Skip to main content

Why I Learned to Bake Bread and You Should, Too!




 There is something about breaking your first loaf of bread from 'scratch' that is confidence building and leaves you with the sense that you can take on more than you imagined.

At least, that was my experience after I baked my first loaf of bread.

And that first loaf of bread was thanks to Jim Lahey's 'No-knead' long-rise method of making bread. I believe that everyone should bake a loaf of bread from scratch at least once. And then teach the same technique to your children.

Yes, I truly believe that the act of turning bread, water, and yeast into bread is that powerful...it is one of those seminal moments that are confidence building and empowering and will teach you that you are braver and better than you thought you were.

Why?

I believe there is something mystical and elemental about the act of baking bread that doesn't occur in other forms of cooking.

You take flour and water. Both relatively flavorless bland ingredients. You combine them with a teaspoon of yeast, and suddenly you have a rather bland paste.

You let that dough 'rest' for 12-18 hours and this paste becomes a fluffy dough.

Form it into a round, fluffy 'boule', let it rise for an additional two hours.

Then you bake it in a covered Dutch oven in a blazing hot oven set at 450F.

Forty-five minutes (or so) you have a beautiful crusty, airy loaf of bread. A thing of beauty that you can share with family and friends and which they will 'oh' and 'aw' about.

You will never be able to buy something similar in any store or bakery.

You might buy a fancier loaf from a professional baker, but I doubt you or your family will admit that your bread tasted any less spectacular than the one from a bakery.

Because it was made by you.

Is that a lot to ask from a loaf of bread? Sure.

But I promise you, take the challenge, bake your own bread and let me know if I'm wrong.

Here's a copy of Jim Lahey's recipe taken directly from his Sullivan Street Bakery website.

He gets full credit, I believe, in creating an entire new generation of happy home bread bakers.
I've mentioned him on this blog before, and I probably will again and again, but that's because I believe he deserves the accolades.



Formula and Process created by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan St Bakery 
Formula: 
    3 cups (430g) flour
    1½ cups (345g or 12oz) water
    ¼ teaspoon (1g) yeast
    1¼ teaspoon (8g) salt
    olive oil (for coating)
    extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal (for dusting)
      Equipment: 
        Two medium mixing bowls
        6 to 8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
        Wooden Spoon or spatula (optional)
        Plastic wrap
        Two or three cotton dish towels (not terrycloth) 
          Process: 
          Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
          Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

          Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.



          Enjoy!

          Love xo,

          Suzanne





          Comments

          Popular posts from this blog

          Women are Highly Esteemed in the Eyes of This Man

          I enter the sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace Church and my eyes adjust to the dimmed lights as the only illumination comes from candles on the altar and their glowing reflection in the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament.
          My friend and I had come to join the Mary and Martha’s quarterly meeting which started with an hour of Adoration.
          I took my seat in one of the pews, knelt, and surreptitiously glanced around the sanctuary. In the gloaming, I could see thirty other women kneeling like sentinels in silent prayer. 
          Over the course of the hour, we would remain in contemplative silence.
          As I slipped in and out of my prayers and wandering thoughts, I considered how pleased God must be when he sees us gathered in the simple and divine act of Adoration.
          But in fact, women are highly esteemed in God’s sight not matter where we are. 
          We only look at the life of Jesus Christ to understand how dearly he cherishes every woman.
          In the Gospel of Saint John, a group of men bring a woman caught i…

          When our spirit hungers

          The precocious toddler’s interest in talking to her mother grew in insistence as the gathered group settled in for an hour of silent prayer. Shushing didn’t work, so the mother led her child into an adjoining room where she would still be part of the sanctuary, but sound would be dampened. Despite the closed door and heavy glass walls, the child’s fervent desire to speak with her mother was still audible.
          I said a prayer for the patient mother determined to stay, and for the child who was either tired or hungry or impatient for Mom’s undivided attention. And then tried to bring my wandering thoughts back to prayer. I had come to Adoration with my own pressing need for answers.
          Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a growing emptiness in my heart. A void, as if something is missing. It’s not psychological. Not physical. After doing an internal check, I determined it’s a spiritual void that I’m experiencing.
          No, I’m not doubting God, his existence or goodness. I have full confidence in…

          If you are tired of the guilt trip you usually feel at church, here’s a different perspective

          I am counting the days until I fly to Fort Lauderdale to see Mom for Christmas. Yes, I speak with her every day, sometimes twice a day. But as you know, phone calls just aren’t the same as being with someone you love. I look forward to seeing Mom’s smile, to holding her hand, to going for a drive along the beach with her. Spending time in the presence of someone we love enriches our relationship with them.
          I believe the love I feel for Mom, is a sliver of what God feels for each of us. I believe God longs to share that love with us. Which is why we are called to spend time in God’s presence daily. We experience God’s presence when we meet him in our prayers, in church, and hopefully in one another. If I could make one wish for each of us, it would be that at some point during the next four weeks of Advent we would experience how much Jesus loves us.



          The Best Christmas

          During my morning devotions, I read these two verses of Psalm 117:
          Praise theLord,all you nations;
          extol him, all you peop…