, & avocado (not all together obviously) Here is the recipe!
1 cup of warm water
1 1/2 tsp sugar (I used maple syrup as I ran out of sugar when making preserves and forgot, it worked perfectly!)
1 1/2 tsp yeast
Some salt, a dash you may say
2 3/4 cups flour
1 Tbs vegan margarine or oil
You’re first going to want to mix the water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (not a metal bowl, anything else will do) and set aside to bubble & foam for about ten minutes proving that your yeast is alive, well, and happy!
Next stir together the dry ingredients (again, in a non-metallic bowl), you may even add chopped fresh herbs here or dry herbs. This time around I made a pure loaf but I usually like to add some tarragon and sage to my breads, even chopped nasturtium leaves for some peppery flavour.
If you’re using margarine cut it into small pieces and toss into the bowl of dry ingredients, then add the yeast mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until it starts to slowly form together. If you’re using oil then throw it in with the yeast mixture.
Next, turn this almost dough out onto your table and kneed it for about ten minutes.
It will look like this while you kneed and slowly turn into this…
A smooth ball of dough. Take this and place it back into the bowl you had it in and coat with a bit of olive oil and then cover with a towel and let it rise for an hour in a warm place. In the meantime dream up the sandwich you’re going to be making in a few hours, do some laundry or what not. I took myself on a short bike ride. Distract yourself if you feel you may be impatient because it’s very important for the dough to rise.
After an hour uncover the bowl and press the dough down, it will deflate. Kneed for a few minutes on your table or just in the bowl. Form the dough into a bread pan or in my case a glass baking dish as I was going for a square loaf for some reason.
As you can see I formed it into a loaf shape for no reason as you now have to cover the bread once again and let it rise for another hour. I know, I know, you want a sandwich! It will happen.
Before the hour of rising is up preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
After that other hour your bread will look like this, a mass of delight to be baked, again square loaf, silly idea but it works great for focaccia! It also worked great for this.
Bake your bread for 35 minutes, remove and let cool completely before slicing… again waiting for that sandwich.
Here we are, bread town, population one… and yes, I ate that whole loaf within two days. What can I say? I am a glutton for bread. This is a super easy recipe that you could add almost anything to. Again, herbs, chopped cherry tomatoes, blueberries, cinnamon, experimentation is grand! Try something new! Try your hand and bread baking it will save you money (if you purchase a lot of bread) plus it’s a fun thing to learn!