This past Saturday, Buffalo Reuse hosted an open house in honor of Earth Day. As part of this event, we did a little bread and pizza baking demo at the oven. It was a lot of fun and Matt and I baked and chatted to our heart's content (respectively). We talked a lot about our up and coming workshops, and one of our pizza eaters suggested we put a bread recipe on the blog, which I thought was a great idea. So here it is. This is as basic as bread gets, but it's a good place to start practicing from. We hope that if you are starting to bake your own bread, you will come to our first baking workshop, on May 16th at 3 pm. It will be a great place to ask questions, and learn some good tricks that will bring your bread beyond the recipe. And, as always, feel free to email us with questions.
3 cups flour (wheat, white, or a mix of the two)
A dash of salt
2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2-3/4 cup warm water
A splash of olive oil
A tablespoon of sugar, honey, or molasses.
1) In a large mixing bowl, combine and stir the dry ingredients. Make a 'dent' in the flour, and add the wet ingredients. Stir the dough into a rough ball with a wooden spoon.
2) Sprinkle a clean, dry surface with flour and begin to knead dough. You can knead the dough however you like, but basically you are softly punching it into the counter. It might stick a little at first, but be careful of adding too much flour or you will end up with a brick. The trick to getting is to keep it moving. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough feels both tacky and soft.
3) Roll it into a ball and smooth a little olive oil over the surface. Put it into a mixing bowl, cover it with a warm, damp cloth, and put it in a warm, draft-free spot for an hour.
4) When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down (called degassing). Shape it into a log by flattening it, and then rolling it. Transfer it to an oiled bread pan to rise. Or, you can make a free standing loaf. To do this, put a clean rag in a small bowl, flour the rag, and shape your dough into a ball and put it in the bowl. Recover the bread. Let rise until about doubled again.
5) Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Let cool. Eat and enjoy!
This recipe makes one loaf. It's best to practice in small quantities, but once you like your result, it makes sense to bake two or three loaves at once and either share, or freeze them. As you get comfortable with this recipe, you can do anything to alter it and make it your own--add herbs, seeds, chunks of garlic, or an egg for a crusty crust.
Milk is not necessary, but softens the wheat, so it's beneficial if you are using a high content whole wheat flour. If you omit milk, replace it with water. The liquid content will vary a little depending on what kind of flour you use. Aim for consistency, and trust your instincts.
Here's a great bread bakers resource that Matt and I have used many-a-time: The Fresh Loaf.