I know, it's been a while. Not quite what I promised. Work (and life) has been, well, busy. So, I decided to give you this, for now, as a friend asked if I could email this recipe, and I thought this might be... not easier, but more fun, somehow. So, here it is:
This recipe will make two nice-sized, loaves. It is quite easy, and therapeutic, to make.
3/4 oz active dry yeast (3 packages) or 1oz fresh yeast
2C warm water (or a little more, as needed)
7-8C flour (I use a combination of about 6 cups all-purpose unbleached, and the rest whole wheat. But if I have almond, or other, flour, I'll throw that in to equal the 8C) I mentioned, before, the experimentation...
a little extra flour for dusting, etc.
1. Dissolve the yeast and honey in 1C of the water. Do not make the mistake I made the first time I did this (as the other times I've made bread, it was without honey). Let me tell you, the yeast LOVES the honey, and will grow, grOW, GROW quickly. So, do NOT walk away, do not make coffee, have breakfast, kiss your love on the cheek... move on... to measuring for step 2.
2. Measure out the flour and salt on a large surface (or in a large bowl) into a big pile. Make a well in the center.
3. Pour the yeast mix into the well. Work (with your hand) out from the center to mix the dry flour/salt into the yeast. Pour in the rest of the water to bring in all of the flour. Adjust the quantity of flour as needed to make a moist dough.
4. Knead for about 5 minutes. Use extra flour as necessary. The dough will become elastic and stick together (to itself) and less and less to your hands.
(You can do #2,3, and 4 in an electric mixer. My KitchenAid Artisan set at #2 setting with the dough hook attachment was amazing. Then, I pulled out the dough and couldn't resist kneading a bit more-it's fun, after all!)
5. Form the dough into a ball (of sorts) and place in a lightly greased bowl. You can score the top with a sharp knife, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap to speed the process. Leave to rise to about double-this takes about 45-90 minutes depending on the temperature of the surroundings.
6. Now, punch down the dough, and divide in two.
7. Shape and leave to rise again to double. (If you plan on filling the bread, this is where you'd do that.) If you leave the bread as-is, in loaves, it is best to score the tops again. This is also the best time to preheat your oven-for basic bread, 425F is the temp.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You can tell it is done when you tap the bottom, and the bread sounds "hollow." (This makes perfect sense the first time you hear the sound.)
9. As hard as it is, leave the bread on a cooling rack for about 1 hour before slicing or eating.
At #7, you can roll the bread out, fill with meats, spices, and/or olives, raisins... pesto (home-made, of course)... olive tapenade (ditto)... herbs and olive oil... nuts and dried fruits... the possibilities are endless, really. Then, roll back up, and leave as is, or cut (with a very sharp knife) into 2cm slices and place side by side in a pan to rise for the remainder of step 7. If you do the latter, your baking time will be reduced to about 20-22 minutes. Your cooling time is also reduced (about 30 minutes)-BONUS!!
Eat well... :)