Saturday, November 20, 2010

For people snowed in



I am a little out of the loop this year. I love to spend Thanksgiving in Bellingham, part of the day with family and part of the day with friends, or sometimes the friends would just come to our family's dinner.

My perfect world.... sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts and pie.... after a cold and muddy mountain bike ride with J and friends.

Um, yeah, not this year. I hate to admit this but as far as activities go, we may be in the arm pit of Washington. How is that for giving thanks... We are grateful that this opportunity has been made possible and are even more grateful that we get to pick someplace new when this one expires (voice your opinion now! the list is being made!).

This will be the first Thanksgiving that J and I will be apart, he is going to Nashville to be with his family and I am staying here with our kids (the animals - geez!) and my brother and his lady friend are making the trek across the pass to visit.

So I am cooking. I think we are going to eat steaks. Eat a ton of my favorite seasonal veggies. Drink wine. Play games. Hopefully enjoy a dusting snow.

Check out the newest addition to my kitchen. We are already really goo friends. Christmas came early - or a Thanksgiving gift!

And will be eating home made bread! I figure since it is home made I can eat as much white bread as I want. Crusty white bread, warm and soft on the inside.

Now I dare you, try it. If I can get one thing across to you in my ramblings, it is that everyone can make a loaf of bread in minimal effort.

Here is my hand scribbled recipe.

Look - I don't see any rocket science scribbles!

This is a bread that takes less than 5 minutes to whip up and the counter doesn't even get dirty. No joke.

Lets try!

Just grab the ingredients that are most likely on hand.

Dump them in a large bowl - no order, just dump.
Mix until really sticky and combined.That is it. No kidding! Just mix...
Then you just cover it, leave it o the counter for 2 to 4 hours.
Ok so this recipe is not fool proof. Here is my blunder. Leave it in the big mixing bowl. It rises and rises a lot.

Crisis adverted!

You could bake it at this point or put it in the fridge for up to a week.

Mine is in the fridge.

In order to have a flavorful loaf, mix it today and tuck it away into the fridge and bake on Thanksgiving day.

Now you have the step by step guide, the recipe follows.

Get to it!

All you friends and family snowed in in Bellingham, now is your chance, if you are now out skiing!

It will work - I promise! And I promise to show you the next steps of baking the bread right around the big day, but the recipe gets into it, so you really don't need me!

I found the first recipe on King Arthur's blog (see step by step photos on their blog)  I still go to this recipe each time. It is just that easy!
Read their blog about all kinds of bread, at Bakers' Banter.
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast


*The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 1/2 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure flour by weight, use 32 ounces.
1) Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, "lukewarm" means about 105°F, but don't stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; "OUCH, that's hot!" is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.
2) Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.
3) Next, you're going to let the dough rise. If you've made the dough in a plastic bucket, you're all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you've made the dough in a bowl that's not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.
4) Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.
5) When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.
6) Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.
7) Place the dough on a piece of parchment (if you're going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.
8) Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 450°F while the dough rests. Place a shallow pan on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
9) When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.
10) Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
11) Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown.
12) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
13) Yield: 3 or 4 loaves, depending on size.

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