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Food

Baking Bread at Home- A Recipe to Enjoy

January 11, 2022

Baking bread was one of those activities that became a trend during the pandemic, though during the height of the lockdowns it was a miracle if you could find any flour or yeast at a local supermarket. Many became quite creative, using whole wheat or gluten free flour when white bread flour was not available. It seemed like everyone was baking bread and posting the results, successful or otherwise, online, and then suddenly everyone just stopped. Sourdough overload may have taken hold, or the realization that most bread recipes result in lots of bread around the house. There are few things in the world as irresistible as freshly baked bread and extra carbs are probably the last thing needed in a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Buying exercise machines soon replaced the baking bread trend, but once in a while, especially during the colder months, it is wonderful to take the time and bake some homemade bread.

 

Bread

 

2 1/2 cups warm water, 105-115 degrees F

1 package active dry yeast, about 2 1/4 teaspoons

1 tablespoon sugar

7 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons Greek sea salt

1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl

 

Pour 1/2 cup of the warm water into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, add the yeast and sugar and whisk together. Set aside to rest until creamy about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of warm water and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Using the dough hook attachment, turn on and off a few times at low speed to begin mixing without the flour flying everywhere. Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups flour and mix on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as need with a spatula until the dough begins to come together. Add the salt and continue to beat, increasing the speed to medium, for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add the olive oil and continue to beat until incorporated. This may take some time, so don’t be discouraged if it looks like the dough has come apart. Once the oil is incorporated, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, large enough to hold double the volume of the dough, turning the dough over to cover it in oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If preferred, or if your kitchen is too cool temperature-wise, heat the oven to 200 degrees F, then switch off and place the bowl with the dough in the warm oven to rise.

Once the dough is doubled in size, deflate the dough by punching it down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough in half, then in half again, to make four loaves. To make eight smaller loaves, divide in half again. Working with one piece at a time, and keeping the rest covered, pat the piece of dough into a large rectangle. With the short side facing you, starting at the top, fold the dough 2/3 of the way down the rectangle and fold again so the top edge meets the bottom edge. Pinch to seal the seam and then turn the ends in and pinch to seal. Place the shaped loaf with the seam side down on a baking pan and continue shaping the other pieces of dough. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot about 80 degrees F for the second rise, until the loaves double in size again, about 45 minutes.

Once the loaves are risen, bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven on the middle rack for about 35- 45 minutes or until golden and a knock on each loaf produces a hollow sound. Remove the baked loaves from the oven and the pans and cool directly on wire racks. Slice when almost completely cooled, or cool completely.

The bread can be kept on the counter for a day or two in a brown paper bag. Once cut, cover with a kitchen towel. The bread can be kept longer by wrapping airtight and freezing for up to a month. When ready to use, thaw the frozen bread, still wrapped, at room temperature, heat up in a 375 degree F oven for a few minutes. 

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