It dawned on me a few days ago that I have never tried making bread. And I don’t mean dessert fruit bread but real bread, made with love and kneaded with my own hands. So many people say, “well don’t you need a bread maker?”. No you moron, did they have bread makers back in the day? I wanted to make bread from scratch, just like they used to do before the days of bread makers. I started looking on my favourite food blogs for a recipe and some techniques. I stumbled upon this recipe on one of my favourites Food Coma. I initially saw just the picture of the finished bread, but when I clicked on it it said it was made in a Dutch Oven. Ohhhemmmmgeeee. I have been known recently to have an obsession with my own Dutch Oven.
I started looking at different recipes to see how they varied. To be honest, I was really shocked at how simple it is. Why don’t more people bake their own bread? Nothing beats fresh bread, still warm from the oven to go with dinner. Most of the recipes were made from 4 different ingredients. Flour, yeast, water and salt. Sweet, I have all of those things! I followed the recipe from Food Coma Blog but of course I couldn’t just follow the recipe exactly, so I added my own flare with some of my favourite herbs. My mix? Some dried basil, oregano and thyme.
I had heard that you can rise your bread dough in the fridge over night, so I googled it and it lead me to this blog called A Bread A Day. This is where I encountered my first step to bread making failure. Yes, failure. Here is where I found the Autolyse Method. It was supposed to be a simple way of getting the maximum amount of flavor out of your bread by mixing the flour and water only then letting it stand for 20 mins, then adding the rest of the ingredients. So not only was I attempting to bake bread for the first time, I was also going to use this method for the first time. So I made my bread dough following this method. I thought it was strange to add the yeast later because I thought you had to activate it with warm water. But hey, this was google and google is usually right isn’t it?
I woke up the next day super excited to see my over night bread dough. I imagined it was going to fill the whole entire bowl and be light and puffy. I opened up the fridge and to my surprise it looked exactly like it did the night before. You could even see all of the inactivated yeast. BUMMER! Disappointed is an understatement. I was determined to make a loaf of bread, I mean, how hard could it be? So I whipped up a new batch of bread dough (without the doomed Autolyse Method. Someone tell me what I did wrong!) and fired it into the fridge to slowly ferment while I was out and about. The slower the fermentation the longer it will last and it will also have a sourdough flavor which happens to be my favourite.
When I got home, I took the bread dough out and let it come up to room temperature. Then I punched it down and kneaded it on a lightly floured surface and let it proof over our fireplace. It doubled in size in about 2 hours. My oven is horribly inaccurate but I set it to what the dials said was 400 degrees F. I left the lid on for 15 minutes as Emma did, but I had to bake it for an additional 30 minutes to get a nice crust, and to be honest, I think it could have gone even longer than that.
I tested out the bread on the hooligans and they seemed to like it. It tasted similar to focaccia bread and my friend Christine had a great idea to dip it into oil and vinegar. Yum! I’m already thinking of all the different breads I want to make so expect more bread recipes in the future! I don’t know why I waited so long to try making bread, it’s so simple and easy to put your own flare on it.