My sodas have been getting pretty popular with the people lately so it is time to step up my game. I had been making syrup in batches of 3-4 cups at a time, now i’m making it in batches of 12-15 cups. Time to get real and buy a pressurized keg to make 10 gallon batches!
The sun is shining and it is a great time to be planting! I am really excited about my harvest this year. Having spent the last three years learning about pest & disease management is proving very rewarding. The only plants that fell victim to nature this year were my carrots. I directly sew the seeds and didn’t use any slug protection during their fragile seedling lives. In only one night the slugs killed over 100 carrot starts which destroyed my entire carrot crop. I repopulated their space with golden beets, which I love, and I’ll have to plant carrots in a different location.
This week I planted Golden Beets, White Sweet Spanish Onions, Roma Tomatoes, Golden Summer Squash, Burpless Cucumbers, Black Beauty Zucchini and I transplanted some volunteer Squash and Tomatoes from my compost into the ground just to give them a chance.
BEST PURCHASE EVER!
This is my first loaf on the bread stone. It has risen more than some of my previous loaves after only six minutes of baking! The bread stone was $50 which is pretty expensive, but it should last me for life. I save over $2 on every loaf that I bake so I think it was worth it. If I bake 25 loaves I get my money back!
The loaf on the left is 1 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1 1/2 cup bread flour. The loaf on the right is 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup unbleached white flour and 1 cup whole wheat. I added 1 tbs of basil and 1 tsp of garlic powder to both loaves for some fun flavor.
The bread stone makes the bottom crust perfectly crunchy, it doesn’t burn in the slightest, and the rise is better than ever! Heck yeah bread stone!
How I use it:
Pre-heat oven to 500° with the bread stone in the oven. An hour after my last rise I form my loaf on the counter and then plop it on the bread stone and make my cuts on the stone. It seemed easier to do it that way but it was freakin’ hot.
I know this is a lot of text, but I wanted to share how I make my bread with everyone now that I’ve had some time to experiment!
First of all, where do I get my ingredients? I buy almost everything from the bulk bins at our local organic store. It is way cheaper than buying the processed stuff in packages and is better for our health! Below is a list of everything I use on a regular basis.
This is the list I keep stocked:
- 5 lbs~ (.99c / lb) organic unbleached white flour
- 2 lbs~ (1.49c / lb) organic whole wheat flour
- 2 lbs~ (.89c /lb) organic bread flour
- 3-5 packs of organic dry active yeast (Red Star is fine)
- Salt (I use Kosher Salt in the red and white box)
- Sugar or Honey (I use both, it depends on the loaf.)
- A little bit of olive oil and butter
Tools you need:
- 1 or 2 Big glass bowls, ceramic is fine. (Pro tip: Metal bowls have electrical conductivity that negatively interacts with the rising process. Bad for bread.)
- Thick wood stirring spoon that won’t break.
- Rubber Spatula
- Parchment Paper
- Sharp Knife
- Cloth kitchen towel
- Bread Pan, Baking Sheet, or Pizza Stone. I use a Pizza/Bread Stone and a Metal Bread Pan.
FOR THE BREAD MAKING PROCESS!
Put in the big bowl in order:
- 1 cup white flour
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tsp of sugar or honey
- 1 tsp table salt or 1 tbs of kosher salt
- 1.5 cups of warm water (it is best if the water is warm to the touch but not hot to the touch. yeast activates at around 110 deg but if you go over 110 they will die. luke warm water is a safe bet to help them wake up.)
- Now mix all that stuff up until it is a big sticky mess. It will take 2-5 minutes of mixing to get it a nice consistency.
From here I have two methods to share:
A) “the ez way” using a metal bread pan:
- Scrape all the dough together into a ball.
- Let it rise for 8-12 hours in a warm spot.
- it should have risen a lot, now you scrape out the stringy dough into a lightly buttered bread pan, lightly flour the top and punch it down with your fist 6-10 times. don’t be scared, bread likes to take a beating.
- cover it with parchment and towel again for one hour.
- now it is ready to bake.
- slice the dough however you please with a sharp buttered knife (think bakery bread) so that you control the rise and it doesn’t blowout the bottom of the loaf!
Baking Instructions for this method:
- pre-heat oven to 500 deg.
- cook uncovered for 13 minutes at 500 deg.
- remove bread from oven, cover with tin foil
- lower temp to 425, put bread back in and cook for 45 minutes.
- remove from oven, let it sit in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool.
- remove from pan, set on wire rack and wait 1 hour to cool.
B) “the hard way” using a pizza/bread stone:
- put a piece of parchment paper down on the counter with a bit of white flour on it, scoop out the dough on to the parchment.
- get some flour on your hands so the dough doesn’t stick then knead it for about 3-5 minutes. whenever the dough starts sticking to your hands put a tiny bit more flour on your hands. we don’t want our dough to feel thick, so if it starts to get like playdough, you went too far. kneading is a slow methodical process, not a vigorous exercise.
- when done kneading make a ball with your dough and let it sit on the parchment while you clean out the bowl.
- put 1 tsp olive oil in the bottom of the now clean bowl and place the ball of dough in it. pour 1 tsp olive oil on top of the dough and rub it around so that you protect it from the air.
- let sit for 8-12 hours in a warm place
- now it’s time to couche the bread! repeat step 2 (reduce the kneading process to 1 minute) and then make the couche and sprinkle a bit of flour on the cloth, I use a cotton towel that isn’t fuzzy. form your loaf how you want it to look and couche it! let it sit for an hour.
- pre-heat oven to 500 deg with the bread stone inside the oven.
- grab your oven mits and remove the bread stone from the oven and place it wherever you can
- you will now you will have to uncouche your bread onto the bread stone without burning yourself and keeping the loaf shape intact!
- slice your loaf how you see fit
- place back in the oven and cook at 500deg for 13 minutes
- cover the loaf loosely with tin foil
- lower temp to 425 and cook for 45 minutes.
- remove bread from oven and let it sit on a wire rack for one hour to cool.
Method two takes a little bit more time, effort, equipment and practice to pull off, but it helps develop more gluten and make the co2 pockets larger. It may seem like a lot of work, but once you do it a few times it becomes really easy. I think I only put 10-15 minutes of actual work into a loaf of bread.
I have decided that I shall cook a loaf of bread each day for the month of February. They shall consist of challenging recipes which require swift progression in the skill of baking. By the end of the month I expect to have mastered gluten development and have moved on to breads like panettone, croissants, danishes, and the humble yet challenging baguette. If you would like me to make you a loaf, leave a comment. I don’t expect to receive a comment since nobody knows about this project of mine, but it’s a nice thought.
I am here to make a statement. Or was I just here to make food? I forget now.