How To Make Awesome Bread (Coronavirus Apocolypse Survival Edition)

in #food7 months ago

finished_loaf.jpg

Did your mom ever make you those soggy ass sandwiches with ghetto grocery store Wonder Bread? Do you cringe at the though of scraping compressed, gooey dough off the roof of your mouth? Are you still eating that shit to this day?

Well just cut it out already!

You can have yourself a delicious loaf of white bread. Crunchy on the outside, soft yet firm and moist on the inside. It is so easy to make at home that you will be kicking yourself for all that funky bread that you've been consuming; like forever.

The first time I realized that I've been eating crap was about 13 years ago when I flew to England to visit my wife's family. We went into a Tesco supermarket and picked up a fresh loaf of "Tiger Bread". I stuck a piece in the toaster and buttered it up and was all like:

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IT'S SO GOOD.

My British friends right now are likely thinking to themselves, "huh?". Fair enough. You probably haven't spent a lifetime eating grocery store bread here in America. Even the fancy breads in the bakery are usually awful. Too often they are dry, hard as a rock, or overly fluffy and soft. Too many bakers just don't know how to make bread in this country, or are simply unwilling to let the yeast do its thing. Sorry if that triggers some of my overtly patriotic countrymen, but I'm calling it as it is.

When I got home, I spent months trying to bake the perfect loaf that rivals a standard fresh British loaf. After a lot of trial and error, I'm confident that I have nailed it. I've been making them for years now. Even my wife proclaims that it's way better than the Tesco loaf. Anyway let's get down to business.


Here are the ingredients that you will need:

500 Grams Bread Flour
1 Tablespoon Butter
1.5 Teaspoons Sugar
1.5 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Packet of Dry Yeast
300 Millileters Warm Water
optional: Shredded Cheese of your choosing

Extremely Important Note: If in England, use Strong Flour. If in Canada, use All Purpose Flour. In America, DO NOT use all purpose flour as it's very different from the Canadian variety. You'll get a brick. Different countries use different amounts of proteins and gluten in their flour. If you don't use the right flour, it will suck. I highly recommend King Arthur Flour Unbleached Bread Flour if in the USA.

I can't speak for the rest of the world, so I would suggest using flour labeled as bread flour to be safe.

ingredients.jpg

The ingredients in the above image are all you need to make a fantastic loaf. So lets get on with this shit. No excuses, it's too damn easy.


Step 1: Activate Yeast - Mix with Water and Sugar

Make sure that the 300 Ml of water is pretty warm, but not super hot. It shouldn't scald your finger. Empty the yeast packet into the water, add the sugar and stir until well mixed.

activate_yeast.jpg

I do this first so that the yeast has time to proof while I'm preparing the dough. Some people throw the yeast right into the flour, but I think it's better to activate it first. This way you can tell if the yeast is no good. It should start to foam and bubble after a few minutes. If it just sits there after a good 10 minutes, then the yeast if probably dead. Grab another pack.


Step 2: Measure out 500 Grams of Flour

The easiest way that I've found is to use a scale like the one in the below image. Put your empty bowl on the scale, turn it on to calibrate to zero grams, the pour the flour until it says 500G. If you don't have a kitchen scale, just get one on Amazon. It's like 10 bucks, fool!

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That's it for the scale. You can put it away now.


Step 3: Add Salt, Pepper & Butter to Flour

Using your fingertips, fully integrate the butter, salt and pepper into the flour.

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Try to get the butter nicely distributed. It's easier to start off with room temperature butter, but I've used cold butter in a pinch. You just have to work a bit harder. Ain't nobody got time for that.


Step 4: Add Yeasty Water to Flour Mixture and Combine

At this point, the yeast/sugar water mixture should look a bit foamy, something like in the image below. Pour the mixture directly into the flour. Use something like a butter knife or a chopstick to mix it up. It should not be that difficult if you used the correct amount of water. I prefer to use a chopstick because the sound of a metal utensil on the bowl makes me grind my teeth. But I clearly have issues.

mix_dough.jpg

Once the mixture looks similar to the one in the 4th image, you're ready to move on to the next step. It doesn't take long at all.


Step 5: Knead the Dough, Yo!

Wipe off the excess from the chopstick and get your hands in there. Squeeze it all together a bit, then pour everything out onto a clean surface. Start working the dough, folding it into itself until it gets a smooth consistency.

knead_dough.jpg

A little bit of advice. You don't have to knead the bread for a specific amount of time, like say 10 minutes. Just knead it until it's smooth and consistent. There is such a thing as over-kneading. The gluten gets overworked and that shit becomes a hard brick. Just do enough to get it smooth and stretchy.


Step 6: Allow Dough to Rise in a Warm Spot - Be Patient!

This is probably the most important step. If you won't allow the yeast to feast, your bread will suck ass. So give it some time to rise! Put the dough ball back into the mixing bowl, cover it, and put it somewhere warm. I like to stick mine out on the balcony under the sun for 2 hours or so.

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The dough will grow to about double in size after a couple of hours or so. If it's cold, it may take longer. If you accidentally forgot about it for a bit, it will start to form a dry layer on the outside like mine did. Oops! It's not a huge deal, but you can avoid this by rubbing a bit of butter or oil around the outside of the loaf before sitting it out to rise.


Step 7: Proofing Dough and Forming the Loaf

Proofing is just a fancy way to describe the process of allowing the dough to rise a second time after forming the loaf. Pull the risen dough out of the bowl, fold it a few times on a clean surface and form it into the shape of a loaf. Put the dough onto a cooking tray that has been dusted with a bit of flour. I like to use one of those hollow cookie sheets. I tend to get really good results.

proofing_dough.jpg

My formed loaf looks a little oily because I rubbed a bit of butter on the outside so that it wouldn't get any drier during the proofing process.

