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I bake a lot of bread and rolls.
Both at home and for the restaurant.
Meet Chef John
He has a blog with very easy recipes and his videos are super easy to follow.
I have been making his no-knead Ciabatta for quite a while.
He says to let it rise over night...I let it rise about 1 1/2 hours and it works fine.
Follow his recipe and you will have good success.
This is a simple recipe for a Focaccia Bread (Italian Flat Bread)
Then if you get really into baking breads check out the Fresh loaf.
Once you start following the fundamentals of bread baking it becomes very easy.
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Four years ago, I moved "off grid" and had to make some "adjustments" to my lifestyle. One adjustment was that I would never purchase another loaf of bread.
I had baked dinner rolls for special occasions in the past, but for general eating, I have found that the basic French bread recipe is best.
Follow these directions for success.
Put two cups bread flour into large bowl. (you need bread flour which is made from hard red wheat, other flours do not develop sufficient gluten for good bread)
Add four teaspoons dry yeast (two of those 1/4 ounce packets)
Proofing your yeast is useful if you aren't sure if your yeast is good. If it is less than a year old, I wouldn't bother.
One and one half teaspoons salt (salt helps form gluten, not enough salt and the bread will be dense because it's not elastic enough to form good air pockets)
Mix dry ingredients, then add exactly two cups of water heated to 125 degrees F.
Mix thoroughly, add one and one half cups more flour, a half cup at a time, mixing well as you go.
Remove the dough to the board when it is thick enough to pick up.
After you turn it onto the board you want to knead it for eight minutes as you add another one cup of flour, a little at a time.
The dough is ready when it stops being so sticky you can't pick it up.
Pour about a teaspoon of vegetable oil into another large bowl, add dough and turn to coat. (keeps dough from "skinning")
Cover bowl with a cloth and place in a warm spot.(80-90 F) for 45 minutes.
Dough should have about doubled.
Punch dough down and divide into two equal pieces. Wait ten minutes.
Now form each piece into a rope about 20 inches long.
Use a rolling pin to make a 20" x 4" strip.
Remember to lightly flour your board and pin.
Roll up the dough, try to keep it tight and keep your loaf short. If you don't roll it tight or you get too much oil or dry flour on your dough, you will get big voids in your loaves.
After rolling, pinch any open seams and close up the ends.
If you want French style bread, you need to spray a little Pam on a cooking sheet and then dust with cornmeal.
Make an egg wash with an eggwhite and a little water, brush the loaves and place back into a warm place for 45 minutes.
Now you can "open the crust" by making a few shallow cuts in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.
Place in oven and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
Brush tops of loaves with egg wash again.
Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Let it cool for 15 minutes and eat.
If you don't care for French loaves, just cook in bread pans and forget the egg wash and cutting the crust, comes out perfect.
If you add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1/3 cup raisins as you roll your loaf, you will have some awesome cinnamon bread.
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