Friends, making real, wholesome, bread is so easy.
In January 2014 I cut gluten, desperate to feel better. I even went to France and Germany and refrained from eating pastries and pretzels! Most of you that know me know I'm usually not that disciplined.
While cutting gluten did make me feel better for awhile, it didn't last. After learning more about gluten, and jumping on the Cooked/Michael Pollan train (if you haven't watched the docu series and you love food, it's a MUST) I was curious to try REAL bread again. If you've watched the docu series, real bread = bread WITH holes!
As my curiosity continued, a foodie co-worker brought in a fresh loaf of homemade bread one morning. Fresh bread and butter sat in the kitchen tempting me for about an hour until I caved.
Guess what, I felt AMAZING after eating it! I had to have the recipe. But I was still intimidated to try making my own bread. Here come the excuses: It takes forever, yeast is fussy, and what if it just ends up being a big gooey half-baked blob? My efforts could potentially be a huge waste of time. Plus, I don't have a dutch oven. They're expensive and take up too much space. 'I'm not adult enough for a dutch oven' I thought.
For Christmas my mom gave me a beautiful dutch oven and I was finally out of excuses. I looked up the recipe and gave it my best shot.
With the bread gods on my side, I ended up with a beautiful loaf with perfect crust. I had to be patient, but it was so worth it! You can find the recipe here (I'd post it here, but Mark Bittman needs the credit he deserves).
Full disclosure, not all loaves turn out this well. Some are gooey. Sometimes the crust just doesn't form quite right. But that's half the fun, figuring out what works and what doesn't based on your own little kitchen environment.
I've done some fun variations on the crust. Mix in different salts and spices for different flavor.
Some variations I've tried:
- Rosemary Salt (dried rosemary and sea salt)
- Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (everything bagel seasoning)
- Trades Joe's Garlic Salt
Some tips I've found; hopefully you can avoid the trail and error!
- Use a plastic bowl, metal bowls get too cold
- If the dough seems too sticky, add flour until it seems 'better', it's hard to mess up!
- Make sure the dutch oven is HOT (30-45 minutes in the oven) before you put the dough in. Do not skip this step.
- Slice the bread 1-2 hours after cooling and store in a Zip-Loc bag. Make sure the bread cools completely before storage, otherwise it will steam up and the moisture will shorten the life of the loaf.
- Warm up next-day bread in the microwave for 10 seconds for that just baked temp :)
To wrap up the story, I eat gluten again. I try to stick to short ingredient lists, sourdough bread and homemade if possible. But oh man I MISSED bread and pasta and cookies. What a treat to have it back in my life!
If you give this a shot, let me know how it goes! Happy baking.