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I had tried and failed may times over my adult life to make good homemade bread. I was not baking bread because I had to, but because I did not like store bought bread and thought I could do better. In 2008 when things got tough for us I needed to make bread to keep my suddenly very tight grocery budget in line. Well I kept failing…..
Until one day I was making bread and got distracted and left some dough sitting on the counter. At this point I was getting decent results from a recipe I had developed. This batch of bread that was left to its own devices however was sublime.
At this time, on the frugal cooking blogs I followed, I kept hearing mention of soaked bread dough that only took 5 minutes of hands-on effort a day. I found the book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day at my local library and found my bread heaven.
I do not use their method in its entirety, as I usually skip the baking stone and the added steam. I also use my own recipe that I had developed before I heard about them. Sometimes I will use a recipe directly from the book, but for my everyday sandwich bread this is the recipe and technique that I use.
Cindy’s Personal Bread Recipe
1 lb. plus 12 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour- approx. 6 cups
4 oz. whole wheat flour- slightly less than I cup
1 T or 1 small packet granulated yeast
1 T granulated sugar
2 T mild flavored oil placed in a measuring cup
Enough warm water added to the oil in the measuring cup to measure 3 cups
1 T table salt
Mixing the dough
Into a mixing bowl place flours, sugar and yeast. Using a whisk mix the dry ingredients together.
Into a lidded, plastic 6 quart bowl place water, oil and salt. Stir to mix the wet ingredients together.
To the liquid ingredients add the dry ingredients. Using a large spatula stir everything together making sure all of the flour is incorporated.
Loosely place the lid onto the container. Leave the dough to sit for about 2 hours or until the top collapses.
Affix the lid a little more securely and place container in the refrigerator. Leave for anywhere from 24 hours to 1 week.
Baking the bread
Grease an 8×4 in. loaf pan.
Dust the surface of the dough with a little bit of flour. Cut or Pull off a 2-pound piece.
The next step uses a technique called” gluten cloaking“. Page 57 of the book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day explains it this way, “Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.”
Put the dough on to the counter and gently shape into a loaf a little smaller than your pan. Place in pan.
Let rest for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife make a couple of deep slashes across the top. Put into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove freshly baked loaf from the oven. Remove bread from the pan and place on a cooking rack. Make sure the top is pointing upward so the steam can rise and soften the crust. This also prevents the bottom from getting soggy.
You will have dough leftover which can be used the same day or several days later.Use the remaining dough to make 2-12 in. pizzas or 1-16in. pizza. You could also make a large boule’ or batard to serve with dinner. Alternatively, you can use the dough all at once by making two loaves of a slightly smaller size.
This post is part of 31 Days Of Frugal Cooking.
Do you have a favorite bread recipe to share? Feel free to leave a recipe or link in the comment section.