Optional Step - Add Cheese!

At this point, you can optionally sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of the loaf. I like to use a good cheddar with a strong flavor. It's totally up to you, though.

add_cheese.jpg

Pile the cheese high right on top of the loaf like a triangle. It will melt nicely into the top of the loaf and spread evenly on its own.


Step 8: Wait 30, Then Bake 30 Minutes @ 385°F

Once you've formed the loaf and optionally added cheese, let the loaf sit in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. You can pre-heat your oven at some point during the wait. I like to get the oven heating up and sit the loaf on top of the stove. The heat from the oven helps to get that second rise.

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Put the loaf in the oven in the middle rack and let it cook for 30 minutes. You can leave it in for a few more minutes to make it extra crispy, but don't overdo it.


Step 9: Take Out the Loaf and Transfer to a Cooling Rack

Finally finished! If you followed my instructions you now have yourself an insanely yummy loaf of bread. Take the loaf out of the oven and transfer it to some kind or wire rack. Otherwise it sweats a bit and the bottom can get soggy.

finished_loaf_on_tray.jpg

Man, that crust looks delish!! I can't wait to cut into it, but it needs to cool for a bit.

loaf_on_rack.jpg

Give it a little time to cool down a bit and have at it!


Step 10: Slice and Enjoy!

That's all there is to it! I realize that this is a really long post, but I wanted it to be exhaustive since a lot of people seem to think that this is a really difficult process. Once you have done it a few times, you'll be wishing that you were making your own bread your whole life. We order cases of flour and store them in the cupboard.

These loaves are great for 2 or 3 days, but start to get hard after that. That's what you get with fresh bread without all those nasty preservatives.

sliced_bread.jpg

One option to make it last longer is to slice it right after baking and stick it in a large zip-lock bag and toss it in the freezer. Then you can get slices out when you want them and stick them right in the toaster. They are fantastic!

sliced_loaf.jpg

Doesn't that look tasty?


About half of the images were taken with a Canon 7D and 50mm lens while the rest were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone. Can you spot which are taken with which camera?

I hope you enjoyed this post, written in my someone obnoxious style. I had fun taking the photos and sharing it with you all. If you decide to try out this recipe, please take some pictures and post them here in the comments section. I'd love to see your results!

Note: This is mostly a re-post from last year that seemed relevant for the times. I was inspired by all the recent Facebook posts complaining about price gouging things like bread.

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Hehe, you're dead right, making bread is very easy (I wonder where the tough reputation it has came from). The main thing I discovered was learning how to fit it into your routine. Some very organised people (not me) make it on Friday night, leave to prove overnight and bake fresh for breakfast on Saturday!

Cross-posted to the breadbakers community.

Thanks, @shanibeer! I didn't even know there was a breadbakers community. I'll have to check it out and post my Banana Nut Bread recipe.

Yeah, we'd love to have that in breadbakers!

I wonder where the tough reputation it has came from

Something in my head about it not rising I think. I would like to try some, especially with that cheese attached!

Ah yes, it was always a bit touch and go. It's much easier now, you have to work quite hard to mess it up. I don't bother with putting the yeast in water first ... I just mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, dried yeast, sugar - don't leave the yeast sitting on the salt, mix straightaway), rub in the butter, add tepid water and mix (actually, I use oil rather than butter and add to the warm water). Leave for ten minutes once well mixed, then go into the routine above. It seems to work that the more relaxed about it you are, the better the bread turns out.

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It looks very tasty. 😋

It's really good! You should give it a try, and send me photos :)

Looks awesome. Bread has a reputation of being tough to make so I won't your despite your detailed post!

I have never heard of Tiger bread? I eat Warburton's medium and love it.. that's if the shops have any.. it's hard to buy now due to the zombies panicking.

While in the US I can't recall eating bread at all. Maybe I tried it once and it was as bad as you claim.

Thanks, @slobberchops. If you get the Warburton's you probably never see the tiger loaf if you're shopping in Tesco for instance. The bagged loafs are on the shelves while the tiger bread is over in the fresh baked area.

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They get that cracked appearance from the rice flour paste they put on the top that cracks as the bread rises and bakes. I stopped making the paste in favor of putting cheese on top, but they both taste great!

And yes, you aren't missing much with most American breads. The only thing it is good for is ghetto grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Pertinent post for the times and it looks delicious. I'm going to give it a shot!

Awesome! Let me know how it goes.

I really wish you lived closer to me Rick , I can almost smell it from here 😀
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Try it out, Andy! I have an 8 pack of bread flour in my cupboard that I bought months ago and it's been lasting me a long time. The loaves end up costing barely anything and I can have fresh bread any time I want.

Hmmmm! Maybe I will do just that ~ See you in Hive Rick 😎

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You make me hungry! Love the recipe - exactly like it should be. I live alone, so slicing the bread and freezing it is what I do. I share your passion for being creative in the kitchen. With me it is mostly cooking, but you inspire me to try baking bread!
Being in self-quarantine right now, I have all the time in the world to do this, and I can get the ingredients in the store right across from my apartment block.

Very cool! I bet you can get some delicious bread in Austria though. But definitely take care of yourself and stay away from the crowds. I hope to see you on Hive, my friend.

Give it a try! I am sure you'll like it. It's just as good as any basic white bread you get in the store. (Better in my opinion)

I also make a really good banana nut bread. I may have posted it before but I'm not quite sure. I'll try to find it and perhaps re-post as well! I've been reading a lot about people not being able to get any bread and it's sad because it is so simple to bake.

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