Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mid-Week At My Place - Making bread the easy way.

I am very much enamored with homesteading. If you haven't heard the term before, homesteading is about getting back to basics and among those basics are making food from scratch and clothes yourself. While I love the idea and dream of my very own plot of land where I can have chickens and food gardens I live an urban life in the heart of Toronto. Chickens are not allowed (yet) and my backyard's a shaded postage stamp. Even if I could have chickens (to my husbands horror I've planned in my head how to use some of our garage as a coop) I'm pretty sure the racoons would dispatch my flock lickety-split. And like many other working urbanites my time to make food and sew my own clothes is limited - about as limited as my sewing skills!

But one thing I am able to do on a very regular basis is make fresh baked bread and one of my favorite breads to make comes from Michael Smith from the Food Network. I saw him make this "no kneed bread" couple years ago by chance and have become a fan of his since.

This month I got to tell Chef Smith how great his bread it when I met him at Blissdom, a social media event held annually in Toronto where he was promoting lentils (*yumm*). I was so excited to tell him how much we loved his bread. He was excited to see what my green streaked hair would do with the green screen he was posing for pictures in front of. In case your wondering it went from this
Me with Chef Smith. Green hair and green screen

to this
I'm blue!
But back to bread!

The recipe so simple it's insane. I can recite it by memory, and here it goes:

In a big bowl I add 3 cups white flour, 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup other grains (which I blitz in my magic bullet for the sake of my texture sensitive kid), 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt - I use ground sea salt, and 2 1/4 cups warm water. My grains and flour are all organic but you can use conventional of course. Mix until it's all a goopy glob, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a quiet place in the house for 18 or so hours. Once  the waiting game is done the goop/dough doubles in size and I take it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and with floured hands knock it down. It's quite the wet stringy dough - don't worry about that. At this point you have a couple choices as Chef Smith describes in his recipe. You can either let it rise again in a loaf pan or on a Silpat with a floured tea-towel on top. After 2 or 3 hours it has doubled again and can be baked. If you've gone the loaf pan route the oven should be at 425 and the bread goes in for 45 minutes. If you've gone with the Silpat you'll need to heat a cast iron or enamel pot with a lid in a 450 degree oven then flop your dough gently into the pot, bake for 30 minutes with the lid on then 15 minutes with the lid off.

The finished product looks like this
I would have showed you the whole loaf but it doesn't last very long around here!

The bread is dense, a bit moist, keeps well and really really good. I was asked to bake bread with my daughters class as they are learning about pioneers. I brought this recipe and it was a hit - I've even had parents come to me asking for the recipe after their kids came home raving about it. So if you've ever thought of making bread but haven't had the inclination to try I recomend you try making this bread or heck, it's so easy, get your kids to do it!

Thanks for stopping by, I'm going to go have some bread now.

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