This Woodsman found himself between a rock and a hard place (or a rock and a work place) recently and hasn’t been able to do much writing, so I guess it’s time to purge all the ideas that have piled up in the last couple weeks. I wanted to go through my bread recipe first. It is a simple yeast white bread. This is the “made by hand” version but if you have a counter mixer with a dough hook more power to you, it will work all the same. I find that the work of hand mixing the dough helps work off all the calories I take in eating the delicious loafs.
Things you will need:
1. 2 Large mixing bowls, preferably glass or stainless steel
2. Wooden spoon
3. Dish towel
4. Counter space
5. 1 cup warm water, not too hot, maybe 100 degrees
6. 2 ½ – 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
7. 1 table spoon active dry yeast
8. 1 tea spoon salt (I use table salt, but that’s just my preference)
9. ½ tablespoon sugar or 1 tablespoon honey
10. 1/3 cup whole milk
11. Half a stick of butter
12. 1 oven
13. A few cold beers
14. Upper body strength
Time to put in some work:
1. Dump the warm cup of water into your mixing bowl
2.Add your salt and sugar and stir it until it’s all dissolved
3. Add your beasts, sorry yeast, and stir until it’s creamy and all the clumps are gone
4. Let it stand for a couple minutes until you start seeing bubbles form on the surface
5. Melt your butter, and add both it and the milk
6. Dump in the first 2 cups of flour and stir until the clumps are gone
7.Add the rest of your flour slowly, like ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly
8. The flour, I have found, is not an exact science. I can’t say “put this much in, no more no less”! Tons of things affect how the flour is going to absorb water. Humidity/elevation, temp, flour storage, and the fact that it is near impossible to add exact amounts of your “wet ingredients” all effect how much flour you are going to use. So just add little bits at a time while stirring until it doesn’t stick to your finger much when you touch it.
9. Dry your hand and dump a quarter cup of flour in your hands. Rub them together over your countertop, trying to disperse it semi-evenly over a square foot.
10. Dump your dough out onto the floured surface and get your hands into it! It is going to stick to your hands a bit, but it will stop after you knead it a bit. Basically just punch, beat, smash, pull, twist, and abuse your dough until it no longer sticks to your hands. If it is still sticking to your hands, put another ¼ cup in your hands and re-flour your surface/dough and pick up the flour as you work it.
11. In your second big bowl, spray or rub in some vegi oil
12. Put your dough ball in the oiled bowl and cover with the towel
13.I have a little heat vent on my oven top so I just set the oven to warm and set my bowl near the vent. The point I’m getting to is that your little “beasties” need about 80 degrees to help them start to eat up the sugars and turn them into cO2 and alcohol.
14. Cover it with your tea towel and drink a couple beers. However many you can handle in an hour. I bake at 8,200’ so it only takes 30 minutes because it doesn’t have as much atmospheric pressure to contend with as it will at sea level.
15. After the hour is up, the ball will have at least doubled in size.
16. Turn it out onto a re-floured surface and get to work one more time! Pound it out flat until it’s roughly trapezoidal; meaning the edge closest to you should be longer than the edge away from you
17. Roll it all up starting at the shorter edge, working towards yourself or the longer edge
18. Tuck your edges in forming a, for lack of a better word, “hoggie” roll (think submarine sandwich)
19.I take a very sharp knife (all my knives are stupid sharp because when I get bored, I sharpen things) and cut 4 diagonal, shallow, surface cuts along the roll. I’m sure there is some scientific reason for it but really it just plane looks cool
20. I also dust it with flour for the above-mentioned reason
21. Move your roll to a baking sheet, lightly greased with butter or vegi oil
22. Turn your oven up to 425ish and drink another hours’ worth of beer
23. The “beasties/yeasties” are going to get back to work making cO2 and alcohol, making your bread rise one more time
24. After the hour is up and your beers are empty, put that bad boy in the oven
25. Bake it about 30 minutes. I bake it a little less because of the altitude
26. Take it out and let it cool on the counter, unless you have two giant animals named Ben and Eva living in your house, then choose a higher surface. I have lost a few good loafs of bread to those “counter surfers”. Don’t do anything with it until you can no longer feel heat from the bottom of the loaf
27. Cut that sucker up and enjoy. It doesn’t have preservatives, so it will mold quicker than store-bought; but my loaves never last more than 2 days anyways. If you don’t eat that much bread, you can freeze half the dough and bake half. The recipe is easily doubled… just be warned, you are going to do double the work stirring double the dough
So that is my simplest bread recipe. More complicated recipes will follow, but I figured I would start with my workingman bread first. Thanks for reading. Any questions or problem with the recipe, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.