For the record, the whole idea that baking is hard is BULLSHIT. It’s not, I’m not a baker, I don’t really follow recipes as much as I do my own instincts but I am telling you that making bread is not hard at all as long as you understand what you’re doing and pay attention. Yes, you have to measure things out and be a slight bit more attentive but like anything else, it’s just a matter of practice and then it becomes second nature.
Don’t worry about the end result, pay attention to the process and have fun and it will turn out fine. Even if you fuck up the first time you can learn from the mistakes and avoid making them the next time
What you need to know is this:
In overly simplistic terms, you are taking yeast which is asleep and waking it up with warm water and sugar. You have to make sure the that water is at the right temp and this is critical since if it’s too cold it won’t work and if it’s too warm it will kill the yeast. The sugar is food for the yeast. Then you add flour, a bit of salt to kill the yeast so it doesn’t go haywire and then let rise, knead it to get rid of air, let it rise again and bake. Chill, I’m going give more detail instructions below, this is just the plot synopsis.
The following is just a simple how to for a basic loaf of white bread but I will publish more detailed recipes once you guys get this down. Yes, you have to measure the ingredients and it takes a while but I am telling you that there is nothing like eating a sandwich or making French Toast with bread you made yourself.
Also, I use active dry yeast in this recipe since it’s easy to find in just about any grocery store and I am also measuring by volume, not weight since most of you don’t own Kitchen scales. Oven temp is set at the standard 350 This will produce either one massive loaves or two decent sized loaves so you can share with your neighbor, and I’m not joking, part of cooking is sharing and connecting with those around you.
Mise En Place
- Two large mixing bowls
- 1/4 cup of cooking oil
- A Whisk
- A rubber spatula
- 2 Tablespoons of Active Dry Yeast
- 2 Tablespoons of Sugar ( for the yeast to feed off of)
- 3 cups of water between 98 and 108, this is the part that 99.9% of people fuck up and this is why if there is one part of the recipe you have to get right, it’s this. As I said before, the water has to be warm enough to wake the yeast up but not hot enough to kill it. Buy a digital thermometer, if you cook at home it will pay for itself with this one recipe.
- 2 tablespoons of salt.
- 6+ cups of flour. There are a ton of various factors that go into bread making so it comes down to the feel of the dough since no matter how precise you are, no two batches will act the same. 6 cups of flour to start and then extra for the counter and adjustments.
- A well floured workspace
- A large baking pan
- Lots of time and patience. But this is soooooo worth it.
Method of Preparation
- First thing you need to do is get your work space cleaned. Get your bowl, and measure the sugar into it. Make sure your water is at temp and add it to the bowl whisking it to blend the sugar. Then add the yeast and give it a quick stir. Then you wait.
- After about 20-30 minutes you will start to smell it and it will have a nice large spongy looking thing on top that should cover most of it. This is your friend. If this doesn’t happen then start over cause doing the rest of it is a waste of time.
- If everything works then you can start to whisk in your flour a little at a time. After you add about half of it you then add the salt. This stops the yeast from going nuts and makes sure that you have a solid final product. Continue to mix switching over to the spatula and working it.
- This is the part where it really comes down to feel and why you have to really do it yourself in order to understand what I’m talking about. You want the dough to still be wet but not too runny, it should be limp but still hold shape and this is when you throw it on the counter to add just enough flour to get it right. Its sounds a lot harder than it is so relax.
- Coat you other mixing bowl with oil and put your dough into it. Then wait for another 20-30 minutes until it doubles in size. Again, depending on several factors it might not turn out perfect but you need to let it rise and do its thing. Clean up the rest of the stuff, smoke a jay and enjoy the process.
- Make sure you counter in floured and then once the dough is big and fluffy, place on the counter and knead it. You need to get the air out but you don’t want to over do it or your bread will come out chewy, but like I said, after you make a few loaves you’ll understand.
- Divide into two equal portions and shape into two loaves ( it’s your bread, you can pick the shape, yay!!!) and place on the baking pan. You have to let it rise for another 20 minutes and you can use this time to get the oven heated and clean up the Kitchen from all the flour you spilled. Once it rises a bit you can throw it in the oven and then wait another 20 – 30 minutes for it to bake, sometimes longer depending on your oven.
- There are a ton of variables that come into play such as humidity, altitude etc that can have an impact on the final product. But even shitty fresh baked bread from scratch is better than most of the stuff at the store.
- I’m not joking when I say it’s an act of meditation. If I’m having a shitty day I’ll get a batch started and clean my place while waiting for it to do it’s thing and after a few hours I’m not as stressed and I have fresh bread.
- After you do this a few times you will learn how to read the dough. You’ll know when to let it sit, add more flour etc.