I love making bread. I have many breads that I still want to attempt, but the ones that I have so far learned to make, my family, friends and I have thoroughly enjoyed! I know that many people are intimidated by bread making. I was! My mom never made anything that I can remember with yeast, so I thought it was something really hard to do. As I shared about in my post a few days ago, Mrs. Classen advised me over the telephone how to make rolls and cinnamon rolls, both from the same dough. Since then I have added a few more recipes to my repertoire. It’s been fun to learn! I have many, many more types of bread that I’d like to learn to make. How about you? Have you ever thought about learning to make bread? Are you interested?
So was the lovely poet, Emily Dickinson:
“I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, saleratus, etc., with a deal of grace. I advise you if you don’t know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch.”
Emily Dickinson, American poet (1830-1886)
(Saleratus is a leavening agent consisting of potassium or sodium bicarbonate, in case you were wondering. )
Bread baking is very enjoyable to me; I love the smell of the flour and the yeast when I am mixing it together. I love to watch my mixer swirling everything around in the big bowl, turning it into a big ball of dough. I love turning it out onto the countertop and kneading it by hand. It’s a very sensory experience!
I love watching the dough rising. It’s a satisfying thing, as you go about your other projects in the kitchen, when you lift the cloth covering the big bowl of dough, to see that it is, indeed, working, and the dough is growing larger!
And then, the scent of the bread as it bakes; well, that’s just heavenly. That’s worth all the work you’ve put into it!
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M. F. K. Fisher (1908-1992)
If any of this has enticed you into thinking that perhaps you, too, should try making bread, I have the perfect recipe for a beginner. It’s much simpler than the recipe I shared that was Mrs. Classen’s, so it would be a good place to start if you’re a bit intimidated by the process.
This is a delicious recipe for French bread; you can make it into loaves, large or small, or into individual rolls.
Get out a big bowl! I am a bowl-collecting addict, so I love choosing which bowl I will use to rise my dough. Today I chose the new bowl my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. It’s very old and beautiful! I love it.
Now, let’s get to work. I promise you, you can do this!
MamaSteph’s Easy French Bread
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg. yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp if from a jar)
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 cups flour (unbleached has the best texture, in my opinion)
Mix first four ingredients together in mixer bowl until sugar and yeast granules are completely dissolved. Gradually add in flour. Knead out until smooth. Place into an oiled bowl, cover loosely, and let rise until double in a warm spot, about an hour. It’s ok to go longer; I usually do.
Punch down the dough after it has risen. Let it rest for five minutes. Then you may make this dough into whatever form you prefer: loaves, large or small, or rolls. Rolls are easiest. I pinch off golf ball-sized pieces of dough, roll it around in my hands for a few seconds, then place on a lightly Pam-sprayed cookie sheet.
Cover loaves/rolls loosely again, and let rise until nicely risen, about an hour. Bake at 375 until golden brown on top.
Punching down the dough means exactly that: you smash it to deflate it, turn it over, press it a bit, and then leave it alone for five minutes.
In these photos, I made my dough into large rolls, as I knew the boys would be able to put lots of salami or turkey and cheese on them to make large sandwiches with them. Here are some various shots of them as they progress:
I would love to see some pictures of you trying this out, whether you’ve never made any kind of bread before or are adept at it already. Let me know how it turns out for you! Enjoy the experience, friends!