Hello there bread making, welcome back to my life! Making bread is something I used to dream about after I read The Baker’s Apprentice by Judith Hendricks. The main character, Wynter, is a broken-spirited baker in Seattle. Somehow, I felt a connection towards her and the life of a lonely baker just appealed to me. Maybe because I felt the same way… Sometime later, I randomly picked out a weekend read called By Bread Alone by Sarah Kate Lynch. From this book, I gained some knowledge on how sourdough starters work and some good life lessons as well. I’m not going to lie, but the thought of baking bread with a candle burning nearby (like what Esme, the main character in the book, did) just seemed incredibly sexy. Finally, I got brave and made the French bread recipe from Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat, a fun book full of inspiration, wit, humor, and healthy recipes. Her French bread seemed easy enough for a newbie... Surprisingly, my first attempt was a success! And then I was hooked. Making bread became my ritual on Saturday or Sunday mornings.
However, months later, I learned the art of sleeping in on weekends and didn’t have time for baking bread anymore… Last Sunday, I gave it a new try. All those feelings came rushing back and I’m in love with baking bread again.
Here it is… a cottage loaf. This is great practice bread for beginners like me because it is quite easy to make. Later on, as I get more acquainted with the art of making bread, maybe I can move to fancier stuff.
Cottage Loaf (Makes 1 loaf)(adapted from 100 Great Breads, Paul Hollywood)
2 2/3 cups white bread flour, plus extra for the dusting
1 ½ tsp salt
26 g yeast
2/3 stick butter, softened (salted or unsalted, both are ok)1 cup warm water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together, well. Add the butter and pour in the water. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is soft enough to knead.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead with your palms and fingers for 5 minutes.
Form the dough back into a ball and coat the it with the leftover softened butter so it pulls away easily from the bowl after rising. Gently return it to the bowl. Let rise for an hour in a warm spot in your house.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Transfer the risen dough back to the floured surface. Tear apart 1/3 of the dough and form it into a ball. Then form the rest of the dough into a bigger ball. Place the smaller ball on top of the larger one.
Gently flatten the top of the dough with the palm of your hand. Then push your pointer finger down the center of the loaf until you feel the counter. With a knife, make straight slashes on the sides of the loaf, from top to bottom.
Grease a baking sheet with butter and bake for 30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. Move to a wire rack to cool.
This is a note on how I knead:
First, form the dough into a ball.
Then, slightly flatten it with your palms.
Fold it in half and press it with your palms until it is slightly flat. Turn the dough and repeat the process until you have kneaded for however long the recipe requires.
Keep in mind, practice makes perfect.
Tell me your bread making stories… I would love to hear it.