Saturday, July 31, 2010

Everyday Bread

Everyday bread

There is an undeniable mystique around bread baking. So many unfamiliar terms, so many techniques, starters, proportions, secrets that have been passed down through generations. It's intimidating, to say the least, and it kept me from baking bread until about a year ago.

Everyday bread

Thankfully, there are lots of places to start for a yeast noob like me. Kind of like this bread, which is pretty much full proof (or fool proof). My friend Gabe, who is Italian, brought this over to a BBQ recently and we couldn't get enough, and when I got the recipe, I was floored by how easy it was to make. I couldn't help making one little change, though - I brushed the bread with a mix of olive oil, garlic and herbs, which gave it a crispy, garlicky crust that's impossible to resist. This is truly a bread you can make every day - and should make every day because it's dang good.

Everyday bread
Everyday bread

Gabe's Everyday Bread

400 g all purpose flour***
1 tsp salt
240 g water at 115F
1 tsp active yeast
1 tablespoon honey

For topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix

***Flour: using the right flour for bread-making really does matter. I know, because I started off using cheaper flour and when I switched to a better brand, I could really taste the difference. So, even though I generally avoid giving brand recommendations, I'm going to break my own rule here and tell you that for bread, I almost always use the King Arthur brand of flour.

Whisk flour and salt in a mixer bowl. Heat water to 115F and add yeast and honey.

Pour the water mixture into the flour and knead with the dough hook for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. It shouldn't be very sticky - if it is, knead in a bit more flour until the dough is still soft and only very slightly sticky.

Rub or spray a large bowl with olive oil and put the dough inside, turning it to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubles in size (about an hour).

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and shape into a loaf (I made mine round).

Combine olive oil, crushed garlic and herbs, and brush the bread with about 3/4 of the mixture.

Place the loaf in a cast iron, a dutch oven or a baking sheet (I also put a layer of wax paper sprayed with olive oil under the bread) and bake for about 30 minutes. The crust should be a deep golden color and the bread should sound hollow when tapped from the side.

Immediately upon taking the bread out of the oven, brush again with the olive oil/garlic mixture and let cool to room temperature. Enjoy!

31 comments:

FireintheBreeze (Brittany) said...

Bread has intimiated me also, but i'm going to get around to making it soon. Yours looks and sounds amazing! Well done for being creative and creating your own crust.

♥peachkins♥ said...

beautiful bread...

oneordinaryday said...

I'm really new to bread making too, but I find that we devour the stuff when it's fresh from the oven. There's just nothing like it. This bread looks absolutely perfect, and I'm sure that garlicky kick on top knocks it out of the park.

My Kitchen in the Rockies said...

That looks really very easy and delicious. I will give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

Helene said...

I have to eat bread everyday. I love making it. So much better than when you buy bread from the store. You did really good.

El said...

There's nothing like homemade bread. It looks incredible. Where's the butter?

The Caked Crusader said...

You had me at "crisp garlicky crust". Yes please!

my little expat kitchen said...

Nothing compares to a homemade bread loaf. I don't make my own bread that often, once every 3 or 4 months. I always try new recipes but I've never found one that is just perfect. I'll try this one. It looks beautiful. One question though: by active yeast you mean fresh or dried?
Thanks, Magda

Irene said...

I used fresh yeast. I hope you like the bread!

Lauren said...

looks great! i'm going ask for some help with the whole 'grams' aspect of the recipe. not being a seasoned baker of anything, let alone bread, could any one assist with how many cups of flour and water this recipe calls for? any help is greatly appreciated since i've found some conflicting information on the web!

Irene said...

Hey Lauren, from what I can remember, 400 g of flour is about 3 cups + 3 tablespoons (fluff the flour well before measuring) and 240 g of water is about 1 cup. If you find that the dough is too wet or sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. I will measure out more exactly tonight when I get home and let you know if this is incorrect! Good luck :) This really is a very easy bread to make and you can always eat the mistakes... ;)

Ash said...

This is stunning!!
Gosh... I need to bake some bread!

Emily said...

Just finished making this to go along with some eggplant caviar. I used King Arthurs bread flour because I only had lower-quality all-purpose on hand. It was easy and delicious. That upper crust is to die for.

Irene said...

Emily, I'm so glad you liked it! I can only imagine how it went with the eggplant caviar, yum...

elra said...

Such a gourmet and of course delicious for everyday bread.

Val said...

The only thing that turns me off making bread at the moment is the fact that I don't have an electric mixer.

I can't believe I make all my stuff with a bowl and a wooden spoon!

That should all be history by the end of the week when I finally purchase a Kenwood. And this bread will be put to the test. It certainly does look easy and delicious. Can't wait to try it!

Irene said...

Val, you can actually make this bread just with your hands. I do own a stand mixer, but half the time, I don't use it for bread because I like to "feel" the dough. Instead of kneading for 5 minutes in the mixer, knead with your hands on a lightly floured surface. You may need to add a bit more flour to keep the dough from sticking and you may need to knead a few more minutes than in the mixer to get the dough smooth and elastic. It's very satisfying to make bread like that!

Jane said...

This bread is beautiful. There is something uniquely gratifying about baking a really satisfying, appealing loaf of homemade bread. It's different, somehow, than baking anything else. Lovely post, Irene!

S. said...

Looks amazing. I'm going to make this. I'm going to make this. I'm definitely going to make this!

Irene said...

I hope you do :) It's definitely worth it!

Erlyn said...

Have you tried making any breads using Jim Lahey's book, My Bread? I purchased it a few months ago, and it is incredible! I bake a loaf of the basic rustic bread using his recipe almost every week!

Irene said...

Sounds like a fantastic book, thanks for the recommendation!

RamblingTart said...

This looks SO beautiful! I love that you made the crust garlicky. :-)

sweetie said...

ok you've got a yeast newbie ready to bake this bread ASAP. did you bake it in the pan pictured? i don't own a dutch oven or a stone...

thanks for any advice!

Irene said...

I sure did! I don't own a dutch oven or a baking stone either. :) One note - I scored the bread, but I didn't need to and I won't next time.

azelias kitchen said...

Lovely crust on your bread.

Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

I use King Arthur for bread flour - I wonder what would happen if you tried that with this recipe? I use it for pizza crust and it's divine. This bread looks absolutely beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Hi, your everyday bread looks delish but can you convert the flour and water from grams to precise cups (eg: 400g of flour is equivalent to how many cups, etc...)

Irene said...

Hi, the problem with cup measurements is that they are not very precise - it depends on how tightly or loosely you measure the flour. Here's the estimate:

- 400 g of flour = 3 1/8 cups (so 3 cups with a bit on top; 1 cup is about 125 g of flour)
- 240 g water = 8 fluid oz = 1 cup

Ellie D. said...

I just made this to go with your spinach artichoke dip---- amazing. This bread is very easy to make. I ended up putting in approx 3 cups of king arthur flour... and a small handful of oatmeal. I couldn't resist a small deviation from the recipe. :) It was very moist, good crumb, fantastic crust that was just crisp enough without being overly chewy. Great recipe. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Made this bread tonight----fantastic! Easy! No butter needed. I will make this again & again. Thank you!