Monday, October 8, 2012

White Bread


I recently discovered this recipe and am in love!  It gives me a crunchy crust with a hearty and moist inside.  It's the best of both worlds.  The simple ingredients make it even more appealing.  There's no added sugar or butter.  So, it feels pretty healthy.  The first time I tried this recipe I ran out of white flour in the middle of making it, so I substituted about a cup of whole wheat flour and it still turned out well.  I'll admit, the all white flour version tasted better, but the appeal of whole wheat has me thinking about trying it again.

The original recipe comes from James Peterson's Baking cookbook, here's my adaptation.

White Bread

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups room temperature water
1 /1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Measure flour into bowl of stand mixer.  Use the back of your fist to make a deep well in the middle of the flour.  Pour in the water and sprinkle yeast over the water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Mix, add salt and mix more.

Add dough hook.  Mix for 2 minutes to moisten flour (or 3 minutes if by hand).  Cover bowl gently with plastic wrap (you can use this same sheet of plastic wrap 2 more times - so keep it) and let sit for 20 minutes.  Knead dough on medium speed for 7 minutes (or 15 minutes if by hand), or until smooth.  It's okay to turn on the mixer to high to get the dough to slap against the sides of the bowl.

Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 2 hours.  Coat your bread pan with cooking spray.

Punch down dough, turn out onto very lightly floured surface and press dough into a rectangle.  Fold both ends (the shorter sides) into the center.  Start rolling the dough fairly tightly toward you until the seams are facing up.  Pinch the seams to seal.  Using the sides of your hands, push down on the edges of the cylinder.  Fold the edges in and pinch the seams to seal.  Place roll in bread pan, seam side down.  Spray one side of plastic wrap with cooking spray and gently cover pan.

After 30 minutes check to see if it's almost the size you want in the finished loaf (if not, keep checking on it until it is).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, making sure the top rack is in the middle of the oven, with a second rack on the bottom.

Fill a small bowl with luke warm water and set aside.  Fill a sheet pan with a 2 inch rim with 1 inch of hot tap water.  Place on bottom rack of oven.  Remove plastic wrap and slide loaf onto rack over the pan of water.  Immediately dip your fingers in the small bowl of water and flick water on the oven walls, repeat.  Close oven and wait 30 seconds, then repeat.  Bake about 25 minutes, until top is golden brown.  Let bread cool on cooling rack until cool enough to turn the bread out of the pan and finish cooling on its own.

This makes 1 loaf.  To store, cover the cut end with a piece of aluminum foil and place loaf inside a paper bag.  This keeps the crust crunch.  Of course you can keep the bread in a plastic bag, but that will soften the crust.

May I suggest enjoying it topped with butter and homemade strawberry freezer jam.  I'll post a freezer jam tutorial soon!

Don't be discouraged if you are new to bread baking and it doesn't turn out.  I've had plenty of loaves not turn out right when I've tried a new recipe.  Just keep trying.  Practice makes perfect!

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