Saturday, March 13, 2010

Entirely From Scratch..Bread & Butter


Sorry for the post delay everyone.  I've had to shoot four homes in a week and a half.  It's been exhausting, but it's over now.
So, continuing on my journey of making food from scratch, I've been baking bread.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients list of bread..it's a bit shocking.  Homemade bread has four things - flour, yeast, water and salt.
My first attempt was..well, not great.  It was good bread, but nothing to brag about. 


I followed the steps, but something was missing.



We kneaded and kneaded till we were parched with thirst.
Yawn. 
Dull bread.


Failure makes me determined, so I hit the book store and brought this home.  A French bread maker, living in England, with his own technique of kneading and mixing the dough. Very different from our style of bread making in North America.  That is my loaf of bread on top of the book - isn't it pretty!


This is clearly something that takes practice.  But I'm hooked.  I love making bread and using my hands over the mixer and bread making machines. 
I went on a quest for fresh yeast - not easy to find!  But Whole Foods came through.

You can't expect me to place store bought butter on my homemade bread!  Yes, dammit, I made the butter too!
if you want the recipe please read on..


1/3 ounce fresh yeast (found at the Whole Foods Bakery Department) or 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
18 ounces bread flour about 3 3/4 - 4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
12 ounces water or 13 fl. ounces


The measurements are a bit vague, because it's really by texture and feel of the dough.  You want it to be sticky but not overly so.  Like slightly dry feeling oatmeal?  Make sense?

  
Measure out your flour and yeast, crumble the yeast into the flour and mix with your hands or plastic bread scraper.  Add the salt, mix, then add the water and mix with your scraper.  You will then have fairly sticky dough - you may need to add more water or more flour - but it shouldn't be dry in feel.

 Do not flour your board.  Your dough should be sticky so it can cling to the board.  Slap it down and then pull and stretch it up towards yourself.  You want to fold it up and back over onto itself - this makes it full of air.  Stetch it up and then slap it back over onto the dough clinging to the board.  This is called the stretch and fold - the dough will start to elasticize and become less tacky.  
I found this video of Richard making sweet dough (with eggs and butter) - it shows the texture and kneading technique - this will help explain:

Form a ball and lightly flour the dough.  Place in a bowl that is lightly floured, cover with cling wrap or a tea towel and let sit/rest for one hour.  


It will double in size.  Using your rubber scraper, remove the dough from the bowl gently - don't pull or tear it.  It will feel very light and delicate.  Hard to explain, but you will see.
This is now the time to shape it.  One batch can make four baguettes or two calibrese style loaves. 

divide into the quantities you have selected.  The calabrese style is easy - just form two rectangular shapes then let rest for another hour covered in cling wrap or lint free towels.  Make a pleat in between the loaves so the dough doesn't stick to each other. 
To make the baguettes, divide into four balls and let rest for five minutes.  Take a ball, flatten it into an oval.  Take the outside edges and fold into the middle of the dough, and press with your fingers. Do this with the other edge and this will give you the bottom of your baguette. You can gently roll it to lengthen the dough.  Place on your floured cloth board to rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 450.  Cut slits in the top of your baguettes.  Bake for about 10 - 12 minutes - you will see they are golden brown and lovely. 




Butter is easy - take one cup of whip cream and place in your mixer for 10 - 12 minutes.  Beat on high.  It will get lumpy and wet looking.  Scrape into cheesecloth and strain out the liquid.  Voila!
Note - some use the liquid to cook with - it's like butter milk.  I haven't done this.

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