Sunday, January 27, 2019

Carbo Warbo January......

It's winter, time for soup and what goes with soup? Bread!  I quit buying bread sometime around October.  The bread I love and my body seems to love is about $4-$6 a loaf depending where I buy it.   And this wasn't so much about the cost as it was about taste, freshness, carbon footprint.  The loaf got shipped in from California frozen, but it was sprouted and whole grain and easy for me to digest.

Since October I dropped down the sourdough rabbit hole and this post is not about sourdough and I do not ever see myself needing to go down that rabbit hole again, fill it in and plant a flower on that hole! Who has time and if I ever want anything in my life that kneady (pun intended) I will get another dog or a bird or hamster.  Sheesh! 

I've fooled around with bread making for the last 40 years on and off.  I think I finally came up with a system that is sustainable for my lifestyle.  Yup, there are a whole lot buzz words for you!  But this is working for me and maybe you too!  Best part; not a lot of rules! 

My life in bread; The Tassajara Bread Book by Ed Brown bought in 1970!  Then there were family recipes, library shelves of bread baking books, Martha Stewart, Breads of the World and my final book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoe Francois. 

So this is my version of all the wheat fields I waded through, countless bricks I fed my family declaring this was good for them,  just shut up and eat it.  After all this time, this is the system and recipe that floated to the top.

1. Buy yeast; buy a lot of yeast!  I take myself to GFS and buy the big bag of yeast, because it's cheap, $2.89 for a 1 pound bag or 32 Tablespoons.  You need 1 Tablespoon for every 3 loaves of bread. That is 96 loaves of bread.  Store it in the freezer and it will keep for years.  I have used 5 year old yeast with no problems. 

2. Buy flour.  I buy good flour usually organic because I am done eating RoundUp (a carcinogenic weed killer that your neighbor is probably spraying by the gallon).  I can only get flour by the 5 pound bag and I just bought a bag of Bob's Organic for $3.99.  There are 16 cups in a 5 pound bag of flour. 
You get about 9 - 10 loaves out of a bag of flour. 

2. Make enough dough for 3-4 loaves.  If your gonna make a mess go big!  I used to make a mess every other day to make bread; what a waste of time and energy!  Monday morning I make enough dough for a week and half of bread in this house. 

Here is the original recipe from the book:

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast or 2 packets
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup rye 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Here is my recipe: 

5 cups of water cold
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
1 tablespoon Kosher salt 
2 cups of unbleached flour (sometimes it's bread flour, sometimes all purpose)
1 cup of sprouted wheat flour
at least 1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup of bran soaked for 20 minutes.  (soak your bran or it turns into little knives cutting through the gluten.  Oat bran or wheat bran) 
leftover oatmeal, faro, quinoa, sprouted grains (chopped in the food processor or blender), seeds, nuts, whatever; anything but leftover rice. 

I really do wing the flour part, it's what I have on hand.  

Here is what it should look like.  (and you do not need a fancy mixer; for years and years I used a big bread bowl and a wooden spoon)   If you have a mixer I put it on the low speed with the bread hook while I dig my bread pan out, empty the oven of cast iron and cookie sheets, wash up the breakfast dishes and it's done ...... so maybe 5-10 minutes.   If it's a little loose after a couple minutes I add a half cup of flour until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.  I have also let it go on the wet side and that makes great bread too (not as dense either) 

After it's done mixing I dump the dough in my bread container.  If I am out of bread I pinch off a piece the size of a cantaloupe and get it ready for a second rise.  The rest goes in the fridge.  You will need to punch it down once or twice once it's in the fridge as it will continue to rise until cooled off. 

Once it's cooled down it stays pretty contained.  Cold dough is a lot easier to work with than fresh dough.  Thursday morning I'm usually down to a crust of bread so it's time to whack off a chunk of dough from the mother lode in the fridge.  Sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour on the counter, form into a loaf and set to rise.  This will take less than 5 minutes, including cleanup.   I set the loaf to rise on a piece of parchment in a random bowl or colander. 

