Bread

 

There is nothing more comforting than aroma of the fresh baked bread lingering through the house, tickling your nares and your palate. There hasn’t been one time that I didn’t nip on fresh baked bread before it completely cooled. It’s almost a ritual: I bake the bread, it comes out of the oven and as soon as I can touch it without burning my fingers I tear a piece off and savor every bite. I don’t even need the butter. I know I lack self-control. Note the trick for still warm bread: never cut it with the knife, unless you’re using the plastic one! It will give you the gummy center, almost like it got reversed in baking process, but if you tear off the piece with your hand it will not.
Since baking bread is time consuming and who’s got time (?), I make two large loaves then cut each in half and freeze. When I need more bread, I just go to my freezer.  Defrosted, it’s still like fresh baked, soft and delicious!

Ingredients (for two large loaves):

6 cups Flour
1 package Yeast
1 tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 tablet Vitamin C (optional – keeps the bread fresh longer)
2 cups Milk
2 cups Water
1/3 cup Oil

Directions:

Mix yeast with sugar in a small bowl or mug. Fill the mug half way with warm water (not hot) and set aside to rise.
Sift the flour into a large bowl.
Add salt, baking powder and crumbled vitamin C. Stir to combine. The easy way to turn tablet into a powder is to place it between two spoons and apply pressure to the top spoon until is crushed.
Add oil and raised yeast to the flour mixture.
Heat water and milk, but do not boil. Pour over flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
 Dough should be floppy and wet. If it’s too sticky, add more flour. It should look like this:
Cover lightly – the yeast needs oxygen to activate, so don’t use airtight lid. I loosely cover with saran wrap that I spray with Pam and then with kitchen towel. You don’t want raised dough sticking to the wrap or even worse, to your towel.
Rest at room temperature for 2-4 hours or until it doubled in size. I have a little trick to speed up the process because in addition for lacking self-control I lack patience. I leave it in a sunny spot on my counter or I leave it on the stove while baking something else thus the heat from the oven helps.
Lightly butter or oil cookie sheet or baking pan (I use 9×13 inch pan) and dust with flour or even cornmeal to prevent sticking.
Brush the working surface with oil and also rub some on your palms. Pull off half of dough and working with your hands spread it on the greased surface approximately the lenght of your backing pan.
Roll it up lengthwise and place into the dish, seam side down.
Repeat with the remaining dough. Don’t worry if the loaves are not the exact same size. It’ll even out during baking time.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Let the loaves rest uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until your oven is preheated. Bake for one hour. If you want to give your bread an extra crispy crust fill ia shallow dish half way with water and place it on a low shelf during baking.
Remove from oven and overturn it on cooling rack. Now remember that bread should not be cut while still hot. Give it a few minutes then rip into it with your hands. I dare you to wait any longer.

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Jas

publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of the Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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