As “The Practical Baker,” I try to present to you recipes that really are “practical.” Our grocery shopping options are very few, and to give you a recipe that requires you to take a trip to a “big box” grocery store in Fredericksburg, Kerrville, or heaven forbid, Austin or San Antonio, would be unacceptable! This little formula will produce two small loaves, using ingredients you can easily obtain here in Mason, and it’s easy and quick to make. One hour and 15 minutes, from start to finish! The only bread I make that can compete with that elapsed time is the beer bread. Try Easy Bread; I think your whole family will like it.
Ingredients:5-6 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of dry yeast
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
Optional Add-Ons to place on the top before baking but not in the original recipe: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dry onions
You’ll also need one cake pan of hot water
Process:Mix 3 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt.
Pour in the hot water and mix thoroughly: about 100 strokes with the spoon or spatula.
Stir in the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough loses its stickiness.
Turn out onto a floured surface.
Knead for 8 minutes.
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a warm, damp cloth.
Let rise for 15 minutes in a warm spot. (It will probably double in size during this time.)
Punch down and divide the dough into two pieces.
Shape the pieces into round loaves and place on a greased baking sheet, or a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Cut an “X” one-half inch deep in each of the loaves with a sharp knife.
At this point, if you want to put any toppings on the dough, spray it with water and sprinkle on the toppings.
Place baking sheet with prepared loaves in the middle of a COLD oven.
Place a cake pan of hot water on the lowest shelf.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reads 200 degrees.
You’ll want to watch the bread the last 10 minutes or so of baking to ensure that it doesn’t get too brown. If it looks like it’s getting brown too quickly, put a loose tent of aluminum foil over the loaves.
Cool loaves on wire rack.