Approaching homemade bread

…if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn…
                                                                                          Mrs. Dymond –Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

Recently, my wife and I noticed that we were having some difficulty finishing a loaf of commerically bought bread during the course of a week. We began wondering if there was far more economical way of addressing the issue.   After going through my library, I came across an approachable recipe that didn’t seem to require a lot of effort and time. The recipe I found was Peasant Bread/Pa de Pages from  Marimar Torres’ Catalan Country Kitchen (p 118-119).  After studying the recipe for a little while, I scaled down the recipe to a microbatch mix of:

2t dry active yeast
1/2 T sugar
1 C warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1/2 T salt
2 3/4 c all purpose (unbleached) flour

    very warm water to get the yeast started
  • I needed to start by setting up the yeast/sugar/warm water mix (do NOT stir) for about 5-10 minutes

allocating the yeast

give the yeast a little something to feed on

get the yeast started with the warm water

  • then I needed to add the salt & 1/4c of flour to the yeast/sugar/water mix and blend

A little flour and salt to get the dough started

start blending in the salt and flour

  • I then added the remaining flour and blend to make the dough

Allocating the rest of the flour

Adding and hand blending the remaining flour a bit at a time; as it would turn out, I needed about 1/4 c more water to blend in all the flour

  • I then oiled a bowl and added the dough to bowl to coat the dough

settting up to coat the dough

dough coated with the olive oil

  • As instructed, I covered the mix, let it rest/proof for an hour

the dough after it’s risen for about an hour

  • After an hour, I uncovered and punched down the down and let it rest for another 3-4 minutes

punched down dough

  • I formed the loaf/loaves, turned them out onto an oil baking sheet and made a few shallow slashes on the top of each loaf

loaves formed and slashed with my Miyabi Birchwood knife

  • I re-covered the bread and let it proof for another 30 minutes
  • After preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and putting a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven

loaves into my countertop oven atop a tray of water

  • I placed the dough in the oven, sprayed it with a little water to help a nice crust to form
  • …and then baked the bread for about 30 minutes

…and of course, my wife suggested we try baking it in our countertop oven since it was a microbatch….

All done and cooling on my rack to room temperature (crisp nice and hollow knocked)

I was a little skeptical that it was safe to bake in my countertop over; I was afraid it was going to be burnt but it turned out just fine. So

A bit of fresh baked bread with dinner…

we chose to have the bread with a bit of roast duck for dinner. My wife thought it was a perfect match for the meal. Generally speaking, it seemed that a half of the recipe made would be enough for about a half week for the both of us.  And since I can now make bread at home, I had a way of providing a bread service course for a multicourse meal.   Next stop: Pa amb tomàquet!

Update (21 Apr 2019)

An attempt to use the recipe to make a single loaf of whole wheat bread almost succeeded tonight.  The loaf seemed a little bit dense and needed a little bit more leavening.  After some research tonight, another attempt would be made with:

1 t dry active yeast
1 1/8 t sugar
1/2 C warm water (105-115 degrees F)
3/4  salt
1 3/8 c whole wheat flour

 

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