Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Aspiring Farmer Blog
After just over five months on the farm we’re slowly chipping away at providing the day-to-day essentials for ourselves. By day-to-day essentials, of course, I mean things like bread and beer. Baking and brewing are two things I’ve taken to doing on nights and very early mornings when I have a little bit of free time. Until a neighbor dropped by with a book on breadmaking we were still eating stale baguettes from the grocery store with our Pasta Carbonara.
We both love bread, Sweetbreads having been spoiled by six years of life in Italy and both of us being spoiled by Amy’s Bread, Sullivan St, and many others in NYC. For me at least I viewed baking as something very time-consuming and completely out of my league. Grandma’s bread recipes and stories of toiling away for hours in the kitchen didn’t seem that appealing to me. Eating the bread did, but all that labor was out of the question.
Then I tried the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book and it changed our bread-eating lives. I have no affiliation with the authors or the book. They don’t know who I am and unless an Amazon sponsored ad for the book pops up Farm Dreams isn’t getting paid by them either. My purpose in sharing is because I think other beginning (or existing) farmers are probably in our shoes too. You want good bread, but there’s nowhere in your small town to get it, and the labor involved with making it is too much to bear on a daily basis.
I know the Bread Making group on Farm Dreams is very active and I'm sure has tons of advice, but I haven't even joined it yet! I will now though. Such a slacker.
Normally, I’d be hesitant to blow the recipe by sharing it here, except for the fact that all the other recipes and variations on the “Master Recipe” are so good that you’ll have to buy the book anyway. I debated scanning the master recipe and giving the book back to our neighbor without worrying about buying the book, but then I tried the Naan recipe and some of the other breads and realized that unless I wanted to photocopy the whole 200+ page book I’d need to shell out the cash and just get the book. You’ll make the cost back in a couple loaves anyway...
So here’s my simple version of the Master Recipe
3 cups water at body temp
1.5 tablespoons granulated yeast
1.5 tablespoons kosher salt
6.5 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose flour (although I sub organic white and wheat flours. More wheat will make it chewier)
Cornmeal (or Semolina) for pizza peel
1.) Add yeast and salt to body temperature water. Mix it in, but don’t worry about getting it to completely dissolve
2.) Mix in the flour by scooping it on top of the water mixture, don’t knead it
3.) Mix with a big food processor, a wooden spoon or a Kitchen Aid with dough hook attached. When everything is moist without dry spots you’re done. I use our Kitchen Aid it’s usually less than a minute on the lowest speed
4.) Let rise for 2 hours. I leave the mixture in the Kitchen Aid, cover with some plastic wrap and leave a little crack for air to get out. If you don’t leave a crack it’ll blow. Apparently there’s food grade dough storage bins you can buy too.
5.) After the rise you can use the dough whenever you want. Throw a little flour on top, put some flour on your hands and grab a chunk. Cut it off with a serrated knife. Form a ball and stretch the dought inside out four times, turning the ball a quarter turn each time. Rest it on a pizza peel covered in cornmeal and let it rise for 40 minutes
6.) 20 minutes before you want to bake turn the over preheat on to 450 degrees
7.) After the rise and preheat, slide the dough from the peel onto a baking stone and let it bake for about 30 minutes.
There you have it. When you first set the bread out you can dust the top with some flour and take a serrated knife and slash a design in the top. That makes it look professional and might impress your guests. If you use wheat for ½ or ⅓ of the recipe it will turn out a little chewier, but will be very good. That’s usually what I do.
With the remaining dough you can store in the same container in the refrigerator, remembering to give it a little breathing room. Or you can store in tupperware or a ceramic container with a crack opened in the lid. The books says it will store for two weeks, but I guarantee the dough won’t make it that long.
Longer term I'd like to grow, harvest and mill our grains. Perhaps even get a little more in-depth on bread making, but for now this method really fits the bill. Enjoy
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