Just the bread bit
So I’ve quite forgotten how much I enjoy baking bread AND taking photos of the bread, so here I will dedicate one entire entry to just the bread. Yeah.
I use the 5/3 method of baking which pretty much is 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid (usually water, milk, or some other yummy liquid like that). If I want to add honey, I will typically add some to warm water or milk so that it is included in the total liquid amount and I don’t screw up my ratio.
Using the 5/3 method makes it really simple to measure everything out. I pop the bowl onto my kitchen scale, measure out the flour by weight, and then measure out the liquid by volume. One loaf takes about 20 ounces of flour, and 12 ounces of liquid. If you want to make more or freeze some, you can simply double this recipe. Then toss in about a teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of salt per loaf and you’re all set for baking. Mix everything together and start kneading the dough
Whether you use an electric mixer or the manual method, you will know when you’re done kneading when the dough is elastic and has a nice sheen to it.
You can sorta see how the top looks smooth and shiny, right? This is what you are looking for.
Next step it to let it rise by covering it and putting it in a warm spot. What is happening is the yeast will react and create little air bubbles inside the dough. This is how the dough gets flufy and nice. The more you let it rise, the fluffier your bread will be, but watch out because if you let it rise too much, the dough may collapse upon itself and you’ll have to start over again.
I cover the dough by cutting a piece of plastic film and putting it on the countertop. I then use a oil sprayer to lightly spray the center of the top of the film and then place it directly on top of the dough so it’s in contact. The dough will then rise and the film will move with it. Alternately, you could put the film along the top edge of the bowl.
After the dough is done rising, you want to knead it lightly again to redistribute all the air bubbles and yeast and then form it and let it rise again. This rise will happen in your bread pan or on the baking sheet. You can re-use the plastic film to cover the bread during the second rise. During this rise, you will want to turn on the oven to about 50 degrees above your intended baking temperature.
When the bread grows large again, pop it into the preheated oven and lower to the correct baking temperature. I usually bake it almost until the time the recipe tells me. About 5 minutes early, I will pull the bread out and check the temperature. I use a meat thermometer that we bought for smoking meat, but you can use just about any thermometer you have around, as long as it measures around 200F.
Take the bread out of the pan and flip it upside down (don’t forget to wear gloves or something so you don’t burn yourself). Stick the temperature probe into the bottom of the bread so that you are measuring from the center. A soft bread will measure about 190F inside. A harder bread will want to be about 200-205F on the inside when it’s done. If you’ve reached the right temperature, then let the loaf cool on a wire rack before slicing. If you need more, put it back into the oven for 5 more minutes until you reach the right temperature.
You know how I was saying that photographing fresh bread is fun? Well here are a couple of the photos I took of this loaf. The cracks and stretches in the bread are so beautiful.