Joy the Baker

Bread and Butter

February 3, 2010

Bread and Butter

Sometimes life feels like layers of complications.  Like taxes and traffic and cavities and getting laid off are all piled high into one smelly sandwich that you’re supposed to eat for lunch.  Really…?  Worst sandwich ever.  Do not want.

Complicated.  Yea.  It happens to you.  It happens to me.

Luckily there’s… bread.  And thank the holy heavens for butter.

Bread and butter.  Yes.  A post about bread and butter.  Perhaps the most beautiful and uncomplicated thing you can put into your face.  Don’t fight me on this one.  That would only make things more complicated.  Go and eat.  Bread and butter.

And yes… I burnt the bottom of my bread a bit.  These things happen.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

This is a pretty foolproof bread recipe.  Don’t worry.  If you’re intimidated by yeast and bread baking you might consider freeing yourself of that fear with this recipe.  Really… all you need is time… sometimes that’s the hardest ingredient to come by.  Take a lazy weekend afternoon and give this bread a try.  It’s worth the effort just to make your house smell like fresh baked bread.  Trust.

Two Crusty Round Loaves

I followed the recipe I found from Jaden of Steamy Kitchen

Print this Recipe!

4 cups bread flour (the higher gluten content in important)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups warm water

Measure out 1/4 cup of bread flour and reserve a the clean counter top.  Place the remaining 3 3/4 cup bread flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment.  Measure the salt and place on one side of the flour and add the yeast to the opposite side of the flour.  Pour the warm water in the middle and mix on low speed (with the paddle attachment) until the dough just comes together.

Bread and Butter

When the dough forms a mass, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Dough should clear the sides but may stick to the bottom a bit.  If you feel like the dough is too sticky or too dry, feel free to add a touch more water or flour by the tablespoonful.  After 2 minutes, let the dough rest for five minutes.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

After the five minute rest, mix the dough again for 3 minutes.   Place the dough on the counter and, using the 1/4 cup of bread flour we reserved in the beginning, hand knead the dough.  You may not need to incorporate the entire 1/4 cup.  If the dough feels firm and solid enough, just knead for a few minutes and prepare it to rest.  You should have a satiny, smooth compact ball.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and turn the dough over to coat the entire dough lightly in oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rest for 1 1/2 hours.  The dough should double in size.  Remove from the bowl, punch down and reform into a ball.  Return to the bowl, cover and allow to rest for another 30 minutes.

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter

After the second short rest, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 2 pieces.  Form each piece into a smooth, round ball, tucking any haggard edges on the underside of the dough.  Leave to rest, covered with a damp cloth, on the lightly floured surface for 45 minutes to a hour.

During the last 20 minutes of the resting period, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a baking rack in the lower third of the oven and leave either a baking stone or an upside down baking sheet in the oven to heat as well.

Bread and Butter

Just before the boules are set to go in the oven, slash the top of the loaves with 2 to 4 slashes, using a sharp knife.  This will allow the bread to expand in the oven.  Remove the super hot baking sheet from the oven.  Carefully transfer the dough onto the baking sheets and return to the oven.

Here’s some fun!  Just after you put the bread in the oven, take 1/4 cup of water, open the oven door, quickly poor the water onto the hot oven floor and immediately close the oven door.  We’re creating steam here people… it’s exciting.  Wait 2 minutes and repeat the process.

Bake loaves for 20-25 minutes.  They’ll be golden and gorgeous.  Remove from the oven and insert a thermometer.  The temperature should be between 190 to 210 degrees F.

Here’s the hard part:  let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Bread and Butter

You did it!  Now where’s the butter!?

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