Welcome back to Adventures in Bread-Making! This is Part 2. I'm breaking these experiences up into three posts, each describing a different kind of bread: starting with ciabatta, working through an easy white bread and making my way to the mother-of-all-breads, the sourdough. Dun, dun, duuuunnnn! As you know, sourdough is on my list of the Ten Most Difficult Recipes Challenge and I've set it as my next conquest. However, I wanted to work on my bread-making techniques before I just jumped right into something that hard.
After my ciabatta experience, I was feeling pretty good about my mad bread-making skillz. Actually, I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I made the most amazing bread in the world...and it only took me 2 days and 6 hours! But I needed one more mastery before I felt I was truly ready. Something easy. Super super easy. Something to make me feel invincible. Enter King Arthur Flour blog.
I was reading through old posts and suddently, there it was! A recipe for "The Crunchiest-Crackliest-Chewiest-Lightest-EASIEST Bread You'll Ever Bake" --- boo ya!! Sounds PERFECT. The recipe gives you really great step-by-step instructions, with pictures even! It looked easy. Almost too easy. But I figured, what the hell.
So I printed out the recipe:
Gathered my ingredients.
Stuck it in a big-ass plastic bowl for a while.
A few days later, I pulled out a hunk of dough.
Made it round.
Stuck it on parchment.
Let it rest for about an hour.
Scored the top and baked it.
I am not kidding, it was that easy!
We sliced it while it was still hot and it dipped in an olive oil and balsalmic vinegar mixture.
YOU MUST TRY THIS. Tonight! You really can't screw this up. It's unbelievably amazing!
I am seriously going to make this dough and keep it in the fridge to have on-hand at all times. Fresh bread every single day is now possible. I'm DYING. This is amazing. My life as I know it is over.
*Do you measure flour properly? If you have a scale, then use it. Otherwise, you need to go HERE and watch the video. I had no idea I'd been measuring flour incorrectly my entire life!!
UPDATE: I want to edit this post in response to some great questions I've received in the comment section. Here are the answers:
1. Why do you use bread machine yeast when you're not using a machine? Fleischmanns is a no-go?
-- I use the SAF bread machine yeast because the recipe calls for it (and Josh recommeded it). IHowever, here's some good info that I found that might help clarify the issue.
Bread World: RapidRise (Fleishmanns) and Bread Machine Yeast are different strains than Active Dry Yeast. RapidRise and Bread Machine Yeast are grown with a higher level of nutrients and are dried to lower moisture content. The particle size of RapidRise and Bread Machine Yeast are finely granulated to allow complete hydration of the yeast cells during the mixing process. The Active Dry Yeast larger particle size should be dissolved in water to achieve complete hydration prior to adding to the mixer. In addition, RapidRise and Bread Machine Yeast contain ascorbic acid resulting in increased loaf volumes.
Fresh Active Yeast is the product that Fleischmann's has been manufacturing for over 130 years. It is also traditionally known as compressed or cake yeast. It has not undergone the drying process, so it does not need to be dissolved before use: soften the cake in warm water first OR simply crumble the yeast into dry ingredients (if directed by recipe). Fresh yeast requires two rises. Yeast is available in two different sizes: 0.6 ounces and 2 ounce household cakes
2. Do you mix by hand, yourself or use a mixer?
-- I actually made this KAF Easy bread without using a mixer. It was really really easy. I mixed it in a big bowl with a rubber spatula. No mixer or bread machine necessary. For the ciabatta, I used my Kitchen Aide stand mixer, but it's not necessary. You can definitely mix by hand, it just takes a little longer.
3. Where did you get your scale? Do I need one?
-- I bought this at a kichen good store. Most kitchen stores will sell them (Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, etc.). They are really helpful to have and if you're serious about baking, you should get one (they're not very expensive). But you don't have to have one! Go HERE and they'll show you the proper way to measure flour without a scale! Problem solved.
4. Where do you buy SAF bread machine yeast?
-- I bought it at Kitchen Conservatory, but you can also get it at the grocery (called bread machine yeast) or from King Arthur Flour's online shop.