Checklist: What you’ll need for our Zoom class
|Water||Water straight from the tap|
|Sugar||Normal granulated sugar|
|Salt||Normal Iodized table salt|
|Flour||All-purpose unbleached (I use King Arthur)|
|Yeast||Active dry yeast (I use Fleischmann’s)|
|Sesame seeds||½ cup, toasted before hand|
|Cheddar cheese||8 oz (I use Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Yellow)|
|Vegetable oil||or olive oil is fine|
|Large mixing bowl||4 quart-ish is good|
|Small bowl||Like a cereal bowl (for softening the yeast)|
|Wooden spoon||I use a bamboo spoon – just needs to be sturdy|
|Kitchen towel||Tightly woven (i.e. not terry cloth)|
|Dough scraper||Plastic is good – won’t scratch the counter|
|Measuring cups||¼ cup dry and at least 2 cup liquid|
|Measuring spoons||We’ll only be using the teaspoon|
|Cheese grater||For the cheddar|
|Pans (or cookie sheet)||Dutch oven if you have one, pans of different sizes|
|Parchment paper||Parchment is essential for baking cheese breads|
|Instant read thermometer||Your secret weapon for knowing when bread is done|
|Cooling rack||We can adapt if you don’t have one|
Basic White Recipe
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups water
- Soften the yeast
In a small bowl, stir yeast into ½ cup water to soften.
- Combine dry ingredients
Mix the sugar, salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Add liquids
Pour the water and softened yeast in with the dry ingredients and mix them together.
- Knead the dough
Sprinkle flour onto your work surface. Scrape the dough onto the flour and knead for ten minutes. Add flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough (try to add as little as possible).
- First rise
Put the dough into an oil-coated bowl. Roll the dough until it is covered with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place in the oven with the light on. Let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Shape and second rise
Shape your dough, place into pans, cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400 toward the end of the second rise.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Remove loaves from oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Wait 30 minutes to serve.
Ingredient ideas for extending the basic white bread recipe
|Grains & Flours||Liquids||Cheese||Fats|
|Herb & Spices||Nuts & Seeds||Vegetables, etc.||Fruit & Drupes|
Chinese five spice
Food for Thought
Weighing vs. Measuring
European bread recipes list ingredients by metric weight (170g water, 298g flour) and American recipes tend to list ingredients by imperial volume (3/4 cup water, 2 1/2 cups flour). My Mom told me that early American settlers could not carry heavy scales in their wagons and so relied on what they did carry with them: spoons and cups.
Western-style vs. Asian-style
Generally speaking, Western-style breads tend to be crustier, chewier, saltier, and with bigger holes in the crumb (the part of bread that isn’t the crust). Asian-style breads are softer, sweeter, and springier. One reason is Tangzhong dough invented by the Japanese. This dough starts with cooking equal parts flour and water and gives the finished bread a soft, moist texture.
American vs. European flour
Over 60% of the wheat produced in America is hard red wheat, while under 25% is soft wheat. Hard wheat, despite it’s name, produces a softer, fluffier bread – partly because it also contains more gluten than soft wheat. In Europe, soft wheat varieties prevail. Other differences include mineral content (for example, American wheat contains 10 times the amount of Selenium) and sourcing (many European grain varieties are regional).
Sourdough starter vs. Commercial yeast
Sourdough starter is made of “wild” yeast that you cultivate yourself using flour and water. It makes bread have a tangy flavor and big air pockets in the crumb – and usually adds several hours to your rise times. Sourdough starters are unpredictable in that different starters can have different qualities. Commercial yeast is predictable in that one packet of yeast is fairly identical to another (of the same brand). A sourdough recipe can take as long as 12 or even 24 hours to complete. Bread made with instant yeast – a type of fast-acting commercial yeast – can be on the table in less than two hours.
Conventional vs. Convection Ovens
Conventional ovens have heating elements on the top and bottom inside. These elements heat the still air inside the oven. Bread baked in a conventional oven may come out darker on the bottom and top because of this. Convection (first popularized in Europe) ovens have a fan that circulates the heated air and keeps it moving around the food — and usually cook food 25% faster. Bread baked in a convection oven will be evenly cooked on all sides.
Download Food for Thought (PDF)