Baking therapy: white country bread recipe
Finding ways to stay positive as we self quarantine
As a person that loves being out and about in the community, this social distancing thing has been very difficult. The worst part has been trying not to mentally check out, or binge watch TV.
For me, one way to fight this has been by taking daily trips to the local market (practising social distancing) for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other supplies to bring home and cook. And it has become obvious that people are buying up basic supplies like sandwich bread.
No bread at the local market
No bread at the market? No problem. This is a great opportunity to hone my bread baking skills. Not only is this a very easy recipe but it's also good therapy. As we carefully measured the ingredients, it allowed us to talk about something other than the news of the day; looking in the mixer with anticipation to see how this gooey mixture moved slowly from water and flour to a shiny stretchy dough ball.
Looking on with anticipation
We then transferred the dough ball into a large bowl to proof. Don't rush it here! It takes a little time. (Yes, we kept walking by the bowl talking about how good it smells, maybe even taking a peek or two.)
The great thing about baking bread is that it makes the whole house smell so good. To be honest it was very little work, but we found ourselves talking about what we were going to eat with our fresh baked bread, and how we would make different shapes and sizes over the next few days. I would call this a flavorful distraction from the stress of the day.
- 7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp (2 packets) instant yeast or active dry yeast
Making the dough
- Add yeast to lukewarm water and set aside.
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add salt.
- Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the dough hook for about 60 seconds. If you don't have a stand mixer, mix with a wooden spoon until everything is combined.
- Next, let the dough rise. Just let it stay there, covering the bowl with a tea towel for 2 hours till it doubles in size.
- Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, up to a few days.
Baking the bread
- It's time to make bread! Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to work with. Place the dough onto a floured work surface. Cut in half, then grease your hands and gently shape into a log. Place into a loaf pan.
- Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F while the loaf rests. Place a cast iron pan on the lowest oven rack, with 1 cup of hot water.
- Just before baking, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2 an inch deep.
- Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.
Doug the Foodguy (Doug Smith)