Bread is another one of those mystical culinary creations that everyone thinks they can’t make, and many have not even tried. Yet, it is one of the simplest, most pleasant, and most truly satisfying foods you can pull from your oven. I mean, look at the ingredients:
Two of those are water, one cold, one tepid (under 110 deg. F). You have yeast, sugar, salt, a tablespoon of whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 cups of bread flour. First, you proof your yeast in the tepid water mixed with the sugar. When you stir them together, they look like this:
After about five minutes, they look like this:
The foam means the yeast is active (anyone ever see the Good Eats episode where Alton Brown says the yeast are belching? Now making bread is funny, too, in a completely adolescent way that makes me giggle), and it’s time to mix the dough.
The flours and salt go into the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Turn on the mixer, and slowly pour in the yeast mixture (the cold water was mixed into it beforehand).
The dough begins to form, and once it is elastic and clinging to the dough hook, it’s time to do the finishing kneading by hand. There are no pictures of me doing this, because, well I was kneading the dough. I’ll try to conscript a photographer from within my household for the second kneading. When the dough is no longer sticky, and is smooth, form a ball, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour. Julia turns on her oven for 1 1/2 minutes, puts the dough in, turns off the oven. That works for me.
See you in an hour or so.