I am the first to admit that I am not an artisanal bread baker, I simply don't have the interest. What does interest me though is having my meager effort result in successful bread. My number one goof in the past had been leaving out either the yeast or the salt, (both of which must be present to create tasty bread) so I came up a sort of mnemonic to help me remember both the recipe and as an aid to keep me from forgetting a vital ingredient; my hand.
The picture above is the recipe for my Basic 5-cup Bread:
- 5 cups of flour, 5 fingers = 5 cups, that is easy enough (and all my mixer will hold.)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast, or the same as 1 packet.
- Salt, 1/2 tablespoon (I know how much that looks like in the palm of my hand, my normal method of measure) but that also measures out to 1 1/2 teaspoons.
- Sugar, up to 1/4 cup, (the size of the scoop left in my sugar bucket.) Sugar, according to taste, can either be left out completely, substituted for any other form of sweetener and/or reduced for a more savory dough.
- Oil, 1 tablespoon, is designated to the pinky finger because I rarely even add it, however it does enhance the crumb and adds moisture, so just eyeball about a tablespoon into the bowl. Bread is forgiving.
- The palm of the hand represents the water 1 1/2 to 2 cups, which holds all the other ingredients together.
NOTE ABOUT YEAST: If your yeast is old, mix 1/2 cup of the warm water into it. If it bubbles and gets 'lively' after about 7-10 minutes in the water, it is working and active. If not, either you killed it with too hot of water, or it was dead to begin with; get new yeast. If your yeast is newly purchased and kept in the fridge it will keep up to a year or longer without worry.
Dough with Stand Mixer:
Alternatively, if mixing the dough by hand, put all the ingredients together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle to pour in the water. With your hand, incorporate the flour 'walls' of the well into the water, working around the edges until all the flour absorbs the water. When the mass becomes unworkable in the bowl, turn it out onto a tabletop and knead it all together until it is smooth.
|Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until double in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours. An alternative to plastic wrap is to cover the bowl with a damp towel or use a large dinner plate.|
The dough is now ready to be shaped into loaves or used in any number of recipes. This is a terrific all purpose dough. Watch upcoming PiX FiZ recipes for ways to use this dough for both savory and sweet treats.
As a rule of thumb, I typically find that most recipes using this amount of dough take about 20-25 minutes to bake at 375-degrees.