Saturday, March 26, 2016

Country Loaf

We are patiently impatiently waiting for spring to come, but week after week we keep experiencing cold, snowy and gray weather. This being Easter weekend, I decided to spend a little time making a comforting country bread loaf that I can share with my family for Easter supper.
This recipe is a more time consuming one, but incredibly worth it! And although the rise time is long, the actual work part is very minimal.
If you're looking for quicker bread options, check out my other bread recipes here.

Country Loaf
Recipe source: Betty Crocker
Recipe time: Rise: 3hours Bake: 40minutes
5 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 cups very warm water
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
In a bowl mix together 2 cups of flour, the sugar and the yeast. Add 2 cups of warm water. Mix together for 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap tightly on top. Let bubble for 1 hour. See picture steps below for visual steps.
Stir in oil and salt. Stir in enough remaining flour to create a soft, smooth dough. If you're mixing by hand as I did, you will feel the dough is dry and stringy. Fear not! Keep mixing and turn onto your counter and start kneading in the flour. This process can take 8-10 minutes by hand.
If you have a kitchen aid mixer, use your dough hook and let it stretch the dough for you. Sometimes I like to do it the old fashioned way... getting you're hands dirty is good for the soul.
Place kneaded dough into a large bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover and let rise for another hour.
Grease cookie sheet with shortening and place dough onto counter. Gently form dough in your hands into an even round ball by stretching the sides of the dough downward to the bottom, keeping air bubbles in tact best you can. This should only take a few seconds. Place dough loaf with smooth side up on the greased cookie sheet. Cover loosely and let rise again for 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.
Place a metal pan filled half way with water on the bottom rack of your oven. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray loaf with cool water and sprinkle lightly with flour.
Carefully, with a serrated knife, cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes on top of loaf. You can do 3 slices across or a large X (see pics below).
Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown with a crisp crust on top. Place on a cooling rack.
This crusty loaf can be enjoyed with olive oil and parmesan cheese or just as is.
Visual Process:


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