Score the top, otherwise it forms a skin and your will get a super dense loaf of bread.  Then you will need to say to your loving supportive family; Shut up and eat it, it's good for you!  The yeast needs an escape hatch.  Release the krack'n!!   At this point I go to the studio or garden or anywhere for 4-6 hours.  It's cold dough and it will take time to warm up and get that yeast excited again.  
The only thing you don't want it to do is collapse on itself.  If that happens, punch it down and start again.  It won't take as long for the yeast to work because it's finally warmed up and pretty excited, so maybe just an hour or two. 
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  and put a dutch oven in the cold oven while you preheat the oven.   I am using a 3.25 qt dutch oven, that is very cute. 

When the oven is hot and the dutch oven is hot.  Take the lid off the hot dutch oven, pick up your dough by the edges of the parchment paper and plop it down in the hot dutch oven. 

Slam the cover on the dutch and pop it back in the oven.  Set the timer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes take the lid off and reset the timer for another 30 minutes.   At the end of the last 30 minutes .......
Ta Daaaaa . 
Wait an hour to cut into the loaf of bread! 

This bread runs me under $1 a loaf.  

Speaking of carbs ..... how about pasta?  
3 eggs, 3 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon Kosher salt and poof! 

Tip: don't hang your noodles over the back of chair if you have a big dog...... 
Tasted and approved by Kirby. 

The spaghetti sauce is from last summers roasted tomatoes.  
Meatless meatballs and homemade pasta; dinner is served! 

And back to fermenting water Kefir.  A wonderful person shared her water kefir grains with me and I cannot be more thankful for the kindness of strangers.  And she has big adopted dog and gardens too! 

And all these carbs........ well back to the bike! 

Happy baking everybody!! 


  1. OK, you have INSPIRED me, Sandy!!!

    I got a new over last month but have barely used it yet--
    I'm so used to NOT being able to bake because the old oven was "unreliable", to put it mildly.
    Different temperatures in different parts of the oven...

    Also, the whole stove slanted forward (old floors),
    so any cake would be high & doughy on one end,
    and low and burned on the other.
    (I've lived in my little apartment almost 17 years and it was an antique when I moved in.)

    Soooo... haven't made bread in years!

    We're due to be below zero most of this week, here in Mpls
    ---bread baking is the perfect excuse to have the oven on!
    I'll go flour and yeast shopping and let you know how my first attempts go.

    In my experience, even a brick bread is pretty good fresh out of the oven... if you put enough BUTTER on it! :)

    Thanks for the tutorial!

    1. Fresca! I love brick toast for breakfast, I feel like I'm gonna live LOL!

  2. OK! Now on this coldest day of the year/decade/century so far (-28ºF), I made my Sicilian auntie's "Italian Olive Oil Rolls" and they were great, and my apartment is now warm!
    Thanks again for the inspiration. :)

    Basic white bread, but made with olive oil.

    Italian Oil Rolls
    Makes 1 doz.

    1 pkg. dry yeast, or 1 cake compressed yeast
    1 cup water (warm)
    2 T sugar
    1 ½ t salt
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 egg
    3 ½ cups flour

    1. You made BREAD!!!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe from your Sicilian aunt, you know I will try it! I've been baking to warm the house, the polar vortex has landed. Hope you are warm and the store is closed! Hope everyone got out of the cold too. Our windchill hit -34 today and supposed to be colder tomorrow, not sure how it could be colder. Maybe tomorrow cookies! :) !!

  3. You make it sound so easy, Sandy !

  4. I like the idea of baking the bread in a dutch oven! Now I may have to be on a search for a good deal on a smaller one.

    1. I see you scored a beautiful LeCrueset piece! You could make a low rider loaf in that one :) I was just up at TJMaxx and they had a sweet little Cuisinart dutch oven, a little over 3 quarts. That is the one I currently use and just love that size! I think it was around $40 on the sale rack!