Cooking with Carmen: Bread

I'm back to blogging! Last year was busy, new job, now a new kitchen, a two year old. I find that at the moment I need some ME time to write a few things down.

People keep asking me for the recipes I use, well.  I peruse multiple blogs everyday while commuting on the train mostly (Pinterest is the devil,) some are good, some are not, but one thing that I enjoy are the recipe's and pictures. I find that while I'll post pictures and comments on Facebook about things that I make. I never really write about my modifications because I almost always modify things. Only recently have I started writing down for myself my changes instead of relying upon my memory. My copy of The Joy of Cooking has notes all over the place.

Michael and I had a big lunch yesterday at Shake Shack (delicious.) So we decided to give Ella some dinner, and have a salad later (after bedtime.) Maybe some cheese and crackers. Well. In all my pregnant cravery. I decided we must have crusty bread with our salad. What's better really. Nothing.
So I went to my bookmarks, and pulled up my Fast Crusty Bread Recipe that I found a year or so ago when I wanted fresh bread on a Sunday night at 8 o'clock. Not easy to find I tell you. The blog is called Butterpies (clever, what's better than butter and pie.)  Turns out the lady that posted it on her blog had gotten the recipe from another blog herself. Brilliant theft I say. So here is it. The only picture I will include is the final product. You don't need to see a picture of a bowl with bubbling yeast.

1.5 cups of warm water (aim for about 110, I use my meat thermometer, and here in NY you can get that temp from the tap)
1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or honey) I use honey, the MS is too flavory.
1 tablespoon plus 1.5 teaspoons of active yeast (use quick rise, use reg. it fine)
1.5 teaspoons salt (add this ONLY to the flour not the warm water and yeast, it will kill the yeast)
3 cups flour (sometimes it's 4 cups, sometimes 3 1/4 depends on the weather.) I use a combo of AP, white whole wheat, and sometimes add a 1/4 cup of flax meal.

1.Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2.Combine Yeast, Honey, and Water, and whisk to make sure Honey is incorporated. Let it sit for about 10 min. till it's bubbly.

I do all of this in the kitchen aid with the dough hook. If you don't have one, a spoon will do.

3.Add the flour and salt to water yeast mix.
mix on med/slow for a few min. Once it starts to really come together (you may want to add more flour if it seems super sticky) scrape the sides of the bowl, and then mix a bit more. it should start to look sort of smooth and elasticky.

4.Take it out of the bowl, if it's still sticky knead it on the counter (with a little flour) until it's less sticky. Mold it into a log loaf, or round loaf. Cover with a clean cloth, and let it sit for 20 min.

In order for it to have as little as movement as possible before putting it in the oven I let the loaf rise on parchment, and on the pizza peal ( I use a stone to bake it on, if you don't have one, get one, it will change your life, and make amazing TV worthy biscuits, but use a baking sheet if you don't have one it will still be yummy)

After 20 min. take a very sharp knife and make a few slices along the top if it's a long loaf, or do a cross if it's a round one. Then put it in the oven.

Bake for 20 min.

Let it cool a bit, and chow down.
You will not be disappointed.
This is an easy recipe to do with children, let them help. It'll be even funner and yummyer.

This ends the first installment of Cooking with Carmen. 

Even Keels